Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 168 — ‘Homecoming’

Even after all these years, it’s still strange to see Donna Reed play Miss Ellie. Reed’s first episode is “Homecoming,” and as soon as she enters the frame in the famous scene where Ellie and Clayton arrive at their airport upon returning from their honeymoon, you can see how different the newcomer is from the actress […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 148 — ‘Eye of the Beholder’

At the end of “Eye of the Beholder,” Miss Ellie tearfully tells Clayton that she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy years earlier. It’s another moving performance from Barbara Bel Geddes, although when I try to explain why she excels in scenes like this one, I always come up short. Is it her ability […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 145 — ‘Peter’s Principles’

Since I began re-watching “Dallas’s” seventh season for the first time in years, I’ve been surprised by how interesting I find Sue Ellen’s affair with college student Peter Richards. I used to dismiss their romance as hopelessly gimmicky — J.R.’s wife chases a younger man! — but now that I’m older and hopefully a little […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 143 — ‘Barbecue Four’

Mama’s back! In “Barbecue Four,” Barbara Bel Geddes returns to “Dallas” after being absent from the previous 11 episodes. In real life, the actress was recovering from heart surgery, so the producers temporarily wrote her out of the show by having Clayton whisk Miss Ellie away so she could distance herself from J.R. and Bobby’s […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 141 — ‘The Buck Stops Here’

“The Buck Stops Here” memorably ends with Pam Ewing and Jenna Wade competing against each other in a mechanical bull-riding competition. It’s an appropriate metaphor for these characters, whose lives go up and down but rarely move forward. For example, during the course of this episode, we learn Pam is still hung up on ex-husband […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 138 — ‘Ray’s Trial’

I always remembered the mystery surrounding Mickey Trotter’s death as boiling down to a single question: Did Ray or Lil pull the plug on him? Last week, when I re-watched “Ray’s Trial” for the first time in a few years, I realized “Dallas” also poses a second, more complicated question: Did Mickey want to live […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 131 — ‘Ewing Inferno’

“Ewing Inferno” famously ends with J.R., Sue Ellen, Ray and John Ross trapped inside Southfork as fire sweeps through the house. I wonder: When this episode debuted in 1983, did anyone doubt all four characters would escape the blaze? After all, three of them appear in the opening credits and the fourth is a child; […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 126 — ‘Hell Hath No Fury’

Sue Ellen is the perfect wife, living the perfect life, when “Hell Hath No Fury” begins. She fusses over J.R. at breakfast, smiles when he brings Roy Ralston home for dinner and gazes at him adoringly during his latest appearance on Ralston’s TV show. Of course, this is “Dallas,” so Sue Ellen’s bliss doesn’t last. […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 116 — ‘Mama Dearest’

In “Mama Dearest,” Miss Ellie embarks on a quest to break Jock’s will and stop J.R. and Bobby’s contest for Ewing Oil. This causes the alliances within the family to shift, sometimes dramatically. J.R. and Bobby both oppose Ellie’s efforts, but when J.R. suggests the brothers join forces to defeat their mother, Bobby refuses. J.R. […]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 115 — ‘Barbecue Three’

In “Barbecue Three,” J.R. finally reveals his plan to win the contest for Ewing Oil: He begins flooding the market with cut-rate gasoline, hoping to drive up his half of the company’s profits. This ignites a firestorm within the cartel, prompting Cliff and a band of angry oilmen to come to the annual Southfork barbecue […]