Drill Bits: Cliffhanger Gives ‘Dallas’ a Ratings Boost

AnnaLynne McCord, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Heather McCabe, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT, Where There's Smoke

Holding on

“Dallas’s” midseason cliffhanger brought the show its second biggest Monday audience this year. The episode, “Where There’s Smoke,” debuted to 2.1 million viewers on April 14, including 714,000 viewers in the advertiser-prized demographic of adults between ages 18 and 49. This is “Dallas’s” most-watched Monday telecast since the third-season premiere, “The Return,” drew 2.7 million viewers on February 24.

“Dallas’s” overall audience grew about 10 percent from last week. This brings the show’s season-to-date average to 1.9 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m., down from 2.7 million viewers in this time slot last year. However, when you count DVR users who record “Dallas” and watch it within three days, this season’s average rises to 2.8 million viewers.

“Dallas’s” previous episode, “Like a Bad Penny,” debuted on April 7 to 1.8 million viewers, including 580,000 adults between ages 18 and 49. With DVR playback, the “Like a Bad Penny” audience rose to 2.6 million viewers, including 1.1 million adults between ages 25 and 54, an audience TNT targets.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: When “Dallas” set Southfork ablaze in 1983, the episode, “Ewing Inferno,” was seen in 20.3 million homes, ranking second in the weekly ratings.

Remember: ‘Dallas’ Returns August 18

“Dallas” is over for the spring, but we still have the summer episodes to look forward to. TNT plans to bring the show back for the second half of its third season, beginning Monday, August 18. That’s just 125 days from tonight.

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

The Best & Worst of Dallas: Season 6

There’s lots to love and little to loathe about “Dallas’s” sixth season.

Performances

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Oh, darlin’

Every cast member shines during Season 6, but Linda Gray’s performance during Sue Ellen’s alcoholic spiral makes her first among equals. Sue Ellen doesn’t just lose her self-respect; she comes close to losing her life when she drives drunk and crashes J.R.’s car. What impresses me most about Gray is how she keeps the audience rooting for Sue Ellen, even when she makes mistakes. What an amazing performance.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Still our hero

Give it up for Patrick Duffy too. If you were surprised to see Bobby unleash his inner junkyard dog on the most recent season of TNT’s “Dallas,” then check out Season 6 of the original series, which marks the first time the character reveals his ferocious side. The “Dallas” writers take Bobby to a very dark place during the yearlong contest for Ewing Oil, but Duffy makes sure we never forget he’s still the Bobby Ewing we know and love. Bravo.

Storylines

Speaking of J.R. and Bobby’s contest: It’s too early for me to call this “Dallas’s” all-time greatest plot — I still have eight more seasons to revisit — but it’s hard to imagine anything surpassing the battle royale between the brothers Ewing. The reason the storyline succeeds isn’t the premise, which — let’s face it — is more than a little implausible. (A major corporation splits in half for a year to determine which of its top two executives should be in charge?) No, this arc works because it involves every character and showcases their complexities. Is it surprising to see Bobby play dirty or to witness J.R. wracked with guilt at season’s end? Sure, yet it never feels out of character for them. “Dallas” is always at its best when the characters, not the writers, drive the narrative, and that’s never been truer than it is here.

Episodes

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

Power hour

This is the first season that I’ve reviewed in which none of the episodes received anything less than a “B” grade. For the record: Year 6 consists of 28 hours, and I handed out nine “B’s,” 16 “A’s” and three (!) “A+’s.” My favorite is “Penultimate,” a powerful hour of television that deals with the fallout from Sue Ellen’s accident and leaves us wondering: What’s more destructive — her addiction to booze or her addiction to J.R.?

Scenes

The final moments in “Tangled Web” never fail to give me chills. We’re with Sue Ellen every step of the way when she walks across Holly’s driveway, enters the house and sees her in bed with J.R. (Trivia: My readers tell me when this scene was broadcast in 1983, it was scored, but for whatever reason the music doesn’t appear on the DVD. I’d love to see the original version, but I must say: The lonely sounds of Sue Ellen’s heels clicking and clacking help make this scene so effective.) More great moments: Cliff comes to terms with his guilt over Rebecca’s death (this is Ken Kercheval at his most brilliant) and three scenes that showcase the incomparable Barbara Bel Geddes — Miss Ellie predicts the future for Sue Ellen, eulogizes Jock a the Oil Baron’s Ball and testifies at the hearing to overturn his will.

