Critique: TNT’s Dallas Episode 5 – ‘Truth and Consequences’

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Truth and Consequences

The ex files

“Truth and Consequences” offers a nice showcase for Brenda Strong and Julie Gonzalo, who haven’t had much to do on TNT’s “Dallas” until now. Both actresses make the most of the opportunities they’re given, delivering solid performances that add dimension to their characters, Ann and Rebecca, the newest Ewing wives.

Throughout this episode, Ann reminds me of “Dallas” heroines past. Seeing her stand up to J.R. (“They warned me. My whole marriage, they told me about you.”) recalls some of Pam’s best confrontations with him, while the scene where Ann, clad in her signature pearls, offers Rebecca some much-needed motherly advice evokes warm memories of Miss Ellie. This isn’t a coincidence. Ann exists to fill the void left by both Pam and Ellie, two of the old show’s most beloved characters, which means Strong might have the most thankless job of all among TNT’s “Dallas” cast.

This is why Ann’s visit to smug ex-husband Harris Ryland, played to the hilt by Mitch Pileggi, is so pivotal. With this exchange, Ann begins to come into her own as a character. She may not share Pam’s history with Bobby or Ellie’s connection to the land, but at least now we know Ann is willing to stick her neck out to help her husband fight for Southfork. This is the kind of wife our hero deserves, and the classy Strong fills the role nicely. Bravo.

Gonzalo does impressive work in “Truth and Consequences,” too. The young actress is moving during Rebecca’s tearful confession to Christopher in the barn (“You need to believe I love you!”), and her desperation is palpable when Rebecca turns to Ann for comfort and counsel. I’m not convinced the audience should trust Rebecca, but Gonzalo is helping transform her into “Dallas’s” most intriguing character.

Given this episode’s emphasis on the women of Southfork, it seems like this would have been an ideal time to let viewers continue getting reacquainted with Sue Ellen, but she doesn’t appear in “Truth and Consequences.” This is the second TNT episode in which Sue Ellen is missing in action; the character is also absent from “The Price You Pay.”

I find this astonishing. Like I wrote last month, with the exception of Larry Hagman, no actor on TNT’s “Dallas” has as much presence as Linda Gray, and it’s a shame the producers have struggled to find a meaningful storyline for her.  The good news is this begins to change with next week’s episode, and not a moment too soon.

Overall, “Truth and Consequences” is a strong hour, with good writing from Robert Rovner and stylish direction from Randy Zisk, whose past credits include “Revenge” and the David Jacobs-produced “Lois & Clark” and “Bodies of Evidence.” I especially like the “Truth and Consequences” scene where J.R. quotes Jock (“Daddy always said beautiful women were the most dangerous”), which prompts an exasperated Bobby to respond, “I know all the things Daddy used to say.” This might be the season’s best line.

Other highlights: the scenes where John Ross and Christopher each show up on Elena’s doorstep at different points during the same night. (Some girls have all the luck.) Elena’s exchange with John Ross is particularly good. I love when he tells her, “You’ve accused me of awful things that I did not do, and yet I’m still here, at your door, asking you to take a chance on me.” Josh Henderson really makes me care about John Ross here; this is probably the actor’s best scene so far.

Moments like these compensate for some of “Truth and Consequences” shortcomings, beginning with J.R. and John Ross’s silly scene at Cowboys Stadium. On “Dallas,” J.R. is supposed to be a prominent Texan, but I don’t think he’s famous enough to warrant having his face flashed on a Jumbotron. The sequence makes TNT’s “Dallas” too self-aware; J.R. is a folk hero in real life, not within the context of the narrative. Not helping matters: Jerry Jones’ cameo, an unwelcome reminder of his appearance in “War of the Ewings,” “Dallas’s” abysmal 1998 reunion movie.

J.R.’s purchase of Southfork, just days after Marta bought it from Bobby, strains credibility, too. It reminds me of “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” the next-to-last episode of the original series, when Ewing Oil changed hands two or three times in the course of a single episode.

