Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 181 — ‘The Brothers Ewing’

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

The dark side

In “The Brothers Ewing,” J.R., Bobby and Ray join forces to protect the family business from the increasingly dangerous Cliff Barnes. You’d think by now we’d all be used to seeing the Ewings unite against their enemies, and yet it never seems to lose its punch, does it? Consider how the events of this episode allow the brothers to play against type. While Bobby is scheming with J.R. to illegally shield Ewing Oil assets from Cliff, Ray is defending J.R. to Clayton, Donna and whoever else will listen. How can you not love a “Dallas” episode that offers surprises like these?

Of course, even though the characters act unexpectedly in “The Brothers Ewing,” they’re not necessarily acting out of character. Take Bobby, for example. His devotion to his family is one of his primary motivations, and he’s usually able to take the high road to achieve his aims. But when virtue isn’t an option, Bobby is more than willing to break the rules. We saw this when he illegally adopted Christopher to save his marriage to Pam, and we saw it again when he fought J.R. during the contest for Ewing Oil. Likewise, Ray’s actions in this episode aren’t all that unusual. This character has always been plagued by feelings of inadequacy, and so when he’s presented with an opportunity to fight alongside his half-brothers, he takes it without hesitation. For Ray, this is like getting to sit with the cool kids at lunch.

Seeing the Ewing brothers working together also is entertaining because, well, it makes these Texas billionaires seem a little more relatable, doesn’t it? Growing up, my older brother never missed an opportunity to make fun of me — but if I got picked on by another kid in the neighborhood, Rick would be the first one to come to my defense. This is common in a lot of families, which is why it’s nice to be reminded that the Ewing boys always have each other’s backs, whether it’s J.R. threatening one of Bobby’s enemies in “Fallen Idol” or Ray sticking up for J.R. in “The Brothers Ewing.” For me — and, I suspect, a lot of “Dallas” fans — scenes like these feel comfortably familiar.

Speaking of Clayton: As much as I enjoy seeing the Ewing brothers go all-for-one-and-one-for-all in this episode, I’m glad David Paulsen’s script keeps their new stepfather on the outside looking in. Howard Keel makes an effective foil in the last scene, when Clayton refuses to aid their scheme to hide Ewing Oil assets because he feels it’s morally wrong. I also like him in the first scene, when the brothers return from their visit to Cliff and admit they blew their opportunity to squash his lawsuit. Clayton tears into the boys, saying, “If you’re all going to get involved in a fight as serious as this one, then you’d better start doing your homework!” J.R. gets defensive (“Well, wonderful. That’s all we need. A lecture from Clayton Farlow”), but ask yourself: Would Jock Ewing have treated his sons any differently at this moment?

Overall, I must admit these episodes about Cliff and Jamie Ewing’s lawsuit are better than I remembered. The storyline feels like a calculated attempt to recapture the glory of J.R. and Bobby’s sixth-season contest by offering an inverse: Instead of the Ewings fighting each other, they’re fighting outsiders. The family versus Cliff and Jamie isn’t as compelling as J.R. and Bobby versus each other, but I can’t blame the show for trying. I especially like how this narrative manages to involve almost all the characters, just like the contest did. In “The Brothers Ewing,” for example, Ray’s decision to team with J.R. and Bobby creates a rift in his marriage to Donna, which feels like a more organic storyline for Steve Kanaly and Susan Howard than the amateur detective subplot they were saddled with the previous season.

Indeed, one of the other highlights in “The Brothers Ewing” is the scene where Donna tells Miss Ellie how horrified she is to see her husband align himself with J.R. Ellie responds that if the Ewings lose the lawsuit, she’ll be glad that Ray and Bobby are with her oldest son because “we’ll have to rely on them to keep him straight.” It’s a poignant line, but it also shows how Donna Reed’s Ellie can be every bit as wise as Barbara Bel Geddes’ version. The scene has the added benefit of reminding us how Patrick Duffy always elicits strong performances from his co-stars when he takes a turn in the “Dallas” director’s chair. Duffy’s clever touch can also be felt in J.R. and Bobby’s scene on the shadowy patio, where the brothers hatch their plot against Cliff. Duffy stages the exchange by putting one of the Southfork columns between him and Larry Hagman — a symbol of the narrowing divide between the brothers.