Hands down, my least favorite scene: In “A Ewing is a Ewing,” J.R. comes on to Holly and she tells him “no,” but he has sex with her anyway. Was this really necessary to demonstrate J.R.’s villainy?

Supporting Players

Dallas, Mickey Trotter, Timothy Patrick Murphy

Transformer

Do you despise cocky Mickey Trotter when he arrives at the beginning of Season 6? Are you surprised when he tries to save Sue Ellen at the end of the year? If you answer “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, then credit Timothy Patrick Murphy, who does a nice job turning Mickey from a punk into a prince over the course of the season. Also, thanks to Murphy, Lucy finally gets a leading man worthy of Charlene Tilton’s charm.

Props

Jock’s portrait is introduced during “Dallas’s” fifth season, but the show makes magnificent use of it throughout Season 6. Jock looms in the background of so many crucial scenes, including the will reading, which marks one of the few occasions when all of the Ewings are together in one room (even Gary’s there!), and J.R. and Ray’s fistfight in “Ewing Inferno,” when all hell breaks loose — literally. TNT, take note: This is how you use a portrait to help keep alive a character’s memory.

Costumes

Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Susan Howard

Red hat mama

I love Pam’s upswept hairdo and western dress in “Barbecue Three,” her print skirt in “Brothers and Sisters” and Afton’s navy blouse/white skirt combo in “The Ewing Blues,” but my favorite fashion statement is made by Susan Howard, who sports a striking red hat when Donna attends the inaugural meeting of the Texas Energy Commission (also “Barbecue Three”). Eat your heart out, Katherine Wentworth!

Quips

Throughout Season 6, Larry Hagman zings like no one else. Here’s J.R. to Holly, upon spotting her lounging around her pool with a shirtless stud: “Traveling with the intellectual set, I see.” To Mickey, after the young man announces he’s a Trotter, not a Krebbs: “Oh, well. I’m bound to sleep more soundly tonight knowing that.” To Katherine, upon hearing she has something to discuss with him: “Oh, don’t tell me. Not Cliff Barnes. I couldn’t handle that.” In the end, though, my favorite quip comes from Sue Ellen, who is aghast when J.R. criticizes Pam for giving “aid and comfort to the opposition” during the hearing to overturn Jock’s will. “Opposition?” Sue Ellen says. “J.R., that’s your mother.”

What do you love and loathe about “Dallas’s” sixth season? Share your comments below and read more “Best & Worst” reviews.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘I’m Gonna Drink Myself Into Oblivion’

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

Who’s afraid of Sue Ellen Ewing?

In “Ewing Inferno,” “Dallas’s” sixth-season finale, J.R. (Larry Hagman) comes home and finds Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) seated on the living room sofa, drinking.

J.R.: Sue Ellen, what are you doing down here? You need your rest, honey.

SUE ELLEN: How solicitous.

J.R.: You feeling better?

SUE ELLEN: You mean am I still drunk? [Smirks] Well, not enough. Somebody thoughtfully locked up all the liquor. But I just happened to find this lovely little bottle of burgundy in the kitchen. [Holds it aloft] Theresa tried to protect me from it. It seems like everyone’s protecting me, except my loving husband.

J.R.: Let me have the bottle, Sue Ellen. You shouldn’t be drinking. You know that.

SUE ELLEN: Don’t you lecture me on what I should and shouldn’t do. [Takes a drink]

J.R.: All right, all right. I won’t.

SUE ELLEN: My, how agreeable you are. [Gets up, walks toward him, still holding the glass and the bottle] Wonder why you’re so agreeable, J.R.? Hmm? Did you find someone new to sleep with you today? Or did you have to rely on one of your old mistresses? Maybe, just maybe, Miss Holly Harwood made herself available to you. Maybe the two of you were out wildcatting.

J.R.: That’s all over, Sue Ellen. It was a big mistake. I thought I explained that to you.

