Dallas Parallels: Turning Tables

Carter McKay, Dallas, Fran Kranz, George Kennedy, Hunter McKay, TNT

Who says you can’t beat a Ewing?

As the original “Dallas” neared its end, two Westar board members invited J.R. to become the company’s new chairman. J.R. found the offer too good to refuse, so he sold his share of Ewing Oil to Cliff Barnes and accepted the offer to join Westar — only to have the rug pulled out from under him by Carter McKay. In “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” J.R. discovered the Westar job was a ruse; Carter’s minions had dangled the offer in front of J.R. long enough for him to sell Ewing Oil, and then Carter snatched Westar away, leaving J.R. with nothing.

History repeated itself, sort of, as TNT’s “Dallas” sequel series drew to a close. Carter’s grandson Hunter encouraged J.R.’s son John Ross to take Ewing Global public, making shares of the company available to outside investors. In “Victims of Love,” Hunter, with help from partner-in-crime Nicolas Trevino, purchased all of Ewing Global’s shares during the company’s initial public offering — seizing control of John Ross’s company in a single swoop. Once again, a McKay had beaten a Ewing.

The parallels between these storylines aren’t perfect. Carter merely tricked J.R. into giving up Ewing Oil, while Hunter took over Ewing Global. Nevertheless, there are similarities between the scenes where J.R. and John Ross each realize the tables have been turned against them. Both sequences feature surprise reunions — J.R. and Dusty Farlow (!) in “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” Christopher and Hunter in “Victims of Love” — and J.R. and John Ross use similar language. J.R. to Carter: “You son of a bitch. You set me up.” John Ross to Hunter: “You and Nicolas were setting me up.” There are also important differences: cool-as-a-cucumber J.R. keeps a stiff upper lip after Carter’s victory, while hot-headed John Ross attacks Hunter.

It took a while, but J.R. eventually clawed his way back to power. Will John Ross do the same? More importantly, how long will we have to wait to see it?

 

‘You Son of a Bitch. You Set Me Up.’

Dallas, Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Like son

In “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” a 14th-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) is sitting at his office desk when Rose (Jeri Gaile) enters the room.

ROSE: Mind if I come in?

J.R.: What do you want?

ROSE: Thought maybe there was an office you wanted me to bug. [Looking around] Oh, this is nice. This is very nice. Oh, yes. I especially like your desk. [She sits on it and strokes the lamp.] It’s so … big. Use it much?

J.R.: How the hell did you get in here?

Carter (George Kennedy) enters.

CARTER: Your assistant seems to have vacated her post. Hello, J.R. Rose is right. It’s a very nice office.

J.R.: I thought you left Dallas for good.

CARTER: Only to find Rose. [Puts his arm around her] We decided to come back here for a while. Just to see how things were doing. [Sits in a chair]

J.R.: You heard, huh?

CARTER: Heard what?

J.R.: That I’m going to be the new chairman of the board of Westar. You come here to stop me?

CARTER: I did receive a few phone calls about it. Frankly, J.R., I think you’d make a terrible chairman of the board. [J.R. smiles.] I do have some affection for Westar. I’d hate to see you destroy it.

J.R.: Well, that’s too bad. Because I now have the voting rights. [Rose smiles coyly.]

CARTER: Oh, that’s right. Clayton gave them to you, didn’t he? They carry a lot of weight.

J.R.: [Chuckles] That’s an understatement.

CARTER: Maybe, but maybe the voting rights aren’t enough. Don’t you have to have the shares to go with them?

J.R.: Oh, don’t you worry about that. [Stands, moves from behind the desk] I’ll get ’em. In time, I’ll get them.

Dusty (Jared Martin) enters.

DUSTY: I wouldn’t be too sure of that, J.R.

CARTER: You do remember Dusty Farlow, don’t you?

J.R.: Like I remember athlete’s foot. Well, I don’t know what rock you had to turn over to find him, but those voting rights are legally mine.

DUSTY: You haven’t changed, have you? You’re still plottin’ and schemin’ and one-uppin’ everyone you can.

J.R.: [Chuckles] Well, some people are easier to one-up than others — as I’m sure you remember.

DUSTY: Oh, I remember J.R. Except this time, I don’t think your little schemes are going to work.

J.R.: You going to try to stop me?

DUSTY: I already have. You see, those shares were more trouble than they were worth. I was happy to sell them to Mac.

J.R.: [To Carter] You son of a bitch. You set me up.

CARTER: True, and I didn’t think it would be that easy. I’m the majority stockholder now, J.R., and tomorrow, I’m putting my own man in. And you can kiss your dreams of becoming chairman goodbye. [Rose blows him a kiss, and then she and Carter exit.]

DUSTY: So long, J.R. Give my regards to Sue Ellen. Oh, that’s right. I forgot. She dumped you. [He smiles and leaves.]

 

‘You and Nicholas Were Setting Me Up’

Dallas, John Ross, Josh Henderson, Victims of Love, TNT

Like father

In “Victims of Love,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Hunter (Fran Kranz) is in his apartment when he answers a knock at the door, revealing John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe)

HUNTER: John Ross, Christopher. What’s up guys?

CHRISTOPHER: Hunter, we were hoping to have a little chat.

HUNTER: Yeah, no problem, of course. Come on in. Come on. [The cousins follow him into the apartment, where he pauses a video game and picks up a beer bottle.] All right. Man, Christopher. It’s been a minute, huh? [Laughs] Last time I saw you must’ve been … high school. [He takes a potato chip from a bowl and eats it.]

JOHN ROSS: And last time you saw me, you and Nicholas were setting me up so that you could steal our company.

HUNTER: Whoa, guys, I-I-I don’t want there to be any hard feelings. It was all just business.

CHRISTOPHER: Except what you did was illegal. You see, we know the money you used came from the Mendez-Ochoa cartel.

HUNTER: I don’t know what you’re talking about. [Sips his beer]

JOHN ROSS: I think you do.

CHRISTOPHER: And we’re filing a suit with the SEC, and when we do, you’re going to find yourself in jail.

HUNTER: [Sets down his beer] Guys, let’s just be honest. If you already had proof of where that money came from, you wouldn’t be standing in my apartment. [Chuckles] I think I win.

CHRISTOPHER: [To John Ross] Let’s go. [They turn and head for the door.]

HUNTER: You know, John Ross, Nicolas wasn’t so sure you’d take the bait. But then I told him how J.R. fell for a similar move when my grandfather tricked him into giving up Ewing Oil. That’s sort of poetic justice, right? You losing your company the same way your daddy did?

John Ross lunges for Hunter and grabs him by his sweatshirt.

CHRISTOPHER: John Ross!

JOHN ROSS: We’re going to find out where that money came from, McKay, and when we do, you’re finished!

CHRISTOPHER: [Pulls John Ross away] Let’s go! Come on.

What do you think of the Ewings’ losses to the McKays? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Caught!

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tangled Webs, Where There's Smoke, TNT

History repeats itself during “Dallas’s” third season when Pamela finds John Ross cheating with Emma. It’s not unlike the classic scene from the original show’s sixth year, when Sue Ellen walks in on J.R. in bed with Holly. There’s one major difference, of course: Sue Ellen flees the scene of J.R.’s crime in tears — unlike the smiling Pamela, who joins John Ross and his mistress in a shocking threesome.

Why do J.R. and John Ross cheat? Both men justify their extramarital activities by claiming they sleep around for business, and in J.R.’s case, it might be that cut and dry. He treats Holly as nothing  more than a pawn in his quest to beat Bobby in the contest for control of Ewing Oil. Similarly, John Ross begins his affair with Emma to gain access to Ryland Transport’s shipping fleet, although he comes to genuinely care for Emma, even risking his life to rescue her when she’s kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel.

