Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 95 – ‘Anniversary’

There she is

There she is

In the fourth-season “Dallas” episode “New Beginnings,” J.R. and Sue Ellen recall their meeting at the Miss Texas beauty pageant, where he was a judge and she was a contestant. The conversation is warm and nostalgic – until Kristin calls and announces she has given birth to J.R.’s son. This triggers a chain reaction that eventually includes Kristin’s death and J.R. and Sue Ellen’s divorce.

In “Anniversary,” J.R. and Sue Ellen finally get around to finishing the conversation her sister interrupted. It begins when J.R. shows up on Sue Ellen’s doorstep with a bouquet of yellow roses and a video recording of her appearance in the pageant, which occurred on that date 14 years earlier. “It was the first time I set eyes on you,” J.R. reminds his ex-wife. He also tells her that his life “hasn’t been the same” since their divorce. “I miss you,” J.R. says.

This scene isn’t quite as moving as the one in “New Beginnings,” but it’s still very sweet. Larry Hagman and Linda Gray had been working together for four years when “Anniversary” was filmed, but they have the chemistry of a couple who’ve been together much longer. This really feels like a conversation between two people with many years of shared connections and experiences. I also like how director Joseph Manduke shows us Sue Ellen’s television set as it plays the old footage of her pageant appearance. It’s a fleeting glimpse of the poised young woman J.R. described so lovingly in “New Beginnings.” (By the way: He’s lucky Sue Ellen has a VCR to play his cassette. The machines were available in fewer than 10 percent of homes in 1982, when this episode debuted.)

“Anniversary” also features a terrific guest turn from Claude Earl Jones, who portrays J.R.’s buddy Wally Hampton, the Tulsa industrialist who agrees to help J.R. lure Cliff away from Dallas. With his big belly and backslapping demeanor, Jones makes a fantastic Ewing crony. The actor is also one of a handful of performers to play three roles on “Dallas:” In addition to Hampton, Jones portrays one of J.R.’s dirty cops in the second-season episode “Call Girl” and rival oilman Duke Carlisle during the 13th season. He’s perfect for each of these parts.

Overall, “Anniversary” is another solid hour from “Dallas’s” solid fifth season. I also love Miss Ellie’s heart to heart with Lucy in the Southfork kitchen, as well as Lucy’s confrontation with Evelyn, the other woman in Mitch’s life. The scene where Bobby presents Pam with her aerobics studio is a kick too, especially for those of us old enough to remember Victoria Principal’s real-life foray into the physical fitness craze of the 1980s.

The other great moment in “Anniversary” comes during the third act, when J.R. arranges for Donna to catch Ray with Bonnie in that cheap motel room. It’s twisted how J.R. schemes to break up his half-brother’s marriage while trying to bring his own union back from the dead, but with J.R., would we expect anything less?

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Uh oh

Uh oh

‘ANNIVERSARY’

Season 5, Episode 18

Airdate: February 12, 1982

Audience: 22.4 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Joseph Manduke

Synopsis: J.R. kisses Sue Ellen and arranges for Donna to catch Ray in bed with Bonnie. Hampton’s job offer tempts Cliff. Evelyn confronts Lucy, who sleeps with Roger. Bobby buys Pam an aerobics studio.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Lindsay Bloom (Bonnie), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Danny Dayton (emcee), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Claude Earl Jones (Wally Hampton), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Dr. Mitch Cooper), Patricia McCormack (Evelyn Michaelson), Pamela Murphy (Marie), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Dennis Redfield (Roger Larson), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Ron Tomme (Charles Eccles)

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

Comments

  1. barbara fan says:

    Its a great episode – I loved the scene out by the pool with the ladies of SF exercising and JR brings John Ross, dumps him on grandma and the little boy starts playing with ehr hair, its so sweet.
    Pam looks in good shape but Lucy will really need to shape up a little more!! Miss Ellie could loan her the bike too, to help her.
    Also like their scene in the SF kitchen which shows Lucys vulnerability

    And yes re VCRs! my parents didnt get one til 1983 – used to have to tape Dallas off the TV onto a cassette tape!, phone off the hook and no talking please anyone! ah those were the days!!!!

