In Memoriam: Our 2016 ‘Dallas’ Tributes

Barry Jenner, Dallas, George Kennedy, Jim Gough, Maj Hagman

Dallas Decoder remembers the “Dallas” actors, crew members and other contributors who died in 2016. Click on each person’s name to learn more about his or her career at


Anthony Addabbo, Dallas, Jeff Peters

Anthony Addabbo

Anthony Addabbo

Died October 18 (age 56)

In the 14th-season episode “Smooth Operator,” Addabbo played John, a Hollywood wannabe who pitched Bobby on a TV series that sounded suspiciously like “Twin Peaks.” Eight episodes later, in the series finale “Conundrum,” Addabbo appeared as Sue Ellen’s slimy Hollywood agent, Jeff Peters.


Dallas, Janine, Patricia Barry

Patricia Barry

Patricia Barry

Died October 11 (age 93)

Barry made guest appearances on many episodic series from the 1950s through the early 2000s. In the 14th-season “Dallas” episode “Lock, Stock and Jock,” she played Janine, a married woman who refused to provide Carter McKay with an alibi after his arrest for Johnny Dancer’s murder.


Dallas, Peter Brown, Tom Flintoff

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Died March 21 (age 80)

In the fifth-season episode “Denial,” Brown, a veteran of the 1960s western “Laredo,” played Tom Flintoff, the creep who tried to force himself on Sue Ellen shortly after her divorce from J.R. Brown’s nephew, Phillip Brown, played architect Brian Johnston on “Knots Landing.”


Dallas, Dr. McWright, Paul Comi,

Paul Comi

Paul Comi

Died August 26 (age 84)

Comi played Dr. McWright, the pediatrician who examined baby Christopher in “Waterloo at Southfork.” Comi logged many other TV guest shots during his 50-year career, including three episodes of “Knots Landing” and a memorable turn in the “Star Trek” classic “Balance of Terror.”


Dallas, Lydia, Ronnie Claire Edwards

Ronnie Claire Edwards

Ronnie Claire Edwards

Died June 14 (age 83)

Edwards, who is best known for her role as Corabeth on “The Waltons,” appeared in the eighth-season “Dallas” episode “Barbecue Five” as Lydia, the tarot card reader that Pam consults during her search for Mark. Edwards also did guest spots on “Falcon Crest” and “Dynasty,” among many other shows.


Knots Landing, Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Died December 18 (age 99)

Gabor played herself in “Svengali,” a 1982 “Knots Landing” episode in which Valene appears on Mike Douglas’s TV talk show to promote “Capricorn Crude,” her fictionalized book about the Ewings. In real life, Gabor and Larry Hagman once appeared together on a 1979 episode of “The Mike Douglas Show.”


Congressman Oates, Dallas, Jim Gough

Jim Gough

Jim Gough

Died June 7 (age 85)

Gough appeared on “Dallas” as Senator Lee in “Barbecue” (Season 1), Congressman Oates in “Runaway” (Season 2) and the rodeo announcer in “Close Encounters” (Season 9). His other notable credits include a role in the film “JFK” and a guest spot on the Leonard Katzman-produced “Walker Texas Ranger.”


Dallas, Rick F. Gunter

Rick F. Gunter

Rick F. Gunter

Died August 31 (age 65)

Gunter served as “Dallas’s” cinematographer during most of the original show’s final three seasons. He later served as director of photography for several other series, including “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Charmed” and “The Wizards of Waverly Place,” for which he received an Emmy nomination in 2011.


Dallas, Maj Hagman

Maj Hagman

Maj Hagman

Died May 31 (age 88)

Hagman was married to Larry Hagman from 1954 until his death in 2012. Their daughter Kristina appeared in several episodes on the original “Dallas” and this year wrote a book, “The Eternal Party,” about her family, including her mother’s talent as a fashion designer, hostess extraordinaire and devoted spouse.


Dallas, John Hostetter, Paul Derber

John Hostetter

John Hostetter

Died September 2 (age 69)

Hostetter appeared in the 11th-season episode “Lovers and Other Liars” as Paul Derber, a poker buddy of Nicholas Pearce. He also did two guest spots as police offers on “Knots Landing,” was a semi-regular on “Murphy Brown” and voiced Bazooka on the 1980s “G.I. Joe” animated series.


