Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 18 – ‘J.R.’s Masterpiece’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Larry Hagman, TNT

Still here

It isn’t quite accurate to call “J.R.’s Masterpiece” the first “Dallas” episode without J.R. Ewing. Our hero is present, even if he isn’t physically there. We see Larry Hagman in the special opening credits, which offer a moving, mournful version of Jerrold Immel’s classic theme music and memorably end with J.R. disappearing into white light. Beyond that, we feel J.R.’s spirit in every scene, every line, every breath. It’s gratifying and even a little exhilarating to see the show honor this character so thoroughly. This will be remembered as the hour that Cynthia Cidre, Michael M. Robin and seemingly everyone else associated with “Dallas” rose to the occasion – and then surpassed it.

The two most unforgettable moments in “J.R.’s Masterpiece” belong to Linda Gray. In the first, Sue Ellen enters J.R.’s bedroom on the night before his funeral and removes from her purse the letter he sent her before his death. She sits at his table, looks at a framed photograph from their second wedding and smiles. Then she notices J.R.’s decanter of bourbon, emblazoned with his name. With the sad country tune “The Bottom” playing in the background, Sue Ellen pours herself a glass and contemplates it for a few moments, just like she did with the wineglass in “Venomous Creatures,” an earlier second-season episode. On that occasion, J.R. arrived on her doorstep and gave her the encouragement she needed to resist temptation. This time around, he isn’t here to save her. And so Sue Ellen downs the bourbon. Hard. And then she pours herself another glass. And then another.

It’s a tense, wrenching scene on its own, but I also appreciate how it echoes one of my favorite moments from TNT’s other great “Dallas” episode, the first-season entry “Family Business.” In that scene, J.R. sits at the same table, glances at a picture of Miss Ellie and takes a swig of bourbon before signing the Southfork deed over to Bobby. In a show where the booze flows as freely as ever, both scenes are about J.R. and Sue Ellen turning to the bottle to find courage they can’t muster on their own. He needs it to do the right thing, she needs it to just get through the night.

Seeing Sue Ellen fall off the wagon is tough for me and other longtime “Dallas” fans who remember how hard she fought to get sober. But I’m also the first to admit that her relapse makes riveting television. I have no idea where “Dallas” will take Gray’s character after “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” but my guess is she won’t return to the path of self-destruction. Sue Ellen isn’t the woman she used to be. She’s wiser, more confident, more aware. We see this during the episode’s other great moment: her mesmerizing eulogy at J.R.’s gravesite, where she confesses her relapse to the other Ewings. “I’m a bit drunk right now,” she says. This line startles me even more than the one at the top of the hour, when the Mexican policewoman announces J.R.’s death. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Sue Ellen acknowledge her demons so forthrightly, which makes me think she’ll find the courage to reclaim her sobriety sooner rather than later.

As remarkable as Sue Ellen’s admission is, the most emotional part of her speech comes when she reads aloud J.R.’s letter. He writes, “For me to apologize now for all the wrongs I’ve done you would take up all the time I’ve got left. So I’m hoping it will suffice for me to say that I was never worthy of you.” The note ends with a request: “When I get back to Dallas, will you have dinner with me?” But that’s not what J.R. is actually asking, is it? He really wants to know if Sue Ellen will forgive him for all those “wrongs.” She knows this too, which is why it’s so heartbreaking when she kneels, touches his casket and sobs, “Yes, yes, J.R. The answer is yes.”

‘He Never Pretended’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Grand scheme

The other eulogies in Cidre’s script are beautifully written, capturing the essence of each character’s connection to J.R. with an impressive economy of words. In his speech, Bobby says, “Throughout my life, it’s pretty much been easy for me to do good, because I could always count on J.R. to do bad. … Now I have to figure out just what I’m supposed to do in this grand scheme of things.”

When I wrote down this line and looked at it, I realized it could be seen as Bobby’s response to J.R.’s admission last season, when he told Bobby, “I don’t know who I’d be without you.” The line acknowledged what the audience always knew – that J.R. was incapable of checking his worst impulses and needed Bobby to do it for him. Now, hearing Bobby wonder aloud what he’ll do without J.R. raises the intriguing prospect that Patrick Duffy, always the unsung hero of this franchise, will soon be able to show us other sides to his character.

In the other eulogies, Ray recalls fearing how he could never make his father proud the way J.R. did, which isn’t exactly how I remember Jock’s sentiments toward J.R. and Ray, but the speech nonetheless reflects the deep-seated insecurities that always haunted Steve Kanaly’s humble cowboy. Ted Shackelford also does a nice job delivering Gary’s single line (“Every step backwards or forward I ever took in my life was because of J.R.”), which perfectly fits his tortured character – and probably every other Ewing.

The most unexpected tribute comes from Lucy. “Things I thought were so horrible that J.R. did just seem honest now,” she says. “He never pretended to be anything other than himself.” It’s surprising to hear Lucy offer admiration for J.R., yet you can’t deny the profundity of her statement. I’m also touched by the shot Robin, the director, gives us of Lucy weeping during the funeral. Given Charlene Tilton’s well-known affection for Hagman in real life, I have no doubt those tears come from the actress’s heart.

