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'Dallas' recap: respecting our elders

Drunk Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) visits surprised Elena (Jordana

Drunk Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) visits surprised Elena (Jordana Brewster) in “Truth or Consequences,” on the July 4 episode of “Dallas." (Credit: TNT)

You can always tell an soap opera actor's true prowess with the coveted drunk scene, and when you're on “Dallas,“ you're sitting on the big kids' bar stools. (See Linda Gray as Sue Ellen in just about any original “Dallas” episode.) With “Truth and Consequences,“ it was Jesse Metcalfe's turn, as his Christopher attempts to blur reality -- Uncle JR securing the deed to Southfork ranch, his wife revealing herself as a conniving liar -- with whiskey. Stumbling, Christopher goes to Elena's house, spits out a few words and ... cut to commercial. No drunk scene, just a drunk tease.

Whether Metcalfe has the chops to play drunk, the producers chose to use those minutes elsewhere. And the minutes were precious, notably with Brenda Strong's Anne finally able to join us in the three-dimensional world. We find out that in her pre-Bobby life she was married to a decidedly mean man, a man who might be friends with JR if the senior Ewing had buddies. And Anne, she of the double pearls, shows her strength, both with the ex and, in an earlier scene, JR.

This “Dallas” is a success in large part because it gives substantial screen time to these older characters, as so many of the great nighttime serials ("Dynasty," "Twin Peaks”) have. Even this far into the show, Bobby and JR Ewing remain the touchstones, and every episode thus far has evoked their parents. As JR declares his intent to drill on Southfork -- "Ewing Oil is back in business, Bobby" -- his younger brother, just like his mother, balks. “You want to carry on mama's legacy? Well I want to carry on daddy's,“ JR declares, eyebrows wriggling over the dramatic score. (Symphonic, never popular music.) You can't argue with eyebrows that long, and you can't go wrong with feuds that date back to the dead.

MORE: Read all our 'Dallas' blog posts.

But to push things forward, to grow “Dallas” as the city itself has exploded since the original, such longtime struggles need new players. JR christens his ally, fittingly, during a Cowboys game. As he and John Ross overlook the field from a suite, the two are projected on the JumboTron, JR putting his giant hat on his son's head for the entire stadium to see. Armed with his own catch phrase -- "This oil is my birthright" -- John Ross wears the hat well.

Sobered, Christopher gets back in the game via (what else?) blackmail. It seems John Ross has something the older generation never would have: a sex tape. See? Something for all ages.

Tags: dallas , tv

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