Like all “Dallas” episodes from this era, “The Brothers Ewing” also contains its share of tributes to the past, including Sue Ellen’s run-in with Cliff, where the ex-lovers make awkward small talk. When she turns down his invitation to lunch, he declares he’s not trying to seduce her. “That thought never even entered my mind,” she says, which is funny, because it’s the first thought that entered mine. Other scenes are amusingly outdated, including one where J.R. calls the modeling agency, hoping to learn Mandy’s whereabouts by pretending to be her brother “Marvin Winger” (caller ID would give him away today), as well as Bobby and Jenna’s lunch with Scott Demarest, who shows them splashy headlines about her trial in the Laredo newspapers. This shocks the couple, although in a pre-Facebook era, how would they have known how the out-of-town press was covering her case?

I also get a kick out of seeing John Ross playing with his toy space shuttle — would today’s kids even know what that is? — although nothing charms me quite like the scene where Pam points to a globe and shows Christopher where Mommy will be traveling soon. When Victoria Principal says, “That’s Hong Kong,” Eric Farlow repeats the line back to her. It feels utterly spontaneous, prompting Principal to laugh uproariously and pull Farlow close. Like a similar scene between Pam and Christopher in the seventh-season cliffhanger “End Game,” this one demonstrates again that little Eric Farlow is more absorbed in his role than some of the grown-ups on this show. Can someone remind me again why they replaced this kid?

Grade: A


Brothers Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Eric Farlow, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Boy meets world


Season 8, Episode 20

Airdate: February 15, 1985

Audience: 21.2 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: Clayton turns down his stepsons when they ask him to help them shield Ewing Oil assets from Cliff. Donna balks at Ray’s involvement with the fight for the company. Jamie has second thoughts about the lawsuit. Sue Ellen agrees to accompany Pam to Hong Kong to search for Mark. J.R. asks Mandy to give him another chance.

Cast: Mary Armstrong (Louise), John Carter (Carl Hardesty), Pat Colbért (Dora Mae), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Stephen Elliott (Scotty Demarest), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Eddie Firestone (Alf Brindle), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jenilee Harrison (Jamie Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Fredric Lehne (Eddie Cronin), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Donna Reed (Miss Ellie Farlow), Sherril Lynn Rettino (Jackie Dugan), Deborah Shelton (Mandy Winger), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Kathleen York (Betty)

“The Brothers Ewing” is available on DVD and at Amazon 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.”

Dallas Parallels: Strange Bedfellows

On “Dallas,” business routinely makes strange bedfellows, but the unlikeliest alliance of all might be formed in the second-season episode “Fallen Idol,” when J.R. and Pam join forces to squelch Bobby’s plan to build a shopping center on Southfork.

J.R.’s motivation is selfish – he doesn’t want the land developed because he’s secretly plotting to drill for oil there – but Pam has only Bobby’s interests at heart: She doesn’t trust his partner Guzzler Bennett and believes Bobby shouldn’t do business with him.

In one of the episode’s best scenes, J.R. takes Pam to lunch at a posh restaurant, where he confirms Pam’s suspicions by handing her a detective’s report that details Guzzler’s shady dealings. When Pam wonders how she’ll persuade Bobby to pull out of the deal, J.R. delivers a deliciously bitchy backhanded compliment: “Well. You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.”

The line echoes three decades into the future, when John Ross finds himself in a bind of his own. To gain leverage against Mitch Lobell, the sleazy lawyer who is extorting money from him, John Ross sets out to frame Lobell’s son Ricky, a recovering drug addict who’ll go to prison if he’s caught relapsing. To pull this off, John Ross enlists Rebecca, his cousin Christopher’s new bride.

John Ross’s scheme, which unfolds in “The Last Hurrah,” TNT’s fourth “Dallas” episode, is more devious – and complicated – than the one his daddy masterminded in “Fallen Idol.” Since Rebecca has no reason to want to help him, John Ross blackmails her by threatening to expose the fact the e-mail that broke up Christopher and Elena two years earlier came from Rebecca’s computer.

