In its day, "Dallas" was a magnificent and magnetic series that drew millions every Friday night. No matter how silly, this steamy soap took command for most of its 13-season run, serving as a pioneer of serialized dramas in prime time. (And need we remind you how 77 percent of all people watching TV the night of Nov. 21, 1980, tuned to "Dallas" to find out who shot J.R.?)
For all these reasons, "Dallas Reunion: The Return To Southfork" will stir amusing memories.
This predictable and, at two hours, padded retrospective brings together cast members Larry Hagman, Victoria Principal, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Charlene Tilton, Ken Kercheval, Steve Kanaly ... and Mary Crosby, who, as Kristin, turned out to be who shot J.R. Ewing, the villainous oil baron played with hissable aplomb by Hagman.
A current look at most of these stars, gathered at the Texas ranch that posed as the Ewing family spread, will remind you how much time has passed since the show ended in 1991.
A look at clips from the show itself will remind you how bad most of the acting was and, by today's standards, how tame was the seemingly scandalous behavior.
Doesn't matter. For its fans, "Dallas" was as big as the Texas outdoors, and going back briefly is fun. It airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Other shows to look out for:
-- Somewhere, Donald Trump's ears must be burning. "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss," which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. on Fox, is a hilarious sendup of "The Apprentice." Recruiting 12 young business professionals to compete for a high-level job and a big pot of money (sound familiar?), this new show is actually a prank: The firm they are trying to join is nonexistent, and the Trump-like mogul making them jump through hoops is an actor. "Any losers here tonight?" says supposed billionaire N. Paul Todd (actor William August, in a pitch-perfect performance). "No? Wrong! There are 11 losers. We just don't know who yet." For fans of "The Apprentice" and, even more so, for viewers who hate it, "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss" looks like a winner.
-- Two days later, Fox introduces a bona fide contest with a bona fide billionaire. Richard Branson, the swashbuckling founder of the Virgin Group of Companies, leads a group of 16 young entrepreneurs on an epic competition jetting around the world in "The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best." At far-flung international destinations, Branson will confront these candidates with unusual and colorful challenges. And, needless to say, each week one of these rivals will fail to please Branson and be left behind. "Rebel Billionaire" premieres with a two-hour special Tuesday at 7 p.m.
-- A new National Geographic special, "Arlington: Field of Honor," gives viewers a tour of America's most hallowed burial ground, whose 600-plus acres pay homage to more than 260,000 men and women who have served their country. The special covers a typical day in the life of cemetery representative Joe Mercer, burial team leader Darryl Stafford and other members of the small, hardworking Arlington staff that handles up to 25 funeral services each weekday. The film also follows the training of four young soldiers who hope to become sentinels for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. "Arlington" airs Wednesday at 7 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
-- Also recognizing Veterans Day, "Last Letters Home: Voices of American Troops from the Battlefields of Iraq" is a documentary that pays tribute to American troops recently killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. From the troops' hometowns, family members of eight men and two women read aloud their loved ones' poignant final letters, some of which were not received until after news of the troops' deaths had been received. These readings are accompanied by remembrances from loved ones left behind: wives, mothers, fathers, children and friends, with accompanying photos supplied by the families as well as The New York Times, which produced the documentary with HBO in association with LIFE Books. It airs Thursday (Veterans Day 2004) at 8 p.m. on HBO.