Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 23 – ‘Love and Family’

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Love and Family, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Walking tall

The final moments in “Love and Family” give me chills. Bobby tells Sue Ellen they need to act like J.R. and let Cliff believe he’s won, and then as a rousing rock tune rises in the background, Bobby raises a glass of bourbon to a framed photograph of his beaming big brother. Cut to John Ross and Pamela standing before a justice of the peace (John Ross: “You doing this because you love me, or because you hate your father?” Pamela: “I do.”), then to Cliff as he sweeps into Ewing Energies and takes the keys from Bobby. “I can only imagine the look on J.R.’s face right about now,” Cliff smirks. “Me too,” Bobby responds. As our hero walks away in slow motion, a sly smile breaks across his face, the drumbeat builds, the screen fades to black, and all I can think is: Damn, this show is cool.

Patrick Duffy’s smile recalls all the classic “Dallas” episodes that end with J.R.’s grin, but we feel the character’s presence throughout this episode. Christopher’s obsession with beating Cliff recalls J.R.’s own efforts to outmaneuver him during the original series. Likewise, John Ross’s ploy to snag a piece of Barnes Global by marrying Pamela bears the hallmarks of an old-school, whatever-it-takes J.R. scheme. Even the way Bobby subtly pressures John Ross into the marriage is a little J.R.-esque. Perhaps the lesson here is that J.R.’s values weren’t his alone; they belong to the whole Ewing family. This is why we shouldn’t question “Dallas’s” ability to keep going after Larry Hagman’s death. His loss leaves a hole that will never be filled, but the “Dallas” themes have always been bigger than any one character. So far the new show has done a hell of a good job reminding us of this.

In addition to keeping J.R.’s spirit alive, “Love and Honor” director Randy Zisk also showcases Brenda Strong and Emma Bell, who deliver standout performances during Ann’s confrontation with her daughter at the scene of Emma’s car wreck. My heart breaks for Emma when she lashes out at Ann for allowing the controlling Rylands to take her away when she was a child (“You escaped! You did four years! I did 20, Ann!”). I also cheer when Ann tells her daughter she won’t bail her out until she agrees to get help for her addictions. “Why are you doing this?” Emma screams as Sheriff Derrick leads her away in handcuffs. “Because I’m your mother!” Ann responds. This is probably Bell’s best scene yet and Strong’s finest moment since Ann’s testimony in “Trial and Error.” (Perhaps not coincidentally, that episode, like “Love and Family,” was written by John Whelpley, who joined the “Dallas” writing team this season.)

“Love and Family’s” other great performances come from Jordana Brewster and Kuno Becker, who knock me out in the scene where Drew finally confesses his role in the rig explosion to Elena. Brewster has to convey a lot of emotions – shock, anger, disappointment – all in the same breath. She sells every one. Likewise, Becker makes me feel Drew’s anguish and guilt. These two actors have another terrific scene at the end of the episode when Elena and Carmen (Marlene Forte, who holds her own against her on-screen children) bring Drew money and bid him farewell as he sets off to find Harris’s missing henchman, Roy Vickers. It’s a measure of how much I’ve come to like Becker that as I watch Drew ride away on his motorcycle, I find myself worried for the character.

The same thing can’t be said about Cliff. The scene where we learn Katherine willed her share of the Barnes-Wentworth empire to him raised the ire of “Dallas” diehards who remember there was never any love lost between those two characters. I suspect we’re going to find out there’s more to this story. Perhaps Cliff cheated Katherine out of her share, or maybe she faked her death and is in cahoots with him in his plot against the Ewings. (On “Dallas,” stranger alliances have occurred.) Either way, this seems to be another nail in Cliff’s coffin. The character has turned so villainous; it’s hard for me to imagine how the show can redeem him.

More and more, I wonder if we might be witnessing the last hurrah of Cliff Barnes. Ken Kercheval was positively chilling at the beginning of the season, when Cliff was so focused on bringing down the Ewings, he allowed Frank to kill himself rather than disrupt his schemes. Since J.R.’s death, Kercheval has given us glimpses of the man Cliff used to be – a sweeping hand gesture here, a self-satisfied smirk there – which is a clever way of signaling how Cliff is letting his guard down. (Costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s choices for Cliff’s wardrobe might be telling too. Notice how his all-black outfits are slowly giving way to more colorful garments. Even the old pocket squares are back.) With the Rylands now established as potent Ewing foes, I wonder if John Ross and Pamela’s wedding in this episode will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the Barnes/Ewing feud – or will it serve as a kind of denouement?

