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TNT Dallas: NOW (Dallas 2012) and THEN (Dallas 1978) – What Happened in the Years Between?

Updated on February 24, 2014
JR and Bobby Ewing continue to fight over Southform Ranch, but now the next generation, JR's son John Ross, and Bobby's adopted son Christopher, is getting in on the act
JR and Bobby Ewing continue to fight over Southform Ranch, but now the next generation, JR's son John Ross, and Bobby's adopted son Christopher, is getting in on the act

TNT Dallas Opening Credits

TNT Dallas 2012

Last week, TNT premiered the long awaited continuation of the hit primetime soap opera Dallas. The original series aired from 1978 and ran for 14 years concluding in 1991. The continuation has stayed true to the original series, maintaining the now famous opening credits theme song. The opening credits, though an updated version of the original are also remarkably similar.

Dallas 2012 - The continuation, with a number of key cast members from the original series seems to be sticking to the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” mantra reproducing a number of the key conflicts between brothers JR and Bobby Ewing in their son’s and cousins, John Ross and Christopher.

But 21 years is a long gap in the storytelling and mention of events during those intervening years have been quick and buried amongst the fast-paced current storylines.

Here is what the Daytime Diva’s gleaned from the first 2 episodes. This hub will be updated over the 10 episode season of Dallas (2012). With Cliff Barnes set to make an appearance next week, there’s sure to be more rapid-fire history delivered.

If we've missed anything please update us in the comments section!

Ewing Oil

A passing mention was made to the fact that the Ewing’s lost Ewing oil to their arch nemesis Cliff Barnes sometime in the past 21 years.

Miss Ellie (Ellie Southworth Ewing Farlow)

Miss Ellie died in the intervening 21 years leaving Southfork to her younger son, Bobby, instead of heir presumptive, JR.

The reason?

She needed her younger son to fulfill a promise to her – to keep oil drilling off the family ranch. During the pilot episode it was also noted that Jock Ewing tried to drill for oil on Southfork, but that Miss Ellie had the rigs thrown off the property that had been in her family for generations.

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Bobby Ewing

Bobby, Jock and Ellie’s youngest and arguable favorite son remarried. He is now married to Ann(ie). JR made reference to the first Mrs. Bobby Ewing at the Oil Barron’s Ball noting he wasn’t fond of her, but little else has been mentioned in reference to Pamela Barnes since.

Bobby’s diagnosis with gastrointestinal cancer in the opening minutes of the pilot serves as much of the motivation for selling Southfork to a conservatory to preserve the land as his Momma wished. He also doesn’t want to see John Ross and Christopher fight over the land, and have an adversarial relationship like he and JR had.

Bobby has given up the oil business spending most of his time raising cattle on Southfork.


Sue Ellen Ewing

JR’s former Miss Texas trophy wife appears to have gone into politics. During the series first run, Sue Ellen was tortured by JR’s machinations and drank her way through numerous affairs. After apologizing to her son for using his as a tool against to get to JR, Sue Ellen tells John Ross to think of her as an ally, and that her contacts can be powerful.

Sue Ellen is described as being the next governor in the Pilot episode and that message is hammered home in the first episode Hedge Your Bets a number of times – mostly at the Oil Barron’s Ball. Sue Ellen is also clearly independently wealthy, since she loans Elena the money to buy up some old oil leases rather than putting in a good word for her for a loan from the bank where Sue Ellen sits on the board. Given all the double crossing and wheeling and dealing going on, its hard to believe Sue Ellen doesn’t have an ulterior motive.

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JR Ewing (John Ross Ewing II)

The now adult son of JR and Sue Ellen blamed Sue Ellen for hiding him away at boarding school all those years instead of letting him learn the oil business from his Daddy like he should have been.

It hasn’t stopped John Ross becoming a chip off the old block though. In the first 2 hours of storytelling his is blackmailed, blackmails his cousin, double-crosses his Daddy, and cheats on his girlfriend Elena, who he professes to love.

