Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 18 – ‘Kidnapped’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Kidnapped, Patrick Duffy

Bobby, trapped!

New rule: If you’re watching “Dallas” and a Ewing becomes a crime victim before the second act, chances are it’s going to be a lackluster episode.

So far, crooks and lowlifes have been front and center in three installments: The first-season episode “Winds of Vengeance” (two 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 hostage).

The first of these segments is actually pretty good. The other two? Not so much.

The problem is “Dallas’s” depiction of criminals. They’re almost always straight-from-central-casting villains who specialize in evil cackling and corny one-liners.

In “Kidnapped,” the bad guys think they’re nabbing J.R. when they tail his Mercedes and force it to come to a stop on a dusty Texas back road. They’re surprised to learn Bobby is behind the wheel, having borrowed his older brother’s car after his own vehicle got a flat tire.

“Our luck!” exclaims Fay, one of the kidnappers, while laughing uproariously. “We may have the wrong goose – but he can still lay the golden egg!”

“Kidnapped” isn’t as awful as “Runaway.” Patrick Duffy does a nice job making Bobby more vulnerable than usual, and I appreciate how the show uses Cliff as the intermediary between the Ewings and the kidnappers. It’s a clever way to involve Cliff in the story and add drama to the scenes of the family awaiting word on Bobby’s fate.

This plot device also lends “Kidnapped” some historical significance: This is the first episode where Larry Hagman and Ken Kercheval share scenes.

Today, we remember J.R. and Cliff’s bitter feud as one of “Dallas’s” defining conflicts, so it’s surprising to remember it took 18 episodes to bring them face-to-face.

Cliff also figures into “Kidnapped’s” best moment: when Jock and Miss Ellie wish him luck before he departs to deliver the ransom.

“You bring my son home safe, I’ll be grateful to you forever,” Ellie tells Cliff.

For a woman whose husband is holding a bag with more than $1 million in cash, those words prove mighty cheap.

Grade: C


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman

Face to face, at last


Season 2, Episode 13

Airdate: December 17, 1978

Audience: 16.5 million homes, ranking 18th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Lawrence Dobkin

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Nancy Bleier (Connie), Byron Clark (Tom), Stephen Davies (Will Hart), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Bob Hoy (Mahoney), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Paul Koslo (Al Parker), Kelly Jean Peters (Fay Parker), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

Synopsis: A trio of kidnappers hold Bobby hostage for $1.5 million. Cliff delivers the money and secures Bobby’s release, but they’re almost shot when J.R., Ray and several ranch hands ambush the kidnappers.

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


  1. While I have to admit this episode is pretty dumb and the villains are ridiculous, I like this episode. Mainly, I’m your resident Cliff fangirl so I’m loving all the screentime he gets in this episode, plus is the one time he comes off looking a hell of a lot better and smarter than JR and sometimes even Jock.

    But one thing might be of interest to all viewers, I think we see JR reach a new low in this episode. Towards the end when they are about to rescue Bobby, JR brings a bunch of armed hired hands with them and allows them to fire once Bobby is out of harms way but Cliff is still clearly in the line of fire. We know JR is a ruthless business man but I don’t think we ever saw him having such total disregard for someone’s actual life before. I was actually shocked the first time I saw that scene.


  1. […] least-favorite guest stars: the three actors who portray the bad guys in “Kidnapped.” What’s the bigger crime here: holding Bobby hostage or the witless Edward G. Robinson imitations […]

  2. […] when they helped Cliff negotiate Bobby’s release from a trio of dim-witted kidnappers. In that instance, Cliff was almost killed, which seemed to upset a lot of people. J.R. never understood […]

  3. […] “Kidnapped,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) passes through Southfork’s foyer […]

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