There are pros and cons to the recent rash of reboots in TV and film in recent years. Sometimes, it's just nice to leave classic shows the way you remember them without the 21st century spin. (Case in point: We didn't need to see the trainwreck that was ABC's new "Charlie's Angels" series last fall). But other times, if the remake includes some favorite characters played by the original actors, well, that's a different story.
That's exactly the case in the new version of primetime soap "Dallas," which premieres on TNT on June 13. While the series has cast a crop of young actors including "Desperate Housewives" alum Jesse Metcalf, it's also brought back Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman as Texas oil heirs Bobby and J.R. Ewing, as well as Linda Gray as J.R.'s wife Sue Ellen, and Ken Kercheval as the family nemesis Cliff Barnes.
"Let's be honest. The only reason 'Dallas' is being done now is because they can get J. R. back on the air," Duffy, now 63, tells AARP The Magazine. "That character is as iconic as the ranch itself."
The trio with their new co-stars. (Mark Seliger/TNT)
During its height in the early 1980s, the original show, which ran for 14 seasons, was the most popular on television, luring in millions of viewers a week and becoming part of pop culture history with storylines like "Who Shot J.R.?" "My theory," says Hagman, 80, "is that everybody has a jerk like J.R. in the family, and they can identify with that." Gray, whose character battled alcohol abuse, attributes part of the series' success to the way it incorporated social issues into its plotlines. Sue Ellen's troubles with addiction, for example, spiked "as Betty Ford came out. We were ahead of what was happening in society," Gray, now 71, says in the magazine's June/July issue.
Being the ones playing Southfork Ranch's elders has taken some getting used to. "The turd doesn't fall far from the horse!" Duffy exclaims. "The hardest part is sitting at the head of the table at Southfork, because Jim [Davis, who played patriarch Jock Ewing] always occupied that place — and the plots revolved around making Daddy proud."
The trio has remained close over the last two decades since the series went off the air in 1991, celebrating each other's career milestones and grandchildren. Duffy and Gray recently stayed by Hagman's hospital bedside as he underwent cancer treatment. The actor says he's doing just fine now. "I feel great!" he insists. "My motto is, 'Don't worry, be happy.' "