Barry Jenner, Dallas, Dr. Jerry Kenderson

Barry Jenner

Barry Jenner

Died August 9 (age 75)

From 1984 through 1986, Jenner appeared on “Dallas” as Dr. Jerry Kenderson, Mark Graison’s physician and a Sue Ellen’s suitor. He also appeared in four “Knots Landing” entries as Jeff Cunningham, Abby’s ex-husband, and he was a semi-regular on “Family Matters” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” among many other roles.


Carter McKay, Dallas, George Kennedy

George Kennedy

George Kennedy

Died February 28 (age 91)

Kennedy, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke,” played villainous oil baron and Southfork neighbor Carter McKay during “Dallas’s” 12th, 13th and 14th seasons and two reunion movies, “J.R. Returns” and “War of the Ewings.” Dallas Decoder published a tribute to him in March.


Archie Lang, Dallas

Archie Lang

Archie Lang

Died February 17 (age 95)

Lang played a banking associate of Franklin Horner in the fifth-season episode “The Big Shut Down,” then returned for a five-episode stint in the 13th season as Senator Lee, a member of the panel that investigated the Ewing Oil tanker accident. Lang’s other credits include guest spots on “Knots Landing” and “The Waltons.”


Dallas, Leslie H. Hartinson

Leslie H. Martinson

Leslie H. Martinson

Died September 3 (age 101)

Martinson directed four episodes during “Dallas’s” early years: the classic “Julie’s Return” and the campier “Call Girl,” “The Heiress” and “Power Play.” He also helmed episodes of many other series, including “Maverick,” “Batman,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Eight is Enough,” “Wonder Woman” and “Small Wonder.”


James Sheldon, Knots Landing

James Sheldon

James Sheldon

Died March 12 (age 95)

Sheldon directed two episodes of “Knots Landing,” including the second installment, “Community Spirit,” which featured Larry Hagman. His many other directing credits include “Echoes of Love,” a “Family” episode written by David Jacobs, and episodes of “M*A*S*H” and the Katzman-produced “Petrocelli.”


Agnes, Barbara Tarbuck, Dallas

Barbara Tarbuck

Barbara Tarbuck

Died December 27 (age 74)

Tarbuck played Agnes, Cliff’s secretary at the Office of Land Management, in three episodes during the 1978-79 season. Her many other credits include guest spots on “Knots Landing” and “Dynasty” and recurring roles on “Falcon Crest,” “General Hospital” and “American Horror Story: Asylum.”


What do you remember about these individuals? Share your memories below and read our tributes from 20152014 and 2013.

The Dal-List: 15 Great ‘Dallas’ Scenes Featuring Larry Hagman

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Once and future king

Larry Hagman made magic every time he appeared on “Dallas,” so coming up with a definitive list of his greatest scenes feels like an impossible task. Instead, let’s just call this a list of 15 performances I love.

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

The rose and the briar

15. Welcome to the family. On the day Bobby brings Pam (Victoria Principal) home to Southfork and introduces her as his new bride, J.R. cheerfully takes her outside for a pre-dinner tour of Miss Ellie’s garden, where he offers Pam a bribe to “annul this farce.” When Bobby approaches with a concerned look on his face, J.R. explains he’s just “talking a little business” with his new sister-in-law. “Mama don’t like business talk with supper on the table,” Bobby says. “Well, you know Mama. She’s so old-fashioned,” J.R. responds with a chuckle. It was the first time we heard his mischievous laugh, and it signaled the arrival of a different kind of villain. (“Digger’s Daughter”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

The smiling cobra

14. Poor Cliff. When his latest underhanded deal goes awry, J.R. is forced to sign over ownership of one of the original Ewing Oil fields to Cliff. “I can’t believe it,” Cliff says as he reclines in his chair. “After all these years, I finally whipped J.R. Ewing.” It’s a measure of J.R.’s power that we don’t feel happy for Ken Kercheval’s character at this moment. We feel sorry for him because we know this is a temporary setback for J.R. To wit: When Kercheval delivers the line about “finally” whipping J.R., Hagman responds with a slight smile. It’s more unnerving – and oddly, more satisfying – than any dialogue the writers might have come up with. (“Five Dollars a Barrel”)

