The Dallas Decoder Guide to Entertaining, Ewing Style

Party on

The holidays are here and that means one thing: It’s party time! Martha Stewart will tell you the secret to successful entertaining is to always make your guests feel comfortable – but to hell with that. If you want to host a really memorable affair, let the Ewings be your guide.

Always on his back

The guest list: Put some thought into it. Do you have a mortal enemy who is obsessed with revenge against your family? By all means, move that person to the top of your invite list. No matter what Cliff (Ken Kercheval) did to the Ewings – he once prosecuted Jock for murder!– Miss Ellie never stopped inviting him to family functions. Why? Because she knew she could count on Cliff to enliven every soiree. Remember the time he incited a mob at a Southfork barbecue? Or the brawl he started at J.R. and Sue Ellen’s wedding reception? Of course you do. Face it: A day or two after your event, no one will remember how pretty your table centerpiece looked. But offer your guests some Cliff-style theatrics and you’ll create memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Off the wagon, in the doghouse

It’s all about tradition. Folks love to get together during the holidays to reminisce – and no one appreciated a stroll down memory lane more than Jock (Jim Davis). When Digger (David Wayne) showed up at one of the Southfork barbecues, Jock waxed nostalgic, recalling the collapse of their partnership decades earlier. He concluded his history lesson by declaring Digger had “been a loser every day of his life,” which sent the recovering alcoholic straight off the wagon. Jock’s tongue-lashing angered Miss Ellie and Pam (Barbara Bel Geddes, Victoria Principal), but Jock suspected the only reason Digger came to the party in the first place was to find an excuse to resume boozing. And as Jock told his family, “I generally try to accommodate my guests.”

Time to go, darlin’

Drink up! Memories shouldn’t be the only thing that flows at your gathering. The Ewings knew a little alcohol could really help guests loosen up and get in a celebratory spirit. For this, we have Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) to thank. Remember when she got tipsy at a Southfork barbecue and blabbed to everyone the intimate details of her marriage? How about the time the Ewings held a bash at the Oil Barons Club and Sue Ellen passed out after taking a nip or two (or three or six) of vodka? Then there was the time our heroine got smashed at Lucy and Mickey’s cookout, swiped J.R.’s keys and wrecked his car. OK, that last one ended up killing the joyful atmosphere at Southfork that evening – but at least it didn’t kill Sue Ellen’s future political viability.

Taste of success

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one should try to organize a big celebration on their own. Just ask Miss Ellie, who always counted on family and friends to help out – especially in the kitchen. Sister-in-law Jessica Montfort was a whiz at chopping veggies and Donna was an ace sous chef, while J.R. (Larry Hagman) and the rest of the Ewings were happy to serve as Mama’s taste-testers. For the real heavy lifting, though, Ellie relied on the hired help. The Ewings went through dozens of butlers and housekeepers over the years. Some were old, some were young, but remarkably, all of them were named “Raoul” and “Teresa.” Carmen the cook has been at Southfork for a long time too, although we didn’t see her until the Ewings moved to cable.

Guess what?

Parties are for surprises! Do you know someone who’s been dying to share a big secret with the world? Perhaps your event offers the stage they seek. Lucy blurted out her suspicions about Sue Ellen and Peter Richards’ affair at a get-together on the Southfork patio. Cousin Jamie chose a Ewing barbecue to reveal her stake in the family empire. James Beaumont announced he was J.R.’s illegitimate son at a Ewing dinner at the Oil Baron’s Club. The tradition continues: John Ross used Bobby’s birthday party to unveil his plot to drill for oil on Southfork, while Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) decided the family’s final barbecue at the ranch was the ideal setting to tell Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) about her role in the scheme to break up him and Elena.

