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Dallas’s JR Gives Jewelry, other Symbols of Weath, a Bad Name

It’s refreshing to know that there’s more to do in senior residences than play checkers, bridge or Scrabble.

But plotting against your own brother? If you’re an unscrupulous JR Ewing, hatching evil schemes can make life worth living.

“Dallas,” the 1980s television saga of the well-to-do Ewing family is back and on TNT, and good old JR continues to give jewelry and other symbols of wealth a bad name. As it happens his son, John Ross III, now grown, exhibits some of the same less than admirable qualities.

The fictitious Ewing family owes its fortune to crude oil. At the heart of the drama have been JR and Bobby — siblings who channel Adam and Eve’s sons from the Bible’s Genesis.

But where Cain and Abel were bestowed polar incomes that reflected a willingness to work for it, the Ewings have pretty much been equals in the material wealth arena. It’s in the area of internal prosperity where these more modern day heirs are worlds apart: JR is a miserable conniver to the more virtuous Bobby, who typically takes the moral high ground.

“I’m sick to death of this family devouring itself over money,” Bobby has been quoted as saying.

But not all of the Ewing family’s motivation comes from money. In fact, JR and Bobby seem to be keeping alive the legacies of their parents: A woman who held SouthFork and its cattle near and dear to her heart and a man who in his younger days cheated a partner out of his share of their oil company and married the love of that partner’s life.

Just as JR and Bobby are products of the same two people, the oil and land that pumps the related blood through their veins are inexplicably tied. That’s where the next generation of rival Ewing family members comes in:

Just as JR and Bobby are products of the same two people, the oil and land that pumps the related blood through their veins are inexplicably tied. That’s where the next generation of rival Ewing family members comes in: Bobby’s son, Christopher, studied alternative energy while JR’s John Ross wants to pummel through the dirt and gravel at SouthFork to try to claim a gusher of his own.

John Ross’s hunger for oil in this environmentally conscious era could actually make him a more reprehensible character than JR– almost because of his youth and because his father, who might impart wisdom, instead adds fuel to the fire.

Granted, a healthy environment doesn’t necessarily develop the soul the way that it can improve the health of the mind and body. And the stories of the human struggle that it takes to achieve the former almost always outshine those of the planet that can get destroyed in the process.

Likewise, entertainment wouldn’t be entertainment without the good and the evil that television dramas like “Dallas” paint in broad, black and white strokes and exaggerate. Real life characters have inherited and learned qualities good and bad as well as strong beliefs and real feelings that can get really hurt. Understanding that makes it easier to target the fictitious ones and more difficult to despise even the JR’s viewers love to hate.

Maybe, just maybe, however, JR could have spent time in that senior residence reading up on current events – and coming to realize that growing older might also be accompanied by growing up.

How many viewers, I wonder, would watch?

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