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.

Dallas Parallels: Breaking Bad

Bobby Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Crash of 83, Dallas, Ewings Unite, Jesse Metcalfe, Patrick Duffy

On “Dallas,” J.R. and John Ross are the bad guys and Bobby and Christopher are the good guys, right? Not always.

During the original show’s sixth season, when Jock’s will pits J.R. and Bobby against each other in a contest for control of Ewing Oil, Bobby becomes obsessed with beating his oldest brother. Bobby’s preoccupation is rooted in his longstanding desire to please his daddy, but he also wants to ensure his newly adopted son Christopher doesn’t lose his share of the Ewing empire.

At one point, Bobby finds himself using J.R.’s own tricks against him when he hires a prostitute to frame George Hicks, a corrupt government official whom J.R. has bribed in a complicated scheme to get a leg up in the contest. Of course, this is Bobby Ewing we’re talking about, so his trickery ends up taking its toll on his conscience. After Hicks tells Bobby that he’s “just as dirty” as J.R., Bobby comes home to Pam and confesses his sins. Unfortunately for him, Pam isn’t very sympathetic. “You would do anything to beat J.R. Anything!” she screams.

Flash forward to 2013. When J.R. dies, Cliff tries to steal Christopher’s deal to fuel the city’s municipal fleet, prompting Christopher to break bad, just like Bobby did three decades earlier. Christopher frames Alison Jones, the government official in charge of the contract, by arranging for John Ross to seduce her while Bum secretly photographs the encounter. After Christopher confronts Alison with the incriminating pictures, he goes home and reveals his scheme to Elena, who is aghast to discover the man she loves has stooped to blackmail. “Is this how you keep peace in the family — by turning into John Ross?” she shouts.

This scene bears more than a passing resemblance to the earlier version with Bobby and Pam. Before Bobby confesses his sins to Pam, he knocks back a glass of booze, just like Christopher does at the beginning of his conversation with Elena. Both scenes also depict the women decrying her man’s loss of morality. (Pam: “The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else.” Elena: “Christopher, you’re the most decent man I know and now you’re blackmailing people.”) The two scenes are also staged similarly, with both couples conversing in the bedroom they share at Southfork.

There’s also a major difference between the two sequences: Although Bobby tries to justify his actions to Pam, it’s pretty clear he’s consumed with guilt — unlike Christopher, who seems rather boastful about his blackmail scheme. Perhaps this is because Christopher’s motivation differs from his father’s. While Bobby wants to win the contest because he sees victory as a means of honoring Jock and preserving his son’s inheritance, Christopher seems to see his victory as a form of self-validation. As he tells Elena, “I’m not going to apologize for winning.”

It’s also worth pointing out that neither Bobby nor Christopher are squeaky clean in the first place: During the original “Dallas’s” fourth season, Bobby turns the tables on Sally Bullock when she cooks up an insurance scam with J.R. Similarly, during the TNT show’s first season, when Christopher uncovers video of John Ross and Marta del Sol’s tryst, he tries to blackmail him into ratting out J.R.’s role in the plot to seize Southfork.

The question is: What happens next? After Bobby’s ventures into dark territory during the 1980s, he returns to the straight and narrow, with only a few detours in the ensuing years. (See “Master plan, J.R.’s”). Christopher, on the other hand, seems poised for an extended stay on the dark side — if the promos for the TNT show’s third season are any indication, that is.


‘You Would Do Anything to Beat J.R.’

Crash of '83, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal


In “Crash of ’83,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, a sullen Bobby (Patrick Duffy) enters his bedroom late at night and sits in a chair while Pam (Victoria Principal) reads in bed.

PAM: [Unsympathetic] You look terrible.

BOBBY: Nothing like a celebration to really depress me.

PAM: I don’t understand.

BOBBY: You know that guy, Hicks? On Donna’s commission? J.R. had him bought and paid for. And I pulled a little number on him.

PAM: [Concerned] What do you mean?

BOBBY: I got down in the mud, honey. Just like I said I could. I forced him to change his vote on the variance.

PAM: What did you do?

BOBBY: I blackmailed him. I feel so dirty. [Rests his head in his hand]

PAM: [Puts down her book, leans forward] What do you want from me? Sympathy? Because you’re not going to get it.

BOBBY: Pam, I don’t want your sympathy.

PAM: Oh, yes you do. You want me to slap your wrist and then reassure you that you’re still the same wonderful man underneath it all. Well, I’m not going to help you out. You can stay dirty.

BOBBY: You don’t understand.

PAM: Understand? I understand that you’re not the man I married! The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else, double-cross the cartel and force his own mother into court.

BOBBY: [Exasperated] There were reasons.

PAM: [Screaming] Reasons? There’s only one reason! You would do anything to beat J.R. and get the company. Anything!


‘Is This How You Keep Peace in the Family — By Turning Into John Ross?’

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Ewings Unite, Jordana Brewster


In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Elena (Jordana Brewster) enters Christopher’s bedroom, where Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is seated at the foot of the bed, drinking.

