3 Days, 33 Episodes: Here’s How to Catch Up on TNT’s ‘Dallas’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Look back

Did you promise yourself you’d spend the summer getting acquainted — or reacquainted — with TNT’s “Dallas”? Did you fail to keep this promise? Relax: You still have time. Grab your DVDs and downloads and have a marathon of your own this weekend. Here’s how to watch all 33 hours of the show before the third season resumes on Monday, August 18.


Friday, August 15

9 to 11 p.m. Kick off your marathon on Friday night at 9 o’clock — the holiest hour of the week for “Dallas” fans — with a double feature of the TNT’s show’s first two episodes: “Changing of the Guard” and “Hedging Your Bets.”

Can you watch the former without getting chills when J.R. (Larry Hagman) doffs his cowboy hat, flashes his grin and declares, “Bobby may not be stupid, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter”? Can you watch the latter without getting choked up when our hero tells Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) she’s “still the prettiest girl at the ball”? Me either.


Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, TNT

First time for everything

Saturday, August 16

7 a.m. Rise and shine, darlins! With so much “Dallas” to watch today, there’ll be no sleeping in. Resume your marathon with “The Price You Pay,” in which Julie Gonzalo’s character receives a smartphone pic of her husband kissing another woman. Get used to it, honey.

8 a.m. Have breakfast with “The Last Hurrah,” in which John Ross (Josh Henderson) squirts Elena (Jordana Brewster) with his hose. Insert your own joke here.

9 a.m. Have you done your workout yet? Download “Truth and Consequences” to your mobile device and head to the gym. Mitch Pileggi’s debut as Harris Ryland is bound to get your heart racing.

10 a.m. Got errands to run? Chores to complete? You’ve got one hour. Make the most of it.

11 a.m. We learn jewelry makes Ann (Brenda Strong) cry in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Then again, doesn’t everything?

Noon. Grab lunch while watching “Collateral Damage,” in which Vicente Cano (Carlos Bernard) wonders if John Ross: 1) is a good dancer, and 2) has any oil in his pipeline. OMG, Vicente was such a flirt!

1 p.m. Tommy (Callard Harris) plants a kiss on Rebecca in “No Good Deed” — which is almost as creepy as when Nicolas starts smooching Elena in Season 3.

2 p.m. Bloody monkeys, Johnny Cash and the redemption of J.R. Ewing. It’s “Family Business” — one of my favorite episodes of this show.

3 p.m. Carmen (Marlene Forte) gets one of the crummiest chores in “Dallas” history — returning Elena’s engagement ring to John Ross — in “Revelations.” Also: More Johnny Cash!

4 p.m. Have you taken a bathroom break yet? If not, take care of that now, and then hurry back to your TV or tablet to watch the second-season opener, “Battle Lines,” in which Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) learns his wife is really his cousin. Ick.

5 p.m. In “Venomous Creatures,” J.R. saves Sue Ellen from going to jail and Judith Light discovers a taste for “Dallas” scenery.

6 p.m. Drew (Kuno Becker) arrives in “Sins of the Father” — his hair won’t show up for several more episodes — and calls John Ross “J-Ro.” Thank heavens that didn’t catch on. Also: Ann shoots Harris!

7 p.m. Has your family seen you at all today? Why not take a break from the Ewings and go have dinner with them.

8 p.m. to midnight: The next four episodes are a murder-a-thon, so brace yourself. Frank (Faran Tahir) offs himself in “False Confessions,” Brenda Strong kills it during Ann’s testimony scene in “Trial and Error,” Vicente bites the dust in “Blame Game,” and then the saddest shot of all: the death of J.R. Ewing in “The Furious and the Fast.”

Midnight. The nice thing about a late-night viewing of “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is that no one else in your house is awake to see you bawling. Once you’ve dried your tears, catch some shut-eye. Tomorrow is going to be another big day.


Dallas, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Leg up

Sunday, August 17

8 a.m. You did a hell of a job yesterday, “Dallas” fan. Your reward: You get to start your Sunday with the wonderfully wacky hodgepodge that is “Ewings Unite!” Miss Ellie disinherits Bobby from beyond the grave, Valene (Joan Van Ark) reveals she’s as loony as ever and Cliff becomes the most hated man in the history of “Dallas” fandom.

9 a.m. Audrey Landers shows she can slink around a corner better than anyone in “Guilt and Innocence.”

