Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 65 – ‘End of the Road, Part 1’

Look out, J.R.

Look out, J.R.

Audrey Landers makes her “Dallas” debut in “End of the Road, Part 1,” and from the moment we lay eyes on her character Afton Cooper, there’s no doubt about it: This girl is going to be trouble.

Afton eventually becomes one of “Dallas’s” most popular heroines, but that’s not how she starts out. In this episode, she comes to town to attend her brother Mitch’s wedding to Lucy but spends most of her time slinking around Southfork and flirting with J.R.

At this point during “Dallas’s” run, the show had been vixen-less since Kristin’s departure at the beginning of the fourth season, and “End of the Road, Part 1” makes it clear Afton is here to pick up the slack. J.R. himself alludes to this when he wonders aloud to Jock, “You suppose Afton can type?”

When I watched “Dallas” as a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to Landers, but seeing this episode with fresh eyes made me appreciate how good she is as Afton. Landers was still a Hollywood newcomer when she joined “Dallas,” but she more than holds her own against Larry Hagman, with whom she shares several scenes.

When J.R. meets Afton during a Southfork cocktail hour, he ushers her over to his side of the room. It feels a little predatory, but then I listen as Afton coos to him about the roadside alligators and Spanish moss in her native Mississippi. J.R. is charmed, and suddenly it isn’t clear who is predator and who is prey.

Afton’s arrival signals the beginning of another transitional episode during “Dallas’s” fourth season. Lucy and Mitch are about to go from mismatched college sweethearts to mismatched spouses, J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marital bliss is crumbling and Bobby’s rocky tenure as Ewing Oil’s president is winding down.

Of course, the biggest transition of all was happening behind the scenes. Jim Davis was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in 1980, and “End of the Road, Part 1” marks the moment his illness begins to show on-screen. The actor doesn’t look well in this episode.

I watch today knowing Davis is coming to the end of his road – and man, does that make me sad.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The end is nigh, Bobby

The end is nigh, Bobby

‘END OF THE ROAD, PART 1’

Season 4, Episode 11

Airdate: January 16, 1981

Audience: 26 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leonard Katzman

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Bobby does business with the cartel, even though Ewing Oil is having cash-flow problems. J.R. pulls strings to force Bobby to betray the independent gas station owners, knowing it will infuriate Jock. J.R. sleeps with his secretary Louella and flirts with Mitch’s sister Afton, who comes to town for the wedding.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Michael Bell (Les Crowley), David J. Bowman (Tom Selby), Harry Carey Jr. (Red), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Anne Francis (Arliss Cooper), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), William Smithers (Jeremy Wendell), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Janine Turner (Susan), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“End of the Road, Part 1” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. I can’t believe after all that trouble with Kristin J.R falls right back into the old trap, what a silly creature of habit he is. I didn’t know about Jim Davis at first, but when I saw this episode I couldn’t help thinking something was wrong and he looked tired and ill. It is sad to know Jock doesn’t return. I’ve passed all this, just started season 5, great cliffhanger in 4! But Season 4 was also kind of ho-hum toward the end with boring affairs between Sue Ellen and her old beau. I’m getting ahead of this episode, but wow, his wife Alicia looked so much like Victoria Principal, just with short curly hair and a little chubbier. She was beautiful. I felt so sad for her. He was annoying too.

    and then Pam and that really pushy and stalkerish guy Alex. I couldn’t stand him and I was secretly hoping Bobby would pop him one. Who does he think he is just wedging into someone’s marriage like that thinking he has a right? I love how Bobby stormed into his office. It totally reflected the new Dallas when he storms in on Ryland because of Ann!

    And then this ice queen Leslie who wraps J.R around her finger and then her character just goes nowhere. I think the writers wanted to keep her on, but J.R was falling out of character so badly it hurt. J.R was right in her last episode. It wasn’t worth the wait. LOL.

    Poor Lucy is so mismatched with Mitch I could scream. He needs to stick with his pretty brunette friend from school. I feel bad for Lucy though. She is so in love. But Mitch’s ‘poor’ pride is extremely annoying after a while. It always seems like he’s forced into showing her affection or even cracking a smile for her, and she has to lap around him like a dog wagging her tail waiting for a pat on the head. Lucy always has to initiate everything with him.

    I cried when Miss Ellie came to her senses with Jock and Ray, and then later when Cliff finally meets his mother. That was a nice twist that she comes back into their lives.

    But Season 4 was chock full of annoying new characters, and main characters being annoying, so my grade as a whole is a B. 😛

    • I like the fourth season more than I remembered. I agree Sue Ellen and Pam’s “love interests” (Alex and Clint) aren’t very interesting, and good call on Bobby storming into Alex’s office, the way he does with Harris on the new show. And like you, I love the scene where Cliff is reunited with Rebecca. Good stuff!

  2. C.B., in regards to commentary about the new TNT DALLAS, some1 wrote thatr Brother J.R. is lying next to Jock & Miss Ellie now at Southfork where he belongs. Well thats all fine & dandy, but I thought Jock’s body was never found & was just left lost in the jungles of South America. So presumably John Ross Ewing Senior, aka “Jock” has his bones in South America & his gravestone is just a marker w/o a body. Am I correct & can this be made note of in a special TNT DALLAS post & here?

  3. What a peculiar face this Jeremy Wendell has! He looks quite ordinary at first sight, but has some tint of weirdness about him. He’s going to be an arch-villain, isn’t he?

Trackbacks

  1. […] of Music” and “Mary Poppins.” He also acted, including appearing in the fourth-season episode “End of the Road, Part 1” as Mark Harrelson, Jordan Lee’s […]

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