Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 84 – ‘Blocked’

The gentleman from San Angelo

The gentleman from San Angelo

Howard Keel makes his ninth “Dallas” appearance in “Blocked,” but this is the first time we get a sense of who his character, Clayton Farlow, is. By the time the episode ends, two things are clear: Clayton has become a formidable foe for J.R. – and Keel has become the show’s best addition since Susan Howard arrived during the second season.

I always remembered Clayton as being the quintessential southern gentleman, so it’s been surprising to re-watch Keel’s first few episodes and be reminded that’s not how the character started out. Clayton is pretty gruff in the beginning. The best example is probably the Farlow family dinner scene in “Showdown at San Angelo,” when Clayton brusquely shoots down Sue Ellen’s suggestion that she and Dusty could go into town after their meal to see a movie.

“Blocked” marks the moment the Clayton I love emerges. In this episode, he learns someone has shut off the flow of oil to his refineries, yet he never loses his cool over it. The situation also reveals Clayton’s compassionate side: He dips into his company’s cash reserves to keep his employees from being pink-slipped, and once the Farlows realize J.R. is behind the shutdown, Clayton refuses Sue Ellen’s offer to leave the Southern Cross to spare the family further trouble.

Of course, Clayton may be kind, but he’s no pushover. In the final scene, J.R. tells Clayton he’ll release his crude – if Clayton kicks Sue Ellen and John Ross off the Southern Cross. Mr. Farlow is resolute: “No deal, J.R.” What a fantastic moment. Often when J.R. is backed into a corner, I sympathize with him, but in this instance, I root for Clayton – which is about as good an indication as any that he’s become a bona fide “Dallas” hero.

“Blocked” has other several good scenes: Senator Dickson chastises Bobby for missing several committee votes (nice of the show to remind viewers Bobby is a public official), Cliff and Afton trade barbs when he drops by the Stardust and Sue Ellen storms into J.R.’s office to confront him over his plot against the Farlows.

“Blocked” also includes the memorable moment where Donna pushes J.R. into the Southfork swimming pool. It’s a fun sequence, but after this episode, it’s pretty clear that if anyone is going to sink J.R., it’s going to be the gentleman from San Angelo.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The skunk, sunk

The skunk, sunk

‘BLOCKED’

Season 5, Episode 7

Airdate: November 20, 1981

Audience: 24 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Clayton refuses J.R. offer to release the Farlows’ oil in exchange for John Ross. Bobby determines Jordan didn’t father Christopher and fears Pam won’t recover from her depression. Mitch accepts Dr. Waring’s job offer.

Cast: Gary Bayer (Don Martin), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Deborah Benson (secretary), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Robert Ginnaven (Chuck Williamson), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Art Hindle (Jeff Farraday), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Andy Jarrell (Neal Hart), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), David Tress (Walter Sher), Joseph Warren (Senator Dickson), Gretchen Wyler (Dr. Dagmara Conrad)

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

Comments

  1. Garnet McGee says:

    I am in love with Clayton. He is even more principled that Jock. I had to force myself to watch season 4 but I’m just speeding through season 5. They really seemed to have picked up the pace of the action. They never mention that the Texas legislature only meets from January to May (barring special sessions of course) every two years.

  2. Have you noticed that Hagman seemed like he adored being pushed in the pool C.B.? His energy, even with a drenched suit is amazing!

  3. I really am getting tired of Afton’s singing, and that horrible electric piano. I fast forward through it each time.

  4. I was at first confused by the office Bobby was in when he was being scolded for missing senate meetings. It was clear Bobby was in Dallas so this wasn’t his Austin senate office but it also wasn’t his Ewing Oil office. It turns out Bobby had another office in Dallas devoted to his senate work. And I have to mention that hanging on the wall of this office is one of my favorite portraits of Thomas Jefferson! You can see it on the right wall from the perspective of the visitors facing Bobby as he sat at his desk.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “Blocked,” Clayton (Howard Keel) arrives in a hotel suite for a meeting with J.R. (Larry […]

  2. […] (Larry Hagman) gets shoved in the Southfork swimming pool in this 1981 publicity shot from “Blocked,” a fifth-season “Dallas” […]

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