Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 36 – ‘The Lost Child’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Lost Child, Luke Middens, Ronnie Scribner

Surrogates

“Dallas” is sometimes thought of as a “man’s show” not just because of its rugged western motif, but also because the Ewing women so often take a backseat to their male counterparts. Consider “The Lost Child,” in which Pam suffers a miscarriage but the tragedy is seen mostly through Bobby’s eyes.

To pull this off, scriptwriter Rena Down has Bobby befriend Luke, the young son of ranch hand Bo Middens. When Bo is bitten by a rattlesnake and hospitalized, Bobby allows eager cowboy-in-training Luke to fill in for his “pa.” Bobby and Luke bond while working together, especially after Luke tells him how he never has a chance to grow close to people because he and his widower father are always on the move.

Patrick Duffy displays an effortless, big brotherly charm in his scenes with guest star Ronnie Scribner, who is believable as sensitive Luke. At times, Bobby and Luke’s relationship feels a bit too “Little House on the Prairie” for “Dallas,” but their sentimental conversations help establish Bobby’s paternal instincts.

Ultimately, this is what makes “The Lost Child” one of the cleverest entries in “Dallas’s” third season. If Luke didn’t exist, we wouldn’t know how loving Bobby is with children – and Pam’s miscarriage might not resonate with the audience as much as it does.

In a way, Luke serves the same function as baby John. At the beginning of the third season, when Sue Ellen brings home her newborn son, Pam bonds with the baby instantly, establishing her parental bona fides. The difference between these two plot devices is John is a newborn and Luke is an adolescent, so his relationship with Bobby feels more substantial.

In “The Lost Child’s” final scene, Luke tells Bobby he is moving to Montana with Bo, who has recovered from his snakebite. Bobby’s farewell scene with the boy is touching, mainly because we know Bobby isn’t saying goodbye to Luke as much as he’s saying goodbye to his dream of becoming a father.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Lost Child, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Love and miscarriage

‘THE LOST CHILD’

Season 3, Episode 7

Airdate: November 2, 1979

Audience: 19.8 million homes, ranking 5th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: After Pam suffers a miscarriage, she tells Bobby about her genetic disease and declares she mustn’t become pregnant again. Bobby befriends the young son of a ranch hand and is sad when the boy and his father move away. Cliff tells Digger he is baby John’s father. Sue Ellen begins seeing Dr. Simon Elby, a psychiatrist.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Med Flory (Cal McBride), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Randolph Powell (Alan Beam), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Ronnie Scribner (Luke Middens), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Keenan Wynn (Digger Barnes)

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

Comments

  1. This was a very sweet episode. I like that Bobby’s relationship with Luke wasn’t forgotten; he’s mentioned several times in the years after this story. It reinforces that the relationship was as important to Bobby as it was depicted. That’s not always true in other shows. People can show up and be the most important thing ever and then forgotten the following week.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ray Krebbs was always my favorite. Just a good natured solid working genuine nice guy. Not many like him and Bobby.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “The Lost Child,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Cliff and Digger (Ken Kercheval, Keenan Wynn) walk out of the […]

  2. […] hayloft and suffers a miscarriage. She gets pregnant again at the beginning of Season 3, only to lose that child during another ranching mishap. Pam shifts her focus to her career, but when Sue Ellen leaves […]

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