With these questions on my mind, I can’t help but find Bobby’s slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of this episode kind of poignant. After all these years, Cliff has gotten his revenge. (Tellingly, the title of the terrific song that plays during this sequence is “My Time Has Come” by the Bowery Riots.) Even if you don’t like Cliff, you have to admire his persistence. You also have to admit: It’s going to be mighty satisfying to see the Ewings take this bastard down.

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Love and Family, Pamela Barnes, TNT

Here we go again?

‘LOVE AND FAMILY’

Season 2, Episode 13

Telecast: April 8, 2013

Writer: John Whelpley

Director: Randy Zisk

Audience: 2.4 million viewers on April 8

Synopsis: John Ross marries Pamela after she persuades Cliff to give her one-third of Barnes Global. Cliff takes control of Ewing Energies. After Emma gets high and wrecks her car, Ann refuses to bail her out. Drew confesses his role in the bombing to Elena, who gives him money after he goes on the run to find the missing Vickers. Christopher and Elena leave for Zurich to find Pam.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Will Beinbrink (Curran), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Ralph Brown (justice of the peace), Ron Corning (news anchor), Jerry Cotton (judge), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Todd Everett (prosecutor), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Cynthia Izaguirre (news anchor), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“Love and Family” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. You do great reviews on here. Hope to see some more classic ones once this season is over. Anyhow I have to admit, it took me a long time to really like the new Dallas. I always loved everything Larry did on it, but felt that he was the only one getting great lines. Since his death everyone stepped up. The writers are starting to put in better dialog, and the acting is much improved. Bobby feels like Bobby again, Sue Ellen was always pretty well done, but now she is central to the plots. Cliff still needs a major explanation for his change of character, but even he seems like the real Cliff the last few weeks. I still am not as concerned with the Ryland or Ramos families, but the writing and acting for the Barnes’ and the Ewing’s are finally making this feel like a true continuation.

  2. Enjoyed the review! You know, I miss JR and Larry so much. But at the same time, I have been fine without him on the show. I still love it. Part of the reason is that I also always loved Sue Ellen and Bobby….and I have came to either love or truly enjoy the other characters as well. Also part of the reason is that JR is referred to so much on the show as well as we get to see his photos in every single episode. I still get my JR fix just in a much smaller, diluted form…..but at least we get that.

    I can’t express how happy I am that C. Cidre and her team have taken such steps to honor the character (I know how much Larry meant to them as a person factors as well.).

    I also wanted to call out a couple of scenes I enjoyed immensely (well, I enjoyed all of them immensely…lol!). The Harris and Emma scene…wow…they have a warped relationship..it is just fascinating to watch….I have read some people who feel that Harris is less effective as a villian since we found out his backstory with his mom. I disagree 100%. I think it makes him much more interesting…he is horribly mesmerizing when he is terrorizing Emma in his twisted paternal way.

    Cliff was in rare form this week. His drunkenness seemed to bring out his flamboyance. I loved the spelling moment…it made me laugh! And I loved the scene with him, Harris,and the Governor. That was a fantastic scene…he is so blithely unaware. I just think he has no freakin’ clue what those 2 are going to do when he takes a fall. Actually, I think Cliff thinks he is a total badass. I think he is actually a little crazy…he has done some horrible, evil things in his paranoid, deluded quest. But…during that scene….I realized that the Governor and Harris are far more dangerous than he is… LOL…I can t wait until all 3 find out that it was JR who brought chaos on their head….especially since they all wholeheartedly believe that the Ewings are sitting ducks without their ‘junkyard dog’.

    By the way,……Cliff has been wearing the pocket square all along….they have just been very dark in color and seemed a more contained. So, not only did his clothing get lighter…so did his squares….and they are more noticeable because they seem to be wildly askew….just like Cliff.

    Didn’t you expect him to start twirling around in circles in total glee when he took the keys from Bobby?

  3. I’ve been saying for awhile now that Henderson and Gonzalo could be the future of this series, I’m glad the producers are putting them together and giving them spotlight.

  4. joesiegler says:

    That’s the second time that Cliff took control of a Ewing company. He had full control of the old Ewing Oil when the classic series ended. Given the events of the two reunion movies never happened, I wonder what the heck happened to the old (classic) Ewing Oil? Probably sucked into Barnes Global somewhere, but I would have liked to have had some mention of what happened to old Ewing Oil.