It would be wrong to overlook the newer cast members, who are every bit as impressive as the “Dallas” veterans during this sequence. Jordana Brewster’s tears move me when Elena recalls the pep talk J.R. gave her after her father’s death (“Honey, how are you going to make your daddy proud?”), and I also appreciate Jesse Metcalfe’s Duffy-esque stoicism during Christopher’s speech, when he remembers J.R.’s attempt to comfort him after Pam abandoned the family: “I don’t know why your mama left, Christopher. Especially when she had such a good, smart little boy like you. But you’re a Ewing now. So stop crying and behave like one.”

It’s somewhat surprising that Josh Henderson has no lines at J.R.’s burial. Then again, are any needed? The dazed expression Henderson wears throughout this episode and especially at the funeral tells us everything we need to know about what John Ross is feeling.

‘What You Choose to Recall’

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The bottom

Not all of the dramatic moments in “J.R.’s Masterpiece” happen at the funeral. Duffy and Brenda Strong have a big fight scene that’s been a long time coming, as Bobby lashes out at Ann for keeping so many secrets from him during the course of their marriage. And as with all of the new “Dallas’s” best episodes, the smaller moments are touching too. Christopher comforts Sue Ellen when she breaks down in the morgue. Ray reaches for her hands as she returns to her seat after her eulogy. Bobby sits alone in J.R.’s room and notices his brother’s hat hanging on the back of the chair.

The lighter moments are welcome too. The best of these is seeing Sue Ellen commiserate with Cally and Mandy at the memorial, a surprisingly sweet scene that offers another reminder of how much Sue Ellen has grown. It’s also hard to not get a kick out of Ken Kercheval’s appearance, when Cliff crashes the memorial, ranting and raving about the Barnes/Ewing feud. As much as I’ve come to enjoy Kercheval’s performance on the new “Dallas” as the Godfather-like Cliff, it’s nice to be reminded of his character’s combustible side.

The other highlight of “J.R.’s Masterpiece”: the music. Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory,” with its references to “what you choose to recall,” opens J.R.’s Petroleum Club memorial, setting the stage for the unexpectedly warm reminiscing that follows. I also like the foreboding strings at the top of the hour, when Bobby, Sue Ellen, John Ross and Christopher arrive in Mexico. Equally haunting: what sounds like Alison Krauss’s version of “Down to the River to Pray,” which is interspersed throughout the graveside eulogies. The most memorable song, though, remains Tara Holloway’s spectacular rendition of “The Bottom” during Sue Ellen’s relapse. Who will ever be able to listen to that song again without thinking of Linda Gray’s incredible performance in that scene?

As for the mystery that begins in the closing moments of “J.R.’s Masterpiece”? I’ll confess: When I read that Cidre, Robin and company planned to kill off Hagman’s character with another “Who Shot J.R.?” mystery, I cringed. I didn’t want my hero to go down in defeat. But the idea that J.R. spent his final days crafting a “masterpiece” scheme against his enemies – a grand plan that will now be carried out by his family – might mean ol’ J.R. will be able to go out on top after all.

All of the questions raised by the end of the episode are tantalizing. Why was J.R. tracking down Christopher’s “mother” – and which mother are we talking about: Kristin or Pam? Will John Ross end up using the gun that J.R. left him? Could there be significance to Christopher’s vow to help John Ross find J.R.’s killer so they can confront the bad guy (or gal) as “brothers”? What’s in the document that J.R. left for Bobby, and what should we make of Bobby’s tearful smile and last line: “I knew you’d have at least one more left up your sleeve, J.R. It is a good one. I love you brother.”

Until we get the answers, we won’t know what J.R.’s masterpiece will be. But at least we know what “Dallas’s” looks like.

Grade: A+


Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, TNT

Hat tip


Season 2, Episode 8

Telecast: March 11, 2013

Writer: Cynthia Cidre

Director: Michael M. Robin

Audience: 3.6 million viewers on March 11

Synopsis: Bobby, Sue Ellen, John Ross and Christopher learn J.R. was shot and killed during a robbery in Mexico. Sue Ellen falls off the wagon. After the funeral, Bum reveals J.R. had been searching for Christopher’s mother and that he went to Mexico to follow a lead on Harris. J.R. also leaves a gun for John Ross and a document for Bobby, who refuses to reveal its contents to John Ross and Christopher.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Mark Cuban (himself), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Castulo Guerra (Carlos del Sol), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Robert Anthony Hunt (minister), Jerry Jones (himself), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Hugo Perez (Dr. Garcia), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Cathy Podewell (Cally), Mayor Mark Rawlings (himself), Tony Sears (George GIilchriest), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Deborah Shelton (Mandy), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

“J.R.’s Masterpiece” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. Lloyd Ferrigon says:

    Loved the eulogies. Christopher and Elena’s were a surprise though.

