Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 31 – ‘Whatever Happened to Baby John? Part 2’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Whatever Happened to Baby John Part 2

Gone baby gone

One thing about the Ewings is certain: These people believe in doing things for themselves. When emergencies arise, the Ewings don’t dial the police, an ambulance or even a lawyer – they call each other.

Maybe this reflects the rugged, pioneering spirit the family represents, or maybe it reflects life after Watergate, when the nation’s faith in society’s institutions was shaken. Whatever the reason, the Ewings’ can-do spirit sometimes defies logic.

In “Whatever Happened to Baby John? Part 2,” when newly paroled Jeb Ames contacts J.R. and tells him he and fellow parolee Willie Joe Garr have taken baby John, J.R. doesn’t call the cops – he instructs banker Vaughn Leland to get him the $1 million he needs to pay the ransom.

Later, when an angry Bobby tells Pam he believes Cliff took the baby, Bobby doesn’t take his suspicions to law enforcement – he shows up on Cliff’s doorstep.

This might be the episode’s silliest scene. Bobby enters Cliff’s apartment, slams the door behind him, suggests Cliff is responsible for the kidnapping and growls at him – twice. It’s almost as if Patrick Duffy has turned into a paler version of the monster on “The Incredible Hulk,” one of “Dallas’s” Friday night companion series in the 1970s.

Eventually, Bobby, Pam and Cliff – looking a bit like “Dallas’s” version of “The Mod Squad” – head to the hospital, where they snoop around and discover baby John was taken by Priscilla Duncan, a mentally disturbed woman whose own infant died recently.

When Bobby and Pam bring baby John home, Rollins, the Dallas police detective who has been investigating the kidnapping, steps aside so the couple can enter the living room. It’s a symbolic gesture, signifying his deference to Texas’s first family of do-it-yourself crime-fighting.

Don’t feel bad, detective. The Ewings create a lot of work for your department. Be thankful they’re willing to pitch in and help clean up their own messes.

Grade: B


Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Whatever Happened to Baby John Part 2

Who’ll J.R. shoot?


Season 3, Episode 2

Airdate: September 28, 1979

Audience: 16.7 million homes, ranking 10th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Newly paroled Jeb and Willie Joe tell J.R. they have baby John and demand a $1 million ransom. Pam determines the child was actually kidnapped by a woman whose own infant recently died. Bobby and Pam bring baby John home to Southfork.

Cast: John Ashton (Willie Joe Garr), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jocelyn Brando (Mrs. Reeves), Maryedith Burrell (Nurse Barker), Jordan Charney (Detective Rollins), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Sheila Larken (Priscilla Duncan), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Cliff Murdock (Lieutenant Simpson), John O’Leary (Dr. Freilich), Dennis Patrick (Vaughn Leland), George O. Petrie (Harv Smithfield), Randolph Powell (Alan Beam), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Sandy Ward (Jeb Ames)

“Whatever Happened to Baby John? Part 2” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. I like the raw pain & emotion on J. R.’s eyes when he puts the gun up to Jeb & Willie Joe. My aunt saw Larry Hagman once in Houston at a cocktail party for organ donation awareness & was asking about the raw emotion of that shoot & he told her makeup artists had put white & paleface makeup on him to give him a more ghostly look, almost a look of terror for that scene since he lost a baby! Just look at how inset his eyes are.


  1. […] “Whatever Happened to Baby John, Part 2,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Cliff and Pam (Ken Kercheval, Victoria Principal) are talking […]

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