SUE ELLEN: You know, you are a terrific explainer. In fact, you do that better than you do almost anything. You know, you even explained away the 10 years of hell I went through during our first marriage. And you know what? I believed you so much that I married you for the second time. What an idiot I was.

J.R.: Sue Ellen, I love you. What do I have to do to prove it?

SUE ELLEN: You don’t have to do anything. You’ve ruined my life, J.R. You have destroyed me. Like you destroy everything you touch. [Moves closer] Now, why don’t you do one kind little thing for me, hmm? Unlock the liquor, because I’m going to drink myself into oblivion.

J.R.: We’ll talk about this when you calm down. [In the distance, John Ross calls for his mother.] I’ll see to the boy. [J.R. turns and heads toward the stairs.]

SUE ELLEN: Don’t you dare touch that son of mine. He’s mine.

J.R.: Well, I’ll get Mama to take care of him. Where is she, anyhow?

SUE ELLEN: She went away with Clayton. She can’t stand the sight of you either!

John Ross calls again.

J.R.: I’ll take care of him myself. [Climbs the stairs]

SUE ELLEN: Keep away from him.

J.R.: You stay here Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: No! [She steps forward and throws the bottle at J.R. It smashes against the wall.] You stay away from him.

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

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

Surprise, surprise

“Ewing Inferno” famously ends with J.R., Sue Ellen, Ray and John Ross trapped inside Southfork as fire sweeps through the house. I wonder: When this episode debuted in 1983, did anyone doubt all four characters would escape the blaze? After all, three of them appear in the opening credits and the fourth is a child; by the conventions of 1980s television, their survival seems assured. Not that I’m complaining. This may not be “Dallas’s” most suspenseful cliffhanger, but it does put a poetic punctuation mark on the sixth season. After a year in which everything goes to hell for the Ewings, what could be more fitting than seeing them surrounded by flames?

Besides, it’s not like “Ewing Inferno” doesn’t deliver its share of surprises, especially where J.R. is concerned. When the episode begins, he’s business as usual, demanding $20 million from Holly to leave her company. Later, in one of their classic clashes, J.R. lobs such ugly insults at Pam that she slaps him. (“Damn, I hate that woman,” he says as she stomps away.) Then, in the second act, J.R. has an honest-to-goodness epiphany. He brings little John Ross into the bedroom to give Sue Ellen a goodnight kiss, only to find her passed out, an empty bottle of booze at her side. J.R. sends the boy away, sits on the bed and gazes at his wife. “I know you’ll never trust me again, Sue Ellen,” he says. “But I love you. … We should’ve had a wonderful life together. What have I done to you?” The monologue brings to mind the second-season finale, when J.R. sits at the hospital bedside of a comatose Sue Ellen and laments the turn their marriage has taken. Now here he is, four years later, delivering a similar speech. As Miss Ellie wondered a few episodes ago: Doesn’t he ever learn?

Perhaps he does. In the next scene, Bobby comes home and finds J.R. alone in the Southfork living room. The mood is somber, serious. Bobby asks how Sue Ellen is doing. “Not good,” J.R. responds. He tells Bobby that he’s been thinking “real hard” about their fight for Ewing Oil, and the toll it has taken on the people around them. Both brothers’ marriages have suffered. Miss Ellie is heartbroken. Rebecca Wentworth is dead. Mickey Trotter is dying. “I’m not sure that this fight between us is worth what it cost the family,” J.R. says. Bobby is stunned and asks J.R. if he wants to end the contest. J.R.’s response: “By my calculation, I’m way ahead of you, but I really don’t give a damn.”

I really don’t give a damn. Not since J.R. slipped into his deep depression after Jock’s death has our hero seemed so unmoored.

‘Into Oblivion’

Dallas, Ewing Inferno, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

But not oblivious

J.R. and Bobby don’t get around to finishing this conversation, but no matter. There’s no doubt J.R. has been humbled. Consider the third act’s final scene. After ordering Teresa to lock up the liquor, J.R. finds Sue Ellen getting drunk in the living room, having swiped a bottle of burgundy from the kitchen. The confrontation that follows plays like something out of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” As J.R. stands still and stares ahead, Sue Ellen circles him, a glass in one hand, the wine bottle in the other, and releases her fury. She references his marital sins (“Did you find someone new to sleep with today? Or did you have to rely on one of your old mistresses?”) and tells him he “ruined” her life. Then, to show how she has stopped giving a damn, Sue Ellen moves closer to J.R. and whispers, “Now, why don’t you do one kind little thing for me, hmm? Unlock the liquor, because I’m going to drink myself into oblivion.”

