In “Family Business,” TNT continues an old “Dallas” tradition: using the Ewings’ sleepwear to telegraph their vulnerabilities.
The practice can be traced to “Spy in the House,” the original show’s third episode, when a sexually neglected Sue Ellen buys a negligee, hoping to arouse J.R.’s interest. Her plan doesn’t work: J.R. calls the nightie “cheap” and storms out of the room, leaving his wife in tears.
In the second-season episode “Survival,” a bathrobe-clad Jock weeps when he learns a plane carrying J.R. and Bobby has crashed. Later, in the third-season episode “Ellie Saves the Day,” Jock and Miss Ellie are both wearing robes when they learn J.R.’s latest oil deal has brought the Ewing empire to the brink of collapse.
And when we encounter a deeply depressed J.R. at the beginning of “Changing of the Guard,” TNT’s first “Dallas” episode, what’s he wearing? You guessed it: a robe and pajamas.
In “Family Business,” Patrick Duffy sports plaid pajamas and what appears to be a dark green robe after Bobby is diagnosed with a life-threatening cerebral aneurysm. The PJs, like the reading glasses perched on Bobby’s nose, remind us our silver-haired hero is entering the twilight of his life – a point Bobby himself makes when he poignantly reminds J.R., “Nobody lives forever.”
But the sleepwear lets us know something else too: Even in pajamas, Patrick Duffy is still dashing.