Dallas, Joan Van Ark,J.R. Ewing, Knots Landing, Larry Hagman, Valene Ewing

Friendly enemies

13. There goes the neighborhood. When the residents of Knots Landing decide to fight Ewing Oil’s plan to drill near the local beach, J.R. comes to town to squelch the protest. Seeing this larger-than-life Texan in suburbia is a hoot. In one great scene, a frazzled Valene telephones Gary at work while cucumber-cool J.R. pulls a book off her kitchen shelf and flips through it. “I just love cookbooks,” he says. In another golden moment, J.R. takes a bite of the sandwich Val has just served him. “Hey, that is good. What do you call this?” he asks. “Tuna fish,” she hisses. Rarely have Hagman’s comedic sensibilities – and his crackling chemistry with Joan Van Ark – been put to better use. (“Community Spirit”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Secrets cry aloud

12. Here comes Kristin. My favorite Southfork dinner scene: The Ewings are entertaining Sue Ellen’s visiting mother Patricia and younger sister Kristin, who has barely concealed her attraction to J.R. When Kristin announces she’s considering putting off going to college, J.R. suggests she could fill in for his honeymooning secretary Louella. And instead of having Kristin stay at Southfork, J.R. recommends putting her up in the company-owned condo. In other words: J.R. sets up his soon-to-be-mistress with a job and a love nest, right in front of his whole family. No wonder Hagman looks like he’s having the time of his life playing this role. (“The Kristin Affair”)

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

Truth and consequences

11. Sock it to him. My favorite Southfork cocktail hour: Ellie worries Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) didn’t get enough to eat at dinner. “She gets all the nourishment she needs from this,” J.R. says, waving around a liquor bottle. Next target: Pam. “She’s cracking up, slowly and surely. And who can blame her? I mean, she finds out that her daddy, Digger Barnes, is no relation at all. … And her mother’s a whore!” Bobby responds by punching J.R., and even though we know he deserves it, we kind of feel sorry for him. This was Hagman’s genius: Despite the awful things J.R. said, the actor delivered his lines with such joy, you couldn’t help but root for him. (“The Wheeler Dealer”)

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Miss Ellie Ewing

Mama dearest

10. He’s got your back, Mama. Hagman often said he only accepted the role of J.R. after the “Dallas” producers told him they had cast Barbara Bel Geddes as his mother. I believe it. Every time these two appeared together on camera, you could feel Hagman’s reverence for her. (Fun fact: Bel Geddes was just nine years older than Hagman.) In this terrific scene, J.R. stands behind Miss Ellie as she chastises the cartel for taking advantage of one of Ewing Oil’s misfortunes. Hagman doesn’t have a single line of dialogue here, but he doesn’t need one. Sometimes great acting means knowing when to let your co-star have the spotlight. (“Waterloo at Southfork”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Call waiting

9. Strike! J.R. is down because he hasn’t hit a gusher in Southeast Asia. The phone rings. “It’s the Associated Press,” Kristin announces. “They want to know something about an oil well.” Line 2 buzzes. This call is from Hank, J.R.’s man in the Orient. “Where the hell have you been?” J.R. demands as he takes the receiver. In the background: A drumbeat builds. Slow, steady. Bum. Bum. Bum. Finally, J.R. exclaims, “Yee-ha! We hit!” This scene is brilliant because it mimics a gusher: The news about J.R.’s strike trickles in before his joyful rupture. Hagman directed the sequence, proving he was just as clever behind the camera as he was in front of it. (“Mother of the Year”)

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Omri Katz

The legacy

8. “This is Ewing Oil.” When J.R. finally goes too far with one of his schemes, the Justice Department forces the Ewings to sell their company. J.R. is giving John Ross one last look around the office when Jeremy Wendell, Ewing Oil’s new owner, enters and orders father and son off the premises. “Take this eyesore with you,” Wendell says as he reaches for Jock’s portrait. “Wendell!” J.R. shouts. “Touch that painting and I’ll kill where you stand.” Hagman takes the picture off the wall, holds it aloft and – with trumpets sounding in the background – says to young co-star Omri Katz, “John Ross, this is Ewing Oil.” The boy smiles. So do we. (“Fall of the House of Ewing”)