When Rebecca wonders how she’s supposed to get Ricky to do drugs again, John Ross delivers a J.R.-worthy backhanded compliment: “Now, Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out.”

In the end, both unlikely alliances are derailed by last-minute changes of heart. In “Fallen Idol,” Guzzler has an attack of conscience and pulls out of his deal with Bobby; in “The Last Hurrah,” Rebecca comes close to getting Ricky to relapse but backs out at the 11th hour, prompting Marta del Sol to finish the deal on John Ross’s behalf.

J.R. and Pam teamed again during the classic show’s “dream season,” when they became reluctant partners at Ewing Oil. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of John Ross and Rebecca’s unholy alliance either.


‘You’re a Very Clever Woman, Pam. You’ll Think of Something.’


In “Fallen Idol,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. and Pam (Larry Hagman, Victoria Principal) sit across from each other in a posh restaurant.

PAM: Your invitation came as quite a shock. I never imagined the two of us having lunch together.

J.R.: Well, you’re a member of the family now. You fought for it and you won, and I think it’s time we bury the hatchet.

PAM: [Smiles] J.R., please don’t make me lose this good food. Why don’t you try telling me the truth for a change?

J.R.: [Chuckles] You always could see right through me, couldn’t you?

PAM: Like glass.

J.R.: Well, do you believe I care for Bobby?

PAM: I think it’s debatable.

J.R.: Well, let’s see if we can find something we both agree on. You love Bobby, right?

PAM: You know I do.

J.R.: You’d do anything to protect him from harm?

PAM: [Concerned] Who’s going to harm Bobby?

J.R.: Guzzler. I think you’d better read this. He’s getting Bobby involved so deeply in this building project, he may never get out of it. [Hands Pam documents]

PAM: What’s all this mean?

J.R.: Read it. You’ll find out that Guzzler is not only broke, he’s a crook. He was building an office complex down in New Orleans. Ran out on his partner, left him holding the bag. The company went under and they never even finished digging the foundations. Then he went up to Montana, big pile of money, started some sort of phony land deal. That collapsed. The authorities are still trying to unravel it to find out who to file charges against. Then Guzzler went looking for another mark – and he found one: Bobby.

PAM: J.R., if I don’t trust you, how am I supposed to trust this report?

J.R.: I’ll let you talk to a private investigator if you want to, or you can hire your own. I’ll pay for it.

PAM: Why didn’t you tell all this to Bobby yourself?

J.R.: Well, I can’t say anything bad about Guzzler. Bobby’s got some kind of blind spot where that man is concerned.

PAM: Yeah, I know.

J.R.: I want you to stop this project before Bobby signs any agreement with him.

PAM: And how can I do that?

J.R.: Well, you’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.

PAM: J.R., what are you getting out of this?

J.R.: Does it matter?


‘Rebecca, You Strike Me as an Extremely Resourceful Woman’


In “The Last Hurrah,” the fourth episode of TNT’s “Dallas,” Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) meets John Ross (Josh Henderson) near an abandoned building.

REBECCA: I told you on the phone I don’t know anything about any e-mail.

JOHN ROSS: [Pulls a piece of paper out of the envelope in his hand and shows it to her] Maybe that will refresh your memory. I had somebody trace this back to your IP address. You really know how to break a girl’s heart. That stuff you wrote was mean.

REBECCA: [Shakes her head] I didn’t send this. I swear.

JOHN ROSS: If that’s true, then why’d you come?

REBECCA: I came because you’re accusing me of something I didn’t do.

JOHN ROSS: [Turns his back] You’re going to have to be a lot more convincing than that if you want Christopher to believe you.

REBECCA: [Steps forward, holds the paper] No, you can’t show this to him.

JOHN ROSS: I don’t want to have to. That depends on you.

REBECCA: But I didn’t send it!

JOHN ROSS: The proof is in your hand. Now, I need you to do something for me.

REBECCA: What do you want me to do?

JOHN ROSS: [Smiles, hands her the envelope] This guy’s a drug addict. I need you to get pictures of him doing drugs.

REBECCA: You can’t be serious. How am I supposed to pull that off?