No matter the reason for their behavior, J.R. and John Ross are both humbled by their actions. After Sue Ellen catches J.R. with Holly, she falls off the wagon and is almost killed while driving drunk. Meanwhile, Pamela’s discovery that John Ross is cheating prompts her to overdose on pills — an ill-conceived attempt at revenge that almost costs Pamela her life.

Two scenes show J.R. and John Ross coming face to face with the consequences of their choices. In the 1983 episode “Penultimate,” J.R. sits on Sue Ellen’s bed, apologizes and begs for forgiveness. It’s similar to the scene in the 2014 episode “Dead Reckoning,” when John Ross sits near Pamela’s hospital bed and makes a similar declaration. Larry Hagman and Josh Henderson’s performances are also similar: J.R. tells Sue Ellen he’s sorry and stumbles over his words (“I can’t, I can’t tell you how sorry I am”), then concludes by saying, “I truly love you.” John Ross also trips over his words (“I will, I will be different”) after telling Pamela, “Look, I love you, okay?”

It’s somewhat startling to hear J.R. and John Ross pour out their hearts like this. Both scenes leave “Dallas” fans wondering what’s more shocking: seeing these master manipulators caught with their pants down, or seeing them caught being human?

 

‘I Truly Love You’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Penultimate

A game?

In “Penultimate,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters his bedroom, where Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) sits in the bed.

SUE ELLEN: I waited up to talk to you.

J.R.: All right.

SUE ELLEN: I want you to explain to me why this nightmare happened.

J.R.: [Walks toward the bed] Sue Ellen, it was a terrible, terrible mistake.

SUE ELLEN: Mistake? If you wanted to be with other women, why didn’t you just go ahead and do it, instead of playing this silly charade?

J.R.: What charade?

SUE ELLEN: Our marriage, J.R. Why did you want me to marry you again? Why did you chase me like you did? Do you find some kind of perverse pleasure in hurting me?

J.R.: You know I don’t want to hurt you, Sue Ellen. [Sits on the bed]

SUE ELLEN: Then what is it? Is it the game? Is that what it’s all about, J.R.?

J.R.: What happened between Holly and —

SUE ELLEN: [Shouting] Stop it! Stop it! I don’t want to hear any more from you!

J.R.: Listen to me, please. I can’t, I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened. But I promise you it was a direct result of the battle for Ewing Oil. Winning the company means everything to me. When we got married, the second time, I vowed I would never hurt you again. But things got out of hand, Sue Ellen — and I don’t blame you for hating me. But I hope you can reach down in your heart and believe me when I say that I love you. [She closes her eyes and turns away.] I truly love you.

 

‘I Love You, Okay?’

Dallas, Dead Reckoning, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

An excuse?

In “Dead Reckoning,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) enters the hospital room, where Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) sits in bed, waiting for him.

JOHN ROSS: I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t want to be the guy that … I don’t want to be the guy that could have done this to you. I know it’s going to be hard for me to convince you of that right now. All I can do is try to prove it to you, every single day of my life. [Sits on the bed] Pamela, I’m so sorry. For everything.

PAMELA: I didn’t call you in here so you can try to fix us, John Ross. I called you in here to tell you to stop sitting out there, because it’s over.

JOHN ROSS: Pamela, don’t say that.

PAMELA: Look, I spent my entire childhood trying to get my father to love me. And all I’ve done in my adult life was continue that pattern by falling for a man who would put greed and ambition before me. And just like with my father, I was willing to do anything to get you to love me, John Ross. But I see now: Our marriage was just an excuse to get my shares of Ewing Global. You didn’t put your mother away to get her help, but to push the IPO through. I see now that there will never enough success, enough money, to fill that hole where your heart should be.

JOHN ROSS: Pamela, please. Look, I love you, okay? I swear, from now on it’s going to be different, okay? [Voice cracks] I will be different. I will, I will be different for you. I’ll be different. I promise.

PAMELA: You ask me what I want. I want you to leave because our marriage is over.

Did J.R. and John Ross deserve forgiveness? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: The Puppeteer

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, TNT

Cliff Barnes may be “Dallas’s” biggest loser, but give the devil his due: He has a knack for pulling the strings of women who’ve been wronged by J.R. Ewing.

On TNT’s “Dallas,” after the Ewings framed Cliff (Ken Kercheval) for J.R.’s “murder,” he summoned Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) to his Mexican jail cell and made a shocking revelation: J.R. once swindled Elena’s father out of oil-rich land. After Elena confirmed Cliff’s claims, she accepted his offer to help him get out of jail and join forces against the Ewings — an alliance Elena came to regret after it triggered a chain of tragedies that included the deaths of brother Drew and true love Christopher.

Elena — perhaps the new “Dallas’s” smartest character at one time — became the latest in a long line of ladies who foolishly sought revenge against J.R. by getting into bed with Cliff (only figuratively in Elena’s case, thank heavens). Cliff previously manipulated Sue Ellen, Julie Grey and Afton Cooper, although the strongest parallel between him and Elena might be his relationship with Mandy Winger (Deborah Shelton). During the original show’s ninth season, after Cliff stunned Mandy by telling her that J.R. was sleeping with Angelica Nero — cheating on his mistress with another woman, the nerve! — Mandy agreed to spy on J.R. for Cliff.

The scene where Many and Cliff form their alliance is not unlike the one between Cliff and Elena 29 years later: Each woman sits across a table from Cliff and tells him she’s confirmed his claims, and then she expresses anger over J.R.’s betrayal and declares she’s ready to fight back. Later, Mandy’s scheme spirals out of control — especially after she flushes expensive jewelry from J.R. down the toilet — and she ends up feeling guilty and disillusioned, just like Elena does many years later.

The parallels aren’t perfect, of course. Unlike Mandy, who makes J.R. the target of her revenge, Elena decides to make all the Ewings pay for J.R.’s sins. Also, only Mandy’s story has resolution: She eventually draws the wrath of Sue Ellen, who forces her to leave town.

I can’t help but wonder: How many “Dallas” fans wish they could have seen Sue Ellen do the same thing to Elena?

 

‘J.R.’s Betrayed Me for the Last Time’

Curiosity Killed the Cat, Dallas, Deborah Shelton

Seeking revenge

In “Curiosity Killed the Cat,” a ninth-season “Dallas” episode, Mandy (Deborah Shelton) sits across from Cliff (Ken Kercheval) at a sidewalk cafe.

MANDY: I went to Angelica Nero’s hotel last night and waited. It was 5 o’clock in the morning when J.R. came out.

CLIFF: He didn’t see you, did he?

MANDY: [Shakes her head no] When he came over to my place this morning, I asked if he’d worked very late. He said he was back at Southfork by 11. You were right, Cliff. Sue Ellen was right. Everyone was right.

CLIFF: I’m sorry you had to find out this way. But since you did, are you ready to take me up on my offer?

MANDY: [Determined] Yes. You just tell me what you want me to do. J.R.’s betrayed me for the last time. Now it’s my turn.

 

‘His Betrayal Cost My Father His Life’

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Return, TNT

Seeking justice

In “The Return,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Elena (Jordana Brewster) sits across from Cliff in a Mexican jail cell.

ELENA: I don’t like you. You’re scheming. [Sighs] But I researched the land records. What you told me is true. J.R. switched my father’s land with a worthless deed. His betrayal cost my father his life. I came back here to accept your offer to be your proxy at Barnes Global.

CLIFF: Good. I spent my life building that company. I’d be loath to think that the Ewings could destroy it before I get out of prison.

ELENA: You’re getting out?

CLIFF: Yeah. And you’re going to help me.

ELENA: Why would I do that?