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

Lest the truth be known

7. Out of the frying pan… J.R. is fixing his breakfast plate in the Southfork dining room when he notices Jock comforting a distraught Miss Ellie. It seems Bobby has just told them he’s leaving the ranch because he’s fed up with J.R.’s dirty deeds. That’s when Sue Ellen chimes in, pointing out J.R. has driven away another Ewing brother. Dumb move, darlin’. J.R. responds with a vicious tirade, calling his wife a “drunk and an unfit mother” and announcing it’s time to send her back to the sanitarium. This is J.R. at his most menacing – which is remarkable since Hagman holds a strip of bacon the whole time he delivers J.R.’s venom-filled speech. (“A House Divided”)

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

Sins of the father

6. Another close shave. An adult John Ross is in a barbershop getting shaved while J.R. tells him a story that demonstrates how J.R. loved – and feared – Jock. Quietly, J.R. takes the razor from the barber, holds it to John Ross’s neck, yanks off the towel covering his son’s face and reveals he knows the younger man is planning to double-cross him in their scheme to seize Southfork. Then J.R. says, “I don’t blame you for trying to screw me. I was never much of a father during your formative years. And I’d like to make up for that.” As J.R., Hagman could be tough, but he could also be very tender – sometimes all at once, as this scene demonstrates. (“The Price You Pay”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman


5. Tears for Sue Ellen. After J.R. has a very pregnant, very alcoholic Sue Ellen committed to the sanitarium, our heroine escapes, steals a car, wrecks it and goes into premature labor. With the lives of both Sue Ellen and newborn John Ross hanging in the balance, J.R. sits with Bobby at his wife’s hospital bedside and recalls happier times. He concludes his moving monologue by saying, “Oh, Bobby. She’s got to live. She’s just got to.” With this line, Hagman purses his lips, shuts his tear-filled eyes and bows his head. It’s an early glimpse of J.R.’s humanity – and one of the few times the character cries on camera. (“John Ewing III, Part 2”)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy

The brothers Ewing

4. Mourning Daddy. Jock’s death sends J.R. into a deep depression. He stops shaving, stops showing up for Ewing family dinners and even stops showing up for work. Finally, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) has enough. Barging into J.R.’s bedroom, Bobby yanks him off the bed, drags him across the room, makes him look at himself in the mirror and reminds him their Daddy built the company not just for them, but also for their children. “It’ll never be the same, Bob,” J.R. responds. Hagman’s delivery of this line never fails to move me. Before this moment, we’d seen J.R. break a lot of hearts. This time, he broke ours. (“Head of the Family”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Daddy’s little darlin’

3. Welcome to fatherhood. For months after John Ross’s birth, J.R. all but ignored the child because he secretly suspected Cliff is the father. Cliff thought the same thing and eventually filed a lawsuit to gain custody, prompting him and J.R. to take blood tests to determine the child’s paternity once and for all. On the night of one of Miss Ellie’s charity dinners, the results come in and prove J.R. is, in fact, the father. Armed with this knowledge, our tuxedo-clad hero enters the Southfork nursery, picks up his son, holds him close and kisses him. No dialogue is spoken. None is needed. The look on Hagman’s face – pride, relief, joy – says it all. (“Paternity Suit”)

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

The Ewing touch

2. Reminiscing. After a long day at work, J.R. comes home and finds Sue Ellen asleep in John Ross’s nursery, having dozed off while rocking him. She awakens and helps J.R. put the boy in his crib, and then the couple moves into their bedroom, where they recall their courtship. The dialogue beautifully captures the unique qualities Hagman and Gray bring to their roles. (Sue Ellen on J.R.’s eyes: “They always seemed to be hiding secrets. Things you knew about the world that no one else knew.”) The conversation also reminds us J.R. is not a hateful man. He loves many people, and none more than Sue Ellen. Theirs is the greatest – and most complicated – romance Texas has ever known. (“New Beginnings”)