JOHN ROSS: Now, Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out. And once you do, I’ll let you get away with whatever scam you’re trying to pull on my dimwitted cousin. [She slides the envelope in her bag as John Ross walks away.]

What do you think of J.R. and John Ross’s unlikely alliances with Pam and Rebecca? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Best & Worst of Dallas: Season 2

“Dallas” was still figuring itself out during its second season, which means there was plenty to hail and heckle.


Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Don’t mess with Mama

Although every member of the ensemble has great moments this season, no one is as consistently wonderful as Barbara Bel Geddes. Miss Ellie becomes a somewhat frustrating character as “Dallas” progresses – she too often casts a blind eye to J.R.’s shenanigans, in my view – but Season 2 is the year you do not want to mess with Mama. We see her demand J.R. clean up his act, order Julie to stay away from Jock and urge Pam to fight for her marriage. (There’s also Ellie’s encounter with the poor sap who makes the mistake of sneaking onto Southfork; see “Scenes” below.) In just about every second-season episode, Bel Geddes demonstrates how lucky “Dallas” is to have her.


“Black Market Baby” is the most intriguing, “For Love or Money” is the saddest and “Royal Marriage” is a sentimental favorite, but “John Ewing III, Part 2” gets my vote for the season’s all-around best episode. Linda Gray is mesmerizing in the scene where Sue Ellen tearfully confesses her sins to Bobby, but Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval and Victoria Principal all have terrific moments too.

Hands down, the season’s weakest hour is “Runaway,” the first – and so far only – “Dallas” episode to receive a “D” grade from me. Run away, indeed.


Ten words of dialogue are all you need to describe Season 2’s best scene: “Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet.”

The worst scene? The “Call Girl” sequence where Leeann Rees (Veronica Hamel) lures drunken Ben Maxwell (Fred Beir) into Pam’s bed while J.R.’s sleazy photographer furiously snaps pictures outside the window. What a farce. I half expect Mr. and Mrs. Roper to come charging into the room, wondering what all the commotion is all about.

Supporting Players

Dallas, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing


I don’t care how many times I watch it, Joan Van Ark’s performance at the end of “Reunion, Part 2” always knocks me out. In the blink of an eye, Valene goes from anguished when she bids Gary adieu to enraged when she confronts J.R. for driving away his middle brother. With the exception of Linda Gray, no actress in “Dallas” history has better chemistry with Larry Hagman than Van Ark. What a shame she didn’t spend more time at Southfork.

My least-favorite guest stars: the three actors who portray the bad guys in “Kidnapped.” What’s the bigger crime here: holding Bobby hostage or the witless Edward G. Robinson imitations these villains-of-the-week deliver? Then again, what do you expect when performers are given lines like, “We may have the wrong goose – but he can still lay the golden egg!”


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal


I loved the striped hoodie, green pants and knee-high tan boots Pam wears during the “Election” scene where Cliff persuades her to organize a fashion show fundraiser for his state senate campaign. You could put this outfit on Jordana Brewster on TNT’s “Dallas” and she’d look just as stylish as Victoria Principal does in 1978.

Pam also gets my vote for worst outfit: the weird “pants dress” she sports in “Black Market Baby.”


Season 1 gives us Jerrold Immel’s classic “Dallas” theme music, but Season 2 brings us many of John Parker’s magical background tunes, including “The Only Lovers,” Bobby and Pam’s theme; “The Adulteress,” Sue Ellen’s bluesy signature; and “The Loyal Foreman,” Ray’s anthem. (If you don’t own it already, do yourself a favor and purchase Parker’s classic “Dallas” soundtrack today.)


Best: “Bobby, come on. Women marry homosexuals all the time. It seems to suit a lot of them.” – J.R.’s response in “Royal Marriage” after Bobby questions his insistence Lucy marry the closeted oil-and-cattle heir Kit Mainwaring.

Worst: In “Fallen Idol,” J.R. expresses his annoyance with Guzzler Bennett’s name-dropping thusly: “The next thing you know, the name of that actress is gonna be Farrah Fawcett-Guzzler.” Oh, J.R.! Leave the pop culture references to Sue Ellen.

