I attended the Dallas Screenwriter’s Association meeting last week that featured a talk with Cynthia Cydre, the head writer and showrunner for the new Dallas TV series that will run on TNT later this year.  Hardly anybody in film circles (and in the general public for that matter) is unaware that a new Dallas is on its way, and I’ve been wary of this project since I first heard about it.  But I have to say, after hearing her thoughts on the project, I’ll admit I’m a bit curious to see it when it airs.  Here’s a sneak peek:

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So here’s my impression of this new series…

THE GOOD:

It’s actually being shot in Dallas!  Not only does that mean a lot of good production jobs here in town, but we’ll actually see Dallas scenes on screen, which is pretty cool.  Many people don’t know that most of the original series was shot in Burbank.  She told stories she’d heard about how the crew spent a lot of time framing palm trees out of the shots.

It’s a continuation of the original story with many of the original cast in place.  Patrick Duffy, Larry Hagman, and Linda Gray all return in the roles they made famous, along with a new generation of the family, which is good.  I don’t think the series would have worked at all without some tie-in to the past.

The way TNT handles shows is very encouraging.  Instead of airing the pilot and a few episodes and then revamping the show according to audience and critic reactions, they shoot the entire season up front before they air them, which means the writers have the ability to craft long story arcs that take place throughout the season.

Camp-be-gone!  Many remember the original series for the campiness that took it over toward the end of its run.  But you have to remember, the series ran 14 years.  Starting from scratch with all new storylines will give it a freshness that should be interesting.

And I like that in the series the family business will not just be Ewing Oil, but Ewing Energy, and they’ll be players in energy sources outside of fossil fuels, reflective of today’s culture.

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Texas-sized eyebrows.

OKAY, THE BAD:

Cynthia has a long pedigree of running shows and sounds like she really knows what she’s doing, I have no doubt that she can create a compelling and entertaining TV show worthy of viewing.  But I do have only one problem with her.  And yes, it sounds a little petty…

She’s not from Dallas.  In fact, I don’t think any of the writers are from Dallas.

So once again, we find ourselves with a TV series about our city produced by people who don’t know it.

And I’m sorry, but when you cut together scenes of the downtown skyscrapers with shots of oil-soaked roughnecks in a bar drinking champagne and “WOO”-ing in hillbilly accents…  It just rubs me the wrong way.

IT’S NOT DALLAS.

Big sweeping shots of Southfork Ranch, men on horseback, cowboy hats, big belt buckles, I’m not going to say all that doesn’t exist in this part of the world.

BUT IT’S NOT DALLAS.

The things that made me cringe when I first heard about the show still make me cringe.  It’s a show called Dallas, set in Dallas, shot in Dallas, by people who don’t know Dallas, that will look nothing like Dallas.  At least, not the Dallas I live in.  The one everybody in pop-cultureland thinks Dallas is, but not the real Dallas.

Having said that, I’ll be tuning in when it starts airing this summer, and I really do wish the show great success.

But I do think someone should make a movie that shows the real Dallas.

Just sayin’.