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.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 32 — ‘Like a Bad Penny’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Like a Bad Penny, TNT

Not afraid to lose

John Ross has never reminded me of J.R. as much as he does in “Like a Bad Penny.” To salvage a botched business deal with a powerful sheik, John Ross competes against him in a high-stakes poker game and deliberately loses, even though it means gambling away his prized “J.R.” wristwatch. Except the watch is never really at risk, is it? John Ross bets that by humbling himself in the sheik’s presence, he’ll win the man’s approval and eventually recover the timepiece, which is precisely what happens at the end of the episode. Could J.R. have played it any better?

At every turn in “Like a Bad Penny,” Josh Henderson evokes a little of the old Hagman magic. After John Ross throws the game and surrenders the watch, he offers the sheik a J.R.-esque, fake-sincere apology for bungling the deal in the first place. Then, John Ross huddles privately with Pamela and hints his defeat is part of a bigger scheme. This is the kind of conversation J.R. used to have with Sly on the original “Dallas”; whenever the chips were down, he’d let his loyal secretary — and by extension, the audience — know he had one more trick up his sleeve. John Ross does something similar here by offering Pamela a sly grin and a nugget of J.R.-style wisdom: “Sometimes the only way to win is to show the other person you’re not afraid to lose.”

Sure enough, in “Like a Bad Penny’s” most satisfying scene, the sheik’s son Nasir comes to Southfork, tells John Ross the sheik wants to do business with him after all — and returns the wristwatch. This is a poignant moment because it gets to the conflict brewing within John Ross. Earlier, when he loses the watch, he expresses his relief to Pamela, saying he wants to his “own man, instead of the man everybody else wants me to be.” John Ross seems sincere in that scene, but you can also see how happy he is when he gets the watch back and hears Nasir say, “My father saw J.R. in you.” I can’t help but feel sympathy for John Ross: He desperately wants to escape J.R.’s shadow, but he’s also as desperate as ever to make his father proud. (I also have to wonder: What kind of snow job did J.R. pull on his old friend the sheik to make him think he was such an upstanding, honorable businessman?)

I’m less enthralled with this episode’s depiction of Pamela. If John Ross is the “new” J.R., is she doomed to fulfill Sue Ellen’s old role of the subservient wife? Despite all the “us against the world” talk between John Ross and Pamela at the top of the hour, she’s relegated to the background during the big poker scene. Even worse, she’s still in the dark about her husband’s affair with Emma. (At this point, who doesn’t know John Ross and Emma are sleeping together?) Also worth mentioning: While John Ross eventually reclaims his watch, Pamela doesn’t get back her emerald earrings, which she puts up as collateral so he can enter the card game. It’s just like the old days, when Sue Ellen always seemed to pay the price for J.R.’s transgressions.

But not all the Sue Ellen/Pamela parallels are lamentable: In the poker scene, I love how costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin puts Julie Gonzalo in that spectacular black-and-white dress, evoking one of Linda Gray’s signature looks. Speaking of Gray: She’s very moving in Sue Ellen’s sanitarium scenes, although it’s hard to see the character slip back into her bad, old habits. During her conversation with Ann, Sue Ellen blames J.R.’s cheating for turning her into an alcoholic, which suggests she has forgotten all the lessons she learned during the original series about taking responsibility for her own life. Bobby also falls back into an old pattern when he insists on taking Sue Ellen home to Southfork over the objections of her doctor. This lapse I don’t mind, though, because the Ewings’ insistence on taking care of their own has always been one of “Dallas’s” charms.

“Like a Bad Penny,” the first “Dallas” script from Pierluigi D. Cothran, is directed by Millicent Shelton, who previously helmed “Trust Me,” the episode that brought back Judith Ryland in such memorable fashion. There are no coke-snorting shockers here, although it is kind of surprising to see “Dallas” adding more characters. Besides introducing Nasir, the sheik’s son, this episode brings back Drew; the Mexican drug lord Luis; and Hunter, the mysterious McKay offspring who surfaced in “Like Father, Like Son.” I recognize “Dallas” needs newcomers to interact with the core cast, but I would’ve preferred the show devote more attention to Sue Ellen’s sanitarium stay or to Elena, who needs clarity. She doesn’t mind lying to Christopher about Nicolas’s identity, but she refuses to show Pamela the video of John Ross and Emma? And can someone explain why both Ramos siblings blame the whole Ewing family for J.R.’s sins against their father?