    • Yes! I like the scene with Lucy in the kitchen too. Good stuff. And I hadn’t noticed John Ross playing with Miss Ellie’s hair. Good eye, BF!

      My family got its first VCR in 1985, I think. We were a little behind the curve. But that’s when I began recording “Dallas”! I can still remember recording the episode where Patrick Duffy returns to the show after the dream season — and watching it over and over.

      • Garnet McGee says:

        This is the episode where we learned that Sue Ellen is not only a native Austinite but was a Longhorn in 1968! Our fictional heroine would have had a much happier future had she stayed away from beauty pageants and instead spent her college days smoking pot and protesting the war. She comes off as a stupid for falling for JR’s bullsh*t again! Does the woman have amnesia? Does she never learn? What have they done to the character of Pamela Barnes! She used to be a strong willed, interesting character. It seems like they didn’t know what to do with her. They missed the opportunity to make the Christopher Shepherd plot much more interesting and beliveable. They should have involved Sue Ellen from the beginning. The Ray stuff was good but it is hard to adjust to all of the repetitive scenes and plotting from the original show.

      • No disagreements here, Garnet. Thanks for your feedback.

  2. Brother J.R. setting up Brother Ray isn’t twisted C.B. Hell no, it leads to J.R. getting Ray’s share at some future juncture doesn’t it? Why is it wrong if it gets J.R. closer to 51% operating ctrl., its not!

  3. I recently looked at certain episodes of Season 5 and had to comment on how JR that devil came back in full swing after mourning Jock. He plotted to secure shares of Ewing Oil by manipulating Sue Ellen to believe his bull, setting up Donna to find Ray with Bonnie so he can force Ray to give up his shares and setting up Cliff to fail so he can get Sue Ellen away from him and back at Southfork with their son so he can secure John Ross’s shares. These people all fell in his trap so easily, the one that should have been smart to see through JR was Sue Ellen but here in Season 5 she was too gullible and might I say stupid to see through JR’s deceptiveness. I mean with all JR has put her through before if she was blind she should have seen his bull. Also Donna was so calm and understanding with Ray when she found him cheating, glad she punched out Bonnie but Ray should have gotten some of that too. I also do not know what the heck the writers had in mind with Mitch and the cougar, yes she was beautiful but I believe age does matter it is just weird and creepy to be interested in or sleep with someone who is in the same age group or older than your mother or father. Now do not get me started on Pam the writers seem to continue going on an up and down roller coaster when it comes to this character’s character starting from Season 4 and onward. I can see more and more why VP decided to leave later on this must have frustrated her too as it did the viewers. Anyway that all I have to say.

    • Thanks Maryann. When I think back on the fifth season, the Donna/Ray/Bonnie triangle stands out as one of the highlights. Pam’s breakdown is the definite lowlight.

  4. When JR wants to be nice – he is sooo nice! 🙂
    It seems to me that he does have feelings for Sue Ellen b/c he was really jealous when he saw her with Cliff. And it seems that he has changed too. Not “has become another man”, of course – but he has really become more flexible, sensitive and understanding as compared with himself in the third season, when his attempts to make amends with Sue Ellen were quite clumsy.
    And I’m surprised that Sue Ellen is so young – only 34 now. And so she is considerably younger than JR. How old is he now – 42?

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “Anniversary,” J.R. and Sue Ellen (Larry Hagman, Linda Gray) sit on her sofa and watch a video recording of her […]

  2. […] enters the Longview bar and approaches Bonnie, whom Donna caught in bed with Ray at the end of the previous episode. After exchanging unpleasantries (“I wanted to see what the competition looked like – with […]

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