The Art of Dallas: ‘Blocked’

J.R. (Larry Hagman) gets shoved into the Southfork swimming pool in this 1981 publicity shot from “Blocked,” a fifth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘No Deal, J.R.’

Don't box him in

Don’t box him in

In “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “Blocked,” Clayton (Howard Keel) arrives in a hotel suite for a meeting with J.R. (Larry Hagman).

J.R.: Well, I was beginning to think that you had changed your mind.

CLAYTON: I heard a lot of stories about you, J.R. I heard you were a snake – but I never realized just how low you’d sink.

J.R.: [Smiles] Did you come here to give me an evaluation of my character?

CLAYTON: No, J.R., I didn’t. I just want to know why you bought up all my crude – what your terms are so I can get back into business.

J.R.: Why don’t you have a little eye-opener. We can discuss this in a civilized manner.

CLAYTON: No, thank you. [Walks closer] And this is not a civilized situation. How much do you want for the oil?

J.R.: Oh, I think you’ll find my terms acceptable.

CLAYTON: You paid over market price. Otherwise you wouldn’t have got it. Now why would I find that acceptable?

J.R.: You have no choice. [Sits, smiles] See, I happen to know that you’re shutting down your refineries.

CLAYTON: You’ve invested a fortune trying to box me in. Why? Is it vengeance because I protected Sue Ellen?

J.R.: It’s business. Before I sell you a drop of my oil, I want Sue Ellen and John Ross off the Southern Cross ranch – away from you and your son.

CLAYTON: You’re holding my oil hostage in return for Sue Ellen?

J.R.: I don’t give a damn for Sue Ellen. I want my son back. And I’m willing to sell you that oil at the going market price – if you send those two packing.

CLAYTON: Then what? You think Sue Ellen’s going to return to Southfork? [Chuckles] She hates you so much she’d never do that.

J.R.: Well, Mr. Farlow, I know that woman a lot better than you do. She can’t make it on her own. Every time she runs away, it’s to another man. And what do you care anyway? [Rises, walks toward Clayton] With this deal you can keep your refineries open, your employees employed and not suffer any loss.

CLAYTON: No deal, J.R.

J.R.: Just how long do you think you’re going to be able to keep open?

CLAYTON: The terms you just offered me? Forever.

J.R.: She means nothing to you.

CLAYTON: You’re wrong. I respect her. And she means everything to my son. And the child belongs with her. [Turns and heads for the door]

J.R.: I’ll break you.

CLAYTON: Better men than you have tried it. No, J.R., you’re the one who’s going broke. I was late getting here because I stopped to find out the latest report on oil prices. Down almost a dollar a barrel and still falling. And you’re sitting on five million barrels. Now, your bankers are not going to be patient forever. [Reaches the door, stops, turns] By the time your daddy gets back from South America, there just might not be a Ewing Oil.

He exits, leaving J.R. looking worried.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 84 – ‘Blocked’

The gentleman from San Angelo

The gentleman from San Angelo

Howard Keel makes his ninth “Dallas” appearance in “Blocked,” but this is the first time we get a sense of who his character, Clayton Farlow, is. By the time the episode ends, two things are clear: Clayton has become a formidable foe for J.R. – and Keel has become the show’s best addition since Susan Howard arrived during the second season.

I always remembered Clayton as being the quintessential southern gentleman, so it’s been surprising to re-watch Keel’s first few episodes and be reminded that’s not how the character started out. Clayton is pretty gruff in the beginning. The best example is probably the Farlow family dinner scene in “Showdown at San Angelo,” when Clayton brusquely shoots down Sue Ellen’s suggestion that she and Dusty could go into town after their meal to see a movie.

“Blocked” marks the moment the Clayton I love emerges. In this episode, he learns someone has shut off the flow of oil to his refineries, yet he never loses his cool over it. The situation also reveals Clayton’s compassionate side: He dips into his company’s cash reserves to keep his employees from being pink-slipped, and once the Farlows realize J.R. is behind the shutdown, Clayton refuses Sue Ellen’s offer to leave the Southern Cross to spare the family further trouble.

Of course, Clayton may be kind, but he’s no pushover. In the final scene, J.R. tells Clayton he’ll release his crude – if Clayton kicks Sue Ellen and John Ross off the Southern Cross. Mr. Farlow is resolute: “No deal, J.R.” What a fantastic moment. Often when J.R. is backed into a corner, I sympathize with him, but in this instance, I root for Clayton – which is about as good an indication as any that he’s become a bona fide “Dallas” hero.

“Blocked” has other several good scenes: Senator Dickson chastises Bobby for missing several committee votes (nice of the show to remind viewers Bobby is a public official), Cliff and Afton trade barbs when he drops by the Stardust and Sue Ellen storms into J.R.’s office to confront him over his plot against the Farlows.

“Blocked” also includes the memorable moment where Donna pushes J.R. into the Southfork swimming pool. It’s a fun sequence, but after this episode, it’s pretty clear that if anyone is going to sink J.R., it’s going to be the gentleman from San Angelo.

Grade: B


The skunk, sunk

The skunk, sunk


Season 5, Episode 7

Airdate: November 20, 1981

Audience: 24 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Clayton refuses J.R. offer to release the Farlows’ oil in exchange for John Ross. Bobby determines Jordan didn’t father Christopher and fears Pam won’t recover from her depression. Mitch accepts Dr. Waring’s job offer.

Cast: Gary Bayer (Don Martin), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Deborah Benson (secretary), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Robert Ginnaven (Chuck Williamson), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Art Hindle (Jeff Farraday), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Andy Jarrell (Neal Hart), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), David Tress (Walter Sher), Joseph Warren (Senator Dickson), Gretchen Wyler (Dr. Dagmara Conrad)

“Blocked” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.