ELENA: Hi. It’s a little early for a drink, isn’t it?

CHRISTOPHER: I’m celebrating.

ELENA: [She sits next to him, kisses him and grabs the drink. She takes a sip.] What are we celebrating?

CHRISTOPHER: Barnes Global got to the head of the DCT. He tried to undercut my deal. So we had John Ross do what John Ross does … and we got pictures. [Christopher takes back the drink.]

ELENA: [Concerned] What are you going to do with the pictures?

CHRISTOPHER: [Takes a sip, rises] I already did. Alison’s married, and her husband’s a state senator — a real family values guy. And once she saw what I had, she decided to see things my way. [Takes a sip]

ELENA: [Mortified] You blackmailed her.

CHRISTOPHER: I made her keep her word.

ELENA: This is why I wanted out of the company. [Rises, walks toward him] Christopher, you’re the most decent man I know and now you’re blackmailing people.

CHRISTOPHER: She brought it on herself.

ELENA: Is this how you keep peace in the family — by turning into John Ross?

CHRISTOPHER: I am not John Ross! OK? I know I crossed a line here.

ELENA: [Glances down] That’s what breaks my heart. You did it anyway.

CHRISTOPHER: You know why I did it? My uncle J.R., he did a lot of bad things in his life. But he knew how to win. And I’m not going to apologize for winning.

ELENA: I love you. But I will not be a part of this. I’m going into business with my brother to drill our land. You may not like it, but I hope you understand.

CHRISTOPHER: I love you too.

How do you feel when Bobby and Christopher break bad? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Old Habits

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Booze has always flowed as freely as oil on “Dallas.” The Southfork cocktail hour was a family tradition on the original show, and J.R. and Bobby each kept lots of liquor on hand to entertain the parade of cartel members and other business associates who marched in and out of their offices each day. The imbibing continues on TNT’s “Dallas:” John Ross and Christopher routinely visit bars, and on more than one occasion, both men have come home and knocked back a stiff drink after tangling with their enemies (or each other).

To their credit, neither series shies away from depicting the downside of indulgence. J.R., Bobby and even Miss Ellie (!) all nursed hangovers at various points during the original “Dallas,” while John Ross has done the same thing on TNT’s sequel show. (Remember when he struggled to get out of bed after drinking too much with Marta del Sol the night before?) Most notably, the Ewing family also includes two alcoholics — Sue Ellen and Gary — whose struggles to stay sober never seem to end.

A handful of scenes, filmed 33 years apart, underscore this point. In “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 2,” one of the original “Dallas’s” fourth-season episodes, Gary comes home to Southfork to be with his family after J.R. is shot. Gary is newly sober after going on a nasty bender during “Knots Landing’s” previous season, and so when he runs into Sue Ellen in the nursery, he’s eager to commiserate with her. But as Gary soon discovers, Sue Ellen is still in denial about her drinking problem. “I am not an alcoholic,” she snaps. “I’ll admit that I take a drink on occasion to steady my nerves. But I can stop. I have stopped for months at a time.” Gary’s response: “Yeah, yeah. So did I. Thought I had it beat. But then I took a drink. And another. And pretty soon, I was on a rampage.”

The scene ends with Sue Ellen ordering Gary to “stop preaching at me” and storming out of the room. The characters don’t interact again until 33 years later, when Gary returns to Southfork during the second season of TNT’s “Dallas.” Once again, he’s recovering from a recent relapse, while Sue Ellen has two decades of sobriety under her belt. Both characters seem to be at peace with their inner demons, though, even joking about their shared disease when they run into each other at Ewing Energies. Sue Ellen spots Gary pouring himself a cup of coffee and holds out her mug, quipping that it’s “the beverage of choice for recovering alcoholics everywhere.”

Then the unthinkable happens: J.R. is shot and killed, sending the grief-stricken Sue Ellen back to the bottle. She confesses her relapse while eulogizing her ex-husband, but when Gary confronts her after the funeral and tells her it’s time to get back on the wagon, Sue Ellen lies and says she’s already stopped drinking. That night, when Sue Ellen and Gary run into each other in the Southfork kitchen, he once again offers to help her. Finally, she comes clean. “I know I need help. But I need to do it myself,” she says.

The TNT scenes demonstrate how hard it is for these two characters to break their old patterns. Sue Ellen no longer denies that she’s an alcoholic like she did in 1980, although she initially tries to cover up her relapse when Gary confronts her. (“Dallas’s” brilliant costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, offers a clever nod to Sue Ellen’s unending struggle by dressing Linda Gray in a black and white suit, not unlike the one she wore during her scene with Ted Shackelford 33 years earlier.) Sue Ellen continues to cover up her relapse a few episodes later when Ann questions her about her drinking and Sue Ellen denies it.

Gary has trouble breaking his old habits too. His determination to help Sue Ellen in 2013 recalls his attempt to bond with her in 1980, as well as his efforts to mentor fellow alcoholic Earl Trent during “Knots Landing’s” second season. Gary is often said to be the weakest of the Ewing brothers, but I find his concern for Sue Ellen endearing and — dare I say it? — heroic.