    But yes, that last scene kicked all kinds of ass. I replayed it twice immediately after the first time I watched it – it was so good.

    And as I mentioned to you in an email Chris, I’m pretty convinced that picture that Bobby was looking at was Hagman from the filming of “War of the Ewings”. He looks a lot healthier in that picture than he did at any time during TNT Dallas. That fireplace looks a little like the fireplace at the ACTUAL Southfork Ranch. The only story of Dallas to ever film INSIDE the real Southfork was War of the Ewings. Wouldn’t surprise me if that’s a press photo from WOTE.

    • I think you’re right about the picture being from “War of the Ewings,” Joe. Good eye. Glad to hear you enjoyed the last scene in “Love and Family” too.

  5. Dan in WI says:

    Do we have a funny backwards time jump going on here. In the previous episode Cliff Barnes waltzes into Ewing Energies and gleefully tells them they have 24 hours to raise $200 million or he gets the company. At the end of the episode it is clearly night and John Ross swoops up Pamela and carries her inside out of the rain. At the beginning of this episode it is clearly day again. Cliff and Harris are sitting in lawn chairs arguing if it is too soon to declare victory or not. Cliff is again talking about being 24 hours away. Something doesn’t add up here on the timeline.

    Why does Drew have a pair of the shoes he was smuggling?

    As I watch Harris read Emma the riot act it occurred to me how much it sounded like JR. That is the words sounded like something that would have come out of JR’s mouth. But the way they were said was completely different. It’s the way Harris twists everything around. It was the way he tells Emma that it is her fault he was forced use Drew to blow up the rig. It reminded me the time Bobby was owner of Ewing Oil when regained the name from the Justice Department following the BD Calhoun affair. He took JR back into the company but on the condition that JR participate in no oil deals. Of course JR immediately went behind Bobby’s back and did just that. Later on JR rationalizes that it was Bobby who forced him to be deceitful. That’s kind of what Harris does here. But when JR did something like that he usually sounded cool and level headed if somewhat patronizing. Here Harris does it while breathing fire and brimstone. Like I said, it was the same but different.

    How did Roy Vickers manage to disappear following the charges against him being dropped? Shouldn’t Bum have been tailing him the moment he was released? Okay maybe Bum already had his hand full with his other assignments? Fine. What happened to Clyde? He’s MIA again. But again, Vickers never should have had the chance to fall off the radar.

    By the way, Christopher sure has trouble getting his star witnesses to show up in court. First it was Rebecca Sutter now Drew Ramos.

    Who is the law officer that pounds on the Southfork door to alert the Ewings to Emma’s accident? Bobby addresses him as sheriff but that wasn’t Derek.

    Christopher and Elena may be in trouble soon. They don’t know how to be honest with each other. First Christopher concealed the search for Pam from Elena. Now Elena is concealing Drew’s whereabouts from Christopher. By the way, I said before that Tommy McKay was bad news for the Bobby and Tracy relationship at the time and wondered if Drew wouldn’t be bad news for Christopher. I may be right.

    Remember when Cliff played Jamie Ewing when he thought she was his ticket to getting majority control in Ewing Oil? He even convinced her to marry him. Now John Ross just might be doing the same to Pamela. Why is he really marrying her? Is it for love? There is no question he does have feelings for her. But we also just had that scene where Bobby was trying to decide if he should ask John Ross to take advantage of Pamela’s brand spanking new share of Barnes Global. He even point blank asks John Ross “Do you love Pamela.” John Ross’ response “This isn’t about love is it Uncle Bobby? This is about our family, our survival.” Then listen carefully what John Ross says to Pamela:
    We scheme. We seduce. We betray. We’ve done all the above to each other a
    few times over…Who’s to say it ain’t gonna happen again. Hell, who’s to say it
    ain’t happening right now?…But who am I really talking to here? I saw how well
    you flipped the switch on your father earlier. Who’s to say you aren’t going to flip
    it on me again? Especially now that you know JR’s plan to take your father
    down…It ain’t your father I’m worried about you burning. It’s me. What’s to stop
    you with siding with yourself now that you got a claim in a multi-billion dollar
    business? Well actions speak louder than words darling. They always do.
    Now Pamela falls for that manipulation and asks, “what do you want me to do?” But makes no mistake about it. That wasn’t love. It was just that: manipulation. While that kind of manipulation is right out of JR’s playbook, it was Cliff who married for (perceived) money and power in the past.