Linda Gray and Larry Hagman are magnificent in this scene. Every one of her lines drips with acid, while his stoic expression makes this a cathartic moment for the audience. J.R. doesn’t fight back because he knows he’s wrong. He accepts Sue Ellen’s punishing words because he deserves them. Even at the end of the scene, when Sue Ellen flings the bottle at him and it smashes against the wall, J.R. barely flinches. Where his wife is concerned, J.R. simply doesn’t have any fight left in him — although as the big red stain on the wallpaper foreshadows, a different kind of battle is about to come to him.

‘The Last Person in the World’

Dallas, Ewing Inferno, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Daddy’s watching

J.R.’s chastening during the course of “Ewing Inferno” is thorough but incomplete. In the final scene, when Ray arrives at Southfork to confront him, J.R. offers his half-brother a typically frosty greeting. “Ray, you’re about the last person in the world I needed to see tonight,” he says. I usually laugh when Hagman delivers a line like this, but there’s nothing funny about J.R.’s dark mood. Before long, the two men are scuffling, and even though the fight scene isn’t exactly credible — stuntmen are clearly substituting for Hagman and Steve Kanaly in the wide shots, J.R. knocks out Ray with a plastic telephone — there’s something deeply poignant about Ray’s attempt to avenge Mickey and J.R.’s determination to rescue his family once the fire starts. How can you not feel moved when he notices the blaze, cries out for his wife and son and braves the flames to try to save them?

Also, consider this: For two seasons, J.R. and Ray have each struggled to honor the dead father they worshipped. J.R. tries to do it through business, while Ray tries to emulate Jock by taking Mickey under his wing, just like Jock did with young Ray. I suppose that’s why it’s so fitting that J.R. and Ray’s fight occurs under the watchful gaze of Jock’s portrait, which looms in the background of so many crucial scenes during the sixth season, including the will reading and J.R. and Sue Ellen’s spat after she catches him in bed with Holly. What hath Jock wrought?

‘Our Marriage Doesn’t Work’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Ewing Inferno, Patrick Duffy

Cry, Bobby

For all its poignancy, the true cliffhanger in “Ewing Inferno” has nothing to do with the Southfork fire. The question I’m left asking is this: What will Bobby do? After J.R. offers to call off their fight, Bobby receives a phone call from Pam, who tells him she’s decided to give him the Tundra Torque, the experimental drill bit he needs to move forward with his Canadian oil venture. Since the deal is a guaranteed blockbuster, it will almost certainly allow Bobby to clinch victory over J.R. Bobby now has a dilemma: Should he make peace with his brother, or should he see the contest through until the end, knowing he has what it takes to finally beat J.R.?

By the end of the episode, Bobby’s decision isn’t clear, although his conversation with Katherine in the next-to-last scene suggests he will indeed use the drill bit. Regardless, I wish scriptwriter Arthur Bernard Lewis had paid more attention to this subplot and shown Bobby weighing his choices. After a season of tough ethical compromises, wouldn’t this be Bobby’s biggest decision yet?

On the other hand: Lewis has a lot of narrative ground to cover, and he does a nice job bringing the other storylines to a climactic finish. The cast does good work too. The scene where Pam tells Bobby she wants a divorce (“Our marriage doesn’t work anymore”) is very moving, especially when that single tear begins its slow journey down Patrick Duffy’s cheek. I also love when Pam tells Cliff and Katherine that she’s decided to give Bobby the drill bit. What’s more fun: Ken Kercheval’s combustible response or Morgan Brittany’s sly smirk? The guest stars shine too: Kate Reid is mesmerizing when she delivers Aunt Lil’s weary monologue, Ben Piazza is the profile in agony when Driscoll visits Mickey’s bedside, and thanks to Barry Corbin, I feel every bit of Sheriff Washburn’s frustration when Ray goes rogue during the investigation into Mickey’s accident.

