The arrival of TNT's "Dallas" (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET) has forcefully reminded me of an important truth: You've got to be flexible in the criteria you use to judge TV shows.
Normally, I don't like to be able to predict what'll happen next on a TV, but with "Dallas," it's not difficult to discern what may be coming down the road for members of the battling Ewing clan. Even if I don't know the specifics of what's to come in a particular episode, there are bound to be betrayals and a revelation or two on my TV screen each week. Halfway through the show's summer run, those staples of melodrama continue to arrive like clockwork.
I usually enjoy fairly complex characters who often have ambiguous or conflicted motivations, but most of the characters on "Dallas" are about one thing, maybe two. They want more money. They want to save the family. They are bent on revenge, etc. What makes them tick is as large and unmissable as their hats and their hair.
And if I were to use my usual scripted-drama criteria to judge the show, I would be depriving myself of a whole lot of escapist enjoyment. I love that there's so much good Serious Television out there, but not everything has to be Serious. Having said that, I don't mean to imply that the show is in any way a guilty pleasure (I will never, ever feel guilty about watching J.R. Ewing cackle as he manipulates and deceives his family. That would be un-American).
Far from it, I'm quite happy to broadcast my love for all things Ewing. And I would argue that it's not exactly as easy as it might look to make such soapy froth. Shapeless, flailing soaps are a dime a dozen, but this show is anything but lazy. For the driven, purposeful "Dallas" to have come up with as many turnabouts and betrayals as it has and still remain in some kind of recognizable reality is a feat, and I truly enjoy how efficiently and speedily the show burns through stories. It may not be the deepest show on my DVR, but so what? Isn't that something to celebrate?
There are four more weeks of Ewing fun to enjoy this year, but we do have Season 2 to look forward to. In this week's edition of the Southfork Follies, Rebecca once again attempts to get back in Christopher's good graces, but Christopher's got other problems. You will not be surprised to know that John Ross is connected to them.
In HuffPost TV's exclusive sneak peek above, Christopher and John Ross start arguing over J.R. and things get pretty heated. "If you say anything about me not being a real Ewing, I'm gonna knock that cheesy grin off your face," Christopher warns.
Enjoy the drama. Yeehaw!
"Dallas" airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.