    • I was a bit surprised by how much they moved me! Jordana Brewster’s tears were utterly convincing.

    • Dan in WI says:

      The stories Christopher and Elena (and for that matter Lucy) told did seem quite out of character for JR. The JR and Christopher relationship was mostly non-existant but I could see JR doing that for Bobby’s benefit. Lucy: From my point of view (I have seen others disagree) there was never any love between those two. I have a hard time buying Lucy’s tearful sorrow. Elena: I have the hardest time buying her story. I just can’t see JR taking the time to comfort the children of the help.

      • Interesting. I also never got the impression that J.R. and Elena had much to do with each other. He memorably called her “that Mexican girl” last season. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that he would’ve taken the time to comfort a child, even if it was the daughter of the help.

      • J.R. was nice to Christopher when he was a little boy, so I could see him saying what he did to him back then. He was also closer to Lucy @ least during the first season of the original series. And there were later moments, I remember @ her wedding he said something like “I think I’m actually going to miss not having you around to fight with.”

      • Great memory, J.R. I do think J.R. and Lucy enjoyed sparring with each other.

      • Also, I remember a scene in the later years, when John Ross and Christopher were playing tennis @ Sue Ellen’s place, and J.R. went to pick them up, he remarked to her about Christopher “Damn, that boy is smart. I still think he could be mine.” So there was familial feelings there.

      • Your memory is impressive, J.R. Thank you!

      • Actually, I remember J.R. being rather fond of Christopher when he was little. There was one scene at Sue Ellen’s home in about 1988 when J.R. was watching John Ross and Christopher play and he remarked to Sue Ellen something about what a great kid he was….”I still think he could be mine,” he said, to which Sue Ellen replied, “I’m sure you have any number of children out there, J.R., since you were so faithful to me during our marriage.”

  2. When I saw the chalk outline and blood stain, I cringed. It is over. The opening sequence was very special and it made clear that this episode was indeed very special. Bobby and John Ross seemed to have to put up with all these people that they know did not really like J.R.. I thought it was fitting to see Cliff Barnes there. I know if the situation was reversed, J.R. would do the same thing.

    I really felt that every actor and actress gave their heart into their performances. Sue Ellen really stole the show. This is not the end of Dallas, it is the end of J.R. and Sue Ellen. I disagree that Sue Ellen will get herself back together after this. I think she will become a loose cannon. Nobody does crazy better than Linda Gray as Sue Ellen. When she read that letter it felt that she was letting go of and sharing emotions that she had been keeping inside for an entire lifetime.

    I thought it was very interesting that Emma “comforted” John Ross. I wonder where this is going. Hats off to Drew Ramos! I thought it was so cool that he was ready to “put one in” Harris Ryland. If Harris Ryland does team up with Cliff Barnes, the Ewings are going to need all the help they can get. John Ross should apologize and make amends with Drew as soon as he can. I think having Harris Ryland show up to South Fork and demand and also beg that Emma come home with him, shows that he also has a crazy relationship not only with his mother, also with his daughter too. I do not know if I would be able to show up to a house where a person who lives there shot me.

    Bobby really let loose on Ann. He was very hurt by Ann. Bobby having every right to be angry really brought out a mean side of his character. Ann wanted to be there for him and instead she ended up receiving an emotional pounding.

    • Yeah, the Bobby/Ann scene left me with mixed emotions. I felt sorry for both of them in that moment. Drew’s scene was good, although I wouldn’t have minded if they had saved that one for next week. Perhaps that time could’ve been set aside for more cameos.

    • No, if the roles were reversed, J.R. Would not have crashed Cliff’s Memorial or funeral, he would have just gloated in private, like he did when Cliff’s mother was killed. J.R. always had more class than Cliff.

  3. Dan in WI says:

    The following are my raw observations recorded in the moment on my first viewing of this episode:

    There was a lot of emotion in that body ID scene. Christopher is moved. Sue Ellen is heart broken. Bobby (or Robert James as he is apparently know in Mexico, sorry Chris) is stoic and processing. John Ross… I’m not sure what his emotion is on first viewing.

    I like the mournful and subdued arrangement of the iconic main theme very much. I have to find a clean recording of this for my iPod.

    And history is made. The only name to appear on the credits of every hour-long episode of Dallas breaks that consecutive streak at 373. A Dallas streak that will never be broken.

    Why is Carlos Del Sol so insistent that everyone go back to Dallas while he “investigates?”

    Oh my, that is a real nice car Harris Ryland has. I’m jealous.

    Like father, like son. JR was very broken up when Jock died as well as in that dream where Bobby died. Both times it affected his ability to do business. Now John Ross too doesn’t care about getting mineral rights from Gary. First things first: family. But how can Sue Ellen consider otherwise?

    Give Afton Cooper the award for JR ex who has best held her looks in 2013. Mandy doesn’t look too bad but the years sure have not been kind to Callie.

    Okay I was not expecting Mandy, Callie and Sue Ellen to have a cordial reminisce about JR. I don’t think anyone did.

