Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 12 – ‘Runaway’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Runaway

Diary of a teenage brat

“Runaway” is one of “Dallas’s” weakest episodes. Almost everything about it – the writing, the directing, the acting, the music – is bad.

The episode treats Lucy, who was so daring during “Dallas’s” first season, like just another bratty TV teenager. She spends the beginning of “Runaway” whining about how the Ewings are ignoring her. At one point, Jock sends her to her room.

Is this the same Lucy who was blackmailing her teacher and seducing Ray a few episodes ago?

“Dallas” clearly wants us to feel sorry for the poor little rich girl. John Parker, who scored the music for “Runaway,” punctuates each of Lucy’s outbursts with a cloying violin solo that becomes the character’s theme music in later episodes.

By the end of “Runaway’s” first act, Lucy has run away from Southfork and fled to the outskirts of Dallas, where she hooks up with armed robber Willie Gust.

Greg Evigan, who plays Willie, must have prepared for the role by watching Cooper Huckabee’s performance in “Winds of Vengeance.” Both actors seem to believe maniacal laughing is the best way to signal their characters’ villainy.

When Willie isn’t in hysterics, he’s waging a one-man war on Texas’s cash registers, leaving Lucy to cower in the passenger seat of his far-out custom van. But if she’s so afraid of him, why doesn’t she just hop out and run away?

Another mind boggler: How does frightened Lucy manage to deliver such a confident performance during the talent show Willie makes her enter?

“Dallas” creator David Jacobs has said the show’s producers were crunched for time when CBS renewed the series for a second season. According to him, the writers scrambled to produce scripts for the season’s first seven episodes, which were filmed in Texas during the summer of 1978.

“Runaway” is the last of these seven episodes, and you can tell. This feels like something cobbled together by people who were eager to get out from under the hot Texas sun.

Making matters worse: “Runaway” doesn’t end – it stops.

In the final scene, Miss Ellie announces Bobby is bringing Lucy home.

“There’s just one thing,” Jock says. “I was hoping to have a dance with my granddaughter.”

“Well,” Ellie responds, patting his arm. “What about tomorrow?”

Parker’s cloying violin music swells, the frame freezes, the credits flash – and we’re finally done with “Dallas’s” most prophetically titled episode.

Run away, indeed.

Grade: D

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Lucy Ewing, Runaway, Willie Gust

Bonnie and Clod

‘RUNAWAY’

Season 2, Episode 7

Airdate: October 28, 1978

Audience: 12.8 million homes, ranking 35th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Worley Thorne

Director: Barry Crane

Synopsis: Lucy, feeling ignored, runs away and hitches a ride with an armed robber. Bobby tracks Lucy to Austin, where he rescues her and the robber is arrested.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Greg Evigan (Willie Gust), Jim Gough (Congressman Oates), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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

Comments

  1. I remember this episode was pretty silly. Lucy’s behavior fits with what I said about her character earlier: that the show seemed to not know what to do with her sometimes.

  2. Dan in WI says:

    I believe the word cringe worthy was coined with this episode in mind. Chris hit on everything that I was thinking as a rewatched this one last night. Evigan certainly overacts in the same vein as Huckabee.
    On a larger scale just what is the point of this episode. Dallas is supposed to be about the intrigue of the oil industry. Except for brief moments in the Slade/Oaks subplot this episode barely recognizes there is a such thing as Ewing Oil. I’ve always felt Lucy is the most useless character in the show and much of that probably stems from this episode. Even when used right (and yes it happened on occasion) she did little to advance any of the major plots of the show. That to me is the definition of window dressing. Also to those who argue that Lucy and JR were once close I do give you this episode. If they ever were the chasing off in Gary and Val in the first season and Lucy’s learning about it here guarantees they’ll never be close again.
    One thing this episode does establish beyond a shadow of a doubt is the location of Southfork. Cidre take noted of the envelop addressed to Lucy. Southfork is in Braddock Texas. Boy that envelop is a hoot. Not only is Southfork so important it doesn’t need a street address it doesn’t even need a zip code.
    Noteable first: I believe this is the first time we see Bobby bribing his way throught a situation as we see him drop a lot of money as he tracks Lucy. I also find it amazing they way all of law enforcment in the state of Texas. It is only natural the Braddock and Dallas departments will have soft spots for the Ewings. But Waco is well over an hour from Dallas and we see their law enforcment all over JR’s car at that diner even though it was harmlessly parked there. Bobby also seems to have friends in San Antonio and Austin which are much further away yet. Wow that Ewing family is powerful.

  3. Maryann says:

    This was a bad episode and deserved the D grade. This does not show CT talent as a actress it weakens it and since when does Lucy play the guitar and sing???????

Trackbacks

  1. […] down, the season’s weakest hour is “Runaway,” the first – and so far only – “Dallas” episode to receive a “D” grade from me. Run […]

  2. […] from Jim Davis’s “Dallas” wardrobe, including the powder blue suit he memorably sported in “Runaway” and the white-dotted bathrobe he wore during the third […]

  3. […] Beware of cute boys with shaggy hair. The best way to survive hostage crises is to avoid them altogether – a lesson Lucy (Charlene Tilton) learned the hard way. When Payton Allen (Cooper Huckabee) showed up at Southfork one windy afternoon, she flirted with him shamelessly – until he took her whole family hostage. Eight episodes later, when Lucy saw Willie Gust at a roadside diner, she gave him a coquettish glance. His response: taking her hostage as he traversed Texas in his far-out custom van, waging a one-man crime spree. […]

  4. […] “Runaway,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) enters her bedroom and finds the […]

  5. […] working Joes hold the Ewings at gunpoint and threaten to rape the women), the second-season entry “Runaway” (a robber makes Lucy his reluctant accomplice) and now “Kidnapped” (three abductors hold Bobby […]

  6. […] she is a troublemaking teenager who blackmails Pam (“Lessons”) and runs away from home (“Runaway”). At other times, she is a sweet young woman who deals gracefully with a broken engagement […]

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