Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 165 — ‘Jamie’

Dallas, Jamie, Jenilee Harrison

Distant cousin

Jamie Ewing arrives and Katherine Wentworth departs in “Jamie.” Is this a fair trade? I’ll reserve judgment on Jamie’s end of the exchange until I’ve revisited more episodes that feature her character, but there’s no doubt in my mind Katherine is leaving at the right moment. A little camp goes a long way on “Dallas,” and too often Morgan Brittany’s character veered toward the cartoonish. On the other hand, I appreciate how Katherine achieved mythic status after this episode, especially among the loyalists who continued to clamor for Brittany’s return until the final days of TNT’s sequel series. Also, the hats. I’ll miss the hats.

The stage is set for Katherine’s exit during the previous episode, which ends with her getting ready to inject Bobby with poison while he sleeps in a hospital bed. As “Jamie” opens, Bobby awakens and screams for help. J.R. and his security guards happen to be nearby and rush into the room, where they pull Katherine away before she can hurt poor, blind Bob. Moments later, while squirming to break free from the guards, Katherine confirms she fired the gunshots that landed Bobby in the hospital in the first place, and then she reveals he was her target all along — a clever twist since “Dallas” previously led the audience to believe J.R. was the intended victim. Brittany is as over the top as ever during Katherine’s confession, although she outdoes herself during her final scene in “Jamie,” when Katherine runs into Cliff on the courthouse steps. After admitting she tried to frame him, Katherine barks, “Get out of my way!” and shoves him aside — except Ken Kercheval is already standing about two feet away, so Brittany has to step toward him in order to push him out of the way. It’s silly, but also kind of wonderful.

The revelation that Katherine meant to shoot Bobby is a final homage to “Who Shot J.R.?” Just as J.R.’s assailant turned out to be his sister-in-law, so too does Bobby’s. I’m glad the comparisons end there, however. I’ve always believed it was a mistake to kill off Kristin, and so I’m glad “Dallas” doesn’t repeat the error with Katherine. After her encounter with Cliff, she skips bail and flees town, allowing the producers to bring Brittany back whenever the show needed an angel of death. Katherine finally succeeds in “killing” Bobby when Patrick Duffy leaves the series in 1985, and then she returns again to pave the way for Pam’s disappearance after Victoria Principal’s exit two years later. It’s the major difference between Kristin and Katherine’s fates: One becomes the answer to a trivia question, while the other becomes a legend.

The rest of “Jamie” is the usual mixed bag from this era of “Dallas.” I get a kick out of the final scene, when Jamie arrives at Southfork and interrupts the Ewings lounging around their swimming pool. J.R.’s greeting (“Miss, I’m sorry, this is private property”) sounds like something a Texan would say to a stranger who shows up on the doorstep unannounced. I also like the earlier scene where Donna cooks a big meal for Ray to butter him up before breaking news she knows he won’t like. If this were another TV show, we might expect Donna to tell Ray that she accidentally dented the car, or that she splurged on new living room furniture. But this is “Dallas,” where Donna’s news is that she spent $10 million to buy her own oil company. To his credit, Ray doesn’t flip out — a sign, perhaps, that the humble cowboy has finally outgrown his inferiority complex from earlier seasons.

“Jamie” also includes references to characters from days gone by (Valene, Muriel, Afton), as well as Pam’s return to Herbert and Rebecca Wentworth’s Houston mansion for the first time since the fourth-season classic “The Prodigal Mother.” There’s also a fun scene where J.R. and Sue Ellen sit on the Southfork patio and discuss Katherine’s confession, which recalls Jock and Miss Ellie’s breakfast conversation after Kristin’s confession in 1980. The “Jamie” exchange also is notable because it includes J.R.’s memorable observation that his family has a penchant for attracting “weirdoes” like Katherine, Jessica Farlow and the “crackpot” who kidnapped Lucy. (In this instance, he’s referring to obsessive photographer Roger Larson, although he could just have easily been talking about Willie Gust or even himself.)

