Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 55 – ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1’

Dallas, Dr. Miles Pearson, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1, Peter Donat, Who Shot J.R.?

Hurry up, doc

The Ewings go through “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1” not knowing who shot J.R. or whether he’ll survive the attempt on his life, and this uncertainty lends the episode a paranoid, almost Hitchcockian vibe. Poor Sue Ellen looks positively dazed. What frightens her more: the possibility that her husband will die – or that he’ll live?

I also can’t help but wonder if some of the worried looks on the actors’ faces aren’t real. Production on this episode began during the summer of 1980, when Larry Hagman was in seclusion while his agents renegotiated his contract. In Hagman’s absence, the “Dallas” set buzzed: If the actor’s salary demands weren’t met, would J.R. succumb to his gunshot wounds? Would he come out of surgery looking like Robert Culp? Either way, could “Dallas” survive without its biggest star?

No wonder Patrick Duffy is visibly sweating when Bobby arrives at the hospital.

The anxious atmospherics in “No Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1” help distract me from some of this episode’s flaws, beginning with the campy opening, when the shrieking cleaning lady discovers J.R. (By the way: Where’s the blood?) Also, the episode’s action sequences are curiously lethargic: The police car that arrives at the crime scene isn’t moving very fast, the paramedics who bring J.R. into the emergency room aren’t in much of a hurry and the doctors and nurses who treat him are downright plodding.

Of course, “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1’s” biggest weakness is the void Hagman leaves. He appears in just two scenes, which were filmed after his contract was settled and he returned to work. (Extras fill in for Hagman in the scenes where J.R. is seen laying on ambulance stretchers and operating tables.) This makes the episode a kind of precursor to TNT’s “Dallas,” where Hagman’s role is similarly limited.

So even though I appreciate the raw honesty of Valene’s response to her brother-in-law’s shooting (“If J.R. was dead, I honestly could not mourn him.”), I can’t help but think she should bite her tongue. After all, if this episode proves anything, it’s that “Dallas” without J.R. just isn’t the same.

Grade: C

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1, Who Shot J.R.?

Invisible man

‘NO MORE MR. NICE GUY, PART 1’

Season 4, Episode 1

Airdate: November 7, 1980

Audience: 29.7 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: J.R. is rushed to the hospital, where the Ewings keep vigil. Sue Ellen can’t remember what she did the night he was shot, but Kristin tells her she came to her condo, vowing to kill J.R. After J.R. has life-saving surgery, a detective asks who shot him and J.R. looks at Sue Ellen.

Cast: Michael Alldredge (Detective Don Horton), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Sarah Buchannan (Beth Forrester), Christopher Coffey (Professor Greg Forrester), Karlene Crockett (Muriel Gillis), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Maureen Crudden (candy striper), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Peter Donat (Dr. Miles Pearson), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Nik Hagler (Detective Frost), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Barbara Kain (Nurse), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Virginia Peters (cleaning lady), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Destinee says:

    Bobby’s pit stains were SO distracting! I too felt this episode was a downer. Does the state police generally waste their time tracking down citizens to tell them their brother was shot and then chopper them to the hospital? What a waste of the taxpayer’s money! /endrant

    I wished there had at least been blood on his sexy vest to make it a little realistic. he just looked like a sweet little boy sleeping on the floor. The overly dramatic cleaning lady didn’t help either.

    But didn’t Sue Ellen have the best “oh shit” face ever?!

    • Ha ha! This made laugh. Yes, Sue Ellen’s expression is priceless. I also love Jock’s comment when Kristin explains Sue Ellen was sick. “Sick! You mean drunk!” Also, Bobby does A LOT of sweating during those fourth-season outdoor scenes and you’re right: It’s damn distracting!

  2. I don’t have a problem with a sweaty Bobby. What I do have a problem with is how anti-climactic these first episodes of the fourth season were. In comparison, the first episodes of the fifth season were way better, even though its cliffhanger wasn’t as classic. I like what you say about Sue Ellen being potentially more afraid of her husband living than dying. At this point though, I don’t think she’d have much identity without him.

