Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 74 – ‘Ewing vs. Ewing’

Davis rules

Davis rules

Jim Davis makes his last appearance as Jock in “Dallas’s” 75th hour, “New Beginnings,” but it’s more of a cameo than anything else. His final, “real” performance comes at the end of “Ewing vs. Ewing,” and no matter how many times I watch it, it never fails to move me.

Davis was diagnosed with inoperable cancer during the show’s fourth season, and when you watch these episodes, you can see him physically deteriorate, bit by bit. By the time “Ewing vs. Ewing” was filmed, the actor’s face had puffed up and his voice had been reduced to a rasp. It’s painful to witness.

Yet it’s also damned inspiring. Davis famously soldiered on despite his illness, and producer Leonard Katzman allowed him to continue to play Jock because he knew it was important to keep the actor’s spirits up. Barbara A. Curran’s book “Dallas: The Complete Story of the World’s Favorite Prime-Time Soap” includes an anecdote about how Katzman even gave Davis a peek at the scripts being prepared for the fifth season, just so the actor could see Jock would still be part of the show.

Of course, Jock never appeared during Season 5. Davis died 23 days after the broadcast of “Ewing vs. Ewing,” an uneven episode (Bobby’s use of “personal funds” to settle his senate committee’s debate over the Takapa project is an eye-roller) that nonetheless remains a sentimental favorite on the basis of that touching final scene, when Jock and Miss Ellie finally reconcile after spending half the season at war.

My favorite moment comes when Ellie admits she’s treated Jock unfairly and asks if he can forgive her. Davis delivers Jock’s response (“Nothing to forgive.”) with the same tender conviction he memorably exhibited during the third-season “Mastectomy” episodes.

Barbara Bel Geddes, who is absolutely perfect throughout “Ewing vs. Ewing” and especially in this final scene, gets the episode’s last line – “I love you, Jock” – and as I watch her deliver it, I have no doubt the tears in her eyes are real. I also know Bel Geddes isn’t just speaking for her character. She’s speaking for all of us.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hug it out, Mama

Hug it out, Mama

‘EWING VS. EWING’

Season 4, Episode 20

Airdate: April 3, 1981

Audience: 23.3 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leah Markus

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Bobby forges a compromise in the Takapa fight. Jock and Miss Ellie reconcile. J.R. continues his plann to sell Ewing Oil to Wendell. Cliff meets Afton and Pam tells him their mother is alive.

Cast: Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Cherie Beasley (Tootie Smith), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), John Hart (Senator Carson), Morgan Hart (Jenny Smith), David Healy (Senator Harbin), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Monte Markham (Clint Ogden), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), George O. Petrie (Harv Smithfield), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), John Randolph (Lincoln Hargrove), William Smithers (Jeremy Wendell), Craig Stevens (Greg Stewart), Christopher Stone (Dave Stratton), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Jay Varela (Senator Arvilla), Joseph Warren (Senator Dickson), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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

Comments

  1. barbara fan says:

    leonard katzman often quoted BBG as saying it was like “losing her real life husband again” when Jim davis died (her husband also died of a brain tumour) and it was a “very emotional and difficult time for Barbara” I can imagine how hard it must have been for all the cast – RIP Jim – thanks for the memories tho

    • I didn’t realize BBG’s husband died of a brain tumor too. How sad. It must have been difficult for her to play those scenes. She was fabulous throughout those episodes.

      Thanks for sharing BF. I appreciate your insight!

      Chris

  2. I’m glad Jock and Miss Ellie reconciled before Davis left the show. This sounds like a great episode.

  3. ONE OF THE SADDEST EPOSIDE WHEN JOCK AND MS ELLIE LEAVE TO GO ON THEIR SECOND HONEYMOON WAS JIM DAVIS’S FINAL PERFORMANCE I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT DALLAS WAS NEVER THE SAME WHEN JIM PASSED AWAY EVEN AS I TYPE THIS IT SADDNESS ME THAT HE PASSED AWAY AND I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT THOSE SCRIPTS THAT LEONARD KATZMAN WROTE WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE AND THE DIRECTION THOSE CHARACTER WOULD HAVE GONE …ONE THINGS FOR SURE MS ELLIE WOULD HAVE NEVER MARRIED CLAYTON AND NOT BE KIDNAPPED BY HIS SISTER OR DONNA REED TAKING OVER THE ROLE

    • I agree, Keith! “Dallas” was never the same after Jim Davis’s death. He contributed so much to the show. I’d love to see those scripts too!

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your thoughts.

      Chris B.

  4. Watch JIm Davis in a John Wayne film where he’s a background gangster in a bar, spellbinding. One of the “Rio” pics I think. Also, Jim playing a Nevada congressman in a black & white western & a Pinkerton detective after Frank & Jesse James are also absolutely amazing. The last two were television performances. He was a great man!

  5. Loved Jock Ewing, that old crusty die hard Texan. He was certainly a very unique TV character, magnificently portrayed by Jim Davis. Jock was a character that ensured lots of interesting story lines. An afterthought on Jock: He was a man of strong and of old fashioned convictions and he was not afraid to make them very clear to everybody. But having watched this fourth season just now, I have to say: He was one gullible man. He never questioned anything his sons did at Ewing Oil. He believed them whatever they told him. J.R. and Jock clashed constantly when it came to ethics, but whatever information J.R. fed him, Jock ate it without doubting it. Pretty remarkable.

    After the divorce story arc is behind us, I am still wondering why JR had tried to sell Ewing Oil to Weststar. That didn’t make sense to me at all. Not only was that completely out of character. It didn’t make any sense in the light of the divorce. What would a sale have accomplished?

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “Ewing vs. Ewing,” while Jock and Donna (Jim Davis, Susan Howard) watch, Ray (Steve Kanaly) hands Miss Ellie (Barbara […]

  2. […] why he seemed so unfamiliar with the term “conflict of interest.” Not only did Senator Ewing preside over an inquiry into his father’s plan to build a resort on Lake Takapa, he also […]

  3. […] gives Donna’s book her blessing. It brings to mind the final moments in the fourth-season episode “Ewing vs. Ewing,” when Ellie stands in Ray and Donna’s living room and asks Jock to forgive her for almost […]

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