    I was embarrased for Cliff on the scene he created. That last dig as Pamela ushered him out was especially dispicable. There is a time and place…

    When Christopher was vowing to John Ross to take down JR’s killer as brothers they missed an opportunity. I would have written that to say “we took down Vicente as brothers and now we’ll take down JR’s killer as brothers.”

    So JR was left out of Miss Ellie’s will…

    That Bobby blow up on Ann was overdue. Others may disagree but I’d say it is to his credit that it took something as earth shattering as his brother’s death to shake it loose. I would have had the blow up over much less.

    I liked Bobby’s words at the burial the best. I lost my father over three years ago. I felt then the same way I do today which is the same way Bobby seams to feel. I don’t know what any of it means and I still don’t know how to go forward.

    John Ross’ reading of the final note from JR was good. His voice was just shaky enough I had to rewind it several times to make out all of what he said.

    Why on earth would JR have any interest in finding Pam? Was he going to try to use her to talk Cliff down????

    • Dan, I’m sorry to hear about your dad.

      Regarding J.R. tracking down Pam: That idea had never occurred to me. What if he was hoping to recruit Pam as an ally? How cool would that’ve been?

      As always, thanks for sharing your good insights.


      • Dan in WI says:

        There is one precident for JR going to Pam for honest family help. Remember when the end came between Bobby and Jenna? JR out of genuine concern for Bobby’s happiness went to Pam and pleaded with her to return to Bobby.

        As for those suggesting JR was going to track down Christopher’s natural mother. I just don’t see it. Kristen Shepard is dead. While it’s fun to throw out a theory or two about her in jest, if they brought her back to life that would be near unforgivable in my eyes. The dead need to stay dead and the dreaming cast member excuse to bring someone back to life can be used ONCE only. I’d also be upset if suddenly Christopher had a different natural mother. No JR is looking for Pam. Period.

      • Can’t Kristin be this show’s return from the dead? Where’s the love for Kristin, people?!

    • Morganmg says:

      Afton cooper was there? How did I miss that? I agree Callie didn’t look too great.

  4. I felt this episode encapsulated everything that is good about Dallas in a single episode. Power plays, money, sex, humour, threats, drugs, booze, drama, you name it – this episode had it. Extremely well done. I’m not one to cry at television, but I teared up an awful lot at this one. VERY well done. I also like Harris Ryland’s car. 🙂

    A few minor nits.

    1) Lucy and her dad are in the same room and we don’t have them talking together at all?

    2) Sue Ellen’s flirting with Gary is pretty creepy

    3) The scene with Jerry Jones & Mark Cuban felt a bit forced. I mean, Jones has appeared in Dallas before (in the classic series too as I recall), and their dialogue wasn’t too out out bounds, but definitely felt tacked on.

    4) We already knew the surprise guests. Was a bit disappointed there weren’t some more that we didn’t know about. In the original incarnation of this, Sly was supposed to show up, but then she was written out. Why? I would have loved her to be there. The inclusion of Cally & Mandy Winger was great for old fans of the show like me, but if you’re “New Dallas only”, that scene would make no sense.

    That there was a pistol in the box for John Ross didn’t concern me – but whose gun it was made me wonder. Jock’s pistol perhaps?

    • Yes, Sly’s absence was most glaring. For a decade she was the true “other woman” in J.R.’s life. I would have had her show up in the end with Bum to give the info to the Ewings.

      • Oh my goodness, J.R. That would have been the most perfect thing ever. Brilliant idea.

      • 2 things I would have seen on the burial :
        1-sly in tears at the 1st ceremony

        2-in the bobby’s speech, when he said ” it’s pretty much been easy for me to do good, because I could always count on J.R. to do bad”. He said too, than now, he is not certain that this “bad” was really as bobby thinked about.

        At this point of the speech, a great moment (for hardcore fans, I know, I know…) could have been hearing bobby continue like this “…for taking just one exemple, when JR find oil in est asia, and make the EO growing from millionaire to billionaire, at the same time, he mortgage the ranch. But he suceeded ! And when he goes back to the ranch, smiling like a child, with bootles of champagne, he was so expecting love and admiration from his father. But all the family turn down to him, remembering the mortgage, forgeting the east asian oil. And he drank alone.
        Yes bro’, you were proud of this deal, and now, decades after, you write me to forgive you, but I would also you forgive me this moment when you drank alone the champagne. That was a very good deal, JR”

      • I agree that Sly should’ve been at the burial. As far as Bobby’s speech: I think a lot of viewers would probably not remember J.R.’s southeast Asia deal, so the writers were wise to keep his remarks general.

    • Great point about this episode having it all. I also appreciate your nits. Some of those occurred to me too. I’m hopeful we’ll see some interaction between Lucy and her mom at least in the next episode. And like you, I would’ve loved for a surprise guest or two. (And yes, Sly should’ve been there!) As far as the pisotl: good question!

    • I would not of been bothered if they left Mark Cuban out completely or if he just kept his mouth shut.

