“Dallas” with a Mojito Twist

September 24, 2007

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On my flight back from Santo Domingo I caught a special viewing of the first episode of the new CBS series Cane, which stars Jimmy Smits as the adopted son of a Cuban family that grows sugar in Florida and produces a popular rum. Suffice it to say that in an era when reality TV and crime dramas dominate the network airwaves woven in between a few comedies, I felt like I was traveling back to the time of the good old primetime soaps. With a plot full of family intrigue and, believe or not, sugar as a source alternative fuel, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to Dallas, the granddaddy of all primetime soaps.

Which leaves me with a lot of questions of what may lie ahead: Will network audiences flock to a genre that was put on ice a couple of decades ago? Even more so, will non-Hispanic audiences find appeal in a storyline that features front-and-center a Cuban family, with strong Hispanic themes, a solid cast of Hispanic actors, and is peppered with Spanish dialogue? Will the series draw a sizeable audience of US-born Hispanics paving the way for future network shows with Latino themes? Will the story bear any relevance to the large portion of US Hispanics that don’t hail from the Caribbean and for whom Pedro Pan* is known only as the guy who fed Captain Hook to the crocodile?

I think I will sit back and observe while sipping on a mojito.

*Note: Operation Pedro Pan was the name given to the program of flights coordinated by the U.S. government, the Roman Catholic Church and Cuban exiles that took children from Cuba to the United States because their parents were being persecuted by the island’s communist government in the early 1960s. The character Jimmy Smits plays in Cane arrived on one such flight.