Drill Bits: Who Watched J.R.? Funeral Episode Boosts ‘Dallas’

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Carmen Ramos, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Marlene Forte, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Fit for a king

J.R. Ewing’s funeral attracted 3.6 million viewers on March 11, giving “Dallas” its biggest audience of the season. Viewership soared 38 percent above the season average and included 1.1 million adults between ages 18 and 49, a demographic that advertisers pay top dollar to reach.

“Are these numbers spectacular? No. But are they promising? Yes, because this could be close to 5 million viewers [once DVR users are counted],” said Marc Berman, editor in chief of TV Media Insights, a top industry news site.

Last week, 2.8 million viewers watched the “Dallas” episode “The Furious and the Fast” during its Monday telecast on TNT, but over the next three days, DVR users pushed the audience to 3.6 million.

Increasingly, television executives take DVR numbers into consideration when deciding a show’s fate. Berman, a “Dallas” fan, said he’s “hopeful” TNT will give the show a third season.

The new “Dallas” debuted to an impressive 6.9 million viewers last June and went on to average 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights during its summertime run. In January, TNT brought the show back for its second season in a tougher Monday slot, where “Dallas” averaged 2.6 million viewers through March 4.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: Viewers in 20.5 million homes watched Bobby’s funeral on the original “Dallas” in 1985. It was the week’s seventh most-watched show, while the resolution of “Dynasty’s” Moldavian massacre (spoiler: they all survived) ranked third.

Who Killed J.R.?

Besides 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 of the second season. If you haven’t already done so, check out my list of eight possible suspects. Who do you think killed J.R.?

Latest ‘Dallas’ Dirt

If Larry Hagman hadn’t died, “Dallas’s” second season would’ve ended with a triumphant J.R. taking over Ewing Energies, executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin tell Entertainment Weekly’s Mandi Bierly in an interview that’s chock-full of good tidbits.

The “Dallas” duo also explain how they created the scene where J.R. is shot, as well as the special title sequence that opened “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”

Meanwhile, TV Guide’s William Keck has a preview of Audrey Landers’ appearance in “Dallas’s” March 25 episode. Be warned: The piece ends with a cryptic hint about Pamela’s storyline.

Honoring J.R.

The tributes to J.R. came furious and fast this week. One of my favorites was written by New York magazine’s Matt Zoller Seitz, whose piece ends with a lovely description of Patrick Duffy’s final scene in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” I also appreciated Hank Steuver’s smart review in the Washington Post, as well as the fun list of J.R.’s 15 best moments from Bierly and her Entertainment Weekly colleague Karen Valby.

‘Dallas’ Among TV’s Best Shows

Speaking of TV critics: Did you know “Dallas” has one of the highest scores on Metacritic, the site that aggregates entertainment reviews? “Dallas’s” score is 82, which places it 10th on the list of the best TV shows that started within the past six months. Some context: “Homeland” and “Enlightened” are tied for first with a score of 96, while “Downton Abbey” – which, let’s face it, is just “Dallas” with British accents – scores an 83.

Now, How About Some Fun?

If you’re like me, you feel emotionally exhausted after witnessing the funeral of “Dallas’s” hero. So cheer yourself up by watching the fun-filled panel discussion that the show’s cast recorded March 10 in Los Angeles. Trust me: You haven’t laughed until you’ve seen Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe read John Ross and Christopher’s dialogue from 1980s “Dallas” scripts.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.


  1. Homeland is so lame. On public radio I hear interviews of the cast, writers, and producers. The NPR hosts gush and fawn all over them. Sorry to be negative. I just want to make a point that critics get too much credence. Yoko Ono makes an album and gets a 4 star review from Rolling Stone Magazine. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/rising-19951130 trust me, one star would be a generous review. The main problems I have with critics is that they are never called out or challenged. In other professions, this is not the case.

    • I saw “Homeland’s” first season and thought it started off strong but didn’t hold up as the season progressed. Haven’t see the second season yet. I agree: Critics should be challenged. Even amateur critics like me. So keep the feedback coming!

      • never could get into the show. people who I know that do watch it say the same thing, by the time an episode ends, they feel like they just wasted their time. I know this season Dallas had sped up some storylines and timlines. I am oretty sure this probably had to do with the unfortunate circumstances of Larry Hagman.

      • Yeah, I think you’re right Jump.

  2. Dan in WI says:

    I got the chance to watch the panel discussion yesterday. The reading of the two old scenes was fun. But I thought it was Patrick who stole that segment.
    I thought of you Chris. That woman who stood up near the end protesting the Robert James Ewing thing made me smile.

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