There’s a surprising timelessness to many “Dallas” episodes, but “Power Play” isn’t one of them. The roller disco scenes and slangy dialogue – at one point, Jock lays down some house rules to Lucy and asks, “You dig?” – firmly root this third-season entry in the era in which it was filmed.
The 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 “Brady Bunch” vet Leslie Martinson, who also directed “The Heiress,” another weak episode from “Dallas’s” third season?
In “Power Play,” I groan when Kristin whips out her Polaroid camera and starts snapping pictures of Alan and Lucy canoodling together at the roller rink. Later, when Kristin shows her candid shots to J.R., notice how smartly they’re framed. Why is this girl wasting her time fetching his coffee when she clearly has what it takes to become a professional shutterbug?
Ultimately, “Power Play” suffers more from poor plotting and character development than high camp. J.R.’s scheme to have Alan marry Lucy so she’ll move away is another eye-roller, and I chuckle when Donna’s attorney, Jonas Smithers, drops by her apartment and blurts out the size of her inheritance – $10 million! – despite Ray’s presence in the room. This Smithers fellow isn’t very discreet.
But “Power Play’s” biggest flaw is its depiction of Lucy. Once again, “Dallas” can’t decide if the character is a child or a woman. In one scene, Jock tells Lucy he doesn’t want her staying awake until midnight to study. A few scenes later, when J.R. forbids Lucy to continue dating Alan, Miss Ellie reminds him Lucy is “a grown woman.”
My guess is “Dallas” wants us to see Lucy as Ellie does – as an adult, albeit a young one – yet the show continues to make her seem juvenile. Lucy decides to marry Alan merely to spite J.R.? Really, “Dallas”?
No wonder Lucy spends so much time at the roller rink in this episode. She’s gotten quite good at going round in circles.
Season 3, Episode 16
Airdate: January 4, 1980
Audience: 20.6 million homes, ranking 4th in the weekly ratings
Writer: Jeff Young
Director: Leslie Martinson
Synopsis: When Kristin tells J.R. about Alan and Lucy’s relationship, J.R. schemes to bring the couple closer, hoping Alan will marry his niece and take her to Chicago. Alan proposes to Lucy but she balks – until J.R. forbids her to see Alan and she decides to marry him. J.R. angers Kristin when he has a fling with Serena, a high-class call girl.
Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Stephanie Blackmore (Serena), Karlene Crockett (Muriel Gillis), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Laura Johnson (Betty Lou Barker), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Randolph Powell (Alan Beam), Michael Prince (Jonas Smithers), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Keenan Wynn (Digger Barnes)