Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 114 — ‘Post Nuptial’

Dallas, Linda Gray, Post Nuptial, Sue Ellen Ewing

December bride

“Post Nuptial” picks up where the previous “Dallas” episode left off, as the Ewings and their guests wait to see what will happen after Cliff stands up during the middle of J.R. and Sue Ellen’s wedding ceremony. The answer: Not much. After a few moments of cringe-worthy silence, Cliff walks to the bar and pours himself a drink while the minister completes the vows and announces that J.R. and Sue Ellen are once again husband and wife. If there’s a lesson here for “Dallas” fans, it might be this: Lackluster cliffhangers are bound to produce underwhelming resolutions.

Of course, Cliff hasn’t caused his last scene. At the reception, he refuses Pam and Afton’s pleas to leave, then asks Sue Ellen to dance. Sue Ellen looks rattled and reluctantly accepts Cliff’s offer, which stretches credibility a little too thinly for my taste. It was one thing for Sue Ellen to quietly renew her relationship with Cliff while she was a divorcee, but to dance with him on the day she remarries J.R.? That seems like a lot for the audience to swallow. Don’t forget: This is the man who once sued J.R. and Sue Ellen for custody of John Ross, claiming he was the child’s biological father.

More than anything, Cliff and Sue Ellen’s scene at the reception is a plot device to squeeze a fight scene into this episode. When J.R. spots his wife and his enemy on the dance floor, he approaches Cliff and punches him, which leads to a brawl that ends with almost every lead actor on the show falling or being pushed into the Southfork swimming pool. A confession: I’ve never loved these “dunkings” as much as other fans seem to. It’s always seemed a little silly to me, and by the end of the series, the pool fights had become pretty predictable. Since this is one of the first, though, I can appreciate how much fun it must have been in 1982 to see the tuxedo-clad Ewings and Cliff splashing around the pool. The best part is when Mickey Trotter joins the fracas, seemingly for the hell of it.

(You also have to enjoy J.R. and Mickey’s encounter earlier at the reception, when the young ranch hand makes the mistake of asking J.R. about Lucy’s whereabouts. Larry Hagman and Timothy Patrick Murphy both have charm to spare and good chemistry together; what a shame this is one of the few scenes their characters share during Murphy’s too-brief tenure on the show.)

The wedding scenes in “Post Nuptial” are limited to the first act, allowing scriptwriter David Paulsen to devote the remainder of the hour to advancing the season’s storylines. Naturally, J.R. remains the center of the action and keeps the audience guessing. He whisks Sue Ellen away on a quick honeymoon to a waterfront resort, where she tells him she wants “a total commitment” from him. “No other women, no games,” she says. This seems like the kind of conversation the couple should have had before they walked down the aisle, but no matter. J.R. assures Sue Ellen he’s not going to repeat the mistakes he made during their first go-round as husband and wife. “I promise you,” he says.

Does he mean it? I believe he does. After all, J.R. resisted the temptation to cheat with Holly in “The Ewing Touch,” one of the previous episodes. The audience is less sure of J.R.’s sincerity at the end of “Post Nuptial,” when Bobby — having snooped around into J.R.’s business dealings — confronts him with evidence that suggests J.R. is selling oil to countries on the government’s embargo list. “You’re talking about an illegal act, Bob. … I assure you, a thought like that never crossed my mind,” J.R. says. He sounds sincere, but since “Dallas” hasn’t revealed the reason he’s pumping so much extra oil, we can’t quite be sure if he’s telling the truth this time.

I also like the “Post Nuptial” scene where Afton vows to leave Cliff after the brouhaha he caused at the wedding. In a tense moment, she also comes close to confessing her recent indiscretion with Gil Thurman, only to chicken out at the last minute and collapse into Cliff’s arms. I’m a fan the Ken Kercheval/Audrey Landers pairing over the long haul, but this is one point in their relationship where I don’t understand why she sticks with him.

