#DallasChat Daily: Who Was John Ross’s Best Fling?

Alex McKenna, Alison Jones, Annie Wersching, Becky Sutter, Brandee Cartwell, Caitlin Custer, Elena Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryalnd, Jordana Brewster, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Leonor Varela, TNT

Pamela Barnes is the love of John Ross’s life, but he’s had lots of other romantic conquests during “Dallas’s” first three seasons on TNT. Which one was your favorite?

Was it Veronica Martinez, the woman who impersonated Marta del Sol, or Becky Sutter, the woman Pamela impersonated? How about trucking heiresses Brandee Cartwell and Emma Ryland? What about ambitious bureaucrat Alison Jones, or ambitious executive Elena Ramos?

Your #DallasChat Daily question: Who was John Ross’s best fling?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 2

The second season of TNT’s “Dallas” was even better than the first. Here are my laurels, along with a few darts.


Woman of the year

Wonder woman

She spent Season 1 on the sidelines, but Linda Gray became “Dallas’s” star player this year. After losing the election, Sue Ellen maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, then fought tooth and manicured nail to save the company. Her determination took many forms: She flirted with Gary and later Ken, proving a woman in her 70s could still be playful and alluring, and blackmailed Governor McConaughey with a smile, demonstrating just how much she learned from her ex-husband. Speaking of J.R.: Gray shined brightest at his funeral, where Sue Ellen took a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivered a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she called “the love of my life.” It was a magnificent, unforgettable performance – and if there’s any justice in the world, Gray’s next big speech will be at the Emmys.


The “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery was terrific because it allowed viewers to slide into J.R.’s boots and try to piece together the puzzle he left behind. The gun! That letter! Those cocaine shoes! How were the clues connected? This was “Dallas” at its most fun – and as an added bonus, it finally resolved Pam’s storyline and gave the character the redemption she deserved. (Pam may be dead, but please let Katherine live.) The season’s least satisfying storyline: Vicente Cano’s ambush on Southfork and the hostage crisis that ensued. This storyline did little to advance the season’s main narrative – the fight for Ewing Energies – nor did it give us much new insight into the characters. On the other hand: at least nobody made Sue Ellen sing.


Tears of the son

Tears of the son

The beautiful, elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is landmark television. From the mournful version of the “Dallas” theme music that played under the special opening titles through the moving gravesite eulogies, scriptwriter Cynthia Cidre and director Michael M. Robin made J.R.’s death feel achingly real. This is their masterpiece. At the other end of the spectrum: “Ewings Unite!,” an uneven hour marred by J.R.’s silly will reading and Gary and Val’s drive-by reunion.


Almost two months after watching “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” I’m still haunted by the memory of Sue Ellen getting drunk in her ex-husband’s bedroom on the night before his funeral. As Tara Holloway’s soulful rendition of “The Bottom” played, we watched Sue Ellen move around J.R.’s bed, caress a framed photo from their wedding and finally drown her sorrows with glass after glass of his bourbon. This was two-and-a-half minutes of exquisite agony. (Among the season’s other great scenes: Ann’s spellbinding testimony at her trial, Harris and Emma’s parking garage encounter, Harris’s Komodo dragon speech and the moment lusty John Ross storms off the elevator and into Pamela’s arms.)


Raw deal

Raw deal

The police discover Tommy’s body and murder weapon. John Ross warns Pamela, who frantically begins preparing to skip town as the police arrive with guns drawn. But wait! They’re not coming to arrest Pamela; they’re after Frank, who has been framed by Cliff. It was a classic “Dallas” fake-out and the season’s most surprising twist. The silliest: At J.R.’s will reading, Miss Ellie somehow takes half of Southfork from Bobby and gives it to John Ross. Howzat, Mama?


Season 2 gave us a Southfork swimming pool scene, the return of the old Ewing Oil building and even a reference to Westar, but where were the barbecue and Oil Baron’s Ball (er, “Cattle Baron’s Ball”) episodes? On the other hand, we did get “The Furious and the Fast,” the fantastic racetrack-set episode that marked the “Dallas” directorial debut of Rodney Charters, the show’s ace cinematographer. Perhaps racecars will become a new “Dallas” tradition? I’m ready for another spin.