CLIFF: Because you want to hold real power over that family. And to do that, you need leverage — leverage in the way of evidence that they framed me for J.R.’s murder. My plane, without me in it, was moved to Nuevo Laredo the night that J.R. was killed. And that American woman in Nuevo Laredo — the dancer, Rhonda Simmons or something — you know, she lied to say that I was in the club when I wasn’t. And the gun that killed J.R. they stole out of my locker at the gun range. Together, we can take back Barnes Global, and then Southfork. Take from them what’s most important — what they took from us. But I need to know that you have the strength to exact revenge.

ELENA: They kicked me out of a company I helped start. They took away my oil leases. They accused me of helping my brother when they would have done the same to help their own, and now all this? I’ll find the strength — because I’m not thinking of this as revenge. I am thinking of this as justice.

What do you think of Cliff’s manipulation of Mandy and Elena? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Masterpieces

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

The deaths of Jock and J.R. Ewing produced some of the saddest moments in “Dallas” history. From a creative standpoint, the two deaths also stand as high watermarks for the franchise, although I’m sure everyone involved — the people behind the scenes, the performers in front of the camera, the fans watching at home — wish neither storyline had been necessary.

The original “Dallas” wrote Jock out of the show when Jim Davis died of cancer in 1981; TNT’s sequel show killed off J.R. when Larry Hagman, also a cancer victim, died in 2012. Wisely, neither series considered recasting the roles, choosing instead to honor Davis and Hagman by incorporating their deaths into the storylines.

The old show laid the groundwork for Jock’s departure by having the government recruit him off-screen for a trade mission to “South America” to help an unidentified country develop its oil industry. (Foreign locales on the 1980s “Dallas” are almost always vague.) For several episodes, the Ewings are shown talking to Jock on the phone or receiving letters from him — until the 1982 Southfork barbecue, when Miss Ellie receives the fateful call informing her that Jock’s helicopter has crashed in the jungle. J.R., Bobby and Ray go to the crash site hoping to find Jock, but the only thing they bring home is his lion’s head medallion, which Bobby discovers at the bottom of the lake where the chopper went down.

After Hagman’s death, TNT’s “Dallas” sent J.R. to Abu Dhabi, where he was said to be negotiating oil leases for Ewing Energies, the family’s newest business. The producers then recycled recent footage and dialogue from Hagman to create a scene in which J.R. makes a final phone call to John Ross. After expressing his pride in the younger man and telling him that he’s his son “from tip to tail,” J.R. looks stunned as two gunshots ring out. The next time we see John Ross, he’s with Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher aboard a Ewing helicopter as it flies to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where the police say they’ve found J.R.’s dead body in a faded hotel room. The Ewings refuse to believe the evidence until they go to the morgue and confirm the sad truth: J.R. is gone.

The parallels are clear: Jock and J.R. both die away from home, and both of their families race to foreign terrain, hoping against hope that the men are still alive. The way the Ewings handle the deaths are also similar: When Jock dies, J.R. slips into a depression, leaving Bobby to play the role of the supportive younger sibling; it’s not unlike John Ross’s funk at J.R.’s memorial service and funeral, where Christopher offers his older cousin much-needed moral support. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen’s tearful eulogy at J.R.’s gravesite evokes memories of Miss Ellie’s moving tribute to Jock at the first Oil Baron’s Ball held after his death.

There are also similarities between Jock’s will and the scheme that J.R leaves his family to execute after his death. Both are essentially war plans: Jock’s will pits J.R. and Bobby against each other in a battle to determine which man is best suited to run Ewing Oil, while J.R.’s “masterpiece” is a blueprint to defend the family’s empire from Cliff Barnes’s latest attack. Despite the differences, both storylines end with a similar twist: It turns out the war plans are really peace plans.

In the classic episode “Check and Mate,” as the contest for Ewing Oil concludes, Jock’s friend Punk Anderson reads a letter in which the Ewing patriarch reveals the contest wasn’t really about determining which brother is a superior businessman; the goal was to show the men that they need each other. “If you just took the same energy you use to fight each other and went to work side by side, there’d be no limit to what you’d be able to accomplish in the future,” Jock wrote.

Thirty years later, in the TNT episode “Legacies,” Bobby reads J.R.’s last letter, which reveals the true purpose of his masterpiece was to end the Ewings’ long-running battle with the Barneses — a fight J.R. helped perpetuate. “The feud Digger Barnes started with our family caused more heartbreak than either of us has time to recount. Well, I guess you do have the time. Use it. Put an end to this feud, once and for all,” J.R. wrote.

There’s something poignant about the idea that J.R., “Dallas’s” ultimate warrior, died while trying to bring peace to his family. And what lengths he went to! It turned out he was dying of cancer and arranged for his loyal private eye Bum to shoot him so his “murder” could be pinned on Cliff. Some “Dallas” fans have questioned J.R.’s tactics — will framing Cliff really end the Barnes-Ewing feud? — but is it any less logical than Jock’s attempt to make his sons get along by pitting them against each other? “Dallas” purists also see J.R.’s sacrifice as an example of TNT’s historical revisionism — he lived like a villain but died a hero — but I like the idea that Hagman’s character “grew” in old age and became more willing to put his family’s needs above his own.

Besides, not all revisionism is a bad thing. Remember the painting of J.R. that Bobby, Sue Ellen and John Ross hung in the Ewing Energies office at the end of the second season? The portrait, which is seen above, seemed destined to become TNT’s version of the old show’s painting of Jock, except many “Dallas” fans instantly despised the impressionistic style that production designer Richard Berg used to render J.R. Well, good news: For Season 3, Berg has produced a better, more realistic version — one that’s much more befitting a hero.

 

‘Look at Each Other as Family’

Dallas, Check and Mate, Morgan Woodard, Punk Anderson

Daddy’s decree

In “Check and Mate,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Punk (Morgan Woodward) reads aloud Jock’s letter as J.R. (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Harv (George O. Petrie) listen.

PUNK: “Bobby, J.R.: By the time you hear these words, a year will have passed since I died. Now I know you two never had been able to work together, but in throwing you against each other as I decided to do, I will have been able to prove a point. I’m convinced that the fight for Ewing Oil will bring out the best in both of you and that when you add up your two halves of the company, you’ll find that together, you’ll have taken Ewing Oil to the heights of success and profitability. Boys, if nothing else, this battle should teach you to respect one another as businessmen and as adversaries. I don’t care which of you ends up with the higher profit number. I truly don’t. My deepest wish is that, at the end of this year, you two will have learned that you’re far better off together than apart and if you just took the same energy you use to fight each other and went to work side by side, there’d be no limit to what you’d be able to accomplish in the future. Sons, that was the purpose of your contest. Not to make one of you a winner and the other a loser. It was to make you look at each other as family. I know that’s what your mom would want, and that’s what I want too. J.R., Bobby, do it without me. For your mama’s sake and mine, put your arms around each other and work that company like brothers.”

 

‘Put an End to this Feud’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Legacies, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Brother’s behest

In “Legacies,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) reads aloud J.R.’s letter as John Ross (Josh Henderson), Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and Bum (Kevin Page) listen.

BOBBY: “Bobby, Doctors say I’ve only got a few days left. Damn cancer. I should have told you earlier, but you know how I detest pity. The feud Digger Barnes started with our family caused more heartbreak than either of us has time to recount. Well, I guess you do have the time. Use it. Put an end to this feud, once and for all. I had Bum steal Cliff’s gun. That malignant little troll Barnes comes to Mexico every year for a Marlin fishing competition. I’m going to damn well stay alive long enough to be here when he arrives. Carlos del Sol will smooth out the rough edges in Mexico for you. And talk to Bum. He’s the final and most important piece of the puzzle. And the best friend I didn’t deserve to have. So remember the time that you got grounded for ‘borrowing’ Daddy’s favorite shotgun? You swore up and down it wasn’t you but Daddy said there was no point in lying because he found those extra shells in your room. Well, we both know it was me who planted those shells. Now it’s time to play that card again. I can …. [Bobby breaks down, and Christopher finishes reading the letter.]

