Dallas Parallels: The Good Husband

The original “Dallas’s” pilot, “Digger’s Daughter,” opens with Bobby and Pam racing home to Southfork after their spur-of-the-moment elopement in New Orleans. Later, J.R. hints his younger brother doesn’t know his new wife as well as he should – a suggestion Bobby flatly rejects. As he declares in the episode’s final scene, “Pamela’s past is none of my business. She was not my wife in the past – but she is now.”

Looking back, I can’t help but think maybe J.R. had a point. Don’t get me wrong: Bobby and Pam’s love story was written in the stars, but throughout their marriage – er, marriages – Bobby seems to be constantly finding out things about Pam he didn’t know.

Examples: In Season 2, Bobby is surprised to learn she was married to another man before him. In Season 4, he’s shocked to find out she came this close to having an affair. In Season 11, Bobby is stunned when Pam, after being badly burned in a car crash, runs away to spare him the indignity of having a wife who isn’t pretty.

You have to wonder: Would these two have benefitted from a longer engagement?

History seems to be repeating itself on TNT’s “Dallas.” Bobby and third wife Ann have been married for several years when the new series opens, but it’s clear he doesn’t know her as well as he thought.

It begins in “The Enemy of My Enemy,” when Bobby finds Ann sobbing on the Southfork patio after receiving a mysterious locket from her ex-husband Harris Ryland. Bobby, ever the hothead, goes charging into Ryland’s office, grabs him by the lapels and backhands him.

This recalls the scene in the classic show’s second-season episode “Double Wedding,” when Bobby angrily confronts Pam’s first husband Ed Haynes, whose sudden return rattles her as much as the locket upsets Ann. Bobby is just as angry with Haynes as he is with Ryland, and both scenes end with Bobby jabbing a finger in the other man’s face and delivering an ultimatum (To Haynes: “I want you out of Dallas!” To Ryland: “You stay away from Ann!”).

In “Collateral Damage,” TNT’s next episode, after Ryland has Bobby arrested for assault, Bobby follows his lawyer’s advice and begrudgingly apologizes. But Ryland has a trick up his sleeve: He tells Bobby that Ann is “holding something back” and hands him an envelope. “Take a look inside,” Ryland says. “Come to your own conclusions. There’s a lot about Annie you don’t know.”

Here, we see parallels to the older show’s fourth-season episode “The New Mrs. Ewing,” when Bobby confronts Alex Ward, the magazine publisher who has been wooing Pam. Both scenes take place in the other man’s office, both suggest the other man has a sexist attitude toward his secretary (Ward calls his “hon,” Ryland refers to his as “dear”) and during both confrontations, Bobby threatens to pulverize the other man. (To Ward: “I’ll beat the hell out of you.” To Ryland: “I will beat you into next Sunday.”)

Most importantly, both scenes end with the other man turning the tables on Bobby. Just as Bobby is unsettled by Ryland’s envelope, he’s unnerved when Ward suggests Pam wanted to sleep with him because she felt neglected.

Bobby and Pam’s relationship survived her flirtation with Ward, and my guess is Bobby and Ann are going to be fine too. In the closing moments of “Collateral Damage,” Bobby shows Ann the envelope from Ryland. “I don’t need to open this,” Bobby says as he sets it aside and touches his wife’s face. “Everything I need to know about you is right here.”

The line evokes memories of Bobby’s “Digger’s Daughter” declaration that Pam’s past is “none of my business.” It also reminds us: On “Dallas,” some things never change.

Thank goodness.


‘She Needed Me’


In “The New Mrs. Ewing,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) bursts into the office of Alex Ward (Joel Fabiani) as Ward’s secretary is leaving.

WARD: [To the secretary] It’s all right, hon. Go out and close the door please. [To Bobby] What are you doing here?

BOBBY: I just came to tell you to stay away from my wife. You’ve been chasing her. I want you to stop it right now.

WARD: I don’t deny that I find your wife attractive. And I also admit that I tried my very best to charm her [stands up, faces Bobby]. But only because I felt she needed me. If I hadn’t felt that way, I never would have raised an eyebrow. I don’t play games I don’t feel I can win.