  5. Sam in IA says:

    Episode 2 of the Who Killed JR storyline was an even bigger success than last week. I just knew they had to have a “reading of the will” scene. So Bum showing up with JR’s gifts to the Ewing men was very rewarding. And the mysteries galore to go along with the gifts … oh boy. I am very much hooked because I have no idea what could happen next.

  6. That was a real nice piece of tv & a fitting sendoff for ol’ J. R. I thought I detected church organ music to help change the pitch of the opening theme song. It was superb the pitch & intonation of the music, grand indeed. Where can I buy a bottle of J. R. Ewing Private Stock Bourbon?

    • Good question, R.J. Did you hear the people behind the scenes are indeed working on a deal to sell J.R.-branded bourbon? It was mentioned during the “Dallas” panel discussion in Los Angeles this past weekend.

  7. I dearly loved this episode. It was beautiful send off for JR. Our 3 main loves of JR each dealt with their loss on different terms. Notice that all went and had a drink of his bourbon….of varying degrees but all partook.

    Loved the opening credit and song. How fitting that the first time we have an episode without JR/Larry is the first time they alter the song.? It was haunting…and having his picture fade to white…beautiful memoriam to a wonderful actor and great character.

    I have to say the show was beautifully shot. The editing was flawless. The music was amazing…each song fit the scene…the musical score added to the level of emotion. I always believe that a well executed score is a vital supporting element to a TV show or movie. This one delivered.

    The guest characters all hit it out of the park. They might have had short scenes, but they were impactful. They each helped us see how our regular characters were handling JR’s death. (Plus added a quick flavor of JR’s impact on them). For example, Ray and Lucy trading JR insults with Carmen. Bobby approaches and ends up biting Ray’s head off. Bhe had already brushed off Gary at the house. I think Bobby was clearly in pain.
    Then you have Cally and Mandy. I wasn’t sure how this would play out. But I liked the scene a lot. They were all funny. (Had to agree with them about JR being hot, btw). Loved that it was pictures of JR and pics of JR&SE they were commenting on. (That was funny). As they chatted it was clear that they were completely unaware of SE’s feelings. Loved the way both of them reacted to the lying and cheating remark by Sue Ellen…they both kind of were like ‘okay.UNCOMFORTABLE…thank god for the drink coming our way!

    I liked all of the eulogies at the service. All of them were poignant. And all of them reflected something JR would actually say…yes, I believe Chris’ and Elena’s stories. It is a nice reminder that JR could be very human at times. He would relate to Elena’s loss as a chance to make her Daddy proud. And that was perfect JR to say that to Chris’ …especially the part about now stop crying…I can see JR saying that in my head.. I agree with you on Lucy, Ray, and Gary…

    I am glad that Chris put aside his battles with John Ross and was totally there. He was very good this episode. Loved that it was him who hugged Sue Ellen at the morgue and waited on John Ross at the cemetery .

    Bobby…the head of the family now for sure. I think of all his birth family…JR’s death hit him harder than his parents did or others would (excluding Chris). I think about his life long relationship with JR. What a great story arc it has been…and will be for him going forward. jR was the brother he once adored, the brother he fought the most, the brother he was involved with the most, the brother that he felt most conflicted about …..and then to find out his brother is dead and the magnetic north on his moral compass is no more is overwhelming.
    Like he always has, it was Bobby that led the charge to get the answers and Bobby who worked out the details of the services…always the one to do what needs to be done. Loved the haunting quip…

    His blowup at Ann. I, too, felt very sorry for both of them. I think every word he said he meant with all of his heart. But I think that Bobby while waiting for things to settle down woke up to one of his worst nightmares …that someone had actually killed his big brother. And he lashed out at her. It was painful, yet heartfelt. You know that if life was back to normal that chat between them would have been very different in tone. I thought he was going to erupt at some point in the show…and it was at Ann.

    I thought his words were touching at the service. So captures the love he felt for JR and the angst he was so clearly feeling as he dealt with others prior to that eulogy.

    Sue Ellen….from the opening sequence when she saw his body to the graveside service. …beautiful. .. You know….it really was like watching her slowly come apart as the episode progressed. From her self denial that JR’s death should not change her plans (the scene with John Ross)., then her looking at that letter. Then that memorial service. Clearly uncomfortable when chatting with Cally and Mandy, that was a reminder of the pain caused by JR cheating inthe past. But she still turned the drink down. Notice she went straight over to Gary from there. He clearly understood her. From her comment about being alone in a room full of people and about wanting a drink more than ever. When she hits on Gary, you could feel her desperation with fighting her need to drink. (I think she was just flirting with Gary last week to get him to change his mind…and he admitted to enjoying her attention)). But sue Ellen not only used alcohol to cope she used men….and I think Gary being there and sharing a lot of the same feelings..he was a way for her to cope…then Cliff happened. As I said before, the moment she hit on him ..I knew she was going to drink at some point.

    Her scene in the room…ohhhh, like I said before…perfection. I was utterly captivated by her. She didn’t need to say a word. That song will always be Sue Ellen’s song. But every movement she made bespoke a thousand words.

