Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 93 – ‘The Phoenix’

Rising son

Rising son

Two great scenes bookend “The Phoenix.” In the first, J.R. brings John Ross to Ewing Oil on a Sunday morning so the little boy can see where Daddy works. This is Larry Hagman at his most charming – and mischievous. As J.R. carries his son through the reception area, he points out where “Daddy’s pretty secretaries” sit, then nods toward the hallway and says, “That’s your Uncle Bobby’s office, where he does whatever he does around here.”

Moments later, J.R. shows John Ross his oil derrick model, then plops the child in his desk chair, gives it a few spins and waxes sentimental. “Your granddaddy taught me everything I know about this business,” J.R. says. “He’d be so proud if he knew I was doing the same with you.” It’s an unabashedly sweet moment.

In “The Phoenix’s” final scene, J.R. wanders into Jock’s office and delivers a stirring monologue while gazing at the Ewing patriarch’s famous portrait, which is seen for the first time since its debut before the closing credits in “The Search.” I’ve watched this scene a lot over the years, and the combination of Hagman’s conviction – especially when he delivers the final line (“By God, I’m going to make you proud of me”) – and Bruce Broughton’s rousing score never fails to give me chills.

(Of course, even though J.R.’s speech is moving, I can’t help but wonder why this is the first time we’ve seen Jock’s office. Did the producers build the set just so they could introduce the painting, which becomes “Dallas’s” most iconic prop? Also, pay attention to the nameplate on Jock’s office door. It reads “Jock Ewing” in the close-up and “J. Ewing” in the wide shot.)

Overall, “The Phoenix” is another solid hour from “Dallas’s” fifth season. I especially like Ray’s storyline. In this episode, he sleeps with Bonnie, the barfly who’s been keeping him company while he spends his nights wallowing in self-pity at the Longview bar. I used to find Ray’s marital lapse shocking, but now I realize it’s perfectly in keeping with his character. Ray has always struggled with feelings of self worth. By cheating, he’s not trying to hurt Donna. He’s trying to hurt himself.

The other highlight of “The Phoenix” is Afton’s mesmerizing rendition of “All of Me” at the fancy nightclub where Cliff has gotten her a job. I always love hearing Audrey Landers perform on the show, and this might be her best number. It doesn’t hurt that Landers looks positively glamorous in that slinky blue sequined gown.

More than anything, I like how Afton stands up for herself when she realizes Cliff still pines for Sue Ellen. It makes me wonder: Does the title of this episode refer to J.R., who is rising from the ashes of his despair over Jock’s death – or is it meant to describe Afton, who is beginning to take flight as one of the great “Dallas” heroines?

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lady sings in blue

Lady sings in blue

‘THE PHOENIX’

Season 5, Episode 16

Airdate: January 29, 1982

Audience: 23.1 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Harry Harris

Synopsis: J.R. decides he doesn’t want Jock’s will read because he fears John Ross could lose a portion of his inheritance. Ray sleeps with old flame Bonnie. Cliff dates Afton while pining for Sue Ellen. Pam urges Bobby to learn more about Christopher’s real parents. Roger stalks Lucy.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Lindsay Bloom (Bonnie), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Susan Damante-Shaw (Carolyn Carter), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Dan Hamilton (Eric), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Dr. Mitch Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Dennis Redfield (Roger Larson), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Vernon Weddle (McGregor), K.C. Winkler (Melinda)

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

Comments

  1. Brother Ray Krebbs cheatin on Donna Culver Krebbs shouldn’t surprise any1. He needed a little action. Remember, Ray tag teamed a pair of shall we say “easy gals” with J.R. when they used 2 be buds C.B. Which resulted in the kidnapping of the Ewings at their home, held hostage they had 2 let it go b/c 1 of the gals turned out to be married.

  2. I guess we have different tastes in music. I find Landers’ singing really annoying, as well as that horrible electric piano. im glad im able to fast forward now..

  3. Brother Ray cheated on Mrs. Donna Culver Krebbs shouldn’t surprise u C.B. Remember when he & Brother J.R. tag teamed a pair of ladies & 1 of them turned out to be married, resulting in the kidnappings of the Ewings at their home. Luckily Jock & Brother Boby came to the recue!

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “The Phoenix,” J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters Jock’s empty office at Ewing Oil, walks slowly around the desk, grips […]

  2. […] No one impresses me as much as Audrey Landers. This is the season Afton breaks J.R.’s grip and comes into her own as one of the show’s heroines. There’s no doubt she deserves a better mate than Cliff, but I love how Afton humanizes him – and you can’t deny Landers’ chemistry with Ken Kercheval. As an added bonus, Landers delivers several hot musical numbers this year, including that sultry rendition of “All of Me” in “The Phoenix.” […]

  3. […] 2. J.R.’s promise. J.R. (Larry Hagman), after slipping into a depression over Jock’s death, addresses a portrait of his father. “I’m back, Daddy. And nobody’s going to take Ewing Oil away from me. Or my son, or his son. I swear to you. By God, I’m going to make you proud of me.” The combination of Hagman’s conviction, scriptwriter David Paulsen’s dialogue and Bruce Broughton’s rousing score never fails to give me chills. (“The Phoenix”) […]

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