I confess that when I was a kid, I watched a couple of seasons of "Dallas." It was back in the '80s, the era of big wealth, big hair and big shoulderpads, when nighttime soaps consisted of oil, dalliances and murder.
I credit "Dallas" for teaching what not to do when creating a drama -- namely, having a star leave the show and deciding to come back two years later, and writing the season in between as "a dream." It was such a ridiculous notion that I found better things to do with my time.
"Dallas" soldiered on for a few more seasons after the dream one, plus a couple of TV movies after that.
"Dallas" was one of those series that seemed to fall by the wayside after that. While main villain JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) became a part of pop culture lore, there didn't seem to be a huge clamor to find out what ever became of that we needed to see the story continue.
And yet, that's what it's going to do as a new "Dallas" (TNT, 9 p.m.) begins tonight, focusing on the next generation of Ewings but bringing back original cast members that include Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray.
But to me, the things that made "Dallas" cheesy fun in the '80s no longer seem relevant. While big oil is still evil these days, it seems like a distant runner-up to things like hedge funds, dot-com companies and banks -- the things really screwing up today's economy. All of the affairs and sex, which seemed scandalous in the '80s, are almost second-nature on TV these days. And a show about the excesses of wealth seems out of place in a country where unemployment is nearly 9 percent.
I'm not sure how many of the old-school fans of "Dallas" are still around that want to get into the new series, and I'm not sure enough people under 40 cared about the old show enough to check out the new one.
Anyway, I've heard mixed reviews about the new series, so check it out for yourself, especially if you think '80s shoulderpads are the height of chic.
WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: On "Royal Pains," (USA, 9 p.m.) Jill's nephew gets into a fight at chess camp. Yeah, I know what you're thinking -- not ANOTHER series that takes on the serious issue of chess camp bullies. It's followed by a new "Necessary Roughness" at 10 p.m.