With a premiere that drew nearly 7 million viewers in the summer, TNT’s splashy “Dallas” reboot seemed primed for success in its second life. The cable series – in which Larry Hagman reprised his role as the legendary Texas oilman J.R. Ewing – was slated to return for a second season Jan. 28.
Hagman’s unexpected death at age 81 from complications from cancer on Friday, however, leaves the future of the show in question.
Sources close to “Dallas” who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly said this weekend that Hagman had completed filming on several new episodes before his death and would appear in Season 2.
But the sources also acknowledged that the show’s producers hadn’t yet established how they would address J.R.’s departure from the cable series, which was widely thought to revolve around Hagman’s portrayal.
The show’s writers and producers are said to be working to give his character a proper send-off.
At the time of its June debut, “Dallas” scored the No. 1 scripted series premiere on cable in 2012.
Meanwhile, tourists and locals flocked to Southfork Ranch on Saturday, bringing flowers in memory of Hagman.
Southfork, a ranch north of Dallas, was known to millions of viewers as the Ewing family home. Exterior shots of the house and pool were shown when the series aired from 1978 to 1991, although the show wasn’t filmed there.
The ranch has been open for tours since the mid-1980s, and now sees more than 100,000 visitors each year. Each room of the house has a theme for each character.
On Saturday, J.R. Ewing’s room had flowers and a card for tourists to sign.
“Today is about Larry Hagman and his family,” said Janna Timm, a Southfork Ranch & Hotel spokeswoman. “He was such a wonderful person, and we will really miss him.”
Linda Sproule of Peterborough, Ont., had been traveling through the U.S. the past couple of weeks and heard about Hagman’s death Friday while in Dallas.
She said she didn’t know where Southfork was but wanted to come because she was a fan of the show in the 1980s.
“I remember on Friday nights we watched it, and J.R. was bigger than life in some ways,” she said after taking the Southfork tour Saturday morning. “This ranch is beautiful. Being here is kind of emotional in a way.”
Barbara Quinones and her husband were in town for their daughter’s soccer tournament and had already planned to visit Southfork when they heard news of Hagman’s death.
“We loved him because he was so ruthless,” said Quinones, of Albuquerque, N.M. “This is a sad day, but I’m glad we’re here.”
Some of the show’s stars, including Hagman, came to Southfork for the series’ 25th anniversary. The Fort Worth-born actor also had visited several times before the show was revived.
“He was definitely a gentleman, a class act,” said Jim Gomes, vice president of resorts at Southfork Ranch & Hotel. “He loved the fans as much as they loved him.”