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.

Here’s Everything That’s Happened on ‘Dallas,’ Ever*

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson

Ain’t over yet

It’s never too late to start watching “Dallas.” If you missed the original show and the first two seasons of TNT’s sequel series, fear not: This post will tell you everything you need to know before Season 3 begins on Monday, February 24. (*OK, this isn’t really everything that’s happened on “Dallas.” For that, you’ll have to keep reading Dallas Decoder every day.)


The Original Series (1978 to 1991)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

In the beginning

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), the youngest son of a rich oil and cattle clan, marries Pam Barnes (Victoria Principal) and brings her home to Southfork, the Ewing ranch. This upsets everyone, especially Pam’s daddy Digger (David Wayne), who blames Bobby’s daddy Jock (Jim Davis) for stealing his sweetheart, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), and cheating him out of half of Ewing Oil. While Bobby’s devious brother J.R. (Larry Hagman) is building the family empire and catting around, J.R.’s neglected wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) becomes an alcoholic and has an affair with Cliff (Ken Kercheval), Pam’s vengeful brother. Later, J.R. and Sue Ellen have a son, John Ross, while Bobby and Pam adopt Christopher, the orphaned child of Sue Ellen’s sister Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby) and sleazy Jeff Faraday (Art Hindle). Elsewhere, Ray Krebbs, Southfork’s foreman, discovers Jock is his daddy and marries savvy politico Donna Culver (Susan Howard), while Lucy (Charlene Tilton), the daughter of J.R. and Bobby’s middle brother Gary (Ted Shackelford) and his wife Valene (Joan Van Ark), gets engaged to everyone.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

End of an era

More drama: Digger dies and so does Jock, leaving Ellie to hold the family together with help from second hubby Clayton Farlow (Howard Keel). Southfork burns down, but the Ewings rebuild it. Cliff hooks up with Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers), who gives birth to their daughter Pamela Rebecca, but Afton refuses to let Cliff near the child because of his fixation with destroying the Ewings. Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany) arrives, becomes obsessed with Bobby and tries to kill him, then vanishes under a big hat. Sue Ellen beats the bottle and divorces J.R., while Pam has a bad dream, gets burned in a car crash and runs away. Bobby has an on-again, off-again romance with first love Jenna Wade (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley), who gives birth to their son Lucas and then marries newly divorced Ray. James (Sasha Mitchell), J.R.’s illegitimate son, shows up for a while and emulates the old man. Bobby marries April (Sheree J. Wilson), but she dies. J.R. marries Cally (Cathy Podewell), but she leaves. In the end, Cliff finally takes over Ewing Oil, leaving J.R. alone and suicidal.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Swan Song

Hurts so good

Best Episode: “Swan Song.” The eighth-season finale finds J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marriage on the rocks, unlike the vodka she’s secretly swilling in her bedroom.  Meanwhile, Bobby chooses Pam over Jenna, but crazy Katherine runs him over with her car. The episode ends with the Ewings bidding farewell to Bobby in a deathbed scene that’s so beautifully written and acted, you almost wish it wasn’t part of Pam’s dream. Almost.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Who Shot J.R.?

Shot in the dark

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who shot J.R.? Sure, taking a couple of slugs to the gut is no fun for our hero, but at least he makes billions of dollars in a risky offshore oil deal before he’s gunned down. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, J.R.’s assailant turns out to be Kristin, his sister-in-law/ex-secretary/ex-mistress, who’s revealed as the shooter in one of the most-watched broadcasts in television history. (Props to Sue Ellen, who figures it all out.)


TNT Season 1 (2012)

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

When cousins clash

J.R. emerges from a nursing home and tricks Bobby into selling him Southfork so he can tap the ocean of oil flowing beneath it. Like their fathers, John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe) butt heads, except their rivalry has an added twist: John Ross has fallen for Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), who was Christopher’s childhood sweetheart. Christopher marries Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo), unaware that she’s the daughter of Cliff, who is now the gazillionaire owner of Barnes Global and still hell-bent on destroying the Ewings. Rebecca kills her lover Tommy Sutter (Callard Harris) in self-defense and has Cliff’s henchman Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) dispose of the body. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen runs for governor; Bobby’s new wife Ann (Brenda Strong) feels threatened by ex-husband Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), who knows she’s harboring a dark secret; and John Ross, Christopher and Elena form a company, Ewing Energies, but the partnership is threatened when Elena breaks her engagement to John Ross and reunites with Christopher, who dumps the pregnant Rebecca.