I hope Sue Ellen someday beats the bottle once and for all, but as far as Gary is concerned, I hope he never changes.


‘I Am Not an Alcoholic’

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Linda Gray, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 2, Sue Ellen Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Yes, you are

In “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 2,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) watches as Gary (Ted Shackelford) finishes playing with John Ross in the Southfork nursery.

GARY: Oh, he’s a great kid, Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: I know. He’s just my whole life.

GARY: You must have really suffered when you realized you’d almost lost him.

SUE ELLEN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

GARY: The car accident, when you’d been drinking. [Notices her stony expression] Uh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to dig up old ghosts.

SUE ELLEN: There are no ghosts.

GARY: I can understand why you don’t want to talk about it. I’m an alcoholic, and I know what that’s like. But you can lick it if you want to.

SUE ELLEN: Gary, I am not an alcoholic. Well, I’ll admit that I take a drink on occasion to steady my nerves. But I can stop. I have stopped for months at a time. [Smiles]

GARY: Yeah, yeah. So did I. Thought I had it beat. But then I took a drink. And another. And pretty soon, I was on a rampage. I never realized I was capable of that kind of violence.

SUE ELLEN: Gary, I want you to stop right now. Stop preaching at me. I am not an alcoholic, and I am not violent. [Leaves the room, slamming the door behind her]


‘I Know I Need Help’

Dallas, Ewings Unite!, Gary Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Yes, you do

In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) enters the Southfork kitchen, where Gary (Ted Shackelford) sits at the bar, working on a laptop.

GARY: [Closing the laptop] I know why you called Valene. It’s not going to work.

SUE ELLEN: I called Valene to get the two of you back together again.

GARY: You need help, Sue Ellen. And unlike my wife, I help people in trouble.

SUE ELLEN: Valene left you because she knew it was the only way to get you sober again. And she was right. She left you because she loves you. I know I need help. But I need to do it myself. You taught me that when you fall down, you get back up again. [Kisses him on the cheek] One day, she may be gone. And you don’t want to regret the loss of every moment that you could have spent with her. [She begins to walk away.]

GARY: If you ever need anything, I’m just a phone call away.

SUE ELLEN: I know that.

How do you feel about Sue Ellen and Gary’s struggles to remain sober? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 2

The second season of TNT’s “Dallas” was even better than the first. Here are my laurels, along with a few darts.


Woman of the year

Wonder woman

She spent Season 1 on the sidelines, but Linda Gray became “Dallas’s” star player this year. After losing the election, Sue Ellen maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, then fought tooth and manicured nail to save the company. Her determination took many forms: She flirted with Gary and later Ken, proving a woman in her 70s could still be playful and alluring, and blackmailed Governor McConaughey with a smile, demonstrating just how much she learned from her ex-husband. Speaking of J.R.: Gray shined brightest at his funeral, where Sue Ellen took a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivered a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she called “the love of my life.” It was a magnificent, unforgettable performance – and if there’s any justice in the world, Gray’s next big speech will be at the Emmys.


The “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery was terrific because it allowed viewers to slide into J.R.’s boots and try to piece together the puzzle he left behind. The gun! That letter! Those cocaine shoes! How were the clues connected? This was “Dallas” at its most fun – and as an added bonus, it finally resolved Pam’s storyline and gave the character the redemption she deserved. (Pam may be dead, but please let Katherine live.) The season’s least satisfying storyline: Vicente Cano’s ambush on Southfork and the hostage crisis that ensued. This storyline did little to advance the season’s main narrative – the fight for Ewing Energies – nor did it give us much new insight into the characters. On the other hand: at least nobody made Sue Ellen sing.


Tears of the son

Tears of the son

The beautiful, elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is landmark television. From the mournful version of the “Dallas” theme music that played under the special opening titles through the moving gravesite eulogies, scriptwriter Cynthia Cidre and director Michael M. Robin made J.R.’s death feel achingly real. This is their masterpiece. At the other end of the spectrum: “Ewings Unite!,” an uneven hour marred by J.R.’s silly will reading and Gary and Val’s drive-by reunion.


Almost two months after watching “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” I’m still haunted by the memory of Sue Ellen getting drunk in her ex-husband’s bedroom on the night before his funeral. As Tara Holloway’s soulful rendition of “The Bottom” played, we watched Sue Ellen move around J.R.’s bed, caress a framed photo from their wedding and finally drown her sorrows with glass after glass of his bourbon. This was two-and-a-half minutes of exquisite agony. (Among the season’s other great scenes: Ann’s spellbinding testimony at her trial, Harris and Emma’s parking garage encounter, Harris’s Komodo dragon speech and the moment lusty John Ross storms off the elevator and into Pamela’s arms.)