    Then the graveside. It was only during her eulogy that there was no music. Just raw emotion. She stood up there with her arms dangling by her side and just looked vulnerable. It was awkward and brutally honest. She left her feelings out there totally on display in front of the whole family. When she broke down at the end,,,,,,,,,ohhhhh migawd. I loved all of the reactions to her eulogy that was a great touch. She looked so lost at the End. I loved when Bobby came and grabbed her and walked her back and then Ray grabbed her hands…little touches like these make it work.

    John Ross….he looks so lost and hurt. He has those puppy dog eyes that convey so much. You could feel his pain the entire episode. And apparently, JohnRoss is the target of our new wild child. This could get complicated…lol

    Cliff showing up was classic Cliff. I loved the line that without their junk yard dog around now, he is going to put down the family. ……Sooooooo did you find it odd that he again said Chris was a Barnes…what? Then why did you send your daughter after him??? Glad that Pamela was able to talk him out of there. He looked fallible at that point, didn’t he? But yet, still managed to reference JR threat from last year about dancing on his grave. Glad that Bobby told him off.

    One thing that was a negative to me last night watching the show was the commercials. They really disrupted the flow of the show. I know they are necessary because they pay the bills…but I still have to complain about them. The show was so emotional last night and the commercials just kept throwing it off. The bedroom scene progressing into the graveside scene was interrupted by them. I went from crying bc of Sue Ellen to watching some loud funny commercials and then watching the family merge from the limos. It was just plain jarring. I got the show from I tunes and will watch again uninterrupted ….even on the have to stop and fast forward…thus once again stopping the emotional effects.

    • OMg. Left out 2 important statements. One….. The writing on this episode was fantastic. It gave us so much. That episode was packed full. As always this Dallas gives us so much happening in every outing….so with this episode . Sue Ellen’s eulogy was the pinnacle. And then making sure to sow the seeds of so much intrigue. .

      Two…outstanding performances from all the cast. Clearly a labor of love to the character and to Larry Hagman. Linda and Patrick both had stellar performances. And I have to say that the whole cast raised the bar.

      This episode was clearly a act of love from the cast and the crew.

    • Hel, your observations always impress me. Great stuff. I love your point about all three of J.R.’s loves drinking his bourbon, as well as how Sue Ellen’s eulogy was the only one that wasn’t scored with music. Thank you!

  8. RCintheAtl says:

    There was a pretty tender scene between JR and Christopher in the final season, when James Beaumont is out all night with a friend and arrives home to find his wife irate. Then the two ladies end up in the swimming pool in a fight. JR and Christopher stand off to the side looking on, with JR having his arm around Christopher’s shoulder. Christopher says, “things around here are starting to get fun again.” Then JR replies, “Yep, just like the good old days,” followed by that devilish laugh. JR never mistreated Christopher in any way as a kid, and actually treated him nice many times…so the fact Christopher would have warm remarks for JR is not surprising.

  9. Ronnie Papke says:

    Oh my, J.R.s gone. I was soooo sad!! But the episode was soooo great!! Thanks to the writers. I loved the altered opening credits – these little things make a show like DALLAS special. I remember an episode of “24”, where at the end someone was shot and the clock counted to the full hour – but without the ticking. That had the same effect for me.
    I missed Sly. She should have been at the funeral or at least in the club.
    The most stunning performance came from Linda Gray. I honestly think she derserves an emmy nomination for this episode. First of all, she managed to show the “old” Sue Ellen in the drinking scene in J.R.s bedroom (with her eyes saying it all…) and second, the funeral eulogy scene was brilliant – her kneeling, oh my, I was sooo moved by that. “You were the love of my life”…
    As for J.R.s search for Pam – I guess he wanted to find her to stop her brother from taking over Ewing energies. There could be an old contract between them that gives Pam half of Cliffs assets (he always borrowed money from her in the old days). This is so mysterious… I love it!
    Larry Hagmann: Goooooooooooooooonngg Boooooooooooooooooonng!

  10. Since the first time I seen Larry Hagman play J.R Ewing on the 1st episode of Dallas ( Diggers Daughter , I have been mesmerized by J.R. . I was dreading J.R Funeral ,but I think J.R Masterpiece was out of this world wonderful.
    Linda ,Patrick and Josh was soo good . I loved the music and already have it on my ipod.i Feel Larry would have been proud.

    • I have all the music on my iPod too! A great episode all around. Thanks for commenting Ellen!

      • LOL…I have been telling everyone who watched about Sue Ellen’s song and playing it for them. It has floored everyone. I also have downloaded the Merle Haggerd song. You know, those songs are forever tied to that show for me. I have seen the episode too many times to admit…lol. Certain songs are tied to events for me.

  11. I would like to share a point about Cliff. He was upset about JR death. He loved to hate JR, his character in Dallas (all Dallas) was this feeling. In another way of feeling, he showed his grief. That’s Cliff way, he is sincere. JR was a motivation for his life. He lived according to JR. It was like Tom and Jerry cartoon. JR would be amused to see the desperation of Cliff in his memorial. Cliff never won JR in Dallas even when better than him. I think that was the message left from Cynthia Cidre about this “Cliff ridiculous appearance”.

