When I heard that the Ewings were going to return to television, the first person I thought of was my wife. She grew up on a three-acre spread across the road from Southfork Ranch, so in high school I drove past the mansion more times than my future mother-in-law might have liked. As much as anyone, they understood the Dallas dilemma perfectly: The show was the best and the worst thing that could have happened to the image of the city.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not the least bit worried about how the new version of Dallas, set for next summer on TNT, will affect our reputation now. Given the rash of reality shows featuring the rich and clueless, like Dallas Divas & Daughters and Big Rich Texas, it’s hard to imagine things getting worse. No, my concern is for the network’s executives. Of course they want a show that is brimming with greed, corruption, intrigue, and lots and lots of money. I just think they went looking in the wrong place. Why resurrect a program that has been dead for twenty years when the most fascinatingly corrupt and power-hungry characters in Dallas may be the real-life politicians running around downtown today? So here is an alternative treatment for those producers to consider. Think of it as our city’s version of The Wire—but feel free to throw in some boots and boobs if that helps.
The date is June 27, 2011, and the setting is the Meyerson Symphony Center, in the heart of the downtown Arts District. As Mike Rawlings, a white former CEO from North Dallas, delivers his inaugural address as the new mayor, FBI agents are fanning out across the city, raiding the office and South Dallas home of county commissioner John Wiley Price, which has a Rawlings sign in the yard.