Likewise, I find it hard to believe Bobby’s hands are as legally tied as Lou, his new lawyer (played by terrific “24” vet Glenn Morshower), claims. The sale to Marta was fraudulent because Marta isn’t really Marta, yet her sale to J.R. is perfectly legal? I wanted Lou to run that by me one more time, but alas, the show moved on instead.

That’s the thing about TNT’s “Dallas:” It’s always moving on.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Rebecca Sutter Ewing, Truth and Consequences, TNT

Double life wife

‘TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES’

Season 1, Episode 5

Telecast: July 4, 2012

Writer: Robert Rovner

Director: Randy Zisk

Audience: 5.1 million viewers (including 3.4 million viewers on July 4, ranking 16th in the weekly cable ratings)

Synopsis: Rebecca confesses Tommy sent the e-mail to Elena, prompting Christopher to kick the Sutters off Southfork. Bobby vows to reclaim the ranch after J.R. reveals he’s the new owner and departs Dallas, leaving John Ross in charge until he returns. To slow down J.R. and John Ross, Ann persuades her ex-husband, trucking magnate Harris Ryland, to not haul the oil pumped out of Southfork. Christopher discovers proof John Ross knew Marta’s true identity before she tricked Bobby into selling the ranch.

Cast: Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Rebecca Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Callard Harris (Tommy Sutter), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Jerry Jones (himself), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Glenn Morshower (Lou), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Leonor Varela (Marta del Sol)

“Truth and Consequences” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Rodeogirl says:

    Agree with most of your observation. Brenda Strong gave a very convincing performance. I hope to see more like this in the near future. I also hope they give Linda Gray an opportunity to show her talent and presence soon – until now, her performance left much to be desired though I totally blame the writers and the editors for this. Too much has been cut out.
    The one point where I disagree is the Cowboy stadium scenes. Best scenes between JR and John Ross so far. Showed a great chemistry between them and what a relief that they left on good terms and still seem to be on the same side. I loved JR Ewing on that screen. That is just so Dallas or better such a Texan thing to do! The Ewings used to be a powerful and influential family back in the times! The made the press with every scandal and were the attraction of the Oil Barrons Ball. Their BBQs and Rodeos were legendary. It is the current display of a ranch family that ist not fitting. The BBQ was the biggest disppointment so far. Where are the business partners, the friends, the feuds, the rest of the family. Glad to see that JR Ewing brings the family back to the top where they belong.

    • You make a good point: The family was pretty famous on the old show. Every scandal earned a banner headline in the Dallas Press! I suppose I’m just extra cautious about the show slipping into camp. I want the Ewings to be wealthy and prominent, but not so famous that the audience loses their ability to identify with them. I wouldn’t want to see them become Texas versions of the Kardashians, for example. I also agree that Larry Hagman and Josh Henderson are developing nice chemistry together.

      Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it.

      Chris

  2. Ann – I hadn’t thought about how she has to fill the shoes of both Miss Ellie and Pam. Interesting. I think appropriately though, neither Elena or Rebecca is a ” Sue Ellen” in the sense of who that character was when the show started. They’re too independent.

    Rebecca – I don’t trust Rebecca! I think she still may be playing the con but needs Christopher to think she loves him to get back in with the family.

    J.R. – Didn’t he quote Jock in a previous episode? I like Bobby’s response.

    • Yeah, I really think Brenda Strong has a thankless job. She has to be Pam AND Miss Ellie on the new show. I know the character has her critics, but I think Strong is doing well. I want Ann to get some more character development, but overall I’m satisfied with where the show seems to be taking her.

      As far as J.R.: I know you haven’t seen many of the original series episodes that were made after Jim Davis died, but once Jock is out of the story, J.R. quotes him constantly. “Like my Daddy always said….” becomes one of J.R.’s signature phrases. It’s about time Bobby told him to shut up (as only Bobby can).