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m being overly critical, because there’s a lot about this episode to admire. Christopher’s entanglement with Heather and Bo has turned into one of the third season’s most effective storylines: The McCabes bring a touch of working-class humanity to the show, helping to keep it grounded, and all of the actors are doing good work. I also get a kick out of Emma’s investigation into Harris’s shenanigans in “Like a Bad Penny”; if ever she tires of being John Ross’s girl on the side, she could have a future as “Dallas’s” resident girl detective.

This raises a question: Who — or what — does the title of this episode refer to? Is it the John Ross/Emma video clip, which pops up repeatedly during the course of the hour? Is it Candace’s blue dress, which seems destined to join the list of “Dallas’s” most famous outfits? Is it Drew? Or is it J.R.’s watch? If it’s the latter, here’s hoping more of J.R.’s “bad pennies” turn up. I’m impressed by the clever way “Dallas” is using props to help keep his spirit alive, beginning with the J.R. Ewing Bourbon bottle in “D.T.R.” and now the wristwatch in “Like a Bad Penny.” The scene where Nasir stands at the Southfork gate and places the timepiece in John Ross’s hand is surprisingly moving; it’s almost as if J.R. himself has come home.

Let’s just hope John Ross remembers to check the watch for bugs.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, Linda Gray, Like a Bad Penny, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Blame game

‘LIKE A BAD PENNY’

Season 3, Episode 7

Telecast: April 7, 2014

Audience: 1.87 million viewers on April 7

Writer: Pierluigi D. Cothran

Director: Millicent Shelton

Synopsis: John Ross meets Nasir Ali and persuades his father, a powerful sheik, to supply the capital he needs to buy a controlling interest in Ewing Global once it goes public. Bobby and Ann get Sue Ellen released from the sanitarium and bring her to Southfork to recover. John Ross and Harris each dismiss Candace, who tells Emma about her father’s scheme to frame John Ross for a sex crime. Christopher tries to help Bo, who tells Heather he wants to reconcile. Drew returns to Dallas and vows revenge against the Ewings after discovering J.R. swindled the Ramoses out of their land. Elena refuses to show Pamela the video of John Ross and Emma, so Nicolas goes behind her back and sends it Pamela on his own. Nicolas also meets with his secret partners: Hunter McKay, who wants to bring down the Ewings, and the Mexican drug lord Luis, who wants to take over Ewing Global and use it to launder the cartel’s drug profits.

Cast: Jonathan Adams (Calvin Hanna), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Dallas Clark (Michael), Gail Cronauer (Dr. Monika Englert), Jude Demorest (Candace Shaw), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Janeen Howard (Nadia), Antonio Jaramillo (Luis), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Fran Kranz (Hunter McKay), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Pej Vahdat (Nasir Ali)

“Like a Bad Penny” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Raises Its Ratings Again

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Like Father Like Son, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Higher, ladies!

“Dallas” continued to climb in the ratings this week. “Like Father, Like Son,” the most recent episode, debuted to 1.82 million viewers on March 31, up roughly 2 percent from one week ago. The March 31 audience included 559,000 adults between ages 18 and 49, a demographic many advertisers pay a premium to reach.

The previous episode, “D.T.R.,” debuted to 1.79 million viewers on March 24, including 577,000 adults between 18 and 49. However, when DVR users who recorded the episode and watched it a few days later are counted, the “D.T.R.” audience rose to 2.6 million viewers, including 1.2 million adults between ages 25 and 54, an audience TNT targets, and 940,000 adults between 18 and 49.

This is the second consecutive week “Dallas” has raised its ratings since March 17, when “Lifting the Veil” dipped to 1.78 million viewers, a series low.

“Dallas” is averaging 1.99 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m. this season, down from 2.7 million viewers in this time slot last year. However, when DVR users are included, “Dallas’s” weekly viewership rises to 2.7 million viewers, making it TNT’s fourth most-watched original drama this winter. The top three: “Major Crimes” (7.4 million viewers), “Rizzoli & Isles (5.6 million) and “Perception” (3.3 million).

TNT also continues to draw hundreds of thousands of viewers with its “Dallas” replays on Monday nights. On March 31, after “Like Father, Like Son” debuted at 9 p.m., TNT showed the episode again at 10 p.m., where it drew another 624,000 viewers.