Raw deal

Raw deal

The police discover Tommy’s body and murder weapon. John Ross warns Pamela, who frantically begins preparing to skip town as the police arrive with guns drawn. But wait! They’re not coming to arrest Pamela; they’re after Frank, who has been framed by Cliff. It was a classic “Dallas” fake-out and the season’s most surprising twist. The silliest: At J.R.’s will reading, Miss Ellie somehow takes half of Southfork from Bobby and gives it to John Ross. Howzat, Mama?


Season 2 gave us a Southfork swimming pool scene, the return of the old Ewing Oil building and even a reference to Westar, but where were the barbecue and Oil Baron’s Ball (er, “Cattle Baron’s Ball”) episodes? On the other hand, we did get “The Furious and the Fast,” the fantastic racetrack-set episode that marked the “Dallas” directorial debut of Rodney Charters, the show’s ace cinematographer. Perhaps racecars will become a new “Dallas” tradition? I’m ready for another spin.


Evil dad

Evil dad

Steven Weber played McConaughey to smirking perfection and Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light were delicious as the evil Rylands, but Ken Kercheval scared the bejesus out of me as Cliff. The scene where he orders the destruction of the methane rig is chilling. Yet somehow, the brilliant Kercheval made sure we never lost sight of Cliff’s humanity, especially when he was arrested for J.R.’s murder. Make no mistake: Season 2 was the performance of Kercheval’s career.

Returning Favorites

Audrey Landers’ return as Afton in “Guilt and Innocence” was a hoot. Robert Rovner’s script gave Landers plenty to do, and she made the most of it: During the course of the hour, we got to see Afton badmouth Cliff (“He’s a mean drunk, that man”), flirt with John Ross, shoot daggers at Christopher and sweetly serenade Pamela with her favorite childhood lullaby. I also liked Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark’s return as Gary and Valene (even if Van Ark didn’t get enough to do), as well as the familiar faces who showed up in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” especially Mandy and Cally (Deborah Shelton, Cathy Podewell), whose reminiscing about their romances with J.R. proved surprisingly poignant.


Welcome to Southfork

Welcome to Southfork

Each episode of “Dallas” clocks in at 42 minutes sans commercials, making screen time a commodity. It’s tempting to knock the producers for expanding the cast in Season 2 – except the newcomers are all so good! I was especially charmed by magnetic Kuno Becker, who was both smoldering and sweet as ne’er-do-well Drew, while Emma Bell knocked me out as Emma, who shifted effortlessly from sheltered princess to a pill-popping sexpot. Is there anything this actress can’t do?

Supporting Players

Like the original “Dallas,” the new show is beginning to feel like its own world, thanks to its growing population of reliable recurring characters. My favorites include steadfast Sheriff Derrick (Akai Draco), dutiful lawyer Lou Bergen (Glenn Morshower) and of course loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), who charmed me in his scene with Sue Ellen and moved me when he confessed his role in J.R.’s master plan. Season 2 also introduced two promising additions to the Ewing Energies secretarial pool: perky, sneaky Jill (Amber Bartlett) and statuesque Stacy (Natalie Quintanilla). The other great addition: lusty city transportation chief Alison Jones (Annie Wersching). Could she become this generation’s Marilee Stone?


Man of style

Man of style

“Dallas” doesn’t just have TV’s best-dressed cast; the actors are also smartly dressed. Everyone’s “look” fits their character perfectly. Case in point: J.R., whose western jackets, dark suits and Butch Dorer hats made him Season 2’s most dashing figure. My favorite outfit: the classic pinstripes he sported in “Venomous Creatures” when he blackmailed the smarmy prosecutor. A tip of the hat to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin. Thanks to her, our hero went out in style.


The music on “Dallas” is a mix of familiar tunes like Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory,” which played during J.R.’s memorial service, and oh-my-gosh-what-is-the-name-of-that-song-I-must-own-it selections like “Liar,” an unreleased number from the Unknown that was heard in “False Confessions” and “Legacies.” My favorite: “My Time Has Come,” the driving rock anthem from the Bowery Riots that played when Bobby did that cool slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” It was the ideal song to showcase Bobby at his badass best.


Ugly truth

Ugly truth

I’m tempted to choose Christopher’s Miller Lite bottle or all those Microsoft Surface tablets as best props, but instead I’ll go with J.R.’s handsome bourbon decanter, which the three people he loved most – Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher – all drank from after his death. Worst prop? That’s easy: The awful painting of J.R. unveiled at the end of “Legacies.” Where’s J.R.’s nose? What happened to his right shoulder? My plea to the producers: Fix this before Season 3 starts.


Since so much of my “Dallas” viewing experience now takes place in the Twitterverse, it seems appropriate to honor the hashtags of Season 2: #BubbaNotEarl #ByeByeCloudDrive #Clonazepam #ContinuedLegalSubterfuge #EminentDomain #FentonWashburnEsquire #HighImpactPressureMoldedCocaine #HighVelocityBloodSplatter #HornedFrogsVsMustangs #HotelColon #JudgeRhonda #KomodoDragons #MoralsClause #NuevoLaredo #PatriciaBarrett #RickyRudd #RIPKatherine?