10 a.m. In “Let Me In,” Harris reveals his fondness for: 1) TV nature documentaries, 2) Almonds, and 3) Hunting Ramoses.

11 a.m. John Ross and Pamela get wet in “A Call to Arms.”

Noon. You know what goes good with a nice, leisurely Sunday brunch? Watching Bobby take that badass, slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.”

1 p.m. Christopher discovers the mystery lady under the big hat is not his mama in “Guilt by Association.” It’s not Aunt Katherine either, sadly.

2 p.m. Kevin Page joins Mary Crosby as an answer to “Dallas’s” most famous trivia question in “Legacies.”

3 p.m. You might think this would be a good time to take a break, but you’d be wrong. The die is cast and there’s no turning back, so keep plugging away with the third-season episodes, beginning with “The Return,” in which J.R.’s belt buckle begins wearing John Ross. Also: Hello, Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace)!

4 p.m. Time for “Trust Me” a.k.a. “Judith’s Snow Day.”

5 p.m. In “Playing Chicken,” Professor Bobby Ewing teaches us about endangered wildlife.

6 p.m. “Lifting the Veil” is the episode that should’ve included Sue Ellen’s comparison of Emma (Emma Bell) to Kristin, but instead it’s the episode that gives us scenes of hookers in canine costumes.

7 p.m. Dinnertime! Enjoy a glass of J.R. Ewing Bourbon (surely you have some, right?) while watching “D.T.R.” After the episode, check your bottle and make sure Sue Ellen didn’t bug it.

8 p.m. Despite the title “Like Father, Like Son,” John Ross wants you to know that he is not his father! Also: Carter McKay has grandchildren!

9 p.m. Pamela rocks Stella McCartney in “Like a Bad Penny.”

10 p.m. It’s finally time for “Where There’s Smoke.” Southfork goes up in flames and you get to go down for a well-deserved rest. Don’t forget to watch “Dallas’s” midseason premiere Monday night!

What are your favorite “Dallas” episodes? Share your choices below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’s’ Ratings Rise During Week 3

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, False Confessions, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Relax. The numbers will go up.

More viewers made time for “Dallas” this week.

TNT’s telecast of the latest episode, “False Confessions,” was seen by 2.4 million viewers on Feb. 11. The audience grew almost 10 percent from the previous week’s telecast.

“Dallas” is also getting a healthy boost from DVR users. The two-hour season opener – comprised of back-to-back telecasts of “Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures” – was seen by 2.9 million viewers on January 28, although the audience soared to 3.7 million when people who recorded the show and watched it a few days later were counted.

The second season’s third episode, “Sins of the Father,” was seen by 2.2 million viewers on Feb. 4, but by the end of the week, DVR users had increased the audience to 2.9 million.

“Dallas’s” first season averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights last summer, although DVR users boosted its weekly haul to 6.1 million.

In last week’s edition of “Drill Bits,” TV ratings expert Marc Berman said a decline was expected since “Dallas” is now being telecast on Mondays in the winter, when it faces tougher competition on the broadcast networks.

Strong Speaks

Dallas Decoder was lucky to participate in a press call last week with Brenda Strong, who dished on her character Ann’s recent shooting of ex-husband Harris, “Dallas’s” ratings, working with Larry Hagman and more. If you haven’t already read it, be sure to check it out.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Returns, But Some Viewers Don’t

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Venomous Creatures

He showed up. Did you?

Mondays are a bitch: “Dallas” opened its second season in its new Monday time slot this week – and a lot of fans didn’t show up.

The two-hour premiere drew 2.98 million viewers on January 28. As the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, the numbers were down 58 percent from the series debut last summer and 32 percent from the first-season finale. Ouch.

There could be a couple of explanations for the decline. TNT showed “Dallas’s” first season during the summertime, when the competition on other channels tends to be lighter. This week’s premiere – which actually consisted of two one-hour episodes, “Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures,” that were telecast back-to-back – faced fresh episodes of “The Biggest Loser” and “The Bachelor” on the broadcast networks.

Also worth noting: “Dallas” was a hit with DVR users last year. The series averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights, but once people who recorded the show and watched later were counted, “Dallas’s” weekly haul surged to 6.1 million viewers. Perhaps ratings for the second-season premiere will get a big boost once DVR users are included?

