Dallas Parallels: Foxes in the Henhouse

Battle Lines, Dallas, Digger's Daughter, Pamela Barnes, Pam Ewing, TNT, Victoria Principal

It’s one of the new “Dallas’s” greatest moments: Soon after Rebecca Sutter Ewing reveals that she’s actually Pamela Rebecca Barnes, she receives a visit from J.R. Ewing. He vows to run her out of town, just like he did with her namesake aunt. Says J.R.: “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse. I’m 1 for 1 on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being 2 for 2.”

The scene, which appears in “Venomous Creatures” (Season 2, Episode 2), brings to mind one of the famous moments from the original “Dallas:” J.R.’s clash with Pam in “Digger’s Daughter” (Season 1, Episode 1). Like the 2013 version, the 1978 edition also ends with J.R. delivering an ominous threat: “I’m willing to spend some money now to avoid any inconvenience. But if you insist upon being driven away — which you surely will be — you’re going to come out of this without anything, honey.”

More similarities: In both scenes, J.R. refers to Cliff, although not by name. In “Digger’s Daughter,” he asks Pam, “Did your brother put you up to this, Miss Barnes?” In “Venomous Creatures,” he tells Pamela, “I’m just here to look my enemy in the eye. And since your daddy is about 2 feet shorter than I am, I guess you’ll have to do.” Also, marriage is a subtext of both scenes: The older episode begins soon after Bobby and Pam’s wedding, while the newer segment shows Christopher and Pamela facing off in divorce court.

More than anything, the two scenes showcase the genius of Larry Hagman. In “Digger’s Daughter,” Hagman is still getting to know his character, but he’s already figured out that playing J.R. will require a healthy dose of mischief. I love when Bobby interrupts J.R. and Pam’s conversation and reminds his older brother that “Mama don’t like business talk with supper on the table.” Hagman breaks into a wide grin as he delivers J.R.’s next line: “Well, you know Mama. She’s so old-fashioned.” By 2013, Hagman’s sense of humor was as sharp as ever. Witness his parting line to Frank, Pamela’s pseudo-brother/henchman: “How does it feel to be a poodle?”

I also admire how both of Hagman’s co-stars equate themselves in these scenes. Victoria Principal brims with righteous indignation when J.R. tries to buy off Pam; it’s an early display of the on-screen magic she and Hagman would perfect during the next decade. Julie Gonzalo displays a spark with the actor too, suggesting she would’ve become a worthy sparring partner. It’s a shame that promise will never be realized, but aren’t we lucky we got to see one last showdown between J.R. and a fox named Pamela?

 

‘You’re Going to Come Out of this Without Anything, Honey’

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

A threat

In “Digger’s Daughter,” “Dallas’s” first episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) shows Pam (Victoria Principal) around the Southfork grounds.

J.R.: Did your brother put you up to this, Miss Barnes?

Pam looks stunned.

J.R.: Well, I don’t think that’s an unusual question to ask, Miss Barnes.

PAM: [Angrily] Mrs. Ewing. Excuse me, please.

She begins to walk away. J.R. grabs her arm. She stops.

J.R.: Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask what sort of settlement you’d require to annul this farce.

PAM: Let go of my arm.

J.R.: I’m willing to spend some money now to avoid any inconvenience. But if you insist upon being driven away — which you surely will be — you’re going to come out of this without anything, honey.

Bobby (Patrick Duffy) approaches.

BOBBY: Hi there. What’s going on?

J.R.: Oh, just talking a little business.

BOBBY: Mama don’t like business talk with supper on the table, J.R.

J.R.: [Chuckles] Well, you know Mama. She’s so old-fashioned.

BOBBY: [To Pam] Come on, honey. Let’s go.

J.R. smiles as he watches them walk away.

 

‘I’m 1 for 1 on Flushing Out Pamelas’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT, Venomous Creatures

A promise

In “Venomous Creatures,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. visits Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) in the Barnes Global boardroom.

PAMELA: What are you doing here, J.R.?

J.R.: I’m just here to look my enemy in the eye. And since your daddy is about 2 feet shorter than I am, I guess you’ll have to do.

PAMELA: I must have done something right to deserve a visit from you.

J.R.: Congratulations on your win in court. Now divorce court, if you want some tips, I can offer you a few. I’m an expert authority.

PAMELA: I already have my experts.

J.R.: Oh, and if you’ve got it in your pretty little head to go after Ewing Energies in the divorce, you won’t be dealing with Christopher. You’ll be dealing with me.

PAMELA: You’re not a part of that company.

J.R.: No, no. But I’m part of that family. You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse. I’m 1 for 1 on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being 2 for 2.

What do you think of J.R.’s clashes with Pam and Pamela? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Comments

  1. I loved it. It was a shame that we never got to see the further development of the JR/Pamela Rebecca relationship as Pamela’s relationship with John Ross progressed. If had trouble with his brother bringing home Digger’s daughter he would have cut off all ties with John Ross if John Ross choose Pamela Rebecca as his wife. I would have loved to seen them as in laws.

  2. Sure I can C. B., Brother J. R. might have suggested that it might not be wise IV Pamela Rebecca’s ex-hubby Christopher or his son John Ross II have babies with her b/c of “her defective Barnes genes.” The difference Cliff killed his unborn grandkids. Brother J. R. would sooner have Cliff locked up for killing his unborn niece & nephew. Plus, he would have provided Pamela Rebecca with baby supplies & medical care at his own expense since Christopher was his nephew (even though only adopted) out of respect for the fact that they would have been the grandkids of Brother Bobby! J. R. was negatory, but he had CLASS!

  3. He would have really given her the goose about how weak a Barnes is, any Barnes but especially her daddy C. B.

Trackbacks

  1. […] marry into the Ewing family, both experience awkward introductions to life at Southfork, and their first encounters with J.R. are equally tense. Most notably, Pam and Pamela also suffer tragic miscarriages that send […]

  2. […] “Dallas.” Both characters also experienced awkward introductions to the family Ewing, both had tense first encounters with J.R. and both suffered setbacks on the road to motherhood. Do the similarities end […]

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