Beyond Southfork: The 5 Best TV Shows Shot In Dallas

Categories: Film and TV

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A new stable of Ewings pick up where the story left off, tonight.

Welcome back, Ewings. Where y'all been? Only in television limbo, it turns out, because everything that ever was on TV eventually is reborn. (Out of desperation, apparently. What else explains the soon-to-return Munsters?)

Dallas is back as a "new" series tonight at 8 p.m., with a two-hour premiere on cable's TNT. (Join the Observer at the Angelika in Mockingbird Station tonight for a free screening of the first episode. Get there early to stake claim on a good seat.) Larry Hagman reprises his role as J.R. Ewing, the oil-rich-then-poor-then-rich-again family's wickedly brilliant patriarch. Patrick Duffy's back as nicer brother Bobby. Linda Gray alights from the time machine as Sue Ellen. New Ewings will be played by Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalf, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Brenda Strong. (Look for Dallas actress and singer-dancer Linda Leonard in a sweet scene a few minutes into tonight's episode.)

The Ewings' homestead is still Southfork ranch (which is actually north of Plano), but little shooting for the new show will be done on location here in Big D. Not much of the original Dallas, which aired on CBS from 1978 to 1991, was shot here either after the first five episodes. In later years, they got sloppy about letting LA double as D-town. It was fun to spot the palm trees and mountains rising from Southfork's back 40.

Dallas isn't the only major TV series to have its roots here, however. These five did, too:

Walker, Texas Ranger aired on CBS from the spring of 1993 to May 2001.

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Created by Leslie Greif and Paul Haggis (two-time best screenplay Oscar winner for Crash and Letters from Iwo Jima), the show starred martial arts instructor-turned-actor Chuck Norris as a crusading lawman who used his chopsocky expertise to take down bad guys. Besides inspiring a hilarious, long-running bit on Conan O'Brien's late-night show that has Conan pulling a lever to cue up random Walker moments, the series provided a decade of lucrative employment for Dallas-area actors. Credits-wise it was to Dallas thespians what Law & Order was to New York actors. It's hard to find a local actor here who doesn't have a part on Walker on his or her bio. Walker's sidekick was played by Clarence Gilyard, who, after the series went off the air, entered grad school at SMU and taught acting classes there. The show ended with a made-for-TV movie titled Trial by Fire that concluded with a cliffhanger. That means there's still a chance that, like Sherlock Holmes, Cordell Walker could return someday to solve more crimes with his famous fan kick. The series still airs in more than 100 countries. Enjoy this clip from the episode "Black Dragons," dubbed in French.

Friday Night Lights shot primarily on location outside Austin, but did enough scenes on Dallas turf and used enough Dallas/Fort Worth acting pros to qualify as close-to-home. Based on Buzz Bissinger's 1990 book about West Texas high school football, and the 2004 movie adaptation, the NBC series starred Kyle Chandler as head coach of the small-town Dillon Panthers. The show tackled storylines about racism, drug abuse, abortion, grade-fixing, poverty, illegal recruiting of players and cuts in school funding. Chandler won an Emmy for his performance, as did scriptwriter Jason Katims.

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Oh, to be the meat on Taylor's grill.
Critics loved this series and it earned the esteemed Peabody and Humanitas Awards, but NBC took it off prime time after two seasons. DirecTV carried its third, fourth and fifth seasons, ending in 2011. Plenty of Dallas actors got career boosts from appearing on this show. Liz Mikel, who played the character Smash Williams' mom, appeared last year on Broadway in the musical Lysistrata Jones and stars this summer in Dallas Theater Center's Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. She also just finished filming a role in the new Ben Stiller movie, a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Cedric Neal portrayed a thug on the FNL's final season; he's currently on Broadway in the cast of the Tony Award-winning The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. Stacey Oristano played a stripper named Mindy for the run of the show. Now she's on the new ABC Family channel series Bunheads.

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12 comments
Ed D.
Ed D.

The Good Guys was on for two seasons and a total of 20 episodes. And how can you toss in the mostly-not-shot-here Friday Night Lights while ignoring the gloriously cheesy "Crimetime After Primetime" CBS series Dangerous Curves? For shame.

Jayne Hasselroth
Jayne Hasselroth

Best Looking... Best Actor...Kyle Chandler! Kyle is cast in many upcoming movies this year. Some of which are "Argo" (Ben Affleck), "Broken City" (Russell Crowe), Scorsese's "War on Wallstreet" (Leonardo DiCaprio), and the new Kathryn Bigelow movie presently known as "Zero Dark Thirty".  The final dates are still unknown for the new "Friday NIght Lights" movie planned by Peter Berg.

MattL1
MattL1

Man, maybe it was because they filmed it around my neighborhood, but I really loved "The Good Guys." It wasn't perfect, but the local flavor, likable characters, and some damn funny comedy made for an enjoyable hour of television each time. 

Monkeybyteu
Monkeybyteu

Actually most (if not all) of the shooting on the new DALLAS was done in Dallas--- and like some of predecessors - provided nice work for local crew and actors. And don't forget the recent series CHASE and short lived but critically acclaimed (fox pulled it after 2 eps but it shot a few more) LONE STAR.... At one point not too long ago, 3shows were shooting here at once. Hopefully lightning will strike again.

guest
guest

It's definitely northeast. Everybody wins.  https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&q=southfork+ranch&fb=1&gl=us&hq=southfork+ranch&hnear=0x864e9ee65ef7fbc7:0xc12f5951b95215f9,Highland+Park,+TX&cid=0,0,2326975912280279396&ei=6k3ZT5-MMaiG2gXt3pz4Dw&oi=local_result&ved=0CMwBEPwSMAw

Guest
Guest

Demi Lovato also did a guest spot on Prison Break

estebanperez
estebanperez

I agree, that show was the best. Typical FOX killing off shows too soon.

WW
WW

Good Guys was the best!  It's streaming on Netflix and is worth checking out.  Episodes were an hour long but it was primarily a comedy.

Trevor G
Trevor G

Dallas sucked when it was on the 1st time. 

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

Southfork is actually east of Plano, not north.

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