And don’t forget: “Dallas” has a history of bouncing back from ratings dips. Back in 1978, CBS moved the original “Dallas” to Saturday nights for its second season. ABC’s “Fantasy Island” crushed the show, prompting CBS to restore it to its original Sunday berth before shifting it to Fridays, where it remained for the rest of its run.

Say You Want a Resolution?

It’s no secret “Dallas’s” longtime fans are clamoring for the return of Pam, the classic show’s heroine, immortalized by Victoria Principal. And if fans can’t have Pam, they at least want to know what happened to the character, who fled Southfork in 1987.

We may soon get our wish.

Check out this tantalizing exchange from Jesse Metcalfe’s recent conference call with reporters and bloggers:

Reporter: Will we learn any more this season about what happened with Pam in the last 20 years, where she’s been and what happened with her and Christopher?

Metcalfe: Yes. Yes we will. Unfortunately I can’t tell you much more than that. I’m sorry.

OK, fellow Pam fans. Start salivating.

Dress Like ‘Dallas’

If you love the styles worn by the women of Southfork, you’re in luck: HSN has opened an online Dallas boutique featuring clothing and accessories inspired by Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Ann (Brenda Strong), Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). The show’s ace costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, selected the products in the collection.

Sorry, fellas. If you want to dress like John Ross or Christopher, you’re on your own.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Cliff Barnes is My Father’

Battle Lines, Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Rebecca Sutter

Daddy’s girl

In “Battle Lines,” “Dallas’s” second-season opener, Frank (Faran Tahir) escorts Bobby and Christopher (Patrick Duffy, Jesse Metcalfe) into the Barnes Global boardroom, where Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) awaits them.

CHRISTOPHER: What the hell’s going on, Rebecca?

PAMELA: I should probably introduce myself. My middle name is Rebecca. When I was a little girl, that’s what my mother called me. But my father, he likes to call me by my first name. By my aunt’s name: Pamela. My full name is Pamela Rebecca Barnes. Cliff Barnes is my father.

CHRISTOPHER: He’s your what?

PAMELA: [To Bobby] I’m Afton’s daughter. I changed my name to Rebecca Sutter because of my father.

BOBBY: Because your crazy father is stuck in a feud that should have ended decades ago.

PAMELA: Because I knew the burden my name would be with your family. Like it was with you and my aunt. I fell in love with you, Christopher. The truth is, I would have done anything for you. But sadly, I think we’re past any declarations of love we may have once had for each other. So let’s just get to the point. I have no interest in money. My father can buy and sell you many times over. What I want is for my children to have a father in their lives. I never did growing up. And I’m afraid that’s made me do a great many stupid things in life.

CHRISTOPHER: Like conning me. And lying to me. Listen, I told you, you’re never going to see those babies. I promise you.

PAMELA: I’d like to make you an offer. I keep primary custody of the children, but you can see them every day.

BOBBY: You screw over my son, and then you want to make an offer? You certainly are your father’s daughter.

PAMELA: My father thinks – and I agree with him – that since we were married when you created Ewing Energies that I should get a part of it. I would like 30 percent of your ownership. You must know that if we go to divorce court –

CHRISTOPHER: Our marriage was a fraud and it will be annulled. And an annulment will get you no part of my family’s company. The fact that you kept from me that you’re Cliff Barnes’s daughter proves that our marriage was a sham from the start.

PAMELA: If you don’t take my deal now, I will go to court and fight you with the full weight of my father’s power. And I think you know that destroying the Ewings means everything to him.

CHRISTOPHER: You’re out of your mind. And you’d better come at me with everything you’ve got. Because I’m going to take you down.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 11 – ‘Battle Lines’

Battle Lines, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

The last hurrah

“Battle Lines” is the first hour of the new “Dallas’s” second season and the beginning of Larry Hagman’s last hurrah as J.R. Ewing. The actor filmed this episode about two months before his death last fall, but you wouldn’t know he was nearing the end of his life by watching him here. Hagman looks thin and sounds a little raspy, but the light in his eyes hasn’t dimmed. Not one bit.

J.R. appears four times in “Battle Lines.” Predictably, they are the best scenes in the episode. In the first, John Ross strides through the reception area at Ewing Energies and is greeted by his assistant, who apologizes for the unexpected visitor waiting for him in his office. “Don’t worry about it. I know how slippery snakes can be,” John Ross says, and as he enters the room, we find J.R. with his boots propped up on junior’s desk. “Is that any way to talk about your father?” the old man asks with a smirk.