Oh, sit

Seating matters. Will your affair include a sit-down meal? Follow the example set by J.R., who always knows the perfect place for newcomers to the Southfork dinner table. He once told Ray, “You sit where Gary used to. You two have so much in common.” Later, on her first night at the ranch, J.R.’s daughter-in-law Michelle Beaumont asked him where she should sit. “Right there,” J.R. responded, pointing to an empty seat on the other side of the table. “Used to be Pam’s chair. I couldn’t stand her either.” J.R. also knew where guests shouldn’t sit. Just ask Clayton (Howard Keel), who got the stink-eye every time he sat in Jock’s old seat. No, seriously. J.R. cut Clayton a dirty look each time he came to the table. Every. Single. Time. For eight seasons.

The price of a clever wit

Keep the conversation lively. Miss Manners will tell you some topics shouldn’t be discussed in polite company – but Miss Manners never attended a Ewing fete. When this brood gets together, every subject is fair game. Once, when Miss Ellie worried that Sue Ellen didn’t eat enough at dinner, J.R. waved around a liquor bottle and said, “She gets all the nourishment she needs from this.” Moments later, he described Pam thusly: “Everybody can see that she’s cracking up, slowly and surely. And who can blame her? I mean, she finds out that her daddy, Digger Barnes, is no relation at all. And her real father is a saddle tramp and a thief. And her mother’s a whore! Who could find it in their heart to hate that poor little girl, huh?” Bobby responded by punching J.R. in the gut. He never could take a joke.

Everybody in!

Two words: “Swimming pool.” If you have one, use it. After all, if you’re going to party like the Ewings, your guests are going to need a place to cool off.

What have the Ewings taught you about entertaining? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Politics, Ewing Style

Sue Ellen is the latest Ewing to hit the hustings. (Photo credit: Bill Matlock/TNT)

The Republicans are in Tampa and the Democrats are headed to Charlotte, but the real political heavyweights are in “Dallas.” Here’s a look at some of the gladhanders, grandstanders and gurus who’ve courted the Ewings’ support – and occasionally, their wrath – on the original series, its “Knots Landing” spinoff and TNT’s “Dallas” revival.

MAYNARD ANDERSON (Peter Mark Richman)

Maynard Anderson

Anderson was an oil industry darling whose appointment to a high-ranking Department of Energy post left Jock and J.R. giddy. But Andreson’s new job was jeopardized when his shrewish wife Melissa threatened to expose his affair with Jenna Wade, Bobby’s old flame. J.R. promised to help out his pal Anderson, which meant using Jenna to try to split up newlyweds Bobby and Pam. J.R.’s ploy failed and Jenna released Bobby from her clutches (for awhile, anyway); the audience never learned if Mr. Anderson actually went to Washington.

CLIFF BARNES (Ken Kercheval)

Cliff Barnes

Cliff had a talent for attracting trouble – his college girlfriend died after a botched abortion and he was arrested for Julie Grey’s murder and Bobby Ewing’s shooting – but he never let scandal get in the way of his ambition. Despite losing bids for state senate and Congress, Cliff was appointed to several cushy gigs, including oil industry watchdog and “energy czar.” Of course, Cliff was too busy trying to beat the Ewings to hold onto any job long. As we learned in the “Dallas” finale, if J.R. hadn’t been born, Cliff would’ve been president!

ALAN BEAM (Randolph Powell)

Alan Beam

Alan was a rising star at Smithfield Bennett, the law firm that represented the Ewings, but he wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in – and above all, he believed in Cliff, whose congressional campaign he managed. (Alan even had the courage to wear a “Barnes for Congress” button to Jock’s birthday dinner!) Too bad it was all a ruse: Alan really worked for J.R., who wanted to sabotage Cliff’s campaign from the inside. The plan worked like a charm, but when J.R. and Alan had a falling out, Alan became a prime suspect in J.R.’s shooting. (FYI: He didn’t do it.)

COUNCILMAN MARTIN COLE (Allen Case)

Martin Cole

When the Ewings needed a candidate to run against Cliff for state senate, they recruited Cole, a Fort Worth city councilman who had the right platform (pro-gun, anti-abortion) and connections (he was married to Senator Orloff’s niece Nancy) but the wrong personality – which is to say he had none. With Cliff gaining in the polls, Jock ordered Cole to fire his speechwriter and buy more TV time; he also instructed J.R. to take Mr. Milquetoast shopping for snazzier suits. Cole won – not because of his image makeover, but because J.R. exposed Cliff’s skeletons.

SENATOR DAVE CULVER (Tom Fuccello)

Dave Culver

Dave, the son of political legend Sam Culver, pushed through a health-care reform bill as a member of the state legislature, but once he moved to the U.S. Senate, his main duty seemed to be flying home to tell the Ewings about the doings in Washington. Interestingly, the family never seemed to mind that Dave recruited Jock for his ill-fated mission to South America. This might be because the senator was one of the Ewings’ most reliable matchmakers: Dave introduced stepmom Donna to Andrew Dowling and hooked Bobby up with Kay Lloyd.

GOVERNOR SAM CULVER (John McIntire)

Sam Culver

Sam, a onetime Texas governor and speaker of the house, was one of Texas’s most powerful men. When Cliff was running the Office of Land Management and putting the screws to the Ewings, J.R. tried to blackmail Donna Culver, Sam’s young bride, into persuading her husband to oust Cliff from his perch. Instead, Donna confessed all to Sam, who forgave his wife and threw his support behind Cliff. Sam’s devotion to Donna was admirable, but he wasn’t perfect: After his death, she discovered Sam and Jock once staged a land grab that resulted in Sam’s uncle’s suicide.

SENATOR ANDREW DOWLING (Jim McMullan)

Andrew Dowling

Dowling, possessor of the thickest head of senatorial hair this side of John F. Kerry, disagreed with lobbyist Donna Culver Krebbs on every issue, including tariffs on imported oil and U.S. intervention in Nicaragua (how topical, “Dallas”!), but that didn’t keep him from sweeping the very married, very pregnant Donna off her feet. Later, when the Justice Department was about to lay the smackdown on Ewing Oil over J.R.’s escapades in the Middle East, Dowling tipped off the family, which really should have been Dave Culver’s job, but whatever.

WALT DRISCOLL (Ben Piazza) and EDGAR RANDOLPH (Martin E. Brooks)

Walt Driscoll and Edgar Randolph

Here we have a pair of hapless, mustachioed bureaucrats: Driscoll was one of Cliff’s successors at the Office of Land Management, while Randolph was a federal contracting official. Both men were blackmailed by J.R., both tried to kill him (Driscoll with a car, Randolph with a gun) and both turned suicidal, except Randolph couldn’t do that right, either.

SENATOR BOBBY EWING (Patrick Duffy)

Bobby Ewing

When the governor appointed Dave Culver to fill an empty U.S. Senate seat, his party tried to recruit Dave’s stepmom Donna to complete his term in Austin. She demurred, so party leaders turned to Bobby, who ran for the job and won in a landslide. Bobby then hired Cliff as his legal counsel, which might explain why he seemed so unfamiliar with the term “conflict of interest.” Not only did Senator Ewing preside over an inquiry into his father’s plan to build a resort on Lake Takapa, he also participated in a state investigation into the coup J.R. financed in Asia.

GARY EWING (Ted Shackelford)

Gary Ewing

Like Cliff, Gary didn’t let his private demons keep him from taking a stab at public service. Despite a record that included drinking, gambling, an arrest for murder (Ciji Dunne) and multiple marriages (including one to Valene when she was just 15), Gary – the middle Ewing brother – decided to run for state senator in his adopted home of California. He lost, although the electoral defeat probably stung less than the fact Gary’s wife Abby was sleeping with his opponent, Peter Hollister.

J.R. EWING (Larry Hagman)

J.R. Ewing

When J.R. and Bobby were battling each other for control of Ewing Oil, J.R. tried to beat baby brother by opening a chain of cut-rate gas stations. After he plugged them on Roy Ralston’s talk show, the public clamored for J.R. to run for office (presaging Ross Perot’s use of “Larry King Live” as his political launching pad). Nothing came of this, but for awhile, Dave Culver was worried J.R. might run against him. When Dave questioned J.R.’s fitness for office (“All he knows about is oil!”), Ray reminded him about Jimmy Carter: “All he knew about was peanut farming.”

