Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 60 – ‘The Venezuelan Connection’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Venezuelan Connection

Gone with the window

“The Venezuelan Connection” feels like the first half of one of “Dallas’s” two-part episodes. There’s a lot of setup here but not a lot of payoff.

In the main storyline, Bobby hires May-December power couple Eugene and Sally Bullock to ship Venezuelan crude to Ewing Oil’s new refinery, only to learn the tanker sank en route. This is a well-executed plot twist – and there’s much more to the sinking than Bobby realizes – but he won’t discover that until the next episode.

(Quick aside: While I’m delighted to see “The Venezuelan Connection” bring back the Bullocks, who make their first appearance on “Dallas” since their debut in the third-season episode “Return Engagements,” I’m disappointed the show recasts Sally with Joanna Cassidy, who isn’t as deliciously brazen as Andra Akers, the actress who originated the role. Similarly, E.J. André isn’t quite as amusingly cantankerous in this episode as he was during his first go-round as Mr. Eugene.)

Jock and Ray’s storyline in “The Venezuelan Connection” feels incomplete, too. In the third act, a mystery man spots the Ewing patriarch and his foreman in a Fort Worth saloon and quizzes the barkeep about them, but we don’t learn the stranger’s identity – or the reason for his curiosity – until the next episode, which by the way is entitled “The Fourth Son.” (Hint, hint)

Fortunately, “The Veneuzeluean Connection” offers one genuinely satisfying moment: Lucy’s confrontation with Mitch over his abrupt departure from the Southfork pool party she threw in his honor.

In the scene, working-class Mitch tells Lucy he fled the shindig because he felt he couldn’t “compete” with her wealthy friends – an idea she finds ridiculous. “Why do you have to compete with them? They live like that. So what? Can’t you just accept it?” she asks.

This response feels mature and logical, two qualities we don’t always associate with Lucy. I also appreciate how scriptwriter Leah Markus allows the character to recognize Mitch for what he really is. As Lucy tells him, “You’re the one who’s the snob.”

Charlene Tilton is terrific in this scene, which ends with Lucy suggesting she and Mitch break up. This might make their fight seem like another one of “The Venezuelan Connection’s” unresolved plot points, but not really. For Lucy and Mitch, this is turning a point, not a cliffhanger.

Grade: B


Dallas, Joanna Cassidy, Sally Bullock, Venezuelan Connection

Not the same


Season 4, Episode 6

Airdate: December 5, 1980

Audience: 29 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leah Markus

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Bobby taps Eugene and Sally Bullock to ship crude to his new refinery. Jock is impressed by Bobby’s initiative, while J.R. seethes. Pam’s detective continues searching for her mother. Mitch feels uncomfortable around Lucy’s friends. Bobby learns the Bullocks’ tanker sank en route to the refinery.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Tami Barber (Bev), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Joanna Cassidy (Sally Bullock), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Ted Gehring (Brady York), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jerry Haynes (Pat Powers), Richard Herd (John Mackey), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Janine Turner (Susan), William Windom (stranger), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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


  1. The genius of Sally taking cash from Brother Bobby & from Brother J.R. simultaneously to sink the “Bismarck” as it were is genius! Then profit IV themselves with the insurance cash. I just love how Mister Eugene knows his wife is casusding Sh**, but loves her anyway b/c quite frankly, shes more diaboloical, & even more greedy than Mister Eugene & J.R. Ewing combined!

  2. Dan in WI says:

    Our webmaster is right that this episode is all set up and I love it. Dallas has now really arrived as a full on serial and that is something nightime TV really needed. Let’s count up the open mysteries at this point:
    Who bailed Sue Ellen out of jail?
    Who was that guy asking about Jock and Ray?
    Is Pam’s mother alive?
    What is Bobby going to do with that tanker sunk?

    You don’t have that much going on at any one time with episodic television?

    • I hope you agree the payoff to these questions is worth it!

    • Jock's Gray Continental says:

      TV people were reluctant to serialization in those days. Unsurprisingly the explanation has to do with the mean green. Episodic shows were easier to sell for syndication as they can be watched casually and don’t require dedication from viewers. Of course by this point Dallas was such a success that was no longer a concern.

  3. Shaun, Assistant Ranch Foreman, Southfork says:

    I’m not sure if you keep up with these comments or not, but I’m working my way through the series again, and really enjoy reading your reviews after I watch each episode. So…thank you!
    Just an observation…was anyone else bothered by the fact that Jock and Punk Anderson acted as if they hadn’t seen each other in years, yet when JR was shot just a few episodes back, Ray had to call Punk because Jock was there? It bothers me that the writers can develop a masterful, compelling story, with twists and turns throughout the season, yet a small tidbit like this gets through the cracks.
    Anyway, I’m a huge Dallas fan since childhood, and as I said, I really appreciate your reviews!


  1. […] there’s no such thing as too much.) Of course, if you’re a Ewing woman and you’re hosting a pool party, you’re allowed to wear a bathing suit — and the more revealing the better. Just make sure you […]

  2. […] “The Venezuelan Connection,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Lucy (Charlene Tilton) talks to Mitch (Leigh McCloskey) while […]

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: