More than a dozen years on "Dallas" still wasn't enough to help Linda Gray go back.
"I had to do a lot of homework. I wondered: What did she do in the past 20 years? Who would she be?" Gray, who played the troubled Sue Ellen Ewing during the show's original run on CBS, asks, leaning forward from a hotel-suite couch during an interview.
"I thought long and hard about what, on a psychological, spiritual and emotional level, she would be like these days."
Gray -- along with former "Dallas" co-stars Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman -- returns for the new "Dallas," which follows the next generation of the Ewing clan and their backstabbing exploits. The new series launches at 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday on TNT.
Cynthia Cidre is executive producer and a writer for the new show. (Her credits include the films "The Mambo Kings" and "In Country." In true Sue Ellen style, Gray met with Cidre over lunch and picked her brain.
Sue Ellen wouldn't, for example, turn out to be a lazily rich "Real Housewives" type who would have her scandal-filled life documented for TV. Instead, she's a woman in her golden years who's wise because of various tribulations and richer than her former husband, J.R.
But she's still a mother, one who will stand beside her greedy son, John Ross, even though she's about to ruin his grandmother's legacy to make a few dollars.
For Gray, the best part of having Cidre on board is the fact that she's a woman. "Most of the time, 'Dallas' was written by men," Gray says.
Gray doesn't look as if it has been more than 20 years since "Dallas" ended its network run, closing a piece of TV history. There may be a few more wrinkles and some gray in her hair, but she remains a striking figure.
The soap, which chronicled the saga of the oil-rich Ewing family and their backstabbing ways, was revived with two TV movies in the '90s and then faded to black, seemingly permanently.
This next chapter of "Dallas" keeps up with the times. Fighting over an oil company isn't paramount, for example. Instead, the environmental implications of drilling are.
Such new developments excite Gray.
"What an opportunity for an actor and what a responsibility to (not disappoint) fans of the original series," Gray says.
Other highlights for the week of June 10-16 (listings subject to change; check local listings)
-- "Tia & Tamera" (8 p.m., Style Network). The reality show about twin actresses Tia Mowry and Tamera Mowry is back as they deal with a new baby and a marriage.
-- "Hurricane Hunters" (9 p.m., Weather Channel). This new series looks at how hurricanes are studied, such as one Air Force group's mission to fly into hurricanes.
-- "Barter Kings" (9 p.m., A&E). This new reality show looks at two entrepreneurs as they trade up low-value items for things worth more.
-- "Teen Mom" (10 p.m., MTV). The final season launches, following the trials of being a young mom with babies in tow.
-- "The Choice" (9 p.m., Fox). Joe Jonas looks for a date on this competition installment.
-- "Piranhaconda" (9 p.m., Syfy). Director Roger Corman's latest hybrid monster -- half piranha, half anaconda -- attacks a film crew.