SUE ELLEN EWING (Linda Gray)

Sue Ellen Ewing

Sue Ellen is running for governor on TNT’s “Dallas,” despite the skeletons she stuffed in her closet during the original series. To recap: Sue Ellen was institutionalized for alcoholism; arrested for J.R.’s shooting; and embroiled in a series of ugly paternity suits, divorces and custody battles. Also, a drunken Sue Ellen was behind the wheel when Walt Driscoll smashed into J.R.’s car, and when J.R. was shot again, she did pull the trigger. The hits keep coming: Sue Ellen recently accepted a donation from sleazy Harris Ryland and blackmailed a coroner.

MISS ELLIE EWING FARLOW (Barbara Bel Geddes)

Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow

Miss Ellie never held office, but she was the only “Dallas”-ite who seemed to possess the political savvy needed to get things done. In her role as a leader of the civic-minded Daughters of the Alamo, she stopped high-rise apartments from being built in Mimosa Park (by the way, did Sue Ellen name that place?) and converted an abandoned building downtown into a homeless shelter. Ellie wasn’t afraid to get personal either: When Jock wanted to build a resort on Lake Takapa, she threatened to divorce him!

DONNA CULVER KREBBS (Susan Howard)

Donna Culver Krebbs

Donna was a go-to political gal: She advised stepson Dave Culver, served on the Texas Energy Commission and became an oil industry lobbyist. Like all good public servants, Donna strove for consistency: While she was married to Sam Culver, she began an affair with Ray Krebbs, then married Ray and began seeing Andrew Dowling (while pregnant with Ray’s child). Donna divorced Ray, gave birth to their daughter Margaret, married Dowling and moved to Washington – where she hopefully found the happy ending that eluded her in Dallas.

KAY LLOYD (Karen Kopins)

Kay Lloyd

When the feds discovered J.R. tried to blow up the Middle East to boost domestic oil prices (no, really), the Justice Department shut down Ewing Oil and prohibited the family from using the company name again. Bobby went to work reclaiming the name with help from Kay, a Dowling aide who lived a fabulous lifestyle (chauffered limousine, swanky apartment, designer duds) despite the meager salary she must’ve received as a Capitol Hill staffer. Bobby and Kay became an item, but the romance died when she wasn’t willing to move to Dallas. (Can you blame her?)

SENATOR HENRY HARRISON O’DELL (Howard Duff)

Henry Harrison O’Dell

To reclaim the Ewing Oil name, Bobby turned to Jock’s old friend O’Dell, a powerful senator who was eager to help – but only if Bobby agreed to buy him a retirement castle in Scotland. (It turned out O’Dell wasn’t fond of the unnamed state he represented, which he called a “mosquito-infested swamp.”) Bobby was reluctant to play O’Dell’s game until Kay told him that’s how Washington works. In the end, Bobby got the Ewing Oil name back, O’Dell got his castle – and hopefully, the senator’s constituents got a more honorable representative.

SENATOR “WILD BILL” ORLOFF (Norman Alden)

“Wild Bill” Orloff

State Senator Orloff was a friendly, backslapping good old boy who did just about anything the Ewings asked of him. Did his eagerness to please have anything to do with the fact the Ewings bought Orloff the house he shared with his pretty little wife Dorothy? Good-government crusader Cliff thought so. When J.R.’s disillusioned secretary/mistress Julie leaked a copy of the trust deed to Cliff, he exposed the Ewing-Orloff shenanigans and Orloff was forced to resign his seat. But he and Dorothy kept their house.

STEPHANIE ROGERS (Lesley-Anne Down)

Stephanie Rogers

When Cliff emerged as a public hero after leading an inquiry into an Exxon Valdez-style oil spill involving a Ewing Oil tanker (honestly, how did this company stay in business?), he toyed with the idea of running for governor. Enter Stephanie Rogers, the British-accented PR whiz who promised Cliff she would further polish his image and get him elected. When that didn’t happen, Cliff fired Stephanie, who disappeared faster than anyone could say, “Fake Alexis.”

