What Does America Make of Dallas’ Return?

Dallas, the classic 1980s soap set in a wealthy Texan oil community, returned to our screens refreshed and rejuvenated in last month, Larry Hagman et al, after 21 years off our TVs, a ‘continuation’ rather than a reboot. Five picked up the UK rights and they’ll be pumping out the third episode tonight. But what do our trans-Atlantic cousins make of the show’s Dallas so far?

We’ve trawled the deepest regions of the interweb (Metacritic and Twitter) to see how the show has been received by reviewers and viewers alike, so you don’t have to and Ctrl-C-and-V’ed a range of it on this here page to bring you a compilation of criticism.

First up is Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald, who was impressed with the show’s evolution from 1980s fluff to 2010s, erm, fluff: “Cynthia Cidre’s smart take on the prime-time soap pays homage to the past while moving the battle to the next generation.â€? Meanwhile Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal “with so many secrets, dark revelations, shocks and betrayals it all begins to seem familiarly and comfortably absorbing.â€?

There was to be no pleasing Willa Paskin of Salon though, as she believes this shiny new 2012 version of Dallas to be a downgrade its 1980s forefather; a boring imitation lacking in originality. She wrote: “It’s a straight down the line uninspired, dull, humourless soap opera that mimics the original without taking any of the interesting things from it.â€? Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter didn’t hold back in his analysis of the action: “Dallas is terrible… The writing is brutal and obvious, the acting is comical, and none of it is bettered by the directing.â€?

Most critics seemed to get on with the show though, with the general consensus being that Dallas has made a solid, if unspectacular return. Troy Patterson of Slate states: “Dallas may not always compel your attention, but it does a good job telling you what you missed.â€? James Poniewozik concurred, considering the show better than he had anticipated: “Despite some flat performances, the show does a better job than I might have expected bringing a 20th century broadcast-TV icon down to 21st century cable size.â€?

Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker praised the show as “a solidly constructed soap opera, with strong wooden dialogue and oily plot twistsâ€? but couldn’t get his head around its new 21st century setting. “The modernization of Dallas has not been without a few bumps. I still can’t get used to the ads that urge me to “follow the Ewings on Twitter!â€?

Speaking of Twitter, loads of ordinary non-critic folk have tweeted their opinions, so we may as well share some of their views too. @JStennis said: “Did you catch the Dallas remake? It was solid!â€? @Liz3ie liked it so much she even spruced up her tweet with a smiley-face emoticon: “Love it! I was sceptical initially as I was too young when the original run was going, I’m hooked now though :)â€? Twitter appears to be a refuge of people who love the Texan drama, no one is tweeting Dallas-hate. Boo.

So there you have it. Most critics are satisfied with the return of the Ewings, but the reception of Dallas in publications is a little more restrained than the mass circle-jerk spaffing its collective load all over Twitter.

Dallas continues on Wednesday nights at 9pm on Five.