The first time I watched “Battle Lines” and saw Hagman sitting there, I almost got teary. But as the scene played out, with J.R. and John Ross plotting against Bobby and Christopher, I saw how much fun Hagman seemed to be having, and pretty soon, I was enjoying the ride. J.R.’s dialogue is a little corny (“Just remember my boy, vengeance is a dish best served cold”), but that’s OK. What J.R. says has never mattered as much as how Hagman says it, and his delivery here is flawless. Every line drips with equal parts honey and venom.

Hagman also supplies “Battle Lines” with its most poignant moment, when J.R. hangs his head in sorrow after watching the TV news report about Sue Ellen’s Election Day scandal. The actor also gets two scenes with Patrick Duffy, and both sequences cast J.R. as the impolitic octogenarian and Bobby as his eye-rolling straight man. Here’s J.R. explaining the reason for his visit to Ewing Energies: “I came over to deliver some muffins to the pretty little secretaries. Who could’ve guessed so many would turn out to be men?” And here he is offering his prescription for dealing with Cliff Barnes: “We should hire some roughnecks, take him for a long ride.” Cue Bobby’s exasperated reaction, and then J.R.’s kicker: “I’m just putting it on the table, Bobby.”

But even though Hagman is the best thing about “Battle Lines,” he isn’t the only good thing. Josh Henderson looks like he’s having as much fun as his on-screen daddy, although if the younger actor feels any temptation to imitate Hagman, he’s wisely resisting it. Hagman swaggers, but Henderson struts. J.R. is confident, but John Ross is cocky. Both actors have charm to spare, but Henderson is giving John Ross his own brand of cool. He gives me hope for the post-J.R. era of “Dallas.”

The other actor to watch in “Battle Lines” is Julie Gonzalo, who transforms desperate Rebecca into driven Pamela. Gonzalo gets an assist from costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who has skillfully traded Rebecca’s cheery dresses for Pamela’s dark suits, but the wardrobe change isn’t the only reason this metamorphosis succeeds. Gonzalo now carries herself with unflinching resolve, although she offers enough of a hint of vulnerability to suggest Pamela’s quest for revenge has more to do with her own broken heart than her daddy’s vendetta against the Ewings. It’s a clever performance.

I also appreciate the classic “Dallas” shorthand that Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner drop into their “Battle Lines” script, including Pamela’s references to her namesake aunt and mother Afton, as well as the mention of Westar during Elena’s business meeting. (And is that the old Oil Baron’s Club building I spot through the office window in that scene?) The other “Battle Lines” highlights are Christopher and Elena’s sexy romp in the Southfork swimming pool (turns out the new show’s first pool scene was worth the wait), and the introduction of Christopher’s racecar subplot, which is an intriguing way to continue last season’s alternative fuels saga. I also like this story because it gives the underappreciated Jesse Metcalfe something to do besides reacting to Henderson. Metcalfe looks like he’s having a lot of fun in those racetrack scenes. Isn’t it nice to see Christopher smile for a change?

Not everything in “Battle Lines” works. Director Michael M. Robin does a nice job bringing the sleek Ewing Energies set to life, but the CGI skyline outside the windows looks, well, like CGI. (I’m not buying that logo on the outside of the Barnes Global building either.) More bothersome: the plot holes in Brenda Strong’s storyline. I’m glad we now know Ann’s secret – when she was married to Harris, they had a daughter who was snatched from her stroller at the Texas State Fair – although I’m not sure why Ann kept this from Bobby, or why Bobby wouldn’t know in the first place. Don’t the Ewings ever check out the people they marry?

The revelation of Sue Ellen’s blackmail scheme doesn’t ring true either. She learns the medical examiner has ratted her out while watching a TV news report that includes a sound bite from her gubernatorial opponent’s camp. Shouldn’t the reporter have contacted Sue Ellen for comment too? And while we’re on this subject: I had hoped Sue Ellen’s campaign would become a metaphor for the character’s redemption after her scandalous behavior on the old show. Imagine if the car accident that led to Mickey Trotter’s death had become Sue Ellen’s Chappaquiddick, or if the new series had used her past affairs to say something about the double standard that so many women politicians encounter in real life. Think about what Linda Gray could have done with material like that.

