The most pivotal season ever of "Dallas" started when the cameras weren't rolling late last year.
With the death of Larry Hagman, who played evil oil tycoon J.R. Ewing, producers and writers were thrown for a loop about the show's future.
Should "Dallas" continue? Can viewers accept the series without J.R.?
For now, it isn't an issue. Six episodes had already been shot with Hagman for the rest of the season. To toss them would seem cruel.
TNT, where "Dallas" (9 p.m. EST Monday) airs, agreed.
Sure, this reboot of the 1978-91 CBS series turned out to be one of 2012's biggest summer cable hits, but Hagman's death would be a challenge.
"Dallas" will address Hagman's death by killing off Ewing in March, bringing back past favorites and setting the stage for the next chapter in the life of the series.
Monday's season opener picks up where the story ended in the summer. The revelation that Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), the wife of Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe), is armed with a secret to blow the Ewings apart is paramount.
Meanwhile, Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) is nearing Election Day in her bid for governor, but her enemies are ready to jump on her and ruin her bid if she doesn't comply.
At this point, he is still alive and well, his presence never greater.
That's the way it should be on "Dallas."
Other highlights for the week of Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
-- "Screen Actors Guild Awards" (8 p.m., TNT). Dick Van Dyke receives the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 19th annual ceremony, broadcast live from Los Angeles.
-- "Fashion Police" (10 p.m., E!). Joan Rivers and her panel sharpen their claws over the SAG Awards red carpet.
-- "Pioneers of Television" (8 p.m., PBS). Remembering the trend of "superhero" TV and its impact on pop culture: Lou Ferrigno ("The Hulk"), Adam West ("Batman), Lynda Carter ("Wonder Woman").
-- "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials" (8 p.m., CBS). Boomer Esiason and Aisha Tyler headline a look at the great moments for most Super Bowl games: those outrageous commercials.
-- "30 Rock" (8 p.m., NBC). An end of an era arrives as the Tina Fey comedy airs its final original episode.
-- "My Soul To Take" (9 p.m., Syfy). A serial killer returns to town 16 years later to finish where he left off.