BOBBY: Listen you phony, my wife is not first prize in some game. Now I’m warning you: Stay away from her. This time I’m talking. Next time, I’ll beat the hell out of you.

WARD: If you’re really concerned about your wife, let me make a suggestion: Talk to her. I made my move only because I knew there was something wrong with your marriage [walks to the door, holds it open for Bobby]. After all, she’d never have even looked at me if there hadn’t been.


‘She’s Holding Something Back’


In “Collateral Damage,” TNT’s seventh “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is seated across from Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi) at the desk in Ryland’s office.

RYLAND: Getting the police involved, I hate stooping to that. It’s an ugly gesture. I apologize.

BOBBY: If by “ugly” you mean “cowardly,” then yes, it was very ugly.

RYLAND: Then if you’re not here to apologize, I’m afraid it’s going to have to be a necessary gesture.

BOBBY: It’s not necessary, Harris. I apologize.

RYLAND: [Picks up the phone] Linda, call my lawyer. Tell him I want to drop all charges against Mr. Ewing. Yeah, thank you dear [hangs up the phone]. See? It was painless.

BOBBY: I want to be very clear, Harris. My apology doesn’t mean I take back what I did. You mess with my wife in any way, and I will beat you into next Sunday.

RYLAND: Not if you’re smart, you won’t.

BOBBY: I was more than ready to go to court. But I didn’t want to drag it out and cause my wife more pain – pain you are responsible for.

RYLAND: You know, I thought you might come asking. So, here you go. [He retrieves an envelope from a nearby cabinet and tries to hand it to Bobby. When Bobby doesn’t take it, Ryland drops it on the desk.] That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? To find out what kind of person your wife really is.

BOBBY: [Stands] I know what kind of person my wife really is.

RYLAND: She’s holding something back – and you wanna know what. [Slides the envelope across the desk] Here’s your what. Why don’t you go ahead and take a look inside. Come to your own conclusions. There’s a lot about Annie you don’t know.

What do you think of Bobby’s confrontations with the other men in his wives’ lives? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”


  1. Awesome comparisons! I remembering comparing the Ryland and Ward scenes too. And yes, J.R did have a point. That was a totally rushed wedding. They really needed time to see each other react under pressure. Obviously Pam couldn’t handle too much. She DID have a lot thrown at her, her family revelations, her mother coming into her life and then losing her. Dealing with her brother’s problems and feud with the Ewings. But it was such foolishness which threw her over the edge (almost literally!) with the wanting a baby drama. She was never the same after that.
    I think Bobby is surrounded by so much underhanded business and meanness in his family so he looks for the best in others. He tries to see the good in people and give them a chance. When it comes to his women, he may have that old-school ‘women can do no wrong’ mentality. (Okay, I just made that up, but it makes sense in my mind! lol) Meaning, he’s the husband, he’s the provider and protector, and he needs to shield them from hurt whether it’s the past or present. Which is something he does in his many hot-headed and often heroic moments throughout the entire series. There is a limit to that of course. He demands loyalty and despises liars. And I don’t blame him for being a little turned off by the women who coupled with J.R first. Except adorable April, she fought for him and won…briefly. 😦 I don’t think he considered Anne a liar because she simply just never told him that part of her past. I assume she didn’t make up crazy stories and stuff.

    Okay before I lose all track of thought because I’m just rambling now! lol –
    Bobby is someone I’d love to have on my side, but on the flip side you’d never want to cross him either. There’s something about having his disapproval that’s devastating.

    • ” I think Bobby is surrounded by so much underhanded business and meanness in his family so he looks for the best in others. He tries to see the good in people and give them a chance. ” – I agree with you Lady G. I think it is a clear trait that is a clear similarity with Miss Ellie. I do not see any other characters on “Dallas” that are like Bobby and Miss Ellie in this way.