CHRISTOPHER: “I can never make up for all the terrible, hurtful things I did to you, Bobby. And I have no excuses either one of us will believe. But I hope in the quiet place in your heart, where the truth lives, that my jealousy, as powerful as it was, was nothing compared to my love for you. Goodbye, baby brother. I guess I’ll be duck hunting with Daddy. I’ll tell him I was the one who borrowed his gun.”

How do you feel about Jock and J.R.’s peace plans? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Dallas Parallels - O Mother, Where Art Thou? 1

If Christopher’s search for Pam on TNT’s “Dallas” reminded you of Pam’s search for Rebecca on the original series, you’re not alone. There are several similarities between the two storylines — and also one big difference, reminding us how history never repeats itself exactly, even on “Dallas.”

This one is kind of complicated, so let’s take it from the top. Pam grew up believing her mother, Rebecca Barnes, died when she and her brother Cliff were children. Many years later, when Pam and Cliff’s daddy Digger died, Pam realized there was no record of Rebecca’s demise, so she hired private eye John Mackey to find out what happened to her mother. Pam was shocked when Mackey told her Rebecca was still alive; according to his investigation, when Pam and Cliff were kids, Rebecca ran away, changed her name to Rebecca Burke and married Houston industrialist Herbert Wentworth. Pam went to the Wentworth mansion to confront Rebecca, who initially denied that she was Pam’s mom. Eventually, Rebecca fessed up — it seems she abandoned her family because she was miserable being married to Digger — and Pam forgave her.

History began to repeat itself when Victoria Principal left “Dallas” in 1987. Despite the pain Rebecca’s abandonment caused Pam, the writers explained Pam’s departure by having her leave Bobby and Christopher after she was badly burned in a car accident. One year later, the producers brought Pam back for a single scene — this time played by Margaret Michaels — when Cliff tracked her down in Houston and begged her to come home. Pam rejected Cliff’s invitation, explaining that she had moved on with her life. Only after Cliff left the room did the audience learn the truth: Pam only had months to live and wanted to spare Bobby, Christopher and Cliff the pain of having to watch her die. Who knew Pam was such a martyr?

Of course, the audience never saw Pam die, so fans like me spent years clinging to the hope that Principal would one day reprise the role. Finally, the second season of TNT’s “Dallas” seemed to lay the groundwork for the second coming of Pam Ewing — and in a nice touch, the storyline echoed the past. Consider: Digger’s death prompted Pam to embark on her search for Rebecca. Thirty-three years later, Christopher began his hunt for Pam after another death in the family: the murder of his Uncle J.R., who was shot and killed while trying to track down Pam, hoping to persuade her to help stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings.

This is where the similarities begin to mount: Christopher, picking up where J.R.’s search left off, discovered Pam had changed her name to Patricia Barrett — just like Pam learned the presumed-dead Rebecca Barnes had adopted the identity of Rebecca Burke. Meanwhile, Christopher’s obsession with finding Pam started to strain his relationship with his fiancée Elena, who was distracted by her brother Drew’s role in the Ewing Energies rig explosion. It wasn’t unlike the situation Pam once found herself in, when her preoccupation with finding Rebecca took its toll on her marriage to Bobby, who was distracted by his brother J.R.’s role in the Ewing 23 explosion.

More parallels: In the TNT episode “Guilt by Association,” Christopher sat in a car and watched the Zurich home where Pam supposedly lived; the shot was reminiscent of the scene in the classic episode “The Prodigal Mother” where Pam and Mackey (Richard Herd) staked out Rebecca’s Houston residence. Also: Christopher learned Pam had married her plastic surgeon, David Gordon, just like Rebecca had wed Herbert Wentworth. And when Christopher rushed into the Gordon home to confront Pam, he was crushed to hear the good doctor say his wife didn’t want to see her son — just like Pam was devastated when she entered the Wentworth mansion and Rebecca rejected her.

This brings us to the point where the two storylines diverge. On the original show, after Rebecca denied Pam, she felt guilty and went to see her daughter in Dallas, where the two women sat on a park bench and Rebecca tearfully told Pam that she was, in fact, her mother. Poor Christopher never got a park-bench scene on the TNT series. Instead, he learned an uglier truth: Cliff had paid Gordon to lie and say Pam had changed her name and married Gordon because as long as everyone believed Pam was alive, Christopher couldn’t inherit her shares of Barnes Global. Who knew Cliff was such a monster?

Christopher’s search concluded on a heartbreaking note, but it’s probably the only ending that makes sense. Principal has made it clear she isn’t interested in playing Pam again — and recasting the part was out of the question since “Dallas” fans don’t have a history of welcoming new performers in iconic roles. (See “Reed, Donna”) Besides, even if Principal was willing to return, how could the show have justified Pam’s decision to stay away from her family for more than 25 years? Please don’t tell me Katherine has kept her locked up in a dungeon all this time.

As far as I’m concerned, TNT showrunner Cynthia Cidre fixed one of the old “Dallas’s” biggest blunders — the ham-handed writing surrounding Principal’s 1987 exit — and redeemed Pam by revealing that she was, in fact, trying to come home to Bobby and Christopher when she died. It’s sad, I know. But at least we have closure. How often does that happen on “Dallas”?

 

‘I Want to See Her’

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Prodigal Mother, Victoria Principal

Calm?

In “The Prodigal Mother,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) walks briskly into her bedroom, followed by Bobby (Patrick Duffy).

BOBBY: Honey, you’re all wound up. You hardly touched your dinner. Don’t leave tonight. Wait till morning.

PAM: Bobby, I’ve waited all my life to see this woman. [Retrieves a suitcase from the closet, sets it on the bed, unzips it]

BOBBY: Well, it would be better for her if you saw her when you were calmer. And what if Mackey made a mistake? And even if he didn’t, she might not be the kind of woman that you think she is.

PAM: I don’t care what kind of woman she is. My mother’s alive. I want to see her.

BOBBY: I just wish I could go with you.

PAM: Well, I’m sure the airline would sell you a ticket. [Begins packing]

BOBBY: Honey, I can’t leave now. You know that. Not with the wells still on fire. I’ve got Scotty Hawthorne flying in here with a crack fire-shooting crew. There’s too much going on for me to leave.

PAM: There always is lately.

BOBBY: Now wait a minute. You know what Ewing 23 means to us.

PAM: Means to you, not to us.

BOBBY: Honey, I have to be here to make sure that nothing else goes wrong.

PAM: Look, Bobby, I understand. I don’t want to burden you with my problems, okay?

BOBBY: Will you be home by Wednesday?

PAM: Probably. Why?

BOBBY: It’s this fundraising thing for Dave Culver. Daddy would like us to be there.

PAM: Oh, well. I’ll be home then. I wouldn’t want to disappoint your family.

 

‘All I Want From Her Now Are Her Shares’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt by Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Ready?

In “Guilt By Association,” Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) enters his hotel room as Elena (Jordana Brewster) is ending a phone call to Drew.

CHRISTOPHER: Hey.

ELENA: [Begins unpacking] Hey.

CHRISTOPHER: Who were you talking to?

ELENA: Oh, it was my mom. She wanted to make sure we landed safely. How’d it go?

CHRISTOPHER: My mother’s bank account is registered to her home address, a man by the name of David Gordon. Apparently, he’s an American. Used to be a plastic surgeon.

ELENA: Do you think Pamela lives there?

CHRISTOPHER: There’s only one way to find out. I’m headed over now. [Puts on his coat]

ELENA: Christopher, are you sure you’re prepared for this? Because if there’s anything —

CHRISTOPHER: I’m fine. [Turns away, looks out the window]

ELENA: You haven’t seen your mother in over 25 years. You must be feeling something.

CHRISTOPHER: [Turns toward her] Actually, I’m not. Because the woman I’m about to see ceased to be my mother the day she abandoned me.

