Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 14 – ‘Survival’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Survival

Crash of the titans

Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy appear three times in “Survival:” twice in the first act, when J.R. and Bobby board the Ewings’ private plane and when the aircraft begins its descent into Louisiana swampland, and again in the final scene, when the brothers return to Southfork, battered and bruised.

It’s a testament to the strength of “Dallas’s” ensemble that the show’s biggest stars aren’t missed that much. “Survival” seems designed to showcase “Dallas’s” other cast members, and they make the most of it – particularly Barbara Bel Geddes and Jim Davis, who do some of their finest work in this episode.

In one of my all-time favorite “Dallas” scenes, a tense Miss Ellie is talking with Ray in the Southfork foyer when someone knocks on the door. She opens it to find a snoopy newspaper reporter seeking a quote about the crash.

“Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet,” Ellie says. Holding the gun, she tells the reporter, “Anybody on my land, without invitation, is a trespasser. So unless I see your tail heading out of here right now – and fast – I’m going to blow it off.”

I love the sight of Ellie, wearing pearls, wielding a shotgun and forcing a stranger off her property. The words and images are quintessential “Dallas:” modern people defending old values like land and family.

(TNT’s “Dallas” revival appears to pay homage to this scene in promos for its first episode, when elegant Brenda Strong, playing Southfork’s new lady of the manor, is shown cocking a shotgun.)

In another great “Survival” scene, Jock stands on the darkened Southfork patio and orders Ray to join the search party for J.R. and Bobby. “No matter how it turns out, dead or alive, bring my boys home,” Jock says.

Davis delivers the line with characteristic solemnity, but he pauses briefly before and after the “dead or alive” part, as if Jock has to muster the courage to utter the words. It’s a nice, gravity-adding touch.

Davis also does a nice job at the end of the episode, when Jock receives Ray’s call and learns J.R. and Bobby are alive. With quivering lips and wet eyes, he tells the ranch foreman to “bring them home.”

If you’re able to watch Davis here and not get choked up yourself, you’re a tougher “Dallas” fan than me.

Grade: A


Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Survival

Call waiting


Season 2, Episode 9

Airdate: November 12, 1978

Audience: 15.6 million homes, ranking 18th in the weekly ratings

Writers: D.C. Fontana and Richard Fontana

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: The Ewings’ plane crashes with J.R. and Bobby aboard. The family spends a tense night at Southfork awaiting word of their fate. Ray brings the brothers home, bruised but otherwise OK.

Cast: Barbra Babcock (Liz Craig), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Andy Jarrell (Ken Jackson), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), John Zaremba (Dr. Harlan Danvers)

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


  1. So D.C. Fontana, otherwise known as Star Trek’s favored scribe, wrote this episode? How many others did she do?

  2. This is an odd episode, sometimes it appears like a stage play. It has one bonafide Iconic scene of Ellie with her shotgun, it also has one of Dallas’s most intense scenes with Pamela slapping down Sue Ellen and screaming at her. If Sue Ellen had been written like this in additional shows, it seems hard to think she would have been that popular, she is intensely dislikeable in this episode. For some reason, Victoria doesn’t seem as genuine as she has in the past and she’s not that believable in this episode, as if she’s just hitting her mark and saying lines.

  3. Mr Jackson reminds me of a man I remember from a dream I had 2 years ago. I was dreaming that my family and I were returning from Wilmington, NC, when I was 4 years old; and along the side of the road in a service station is a man looking like Mr Jackson, urging consumers to boycott service stations putting drinks with high frutcose corn syrup instead of real sugar in their vending machines. Later on in the dream, the Mr Jackson-lookalike and his associates are leading similar protests in Charlotte, NC, not too far from an unnamed college where members of a local Methodist church are bringing lunch to students involved in an on-campus ministry

  4. Jim Edwards was a plain spoken fellow, but if you watch this episode & his old westerns on tv & film C. B., u will c that he was a man & an actor of class!


  1. […] 5. Dispatching Ray. Another glimpse of Jock’s softer side: When the Ewing plane went down in Louisiana swampland with J.R. and Bobby aboard, the Ewing patriarch sent ranch foreman Ray (Steve Kanaly) to find his sons. The family kept vigil at Southfork until Ray finally called with good news: J.R. and Bobby were alive. “Bring them home,” Jock said. Davis’s eyes were wet when he delivered the line. So were ours. (“Survival”) […]

  2. […] “Survival,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie and Ray (Barbara Bel Geddes, Steve Kanaly) are […]

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