Or maybe don’t think about it. Season premieres are about moving forward, and that’s what “Battle Lines” does. This episode feels like the work of storytellers who are more confident than they were at the outset of last season. They seem to have a better understanding of what they want “Dallas” to be, and also what diehards like me want to see. More and more, those things don’t seem mutually exclusive.

Grade: B


Battle Lines, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT



Season 2, Episode 1

Telecast: January 28, 2013

Writers: Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner

Director: Michael M. Robin

Audience: 2.9 million viewers on January 28

Synopsis: Rebecca reveals she is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Cliff and Afton’s daughter, and tells Christopher she wants partial ownership of Ewing Energies. Christopher brings Tommy’s sister Becky to Dallas to testify at his annulment hearing, but she secretly aligns with John Ross, who wants to use Pamela and Becky to maneuver Christopher out of the company. Ann tells Bobby she and Harris have a daughter, Emma, who was kidnapped as a child, but when Ann tracks down the young woman, Emma rejects her. Sue Ellen’s blackmail scheme is exposed on Election Day.

Cast: Amir Arison (Dr. Varun Rasmussen), Emma Bell (Emma), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Brett Brock (Clyde Marshall), Caitlin Custer (Brandee Cartwell), Jason Douglas (Erik Allen), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Eddie Gossage (himself), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Sean Hennigan (Robert Cartwell), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Alex McKenna (Becky Sutter), Glenn Morshower (Lou Bergen), Tammy Nguyen (Charlotte), Marco Perella (Mark), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Natalie Quintanilla (John Ross’s secretary), Ricky Rudd (himself), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank Ashkani)

“Battle Lines” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela’s Mother, Afton Cooper

Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela's Mother, Afton Cooper 1

In “Battle Lines,” the first episode of the new “Dallas’s” second season, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) reveals she’s the daughter of Cliff and Afton, portrayed by Ken Kercheval and Audrey Landers in the original series. Everyone knows Cliff’s story, but how well do you remember Afton? Here’s a refresher.



She started off as J.R.’s gal. Afton, a Mississippi girl of modest means, came to Southfork in 1981 to attend the wedding of her brother Mitch (Leigh McCloskey) to Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton). J.R. (Larry Hagman) was instantly smitten with hot-to-trot Afton – and the feeling was mutual. In fact, Afton was so fascinated with J.R., she slept with him during the wedding reception – in the bed he shared with Sue Ellen! Not cool, Afton!



With Cliff, Afton found true love. J.R. made Afton spy on his nemesis Cliff (Ken Kercheval), but she ended up falling in love with the poor schmuck. She quit working for J.R., ditched the bad girl act and became Cliff’s main squeeze, sticking by him through thick and thin. Although Cliff often took Afton for granted, she’d do anything for him. Once, she even slept with a creepy refinery owner to help Cliff seal a big deal. That’s love, people.


Pam’s pal

Afton and Pam: BFFs. As Cliff’s steady girlfriend, Afton grew close to his mom Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) and sister Pam (Victoria Principal). But wise Afton was always suspicious of Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine (Morgan Brittany). When she realized Katherine was trying to steal Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Afton warned Pam and everyone else, but no one took her seriously. Silly Barneses. When Afton speaks, you ought to listen!


Best of enemies

Afton and Sue Ellen: Not BFFs. When Cliff began to fall in love with Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) again, Afton didn’t take it lying down. In one of the classic “Dallas” showdowns, she confronted Sue Ellen and told her to stay away from Cliff. Afton: “We both do seem to have the same taste in men.” Sue Ellen: “The fact that you were sleeping with my ex-husband doesn’t mean we have the same taste in anything.” She’s got you there, Afton.

Saving the day ... again

Saving the day … again

Bobby’s savior. When Afton went to the Ewing Oil offices late one night to confront J.R. over his latest scheme against Cliff, J.R. was nowhere to be found – but Bobby was bleeding on the floor! (He’d been shot by Katherine. See what I mean about Afton always being right?) She called an ambulance for Bobby – and then she went home, packed her bags and left town to get away from these drama addicts. This was her smartest move yet.


Otherwise engaged

Mommy? Yes. Wifey? No. A few years after she left him, Cliff discovered Afton had become a single mom to an adorable moppet named Pamela Rebecca (Jenna Pangburn). He became convinced the child was his and proposed to Afton, but she lied and told him another man was the father. Afton feared Cliff was still obsessed with the Ewings, and she didn’t want him anywhere near their daughter. Once again, Afton was right.

