The Best & Worst of Dallas: Season 2

“Dallas” was still figuring itself out during its second season, which means there was plenty to hail and heckle.

Performances

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Don’t mess with Mama

Although every member of the ensemble has great moments this season, no one is as consistently wonderful as Barbara Bel Geddes. Miss Ellie becomes a somewhat frustrating character as “Dallas” progresses – she too often casts a blind eye to J.R.’s shenanigans, in my view – but Season 2 is the year you do not want to mess with Mama. We see her demand J.R. clean up his act, order Julie to stay away from Jock and urge Pam to fight for her marriage. (There’s also Ellie’s encounter with the poor sap who makes the mistake of sneaking onto Southfork; see “Scenes” below.) In just about every second-season episode, Bel Geddes demonstrates how lucky “Dallas” is to have her.

Episodes

“Black Market Baby” is the most intriguing, “For Love or Money” is the saddest and “Royal Marriage” is a sentimental favorite, but “John Ewing III, Part 2” gets my vote for the season’s all-around best episode. Linda Gray is mesmerizing in the scene where Sue Ellen tearfully confesses her sins to Bobby, but Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval and Victoria Principal all have terrific moments too.

Hands down, the season’s weakest hour is “Runaway,” the first – and so far only – “Dallas” episode to receive a “D” grade from me. Run away, indeed.

Scenes

Ten words of dialogue are all you need to describe Season 2’s best scene: “Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet.”

The worst scene? The “Call Girl” sequence where Leeann Rees (Veronica Hamel) lures drunken Ben Maxwell (Fred Beir) into Pam’s bed while J.R.’s sleazy photographer furiously snaps pictures outside the window. What a farce. I half expect Mr. and Mrs. Roper to come charging into the room, wondering what all the commotion is all about.

Supporting Players

Dallas, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing

Knockout

I don’t care how many times I watch it, Joan Van Ark’s performance at the end of “Reunion, Part 2” always knocks me out. In the blink of an eye, Valene goes from anguished when she bids Gary adieu to enraged when she confronts J.R. for driving away his middle brother. With the exception of Linda Gray, no actress in “Dallas” history has better chemistry with Larry Hagman than Van Ark. What a shame she didn’t spend more time at Southfork.

My least-favorite guest stars: the three actors who portray the bad guys in “Kidnapped.” What’s the bigger crime here: holding Bobby hostage or the witless Edward G. Robinson imitations these villains-of-the-week deliver? Then again, what do you expect when performers are given lines like, “We may have the wrong goose – but he can still lay the golden egg!”

Costumes

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Timeless

I loved the striped hoodie, green pants and knee-high tan boots Pam wears during the “Election” scene where Cliff persuades her to organize a fashion show fundraiser for his state senate campaign. You could put this outfit on Jordana Brewster on TNT’s “Dallas” and she’d look just as stylish as Victoria Principal does in 1978.

Pam also gets my vote for worst outfit: the weird “pants dress” she sports in “Black Market Baby.”

Music

Season 1 gives us Jerrold Immel’s classic “Dallas” theme music, but Season 2 brings us many of John Parker’s magical background tunes, including “The Only Lovers,” Bobby and Pam’s theme; “The Adulteress,” Sue Ellen’s bluesy signature; and “The Loyal Foreman,” Ray’s anthem. (If you don’t own it already, do yourself a favor and purchase Parker’s classic “Dallas” soundtrack today.)

Quips

Best: “Bobby, come on. Women marry homosexuals all the time. It seems to suit a lot of them.” – J.R.’s response in “Royal Marriage” after Bobby questions his insistence Lucy marry the closeted oil-and-cattle heir Kit Mainwaring.

Worst: In “Fallen Idol,” J.R. expresses his annoyance with Guzzler Bennett’s name-dropping thusly: “The next thing you know, the name of that actress is gonna be Farrah Fawcett-Guzzler.” Oh, J.R.! Leave the pop culture references to Sue Ellen.

What do you love and loathe about “Dallas’s” second season? Share your comments below and read more “Best & Worst” reviews.

Comments

  1. I laughed aloud at the ‘Ropers’ barging in on that farce with Pam. J.R came up with some pretty ridiculous stunts in the early years to try to end the marriage. I have to confess that I really liked ‘runaway,’ though your comment about running away made me laugh too. Greg Evigan was a bit too hammy and Lucy far too bratty. But a big part of what I liked about Dallas in the early seasons was Bobby’s sweet relationship with Lucy. He was consistently there for her, a far better father figure than Gary ever was. And I was touched when he risked his life to rescue her. So if all else fails in that episode…props to that! 😀

    • Thanks Lady G. You’re right about Bobby and Lucy’s relationship and Greg Evigan being hammy (although he’s pretty darn cute too). I suppose I also like Lucy’s musical number in “Runaway,” even if: a) that’s not Charlene Tilton really singing and b) she performs amazingly well for a girl under duress.

  2. I totally agree with you statement about the chemistry between Joan Van Aek and Larry Hagman. I totally love seeing him onscreen with Linda Gray. Love their chemistry. But I almost love watching him and Val just as much. I don’t know what it is but they buzz on screen. Some of my favorite scenes I saw on Knots Landing was when LH crossed over and worked with her. I would love for JVA to guest on the new Dallas just to see the two of them together again.

    I think she would be willing. She has done some PR stuff with the Dallas people in the past few years. She also has said how much she likes the Dallas cast. And has said she adores LH.

  3. If I ever have a dog I’m going to name it “Farrah Fawcett-Guzzler”!

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