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

Drill Bits: For Patrick Duffy, Edits Go with the TV Territory

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Price You Pay, TNT

Don’t cut Bobby!

TNT’s “Dallas” has given audiences lots of great scenes this season, but some of the best moments – like J.R. and Sue Ellen’s dance at the Ewing barbecue in “The Last Hurrah” – have been left on the cutting room floor.

As Patrick Duffy sees it, that’s showbiz.

“Several of my favorite scenes didn’t make it to the show,” the actor told me during a conference call with bloggers and critics last month. “These scripts are so compact and so intense and every scene is so brilliantly done. You finish filming and you think I can’t wait to see that – and then it’s edited out. … You just can’t put everything in each episode.”

In some cases, scenes are merely shortened, not completely cut. “I had a scene with Jesse [Metcalfe] in a barn, which they only kept the lead-in scene for that,” Duffy said. “And they eliminated it. It was one of my favorite ones [from] that episode.”

TNT’s “Dallas” is the fourth weekly series for Duffy, who takes a Zen-like approach to the cuts. “I’ve learned to let those feelings go and just enjoy what I see,” he said.

Besides, the footage isn’t really lost. “It still exists somewhere,” Duffy said, adding the deleted scenes could wind up on TNT’s “Dallas” DVD releases.

Red, White and Ewing

TNT’s next “Dallas” episode, “Truth and Consequences,” will debut Wednesday, July 4, at 9 p.m. The cable channel had planned to pre-empt the show on Independence Day, when prime-time viewership levels tend to plummet, but reversed course and announced the schedule change yesterday. No reason was given for the about-face.

Speaking of ratings: “The Last Hurrah,” “Dallas’s” June 27 telecast, was seen by 4.1 million viewers, a small dip from the previous episode’s numbers. This week’s audience included 1.4 million adults between the ages of 18 and 49, the viewers advertisers covet.

Hopefully “Dallas’s” numbers will hold steady on July 4. Before “Truth and Consequences” premieres that evening, TNT plans to show back-to-back reruns of “Dallas’s” first four hours, beginning at 5 p.m.

And in case you’re wondering: No, this won’t be “Dallas’s” first holiday premiere.

The old show aired fresh episodes on at least seven official or “almost official” holidays: “Barbecue Two” (New Year’s Day 1982), “Mama Dearest” (New Year’s Eve 1983), “Ray’s Trial” (Veteran’s Day 1983), “Dire Straits” (Valentine’s Day 1986), “Territorial Imperative” (Halloween 1986), “The Call of the Wild” (Veteran’s Day 1988) and “The Sting” (Inauguration Day 1989).

Line of the Week

“Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out.”

I loved John Ross’s comment to Rebecca in “The Last Hurrah” – not just because Josh Henderson’s delivery was so Hagman-esque, but also because the line kind of paid tribute to the enigmatic Rebecca, who is becoming one of my “Dallas” favorites. (By the way: If you thought Julie Gonzalo was terrific in this week’s episode, wait until you see next week’s installment.)

I also couldn’t help but notice John Ross’s line echoed the “compliment” J.R. gave his favorite sister-in-law (“You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.”) in “Fallen Idol,” an episode from the original show’s second season.

Take a Shot of J.R.

A reminder: This week’s “Dallas Drinks” offering is The J.R., a shot of bourbon, peppermint schnapps and black-as-oil coffee liqueur. It’s mighty delicious – the recipe comes from Cook In/Dine Out – but it has a lot of kick. You’ve been warned.

While I’m shamelessly plugging my own stuff, a reminder that I’m in the midst of critiquing the original show’s “Who Shot J.R.?” episodes. My “A House Divided” critique was posted this week; I’ll get to the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” two-part episode next week, followed by “Nightmare” (Monday, July 9) and “Who Done It?” (Tuesday, July 10).

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

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Don’t You Ever Threaten My Brother’

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

Blood is thicker than oil

In “Fallen Idol,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters his office to find Jeb and Willie Joe (Sandy Ward, John Ashton) waiting for him.

J.R.: Well boys, what’s got you all stirred up on a busy Monday morning?

JEB: We heard about your little brother’s shopping center. It was all over town by 9 this morning.

