Cast and crew of TNT’s Dallas, a re-imagination (don’t dare call it a remake or reboot around the creators) of the iconic soapy family drama that aired from 1978-91, took the stage to atypical applause from critics Saturday afternoon during the cable portion of the winter TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Original castmembers Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were joined by co-stars Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Josh Henderson, Brenda Strong and Jesse Metcalfe and executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin.
Read a few highlights from the panel below:
On appealing to an audience in 2012
Hagman: When Dallas was really hot, we were in a major recession. People had to stay in on Friday nights and watch something. And here we are again. That’s my idea.
On why the exec producers didn’t want to create a remake
Cidre: I couldn’t imagine a remake. These lovely actors [the originals] were still around and wanted to be in the show. It made sense to catch up with the Ewing family we loved. It was a very natural transition…We never intended to use the Big 3 [originals] as bait for the new show. [The goal] was to integrate them wholly with the new cast. It’s not two separate storylines.
On being faithful to the essence of what made Dallas what it was while also trying to be current
Robin: The pilot honored the intricate elements of what Dallas was in the past. A lot of the storytelling elements are very similar. The big epic family conflict; the interpersonal dynamics and fights are in place. Those are the things people love and expect to be in Dallas. We’re not here to take it to a whole new place. We’re honoring the past, freshening it for now.
On why the original cast would do this again
Hagman:It’s work at 80. How many people do you know are working at 80?
Gray: For a chance to play characters you played many years ago. That was a lovely continuation of the momentum we had started years ago.
On how it felt to return to the set
Gray: It was a seamless time warp. I can remember the last day on set. Then to walk back on the set and to be back to Southfork was a seamless transition. I didn’t feel an ending or beginning, just seamlessly moved into the new show.
On maintaining the plot points from the original show
Cidre: I never wanted to violate anything that actually happened. Any choice made in the present, somebody researched the 357 past episodes. We honor the original show and original conception of the show.
On how much of the show the original characters will be in
Duffy: So far we’ve been in every episode. That’s why we wanted to do the show. The younger people have more stamina and obviously have function in show. We are performing functions as we did in the original Dallas.
On other original castmembers returning
Robin: There are other people that do show up along the way.
On viewer reaction to the original cast members returning
Gray: It’s beyond exciting. People stop and talk to me about sitting with their grandmother, boyfriend, etc. Wonderful stories of all those days they spent with us.
On the younger cast’s memories of the original Dallas
Henderson: My grandma, it was her favorite show. Me being so young…I knew of it. I would run around TV and be told to shut up as she was watching it. So I knew the impact.
Brewster: I was born in Panama the year J.R. was shot. The theme song is so iconic. To be part of something that is huge part of culture is so exciting.
Gonzalo: I was born a year after J.R. was shot in Argentina. My mother used to kick us out of the room to watch Dallas in Spanish. I do remember the theme song clearly.
On Hagman’s publicized salary negotiations during the original Dallas seeming minor now compared to TV salaries today
Hagman: I think everybody on Friends owes me at least 10%