Pilot: Changing of the Guard

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Who Stuck J.R. in a Nursing Home?
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Welcome back to Southfork Ranch, everybody! Hidden among the trees, a crew drills for oil. A computer beeps out a warning and a woman with long black hair wakes up and starts shouting at them to pull the drill. "Wake up, John Ross!" A young man pops up in his cot and everyone goes running over to the drill. Crude oil geysers out and rains down on everyone as they gaze skyward, their mouths agape. After everybody gets their stomachs pumped, the woman asks John Ross how he's going to tell Bobby. Apparently, nobody's ever been allowed to drill on Southfork. John Ross isn't worried, though, because he's cocky like that.

Elsewhere, Bobby is getting the news from his doctor that he has a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. Bobby reminds his doctor not to tell anyone, because he knows doctor-patient confidentiality is kind of an iffy prospect on TV. He'll tell his family himself after his son gets married in a couple of days so that his whole impending death drama doesn't bring everybody's mood down.

Cue the opening credits. The music, the imagery, even the lettering pay homage to the original. I didn't think I had any attachment to the original, only vaguely remembering it, but I may have clapped and giggled a little here.

Nostalgia's over. Bobby's son Christopher tries to talk some investors into funding his quest for alternative fuels. In this case, it's methane, which he demonstrates by setting a frozen chunk of it on fire over their country club lunch. (As an aside, I am shocked to discover Jesse Metcalfe is 33. He looks like he's barely out of high school.) The investors offer him a crap deal, which he doesn't take, saying, "I ain't a virgin, but I ain't a whore, either." A young lady in a sexy tennis outfit saunters up to him, speaking French, and drags him off to the women's locker room for some tonsil hockey. Or, as they say in France, le hockey du tonsil. They act like they don't know each other, but she's actually his fiancée Rebecca and she's not actually French. Seems kind of rude of her to have interrupted his meeting, seeing as how she couldn't have known it was over. Also, her bra is totally wrong for tennis.

Back at the ranch, Bobby and wife Ann let us know that there's some triangle-shaped history between John Ross, Christopher and Elena. Bobby also proposes the two of them go on a cruise together, even though he hates traveling. He wants his tumor to see the world.

Meanwhile, John Ross and Elena (his drilling partner from the previous scene) celebrate at a bar with their wildcatting buddies. John Ross seems like a pretty great guy, offering to treat his workers and their families to a weekend trip. It doesn't last. He sneaks off to hand a wad of cash to some guy, saying, "That's for not telling my uncle about drilling on Southfork." The guy says, "Betting against J.R.'s son would have been like betting against the Dallas Cowboys -- downright unpatriotic." John Ross gets a call and goes out into the alley to meet some unseen co-conspirator in a fancy red car.

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