What pipes!

What pipes!

Oh, and girlfriend can sing too! You know how TNT’s “Dallas” features pop music and everyone thinks it’s so cool? Well, before Adele and Johnny Cash began supplying the Ewings with their own personal soundtrack, that was Afton’s job. She worked as a singer, which gave “Dallas” a clever excuse to showcase Landers’ gorgeous voice. Landers wrote the songs she performed on the show, including Afton’s signature, “Steal Me Away.”

Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl?

Nothing to see here. Move along. The 1996 reunion flick “J.R. Returns” ends with Cliff finally giving up his fight with J.R. and reuniting with Afton and the teenaged Pamela Rebecca (Deborah Kellner). It now seems like the events of this movie didn’t really happen (was it another one of Pam’s dreams?), but fear not: Maybe Afton will get another shot at a happy ending when she visits the new “Dallas” later this season.

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 1

Flame on!

Flame on!

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures,” the first two episodes of “Dallas’s” second season:

• What’s Pamela’s plan? At the end of “Revelations,” the first-season finale, Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) went to an airport hanger to meet with the mastermind behind her scheme against Christopher: her father … Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval)! Showrunner Cynthia Cidre has since confirmed Rebecca Sutter Ewing is really Pamela Rebecca Barnes, the daughter Cliff and Afton conceived during the original “Dallas’s” run. Pamela promised Cliff she wouldn’t lose focus, and as he boarded his jet, his henchman Frank (Faran Tahir) turned to Pamela and asked, “So what’s our first move, Miss Barnes?” Good question, Frank.

Ewing Energies: How’s that working out? As the battle for Southfork ended, John Ross (Josh Henderson), Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and Elena (Jordana Brewster) formed a startup with Bobby (Patrick Duffy): Ewing Energies. Things were going well until Elena discovered John Ross’s duplicities, broke off their engagement and resumed her romance with Christopher. Now that Christopher and Elena are back together, how awkward are things going to be around the Ewing Energies watercooler?

• What’s Ann’s secret? This was one of the few storylines that “Dallas” didn’t get around to wrapping up last season. Here’s what we know: Ann’s ex-husband Harris (Mitch Pileggi) knows what she’s hiding and gave Bobby an envelope with evidence that would supposedly reveal everything – but Bobby tossed the envelope into the Southfork fireplace. As it burned, we saw a photo of Ann (Brenda Strong) holding a child. Harris also sent Ann a locket that made her cry. What’s it all mean?

Will Sue Ellen win the election? When John Ross was falsely accused of murder, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) blackmailed a medical examiner to alter the evidence against her son so he could get out of jail. Meanwhile, when Harris tried to blackmail Sue Ellen, Ann secretly recorded him confessing to his crimes and gave the recording to Sue Ellen. Will gubernatorial candidate Sue Ellen make it through the rest of the campaign with these secrets intact?

More questions: Will anyone discover Pamela shot and killed Tommy, her accomplice in the scheme against Christopher? Is Tommy’s sister Becky (Alex McKenna) still trying to get ahold of him? And J.R. (Larry Hagman) was looking awfully sneaky when the season ended. What’s he up to?

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

New Season, New Features

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Look what’s in store

The start of “Dallas’s” second season signals some changes at Dallas Decoder. Here’s what you’ll see:

“Burning Questions.” This weekly feature, which debuts today, will address the questions left unanswered at the end of the previous “Dallas” episode. The goal: to help fans refresh their memories before TNT telecasts the latest installment each Monday night.

Critiques and Scenes of the Day. Like I did last season, I’ll review each new episode and highlight one notable scene. My critique of “Battle Lines,” the first half of tonight’s two-hour opener, will be posted tomorrow, while my “Venomous Creatures” review will be available Wednesday. I’m taking a break from critiquing the classic series for awhile, but those posts will return eventually.

“Drill Bits.” This is where you’ll find news about “Dallas’s” ratings, as well as trivia and other tidbits. I hope to post a new “Drill Bits” each Wednesday, although you might see this feature pop up on other days too.

Tweets and Facebook posts. I plan to tweet throughout the East Coast telecast of each new episode, beginning tonight at 9. Please join me! My Twitter handle is @DallasDecoder and I’d love to hear from you during the show. Also: If you haven’t done so already, please consider “liking” Dallas Decoder’s Facebook page.