Thank goodness we have Sue Ellen around to cheer on. In addition to the scene where she demands that “total commitment” from J.R., we get to see her accompany him to the refinery he wants to buy. When the refinery owner informs the couple his business isn’t for sale, Sue Ellen pipes up with, “You haven’t even heard our offer yet.” It’s an early glimpse of the shrewd energy executive she’ll one day become. Too bad it takes a few decades for it to happen.

Grade: B


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Post Nuptial

Who do you trust?


Season 6, Episode 11

Airdate: December 10, 1982

Audience: 21.8 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: After J.R. and Sue Ellen are married, Afton decides to leave Cliff but doesn’t follow through. Holly tells Bobby about her connection to J.R. Bobby fears J.R. may be illegally selling oil to countries on the State Department’s embargo list. Donna, now a member of the Texas Energy Commission, vows to rescind J.R.’s variance to pump excess oil. Lucy rejects the advances of her client, Bill Johnson.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Parley Baer (minister), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Ivan Bonar (Perkins), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Jon Cypher (Jones), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Gerry Gibson (Jimmy Otis), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nicholas Hammond (Bill Johnson), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘If It’s a Fight You Want. …’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ewing Touch, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

Face off

In “The Ewing Touch,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) approaches Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) outside a restaurant.

ELLIE: Rebecca. We should talk.

REBECCA: All right.

They walk together.

ELLIE: You and I share a grandson now. Let the two of us try to work together and put a stop to this family feud. Cliff has his own company now and J.R. is busy. They’re on equal ground. They really have no reason to fight each other.

REBECCA: [Stops, faces her] That’s a very fine attitude for you to have Ellie. But then again, it wasn’t your son who almost died.

ELLIE: But Rebecca, that’s over. It’s behind us. Cliff pulled out of it.

REBECCA: If it were one of your boys, would you be so quick to forgive?

ELLIE: I hope so.

REBECCA: I’ll tell you something, Ellie. I’m all for it. But if J.R. takes one step out of line, I guarantee you, we’ll destroy him.

ELLIE: Rebecca, I’ve done everything I know to put a stop to this nonsense. But if it’s a fight you want, just remember: Other people have fought the Ewings before — and they’ve regretted it.

REBECCA: We’ll see.

ELLIE: [Sighs] All right, Rebecca. I tried. Now it’s up to you.

Rebecca turns and walks away.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 111 — ‘The Ewing Touch’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ewing Blues, Miss Ellie Ewing,

Word from a mother

In “The Ewing Touch’s” most memorable moment, Miss Ellie warns Rebecca not to cross her family. “Other people have fought the Ewings before — and they’ve regretted it,” Ellie says. This is a great scene for several reasons, not the least of which is the fun that comes from seeing two old pros like Barbara Bel Geddes and Priscilla Pointer square off against each other. Moreover, I like how the exchange recalls Ellie’s famous admonishment of the cartel, when the tiny matriarch chastised a roomful of powerful oilmen with a similar don’t-mess-with-the-Ewings speech. Ellie’s latest clash pits her against a fellow grandmother, but the confrontation is no less satisfying. Think about it: Rebecca wants revenge against the Ewings because she blames J.R. for Cliff’s suicide attempt. Her vendetta is as irrational as it is unfair. She deserves Ellie’s rebuke.

Of course, as terrific as this scene is, don’t allow it to overshadow the rest of Bel Geddes’ work in “The Ewing Touch,” which is typically wonderful. Most of Ellie’s scenes show how she is resuming her life after Jock’s death. We see her happily toasting Christopher’s adoption, attending a “political meeting” with Donna and, in the most surprising turn, hosting a dinner party at Southfork so her family can meet Frank Crutcher, the gentleman she met at the Oil Baron’s Ball. Frank’s presence at Southfork makes her sons uncomfortable, but Ellie later assures Bobby that she thinks of Frank only as a friend. Nevertheless, the fact remains: Ellie is making room in her life for a man who isn’t Jock.