This category is always the toughest and Season 2 is no different. What to choose? Sue Ellen’s putdown of Afton (“She’s drama, John Ross.”)? Val’s greeting to Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch.”)? Vicente’s observation after realizing the Ewing cousins have traded romantic partners (“You Ewing boys share after all! I love it!”)? John Ross’s not-fit-for-print philosophy on romance (“Love is for [kitty cats]”)? In the end, I’ll go with the master. J.R.’s encounter with Pamela: “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse.” Oh, J.R. We’ll never stop missing you.

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 10

Will she let him in?

Will she let him in?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Let Me In,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

How will Pamela cope? In “Guilt and Innocence,” last week’s episode, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) was rushed to the hospital after being injured in the explosion aboard the Ewing Energies rig. She had emergency surgery to save the lives of her unborn twins but suffered complications after the procedure. In the final scene, the babies’ hearts stopped beating. How will this loss affect Pamela and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), their relationship with each other and their relationships with John Ross and Elena (Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster)?

Will Christopher be vindicated? Christopher feared his technology caused the explosion, but Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) was convinced her nephew wasn’t to blame. She turned to Ken Richards (Lee Majors), an old flame who is now one of the chairmen of the state board investigating the blast, and asked him for inside information. Ken poked around and told Sue Ellen the evidence suggests the rig was bombed, although it would be “months before anything official comes out.” When Sue Ellen relayed this information to John Ross and Christopher, they immediately suspected Cliff (Ken Kercheval) was the saboteur. Will the cousins be able to prove their suspicions?

What’s Harris’s next move? After Judith (Judith Light) fell down the stairs, she was taken to the hospital, where she tried to persuade Emma (Emma Bell) that Harris was out to get them. Emma didn’t believe Judith, much to Harris’s relief. To get his mother out of his hair (so to speak), Harris (Mitch Pileggi) had her drugged and shipped to a rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, Emma slept with Drew (Kuno Becker), who was consumed with guilt over his role in the bombing and refused to obey when Vickers (Alex Fernandez) ordered him to leave town. With the ice thawing between Harris and Emma, will he try to interfere with her relationship with Drew?

What’s the governor got to do with this? “Let Me In” will introduce Steven Weber as “Dallas’s” newest villain: Governor McConaughey. In “Ewings Unite!,” Cliff told Harris that one of the reasons he wanted to form an alliance with him is because Harris has “a certain friendship with our governor.” Will McConaughey help Harris influence the investigation into the rig explosion?

Where in the world is Pam Ewing? After the blast, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) finally forgave Ann (Brenda Strong) for keeping her past from him. All was well until the end of the episode, when Bobby received an update on J.R.’s investigation into Pam’s disappearance: It seems she entered Abu Dhabi with a man – “presumably her husband,” according to the report – in 1989. The news rattled Ann. What does it mean for Ann’s marriage to Bobby – and what does it have to do with J.R.’s death?

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

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Holds Steady in the Ratings

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Guilt and Innocence, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Steady fellas

“Dallas’s” March 25 telecast, “Guilt and Innocence,” was seen by 2.6 million viewers, including roughly 890,000 adults between ages 18 and 49, a demographic that advertisers pay top dollar to reach.

The numbers are down slightly from the March 18 telecast, “Ewings Unite!,” which scored 2.7 million viewers, including 1 million people between 18 and 49. Like all new “Dallas” episodes, “Ewings Unite!” received a healthy boost from people who record shows digitally and watch them later. By the end of last week, DVR users had boosted the “Ewings Unite!” audience to 3.5 million.

What does all this mean for “Dallas’s” future? It’s hard to say, but consider this: Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the show’s numbers are in line with what TNT promised advertisers.

Koonin, who says he’s “incredibly proud” of the show, knew the risk of bringing it back in the winter after its successful run last summer, the Journal-Constitution reported. He also told the newspaper he’s a longtime “Dallas” fan who recalled taping the show on a new-fangled VCR in 1983 so he could take his future wife on a date.

New Album from Landers

Audrey Landers, Dallas, Dallas Feels Like Home

Afton sings!

Here’s something I’m delighted to write: Audrey Landers, fresh off her sensational guest spot in “Guilt and Innocence,” has dropped a new album full of the songs she wrote and performed on the original “Dallas”!

The album, “Dallas Feels Like Home,” is available from iTunes and includes favorites like “Steal Me Away” and “Let Me Down Gently.” Five of the album’s songs comprise my latest “Dal-List,” which honors Afton Cooper’s greatest hits.

Paging Dr. Gordon

In case you missed it: “Dallas” plans to bring back Dr. David Gordon, TV Guide reported this week. “Dallas” diehards know Gordon, the plastic surgeon who treated Margaret Michaels’ version of Pam, was seen in “Carousel,” the 12th season premiere. He was played by Josef Rainer, who previously portrayed Mr. Barton, one of Sue Ellen’s lingerie industry associates, as well as Sam Culver in “Dallas: The Early Years.”

