Last week's death of Larry Hagman took most people by surprise.
The beloved actor died one week ago at the age of 81 from complications associated with throat cancer. He died in Texas, where he had been living after reprising his iconic role as J.R. Ewing on a TNT network reboot of the 1980s nighttime soap opera "Dallas."
I found out about Hagman's passing the way a lot folks around these parts did (those who, back in the day, watched the original "Dallas," anyway) in The Bee on Saturday morning. And, yes, it was a shock.
After all, Hagman was back just this summer, all bushy gray eyebrows, cowboy hat and swagger, as J.R. on the TNT show. The June debut of the new "Dallas" was the year's No. 1 scripted series première on cable and averaged 5.3 million viewers big by non-Big Three network standards.
I was among those viewers, mostly recording the show and catching up with it a day or two later. Must-see TV? Not completely, but it was just camp and retro enough to keep me watching.
A DVR switch deleted the last couple of episodes before I had gotten a chance to watch them, so I'm not completely sure how the season went out. Oh, I'm confident there was a cliff-hanger and some sort of major betrayal afoot, though.
Who could have expected the new "Dallas" to be as good as the old "Dallas?" No one, of course. It's the tremendously rare remake or even return-to, as this show really is that can recapture the magic and former glory of any original TV show. Or film or song, for that matter.
But it had J.R. And Bobby and Sue Ellen. Lucy and Ray Krebbs tripped by from time to time. And Cliff Barnes was back to egg on J.R.'s villainy.
Honestly, more than once, I fast-forwarded through the plodding plotlines between the young'uns on the show J.R.'s son John Ross, Bobby's son Christopher and the two pretty young things fighting for their affections.
Though I missed the last few shows, I fully intended to continue watching the TNT reboot of "Dallas" when it returns. For the old dudes, of course.
Even then, the only real reason to continue watching was J.R.
Hagman's return in that iconic role was everything to the reboot. Sure, Duffy and Gray, et al, were back. But they're pretty much Milquetoast compared to the vengeance-fueled conniver extraordinaire that was J.R. Ewing.
Just watching Hagman reprise that role, seeing him re-create J.R.'s mannerisms and smile that devious smile, was draw enough.
According to online reports, unnamed TNT sources say Hagman filmed some scenes for Season 2, which was scheduled to premièreJan. 28. But how many scenes is unclear. Also unclear is how the show's writers will deal with Hagman's death. How will J.R. take his final leave and when?
Unless TNT can bring Sue Ellen back to her old she-devil ways and put some spice in the Cliff Barnes character, it's a good bet this new "Dallas" will end after two seasons. Sure, it's possible that the remaining original cast members might be able to keep the show going, but it'll be a tough sell without J.R.
One thing that might give a little more life to the old series? Talking Victoria Principal into returning as Bobby's allegedly deceased wife, Pam. Principal declined an opportunity to reprise that role in the refurbished series. But a good old-fashioned surprise emergence from a supposedly dead character? A triangle between Bobby, Pam and new wife Ann? That's some soapy goodness that fans of the original show might not want to miss.
"Top Chef" fans are seeing some old familiar faces again this season. Three former competitors C.J., Josie and Stefan are back to vie again for the Bravo competition/reality show's titular honor.
Love C.J., he from Season 3. Love Stefan, the silly villain from Season 5. Josie? Meh. She went out pretty early in Season 2. There are a bundle of other former competitors I'd rather see return over her how about former Los Banos/Modesto resident Ryan Scott from Season 4, for example? Or former Oakdale chef Mia Gaines-Alt, also from Season 2? Both lasted longer in the competition than Josie. But whatever.
The new contestants are not so happy to see three additional and veteran competitors added to their ranks, but I think it's fun.
It kind of piggybacks on the all-stars Season 8 that "Top Chef" offered up, with all the competitors returning from previous go-rounds.
Maybe Bravo will keep the nostalgia going and we'll see Gaines-Alt or Scott show up at some point in future seasons.