GREG and ABBY SUMNER (William Devane, Donna Mills)

Greg and Abby Sumner

Sumner was a California state legislator running for U.S. Senate when Gary’s wife Abby offered him a campaign check from J.R. Sumner declined the money but won the seat, only to resign weeks later to go into business. Later, Sumner and Abby married and he went after an appointment as trade representative to Japan – which she got instead.

SHERIFF FENTON WASHBURN (Barry Corbin)

Fenton Washburn

Washburn was your stereotypical big-bellied Texas sheriff. Although the Ewings owned him, Washburn didn’t hesitate to exert his authority when the family ran afoul of the law: He arrested Jock for Hutch McKinney’s murder, hauled J.R. in for questioning in Kristin Shepard’s death and threatened to arrest Sue Ellen for manslaughter after the car accident that paralyzed Mickey Trotter. He responded slowly when Miss Ellie was kidnapped, which might explain why the next time the Ewings needed the police, there was a new sheriff in town: Burnside (Ken Swofford).

GOVERNOR MARK WHITE (Himself)

Mark White

White attended the 1985 Ewing Rodeo, giving him the distinction of being the only real-life politician to appear on “Dallas.” (Rival soap “Dynasty” once hosted Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger.) Of course, White’s cameo ended up being part of Pam’s dream, which might explain why his speech to the rodeogoers was so hilariously brief (“Thank you. Thank you. It’s really great to be with y’all up here today. Thank you.”). Think about it: a politician who limits public pronouncements to just 16 words? If that’s not a dream, I don’t know what is.

What has “Dallas” taught you about politics? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to the Ewing Oil Offices

John Ross (Josh Henderson) has stadium-sized ambitions, but can he run an office? (Photo credit: Zade Rosenthal/TNT)

Memorandum

To: John Ross Ewing III

From: Dallas Decoder

Re: Office space

Congratulations on leasing the old Ewing Oil office space! These are hallowed halls in American commerce; they’ll make a fine home for Ewing Energies, the joint venture you’ve formed with your cousin Christopher and true love Elena. Since those two became an item again (by the way: sorry about that, bro), you’ve probably been too distracted to think about getting your office up and running. Fear not. I have suggestions:

Will club soda get that out?

Carpeting? Don’t bother. Since you’re a Ewing, you probably want to furnish your space with luxurious carpeting, right? Resist the urge. People have a tendency to get maimed in these offices: Your daddy J.R. was shot in the hallway, Uncle Bobby was gunned down while sitting at J.R.’s desk and a dead CIA agent was once left in a guest chair (long story). Since bloodshed is inevitable, skip the carpeting and put down tile. Not as fancy, but much easier to clean.

How about a deal on a package tour?

Don’t chintz on the artwork. Take the money you’d spend on premium flooring and splurge on artwork instead. Frankly, this is an area where your daddy missed the mark. He hung cheap posters of Texas scenery on his office walls, giving the place a strip-mall travel agency vibe. Uncle Bobby was no better: His Southwestern decor made his office look like a Chili’s dining room. If those old furnishings are mothballed in the Southfork storage barn, leave them there.

Much better than talking to a wall

Bring back Grandaddy Jock’s portrait. On the other hand, if the iconic portrait of your granddaddy Jock is in that storage barn, by all means retrieve it, restore it and display it in the most prominent place you can find. Not only will this make a fitting tribute to the giant who founded the original Ewing empire, it’ll also provide a nice backdrop for the inevitable soliloquies you’ll be delivering about heritage, legacies, birthrights, et cetera.

Blinds spot

• Two words: “venetian blinds.” If you’re anything like your daddy (and I think we’ve established you two have a lot in common), you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time staring out your office window, contemplating your next double-cross and/or act of revenge. So consider hanging some venetian blinds. They’ll help create an appropriately moody atmosphere, especially during those late nights when you Ewings tend to hatch your most fiendish schemes.

Does he ever knock?