Like so many other “Dallas” episodes during the sixth season, “Ewing Inferno” also makes me appreciate the technical expertise behind the camera. Fred W. Berger, the editor, won an Emmy for this episode. Surely director Leonard Katzman deserves one too. In the fourth act, I like how he shows J.R. escorting Dr. Danvers out of the bedroom, through the hall and down the stairs into the foyer. The sequence establishes how these spaces fit together, so that during the fire, when J.R. races up the steps and collapses, we understand his proximity to his wife and son.

You also have to admire Katzman’s lack of restraint. According to Barbara A. Curran’s 2004 book “Dallas: The Complete Story of the World’s Favorite Prime-Time Soap,” Katzman built a replica of the Southfork foyer, just so he could burn it down for this episode’s final scene. That’s pretty spectacular, even if it isn’t all that suspenseful.

Grade: A+

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Welcome to Hell

‘EWING INFERNO’

Season 6, Episode 28

Airdate: May 6, 1983

Audience: 20.3 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: J.R. offers to end the contest for Ewing Oil. Pam decides to divorce Bobby but gives him the Tundra Torque, enraging Cliff. Driscoll kills himself after revealing he drove the car that struck Sue Ellen and Mickey’s vehicle because he thought J.R. was behind the wheel at the time. After Ray learns of Driscoll’s role in the crash, he gets into a fight with J.R. During the scuffle, Southfork catches fire, trapping J.R., Sue Ellen, Ray and John Ross.

Cast: Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Barry Corbin (Sheriff Fenton Washburn), John Devlin (Clouse), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Kate Reid (Lil Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), John Zaremba (Dr. Harlan Danvers)

“Ewing Inferno” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Dal-List: 10 Classic Clashes Between J.R. and Pam

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Julie Gonzalo, Larry Hagman, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Venomous Creatures

2 for 2?

The confrontation between J.R. and Pamela (Larry Hagman, Julie Gonzalo) in “Venomous Creatures,” one of this week’s new “Dallas” episodes on TNT, was an instant classic. The scene demonstrated how Gonzalo can hold her own against the legendary Hagman, but it also evoked memories of J.R.’s showdowns with the original Pam (Victoria Principal). Here’s a look at some of those moments.

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Fight or flight

10. Let the games begin. J.R. and Pam’s first fracas set the stage for all the fights that followed. On the day she arrived at Southfork, he gave her a friendly tour of the ranch – then offered her a bribe to leave: “I’m willing to spend some money now to avoid any inconvenience. But if you insist upon being driven away – which you surely will be – you’re going to come out of this without anything, honey.” Pam ignored J.R.’s offer, but maybe she should’ve taken the money and run. Think of all the pain she would’ve been spared! (“Digger’s Daughter”)

Dallas, Barbecue, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Fall gal

9. Legend of the fall. J.R. and Pam’s most controversial encounter: During her first Ewing barbecue, pregnant Pam retreated to a Southfork hayloft for some much-deserved alone time. Suddenly, a drunken J.R. showed up, crawled (slithered?) toward her and apologized for “going too far” during her early weeks at Southfork. While trying to get away from him, Pam slipped, fell and lost her baby. Some fans remember J.R. pushing Pam, but when you watch this scene, it’s pretty clearly an accident. J.R. was bad, but he wasn’t evil. (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Love and Marriage, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Stud or dud?

8. Stud finder? If there was sexual tension between J.R. and Pam, it was strictly one-sided. When he suggested her demanding job at The Store might prompt lonely Bobby to reclaim his reputation as Dallas’s top stud, Pam declared that Bobby “isn’t standing at stud anymore. … He left the field wide open for you. Of course, from what I hear, that still leaves the field wide open.” J.R.: “Anytime you want to find out, it can be easily arranged.” Pam: “Don’t bother, J.R. Even if I weren’t married to Bobby, you aren’t man enough.” OK then! (“Love and Marriage”)

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Quandary, Victoria Principal

Bag it, J.R.