Evil dad

Evil dad

Steven Weber played McConaughey to smirking perfection and Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light were delicious as the evil Rylands, but Ken Kercheval scared the bejesus out of me as Cliff. The scene where he orders the destruction of the methane rig is chilling. Yet somehow, the brilliant Kercheval made sure we never lost sight of Cliff’s humanity, especially when he was arrested for J.R.’s murder. Make no mistake: Season 2 was the performance of Kercheval’s career.

Returning Favorites

Audrey Landers’ return as Afton in “Guilt and Innocence” was a hoot. Robert Rovner’s script gave Landers plenty to do, and she made the most of it: During the course of the hour, we got to see Afton badmouth Cliff (“He’s a mean drunk, that man”), flirt with John Ross, shoot daggers at Christopher and sweetly serenade Pamela with her favorite childhood lullaby. I also liked Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark’s return as Gary and Valene (even if Van Ark didn’t get enough to do), as well as the familiar faces who showed up in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” especially Mandy and Cally (Deborah Shelton, Cathy Podewell), whose reminiscing about their romances with J.R. proved surprisingly poignant.


Welcome to Southfork

Welcome to Southfork

Each episode of “Dallas” clocks in at 42 minutes sans commercials, making screen time a commodity. It’s tempting to knock the producers for expanding the cast in Season 2 – except the newcomers are all so good! I was especially charmed by magnetic Kuno Becker, who was both smoldering and sweet as ne’er-do-well Drew, while Emma Bell knocked me out as Emma, who shifted effortlessly from sheltered princess to a pill-popping sexpot. Is there anything this actress can’t do?

Supporting Players

Like the original “Dallas,” the new show is beginning to feel like its own world, thanks to its growing population of reliable recurring characters. My favorites include steadfast Sheriff Derrick (Akai Draco), dutiful lawyer Lou Bergen (Glenn Morshower) and of course loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), who charmed me in his scene with Sue Ellen and moved me when he confessed his role in J.R.’s master plan. Season 2 also introduced two promising additions to the Ewing Energies secretarial pool: perky, sneaky Jill (Amber Bartlett) and statuesque Stacy (Natalie Quintanilla). The other great addition: lusty city transportation chief Alison Jones (Annie Wersching). Could she become this generation’s Marilee Stone?


Man of style

Man of style

“Dallas” doesn’t just have TV’s best-dressed cast; the actors are also smartly dressed. Everyone’s “look” fits their character perfectly. Case in point: J.R., whose western jackets, dark suits and Butch Dorer hats made him Season 2’s most dashing figure. My favorite outfit: the classic pinstripes he sported in “Venomous Creatures” when he blackmailed the smarmy prosecutor. A tip of the hat to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin. Thanks to her, our hero went out in style.


The music on “Dallas” is a mix of familiar tunes like Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory,” which played during J.R.’s memorial service, and oh-my-gosh-what-is-the-name-of-that-song-I-must-own-it selections like “Liar,” an unreleased number from the Unknown that was heard in “False Confessions” and “Legacies.” My favorite: “My Time Has Come,” the driving rock anthem from the Bowery Riots that played when Bobby did that cool slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” It was the ideal song to showcase Bobby at his badass best.


Ugly truth

Ugly truth

I’m tempted to choose Christopher’s Miller Lite bottle or all those Microsoft Surface tablets as best props, but instead I’ll go with J.R.’s handsome bourbon decanter, which the three people he loved most – Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher – all drank from after his death. Worst prop? That’s easy: The awful painting of J.R. unveiled at the end of “Legacies.” Where’s J.R.’s nose? What happened to his right shoulder? My plea to the producers: Fix this before Season 3 starts.