  3. I don’t know, I thought Ann came across as meek in the scene with her ex-husband. If that was Miss Ellie, she would have been in there demanding, not begging. It made me like Anne less because she suddenly became mousy. I think they might even be trying to be strategic with Sue Ellen, I think Hagman’s presence is diminished in the next couple of episodes, so they might be using Sue Ellen to fill the upcoming void.

    • I agree that Ann was a bit meek in her scene with Harris, but I appreciate the fact she was willing to stick her neck out and ask for his help. I think that shows she’s strong (pardon the pun) but not invulnerable. I also think you’re probably right about the show being strategic with Sue Ellen. I only wish their strategy was to use Linda Gray in every episode!

      As always, thanks for your good comments and observations.

      Chris

  4. Love your observations and I agree about Anne and Rebecca. Anne certainly reminds me of Miss Ellie. She’s bold and beautiful like Pam too. A perfect wife for Bobby. And Rebecca could be the greatest actress ever or sincerely sorry. Hmmm…And the BBQ was disappointing. I’m still waiting for a POOL FIGHT! ;D

  5. You know I think a fascinating story line would be to make Anne pregnant at some point. If going by Brenda Strong’s real age then she’s about 52, not impossible. The drama comes because it means-she has to worry that nothing harms the baby or that she can carry it to term, Bobby will have a natural born Ewing heir, he’ll be over the moon about it, but it could possibly causing a little discord with Christopher (but not much, I mean really, it’s a baby!) and then Bobby grappling with the fact that he’s an aged father, and embroiled in yet another war with his family over Southfork. Ahh just some thoughts.

    • Interesting idea! Don’t forget: Bobby does have a biological son: Lucas, who was raised by his half-brother Ray and his wife Jenna.

      • Thank you. I heard of Lucas, but I am nowhere near that season yet in the original, still in season 2 and I love it! I personally think the original is better than the new series, but I will continue to watch it because it’s so intriguing and then to come to blogs like this and be able to compare and contrast is really cool. Hmm, wonder if they will throw Lucas in the mix in the new show. That will create some real fireworks! lol.

      • I’d be happy to see Lucas on the new series, but all in due time. First, I want to see the John Ross/Christopher rivalry explored a little more fully.

        I’m glad to hear you like the original series! Among the episodes you’ve seen so far, do you have a favorite episode? My early favorites include “Digger’s Daughter” and “Spy in the House” (season 1) and “Bypass,” “Black Market Baby” and “Double Wedding (season 2).

      • I just saw ‘Election’ and it bowled me over. The acting on the original series was just phenomenal. I also like Black Market Baby and Double wedding too. ‘Survival’ was a great ensemble piece that focused on the family aside from J.R and Bobby. I think I’m already focusing on stuff for season 2 and 3 with the new series! lol. You’re right, there’s so much material to deal with already. Like Anne and Ryland and J.R and Cliff Barnes. That’s gonna be great.

      • “Survival”! How could I forget about that one? Gets me every time. I like “Bypass” a lot, too. And yes, “Election” is also a great one. I have a lot of affection for the second season overall. The show is still finding its voice at that point, and it’s fun and interesting to watch that process unfold.

  6. Just finished watching the episode here in Africa. The scene between Anne and her ex is riveting. Anne does come across as vulnerable in the presence of her ex, making one to think that he has something over her ie, is it blackmail or does he realise that she still holds feelings for him and maybe vice versa. Right now, the two of them are more interesting than JR and Bobby!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] between JR and John Ross, and Bobby and Christopher respectively, but our divas, minus an inexplicably absent Sue Ellen, remain pivotal to all the machinations. The “truths” revealed in the episode, set the [...]

  2. [...] enthralling: The “Truth and Consequences” scene featuring Jerry Jones. Nothing against the Dallas Cowboys owner, but why remind fans of the [...]

  3. [...] forward three decades: In “Truth and Consequences,” TNT’s fifth “Dallas” episode, after Christopher pulls Rebecca aside at the Ewing barbecue, [...]

  4. […] to 2012, when on-again, off-again lovers John Ross and Elena (Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster) rekindled their flame at — where else? — a Southfork […]

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