    • Ronnie Papke says:

      That is an interesting point, Claudio. I guess you are right. Cliff wants to defeat J.R. and with taking over Ewing Energies (or buying Southfork in the 1st season), he would have crushed him. But now, since J.R. is gone, he can’t win anymore. At least he won’t get the satisfaction to tell J.R. in person… I like the Tom & Jerry comparison. 🙂

      • Claudio Palmeira says:

        Thanks, Ronnie. I guess that’s the point or message left from Miss Cidre. Cliff appearance did not have any sense if just to be unpleasant in the JR Memorial. He shows grief even implicitly.

    • Great point. Love the Tom and Jerry analogy. Thanks!

  12. Bring Lucy Back fulltime!!!

    A few seconds of Tilton are worth watching more than any time with Metcalf or Brewster

  13. I truly enjoyed this episode. Kit was emotional, mysterious, and funny at times.
    Fave moments:
    Linda Gray playing drunk so perfectly! Sue Ellen at the funeral was amazing.
    Seeing Christopher and John Ross work together. I love seeing these two on the same side. I hope it continues.
    Josh Henderson did a great job portraying a grieving confused young man. I liked how he almost sounded childish when bobby questioned him in the Mexican police station.
    The information that is slowly coming out. What is Bobby hiding??
    Bobby seeing JRs hat.
    And a couple things I’m not sure about:
    Ann and Bobby’s fight. I like them together, but I guess this was overdue. I hope they make up.
    Emma and John Ross. Is it going anywhere?seemed weird. And popping the clonazapam? I’d hate to see John Ross’s fall victim to addiction too.
    Wish there were more old characters at the funeral. Just a couple anectdotes here and there. Really want to see some surprise faces.
    And of course my biggest pet peeve, what about James, and Callie’s son? Where the heck are they?? It bugs me that I’m supposed to forget them. Perhaps they were a dream?
    All in all a great episode. Can’t wait to see this unfold.

    • I’m curious to see what, if anything, will become of John Ross’s pill-popping. His family does come by addiction honestly.

    • I agree that us fans of the original Dallas would loved to have seen more old faces such as James, but he could always come back later. You have to remember that it was just a one hour show and if they crammed in too many people into it would have been kind of a mess. We wouldn’t have had the great scenes with Linda Gray. When Gary and Ray spoke I was disappointed that more wasn’t said, but then I realized they were leaving room for Sue Ellen’s speech and it was worth it.

  14. Dan in WI says:

    At the wake we have the real life mayor of Dallas and representing the Dallas sports world we have the owners of the Cowboys and Mavericks. As a baseball fan I’m a bit disappointed that Nolan Ryan isn’t there to represent the Texas Rangers.

  15. Just watched this episode again with pictures of the real Southfork. The stairs in the “hotel” are the ones from the real ranch. Looks like “Room 22” is actually what’s called Jock and Miss Ellie’s room at the actu ranch. The wallpaper in the bedroom and bathroom both match. Makes Sue Ellen’s comment about JR never staying in a place like this very tongue in cheek.

    • Yes, I’ve heard that the Mexican hotel scene was actually filmed at Southfork. Funny, huh? And that’s a great point about Sue Ellen’s line. Thanks Nick!

  16. Our favorite show, Dallas TNT. Fans, listen up! Lets do whatever we can to keep our show on the air! Email your comments & requests for Dallas TNT to be renewed for a Season 4 & beyond to:


  1. […] “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) stands at J.R.’s gravesite and […]

  2. […] In “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” we learned Larry Hagman’s iconic character was shot and killed in a Mexican flophouse. The police investigation concluded J.R. was the victim of a burglary, but Bobby told Bum, his brother’s private eye, that J.R. was murdered. Who killed J.R.? Here are some potential suspects. […]

  3. […] giving “Dallas” a ratings boost, “J.R.’s Masterpiece” also kicked off the new “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, which is expected to dominate the remainder […]

  4. […] Why was J.R. in Mexico? In “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” this week’s “Dallas” episode, we learned our hero (Larry Hagman) was shot and killed in a […]

  5. […] “a wimp,” and “southern trash.” You weren’t really surprised that Val skipped his funeral, were you? Remember what she told Gary in 1980, after finding out that J.R. had been shot: “If […]

  6. […] Who killed J.R.? In “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” last week’s episode, the Ewings learned J.R. was shot and killed in a cheap hotel in Nuevo […]

  7. […] J.R. was searching for Pam. At the end of “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” Bum (Kevin Page) told Bobby, John Ross and Christopher that J.R. had been looking for […]

  8. […] “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the sendoff for Larry Hagman’s iconic character, was seen by 3.6 million viewers on March 11. It was the TNT drama’s most-watched telecast this year, beating the show’s second-season average by about 1 million viewers. […]

  9. […] on the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, which got off to such a riveting start at the end of the previous episode. After Bobby fills in John Ross and Christopher on the origin of Cliff’s company, he suggests […]