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

True confessions

1. Brotherly love. J.R. finally does the right thing when he ends the war for Southfork and returns ownership of the ranch to Bobby, but the drama isn’t over: Bobby suffers a seizure and is taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Standing at his brother’s hospital bedside, J.R. holds Bobby’s hand and pleads with him to wake up. “I’m going to tell you something you never heard me say before,” J.R. says. “I love you, Bobby, and I don’t know who I’d be without you.” With this line, J.R. acknowledges what the audience has always known: He’s incapable of checking his own worst impulses; he needs Bobby to do it for him. This is a deeply moving moment in its own right, but it takes on added poignancy now that we know Duffy was at Hagman’s side when he died. It’s also comforting to know J.R.’s greatest fear – having to face life without his beloved baby brother – will never be realized. How sad for us, though, that we must now face a world without Larry Hagman. (“Revelations”)

What do you consider J.R. Ewing’s greatest moments? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 30 – ‘Designs’

Stick it to him

Stick it to him

In “Designs,” J.R. once again visits “Knots Landing” and once again, the results are disappointing. These crossover episodes are almost never as good as they should be.

On paper, occasionally sending “Dallas” characters to Seaview Circle makes perfect sense. “Dallas” was television’s most-watched series in the early 1980s, when “Knots Landing” was still struggling to find an audience. CBS, the network that aired both shows, probably encouraged the “Knots Landing” producers to make room for “Dallas” characters a few times each season to goose the spinoff’s ratings.

Since Bobby and Lucy are on friendly terms with “Knots Landing’s” Gary and Valene, it was plausible to have them show up in the cul-de-sac from time to time. But J.R. despises his Southern California relatives, which meant the “Knots Landing” writers had to keep coming up with excuses to bring him to town.

In “Designs,” J.R. offers to patent the cleaner car engine Sid Fairgate has been developing in his spare time. Yes, J.R. does business with part-time garage inventors. This surprises you?

To be fair, Diana Gould and Robert W. Gilmer’s script has J.R. tell Sid’s wife Karen he’s interested in the engine because “money is money. I don’t care whether it comes from burning oil or saving it.” It seems more likely J.R. wants to seize Sid’s project so he can kill it, but this is never made clear. I don’t mind a little ambiguity now and then, but since car engines are so far outside J.R.’s realm, it would be nice to have a better idea of what he’s up to.

The script also requires J.R. to spend almost all his time with the Fairgates, whom he barely knows and who aren’t exactly his kind of people to begin with. “Designs” also offers several scenes between J.R. and Sid’s scheming sister Abby, and like J.R. and Abby’s scenes in “A Family Matter,” their “Designs” alliance isn’t as much fun as you might expect. Donna Mills and Larry Hagman make a fine couple, but I’d still rather see J.R. fight with Val than fawn over Abby. Unfortunately, Hagman and Joan Van Ark share no scenes in this episode. Talk about your missed opportunities.

Given how much I love Hagman’s “Knots Landing” debut in the first-season episode “Community Spirit,” I’m as surprised as anyone to find his subsequent visits so lacking. For J.R., maybe one trip out west was enough.

Grade: C


Backseat affair

Backseat affair


“Knots Landing” Season 2, Episode 17

Airdate: March 26, 1981

Audience: 16.3 million homes, ranking 18th in the weekly ratings

Writers: Diana Gould and Robert W. Gilmer

Director: Nicholas Sgarro

Synopsis: Sid rejects J.R.’s offer to patent his design for a cleaner car engine. Abby sneaks a copy of the design to J.R., but she makes him sign a contract that protects her brother’s interest in the project. J.R. and Abby consummate their deal by having sex.

Cast: Tonya Crowe (Olivia Cunningham), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing) James Houghton (Kenny Ward), Bobby Jacoby (Brian Cunningham), Barry Jenner (Jeff Cunningham), Kim Lankford (Ginger Ward), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Claudia Lonow (Diana Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Donna Mills (Abby Cunningham), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Arthur Rosenberg (Dr. Harper), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Steve Shaw (Eric Fairgate), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing), John Volstad (bellhop)

Watch “Designs” on DVD and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 22 – ‘A Family Matter’

Look who's lurking

Look who’s lurking

The “Knots Landing” episode “A Family Matter” brings J.R. to Los Angeles, where he meets Abby Cunningham, his Southern California counterpart. This inaugural matchup between two of television’s greatest villains has its moments, but overall, it’s not as much fun as you might expect.