7. Tea for one. When Bobby “died,” Pam joined Ewing Oil as J.R.’s new partner, bringing the animosity between them to new heights. Within minutes of her first day on the job, J.R. minced no words letting Pam know how he felt about her new career: “I don’t want you in my sight, much less my offices!” Pam didn’t miss a beat. She ignored J.R.’s huffing and puffing, buzzed her secretary Phyllis on the intercom and ordered “a cup of tea – a cup of herbal tea.” Pam then turned to J.R. and asked if he wanted anything. He didn’t. (“Quandary”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Nothing's Ever Perfect

Dream on, Pam

6. Truce? In your dreams. After spending months fighting with J.R. at Ewing Oil, Pam decided their war wasn’t worth it and sold him the share of the company she controlled. After signing the papers, Pam told him, “It’s all yours, J.R. I hope this does mean that we can all live in peace now.” His response: “We’ve got nothing to fight about anymore.” Ha! This scene aired six months before Bobby stepped out of Pam’s shower. Looking back, the moment J.R. and Pam made nice should’ve been the first clue our heroine was dreaming. (“Nothing’s Ever Perfect”)

Dallas, Fallen Idol, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Hold the butter

5. Dining with the devil. For purely selfish reasons, J.R. didn’t want Bobby doing business with shady college chum Guzzler Bennett, so J.R. invited Pam to lunch to enlist her help in stopping Bobby and Guzzler’s project. When Pam wondered how she might persuade Bobby to call off the deal, J.R. told her, “You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.” I also love her cutting response to his attempt to butter her up at the start of the scene: “J.R., please don’t make me lose this good food.” (“Fallen Idol”)

Dallas, Ewing Inferno, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Sting like a bee

4. Slap! J.R. and Pam’s fights almost never turned physical. Emphasis on “almost.” While Pam waited alone for Bobby inside his office one day, J.R. popped in to say hello. She wasn’t in the mood for his insincerities. “Save that nonsense for somebody who doesn’t know you,” she said, then chastised him for his latest extramarital fling. “Climb down off your soapbox, honey,” J.R. responded before accusing her of sleeping around. Before all was said and done, Pam had stomped away, leaving J.R. with a big red mark on his cheek. (“Ewing Inferno”)

Dallas, If At First You Don't Succeed, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Change of tune

3. Get your feud on. When Cliff was arrested for Bobby’s shooting, Pam accused J.R. of framing her brother. Cue J.R.’s eye-roll: “I’m getting kind of tired of that old song. Mean, nasty J.R. beating up on poor, innocent Cliff Barnes.” Pam’s response: “I’ve never believed in the Barnes/Ewing feud, J.R., but now I’m going to join it. I’m going to do everything I can to help Cliff – and I’m not going to rest until all our family scores are settled!” Something tells me Pam’s namesake niece would be proud of auntie here. (“If at First You Don’t Succeed”)

Dallas, Legacy of Hate, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Babble on, honey

2. True lies. Just to mess with her, J.R. sent Pam on a wild goose chase to the Caribbean to find her presumed dead lover Mark Graison. When she found out, she stormed into J.R.’s office and demanded an explanation. J.R. played dumb. “You’re babbling like a lunatic,” he said, adding: “I never liked you a hell of a lot, you know that, Pam? But I never thought you were stupid until now.” Principal is fantastic here – and so is Hagman. Pam knows J.R.’s lying. The audience knows he’s lying too. Yet somehow, we kinda believe him. (“Legacy of Hate”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Long Goodbye, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Choose or lose

1. The choice. J.R. rejoiced when Pam left Bobby, but when he found out she was thinking about reconciling with him, J.R. knew he needed to act fast. He showed up on Pam’s doorstep and tried to persuade her that a divorce was in her best interest. “How nice! You’re concerned about my happiness,” she said, sarcasm dripping from every word. J.R.’s matter-of-fact response: “Oh, no. I don’t give a damn about you or your happiness, honey. But I do care about what’s good for me.” As Pam stood with her back to him, J.R. circled her, explaining she had two options: divorce Bobby and bring the Barnes/Ewing feud to an end, or return to him and watch as “all hell [breaks] loose.” Hagman is downright chilling, and as Pam, Principal looks visibly shaken. We can sympathize; in this scene, J.R. scares us too! (“The Long Goodbye”)

What do you think are J.R. and Pam’s best confrontations? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”