Dallas, Family Business, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Bad does good

Best Episode: “Family Business.” In one of Hagman’s most poignant performances, J.R. learns Bobby is secretly battling cancer and returns Southfork to him, ending the season-long war for the ranch. Later, in a chill-inducing musical montage (set to Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around”), poor Bobby suffers a seizure and Rebecca shoots Tommy, splattering blood over her unborn twins’ stuffed animals. Hmmm. Foreshadow, much?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Pass the torch

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who loves J.R.? His son John Ross, who ends the season by gazing at the Dallas skyline with dear old dad and asking him to teach him “every dirty trick” he knows so he can push Christopher and Elena out of Ewing Energies. J.R. beams with pride and tells John Ross that he’s his son “from tip to tail.” Hey, J.R. may have given up the fight for Southfork, but he wasn’t giving up his devious ways — thank goodness.


TNT Season 2 (2013)

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, TNT

All about evil

Rebecca reveals she’s Pamela Rebecca Barnes and hooks up with John Ross. Ann shoots Harris after learning he kidnapped their daughter Emma when she was a baby and sent her to be raised by his control-freak mother, Judith (Judith Light). Ann gets probation, Harris recovers and Judith falls down the stairs. Frank takes the blame for Tommy’s death and kills himself at the request of Cliff, who causes Pamela’s miscarriage. When J.R. is murdered in Mexico, it appears Cliff is the killer, so Bobby, Christopher and newlyweds John Ross and Pamela plant evidence on Cliff to make sure he’s arrested. Oh, and Christopher also discovers Cliff covered up his mom’s death. Elsewhere, John Ross somehow inherits half of Southfork; Sue Ellen loses the election but continues to tangle with Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber); Emma (Emma Bell) sleeps with Elena’s ne’er-do-well brother Drew (Kuno Becker), becomes John Ross’s mistress and turns Harris in to the cops for drug trafficking; and when Christopher dumps Elena, jailbird Cliff asks her to become his proxy at Barnes Global, which the Ewings now control.

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Mourning glory

Best Episode: “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Our hero is laid to rest in an instant-classic hour that brings back several stars from the original series. The highlight: On the night before J.R.’s burial, Sue Ellen takes a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivers a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she calls “the love of my life.” Can someone please explain how Linda Gray didn’t win an Emmy for this performance?

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

Only you

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who killed J.R.? J.R. did, of course. It turns out he was dying of cancer and arranged his own death so Cliff could be framed for the crime, thus ending the Barnes-Ewing feud … for about 2 minutes, at least. Only a handful of people know the truth, including Bobby, J.R.’s loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), Christopher and John Ross, who gets it right when he says, “The only person who could take down J.R. … was J.R.”

What are your favorite “Dallas” memories? Share them below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Ends the Season with Bigger Ratings

Dallas, Guilt by Association, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT

Compounding interest

“Dallas” got a nice ratings boost on April 15 with a season-ending double feature that revealed what happened to Pam and who killed J.R.

“Guilt by Association” the first of the evening’s two episodes, was seen by 2.82 million viewers, including 1 million adults between ages 18 and 49, an important demographic in TV ad sales.

“Legacies,” the second hour, drew 2.99 million viewers, including 1.1 million in the 18-to-49 demo. This makes “Legacies” the season’s second most-watched “Dallas” telecast after the landmark “J.R.’s Masterpiece” funeral episode, which drew 3.6 million viewers on March 11.

“Dallas” averaged 2.7 million viewers on Monday nights this year, although DVR users who record the show and watch it later in the week have boosted its weekly average to 3.4 million viewers. “Dallas” averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesdays last summer, when there is much less competition on other channels.

TNT has not announced whether it will order a third season, but this week the Hollywood news site Deadline suggested “Dallas” is “a slam dunk for renewal.” Although ratings fell this season, the well-known “Dallas” brand generated strong international sales for the studio that produces the show, Deadline reported.

Name that Tune!

Dallas, Faran Tahir, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT, Venomous Creatures


Forget “Who Killed J.R.?” Here’s the question “Dallas” fans really want answered: What’s the name of the song that kept popping up on the show this season?

You know the song I’m talking about. It was first heard in “False Confessions” when the police arrested Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) for Tommy’s murder. The song played again in “Legacies” when Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) planted the gun in Cliff’s trunk.

Here’s the answer: The song is called “Liar” and it comes from a band called The Unknown, a TNT spokeswoman told us yesterday.

The bad news: This appears to be an unreleased track. I can’t find it on iTunes or anyplace else. So if you want to keep hearing it, just do what I do and watch those scenes over and over.

