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TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Rivalry: Evil Oil vs. Alternative Energy

New Generation of Ewings pits wildcatter John Ross against ‘alternatives are the future’ Christopher.

Since the original “Dallas” debuted in 1978, times have changed. Texas has prospered but the liberal agenda against big oil stayed the same. TNT’s “Dallas” remake introduced the Ewing family feud with a twist, and the rest of the season is set for a showdown: Alternative energy against drilling for oil.

John Ross Ewing, son of the long-time “Dallas” villain J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman), has already discovered a major find of oil on Southfork: the Ewing family’s ranch. He wants to drill it, but his uncle Bobby Ewing opposes drilling on the family land. Of course, he’s portrayed as the bad guy, ruthless, conniving and a “chip off the old block.”

Bobby supports his adopted son Christopher who wants to make Ewing Alternative Energy the next “Exxon” but is planning on turning Southfork into a conservancy. Bobby and Christopher are clearly the good guys in the drama, as J.R. Ewing says Bobby was “always the one with the conscience.”

During the premier Christopher says, “Oil is the past, John Ross, alternatives are the future.” Although he is worried about funding for his pet project: “It seems I have only two roads open to me: accept government subsidies or bending over for the venture capitalists,” he lamented.

When John Ross revealed to Christopher and Bobby that an ocean of oil lay under Southfork, Christopher yelled that the oil was so deep underground it would have to be fracked. “It [Fracking] will be the end of the ranch!” he shouted.

“The New York Times” review by Allesandra Stanley said, “In 1978 the Texas economy was booming, while the rest of the country was still struggling. Rich Texans were loud, proud, vulgar, exotic and extravagant. J. R.’s son, John Ross (Josh Henderson), is of course a fracking maniac who wants to drill all over Southfork and will scheme, lie and connive to get his way.”

The Washington Times review of the show also noted the “capitalist villains,” but called them “too dull to root against.” “J.R. and Bobby are still around, and while they remain rivals, the battle’s locus has shifted to their sons, J.R.’s scheming oilman son John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Bobby’s earnest alternative energy entrepreneur Christopher.” 

The new generation of “Dallas” may be different but the Hollywood message is still the same. Oil and its supporters are the real villains.