  10. […] are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” […]

  11. […] J.R.’s funeral. “Dallas” bids farewell to J.R. with a moving, instant-classic episode featuring Emmy-worthy performances from Gray and Duffy. Who’ll ever forget Sue Ellen […]

  12. […] “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the episode where the Ewings bid farewell to Larry Hagman’s famous character, was seen by 3.6 […]

  13. […] him back into his seat. The moment echoes the beginning of the brawl at the memorial service in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” when Christopher rushes to John Ross’s side (“I’ve got this, cousin”) after one of the […]

  14. […] makes “Legacies” the season’s second most-watched “Dallas” telecast after the landmark “J.R.’s Masterpiece” funeral episode, which drew 3.6 million viewers on March […]

  15. […] plots are twistier than a fishtail braid”), while Jessica Shaw predicted viewers who watched “J.R.’s Masterpiece” would “shed enough tears to fill the TV legend’s ten-gallon hat.” She wasn’t […]

  16. […] beautiful, elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is landmark television. From the mournful version of the “Dallas” theme music that played under […]

  17. […] so glad you brought that up. The scene in “J.R.s Masterpiece” where she takes her first drink in 20 years is beautifully […]

  18. […] of Season 2 and whose famous character J.R. Ewing was laid to rest in the instant-classic “J.R.’s Masterpiece” episode. The show plans to keep J.R.’s memory alive while also continuing to focus on the […]

  19. […] job honoring their show’s biggest star. The episode where Hagman’s alter ego is laid to rest, “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” lived up to its title, but the tributes haven’t stopped there. Showrunner Cynthia Cidre has […]

  20. […] losing her sobriety, the heartbreak over losing J.R. Gray shone all season long, but especially in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the funeral episode where she bared her soul and became the audience’s avatar. Through her, we […]

  21. […] 2 on the fly, but she proved up to the challenge — and then some. Cidre penned the exquisite “J.R.’s Masterpiece” funeral episode, which lovingly honored the franchise’s biggest star and kicked off the fun, […]

  22. […] unedited interview with Larry Hagman and a tribute to him from the cast, an extended version of the “J.R.’s Masterpiece” episode, deleted scenes and a recording of the cast’s lively panel discussion during this […]

  23. […] funeral on tonight’s edition of TNT’s “Dallas” will bring an end to one of the most enduring figures in our popular […]

  24. […] “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” last year’s exquisite funeral episode from TNT’s “Dallas,” continues the franchise’s grand tradition of sending its characters off in style. The episode includes a sequence where the Ewings return to Southfork after confirming J.R.’s death in the Mexican morgue (shades of “The Family Ewing” scene that shows the Ewings coming home from the hospital). Later, as the characters prepare for J.R.’s funeral, Bobby exhibits the same kind of behavior that J.R. did in “The Family Ewing.” Bobby is terse with Gary when he sees him at Southfork, and he’s unusually cool to Ray when he runs into him at the memorial service. J.R.’s death also prompts Bobby to finally acknowledge his lingering resentment toward Ann for keeping so many secrets from him during their marriage. In a powerful performance from Patrick Duffy, Bobby erupts (“I’m pissed!”) at Ann on the night before J.R.’s funeral, leaving her feeling as stunned as Sue Ellen did when J.R. shouted at her in “The Family Ewing.” […]

  25. […] Episode: “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Our hero is laid to rest in an instant-classic hour that brings back several stars from the […]

  26. […] An extended version of “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” The instant-classic funeral episode offers about six minutes of extra footage, including Ann’s […]

  27. […] line; it’s the character’s saddest moment since her graveside eulogy for her ex-husband in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” In some ways, “Lifting the Veil” serves as a kind of companion piece to the funeral episode. […]

  28. […] Sue Ellen. Just as our hearts break for John Ross, so does hers. It’s similar to what Gray did in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” when she became the audience’s avatar and allowed us to express our grief through her. Will […]

  29. […] showdown and his confrontation with Sue Ellen. The tie reminded me of the one John Ross wore to J.R.’s funeral, which is appropriate since his ghost loomed so large in Henderson’s big scene with Linda Gray. […]

  30. […] to. It’s not like the new “Dallas” isn’t capable of delving deep: One of the reasons “J.R.’s Masterpiece” remains the TNT show’s high-water mark isn’t just because it paid such loving tribute to Larry […]

  31. […] The nice thing about a late-night viewing of “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is that no one else in your house is awake to see you bawling. Once you’ve dried your tears, […]

  32. […] a lot of “Dallas” fans have been waiting for since our heroine fell off the wagon before J.R.’s funeral, a year-and-a-half ago. As much as we admire Gray’s performances when Sue Ellen is struggling, […]

  33. […] of our late hero: I can’t help but notice the parallels between this episode and “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Both segments show us distraught family members going to a morgue to identify a dead loved one, as […]

  34. […] the Dallas reboot episode entitled “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” we see the power of a final love letter to Sue Ellen from […]

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