Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 64 – ‘Executive Wife’

The bloom is off

The bloom is off

In “Executive Wife,” Pam feels hurt by her mother’s rejection and needs Bobby’s support, but he’s too busy running Ewing Oil to notice. For a moment, Pam allows herself to be tempted by another man: magazine publisher Alex Ward.

Sound familiar? It should. Pam and Bobby went through the same scenario in the third-season episode “Jenna’s Return,” except back then, the roles were reversed: Pam was the spouse who was preoccupied with work, which sent lonely Bobby into the arms of magazine editor Jenna Wade.

I appreciate “Executive Wife’s” attempt to depict the challenges facing dual-career couples, which were becoming more common in the 1980s, but it doesn’t change the fact this subplot is a rehash.

It isn’t “Executive Wife’s” only retread, either. Three episodes ago, in “The Fourth Son,” Bobby had to choose between keeping Jock’s commitment to Brady York and honoring a deal Bobby made himself. In “Executive Wife,” he has an opportunity to get back into business with the cartel, but he’s once again hamstrung by Ewing Oil’s commitment to Brady.

At least this time around, Bobby’s dilemma leads to one of “Dallas’s” all-time great scenes: Bobby and Jock’s showdown at the Cattleman’s Club, where the golden son confronts his beloved father over Jock’s decision to deplete Ewing Oil’s cash reserves without first checking with Bobby.

This is where Jim Davis ferociously delivers Jock’s famous line that “real power is something you take.” The dialogue perfectly encapsulates the Ewings’ approach to life, which explains why TNT’s “Dallas” had J.R. repeat the line to John Ross in its recent “The Price You Pay” episode.

“Executive Wife” also features the scene that inspired artist Ro Kim’s classic classic painting of Jock, which shows up after the character’s death during “Dallas’s” fifth season and becomes one of the show’s most enduring props.

In the scene, Jock stands in a Southfork pasture with Ray and vents his frustration with Bobby’s management of Ewing Oil. Davis wears the same straw hat, blue-and-white checked shirt and gold medallion he does in the painting, so watching him here is a bit like seeing the portrait spring to life.

If only that were really possible.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Picture perfect

Picture perfect

‘EXECUTIVE WIFE’

Season 4, Episode 10

Airdate: January 9, 1981

Audience: 26.4 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Jock puts Bobby in a bind when he invests in his friend Punk Anderson’s plan to build a resort at Takapa Lake, depleting Ewing Oil’s cash reserves. Bobby is too busy with work to pay attention to Pam, who allows herself to be tempted by dashing magazine publisher Alex Ward. J.R. Lucy and Mitch decide to get married before he graduates from medical school.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Michael Bell (Les Crowley), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Ted Gehring (Brady York), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jerry Haynes (Pat Powers), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), William Smithers (Jeremy Wendell), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Executive Wife” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. I just finished “Trouble at Ewing 23,” i enjoyed it. Duffy showed his terrific acting chops as he stares pained at the field with tears in his eyes, almost as if he knows it’s going to go up in flames. Simply Beautiful scene. Going backward, I loved “the Fourth son” and Steve Kanaly’s performance when he finds out the truth from Jock. Wow. I nearly cried myself. But I’m so exasperated with Executive!Bobby I want to scream. I want the real Bobby back.
    I notice how they built up a relationship between Connie the secretary and Bobby. There are hints of something, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. But you can see the stars in her eyes when she looks at him. I’d look at him the same way. lol. I like her, though I know another actress becomes the loyal secretary, Phyllis.

    • You have a good eye. Connie’s crush on Bobby is very subtle, but it’s definitely there. It all comes to a head in the “End of the Road” two-parter. I like Phyllis, Connie’s replacement, but I like Connie too. Jeanna Michaels did a nice job with the role. I loved when Mary Crosby was around and Connie would cut Kristin those withering glances.

      • Yeah, her glances were great. And I’m surprised at Louella! But then again she works for J.R, she ‘smartened’ up and wanted benefits for doing his dirty work. Connie just shakes her head a them all. lol

  2. Lloyd Ferrigon says:

    The scene between Jock and Bobby was certainly memorable. JR once said that Jock was not easy to work for.

  3. Jock Ewing’s commentary is the same attitude I & many other people have. To get power u must take it. Jock seized it along with J.R. While I & Brother Bobby went thru the democratic process with Bob successfully becoming a Texas State Senator while I just ran 3x for 3 different offices to split the vote so certain candidates wouldn’t get in. I did it for media exposure and fun, no payoff, but just to prove C.B. I could stop folks from winning & I was 3x successful. So I unlike Bobby was after associated power rather than real power!

  4. Dan in WI says:

    As Chris points out the core story of this episode is a shoe’s on the other foot version of Jenna’s Return. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. People are individuals are it is often interesting to find out how and this is a device to do just that. In my mind that elevates this above a re-tread catagorization. (A retread would be having the same characters play the same roles in my mind.) Where this episode errs is that it doens’t acknowledge said character study in any way. You’d think Pam would have commented on it is some way.
    During this latest viewing of this episode and since we’ve been commenting on Mark Gaison here recently it struck me how Alex Ward was the beta version of Mark. Neither man seems to have an misgivings about shamelessly pursuing married women. The difference is there was no chemistry between Pam and Alex and as a result I found this one completely unconvincing. Alex may be rich and and I’m sure many a gold digger would fall for him, but since he completely lacked a personality I don’t see how someone like Pam who has money could be tempted by him in particular.

    The other thing that struck me about this episode is that Jock sure seems to have some pretty violent “mood swings” in regards to his opinion of Bobby’s handling of the company. He just keeps swinging back and forth between he can’t hack it to pride. Settle on an opinion for a little while why don’t you? Of course to be fair JR is stirring the pot here a bit.

Trackbacks

  1. […] the fourth-season episode “Executive Wife,” Bobby storms into the Cattleman’s Club and interrupts Jock’s lunch with J.R. and a couple of […]

  2. […] 2. Teaching Bobby. When Bobby (Patrick Duffy) felt Jock was undermining his authority at Ewing Oil, he loudly reminded his daddy that Jock “gave” him the power to run the company. In one of the all-time great “Dallas” scenes, Jock set his “boy” straight: “Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!” With those 10 words, Jock established the creed that would define the Ewings for generations to come. (“Executive Wife”) […]

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