      • You’re right! He is a lot like Miss Ellie. Now I can understand a little more why she was so furious with Jock when Bobby wanted to leave Southfork with Pam. She was losing the last bit of goodness in her family. She is not very close with J.R in terms of affection like she is with Bobby and Gary. Everything is so strained.

      • I love to see readers conversing among themselves. Thanks to you both for being so loyal to Dallas Decoder!

      • I love Dallas Decoder, Chris! So happy I found it! You do a terrific job dissecting everything and everyone, comparing and contrasting. With 13-14 seasons and a brand new continuation of the show…not to mention the spin off! It’s fantastic.

      • Thanks Lady G.! You’re my most loyal reader. Please know how much I appreciate it.

      • Thank you, Chris! I’ve never followed a blog so steadfastly before. I also never thought I’d like Dallas so much no matter how much I love Patrick Duffy. lol.

      • I’m glad you like the show. Thanks again for following my blog. I always enjoy reading your comments.

  2. Excellent post. I really appreciate the research that you put into this. I am so ready for season two! The parallels are clear. What I like is that these story lines are the foundation for the new plots and keep true to the original characters and how the children follow their examples. Just like Pam with Digger and Bobby with Jock.

  3. Alex Ward and Mark Graison were total d-bags – can’t stand the sight of either one of them. Bobby should’ve laid Ward out, but instead he let him worm his way out of it. When Bobby decked Graison at the Oil Barons’ Ball, that was the single greatest moment in Dallas history. Other than Bobby, Pam has horrible taste in guys, and it’s really irritating to see her fall for these 2 jerks.

    • i TOTALLY agree! those two were nothing but snakes in the grass. they BOTH took advantage of situations when pam was emotionally vulnerable & just assumed they could take her FROM HER HUSBAND! ward was an absolute weasel, at a EWING barbecue dancing with pam, talking about taking her away to exotic places…graison was just as bad if not worse! the man referred to himself as a “lovable playboy” for crying out loud! what an arrogant jerk…constantly showing up to woo pam away from bobby, and he eventually succeeded. ugh…hey moustache face: you don’t bring flowers & champagne to a married woman!!!

      • It seems as if the producers tried to present these “other men” as heroic characters. Were we supposed to be rooting for Alex or Mark to take Pam away from Bobby?

        Thanks for commenting, Mikey. I appreciate it.


    • I think you nailed it, Paul. Alex Ward always seemed especially sleazy to me. I wish Bobby had decked him too.

  4. Thanks, Chris. I’m so happy you see what I do. Mike, I couldn’t have said it better – I remember that scene with Ward at the barbecue. Man, I just wanted to reach through the TV screen and choke that guy… And you know, at least with Ryland, we know what we’re getting, as he’s being presented as an unscrupulous guy. Ward and Graison were snakes in shining armor. Time and again they’d show up trying to sweep Bobby’s bride off her feet, and it seemed like the producers were forcing the notion that these were charming likable guys down our throats, playing cheesy-cheery music in the background, and making sure Pam laughs at all their stupid jokes, and her showing up for Graison’s polo matches and so forth. Please! In one scene, Graison referred to Bobby and Pam’s marriage as a “lone sinking ship at sea”, and he of course was offering his services to be Pam’s “lifeboat”….That was a sickening scene indeed! I wanted to punch the guy right in his stupid mustache…Yeah, I love Ryland compared to Ward and Graison.

  5. I always thought J. R. was a good husband. People always get after him for having affairs, but didn’t Bobby also cheat on his ladies when married at points?

  6. Anonymous says:

    i agree Mark and Alex were big time jerks and they were not that attractive!!!!!! Anyway Alex the sleaze did not get to sleep with Pam as he tried desperately to and Mark ugly mustache did not get to marry Pam because he died/disappeared from her life thank God. Any how as Pam behaved badly with these two losers, she only truly loved Bobby and the two jerks could never get her heart or her to fall in love with them. Alex’s “God’s gift to women” mentality could not get Pam to succumb at the last moment and she only agreed to marry Mark because he was dying and he loved her and she felt guilty for not loving him back the way he loved her and she did not want him to go through the pain alone.

What do you think?

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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: