Giddy up! “Dallas” will return early next year with 15 new episodes, TNT announced yesterday.
Fans have been anxious about the show’s future since last fall, when Larry Hagman died while filming the second season. When TNT began televising the episodes in January, ratings dipped amid tough competition from the broadcast networks.
Michael Wright, programming chief for TNT and its sister channels, acknowledged Hagman’s death in yesterday’s news release. “‘Dallas’ has many more stories left to tell, and the Ewing clan will continue to honor J.R.’s memory by keeping its audience surprised and delighted,” Wright said. He also praised the show’s “passionately loyal following” and its “expertly woven storylines, clever twists and turns, and numerous outstanding performances.”
Indeed, “Dallas” hit its creative stride in the second season, which was shown on Monday nights opposite hits like NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” “Dallas” averaged 2.7 million viewers, although the audience climbed to 3.8 million when DVR users who record the show and watch it within seven days are counted. The weekly haul includes 1.6 million adults between ages 25 and 54, a demographic that TNT targets, and 1.4 million between 18 and 49, another crucial group in TV ad sales.
“Dallas’s” first season averaged 4.5 million viewers on Wednesday nights last summer, when the broadcasters are in rerun mode. The first-season audience soared to 6.1 million viewers with DVR playback.
Even with softer numbers in the winter and spring, “Dallas” is TNT’s most-watched series so far this year. By bringing the show back in early 2014, the cable channel seems to be continuing its strategy to become more competitive year-round, building on the success it enjoys with its summertime lineup of popular police dramas like “Major Crimes” and “Rizzoli & Isles.”
Economics were also likely a factor in “Dallas’s” renewal. The series is filmed in Texas, and as the Dallas Morning News pointed out yesterday, the real-life Dallas City Hall helps cover production costs. The cast and crew are expected to begin shooting the third season in early fall, the Morning News reported.
In recent interviews, “Dallas” executive producer Cynthia Cidre has dropped hints about the show’s third-season storylines, including the possibility that John Ross might build his own home on Southfork and that Ann’s brother might be introduced. Yesterday’s news release mentions the show’s 10 regular cast members, a signal they’ll all return for Season 3. Also mentioned: Ken Kercheval, whose character Cliff was jailed in the season finale.
Season 3 Wish List
What do you want to see during “Dallas’s” third season? Let’s discuss your wish list during Dallas Decoder’s next Twitter chat this Monday, May 6, from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern time.
“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.