No one should be surprised to see Southfork go up in flames in “Where There’s Smoke,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode. The Ewings aren’t exactly the poster family for exercising care and caution around the house, are they? Here’s a look at the everyday, common sense practices they routinely ignore.
Lock your doors. It sounds so simple, and yet the Ewings never seem to grasp the importance of this one. When B.D. Calhoun (Hunter von Leer) tried to kill J.R., did he swarm Southfork with his band of gun-toting mercenaries-for-hire? Nope. Calhoun simply walked into the house in the middle of the night, climbed the stairs, slipped into J.R.’s room and left a ticking time bomb on the nightstand. Several years later, when Vicente Cano decided to hold the Ewings hostage in their living room, he too waltzed in through the front door. Sheesh! Look, Southfork doesn’t have that many entrances. Is it that hard to remember to lock them?
Avoid fires. We can all agree open flames inside a home are almost never a good idea, right? So could someone please explain why J.R. (Larry Hagman) had all those candles burning at Southfork on the night Ray showed up to confront him over Mickey Trotter’s accident? I mean, it’s not like J.R. was trying to set a romantic mood for Sue Ellen, who was passed out drunk upstairs. Anyhow, J.R. and Ray got into a huge fistfight, the candles went crashing to the floor and before you knew it, the house was ablaze. Everyone escaped unharmed, although poor John Ross was so traumatized, he emerged from the tragedy looking like a different kid.
Know your houseguests. Is there a polite way to ask potential guests if they have a history of mental health issues? If so, please pass this tip along to the Ewings, who are constantly offering room and board to people who belong in an insane asylum, not the spare bedroom at Southfork. Over the years, the Ewings’ overnight guests have included Jessica Montfort (Alexis Smith), who ended up kidnapping Miss Ellie and stuffing her in the trunk of her car; sex-crazed drug dealer Tommy McKay, who practically tried to rape April Stevens in John Ross’s bed; and that dreadful Cousin Jamie, who wasn’t crazy but drove everyone else bonkers.
Don’t provoke the animals. Oh, look. Here’s dear, pregnant Pam, who gets in accidents the way other people catch colds. Pam can’t find her husband Bobby, so she’s decided to ride her horse out to the barn to look for him. Pam, given your condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: Pam fell off the horse. Oh, no. What’s happening now? Is our buddy Ray (Steve Kanaly) trying to introduce his pregnant wife Donna (Susan Howard) to one of the Southfork bulls? Ray, given your wife’s condition, are you sure that’s a good idea? Oops, too late: The bull got spooked and tried to charge Donna, who’s been knocked out cold. Sigh.
Be a good neighbor. When you have a dispute with a neighbor, do you try to resolve it by talking things out? If so, you’re nothing like the Ewings, whose preferred approach to conflict resolution is to start blowing stuff up. Just ask Carter McKay. After he bought the ranch next to Southfork and got into a spat with the Ewings over water rights, they responded by stuffing McKay’s dam full of dynamite and blasting it to smithereens. This led to a war between the McKays and the Ewings — no, seriously, both families hired their own armies — which is surely a violation of the Braddock homeowners’ association bylaws.
Beware of heights. Elevated spaces can be dangerous. We all know this, right? So why can’t the Ewings and their friends steer clear of them? Klutzy Pam fell from the hayloft — and suffered a miscarriage, no less. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Clayton each tumbled down the stairs — although not at the same time, thank goodness. And when a couple of renegade oil barons began chasing secretary Julie Grey, she went to the roof of her building because … well, why not? Then there’s poor Kristin, who figured the Southfork balcony was the perfect place to try to blackmail the man she once pumped full of lead. We all know how well that turned out.
Protect the kids. Do you see the tragedy that’s about to unfold in this picture? I’m not referring to the fact that little Christopher (Joshua Harris) is pulling Bobby’s gun out of the bedroom closet so he can play with it. Ewings love guns; that’s just a fact of life and nothing will ever change it. No, I’m talking about that L.A. Gear shoebox. Does this mean Pam wore L.A. Gears, the gaudiest sneakers known to man? You don’t suppose they were neon pink high-tops, do you? Look, I don’t care if it was the ’80s; how could Pam subject her family to those ugly shoes? For goodness sake, Pam, think of the children!
Don’t go near the water. You know what swimming pools are for? Swimming. They’re not the place to settle scores with Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) and they’re not the place to work out Ewing Oil business disputes. Of course, just try telling this to the Ewings, who are constantly shoving their enemies — and each other — into the Southfork pool. Everyone gets dunked — fully clothed and against their will — at one point or another. Or at least that’s what used to happen on “Dallas.” This might be the one area of household safety where the Ewings have learned their lesson, which is kind of a shame. I mean, where’s the fun in that?
Get some insurance. Maybe the reason the Ewings aren’t more careful around the house is because they’ve got the best insurance policy ever: Bobby (Patrick Duffy). No matter what mishaps befall these people, they know good ol’ Bob will save the day. Southfork catches fire? Bobby will come along in the nick of time to make sure everyone gets out alive. Range war with McKay? Bobby will go Chuck Norris on his ass and single-handedly disarm his militia. That termite Cliff starts a pool fight? Well, Bobby won’t break up the scuffle, but he’ll make damn sure Barnes gets the beating he deserves. Bobby, this is why we love you. Never leave us, OK?
What have the Ewings taught you about household safety? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”