Lock your door! When your daddy worked out of these offices, angry people used to burst through his door at least once a day. Cliff Barnes, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Pam, various members of the cartel – they always blew in and threatened to “get back” at J.R. for some perceived slight or misdeed. Save yourself a lot of trouble and install a sturdy lock. Your secretary won’t have to play gatekeeper and and fewer uninvited guests mean fewer slammed doors.

Just file it away, honey

Speaking of secretaries. … This is another area where your daddy had problems. Julie leaked his top-secret “red file” to Cliff, Louella ran off and got married, your Aunt Kristin – well, you better let J.R. tell you about her. Then there was Sly: She spied on your daddy for Cliff and formed an alliance against J.R. with your half-brother James. (Don’t remember him? Good.) So before you hire an assistant, get advice from Uncle Bobby. He knew how to pick ’em!

Talk about efficiency

How about some bedding? Did J.R. ever tell you about Holly Goodhead, er, Harwood? She was a nice gal who inherited an oil company and didn’t have a clue how to run it, so J.R. kindly mentored her. (Swell guy, your dad!) Before long, Holly was running the company herself – out of her bedroom. As she told J.R., “As many oil deals are made in bedrooms as in boardrooms.” Since Ewings share this creed, why not put a bed next to your desk?

Knock it off, you two

Maybe a boxing ring too? Look, everyone knows you and Christopher are going to butt heads at the office – just like your daddy and Uncle Bobby did back in the day. So if your building doesn’t already have its own fitness center, for goodness sakes, consider adding an exercise room, a yoga studio, something – anything – that will give you boys a place to blow off steam. Trust me: You’re going to need it.

What advice would you give John Ross about his workspace? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to That Darned Barnes Family

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Revelations, TNT

Pamela redux

The Barneses are back: In “Revelations,” the first-season finale of TNT’s “Dallas,” we learned Rebecca Sutter Ewing is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Cliff’s daughter. Need a refresher on the rest of the Barneses? Here’s a look at who’s who, how they’re related to each other and the Ewings and some of their family traditions, including their penchant for interesting headgear and shooting people. Also listed: the actors who portrayed the characters on the two “Dallas” series.

The Elders

Dallas, David Wayne, Digger Barnes, Keenan Wynn

Double Diggers

• WILLARD “DIGGER” BARNES: Boozy wildcatter who claimed Jock Ewing cheated him out of his share of Ewing Oil and stole his girl, Miss Ellie. Liked hats. Remembered for two deathbed confessions: 1. He shot and killed wife Rebecca’s lover, Hutch McKinney; 2. McKinney was Pam’s real dad. Played by David Wayne and Keenan Wynn.

Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Barnes Wentworth

Runaway Rebecca

• REBECCA BARNES WENTWORTH: Digger’s wife and Cliff and Pam’s mama. After lover Hutch McKinney’s murder, ran away, became a secretary and married her boss, Houston tycoon Herbert Wentworth. Was believed dead for many years until Pam found her. Died (for real this time) from injuries sustained in a plane crash while waging corporate warfare against the Ewings. Favorite candy: black licoricePlayed by Priscilla Pointer and Victoria Principal (in a flashback).

Cliff’s Corner

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval

Presto-chango

• CLIFF BARNES: Digger and Rebecca’s son. Inherited mama’s money and daddy’s genetic disorder, hatred for Ewings. Unfortunate tendencies to pursue women involved with archenemy J.R., marry blondes to snag a piece of Ewing Oil. Frequent career-changer: lawyer-turned-politician-turned-bureaucrat-turned-prosecutor-turned-oilman-turned-evil mastermind. Regularly accused of murder and shooting Ewings, but known to have killed only one man: mobster Johnny Dancer. Sharp dresser. Favorite food: Chinese. Favorite activity: revenge. Played by Ken Kercheval.