ELENA: You keep saying that.

CHRISTOPHER: Because it’s the truth.

ELENA: But after all this time, don’t you want an explanation?

CHRISTOPHER: All I want from her now are her shares so I can take down Cliff. [Grabs his bag] Wish me luck.

ELENA: Good luck. [Kisses him goodbye]

How do you feel about Pam’s search for Rebecca and Christopher’s search for Pam? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Women on the Edge

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pam Ewing, Pamela Barnes, Victoria Principal, TNT

Pam Ewing, the original “Dallas’s” heroine, and Pamela Barnes, her namesake niece on TNT’s sequel series, have more than a name in common. Both women 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 both of them to the edge — literally.

Pam’s quest to become a mother is a recurring theme of “Dallas’s early years. She and Bobby are overjoyed when they discover she’s pregnant at the end of the first season, but their parental dreams are dashed when Pam falls from the hayloft and suffers a miscarriage. She gets pregnant again at the beginning of Season 3, only to lose that child during another ranching mishap. Pam shifts her focus to her career, but when Sue Ellen leaves Southfork and takes John Ross with her at the beginning of Season 5, Pam’s memories of her miscarriages resurface.

Pam soon slips into a deep depression, alarming Bobby. At one point, he goes to visit his wife at The Store, the luxury retailer where she works, only to find her sitting in the baby department, holding a music box and lost in her thoughts. Then, in “The Sweet Smell of Revenge,” Pam goes to the roof of a tall building and contemplates jumping off. Bobby rescues her and brings her home to Southfork, where he urges her to get psychiatric help. “Honey, I’m worried about you,” he says.

Pamela has similar experiences on TNT’s “Dallas,” although the echoes are faint. Not long after she marries Christopher, the son that Bobby and Pam eventually adopted, Pamela becomes pregnant with twins. When Christopher discovers Pamela has been keeping some big secrets from him — namely, that she’s Cliff’s daughter and Christopher’s cousin — he divorces her, leaving her to take up with another one of his cousins, John Ross. Then the unthinkable happens: Cliff engineers the explosion of a Ewing Energies rig with Pamela and the Ewings aboard, causing her to lose her unborn children.

“Let Me In,” one of the new show’s second-season episodes, chronicles the emotional fallout from Pamela’s miscarriage. The hour opens with alternating shots of Christopher tearing down the nursery at Southfork while Pamela decorates the room she had set aside for the babies in her home. The montage ends with her sitting alone in the room, holding a stuffed animal and wearing a blank expression — not unlike Pam’s scene in The Store’s baby department. Later, John Ross comes to Pamela’s penthouse and finds her sitting on the balcony, entranced. She isn’t suicidal, but it nonetheless brings to mind Pam standing atop the tall building. (Indeed, “Let Me In” scriptwriter Aaron Allen has said he took inspiration for this scene not from “Dallas,” but from the 1985 film “St. Elmo’s Fire.”) In the next scene, John Ross brings Pamela inside and expresses his concern for her (“We are all worried about you”), just like Bobby did with Pam after her breakdown.

The question is: Will the parallels end here? On the original show, after Bobby and Pam adopt Christopher, she recovers her mojo, although her maternal struggles continue to haunt her. When Bobby briefly reunites with old flame Jenna Wade and impregnates her, Pam must learn to live with the fact that her husband will have a child with another woman.

Now that Pamela is married to the adulterous John Ross, we wonder: Will she soon find herself following in Aunt Pam’s footsteps yet again?

 

‘Honey, I’m Worried About You’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Sweet Smell of Revenge

Let him help

In “The Sweet Smell of Revenge,” a fifth-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) sits in his bedroom reading a newspaper while Pam (Victoria Principal) sleeps on the bed.

PAM: [Awakens] Bobby?

BOBBY: Yeah, honey?

PAM: I’m sorry.

BOBBY: Oh, don’t worry. How do you feel?

PAM: [Pause] All right.

BOBBY: [Sets down his paper, moves to the bed and sits near her] Pam, we got to talk.

PAM: I know.

BOBBY: About you, about the future.

PAM: I know.

BOBBY: I spoke to Dr. Conrad. She said she already talked to you about voluntary commitment to Brooktree.

PAM: Yes, she did.

BOBBY: Well, she wanted to know how I felt, and I said I wanted what was best for you. She said that, at the present, she thinks that is the best. And with 24-hour-a-day care, you could overcome your problems a lot sooner.

PAM: Because you think I should be watched in case I try to kill myself again?

BOBBY: Pam, that’s not what I said.

PAM: But that’s what you meant.

BOBBY: Honey, I’m worried about you, and I care about you, and I don’t want what happened before to happen again. Now, if it’s going to be better — or safer — for you to be at Brooktree for a time, time enough to overcome this depression, then that’s what I want … for you. [Silence] Pam?

PAM: [Closes her eyes] I’m tired.

BOBBY: [Sighs] Well, you think about it, all right?

She nods.

 

‘We Are All Worried About You’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Let Me In, TNT

Let him in

In “Let Me In,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) finds Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) sitting on the balcony of her apartment, brings her back inside and sits with her on the sofa.

JOHN ROSS: Where’s Afton? I thought your mother was taking care of you.

PAMELA: [Looking away] I sent her home … last week.

JOHN ROSS: Why’d you lie to me? [Silence] I think you should not be alone right now, Pamela.

PAMELA: I don’t care.

JOHN ROSS: Where’s your father?

PAMELA: Somewhere, making some deal. He sent me flowers.

JOHN ROSS: When was the last time you ate?

PAMELA: [Looks at him] Why are you here?

JOHN ROSS: I’m here because we are all worried about you. And I ain’t going anywhere until I know that you’re okay.

PAMELA: You’ll be here a long time.

JOHN ROSS: I’m going to go make you some tea. [Rises and exits as she closes her eyes]

How do you feel about Pam and Pamela’s painful losses? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Breaking Bad

Bobby Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Crash of 83, Dallas, Ewings Unite, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy

On “Dallas,” J.R. and John Ross are the bad guys and Bobby and Christopher are the good guys, right? Not always.

During the original show’s sixth season, when Jock’s will pits J.R. and Bobby against each other in a contest for control of Ewing Oil, Bobby becomes obsessed with beating his oldest brother. Bobby’s preoccupation is rooted in his longstanding desire to please his daddy, but he also wants to ensure his newly adopted son Christopher doesn’t lose his share of the Ewing empire.

At one point, Bobby finds himself using J.R.’s own tricks against him when he hires a prostitute to frame George Hicks, a corrupt government official whom J.R. has bribed in a complicated scheme to get a leg up in the contest. Of course, this is Bobby Ewing we’re talking about, so his trickery ends up taking its toll on his conscience. After Hicks tells Bobby that he’s “just as dirty” as J.R., Bobby comes home to Pam and confesses his sins. Unfortunately for him, Pam isn’t very sympathetic. “You would do anything to beat J.R. Anything!” she screams.

Flash forward to 2013. When J.R. dies, Cliff tries to steal Christopher’s deal to fuel the city’s municipal fleet, prompting Christopher to break bad, just like Bobby did three decades earlier. Christopher frames Alison Jones, the government official in charge of the contract, by arranging for John Ross to seduce her while Bum secretly photographs the encounter. After Christopher confronts Alison with the incriminating pictures, he goes home and reveals his scheme to Elena, who is aghast to discover the man she loves has stooped to blackmail. “Is this how you keep peace in the family — by turning into John Ross?” she shouts.

This scene bears more than a passing resemblance to the earlier version with Bobby and Pam. Before Bobby confesses his sins to Pam, he knocks back a glass of booze, just like Christopher does at the beginning of his conversation with Elena. Both scenes also depict the women decrying her man’s loss of morality. (Pam: “The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else.” Elena: “Christopher, you’re the most decent man I know and now you’re blackmailing people.”) The two scenes are also staged similarly, with both couples conversing in the bedroom they share at Southfork.