Speaking of “Dallas” music: The song that played at the end of “Legacies,” when John Ross (Josh Henderson) proved again he’s his daddy’s son from tip to tail, is “Come Unto Me” by the The Mavericks. Meanwhile, the terrific tune that appeared at the end of “Love and Family,” when Bobby (Patrick Duffy) took that slow-mo stroll out of Ewing Energies, is “My Time Has Come” by The Bowery Riots.

Cidre Speaks

In case you missed it: “Dallas” producer Cynthia Cidre gives TV Guide the post-mortem on the second season, including her reaction to Victoria Principal’s statement-hear-round-the-world, whether Katherine Wentworth is really dead and those cocaine shoes. Earlier this week, Cidre spoke to Yahoo! about what we might see during a third “Dallas” season, including the possibility that – gasp! – John Ross might build his own house on Southfork.

Divas II

Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) had a good week: Not only did she track down Ken (Lee Majors), turn the tables on McConaughey (Steven Weber) and announce Cliff’s arrest, she also defeated sister Kristin (Mary Crosby) in Dallas Divas Derby’s second brackets competition. Get it, girl.

Killing J.R.

Last December, not long after Larry Hagman’s death, I asked three writers and a director from the original “Dallas” how they think J.R. should die. Now that the character has been laid to rest once and for all, it’s interesting to go back and read their ideas, which aren’t far off base from what ended up happening.

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

‘Who Killed J.R.?’ Here’s My Final Theory in ‘Dallas’s’ Mystery

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, TNT, Who Killed J.R.? Throughout the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, one thing has nagged at me: Is anyone “big” enough to take down the “Dallas” legend? This is why I never considered characters like Carlos del Sol or Carmen Ramos (Castulo Guerra, Marlene Forte) to be serious suspects. Even Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), as important as he’s become to this franchise, hasn’t earned the “right” to go down in history as the man who murdered J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman).

Frankly, only one character has enough stature to take out J.R. – and that’s J.R. himself. So during the first few weeks of this storyline, I figured we’d eventually discover our hero was secretly suffering from a terminal illness and arranged his own shooting – perhaps J.R.’s loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page) pulled the trigger – so that his “murder” could be pinned on one of the Ewings’ enemies.

Many of my fellow “Dallas” diehards found the idea of J.R. taking his own life anathema, and I’ve come around to their way of thinking. Also, if the show went the J.R.-arranges-his-own-death route, it could be perceived as a cop-out – and let’s face it, this franchise already pulled a fast one on the audience when it explained away Bobby’s death as a bad dream. Would the people who make the new “Dallas” want to risk alienating fans again?

For awhile, I also theorized J.R. could’ve been done in by an enemy from his past. My suggestion: What if Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby) was still alive and returned to finish the job she started in 1980? This idea also turned off a lot of fans, who suggested it would be the ultimate retread: It would turn “Who Killed J.R.?” into “Who Shot J.R.?” all over again, right down to the same assailant. I see their point, but I still think it would be cool.

The other great choice from the “old enemies” camp would be Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany), especially if it turned out she faked her death and stole Pam’s identity. I also love the idea that Katherine is somehow connected to Harris, and that she used a Ryland Transport truck to orchestrate the car accident that disfigured Pam and prompted her to flee Southfork in the first place. What a twist that would be! Unfortunately, based on recent comments from Brittany and “Dallas” producer Cynthia Cidre, it doesn’t sound as if Katherine will be returning to the show anytime soon.

This leaves one viable suspect as J.R.’s killer: Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval). Think about it: Cliff has become a pretty soulless figure this season. He allowed his “son” Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) to kill himself and ordered the bombing of the Ewing Energies rig, even though it put the lives of many people at risk, including his daughter Pamela (Julie Gonzalo), who ended up losing her unborn twins. I have a feeling the worst is yet to come too. Maybe it will turn out Cliff also killed Katherine and somehow kept Pam from returning to Southfork. Perhaps J.R. was about to expose these sins, and that’s why Cliff finally offed his old enemy.

Where does Harris’s Mexican trucking operation and club hostess Rhonda Simmons (Emily Kosloski) fit in? Suppose Carlos and Cliff are in cahoots; Carlos knew his “friend” J.R. was interested in digging into Harris’s past, so he lured J.R. to Nuevo Laredo by leading him to believe Harris was up to something shady south of the border. (Could it be Harris really is transporting nothing more than ugly high heels?) Once J.R. arrived in Nuevo Laredo, Carlos tipped off Cliff, who came to town and shot J.R. (Or maybe Frank isn’t really dead and pulled the trigger on Cliff’s behalf.) Rhonda is part of the scheme and lied to Bobby about Harris’s Nuevo Laredo connection to help Carlos cover his tracks. Before all is said and done, maybe Cliff will even turn on partner-in-crime Harris and try to frame him for J.R.’s death.