Since so much of my “Dallas” viewing experience now takes place in the Twitterverse, it seems appropriate to honor the hashtags of Season 2: #BubbaNotEarl #ByeByeCloudDrive #Clonazepam #ContinuedLegalSubterfuge #EminentDomain #FentonWashburnEsquire #HighImpactPressureMoldedCocaine #HighVelocityBloodSplatter #HornedFrogsVsMustangs #HotelColon #JudgeRhonda #KomodoDragons #MoralsClause #NuevoLaredo #PatriciaBarrett #RickyRudd #RIPKatherine?


This category is always the toughest and Season 2 is no different. What to choose? Sue Ellen’s putdown of Afton (“She’s drama, John Ross.”)? Val’s greeting to Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch.”)? Vicente’s observation after realizing the Ewing cousins have traded romantic partners (“You Ewing boys share after all! I love it!”)? John Ross’s not-fit-for-print philosophy on romance (“Love is for [kitty cats]”)? In the end, I’ll go with the master. J.R.’s encounter with Pamela: “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse.” Oh, J.R. We’ll never stop missing you.

What do you love and loathe about the second season of TNT’s “Dallas”? Share your comments below and read more “Best & Worst” reviews.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 9

Don’t blame him

Don’t blame him

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Guilt and Innocence,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

Who survives the blast? At the end of “Ewings Unite!,” last week’s episode, most of the Ewings gathered on the methane extraction rig, along with Pamela and Elena (Julie Gonzalo, Jordana Brewster), for a demonstration. Little did everyone know the platform was rigged with explosives, which detonated moments before the screen faded to black. It’s a safe bet the core characters will survive, but I’m not sure we can say the same thing about Pamela’s unborn twins. One clue: Pamela’s mother Afton (Audrey Landers) will appear in tonight’s episode, possibly to console her grieving daughter. If Pamela loses one or both of the babies, how will it affect her relationships with ex-husband Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and ex-lover John Ross (Josh Henderson)?

Can Cliff be redeemed? The story behind the explosion, part 1: At the beginning of last week’s episode, Cliff and Harris (Ken Kercheval, Mitch Pileggi) joined forces to bring down the Ewings. Cliff promised to give Harris the money he needs to gain control of Ryland Transport from Judith (Judith Light), while Harris agreed to help Cliff undermine Ewing Energies. Harris’s henchman Roy Vickers (Alex Fernandez) arranged to have the bomb planted under the platform, but when Pamela unexpectedly showed up, he called Cliff and gave him a chance to back out. Remarkably, Cliff told Vickers to proceed with the detonation. How will Cliff live with himself after this?

Will Drew forgive himself? The story behind the explosion, part 2: Drew (Kuno Becker) reluctantly planted the bomb after being blackmailed by Vickers, who threatened to kill Elena if Drew refused to do his bidding. Until then, things had been looking up for young Drew: Bobby (Patrick Duffy) agreed to sell him the Ramos family’s land and Drew went on a promising date with Emma (Emma Bell). What will happen if his role in the explosion is discovered?

Will Christopher be blamed? The Ewings were on the platform to demonstrate its potential to local government official Alison Jones (Annie Wersching), hoping it would seal their deal to land the city’s lucrative fuel contract. Getting Alison to the platform took a lot of work: When Cliff tried to steal the contract at the last minute, John Ross and Christopher teamed to blackmail Alison into rejecting his bid. Last season, Christopher’s methane extraction technology was plagued by suspicions it was unsafe. Will the bombing raise fresh doubts?

Will Sue Ellen sober up? J.R.’s will split his share of the Southfork mineral rights between John Ross and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), who shifted into denial mode about her alcoholism, insisting she didn’t need Gary’s help to stop drinking. After Valene (Joan Van Ark) confronted her, Sue Ellen urged Gary (Ted Shackelford) to return to his wife, telling him she needs to reclaim her sobriety on her own. Will she?

• More questions: Now that John Ross has inherited half of Southfork, will he take up residence at the ranch, perhaps moving into his father’s old bedroom? Did Judith survive her tumble down the stairs? And will we finally get some more clues to the biggest question of all: Who killed J.R.?

What “Dallas Burning Questions” are on your mind? Share your comments below and watch TNT’s “Dallas” tonight.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 8

Oh, mama!