John Ross and his current girlfriend, Elena has found a huge reserve of light sweet crude on Southfork and wants to drill. This places his squarely at odds with Uncle Bobby who’s is determined to honor his promise to Momma that no one will drill on Southfork.

Christopher Ewing

Like John Ross, Christopher, the adopted son of Bobby Ewing and Pamela Barnes, is all grown up. Dallas 2012 is set to revolve around the rivalry between this next generation of Ewing’s, not only over Southfork and their two different directions in the energy business, but over the love of a woman – Elena – the Southfork housekeepers daughter!

Christopher shops around his patent for a new technology for extracting methane from the seabed, while John Ross secretly wildcats for oil on Southfork. This puts the cousins (Christopher is the biological son of Sue Ellen’s sister, Kristin Shepherd) at odds over Southfork’s future but also the future of the energy business.

Add to that the discovery on Christopher’s wedding day (to Rebecca) no less, that Elena didn’t show for her wedding to Christopher years earlier because of an email Christopher sent her, telling her that he wasn’t going to keep their wedding date. Elena fled to Mexico, followed by John Ross who too had feelings for the housekeeper’s daughter. Christopher left for Asia where he met Rebecca, and they never discussed the email until they both returned to Southfork for Christopher’s wedding to Rebecca.

Both Elena and Christopher believe John Ross sent the email, but we learn later that John Ross didn’t when he pays an investigator to find out who did…

The alternative energy vs. wildcatting for oil business focus of the two younger Ewing’s puts a modern spin on business conflicts between JR and Bobby that drove much of the storytelling in the original Dallas.

Rebecca Sutter

Rebecca is Christopher’s fiancé who becomes his wife during the pilot episode. The wedding barely registers in the storytelling. Ann welcomes Rebecca to the family by passing on a treasured Ewing family cookbook that has been in Miss Ellie’s family for generations.

But all is not as it appears with Rebecca either, which is highlighted when Tommy visits his sister. The wedding was clearly part of some plan the duo has been working for years.

Is it a coincidence that Rebecca shares Cliff and Pamela Barnes’s mothers Christian name? It could of course be a red-herring, but we think not.

In “The Price You Pay” John Ross learns from his private investigator that it was Rebecca Sutter that sent the email to Elena that ended her engagement to Christopher.

Update: Rebecca Sutter, of course, turned out to be Pamela Barnes, Cliff Barnes' daughter. She is named for her aunt Pamela who married Bobby Ewing in the original series. The opening episode of that Dallas series saw a young Bobby Ewing bring home his new bride Pamela (portrayed by Victoria Principal). As the daughter of Ewing foe Digger Barnes it was not a match welcomed by the Ewing family!

Cliff Barnes

Cliff Barnes comes to town in “The Price You Pay” and offers to buy Southfork from Bobby. JR walks in on the end of their conversation and tells Barnes that “time has not been kind to your face.”

Cliff then has his henchman come chauffeur pick up Christopher and Rebecca for dinner where Uncle Cliff offers Christopher funding for his methane extraction project. Christopher turns him down telling him if he was going to take money from family he would accept his father’s offer. The keys in this scene however was the look exchanged between Rebecca and Cliff. We still think there is more going on here than meets the eye…

Pamela Barnes Ewing

eWe’re going to call it now. We will see Victoria Principal on the Dallas continuation. Rebecca called Elena to have lunch with her. The ladies agree to be friends and Rebecca asks about Christopher as a child. During the conversation Elena states that Pam Barnes, the only woman Christopher ever knew as a mother just upped and disappeared on day….

With all the double dealing and double crossing going on we can’t help but think that Pamela will once again neutralize the rivalries between her two families – the Barnes’ and the Ewings.

Update: Pamela Barnes Ewing is front and center in Dallas storylines as Christopher tries to have his mother declared legally dead so he can inherit her 1/3 share of Barnes Global! Christopher pushes the lawyer to get him a death certificate pronto, but instead he comes up with evidence that Pamela Barnes Ewing is alive and well and living under an assumed identity - Patricia Barritt. Is Patricia Pam?

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