J.R. Ewing: TV’s Top Villain

Speaking of TV Guide: The magazine ranked J.R. as television’s top villain in last week’s issue. He beat “The Simpsons’” Mr. Burns, “The Fugitive’s” one-armed man and Al Swearengen, the anti-hero of “Deadwood,” portrayed by “Dallas” alum Ian McShane. TV Guide also ranked J.R. and Sue Ellen as one of TV’s all-time best couples.

And while we’re on the subject of Larry Hagman: In a new documentary about the Starck Club, a famed real-life Dallas nightclub, the actor recalled how he unintentionally scuttled a planned drug bust. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

Bottoms up

Product placement alert: TNT has struck a deal with MillerCoors to incorporate the beer company’s beverages into the cable channel’s programming, Variety reports. So grab your Microsoft Surface, pop open a Miller Lite and do your part to support “Dallas.”

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 9

Don’t blame him

Don’t blame him

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Guilt and Innocence,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

Who survives the blast? At the end of “Ewings Unite!,” last week’s episode, most of the Ewings gathered on the methane extraction rig, along with Pamela and Elena (Julie Gonzalo, Jordana Brewster), for a demonstration. Little did everyone know the platform was rigged with explosives, which detonated moments before the screen faded to black. It’s a safe bet the core characters will survive, but I’m not sure we can say the same thing about Pamela’s unborn twins. One clue: Pamela’s mother Afton (Audrey Landers) will appear in tonight’s episode, possibly to console her grieving daughter. If Pamela loses one or both of the babies, how will it affect her relationships with ex-husband Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and ex-lover John Ross (Josh Henderson)?

Can Cliff be redeemed? The story behind the explosion, part 1: At the beginning of last week’s episode, Cliff and Harris (Ken Kercheval, Mitch Pileggi) joined forces to bring down the Ewings. Cliff promised to give Harris the money he needs to gain control of Ryland Transport from Judith (Judith Light), while Harris agreed to help Cliff undermine Ewing Energies. Harris’s henchman Roy Vickers (Alex Fernandez) arranged to have the bomb planted under the platform, but when Pamela unexpectedly showed up, he called Cliff and gave him a chance to back out. Remarkably, Cliff told Vickers to proceed with the detonation. How will Cliff live with himself after this?

Will Drew forgive himself? The story behind the explosion, part 2: Drew (Kuno Becker) reluctantly planted the bomb after being blackmailed by Vickers, who threatened to kill Elena if Drew refused to do his bidding. Until then, things had been looking up for young Drew: Bobby (Patrick Duffy) agreed to sell him the Ramos family’s land and Drew went on a promising date with Emma (Emma Bell). What will happen if his role in the explosion is discovered?

Will Christopher be blamed? The Ewings were on the platform to demonstrate its potential to local government official Alison Jones (Annie Wersching), hoping it would seal their deal to land the city’s lucrative fuel contract. Getting Alison to the platform took a lot of work: When Cliff tried to steal the contract at the last minute, John Ross and Christopher teamed to blackmail Alison into rejecting his bid. Last season, Christopher’s methane extraction technology was plagued by suspicions it was unsafe. Will the bombing raise fresh doubts?

Will Sue Ellen sober up? J.R.’s will split his share of the Southfork mineral rights between John Ross and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), who shifted into denial mode about her alcoholism, insisting she didn’t need Gary’s help to stop drinking. After Valene (Joan Van Ark) confronted her, Sue Ellen urged Gary (Ted Shackelford) to return to his wife, telling him she needs to reclaim her sobriety on her own. Will she?

• More questions: Now that John Ross has inherited half of Southfork, will he take up residence at the ranch, perhaps moving into his father’s old bedroom? Did Judith survive her tumble down the stairs? And will we finally get some more clues to the biggest question of all: Who killed J.R.?

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

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Once a Bitch, Always a Bitch!’

Dallas, Ewings Unite, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing, TNT


In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is seated at her office desk when Valene (Joan Van Ark) storms in and slams the door behind her. 

VAL: Once a bitch, always a bitch!

SUE ELLEN: Yes, it has been a long time. It’s good to see you too.

VAL: You just called me to Dallas to humiliate me. You are just as sadistic as J.R. ever was.

SUE ELLEN: I called to see if I could get you and Gary back together again.

VAL: Oh, please! [Steps forward] Gary is buying your wounded bird drunk routine. And he’s a good enough man to try to save you. But I know that you’re just trying to get your hooks into him.

SUE ELLEN: I don’t want your husband.

VAL: [Rests her palms on the desk] He may not come back to me. But I can promise you: I am not leaving Southfork until I show him what a manipulative monster you are. [Stomps away]

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 19 – ‘Ewings Unite!’

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ewings Unite, Ken Kercheval, TNT

The twist

There’s a lot to like about “Ewings Unite!,” including Ken Kercheval’s chilling performance in the final scene and the sensational, old-school soap opera showdown between Joan Van Ark and Linda Gray, which is destined to become a “Dallas” classic. Unfortunately, this episode also gives us plenty to lament. Valene’s eagerly awaited reunion with Gary never really happens, there’s seemingly little movement in the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, and the bombshell dropped during J.R.’s will reading is silly. This production isn’t just missing the old Hagman magic. Logic has taken a holiday too.

