Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 59 – ‘Taste of Success’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Taste of Success

His day has come

“Dallas” ties up the “Who Shot J.R.?” saga’s loose ends within the first 10 minutes of “Taste of Success.” Kristin confesses her crime to the Ewings, J.R. and Sue Ellen send her packing, and Miss Ellie breathes a big sigh of relief at the Southfork breakfast table. “Well, it’s over,” she says. Indeed, it is.

“Dallas” deserves praise for concluding things so elegantly. Having J.R.’s shooter turn out to be Kristin – and making her pregnant with his child – is genius because it allows “Dallas” to avoid a trial, even if courtroom scenes on this show tend to be entertaining. I also give “Dallas” credit for not trying to top itself with another sweeping storyline. The show knows it’s time to get back to normal, and in “Taste of Success,” that’s pretty much what happens.

Of all the post-“Who Shot J.R.?” plots, Bobby’s is the most interesting. His efforts to buy the Redfield refinery are surprisingly compelling, primarily because the storyline allows the character to step out of J.R.’s shadow. For once, Bobby is in charge and not merely reacting to J.R.’s schemes. It’s a nice change of pace.

“Taste of Success” also casts a new light on Lucy, who cooks dinner for Mitch, albeit with disastrous results. Besides being charming, Lucy’s efforts to woo the medical student make sense for her character. Now that this upstanding fellow has entered her life, of course she’s going to go after him with gusto.

The only Ewing who doesn’t seem to be changing is Sue Ellen. Following her triumphant confrontation with Kristin at the end of “Who Done It?” Sue Ellen reverts back to J.R.’s dutiful wife in this installment, even allowing him to “seduce” her in a scene that recalls the disturbing quasi-marital-rape sequence in “Black Market Baby.”

Sue Ellen also lets J.R. make up for his misdeeds by buying her a new car, giving the scene where he sends her out for a test drive more than a hint of irony. Her foot might be on the accelerator, but in this episode at least, Sue Ellen isn’t moving forward.

Grade: B


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper, Taste of Success

Doesn’t taste successful


Season 4, Episode 5

Airdate: November 28, 1980

Audience: 26.5 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Robert J. Shaw

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: J.R. sends Kristin to California with the promise of monthly checks when their child is born. Sue Ellen is furious at J.R. but her anger turns to passion and they reconcile. Bobby buys a refinery, arousing J.R.’s envy. Pam, who fears Bobby is on a power trip, returns to work. Cliff pursues Donna, while Lucy continues courting medical student Mitch Cooper.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Michael Bell (Les Crowley), David J. Bowman (Tom Selby), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Tom Fuccello (Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Laurence Haddon (Franklin Horner), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Tom Taylor (Assistant District Attorney Martin Purcell), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Warren Vanders (Harry Owens), Gregory Walcott (Jim Redfield)

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


  1. Destinee says:

    Great review, Chris! I just love your metaphors and the symbolism you find in scenes that most people miss, including myself! 🙂

    One of the things I like best about Dallas is the ability it had to wrap up storylines quickly, as you said, without making the viewer feel cheated. Whenever I think of neverending stories, I remember the soap Passions in 2000 when they spent an entire 25 hours recounting one night. It was absolute torture, and then it was over and it was like no big deal. Completely in keeping with the traditions and J.R.’s ability to cover up any secret, Kristin leaving Dallas a few grand richer and a free woman was a tidy way to get back to business.

    As for the infamous J.R. and Sue Ellen reconcile scene, I see it is more as she was releasing a lot of pent-up anger, frustration, loneliness and animosity in the only way that J.R. seemed to understand a lot of times. Afterwards, she did become dreadfully submissive, much like the other times after this that she went back to him. Of course this worked better for the storyline of her finding Clint, then Dusty and eventually leaving Southfork quite dramatically. If they had went back to just being angry sex partners, I don’t think that “hatred” would have built up so fast towards the end of the season. I don’t blame her for taking the car though, at least it was better than that wood paneled wagon!

    • Destinee, you never fail to make me laugh. I agree: I don’t blame Sue Ellen for trading in that awful wood-paneled wagon. Your comment reminded of the 1986 miniseries “Fresno,” which spoofed the era’s prime-time soap operas and starred Carol Burnett as an Angela Channing-style matriarch who traveled around in a station wagon. It came complete with a chauffer.

      And since you brought it up: I was a casual viewer of “Passions” but I remember well how that show dragged out storylines! Were you watching the “night” Charity got trapped in the closet (which was also a portal to Hell)? It was a February sweeps storyline and it lasted the entire month. It took four weeks to chronicle one evening in the lives of those characters. On the other hand, this meant Jesse Metcalfe was shirtless the whole month.

      As always, thanks for commenting — and making me laugh!