There’s also a major difference between the two sequences: Although Bobby tries to justify his actions to Pam, it’s pretty clear he’s consumed with guilt — unlike Christopher, who seems rather boastful about his blackmail scheme. Perhaps this is because Christopher’s motivation differs from his father’s. While Bobby wants to win the contest because he sees victory as a means of honoring Jock and preserving his son’s inheritance, Christopher seems to see his victory as a form of self-validation. As he tells Elena, “I’m not going to apologize for winning.”

It’s also worth pointing out that neither Bobby nor Christopher are squeaky clean in the first place: During the original “Dallas’s” fourth season, Bobby turns the tables on Sally Bullock when she cooks up an insurance scam with J.R. Similarly, during the TNT show’s first season, when Christopher uncovers video of John Ross and Marta del Sol’s tryst, he tries to blackmail him into ratting out J.R.’s role in the plot to seize Southfork.

The question is: What happens next? After Bobby’s ventures into dark territory during the 1980s, he returns to the straight and narrow, with only a few detours in the ensuing years. (See “Master plan, J.R.’s”). Christopher, on the other hand, seems poised for an extended stay on the dark side — if the promos for the TNT show’s third season are any indication, that is.

 

‘You Would Do Anything to Beat J.R.’

Crash of '83, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Unsympathetic

In “Crash of ’83,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, a sullen Bobby (Patrick Duffy) enters his bedroom late at night and sits in a chair while Pam (Victoria Principal) reads in bed.

PAM: [Unsympathetic] You look terrible.

BOBBY: Nothing like a celebration to really depress me.

PAM: I don’t understand.

BOBBY: You know that guy, Hicks? On Donna’s commission? J.R. had him bought and paid for. And I pulled a little number on him.

PAM: [Concerned] What do you mean?

BOBBY: I got down in the mud, honey. Just like I said I could. I forced him to change his vote on the variance.

PAM: What did you do?

BOBBY: I blackmailed him. I feel so dirty. [Rests his head in his hand]

PAM: [Puts down her book, leans forward] What do you want from me? Sympathy? Because you’re not going to get it.

BOBBY: Pam, I don’t want your sympathy.

PAM: Oh, yes you do. You want me to slap your wrist and then reassure you that you’re still the same wonderful man underneath it all. Well, I’m not going to help you out. You can stay dirty.

BOBBY: You don’t understand.

PAM: Understand? I understand that you’re not the man I married! The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else, double-cross the cartel and force his own mother into court.

BOBBY: [Exasperated] There were reasons.

PAM: [Screaming] Reasons? There’s only one reason! You would do anything to beat J.R. and get the company. Anything!

 

‘Is This How You Keep Peace in the Family — By Turning Into John Ross?’

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Ewings Unite, Jordana Brewster

Unmoved

In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Elena (Jordana Brewster) enters Christopher’s bedroom, where Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is seated at the foot of the bed, drinking.

ELENA: Hi. It’s a little early for a drink, isn’t it?

CHRISTOPHER: I’m celebrating.

ELENA: [She sits next to him, kisses him and grabs the drink. She takes a sip.] What are we celebrating?

CHRISTOPHER: Barnes Global got to the head of the DCT. He tried to undercut my deal. So we had John Ross do what John Ross does … and we got pictures. [Christopher takes back the drink.]

ELENA: [Concerned] What are you going to do with the pictures?

CHRISTOPHER: [Takes a sip, rises] I already did. Alison’s married, and her husband’s a state senator — a real family values guy. And once she saw what I had, she decided to see things my way. [Takes a sip]

ELENA: [Mortified] You blackmailed her.

CHRISTOPHER: I made her keep her word.

ELENA: This is why I wanted out of the company. [Rises, walks toward him] Christopher, you’re the most decent man I know and now you’re blackmailing people.

CHRISTOPHER: She brought it on herself.

ELENA: Is this how you keep peace in the family — by turning into John Ross?

CHRISTOPHER: I am not John Ross! OK? I know I crossed a line here.

ELENA: [Glances down] That’s what breaks my heart. You did it anyway.

CHRISTOPHER: You know why I did it? My uncle J.R., he did a lot of bad things in his life. But he knew how to win. And I’m not going to apologize for winning.

ELENA: I love you. But I will not be a part of this. I’m going into business with my brother to drill our land. You may not like it, but I hope you understand.

CHRISTOPHER: I love you too.

How do you feel when Bobby and Christopher break bad? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Old Habits

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Booze has always flowed as freely as oil on “Dallas.” The Southfork cocktail hour was a family tradition on the original show, and J.R. and Bobby each kept lots of liquor on hand to entertain the parade of cartel members and other business associates who marched in and out of their offices each day. The imbibing continues on TNT’s “Dallas:” John Ross and Christopher routinely visit bars, and on more than one occasion, both men have come home and knocked back a stiff drink after tangling with their enemies (or each other).

To their credit, neither series shies away from depicting the downside of indulgence. J.R., Bobby and even Miss Ellie (!) all nursed hangovers at various points during the original “Dallas,” while John Ross has done the same thing on TNT’s sequel show. (Remember when he struggled to get out of bed after drinking too much with Marta del Sol the night before?) Most notably, the Ewing family also includes two alcoholics — Sue Ellen and Gary — whose struggles to stay sober never seem to end.

A handful of scenes, filmed 33 years apart, underscore this point. In “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 2,” one of the original “Dallas’s” fourth-season episodes, Gary comes home to Southfork to be with his family after J.R. is shot. Gary is newly sober after going on a nasty bender during “Knots Landing’s” previous season, and so when he runs into Sue Ellen in the nursery, he’s eager to commiserate with her. But as Gary soon discovers, Sue Ellen is still in denial about her drinking problem. “I am not an alcoholic,” she snaps. “I’ll admit that I take a drink on occasion to steady my nerves. But I can stop. I have stopped for months at a time.” Gary’s response: “Yeah, yeah. So did I. Thought I had it beat. But then I took a drink. And another. And pretty soon, I was on a rampage.”

The scene ends with Sue Ellen ordering Gary to “stop preaching at me” and storming out of the room. The characters don’t interact again until 33 years later, when Gary returns to Southfork during the second season of TNT’s “Dallas.” Once again, he’s recovering from a recent relapse, while Sue Ellen has two decades of sobriety under her belt. Both characters seem to be at peace with their inner demons, though, even joking about their shared disease when they run into each other at Ewing Energies. Sue Ellen spots Gary pouring himself a cup of coffee and holds out her mug, quipping that it’s “the beverage of choice for recovering alcoholics everywhere.”

Then the unthinkable happens: J.R. is shot and killed, sending the grief-stricken Sue Ellen back to the bottle. She confesses her relapse while eulogizing her ex-husband, but when Gary confronts her after the funeral and tells her it’s time to get back on the wagon, Sue Ellen lies and says she’s already stopped drinking. That night, when Sue Ellen and Gary run into each other in the Southfork kitchen, he once again offers to help her. Finally, she comes clean. “I know I need help. But I need to do it myself,” she says.

The TNT scenes demonstrate how hard it is for these two characters to break their old patterns. Sue Ellen no longer denies that she’s an alcoholic like she did in 1980, although she initially tries to cover up her relapse when Gary confronts her. (“Dallas’s” brilliant costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, offers a clever nod to Sue Ellen’s unending struggle by dressing Linda Gray in a black and white suit, not unlike the one she wore during her scene with Ted Shackelford 33 years earlier.) Sue Ellen continues to cover up her relapse a few episodes later when Ann questions her about her drinking and Sue Ellen denies it.