Oh, mama!

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Ewings Unite!,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

Who killed J.R.? In “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” last week’s episode, the Ewings learned J.R. was shot and killed in a cheap hotel in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The police investigation concluded he was a robbery victim, but Bobby (Patrick Duffy) knew better. For more, check out my list of eight potential suspects, as well as the five burning questions surrounding “Dallas’s” latest mystery. Who do you think is responsible for J.R.’s death?

What’s in J.R.’s will? It isn’t clear what J.R.’s estate includes, but this much we know: the Southfork mineral rights were split equally among him, Bobby and Gary (Ted Shackelford). The surviving brothers recently joined forces to suspend pumping oil out of the ranch, which is part of Bobby’s effort to oust Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) from Ewing Energies. Now that J.R. is gone, who will inherit his share of the mineral rights and how will it affect the battle over the company?

Will Sue Ellen recover? In the aftermath of J.R.’s death, Sue Ellen continued to cozy up to Gary, hoping he’d side with her in the fight for Ewing Energies. Her ambition offended John Ross (Josh Henderson), who told her, “My father’s barely cold and you’re talking about already going to seduce his brother? Could you at least pretend to mourn him for five minutes?” Little did John Ross know how much his mother was hurting: On the night before J.R.’s funeral, she broke down and got drunk, then confessed her relapse during her eulogy for her ex-husband. Will Sue Ellen get the familial support she’ll need to climb back onto the wagon?

Will Gary and Val reconcile? It’s unlikely anything lasting will come of Sue Ellen and Gary’s flirtation since “Ewings Unite!” marks the end of Shackelford’s three-week guest stint on “Dallas.” Also, keep in mind: Tonight’s episode brings back Joan Van Ark, who’ll reprise her iconic role as Valene, Gary’s now-estranged wife, and Charlene Tilton, who’ll make another appearance as Lucy, their daughter. The question is: Will Gary and Val leave Southfork together or separately?

Will Bobby and Ann make up? J.R.’s death put additional stress on Bobby, who lashed out at Ann (Brenda Strong) for keeping so many secrets from him during their marriage. When she apologized and asked what she could do to “make things right,” he turned away. Meanwhile, Harris (Mitch Pileggi) arrived at Southfork in his sleek Lamborghini and pleaded with Emma (Emma Bell) to come home with him. When she refused, Harris told Ann, “Tell your husband that he has no idea what he started.” What will Harris do?

How will Emma shock us next? Speaking of Emma: That girl has gone wild! During J.R.’s memorial service, she ducked into a cloakroom and popped pills with John Ross. Later, they shared a bottle of booze and retreated to the backseat of a car, where he, um, welcomed her to the family. But John Ross isn’t the only man in Emma’s life: When Harris tried to persuade her to leave Southfork, Drew (Kuno Becker) helped Ann run him off the ranch. Could Drew be next on Emma’s hit list?

Is Pamela fed up with Cliff? When John Ross spotted Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) at J.R.’s memorial, he criticized her for reneging on her promise to share her piece of Ewing Energies. “John Ross, please. I care about you,” Pamela said. His response: “The only thing you care about is yourself.” Later, when Cliff (Ken Kercheval) showed up at the memorial, ranting and raving about the Barnes/Ewing feud, Pamela made him leave. “Daddy, that’s enough. Let’s go,” she said. Between Pamela’s feelings for John Ross and her anger at Cliff, could she be rethinking her role in the Barnes/Ewing feud?

• Who’s minding the store? We haven’t heard much about Ewing Energies since “The Furious and the Fast,” when the company-sponsored racecar scored a big victory at the track. This prompted flirty transportation official Alison Jones (Annie Wersching) to hint Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) will be awarded the contract to fuel the city’s municipal fleet. Meanwhile, with Elena (Jordana Brewster) out of a job, Drew persuaded her to help him drill their father’s land, although first they need to buy it back from Bobby. Will he sell?

What “Dallas Burning Questions” are on your mind? Share your comments below and watch TNT’s “Dallas” tonight.