Speaking of Lucy: Perhaps the best moment in “Jamie” belongs to Charlene Tilton, who delivers a surprisingly moving monologue when Ray discovers her character is working as a waitress at the Hot Biscuit roadside diner. When I watched these episodes as a kid, I remember everyone in my family thought this storyline was ridiculous. It doesn’t seem any more realistic now, but I nonetheless find myself admiring Lucy’s efforts to forge an identity outside her famous last name. So far, this is Tilton’s best storyline in years. And even if it isn’t your cup of tea, you have to admit: Lucy seems to be better at waitressing than modeling, don’t you think?

Grade: C

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jamie, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

Heeere’s Katherine!

‘JAMIE’

Season 8, Episode 4

Airdate: October 19, 1984

Audience: 21 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Nick Havinga

Synopsis: After J.R. stops Katherine from poisoning Bobby, she confesses to the shooting and is arrested, only to skip bail later. Bobby regains his eyesight. Cliff’s success continues to rattle J.R. Lucy begins waitressing. Donna buys a small oil company. A young woman arrives at Southfork and announces she is Jamie Ewing, daughter of Jock’s late brother, Jason.

Cast: Norman Bennett (Al), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Jenny Gago (Nurse), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jenilee Harrison (Jamie Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Randolph Mantooth (Joe Don Ford), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Marina Rice (Angela), Deborah Shelton (Mandy Winger), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Kathleen York (Betty)

“Jamie” is available on DVD and at Amazon and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. I agree with you about Katherine being cartoonish – in the way she keeps repeatedly failing to kill Bobby but always getting away with it to try again she reminds me of Wily Coyote vs. Roadrunner or Sideshow Bob and Bart Simpson!
    Up until now Dallas always managed to keep its campy elements just within bounds (although the mad Jessica storyline of season 7 was borderline) but this season Dallas does jump the shark a few times.
    I defer to your greater knowledge of the American legal system Chris, but is it really possible that a self-confessed attempted murderer (and a serial one at that) and who also happily confesses to framing an innocent person would be let out on bail?

    • Good point about the bail, Paul. Unfortunately, everything I know about the legal system I learned from “Dallas,” so I can’t be much help.

  2. Your note about JR’s words to Jamie when she arrived at Southfork, “Sorry Miss…” made me grin, because scenes like that always make me wonder: Doesn’t anybody of the “Southforkians” mind being so openly displayed in public all the time, even when they are half-naked in their own home’s garden? Any stranger can just walk in without any trouble – they don’t even have to knock or ring a bell or anything… 😉

  3. Maryann says:

    I see you point Paul, would Katherine be out on bail after being caught trying to inject Bobby with poison and confessing in regards to the American legal system, I do not think so considering she was mentally off balance. Then again this is a Soap Opera so they did not go by the book or a sense of reality. Also I agree Katherine did become too campy and cartoonish. This episode was not one of my favorites although I liked Bobby pushing Joe Don in the pool it was funny. You also get a clue that Bobby is still hung up on Pam if you did not know before and the thought of any man dating her upsets him.

    • Joe Don was such a sleaze, wasn’t he?

      • Maryann says:

        Yes he was, he was not the first one of course to be smitten with Pam, there was Alex and then Mark. All arrogant sleazes in the aspect that they think they were God’s gift to women and had money they can get anything or anyone they wanted and no one can resist their charm give me a break!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Chris, I agree Morgan Brittany was a master here. What I don’t like is that they made J.R. dig up an oil well in later years when he was married to Callie, but otherwise you always see him clean & pressed in a suit. They should have had him “get down & dirty in the mud” more in actual oilfields, not just in offices & boardrooms! Bobby did the office & oilfield while J.R. seemed to be too regulated to an office.

  5. R.J. Koopmans, President, Ewing Oil Co. Ltd.-Canada says:

    where is my comment chris

  6. Elizabete says:

    Katherine was terrible, but her hats were wonderful! And those Bete Davis eyes! Elizabete

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good critique!!!

  8. Tony Ewing says:

    Just as you’re talking about the legal system in Dallas I always wondered why Sueellen never had charges against her for her drink driving especially after Mickey Trotter was hurt when trying to stop her in 1983 series. It was just ignored after his life support machine was turned off.

  9. Ray is now confident and comfortable with himself, even when surrounded by wealth. Lucy, at an age where people decide what kind of person they are going to be as an adult and self-discovery, is very uncomfortable with herself. It is a great scene Ray and Lucy share and yes Lucy does make one fine waitress.

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