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas

Steal her away

• AFTON COOPER: Sexy southern songbird who dreamed of a better life. Seduced J.R., then fell for Cliff. In-law to the Ewings: brother Mitch married and divorced Lucy, then married and divorced her again. After longing for someone to steal her away, Afton finally left town on her own carrying Cliff’s child, whom she named Pamela Rebecca. Married and divorced alcoholic gambler/con artist Harrison Van Buren III. Despite questionable taste in men, probably the smartest character among this bunch. Played by Audrey Landers.

Dallas, Jenna Pangburn, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT

Daddy’s girl

• PAMELA REBECCA BARNES: Cliff and Afton’s daughter. Like Aunt Katherine, broke up a relationship with forged correspondence (an e-mail). Like Aunt Pam, married a Ewing (Christopher). Like Granddaddy Digger and Daddy Cliff, shot and killed a man (ex-lover/fake brother/hat wearer Tommy Sutter). Pregnant with Ewing spawn. Played by Julie Gonzalo. Previously played by Jenna Pangburn.

Dallas, Faran Tahir, Frank Ashkani, TNT

Daddy’s boy

• FRANK ASHKANI: Real name: Raheed Durani. Cliff’s right hand/driver/designated disposer of dead bodies. Not a fan of Tommy Sutter. According to J.R.’s private eye Bum, Cliff plucked Frank off the streets of Islamabad 30 years ago and paid for his fancy education, nice wardrobe and – presumably – frequent trips to the barber. Sometimes referred to as “Smiling Frank.” Doesn’t actually smile. Played by Faran Tahir.

Pam’s Portion

Dallas, Margaret Michaels, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Pam-o-rama

• PAMELA BARNES EWING: Daughter of Rebecca Barnes Wentworth and lover Hutch McKinney; raised by Digger and Aunt Maggie Monahan. Super heroine. Suffered bouts of mental instability and at least one 31-hour nightmare. Occasional wearer of hats. Bad driver. Like her mama, abandoned her own family. Probably dead, but hopefully not. Played by Victoria Principal, Margaret Michaels and at least one heavily bandaged extra.

Bobby, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Ewing-in-law

• BOBBY EWING: Golden son. Fell in love with Pam and thought she was so nice, married her twice. Usually a supportive spouse, but not always. Not a fan of brother-in-law Cliff in the beginning, but eventually became his pal and made him a partner in Ewing Oil. The lingering warmth will probably fade when Bobby discovers Cliff is once again plotting against the Ewings. Additional potential complicating factor: new wife/gun fetishist Ann may or may not have had a one-night stand with Cliff in 1987. Played by Patrick Duffy.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Joshua Harris, TNT

Half-breed

• CHRISTOPHER EWING: Golden son’s golden son. Adopted, making marriage to cousin Rebecca Barnes only slightly less icky than it might be otherwise. May not have Barnes blood coursing through his veins, but inherited the family’s gun habit: as a boy, Christopher shot at John Ross. Dream meal: eggs and toast. Played by Jesse Metcalfe. Previously played by Eric Farlow and Joshua Harris.

The Wentworth Wing

Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

She’s all hat

• KATHERINE WENTWORTH: Herbert and Rebecca Wentworth’s daughter. Television journalist/Christopher’s babysitter/ultimate diva. Hated Cliff. Not a big Pam fan, either: wanted Bobby for herself, so Katherine broke up his first marriage to Pam with a forged letter. Later shot him. Known for visiting sick relatives in hospital and making threatening comments/trying to kill them while they sleep. Most amazing hat collection ever. Disliked tomato juice. Played by Morgan Brittany.

Monahan Members

Dallas, James Canning, Maggie Monahan, Philip Levien, Sarah Cunningham

The lost ones

• AUNT MAGGIE MONAHAN and COUSIN JIMMY MONAHAN: Maggie was Digger’s long-suffering sister who helped raise Cliff and Pam. Rocked hats with the best of them. Her son: Jimmy, the Chuck Cunningham/Judy Winslow of “Dallas.” After two appearances in 1978, never seen nor mentioned again. Aunt Maggie was played by Sarah Cunningham; Cousin Jimmy was played by James Canning and Philip Levien.

What do you remember about the Barneses? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”