The will reading offers a welcome cameo from the wonderful Barry Corbin, who portrayed Sheriff Washburn on the old “Dallas” and appears here as J.R.’s lawyer. Bruce Rasmussen’s script honors J.R.’s mischievousness by having him leave a bottle of scotch to recovering alcoholic Gary, while Bobby inherits J.R.’s collection of cowboy boots. (This might be an inside joke. Hagman memorably called cowboy boots “the most uncomfortable mode of transport ever invented.”) I’m not going to complain about the omission of absent characters – a full recitation of J.R.’s bequests could have consumed half the episode – but I will gripe about the big surprise: It seems Miss Ellie waited until after J.R.’s death to leave half of Southfork to John Ross.

Ellie’s explanation comes in a letter read by Corbin’s character: “My son J.R. was many things, but he was not a rancher. That’s why I left my beloved Southfork to Bobby. But I hope you understand, Bobby, that J.R.’s sins should not be visited upon my grandson, John Ross.” Come again, Mama? As much as I like the idea of Ellie one-upping J.R. from beyond the grave, this defies belief. Set aside the fact that Ellie and second husband Clayton deeded Southfork to Bobby toward the end of the original series. In the new “Dallas’s” timeline, she left the ranch to Bobby upon her death more than a decade ago. Now Ellie is able to change those terms? I’m no lawyer, but how is this legally possible?

If the show’s goal is to pit John Ross against his uncle – effectively allowing John Ross to take his father’s place in this franchise’s central conflict of J.R. versus Bobby – then I’m all for it. I also like the idea that John Ross’s stake in the ranch means he’ll probably take up residence at Southfork, which I hope will set the stage for more old-fashioned Ewing family gatherings. Still, I wonder: Couldn’t the show have achieved this new power structure without sacrificing its credibility?

“Ewings Unite!” also suggests Cliff’s company, Barnes Global, is a rebranded version of the old Barnes/Wentworth conglomerate he ran on the old show. This also seems to contradict established “Dallas” lore – didn’t Cliff long ago relinquish his stake in those companies? – but I can live with this change since the composition of his corporate assets always seemed needlessly confusing. I’m more bothered by the revisionism in Elena’s storyline. When she challenges Christopher over his blackmail scheme, she declares, “This is why I wanted out of the company.” Whoa! Didn’t Sue Ellen oust Elena from the company against her will? Never mind the old show; if the new “Dallas” isn’t going to respect its own history – and by “history,” I mean stuff that happened three episodes ago – why should we?

The resolution of Gary’s mini-arc and Val’s return yield more mixed feelings. Van Ark is a hoot in the scene where Val confronts Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch!”), a marquee battle between two of television’s greatest soap queens. This doesn’t feel much like the Val I remember, but I like the idea that Van Ark’s character has grown stronger and more confident. “Poor Val” appears to be a memory. I also adore Ted Shackelford’s final scene with Gray, when Sue Ellen sweetly urges Gary to return to his wife before it’s too late. “One day she may be gone and you don’t want to regret the loss of every moment you could have spent with her,” Sue Ellen says. It’s a nice reminder of the wisdom Sue Ellen has gained, as well as the fact that her devious behavior in this episode stems from her grief.

But as much as I appreciate these moments, I want to shake my fist at “Dallas” for not giving us a scene where Gary and Val patch things up. Talk about a missed opportunity. Shackelford and Van Ark are every bit as iconic as “Dallas’s” other famous pairings. To split up the couple is one thing; to only give them a brief appearance together in the Southfork foyer and then leave the fate of their marriage unknown is something else. (So much for engendering goodwill among “Knots Landing” fans.) Of course, if the lack of closure means Gary and Val will return next season to resume their storyline, I’ll be the first to eat these words.

I don’t mean to dwell on my disappointments with “Ewings Unite!” There’s plenty here to admire, including seeing John Ross and Christopher work together; the scene where they gang up on Pamela showcases the nice chemistry between Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe, who play off each other almost as easily as Hagman and Patrick Duffy did during “Dallas’s” heyday. I also appreciate Christopher’s flirtation with the dark side, and how the scene where Elena learns about his blackmail scheme echoes one from the old show where Pam tries to bring Bobby back from the edge. Other highlights include the pairing of impressive newcomers Kuno Becker and Emma Bell, as well as the addition of Annie Wersching, who I hope will stick around as sexy, scheming city transportation official Alison Jones.

More good stuff: the scene where Cliff and Harris form their Legion of Doom-style alliance, as well as when Harris dismisses his new partner in crime as a “paranoid old coot” while speaking to Vickers, who is poised to succeed Frank as this show’s go-to henchman. As far as Cliff’s decision at the end of episode to blow up the Ewing Energies rig, even though pregnant Pamela is on board: I wasn’t that shocked. The version of Cliff we see on TNT’s “Dallas” is more twisted and consumed than the one we remember. Like a lot of longtime fans, I wish I knew how Cliff got this way. Still, as ugly as his actions are, they seem perfectly in tune with the person he’s become.