If you have ideas for other things you’d like to see, please share them in the comments section below or e-mail me at dallasdecoder-at-gmail.com. I want to make this site lively, fun and above all useful to my fellow fans, so if there’s something I’m not doing that I should be, please let me know.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the new season of “Dallas”!

‘Dallas’s’ Second Season Gets Off to a Promising Start

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Lessons learned

At one point during “Dallas’s” second-season premiere, J.R. offers Sue Ellen a sly grin and declares, “I never learn my lesson.” Maybe not, but the people who make “Dallas” seem to have learned theirs. This has been a good show from the beginning, but diehards like me couldn’t help but feel bothered by some of the historical flubs in the first-season plotlines (don’t get us started on those Southfork mineral rights) or the fact that our beloved Linda Gray was missing from two whole episodes.

Thankfully, those days appear to be over. The two-hour premiere, which TNT will telecast Monday, January 28, does a nice job giving “Dallas” devotees the stuff we crave. The first shot of the first scene is none other than Sue Ellen – a signal, I hope, that Gray will have a prominent role this year. The opener also offers the first Southfork swimming pool scene in 22 years, references to two long-unseen “Dallas” characters, and a fleeting-but-much-appreciated mention of an institution that was significant to the old show’s mythology. Someone’s been doing their homework.

Best of all, J.R. gets lots of screen time in the extended premiere, which is actually two one-hour episodes (“Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures”) that TNT will telecast back-to-back. Larry Hagman filmed a handful of episodes before his death last November, and in these first two hours, he’s as great as ever. Hagman’s scenes with Patrick Duffy will make you chuckle, while his exchanges with Gray will leave you reaching for the tissues. The magic is still there.

Of course, as much as I love watching my old favorites, it’s also good to see “Dallas” cultivating its next generation of stars. Josh Henderson has become a worthy heir to Hagman’s badassery, although he now has competition from an unexpected source: Julie Gonzalo, who is a hellion in heels as Cliff’s vengeful daughter. I’m also pleased to report the premiere gives Jordana Brewster some meaningful scenes. Brewster remains one of the best actors in this ensemble; she makes Elena feel like the kind of person you might know in real life, which – let’s face it – doesn’t always happen on shows like this. Henderson and Gonzalo might get the juicy lines, but Brewster and Jesse Metcalfe, her equally good leading man, keep “Dallas” grounded.

The premiere also establishes the battle for Ewing Energies as the season’s main story arc and introduces us to the sleek Ewing Energies set, which looks absolutely nothing like the offices seen on the old show. (Please note: This isn’t a complaint.) A nifty subplot focuses on Christopher’s foray into racecar driving, and we also learn Ann’s dark secret, a storyline that has more than a few holes but nonetheless offers a nice showcase for Brenda Strong.

Other highlights include our first glimpse of the mysterious new character Emma Brown, played by Emma Bell, who was so memorable as the doomed Amy on “The Walking Dead.” (I wonder: Does Bell find zombies or Ewings more cannibalistic?) We also meet Harris Ryland’s mother Judith, played to the hilt by Judith Light. Yes, Light is only three years older than Mitch Pileggi, who plays Harris. It’s too early to know if audiences are going to buy this, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Light.

The real question is how “Dallas” will fare once it runs out of episodes featuring Hagman. This week, TV Guide reported the show will write out its star with a “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery that will echo the old “Dallas’s” most famous cliffhanger. Whether or not this idea is really brilliant or really lousy will depend on the execution, but it’s a good sign the show is bringing back so many favorites for J.R.’s funeral and memorial service. The guest list will include Deborah Shelton, who played J.R.’s longest-running (three seasons!) mistress Mandy, and Cathy Podewell, who portrayed his second wife Cally, along with four characters who require no explanation: Gary (Ted Shackleford), Lucy (Charlene Tilton), Ray (Steve Kanaly) and Cliff (Ken Kercheval).

This group includes some of “Dallas’s” most iconic figures. Watching them come together to mourn – or celebrate – the death of the biggest icon of all is bound to be great television. It will never satisfy all of “Dallas’s” hardcore fans, but you have to hand it to the people who make the show. At least they’re trying.

What do you want to see during “Dallas’s” second season? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.