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As Dallas returns to TV, a look at how the iconic character came to define our city and the way people think of us the world over.

Is It Time For Dallas To Come To Terms With J.R.?

Dallas Season Episode Previous

It’s time for Dallas to make its peace with Dallas.

Cities don’t choose their legends. Wandering troubadours and blind prophets and kilted bards show up at the gates of the city and, by their lamentations and chansons, assign the myth, then flee. It’s yours forever, whether you like it or not.

J.R. will always be with us.

I realized this only recently. It hit me about 11 minutes into the first episode of the Dallas series premiering this month on TNT. Or should I say the series continuing this month? Because it’s not a remake, and it’s not a Hollywood-style “reimagining.” It’s the same TV series, as first created in 1978, as though it has simply been on hiatus for the past 20 years. It’s not only the same characters; it’s the same actors playing the same characters. It’s as though the series is Holy Writ. You couldn’t reimagine it any more than you could reimagine the Battle of Fort McHenry and leave out the part about the flag.

And, as I say, there’s this moment, this little scene at minute 11, when Bobby Ewing goes to visit the elderly, bankrupt J.R. and finds him in his pajamas, seated in an overstuffed chair, his face impassive, staring into space in some kind of catatonic state that his nurse calls clinical depression. As Bobby pulls up a chair, it’s like that famous Strindberg play where only one character speaks but the star billing goes to the nonspeaking actor.

Continue reading the article, which appears in the June D Magazine, here.