'Dallas' Doubles as '80s Nostalgia & Fresh Guilty Pleasure

"The secret is the blended cast," writes PEOPLE'S TV critic of the returning stars and sexy newcomers

Photo: Martin Schoeller/TNT

Like finding an abandoned Teddy Ruxpin at a garage sale or discovering a Swatch watch at the bottom of a Trivial Pursuit box, hearing the theme song to Dallas opens an instant wormhole to the ’80s.

Wisely preserving the iconic tune – along with the now-retro scrolling opener – this updated take on the classic nighttime soap pulls off a 10-gallon-hat trick: It’s both old and new, a comfy piece of nostalgia that doubles as a fresh guilty pleasure.

The secret is the blended cast, which successfully mixes fan favorites from the original (only Victoria Principal, who played Pam, is M.I.A.) with sexy Southfork newcomers. Ewing brothers J.R. (the ever-irascible Larry Hagman, letting his overgrown eyebrows do the heavy dramatic lifting) and Bobby (a still-buff Patrick Duffy) remain at odds, while their sons carry on the family feud.

J.R.’s clone John Ross (Josh Henderson) wants to drill, baby, drill, while Bobby’s boy Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) plays for Al Gore’s team. They both yearn for the heart of Elena (Jordana Brewster), the spunky daughter of the family’s Latina cook. (Really? It’s 2012; let’s leave the stereotypes in the bin with the Punky Brewster suspenders.)

The show’s breakout star is Desperate Housewives alum Henderson. (Metcalfe and Brenda Strong, who plays Bobby s current wife, Ann, also hopped over from Wisteria Lane.) A real-life Dallas native, he nails the twang and the good ol’ boy glint.

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