This transitional phase in the life of the Ewings is symbolized by a moving sequence involving, of all things, Jock’s car. At the beginning of “The Ewing Touch’s” third act, Ellie is quietly surveying the Southfork landscape when Bud, who owns the garage where Jock had his prized Lincoln Continental worked on, arrives and reminds Ellie that the car is overdue for servicing. Bud suggests Ellie might want to sell the vehicle, but she dismisses the idea. “You take it in and do whatever Jock would have done to it,” Ellie tells him. We then cut to a scene of Ray preparing to teach Mickey to ride a horse — a subtle reminder that Ray is following in Jock’s footsteps by taking a younger man under his wing — and then we return to Ellie standing in the driveway, watching as Bud drives away in Ewing 1. The family, like the car, is moving on.

The other highlight in “The Ewing Touch” is the scene where J.R. drops by Holly’s house and pokes fun of the shirtless hunk lounging near her swimming pool. “Traveling with the intellectual set, I see,” J.R. quips. Holly flirts with J.R. — which is a bit odd, given the brush-off she gave him a few episodes earlier — and even suggests he “stretch out” and spend some time with her by the pool. To the surprise of the audience and perhaps even to himself, J.R. rejects Holly’s offer, telling her he’s trying to “stay pure” for his wedding. Besides, he says, “I wouldn’t want to confuse Bonzo.”

The rest of “The Ewing Touch” is a bit uneven. Cliff gets angry at Pam for helping Bobby going into business with the McLeish brothers, even though she had no idea Cliff was interested in a deal with them too. This is a little irrational, even for Cliff. My feelings about Lucy’s storyline are mixed too: I like how she resists her client Bill Johnson’s attempt to date her — it seems she learned a valuable lesson about mixing business with pleasure when she got involved with Roger Larson in the previous season — but the Shirley Temple getup that Lucy sports during her photo shoot is more than a little creepy.

“The Ewing Touch” also offers two casting milestones. First, Tami Barber makes her final appearance as Bev, Lucy’s girlfriend, when she sits silently next to Ellie at Lucy’s final divorce hearing. Second, Josef Rainer makes his first appearance on “Dallas” as Runland, the parts supplier who gives Bobby the run-around. Rainer later appears in the “Dallas: The Early Years” TV movie as Sam Culver, Donna’s first husband, then returns to the show as Mr. Barton, Sue Ellen’s business advisor. His fourth and most famous “Dallas” role is Dr. David Gordon, the plastic surgeon who treats Pam after her car accident. According to TV Guide, the producers of TNT’s “Dallas” hoped Rainer would play Gordon again two recent episodes of the new show, and when they were unable to track him down, they recast the role with Sam Anderson.

Too bad. One actor playing four roles in two “Dallas” series and a movie? That might have been a record.

Grade: A


Dallas, Ewing Blues

Moving on


Season 6, Episode 8

Airdate: November 19, 1982

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 5th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Howard Lakin

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Driscoll gives J.R. permission to pump more oil and leaves town. Miss Ellie invites Frank to dinner and warns Rebecca about crossing the Ewings. Cliff is furious when he learns Pam helped Bobby land the McLeish deal. Christopher’s adoption and Lucy’s divorce are finalized.

Cast: Thomas Babson (Barry Archer), Tami Barber (Bev), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Norman Bennett (Bud), John Carter (Carl Hardesty), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nicholas Hammond (Bill Johnson), Fay Hauser (Annie), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Kenneth Kimmins (Thornton McLeish), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), John Larroquette (Phillip Colton), J. Patrick McNamara (Jarrett McLeish), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Josef Rainer (Runland), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Dale Robertson (Frank Crutcher), Albert Salmi (Gil Thurman), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Harold Suggs (Judge Thornby), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Ray Wise (Blair Sullivan), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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