Gary has trouble breaking his old habits too. His determination to help Sue Ellen in 2013 recalls his attempt to bond with her in 1980, as well as his efforts to mentor fellow alcoholic Earl Trent during “Knots Landing’s” second season. Gary is often said to be the weakest of the Ewing brothers, but I find his concern for Sue Ellen endearing and — dare I say it? — heroic.

I hope Sue Ellen someday beats the bottle once and for all, but as far as Gary is concerned, I hope he never changes.

 

‘I Am Not an Alcoholic’

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Linda Gray, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 2, Sue Ellen Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Yes, you are

In “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 2,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) watches as Gary (Ted Shackelford) finishes playing with John Ross in the Southfork nursery.

GARY: Oh, he’s a great kid, Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: I know. He’s just my whole life.

GARY: You must have really suffered when you realized you’d almost lost him.

SUE ELLEN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

GARY: The car accident, when you’d been drinking. [Notices her stony expression] Uh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to dig up old ghosts.

SUE ELLEN: There are no ghosts.

GARY: I can understand why you don’t want to talk about it. I’m an alcoholic, and I know what that’s like. But you can lick it if you want to.

SUE ELLEN: Gary, I am not an alcoholic. Well, I’ll admit that I take a drink on occasion to steady my nerves. But I can stop. I have stopped for months at a time. [Smiles]

GARY: Yeah, yeah. So did I. Thought I had it beat. But then I took a drink. And another. And pretty soon, I was on a rampage. I never realized I was capable of that kind of violence.

SUE ELLEN: Gary, I want you to stop right now. Stop preaching at me. I am not an alcoholic, and I am not violent. [Leaves the room, slamming the door behind her]

 

‘I Know I Need Help’

Dallas, Ewings Unite!, Gary Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Yes, you do

In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) enters the Southfork kitchen, where Gary (Ted Shackelford) sits at the bar, working on a laptop.

GARY: [Closing the laptop] I know why you called Valene. It’s not going to work.

SUE ELLEN: I called Valene to get the two of you back together again.

GARY: You need help, Sue Ellen. And unlike my wife, I help people in trouble.

SUE ELLEN: Valene left you because she knew it was the only way to get you sober again. And she was right. She left you because she loves you. I know I need help. But I need to do it myself. You taught me that when you fall down, you get back up again. [Kisses him on the cheek] One day, she may be gone. And you don’t want to regret the loss of every moment that you could have spent with her. [She begins to walk away.]

GARY: If you ever need anything, I’m just a phone call away.

SUE ELLEN: I know that.

How do you feel about Sue Ellen and Gary’s struggles to remain sober? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Requiems for the Heavyweights

Dallas Parallels - Requiems for the Heavyweights 1

The funerals of J.R. and Bobby Ewing were filmed 28 years apart, but they draw upon similar themes, including the idea that grief and anger are sometimes indistinguishable. The episodes also show how each brother becomes unmoored when he loses the other, demonstrating how essential their relationship is to the “Dallas” mythology.

Bobby’s funeral is seen in “The Family Ewing,” the original show’s ninth-season opener, and even though his death later turns out to be part of Pam’s dream, it still packs punch. The episode begins with the Ewings returning home from the hospital after Bobby said goodbye to them from his deathbed. The characters retreat to different corners of the ranch (Miss Ellie and Clayton to their bedroom, Donna and Ray to their living room, etc.), where they begin to cope with the painful reality that the family’s favorite son is gone. Barbara Bel Geddes, who returns to “Dallas” in this episode after relinquishing her role to Donna Reed during the previous season, delivers an especially moving portrait of quiet resolve as Ellie begins making Bobby’s funeral preparations.

Of course, no one is more devastated than J.R., who sits in the Southfork living room and silently buries his head in his hands. Moments later, when Sue Ellen arrives home from a shopping spree, cheerfully unaware of the tragedy that took place in her absence, J.R. becomes enraged. For him, breaking the news of Bobby’s death to his wife becomes an opportunity to vent his pent-up marital frustrations. “All you ever think about is yourself!” he shouts. (I also love how Larry Hagman unleashes his Texas accent when J.R. asks Sue Ellen, “Where the hell were yew?”) J.R.’s cruel tendencies are also on display when he encounters Gary and Ray the next day, but Hagman wisely balances his character’s hostility with tender performances, including the scene where J.R. goes into John Ross’s bedroom to be near his son.

“J.R.’s Masterpiece,” last year’s exquisite funeral episode from TNT’s “Dallas,” continues the franchise’s grand tradition of sending its characters off in style. The episode includes a sequence where the Ewings return to Southfork after confirming J.R.’s death in the Mexican morgue (shades of “The Family Ewing” scene that shows the Ewings coming home from the hospital). Later, as the characters prepare for J.R.’s funeral, Bobby exhibits the same kind of behavior that J.R. did in “The Family Ewing.” Bobby is terse with Gary when he sees him at Southfork, and he’s unusually cool to Ray when he runs into him at the memorial service. J.R.’s death also prompts Bobby to finally acknowledge his lingering resentment toward Ann for keeping so many secrets from him during their marriage. In a powerful performance from Patrick Duffy, Bobby erupts (“I’m pissed!”) at Ann on the night before J.R.’s funeral, leaving her feeling as stunned as Sue Ellen did when J.R. shouted at her in “The Family Ewing.”

The two funeral scenes also share similarities, although the differences might outweigh the parallels. Bobby’s burial takes place in a Southfork pasture and includes all of the Texas Ewings, except for Lucy. (Charlene Tilton had departed the series at the end of the previous season and wasn’t invited back for “The Family Ewing.”) J.R.’s burial also takes place on Southfork, and even though the crowd at his funeral is smaller than Bobby’s, I’m less surprised by who’s absent (James, Cally), than by who’s present (no offense Carmen and Drew, but you’re not family; I’ll give Elena and Emma a pass since they’re linked to Christopher and Ann). Also, we don’t see any of the eulogies for Bobby, while J.R.’s mourners deliver one memorable tribute after another, including Sue Ellen’s heartbreaking speech.

Perhaps most notably, “The Family Ewing” and “J.R.’s Masterpiece” both end with one brother paying tribute to the other when no one else is around. In the 1985 episode, after the mourners have left Bobby’s burial site, J.R. stands alone at his brother’s casket, expresses regrets for “all the fights” and finally tells him, “I love you. I do.” Flash forward to “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” After Bobby receives the mysterious letter that J.R. wrote before he died, he retreats to his empty bedroom, pours himself a glass of his brother’s bourbon and says he knew J.R. would have one more trick up his sleeve. “It is a good one. I love you, brother,” he says.

It’s every bit as haunting and as beautiful as J.R.’s tribute to Bobby almost three decades earlier. How I wish it were just another dream.

 

‘I Love You. I Do.’

Dallas, Family Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Sad dream

In “The Family Ewing,” a ninth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) stands alone near Bobby’s casket at the end of his funeral.

J.R.: Bobby, I never told you how much you meant to me. All the fights, all the time butting heads with one another … I’m sorry we were never closer. I wish … I wish I’d taken the time to tell you how much I love you. I do. And tell Daddy I love him too. Bye, Bobby. I’ll miss you.

 

‘I Love You, Brother’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Hard truth

In “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) enters J.R.’s bedroom after reading a letter he wrote before he died, pours himself a glass of bourbon and sits at the foot of the bed.

BOBBY: I knew you’d have at least one more left up your sleeve, J.R. It is a good one. [Chuckles softly] I love you, brother. [Sobs, takes a drink]

 

 

How do you think J.R. and Bobby’s funerals compare to each other? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Hostage!

Blame Game, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT, Winds of Vengeance

No two “Dallas” episodes invite comparison as much as “Winds of Vengeance” and “Blame Game.” Both segments — which debuted in 1978 and 2013, respectively — depict armed intruders invading Southfork and holding the Ewings hostage. The two storylines play on common themes, including stubborn pride and misguided justice, but the episodes also demonstrate the distinctions between the original “Dallas” and its TNT sequel.

