Critique: Dallas Episode 25 – ‘Call Girl’

Call Girl, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Leanne Rees

Hooker by crook

To me, “Dallas” isn’t campy. It has silly moments, but even when the show goes over the top, it still has interesting things to say.

“Call Girl” is an exception. This episode is pure cheese, which can be fun but mostly makes me wince.

Everything about J.R.’s scheme here is absurd: the way Leanne sneaks into Pam’s bedroom and opens the drapes to give J.R.’s photographer a clear shot, Leanne’s clumsy attempt to lure the drunken Ben Maxwell into the room, Pam’s wild-eyed expression when she awakens to find him falling into her bed.

The whole thing plays like something from “Three’s Company” – only funnier.

The most ludicrous thing about Maxwell’s “threesome” is how it winds up on the Dallas Press’s front page under a Pearl Harbor-sized headline (“FINANCIER IN LOVE NEST”).

You have to wonder: Why is this newsworthy? Aren’t the Dallas Press’s editors afraid Maxwell, Pam or Leanne might sue them for libel? How did the paper manage to get the late-night “tryst” on the front page by the next morning? Was the article written by the same lightning-fast reporter behind the sensational coverage of Julie Grey’s death a few episodes ago?

Indeed, when “Call Girl” debuted, it became the latest “Dallas” episode to portray reporters as sleazy, which must have made the show seem out of step with the times.

Five years after the press brought down Nixon, journalists were being lionized in pop culture. On television, “60 Minutes” was a hit and the newspaper drama “Lou Grant” was a critical darling, while the box-office champs included “The China Syndrome,” which opened three weeks after “Call Girl’s” broadcast.

I realize “Dallas” isn’t concerned with depicting journalism fairly – on the show, the press serves as a plot device to expose the Ewings’ secrets – but as a onetime reporter, it’s disheartening to see my favorite show take a dim view of a profession I loved.

In fact, the only thing more bothersome is when “Dallas” takes a dim view of itself, which is what happens with “Call Girl.”

Grade: C

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ben Maxwell, Call Girl, Dallas, Fred Beir, Leanne Rees, Pam Ewing, Veronica Hamel, Victoria Principal

Staged bedfellows

‘CALL GIRL’

Season 2, Episode 20

Airdate: February 23, 1979

Audience: 12.7 million homes, ranking 37th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Les Martinson

Synopsis: J.R. makes it look like Cliff’s political patron had a ménage a trios with Pam and her new roommate Leanne Rees. The man resigns but the scandal prompts Bobby and the Ewings to rally around Pam, who returns to Southfork.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Fred Beir (Ben Maxwell), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Veronica Hamel (Leanne Rees), Claude Earl Jones (Matt Henderson), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Mark Wheeler (Kit Mainwaring), Buck Young (Seth Stone)

“Call Girl” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Doesn’t Miss Ellie chase a reporter with a shotgun? That IS a pretty dim view. That whole story was silly. It doesn’t seem to phase Pam much, as I recall.

  2. Destinee says:

    Oh my friend, Call Girl is an A in my book! Leanne’s classy apartment and her devotion to Pam, JR’s piss yellow velvet cardigan, Sue Ellen’s drunk music theme… just pure Dallas pleasure right there. :)

  3. I always had the hots IV Veronica Hamel. She was quite the smart wide on Hill Street Blues who provided a very healthy dose of sexuality to her police officer husband & frank as well as forthright pillow talk, not just about romance, but great ideas in helping him remain strong in his vocation!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] worst scene? The “Call Girl” sequence where Leeann Rees (Veronica Hamel) lures drunken Ben Maxwell (Fred Beir) into Pam’s bed [...]

  2. [...] In addition to Hampton, Jones portrays one of J.R.’s dirty cops in the second-season episode “Call Girl” and rival oilman Duke Carlisle during the 13th season. He’s perfect for each of these [...]

  3. […] “Call Girl,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) is leaving her apartment, suitcase […]

  4. […] dated feel makes “Power Play” the silliest “Dallas” episode since “Call Girl,” which aired during the second season. Is it a coincidence both installments were directed by […]

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