The Dummies' Guide to Dallas
Dallas | Photo Credits: TNT
Who shot J.R.? That was the question that plagued millions of Dallas viewers during the summer of 1980. But that famous phrase may also be the only thing today's advertiser-coveted youths know about the veteran CBS nighttime soap. However, it's both of these groups, the obsessive former fans and those unacquainted with the Ewing family, that TNT hopes to win over with its reboot, which premieres Wednesday at 9/8c. Just in case, TVGuide.com has devised a handy cheat sheet to catch newbies up on all the romance, backstabbing and, of course, who actually killed J.R. (Um, spoiler alert?)
Then: The series started as a Romeo and Juliet-type love story after the sudden marriage of Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the son of oil tycoon Jock Ewing to Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal). Pamela's brother, Cliff (Ken Kercheval), was the arch-nemesis of Bobby's brother, J.R. (Larry Hagman), because Cliff work for the state investigating corruption — which often meant he was targeting the Ewings. Plus: Bobby and J.R. eventually turned against one another when they fought over their family's land.
Now: That family drama has been passed on to Bobby and J.R.'s sons. Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and John Ross III (Josh Henderson) are pitted against each other in a fight over who will lead the Ewing family into the future. Christopher wants to do it with alternative energy, and without the help of his father, while John Ross III wants to do with it good ol' fashioned oil.
Then: Southfork Ranch became home to the Ewings when Miss Ellie (mom to Bobby and J.R.) married Jock Ewing to save the ranch from foreclosure. Jock (the late Jim Davis) eventually grew Ewing Oil into one of the biggest independent oil companies in Texas before he died in a helicopter crash. Miss Ellie (the late Barbara Bel Geddes) eventually left Southfork for good when the oil company, and her sons' rivalry, became too much of a headache.
Now: In the first episode, it is established that Miss Ellie died in 2001 and is buried on Southfork. It is also stated she left the ranch solely to Bobby, with clear instructions that oil not be drilled onsite, just as her father had always insisted. That won't stop John Ross III, and J.R., who plan on doing their best to overturn this when Bobby announces plans to sell the land.
Then: Bobby was the youngest (and favorite) Ewing son — a fact that drove much of the animosity between him and J.R. The two could not be more opposite: Bobby is honest, altruistic and loyal while J.R. is sneaky, manipulative and a known womanizer. Bobby was killed in Season 8, but a year later, his wife miraculously discovered him in the shower, alive and well. (It was all a dream!) The following year, Pam got in an accident and ran away so that Bobby wouldn't see her severe burns. Years later, his second wife, April (Sheree Wilson), was kidnapped and shot dead. Bobby adopted Christopher from J.R.'s sister-in-law, Kristin Shepard (the woman who actually shot J.R.) and had a son with girlfriend Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley). J.R. was married to Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and then Cally Harper, and had one son with each, as well as a child from an affair.
Now: J.R. is sick, but he's definitely still scheming with his son to take over Southfork. Meanwhile, Bobby is now married to the mysterious Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong) and getting ready to marry off his recently returned adopted son Christopher to another mysterious woman, Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). The reboot kicks off right as Bobby makes a life-altering decision to sell Southfork, which causes tension between him and his brother despite Bobby's best efforts to patch things up.