The problem: J.R. and Abby are too much alike. These characters are at their best when they’re clashing with principled do-gooders like Bobby or Karen Fairgate, not fawning over each other, which is what happens throughout “A Family Matter.” In one scene, J.R. tells Abby she is “wickedly clever.” In another, he calls her “the most delicious conniver it’s been my pleasure to encounter.” The love-fest gets boring pretty quickly.

J.R. previously visited Seaview Circle in “Community Spirit,” a first-season “Knots Landing” episode that found Gary and Karen rallying their neighbors to stop Ewing Oil from drilling near the local beach. That episode was a hoot because it took J.R. out of “Dallas’s” glamorous surroundings and plopped him into suburbia, where he was exposed to such foreign concepts as tuna fish sandwiches and housewives who pick up their husbands’ dry-cleaning.

J.R. is out of his element again in “A Family Matter,” but somehow, these scenes aren’t as much fun. A lot of this has to do with the context. In this episode, Abby is hoping to sink her claws into Gary, so she persuades J.R. to bail out his brother, who has gotten embroiled in a stolen-parts ring and needs $50,000 to pay off some underworld goons. It’s not quite as noble as stopping offshore oil drilling.

Maybe this is why my two favorite moments in “A Family Matter” don’t have much to do with the main storyline. In the first of these scenes, J.R. sits at Abby’s dinner party and boasts about how he’s going to bring Lucy’s fiancée Mitch “up to our standards,” which sends Valene off the rails. “How dare you meddle in my daughter’s life!” she fumes.

Later, Val, who doesn’t know about Gary’s underhanded dealings, visits J.R. and pleads with him to leave her and Gary alone. The insults soon start flying. J.R. declares Val is “a royal pain;” she calls him “a vile, evil man.”

Aside from showcasing the terrific chemistry between Larry Hagman and Joan Van Ark, these scenes remind us: Watching J.R. fight is much more fun than watching him fawn.

Grade: B


When worlds collide

When worlds collide


“Knots Landing” Season 2, Episode 9

Airdate: January 22, 1981

Audience: 15.4 million homes, ranking 26th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Edward Parone

Synopsis: When J.R. comes to Los Angeles for a convention, Gary and Val’s neighbor Abby Cunningham asks J.R. to give Gary $50,000 so he can pay off a debt to two shady characters. Gary reluctantly takes the money, but J.R. hints he wants Gary to help him squelch Sid’s plan to build an energy-efficient car engine.

Cast: Parley Baer (old man), William Boyett (Frank Kolbert), Tonya Crowe (Olivia Cunningham), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steven Hirsch (Roy Lance), James Houghton (Kenny Ward), Bobby Jacoby (Brian Cunningham), Kim Lankford (Ginger Ward), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Claudia Lonow (Diana Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Donna Mills (Abby Cunningham), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), Pat Petersen (Michael Fairgate), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Louise Vallance (Sylvie), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“A Family Matter” is available on DVD. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Art of Knots Landing: ‘Community Spirit’

Gary and J.R. (Ted Shackelford, Larry Hagman) are seen in this 1980 publicity shot from “Community Spirit,” a first-season “Knots Landing” episode.

Knots Landing Scene of the Day: ‘I’m Not Afraid of You, J.R.’

Sunny with a chance of courage

Sunny with a chance of courage

In “Knots Landing’s” first-season episode “Community Spirit,” J.R. (Larry Hagman) approaches Gary and Valene (Ted Shackelford, Joan Van Ark) on the beach, moments before Gary is supposed to speak at a rally against J.R.’s offshore drilling project.

VAL: [Slaps a coin purse in J.R.’s hands] Here.

J.R.: Well, what’s that? What is that?

VAL: A couple dollars in change.

J.R.: That’s very kind of you, Valene. What’s it for?

VAL: To call Lucy with.

J.R.: I meant what I said yesterday. [To Gary, but staring at Val] Tell your little woman not to toy with me.

GARY: We know you meant it, J.R.

VAL: Go on. Call her. Call Lucy and tell her. We were gonna tell her soon anyway. But if that’s what you have to do, do it. It’ll hurt her. And it’ll do you no worldly good at all, but we’re all strong. I mean, she’s strong. We’ll all get over it. And whatever pain it causes, it’s better than letting you have your way with us now. So go on, J.R., call Lucy.

J.R.: That’s no reason to upset the little girl.

GARY: No, especially not since Mom and Dad will come down so hard on you for it.

J.R.: Well, that’s figured in my thinking. I’ll admit it. What’s in the envelope, Gary?

GARY: Oh, a few reference notes for our debate.

J.R.: I know you found something snooping around in my office yesterday. And I know I’ve been had by that pretty girl Karen, but –

GARY: First time I’ve ever seen the beauty of being named a Ewing.

J.R.: Give me the envelope.

GARY: I’m not afraid of you, J.R. Not here.

J.R.: Well, you better be afraid for your near and dear because I’m gonna use every ounce of my power to break you, Gary. I swear it.

GARY: The surveys you did and the discovery of an alternate drilling site onshore, out of the way.

J.R.: Do you realize how much money that’s gonna cost us?

GARY: So you make 15 million the first five years instead of 20.

J.R.: That’s Ewing money. It’s your mother and your father’s.

GARY: I think they can get by on 15 million. Cut a few corners.

He begins walking away. J.R. grabs his arm and faces him.

J.R.: Gary, don’t use that survey.

GARY: I’m gonna. Nothing short of a rainout is gonna stop me. And J.R., it never rains in Southern California.

Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 2 – ‘Community Spirit’

He lied with his boots on

He lied with his boots on

Part of the fun of watching “Dallas” comes from imagining what it would be like to be a Ewing – to wear those clothes, to drive those cars, to live in that house. For those who also wonder how the Ewings would fare in our world, there’s “Community Spirit.”

“Knots Landing’s” second episode brings J.R. to the Southern California cul-de-sac to squelch the neighborhood’s protest of a major Ewing Oil offshore drilling project. The episode is a hoot, not just because it’s fun to see J.R. out of his element, but also because we get to live vicariously through the “Knots Landing” suburbanites as they use J.R.’s own tricks against him.

“Community Spirit’s” smallest moments are among its best. In one, a frazzled Valene telephones Gary from their kitchen while cool-as-a-cucumber J.R., standing over her shoulder, pulls a book off a shelf and begins leafing through it. “I just love cookbooks,” he says.

In another tiny-but-great moment, J.R. takes a bite of the white-bread sandwich Val has served him.

“Hey, that is good. What do you call this?” he asks.

“Tuna fish,” she hisses.

I also like seeing Gary one-up J.R. at the end of the episode, even if his final line (“J.R., it never rains in Southern California”) is pretty corny.

As good as Larry Hagman’s exchanges with Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackelford are, my favorite moments in “Community Spirit” are J.R.’s scenes with Karen Fairgate, “Knots Landing’s” resident doyenne. We’re used to seeing J.R. interact with Gary and Val at Southfork, so watching him trying to charm Karen reminds us we really aren’t in Dallas anymore.

I particularly love when Karen visits J.R.’s hotel room and pretends to be interested in him, only to skip out at the last minute because she has to pick up her husband Sid’s suit at the cleaners. Has anyone ever left J.R. high and dry for a reason so mundane?

I don’t necessarily buy J.R.’s attraction to Karen, but Hagman and Michele Lee look like they’re having a ball working together. For me, the real joy of watching these old pros comes in hindsight: Hagman is the only actor to appear in every “Dallas” episode, and Lee is the only actress seen in every “Knots Landing” installment during its 14-season run.

This makes “Community Spirit” a meeting of two prime-time soap opera giants. I can’t watch it without smiling.

Grade: A


Worlds collide

Worlds collide


“Knots Landing” Season 1, Episode 2

Airdate: January 3, 1980

Audience: 17.8 million homes, ranking 14th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Elizabeth Pizer

Director: James Sheldon

Synopsis: Gary reluctantly helps his neighbors protest Ewing Oil’s plan to drill offshore near Knots Landing. J.R. visits and pressures Gary to back off, but Gary refuses, forcing J.R. to switch to a costlier alternative site.

Cast: Robert DoQui (Joseph Whitcomb), Danny Gellis (Jason Avery), Joseph Hacker (Chip Todson), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Claudia Lonow (Diana Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Steve Shaw (Eric Fairgate), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“Community Spirit” is available on DVD. Watch the episode and share your comments below.