    Who is this Joaquin Elena twice mentions when aiding fugitive Drew?

    When Cliff Barnes does finally march into the Ewing Energies offices (no matter how much time has passed) he asks if “anybody has a check for $200 million around here?” I thought he said he doesn’t take checks.
    Regardless Bobby hands him the keys and walks out with that I know something you don’t know shit eating grin. It reminds of the season five episode “Five Dollars a Barrel” where Cliff gets JR to give him Ewing #6 in exchange for a 10 day extension on a $200 million bank loan and triumphantly exclaims “after all these years I finally whipped JR Ewing.” (Notice the size of the loan is even exactly the same as we are talking about in this episode.) Of course that didn’t last long. 15 episodes later JR got Ewing #6 back. How long do you think he’ll keep Ewing Energies this time?

    • Good questions, Dan. I noticed the episode seemed to take place in a pretty compressed period of time but didn’t pay close enough attention to see if it went from day to night. Good parallels between John Ross and Pamela and Cliff and Jamie. And I’m not sure why Drew has those heels.

  6. missiea5 says:

    The last scene of Bobby walking out was truly amazing! I feel like Bobby has finally gotten that moment of sly victory that was usually reserved for JR- and Patrick Duffy was up to the task! The music was perfect and the slow motion effect just added that final touch of coolness.

  7. I liked the the Ewings have an idea of what they need to do now and are doing it. Drew even knows what he must do. It looks like the seeds of a storm had been sewn between Elena and Christopher. When she lied to him to protect her brother, Christopher, being suspicious, showed signs of distrust by checking Elena’s cel phone call history.

    “Hubris” is the achilles heel of Cliff Barnes and Bobby knows this as much as J.R. did.

    I clearly see where the confidence of Cliff Barnes and Harris Ryland had been coming from. It looks like heir plans to destroy the Ewings had been wel thought out andquite comprehensive.

    I like John Ross being teamed up with Bobby and Christopher and I did not like when he was against them. John Ross and Christopher make an excellent team and Bobby is a great leader.

    Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing. I hope she drops the Barnes.

  8. r. j. koopmana says:

    What I liked is that brother Bobby turned himself into brother J.R. He said to Sue Ellen. J.R. would say “let Barnes go all in think hes won. Big brother your wish is my command!” Its a playbook in Ewing mastery.

  9. I liked how brother Bobby turned himself into brother J.R. for dramatic affect as he has to be both brothers now. He tells Sue Ellen: “If J.R. were here he’d say, let Barnes go all in, think he’s won.” This of course leading to a slip up & knifing of that “god damn Barnes” (as Jock & J.R. said in the original series). Then the Ewings collectively go ahead & knife back! I love it!

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Love and Family,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is in the Southfork study, pouring […]

  2. […] are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “A Call to Arms” and “Love and Family,” the latest episodes from “Dallas’s” second […]

  3. […] week’s “Dallas” double feature, “A Call to Arms” and “Love and Family,” yielded some new clues in the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, along with six new […]

  4. […] second hour, “Love and Family,” was shown in the 9 p.m. time slot, where it was seen by 2.4 million viewers, including more than 1 […]

  5. […] Is Cliff headed for a fall? At the end of “Love and Family,” the second half of last week’s two-hour telecast, Cliff (Ken Kercheval) called in the loan on […]

  6. […] “Come Unto Me” by the The Mavericks. Meanwhile, the terrific tune that appeared at the end of “Love and Family,” when Bobby (Patrick Duffy) took that slow-mo stroll out of Ewing Energies, is “My Time Has […]

  7. […] also kind of a badass. Did you see that slow-mo walk he took after he set up Cliff Barnes in “Love and Family”? Bobby deserves another season to show us how friggin’ cool he […]

  8. […] Bowery Riots that played when Bobby did that cool slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” It was the ideal song to reflect Bobby at his badass […]

  9. […] squeeze on the Ewings, Kercheval offered more flashes of his old character’s combustability. The scene where Bobby hands his enemy the keys to the Ewing kingdom? That was classic Cliff. You may hate […]

  10. […] he’s going to use Sue Ellen’s power of attorney in his bid to take Ewing Global public. Unlike Patrick Duffy’s slow-mo walk during Season 2, which felt so triumphant, Henderson’s version is positively chilling. I also […]

  11. […] Noon. You know what goes good with a nice, leisurely Sunday brunch? Watching Bobby take that badass, slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” […]

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