  2. Destinee says:

    Aww, thanks, I try to brighten the world with my odd sense of humor. 🙂

    I do remember Charity trapped in the closet. Jesse Metcalfe was pretty much the only reason I stuck with that show! He’s so damn pretty.

    Side note, wasn’t this season filmed really nicely? Lots of color and dramatic lighting, like in your Mitch and Lucy cap above. Even though it’s dark, you can clearly see their faces without being obviously spotlighted. The season before was dreadful. Awful lighting, washed out colors, muted sounds. The season after had some bad episodes too, most noticeably “Head of the Family” which is almost in a sepia tone for the first 20 minutes.

    I’m not familiar with Fresno but it sounds right up my alley, love Carol Burnett! And station wagons!

    • Yes, I love the look of the show this season. The colors in the exterior shots are so vivid. I’m glad you noticed that, too.

      And “Fresno” was a hoot. I’m hopeful it will one day be released on DVD one day. Fans of the ’80s prime-time soaps will appreciate it. Gregory Harrison goes through the entire miniseries shirtless. Fun stuff.

  3. Destinee says:

    I found Fresno on! It’s a copy of a tv master apparently. Sounds absolutely hilarious, I can’t wait to get it. I’ve found a ton of old shows on ioffer that can’t be found anywhere else, usually tv copies. But since Mama’s Family will never be on DVD, I’m perfectly content with my set! Thanks for telling me about it.

    • I love iOffer! I recently bought an obscure ’70s medical pilot that starred Jane Wyman as a pediatrician, Ron Howard as her patient of the week and Jim Davis as the boy’s grandfather. Angela Channing, Jock Ewing and Opie Taylor, all together. I was in TV nerd nirvana.

  4. This was another disappointing episode for me. I too saw the JR/Sue Ellen sex scene as skirting very close to marital rape. Sue Ellen’s behavior in this episode after recent events makes her seem like an unsympathetic dope. I just don’t get it. Her sudden happiness with JR and acceptance of him after one night of sex seems so implausible and out of character with previous episodes. If she was astute she would have pretended to be happy so she could abscond with John Ross. JR isn’t even nice to her. He never apologizes for his affair with her sister or his cruelty towards her. Her about face after her very true accusations about JR’s contrasting treatment of her and Kristen is ludicrous. I am completely unsympathetic to her in this episode and continue to be mystified by those fans who like these two as a romantic couple.

    • I see your point and I agree that Sue Ellen isn’t the smartest cookie in this episode.

      • I also see the point but Miss Texas needs J.R. And when Kristin’s baby turns out to be Jeff Faraday’s instead her decision to stick it out with him turns out to be wise as Kristin was it turns out manipulating cashy out of J.R. & I believe Mister Jordan Lee of Jordan Lee Oil when Mr. Faraday, the druggie bum from Califor-ni-a was the real daddy! So J.R. turns out to be an “innocent” (if only partially) in the end!

  5. Dan in WI says:

    I’m not arguing with the quickness in the way Kristen was dealt with in the interest of moving forward. The pace was fine. But am I the only one who was disappointed in what happened? In the previous JR says he’s going to deal with Kristen in his own way and we watch her face drop and the bravado quickly transform into utter terror. Then what do we get? She has to leave Dallas with a boatload of money. I was looking forward to something so much more sinister and really let down.

  6. I’ve got a question about a painting that for the first couple of seasons was in the reception area of the Ewing Offices. At first I thought it might be a portrait of George Washington but I’m not positive about that. It is an older looking portrait of a man wearing a red jacket. This painting is very visible whenever someone walks into the office. Do you know who that is in the portrait?

    The portrait disappeared in the third season BUT tonight (as I was watching this episode) the painting reappeared in what I think is Dave Culver’s office in the scene where Cliff meets with both Dave and Donna Culver. This painting seems to be touring Dallas offices!

    Also, I want to compliment your critiques. They are very enjoyable to read.


    • Geoff, thanks for writing. I’ve never noticed the painting but now I look forward to going back and looking at those episodes. Thanks for pointing it out!

  7. Honestly the J.R./Sue Ellen reconcile scene doesn’t seems for me as “rape” at all. Well, Sue Ellen is crying “I hate you” and so on, but at the same time is kissing him with enthusiasm. 🙂 Seems more like their usual love-hate.
    And as for reconciliation, I think that Sue Ellen has just undergone too much in the last series, and now she is badly in need of a slice of stability, even illusory. And J.R. needs the same even more, for that matter. It is a self-deception for them both, but they need it right now.

    Nevertheless as often as I see J.R/Sue Ellen, I remember a saying we have in Russia: “Like a suitcase without a handle – it is hard to carry it but it is shame to leave it”. Their relations seem exactly like this suitcase. 🙂


  1. […] “Taste of Success,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Jock and Ray (Jim Davis, Steve Kanaly) come to a stop while […]

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