Happy Anniversary, Darlins

“Dallas” debuted on April 2, 1978. Since then, almost 400 hours of “Dallas” have been produced, including 357 episodes of the original series, 31 episodes of the TNT show and a handful of reunion movies and other specials.

Today also marks Dallas Decoder’s second anniversary. I’m still having fun writing and editing this site, and I hope you’re enjoying reading it. Thanks for your continued support.

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 3, Week 6

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Like Father Like Son, TNT

In control?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Like Father, Like Son,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode:

• How will John Ross strike back against Sue Ellen and Bobby? In “D.T.R.,” last week’s episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) blackmailed Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber) into replacing the corrupt railroad commissioner Stanley Babcock (Currie Graham) with a new appointee: Bobby (Patrick Duffy), who now has the power to revoke John Ross’s Southfork drilling permit. John Ross (Josh Henderson) was furious and vowed to “blow right past” any roadblock Bobby puts in his way. John Ross, realizing Sue Ellen’s role in putting Bobby on the commission, also left his mother a nasty voice mail message, saying, “Now I know I’ve got another enemy I’ve got to look out for. I ain’t going to forget this.” What will John Ross do?

• When will the Rylands strike back against John Ross? Emma (Emma Bell) used incriminating evidence from Harris’s files to blackmail Judith (Judith Light) into giving John Ross access to the Ryland ships for his Arctic drilling venture. Judith wasn’t happy and expressed her frustration to Harris (Mitch Pileggi), telling him it’s time to break up John Ross and Emma. Harris assured his mother that Candace (Jude Demorest), the prostitute posing as John Ross’s secretary, is still laying the groundwork to frame John Ross for a sex crime. Will this be the week Candace puts her plan in motion?

• What’s next for Emma — and her parents? When Ann (Brenda Strong) saw John Ross coming out of Emma’s bedroom, she got into a fight with Emma and kicked her off Southfork. Ann immediately regretted the decision and turned to Harris, who blackmailed CIA agent George Tatangelo (Gino Anthony Pesi) into giving his family extra protection. Eventually, Emma came home and assured Ann she had stopped seeing John Ross, but Ann told Harris she isn’t sure if she believes their daughter. How long can Emma continue to deceive Ann — and will Ann and Harris continue to soften toward each other?

• What will Elena and Nicolas do with their clue? After Cliff (Ken Kercheval) called Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) and failed to mend fences with her, he urged Elena and Nicolas (Jordana Brewster, Juan Pablo Di Pace) to turn his daughter against John Ross. Meanwhile, Nicolas examined J.R.’s autopsy photos and noticed an unusual incision on his chest. Could this be a sign J.R. was receiving chemotherapy before he died, and if so, will Elena and Nicolas finally figure out he arranged his own “murder” and framed Cliff for the crime?

• What’s next for Christopher and Heather? As Christopher and Heather (Jesse Metcalfe, AnnaLynne McCord) grew closer, he learned her secret: She was once married to ranch-hand-turned-roughneck Bo (Donny Boaz) and the two of them have a young son, Michael. Christopher and the boy bonded over their mutual love of Transformers, but Bo didn’t seem very enthused about the idea that his ex-wife is dating a Ewing. Will he cause trouble for Christopher and Heather?

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

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘D.T.R.’

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, D.T.R., Governor Sam McConaughey, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Linda Gray, Steven Weber, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The Ewings and the Rylands made one bold fashion statement after another in “D.T.R.,” this week’s “Dallas” episode. Nothing was more striking than the red jacket Linda Gray wore in the scene where Sue Ellen ambushed Governor McConaughey and sprung her trap for him. Red was the ideal color for Sue Ellen’s big power play, and did you notice the jacket featured star-shaped cutouts? I can think of nothing more suitable for Gray, who was the star of this hour. I also loved Steven Weber’s bright blue tie, which evoked a certain real-life Texas governor/White House aspirant who made blue neckties one of his signatures.

My other favorite looks in “D.T.R.” include Sue Ellen’s leather jacket, which pulled double duty: She wore it when she confronted John Ross in her office and told him he was being “reckless and dumb,” and she kept it on later that night, when she and Bobby eavesdropped on McConaughey. In both situations, the jacket reminded us how Sue Ellen is undeniably cool. Speaking of John Ross: Are you enjoying Josh Henderson’s three-piece suits as much as me? He looks sharp every time he wears one, but the suits also help symbolize how John Ross has become all business.

I also love every outfit that costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin chose for Brenda Strong in “D.T.R.” I described Ann’s tunic-blouse in the previous episode as a work of art; the same thing can be said about the beautiful dress she wore in “D.T.R.” when she returned from her shopping spree and kicked Emma off Southfork. I also like Ann’s blue sweater set in the scene where she welcomed Emma home; the sweater set is nothing flashy, but it perfectly fits the character’s casually elegant style.

Finally, there’s Judith Light’s pearl choker, which offers a window into Mother Ryland’s double life. The choker is a brilliant accessory for the scene where Judith drops all those sweet, grandmotherly pearls of wisdom (“Never let a man screw you for nothing”) on Emma in the restaurant. Later, when Judith came home at 3 a.m. — wild-haired after a long night at the bordello — the choker took on a whole other meaning. In this light, it looked a little like the kinky collars you sometimes see S&M enthusiasts sporting.

Hey, you don’t suppose Judith spent the evening entertaining canine-loving Commissioner Babcock, do you?

What were your favorite looks in “D.T.R.”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

Say What?! This Week’s Best Dallas Sound Bites

“Dallas” delivers the most delicious dialogue on television. Here are the best sound bites from “D.T.R.,”  this week’s episode.

Dallas, D.T.R., Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Linda Gray, Sam McConaughey, Steven Weber, Sue Ellen Ewing What are your favorite lines from “D.T.R.”? Share them below and read more “Say What?!”

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You Are a Worthless Creature’

Dallas, D.T.R., Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Pearls of wisdom

In “D.T.R.,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Judith (Judith Light) enters a restaurant and sits at a table where Emma (Emma Bell) awaits her.

JUDITH: So you’re ready to come home?

EMMA: That’s not why I asked you here. I know someone who’s interested in leasing a fleet of our ships.

JUDITH: Really? Who’s the suitor?

EMMA: Ewing Global. Now there was a deal in place before, but Daddy killed it because he hates me. You wanted me to be involved in the family business … so I am.

JUDITH: So you are. We will not be doing business with the Ewings. Is that clear?

EMMA: I took these from Daddy’s safe when I took the rest of his files. [Slides an envelope across the table] You want to know what’s inside? It’s about your little side business. Copies of ledgers, client lists, girls. Your little black book. [Smiles] You want to trade? [Judith reaches for the envelope. Emma grabs it.] That’s half of what Daddy has on you. When I see a contract for those ships, you’ll get the rest.

JUDITH: [Slides the envelope to her side of the table] So now that you know about your grandmother’s little side business, let me teach you one of the very basics: Never let a man screw you for nothing. My girls play a very smart game. They allow a man to believe he’s in control. But my girls are always in control and because they are, they are richly rewarded. On the other hand, a whore who gives without receiving is not only a whore, but a fool. You think John Ross cares about you? Loves you? You think he’ll leave his wife for you? Why would he buy the cow when he gets the milk for free?

EMMA: John Ross does care about me.

JUDITH: John Ross degrades you. You think that’s love? Then you are a worthless creature. [Emma gets up. Judith grabs her arm.] Don’t let him manipulate you.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 30 — ‘D.T.R.’

Dallas, D.T.R., Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Woman of the hour

Let’s get this out of the way first: “D.T.R.” stands for “define the relationship,” as Christopher’s new girlfriend Heather helpfully explains in the scene where they get to know each other better in the bar. I wasn’t familiar with the expression until recently and neither were a lot of “Dallas” fans, judging by the reactions I’m seeing on Twitter. But no matter. This episode is really about the “Dallas” characters trying to dominate their relationships. Everyone is vying for control of everyone else, demonstrating once again that the real commodity on this show is power, not oil.

At the center of it all is Sue Ellen, a woman who spent years struggling to take charge of her own life. Now she’s trying to reign in John Ross, not just because he’s beginning to remind her of J.R., but also because he’s beginning to remind her of herself. Sue Ellen sees her son becoming addicted to feeding his own ego, just like she’s hooked on the booze inside her flask. This point is underscored in the scene where she tells John Ross that he’s being “reckless” by cheating on Pamela. Sue Ellen might as well be describing the person she used to be, during her own self-destructive phase, before she became the much more functional alcoholic we see today.

John Ross ends this scene by accusing his mother of taking out on him her lingering anger toward J.R. “Guess what, Mama? I’m not J.R.,” he says. These are surprising words coming from a young man who struts around wearing Daddy’s wristwatch and belt buckle, but they show how John Ross has picked up another one of Sue Ellen’s old habits: her penchant for denying the truth. Indeed, what fascinates me most about John Ross and Sue Ellen’s relationship this season is how they’re both borrowing different pages from J.R.’s playbook in their quest for the upper hand in their relationship. In the previous episode, John Ross showed he could treat Sue Ellen as cruelly as J.R. once did; in “D.T.R.,” Sue Ellen blackmails McConaughey in a bid to undermine her son. J.R. Ewing lives on through the people he loved most.

But even without these allusions to our hero, Sue Ellen and John Ross’s storyline is absorbing and effective. Much of this has to do with Linda Gray and Josh Henderson, who do remarkable work in “D.T.R.” Gray enlivens every scene she’s in through the sheer force of her presence; it’s become cliché to say she lights up the screen each time she appears, but I can think of no better way to describe what she brings to this show. Henderson, in the meantime, is nothing less than outstanding: In his hands, John Ross has become dark and dangerous. It doesn’t hurt that both actors receive wonderful material from scriptwriter Aaron Allen, who helps make the characters feel real and knowable. Strip away all the references to “fracking” and the “Arctic play” and it’s easy to see this is the story of a mother trying to save her son from himself.

Allen — who also wrote “Let Me In,” the episode where Harris stifles Emma’s bid for independence — uses “D.T.R.” to return to the power struggles within the Ryland family too. As John Ross points out, Emma is supposed to control Judith, who is supposed to control Harris, although it’s hard to figure out who really runs the show. Here’s what I find most interesting about these characters: As deceptive as they are, they use the truth to emotionally bludgeon each other. In “D.T.R.,” when Ann declares her “role” at Southfork is to care for her loved ones, Emma reminds her mother that she “lied to her husband about my very existence.” It’s harsh, but is it inaccurate? Similarly, in the tense scene where Judith and Emma haggle over Harris’s files, is Judith wrong when she tells Emma that she “degrades” herself by sleeping around?

The Rylands always give us plenty to ponder, but there’s no questioning the quality of the actors’ performances. Judith Light makes it clear Judith loves her rebellious granddaughter, while Emma Bell never lets us forget her character has vulnerabilities, no matter how wicked she behaves. I also love Brenda Strong, who knocks me out in the scene where Ann angrily kicks Emma off Southfork, although she’s equally good when Ann warily welcomes her daughter home. It’s also nice to see Steven Weber take another turn as the slick Governor McConaughey, as well as Todd Terry, who returns as hapless State’s Attorney Peter Bedford, one of the last people to have the honor of being blackmailed by J.R. Ewing. Speaking of J.R.’s victims: The “D.T.R.” scene where Cliff calls Pamela and tries to mend fences with her restores a shred of humanity to the character, but I mostly love the scene because it allows Ken Kercheval to revive his mantra from the second season: “I did not kill J.R.!”

There’s much more to like about “D.T.R.,” especially where Patrick Duffy is concerned. I love how cinematographer Rodney Charters, who doubles as this episode’s director, gives us a shot of solemn, solitary Bobby on horseback watching the smug John Ross inspect the Southfork drill site. It makes Bobby’s end-of-the-episode speech about upholding the Southworth traditions that much more poignant. It’s also a kick to see Bobby and Sue Ellen in the back of the van, eavesdropping on McConaughey, as well as the big reveal at the press conference, when Bobby steps forward as the new railroad commissioner. (Between this scene and the one in “Playing Chicken” where Bobby steps out of Rhonda’s car, Duffy is becoming “Dallas’s” master of the grand entrance.)

“D.T.R.’s” use of the J.R. Ewing Bourbon bottle is also inspired: The revelation that the cork is bugged is the third season’s best twist yet, but I also love how the bottle practically becomes a stand-in for J.R. himself. Gray has a Hagman-esque twinkle in her eye when Sue Ellen gives the bourbon to McConaughey at the top of the hour and reminds him that “good blackmail never sours.” The twinkle is there at the end of the episode too, when Sue Ellen reveals the dirt on McConaughey and he slides the bottles across his desk toward her and says, “This is why politicians should never accept gifts — especially gifts with J.R.’s name on them.”

The only thing missing from this scene is seeing J.R.’s smile, although I must say: Sue Ellen’s sly grin is pretty wonderful too. Of course, that’s always been true, hasn’t it?

Grade: A

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Bobby Ewing, Dallas, D.T.R., Patrick Duffy

The steward

‘D.T.R.’

Season 3, Episode 5

Telecast: March 24, 2014

Audience: 1.79 million viewers on March 24

Writer: Aaron Allen

Director: Rodney Charters

Synopsis: Sue Ellen blackmails McConaughey into removing Babcock from the Railroad Commission and replacing him with Bobby. Emma blackmails Judith into giving John Ross access to Ryland Transport’s ships and tells him she wants a piece of the Arctic drilling venture. Harris blackmails the CIA into giving his family extra protection. Cliff urges Elena and Nicolas to turns John Ross against Pamela, and when Nicolas examines photographs of J.R.’s autopsy, he notices an unusual incision on his chest. Christopher learns Heather is divorced from Bo and that they have a young son, Michael.

Cast: Amber Bartlett (Jill), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Candace (Jude Demorest), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather McCabe), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Gino Anthony Pesi (George Tatangelo), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Todd Terry (State’s Attorney Peter Bedford), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“D.T.R.” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Picked Up More Viewers This Week

AnnaLynne McCord, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, D.T.R., Heather McCabe, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Reason to smile

“Dallas’s” audience grew a little this week: “D.T.R.,” the latest episode, debuted to 1.79 million viewers on March 24, or about 8,000 more viewers than the previous entry, “Lifting the Veil,” drew one week earlier.

The show lost viewers in one important category, however. “D.T.R.” grabbed 577,000 adults between 18 and 49, a demographic many advertisers pay top dollar to reach. On March 17, “Lifting the Veil” drew 595,000 viewers in the demo.

“Dallas” is averaging a little more than 2 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m. this year, down from 2.7 million viewers on Mondays last season.

“The numbers could be better, but they could also be a lot worse,” said Marc Berman, editor in chief of TV Media Insights, a top industry news site.

“Dallas” is one of three original dramas on TNT’s winter schedule. The other two are “Rizzoli & Isles,” which averages 3.85 million viewers on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., and “Perception,” which averages 1.96 million viewers on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

“Dallas” gets a nice lift from DVR users who record each episode and watch it a few days later. For example, by the end of last week, DVR users had boosted “Lifting the Veil’s” audience to 2.6 million viewers — an increase of almost 1 million people. This audience included 1.5 million adults between ages 18 and 49 and 1.7 million adults between 25 and 54, a demographic TNT targets.

There’s also this: Since March 10, TNT has been running each new “Dallas” episode twice in prime time on Mondays — once at 9 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. The 10 p.m. replays have averaged 751,000 viewers.

If you combine the audiences for the two telecasts, “Dallas” has averaged roughly 2.6 million viewers during the past three Monday nights. Berman said there probably isn’t a lot of overlap between the two showings, although he hung around after this week’s 9 p.m. telecast of “D.T.R.” to catch the first few minutes of the 10 p.m. replay.

“It was such a fantastic opening with Sue Ellen. I had to see it again,” he said.

Look Who’s Talking

Fresh off her dynamo performance in this week’s episode, Linda Gray is scheduled to drop by “The Talk” on Thursday, March 27. CBS airs the show weekdays at 2 p.m.

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

TNT’s Dallas Recap: ‘D.T.R.’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, D.T.R., Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Ewings united

Here’s what happened in “D.T.R.,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode:

• Sue Ellen struck back (part 1): Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) visited Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber) and gave him a bottle of J.R. Ewing Bourbon, hoping it would persuade him to replace Stanley Babcock, the corrupt railroad commissioner, with an appointee who would agree to revoke John Ross’s Southfork drilling permit. Of course, the wily McConaughey was in no mood to grant Sue Ellen a favor and rejected her suggestion. Dumb move, governor: It turned out Sue Ellen had bugged the bottle, which allowed her and Bobby (Patrick Duffy) to eavesdrop on McConaughey’s conversations — including one with Babcock (Currie Graham), who promised to illegally funnel money to the governor’s 2016 presidential campaign. “The bug in the bourbon cork. I think J.R. would see the humor in that,” Bobby said.

• Sue Ellen struck back (part 2). After John Ross and Pamela (Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo) returned from their honeymoon, Sue Ellen told her son to stop cheating on his wife, but he paid Sue Ellen no heed. “This is all about you wanting to punish J.R. for the way he treated you. Well, guess what, Mama? I’m not J.R.,” John Ross said. Dumb move, junior: Once Sue Ellen played McConaughey her recording of his conversation, he agreed to replace Babcock with a new railroad commissioner — Bobby. (Said the governor upon discovering Sue Ellen’s scheme: “This is why politicians should never accept gifts — especially gifts with J.R.’s name on them.”) Sue Ellen let her son know she was behind the appointment when she sent him a text message that read, “I couldn’t look the other way.” He responded in kind, leaving her a nasty voice mail message in which he shouted, “Now I know I’ve got another enemy I’ve got to look out for. I ain’t going to forget this.”

• Emma gained the upper hand against Judith. John Ross returned from his honeymoon with a gift for his mistress: a necklace, which he gave to Emma (Emma Bell) during one of their clandestine meetings in her bedroom. When Ann (Brenda Strong) saw the jewelry, she and Emma got into a fight and Ann kicked her off the ranch. But Emma wasn’t down for long: She told Judith (Judith Light) she knows all about her prostitution business and used the information to blackmail Grandma into agreeing to give John Ross control of Ryland’s ships for his Arctic drilling venture. After Judith gave her granddaughter some advice (“Never let a man screw you for nothing”), Emma told John Ross she wants a piece of the “Arctic play,” but that’s probably the least of his worries: Judith, fuming over being blackmailed, let Harris know she was frustrated with the slow pace of his scheme to frame John Ross for a sex crime. “How hard is it to get that Ewing boy to drop his pants?” Judith asked.

• Harris gained the upper hand against the CIA. After Ann told Harris that Emma left the ranch, he worried for his daughter’s safety and told CIA agent George Tatangelo (Gino Anthony Pesi) that he wanted out of the agency’s sting operation against the Mendez-Ochoa drug cartel. Tatangelo told Harris it was too late to walk away (“You bought the ticket. You take the ride.”), so Harris threatened to expose expose the illegal “black ops” operations Tantangelo has been conducting on the side. “If you won’t stop the ride, the least you can do is re-route some of those resources and get my family a little extra protection,” Harris said. Meanwhile, Harris and Ann continued to soften toward each other during their search for Emma, who eventually came home to Southfork and told Ann she would stop seeing John Ross — a promise Emma had no intention of keeping.

• Elena and Nicolas got a clue. Pamela was unsettled to see Candace (Jude Demorest) flirting with John Ross, but that was nothing compared to the distressing phone call she received from Cliff (Ken Kercheval), who tried unsuccessfully to mend fences with her. Cliff realized his daughter believes he really did kill J.R., and so he huddled with Elena and Nicolas (Jordana Brewster, Juan Pablo Di Pace) and urged them to tell Pamela the truth. “Turn her against John Ross and she will help you get your justice … and mine,” Cliff said. He also warned Elena to keep an eye on Nicolas. Meanwhile, Nicolas persuaded Peter Bedford (Todd Terry), the state’s attorney whom J.R. once blackmailed, into showing him and Elena the files from the Mexican police’s investigation into J.R.’s murder. While examining the autopsy photos, Nicolas noticed an unusual incision on J.R.’s body.

• Christopher grew closer to Heather — and clashed with John Ross. Christopher and Heather (Jesse Metcalfe, AnnaLynne McCord) grew closer, and he learned her secret: She was once married to Bo (Donny Boaz) and the two of them have a young son, Michael. Christopher and the boy bonded over Transformers when they met, but Bo made it clear he doesn’t think much of Christopher. Or maybe Bo was just stressed because John Ross, his boss at the Southfork drilling site, has been riding the crew so hard. Buckle up, Bo, because things aren’t going to get any easier: After John Ross found out about Bobby’s new position on the railroad commission, he vowed to keep fighting until he taps the oil under the ranch. As John Ross told Bobby and Christopher, “You want to build a roadblock between me and drilling Southfork? Go ahead. If I’m as bad as my father ever was, then I’ll blow right past it.”

What did you think of “D.T.R.”? Share your comments below and look for Dallas Decoder’s critique later this week.