Regardless, how fantastic is Kercheval in that scene? Everything about the actor’s body language – the fidgety hands, the shifty eyes – suggests the torment raging within Cliff in that instant. I also appreciate how director Steve Robin heightens the drama with a glimpse of pregnant Pamela’s belly before the bomb goes off, as well as the shot of Vickers kissing the cross around his neck before he pushes the detonation button.

I’m more surprised to see “Ewings Unite!” spend so little time on the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, which got off to such a riveting start at the end of the previous episode. After Bobby fills in John Ross and Christopher on the origin of Cliff’s company, he suggests J.R. was searching for Pam because she might be a “silent partner” in Barnes Global and casually reveals that Katherine is dead. Then again, as Dallas Decoder readers have pointed out, this show usually doesn’t mention older characters unless they’re going to figure into the storyline. Could Bobby’s reference to Katherine be the first step toward bringing Morgan Brittany to the new “Dallas”? Who knows? We might look back on this episode one day and realize it offers the biggest clue of all.

Grade: B


Dallas, Ewings Unite, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Inherit the earth


Season 2, Episode 9

Telecast: March 18, 2013

Writer: Bruce Rasmussen

Director: Steve Robin

Audience: 2.7 million viewers on March 18

Synopsis: J.R.’s will splits his share of the Southfork mineral rights between Sue Ellen and John Ross. A letter from Miss Ellie reveals John Ross will become co-owner of the ranch with Bobby. When Bobby decides to resume drilling on Southfork, Sue Ellen, who is still drinking, summons Valene to take Gary home. Cliff tries to undermine Ewing Energies’ bid for the city fuel contract, but John Ross and Christopher blackmail transportation official Alison Jones into giving them the contract. Judith threatens to oust Harris at Ryland Transport, then falls down the stairs. After Cliff and Harris join forces, Harris’s henchman Roy Vickers blackmails Drew into sabotaging the Ewing Energies methane extraction rig. Cliff orders Vickers to blow up the rig, even though it will endanger Pamela and the Ewings.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Barry Corbin (J.R.’s lawyer), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing), Annie Wersching (Alison Jones)

“Ewings Unite!” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: After J.R.’s Funeral, ‘Dallas’s’ Ratings Dip

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Ewings Unite!, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Back to normal

“Dallas” lost almost all of the extra viewers it picked up during J.R. Ewing’s funeral last week.

“J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the sendoff for Larry Hagman’s iconic character, was seen by 3.6 million viewers on March 11. It was the TNT drama’s most-watched telecast this year, beating the show’s second-season average by about 1 million viewers.

The latest telecast, “Ewings Unite!,” scored 2.7 million viewers on March 18. This audience included more than 1 million viewers between ages 18 and 49, a demographic that advertisers pay a premium to reach.

A ratings decline was expected. Television series often get a boost from “milestone” episodes, and the death of J.R. – whom Hagman began portraying in 1978 – fit the bill.

Meanwhile, the audience for “J.R.’s Masterpiece” continues to grow. Within a few days of the episode’s March 11 telecast, DVR users had pushed its audience to 4.6 million viewers, a 26 percent increase from the previous week’s episode. When DVR users are counted, “J.R.’s Masterpiece” averaged 1.8 million adults between ages 25 and 54, an audience that TNT targets, and 1.5 million adults between 18 and 49.

TNT has not announced whether it plans to renew “Dallas” for a third season. The cable channel renewed the show for a second season two days after the third telecast.

Austin to Dallas

I haven’t seen next week’s episode of “Dallas,” but I’m calling it now: The highlight will be Lee Majors’ guest appearance as Ken Richards, one of Sue Ellen’s old flames. (Well, that and the return of Audrey Landers as Afton Cooper.)

As regular readers of Dallas Decoder know, “The Six Million Dollar Man” was my other favorite show growing up, so you can imagine how excited I am to have Col. Steve Austin visit “Dallas.” You can also imagine how thrilled I was to interview Majors a few weeks ago. If you haven’t already checked out our chat, please do so.

Derby II

Dallas Divas Derby, a March Madness-style brackets competition that pits the women of “Dallas” against each other, is back for more fun. The most recent round ended earlier this week with victories for Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), who beat Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley) in a matchup between “The Outsiders,” and Pamela Rebecca Barnes (Julie Gonzalo), who defeated Serena Wald (Stephanie Blackmore) in a showdown between “The Setup Queens.” Voting in the next round will end Monday, March 25.

Drinking Drew

If you’re a fan of Kuno Becker’s performance as Drew Ramos, be sure to check out The Drew, the latest addition to Cook In/Dine Out’s “Dallas Drinks” collection. Like Mr. Becker, this drink is hot stuff!

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