Introducing Terry Linwood: Your Guide To the New Dallas

Terry Linwood will be recapping the new TNT series, Dallas. Check back tomorrow for his take on tonight’s pilot. And join us tonight at the watching party at the Texas Theatre.

I’m Terry Linwood, and over our next few weeks together, we’ll watch the new Dallas series, which starts tonight at 8 p.m. on TNT. Some of you out there may remember me from my five-episode gig on Jeopardy! a couple years back, and a lot of my success on the show was based on knowledge gleaned from my favorite teacher: television.

Like most (some?) of you, I grew up watching the original Dallas (on Channel 4, right after The Dukes of Hazzard!), and even though I watched the show in my bedroom on a crappy 18-inch black-and-white TV, anchored by a science fair-ready coat hanger coated in Reynolds Wrap, the characters remain vivid and colorful to me. What amazed me most was that all this schemin’, lustin’ and power-playin’ took place in my hometown, and my heart still swells with pride with the thought that when people around the world — New Yorkers, Brits, South Africans, even Romanians — think of Dallas, what comes to mind is a place where oil flows from faucets and grown-ass men named “Punk” can walk the streets without fear of laughter.

That said, one thing that gets lost in the glowing discussions of what some are calling the Second Golden Age of Television is that many of our acclaimed dramas of today — Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Wire, etc. — owe some debt to Dallas. Back in the day, televised hour-long dramas usually had a definite end; whatever happened earlier in the episode, odds are that David Banner would still be thumbing rides on the side of the road, sad music and all. Dallas proved, long before The Sopranos, that viewers would have the patience to return for multi-episode arcs and have it rewarded. Looking to the new series, the big question, then, is whether, in this age of dubious, grey morals personified by Tyrion Lannister and Al Swearengen, we will still be fascinated by the old-school, oil-can slick villainy perfected by J. R. Ewing almost thirty-five years ago.

I hope we have a great time finding out. I’ll keep some Lone Stars cold in the fridge for y’all.