J.R.: [Standing behind his desk] Well you didn’t come here to talk about a shopping center.

WILLIE JOE: He’s building exactly where your daddy’s will gives you the right to drill for oil!

JEB: We share in that oil, J.R. It’s the basis to every deal we’ve made. I’m beginning to think that maybe that will is a fake.

J.R.: You calling me a liar?

WILLIE JOE: If we come up dry in the Panhandle, and Bobby builds on that red-file land, we could be out of business!

J.R.: I’ve always protected you boys. You keep this up and I’m gonna stop.

JEB: [Leaning across J.R.’s desk] If you don’t stop Bobby, I’ll stop him.

J.R.: [Drops his mail on his desk] What’s that supposed to mean?

JEB: You know damn well what it means.

J.R.: [Pauses, then slaps Jeb, sending him back on his feet] Don’t you ever threaten my brother – or any other Ewing. I told you I’d handle this. Now get out of my office! [Turns his back to Jeb and Willie Joe and stares out the window. They leave.]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 17 – ‘Fallen Idol’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Fallen Idol, Guzzler Bennett, Richard Kelton

Guzzler rising

“Fallen Idol” arrives halfway during “Dallas’s” second season, and while we know the characters pretty well at this point, this episode demonstrates how they still manage to surprise us.

One of the best moments comes during the third act, when J.R.’s underhanded cronies Jeb Ames and Willie Joe Garr show up at his office to complain about Bobby’s plan to build a shopping center on Southfork. Their gripe: Bobby’s project will be constructed on Section 40, the oil-soaked tract where J.R., Jeb and Willie Joe secretly plan to drill when Jock dies.

“If you don’t stop Bobby, I’ll stop him,” Jeb snarls to J.R.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” J.R. asks.

“You know damn well what it means.”

And then: Pow!

J.R pops Jeb in the mouth, sending the creep staggering backwards.

“Don’t you ever threaten my brother,” J.R. says. “Or any other Ewing.”

Seeing J.R. knock the sneer off Jeb’s face reveals a side to him we haven’t seen before. It’s nice to know he cares about someone other than himself.

In another unexpected twist, J.R. invites Pam to lunch to enlist her help in stopping Bobby from doing business with Guzzler Bennett, a shady pal from Bobby’s college football days.

It’s fun to see J.R. turn to Pam, one of his greatest adversaries, for help. My favorite part: When a skeptical Pam asks J.R. how she is supposed to persuade Bobby to drop his construction project, J.R. responds, “You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.” Delicious.

Scriptwriter Arthur Bernard Lewis saves “Fallen Idol’s” best moment for the end, when we learn Bobby has known all along about Guzzler’s troubled past but is willing to go along with the construction project anyway.

Of all the twists in “Fallen Idol,” this is the niftiest. We realize Bobby is smarter than he seemed, but we’re also relieved to know he wasn’t going to turn his back on a friend in need. It’s an unexpected discovery, yet it’s also perfectly in keeping with what we know about our hero.

“Fallen Idol’s” other high point: Miss Ellie’s soliloquy near the end of the episode, when Bobby tries to justify his construction project by telling her the shopping center will be built on “land we never use.”

“Does everything have to be used?” Ellie responds. “Can’t some things just be? Stay the way they’ve always been? Do we have to change everything we touch? Does it really make things better that way?”

Unlike “Fallen Idol’s” many surprises, solemn, stare-off-into-space speeches like this are exactly what we’ve come to expect from Miss Ellie.

Would we want it any other way?

Grade: B


Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Fallen Idol, Miss Ellie Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Mall in the family


Season 2, Episode 12

Airdate: December 3, 1978

Audience: 16.3 million homes, ranking 23rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Vincent McEveety

Synopsis: Bobby brings a partner into his construction business: Guzzler Bennett, his old college chum. Miss Ellie reluctantly gives them permission to build a shopping center on Southfork but Guzzler turns out to be a fraud and leaves Dallas.

Cast: John Ashton (Willie Joe Garr), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Nancy Bleier (Connie), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Richard Kelton (Guzzler Bennett), John Petlock (Dan Marsh), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Sandy Ward (Jeb Ames)

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