In “Winds of Vengeance,” the old show’s fourth episode, blue-collar Luther Frick discovers his wife Wanda spent the night in a Waco motel with a wealthy stranger from out of town: J.R. Ewing. Frick and Wanda’s brother, Payton Allen, track J.R. to Southfork, where they hold him, Ray and the Ewing women at gunpoint in the living room as a hurricane bears down outside. Frick believes J.R. raped Wanda, so he vows to get “justice” for himself by having sex with Sue Ellen while Allen sets his sights on Lucy. At the last minute, Jock and Bobby arrive, punch out Frick and Allen and send the creeps on their way.

In “Blame Game,” one of TNT’s second-season “Dallas” episodes, slimy oilman Vicente Cano, who went to jail after tangling with J.R. and John Ross, escapes and marches into Southfork with a band of armed thugs. Cano believes the Ewings owe him the methane technology that Christopher developed, and so Cano and his gang hold the family hostage in the living room while Christopher retrieves his methane prototype from the office. When he returns and hands over the equipment, Cano grabs Elena and begins to make his escape, but her brother Drew arrives at the last minute and shoots Cano while Bobby and John Ross overpower the rest of his gang.

There are plenty of similarities here, beginning with the motivations of the villains. When Frick and Allen pull their guns on the Ewings, J.R. assumes they’re robbers and tells them they can have all the cash in the family safe. “We ain’t no thieves. We don’t want your money,” Frick says. Cano, in the meantime, believes Christopher’s methane technology will be lucrative, but profit isn’t his primary goal. When he bursts into Southfork, he slaps John Ross and says, “Did you think you could get away with turning me into the authorities and painting me as the one with dishonor?”

The two episodes also show how the bad guys humiliate the Ewings by exposing their secrets. In “Winds of Vengeance,” when Frick announces J.R. raped Wanda, he turns to Sue Ellen and asks, “You like him any better now, knowing what a hotshot lover-boy he is?” Sue Ellen’s response — “Him?” — causes Allen to laugh uproariously. Something similar happens in “Blame Game” when Cano tries to intimidate Christopher by threatening Pamela, only to realize John Ross’s ex-fiancée Elena has become the object of Christopher’s affection. “You Ewing boys share after all. I love it!” Cano exclaims.

There are also quite a few differences between the episodes. The hostage situation in “Winds of Vengeance” unfolds slowly, giving the actors plenty of time to explore the mental trauma their characters are experiencing by being held against their will. Linda Gray steals the show with her gutsy performance in the scene where Frick forces Sue Ellen to sing for him, but there are also examples of the Ewing women resisting their captors. In one scene, Sue Ellen smacks Allen and tells him not to touch her. Later, Allen tries to make Pam dance with him, but she fights back and screams, “I’ll kill you!”

Contrast this with the hostage situation in “Blame Game,” which comes at the end of that episode and is interspersed with scenes from Ann’s trial. This gives the segment a faster pace overall, but it also robs the hostage sequences of the tense, psychological vibe that “Winds of Vengeance” mined so effectively. “Blame Game” also offers no scenes of the women fighting back, and if there are sexual undertones to the story, they’re only hinted at: When Cano grabs Elena and heads for the helicopter waiting outside, he says he’s taking her as “an insurance policy,” then adds: “Who knows? Maybe we have something in common.”

On the other hand, “Blame Game” shows the Ewings interacting with each other while their captors are holding them at gunpoint, which is something we really don’t see in “Winds of Vengeance.” In one exchange, Sue Ellen sits with Bobby and laments his rivalry with J.R., calling it “a vicious cycle that our sons seem destined to continue.”

She’s probably correct that John Ross and Christopher are fated to fight each other, but if the Ewings want to break one of their other vicious cycles — their penchant for being taken hostage — there’s a simple solution: Hire some security guards, for goodness sakes. I mean, these people can afford it, right?

 

‘Bravery’s Going to Get Your Dead, Junior’

Dallas, Brian Dennehy, Luther Frick, Winds of Vengeance

Injustice

In “Winds of Vengeance,” a first-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. and Ray (Larry Hagman, Steve Kanaly) sit in chairs while Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Pam (Victoria Principal) and Lucy (Charlene Tilton) sit on the sofa and the gun-wielding Frick and Allen (Brian Dennehy, Cooper Huckabee) hover nearby.

LUCY: What are you going to do with us?

ALLEN: We were going to get up a softball game, but the weather. …

J.R.: Look, fellas. If you’re here for anything to do with justice.

FRICK: Shut up.

ALLEN: We’ll prove it. [Motions to Sue Ellen] This is your wife, right?

J.R.: Yes.

ALLEN: [Walks toward her] Pretty.

He reaches for her. She smacks him away.

SUE ELLEN: Don’t touch me.

J.R. tries to get up. Frick holds him place.

FRICK: [Snickering] Now bravery’s going to get you dead, Junior.

ALLEN: [To Ray] Hey, you. You! You married?

RAY: No.

ALLEN: That gives us a choice.

FRICK: [To J.R.] Hey, you know I’m married too, mister. [Kneels beside him] Yeah. My wife’s name is Wanda. You know her?

J.R.: [Sheepish] No, I don’t know any Wandas.

FRICK: Well, you got a short memory.

J.R.: I just can’t remember anybody by the name of Wanda.

ALLEN: She says she knows you pretty good.

FRICK: You know, Wanda didn’t come home last night. Now me and her brother here, we went looking for her. And guess where we found her this morning? We found her in this old motel room. Her and her friend Mary Lou.

J.R.: So?

FRICK: So she said she had been kidnapped, right off the main street by two guys last night. She said they took them up to this motel room. They got them drunk. And then they raped them.

J.R.: Well, what does that got to do with me?

ALLEN: You were kind enough to leave a business card.

J.R.: Well, now a lot of people have got my business card.

FRICK: [To Sue Ellen] Well, missus, what do you think of ol’ J.R. Ewing now? Huh? [Silence] Yeah. Yeah, maybe I’m doing you a favor, huh? [Shouting] Huh? You like him any better now knowing what a hotshot lover-boy he is?

SUE ELLEN: Him?

ALLEN: [Laughing] Somebody’s got to take care of the little lady. Looks like you don’t.

He kisses her. She screams and pushes him away as Allen laughs.

 

‘Your Beautiful Wife and Children Will Not Escape Unscathed’

Blame Game, Carlos Bernard, Dallas, TNT, Vicente Cano

Dishonor

In “Blame Game,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Cano (Carlos Bernard) stands in the Southfork living room and speaks to Bobby and Christopher (Patrick Duffy, Jesse Metcalfe), who is held by one of Cano’s thugs. John Ross (Josh Henderson), Pamela (Julie Gonzalo), Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) are seated around the room, surrounded by other members of Cano’s gang.

CHRISTOPHER: What do you want, Cano?

CANO: Only what I was promised. You’re going to call Ewing Energies and you’re going to send all your employees home for the day. [The thug releases Christopher.] And once the place is empty, my friend here is going to accompany you to your office, where you’re going to retrieve the plans to your methane patent and prototype that I was promised. [Slaps his right-hand man on the back.] Now, if you are not back here within one hour, your beautiful wife and children will not escape unscathed. [Cano stands over Pamela and strokes her hair, then yanks her head back against him.]

JOHN ROSS: [Rises] Let her go! [A thug pulls him down.]

CANO: Well, your cousin has to defend your wife? Oh, wait a minute. [Laughs] You Ewing boys share after all. [Slaps his hands together] I love it! Well, since this clearly where your heart lies, you have one hour to bring me the prototype. [Holds a gun to Elena’s head]

How do you think “Winds of Vengeance” and “Blame Game” compare to each other? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”