    • The thing about sweaty Bobby: Why is he sweating in that scene? It was filmed in the hospital emergency room! Why didn’t they allow Patrick Duffy to cool down before they started filming?! You’re correct about Sue Ellen: At this point during the series, it’s hard to imagine her without J.R. I also like your comparison between the openings of the fourth and fifth seasons. You’re correct that the latter gets off to a stronger start.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have always thought this episode is only half as intense and spellbinding as it should have been. I feel you can tell the writers were trying to kill time while waiting for Larry Hagman’s return — the search for the family members adds nothing to the storyline. And the acting and directing just seem a bit subpar. I’ve read that this and other early-fourth season episodes were finished at a “frantic pace” after the end of the actors’ strike that delayed the start of the TV season that year. It shows.

    • Thanks for commenting! This episode has its moments — at times, not seeing J.R. infuses it with real tension — but after awhile, I find myself really missing Larry Hagman. And like you said, it really shows that this was kind of a “rush job” thrown together after the Hollywood strikes ended. Thanks again.

  4. Tootally agree.. Hagman is sorely missed and Bobby is hitting menopause. I also found it ludicrous the extent/expense that the various police services go to, to get Bobby and Pam back. Glad I wasn’t the only one.
    Some quick observations about the ep:
    1. Lucy’s head must’ve been swimming after Ray “Mr. Blunt” tells her that she’s sleeping with a married man and btw – Your uncle’s been shot! – Whaaaaaa?! Poor Lucy.
    2. Love the Scooby-Doo style wavy flashback transistions that Dallas employs in the early seasons. (Mike Myers spoofs that in just about every Wayne’s World sketch)
    3. Sue Ellen downs her drink from Kristin LIKE A BOSS!
    4. John Ross is growing up FAST. wink wink
    5. KGIM news is ALWAYS on whenever anyone flips the TV on. CNN’s predecessor?
    6. When did Lucy get a new car? Who’s black Porche is parked at Southfork? Why does Sue-Ellen drive a big ugly station wagon instead of a small, sexy Benz or BMW? Everyone else’s vehicles suit them perfectly well (even Ray’s) except her. Was she drunk when she picked it out..dreaming of all the liquor cases she could fit in the back? And WHY Does Sue-Ellen get the “EWING 2” designation instead of J.R.? I find it amusing that Pam got stuck with “EWING 6” even though she got her car before Lucy (EWING 5)…Shows where she rates. K..no more Ewing car comments.
    7. That final musical cue at the end of the episode sounds like it’s straight out of a 50’s schlock monster movie…(I also loved Sue-Ellen’s “Oh Shit!” face…I howled when I read that above!
    8. Val doesn’t really like J.R. very much does she?.

    Off to view part 2!

    • Ha ha! Love your line about Bobby hitting menopause. And yes, the only thing better than KGIM is the good ol’ Dallas Press newspaper, which always has the Ewings’ business splashed across its front page in big, banner headlines.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Chris

      • I was really disappointed and underwhelmed with this episode after the stellar “A House Divided”. It just doesn’t feel as tightly written as the previous season. I don’t think it is all Larry Hagman/J.R. fault. I kept on talking to the TV set and telling Sue Ellen to leave him and stop being so sympathetic towards him. I may be one of the few Dallas fans that is not a SE/JR shipper. I am always disappointed when Sue Ellen stays at Southfork or is nice to JR.

      • This episode really does pale in comparison to “A House Divided,” doesn’t it? And it’s OK if you’re not a ‘shipper. You’re still welcome here.

  5. Blood spatter patterns can be both internal & external or a combination of both. If the trajectory of Miss Sheppard’s bullitt had nicked the organs in a certain way, a person could suffer a wound where no bloodstains were apparent on the floor. Some bullitts go into a body but their heads are designed to explode inside it not just once, but multiple times, causing major internal fractures. I learned this from watching CSI Level III Gil Grissom on the classic CBS CSI.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 10. Scolding Sue Ellen. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has just arrived at Dallas Memorial, where the Ewings are keeping vigil after J.R.’s shooting. Surely Jock will comfort his frantic daughter-in-law, right? Um, no. He accuses Sue Ellen of “gallivanting” while her husband is dying, prompting Kristin to defend Big Sis. “Sue Ellen was sick,” she says. Snaps Jock: “Sick? You mean drunk!” Harsh, but not untrue. (“No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1”) […]

  2. […] “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1,” “Dallas’s” fourth-season opener, Miss Ellie and Jock (Barbara Bel Geddes, Jim Davis) talk […]

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