Would it be shocking if Cliff turns out to be the killer? No and yes. On the one hand, J.R. is murdered by his oldest adversary? Where’s the surprise in that? On the other hand: Besides Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, Kercheval is the only original “Dallas” cast member who has a regular presence on the new show. From this standpoint, turning him into a killer would be bold.

Also, consider this: “Who Killed J.R.?” has never been much of a traditional whodunit. From the beginning, this storyline has been about tying up loose ends (“Where in the world is Pam Ewing?”) and settling old scores. Now that J.R. is gone and Cliff has taken control of Ewing Energies, what else is left for him to do?

Besides, it’s not like there isn’t room for a big twist: There’s still the matter of the letter that J.R. left for Bobby. What does it say? Perhaps it will reveal John Ross (Josh Henderson) really is Cliff’s son after all. J.R. faked the paternity test all those years ago to spare his family – and himself – a lot of embarrassment and raised John Ross as his own. This would undoubtedly upset a lot of fans, but it would also add a new shade to J.R.’s character and give new meaning to the famous scene where he holds John Ross for the first time. As for John Ross’s recent nuptials to Pamela, look at it this way: She already married her cousin. Why shouldn’t her brother be next?

I think it’s more likely the letter to Bobby reveals that Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is actually J.R.’s son. Perhaps J.R. concealed the truth from Bobby because he knew how much his brother and Pam needed a child of their own. This might explain Bobby’s heartfelt line after he received J.R.’s note after the funeral: “I knew you’d have at least one more left up your sleeve, J.R. It is a good one. I love you brother.”

As for the gun that J.R. left John Ross? Maybe it will turn out to be the gun that Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) used to shoot Tommy and the Ewings will use the weapon as leverage to gain control of Barnes Global. When the Ewings threaten to expose Pamela’s crime, Cliff finally does something selfless and protects his daughter by fessing up to J.R.’s murder, allowing Pamela and John Ross to take control of two-thirds of Barnes Global, with Christopher finally inheriting his mother’s third.

Once the Ewings control Cliff’s company, maybe they can turn Harris out of Ryland Transport, assuming the money Cliff gave Harris last week comes with strings attached to Barnes Global. This might explain J.R.’s cryptic description of the gun in his note to John Ross: “Use what I’ve given you to take from them what they want to take from us.” In other words: They want to take our company from us, so we’ll take theirs from them.

Then again: Knowing this show, there’s a good chance every one of my guesses is wrong. Who knows what twists and turns await us tonight?

Who done it? Share your final theories below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Who Killed J.R.?” page.

‘Who Killed J.R.?’ What We Know (and What We Don’t)

Carlos Del Sol, Castulo Guerra, Christopher Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Emily Kosloski, Harris Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, Mitch Pileggi, TNT, Who Killed J.R.? “Dallas” drops tantalizing new clues in the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery throughout “Let Me In,” the TNT drama’s latest episode. Here’s a look at what we know and what we don’t, along with some more wild speculation.


What we know: In “Let Me In,” Bobby (Patrick Duffy) lets Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) in on a big secret: Before J.R. died, he was devising a master plan against the family’s enemies, Cliff and Harris (Ken Kercheval, Mitch Pileggi). Bobby shows Sue Ellen the evidence that J.R. left behind and gives her a helpful overview of her ex-husband’s scheme. Take it away, Bobby:

“J.R. knew that Cliff and Harris would join forces and come after us. That’s why he wanted us to have this – all pieces to the puzzle of his master plan to take them down, once and for all. Barnes Global financial history. Ryland’s trucking in Mexico. Christopher’s mother’s whereabouts. Somehow it’s all connected. John Ross, Christopher and I are trying to figure it all out. Connect the dots. Finish what J.R. started. We need to find a way to ruin them, before they ruin us.”

What we don’t know: Assuming Bobby is reading the clues correctly, we now know all the pieces belong to the same puzzle. The question is, how do they fit together?

Wild speculation: One Dallas Decoder reader offered a nifty theory last week. We know Pam (Victoria Principal) fled Southfork in 1987 after being disfigured in a fiery car crash. Suppose that incident is part of the conspiracy J.R. stumbled upon before his death? Remember: Pam crashed into a tanker truck. And who on “Dallas” is in the trucking business? Harris Ryland, of course! I have no idea why he would want to harm Pam, but this coincidence is too fun to ignore.


What we know: After learning Pam was last seen in Abu Dhabi in 1989, Bobby told John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe) that his contact in the Justice Department is tracking her down but needs more time. Later, John Ross snooped around Pamela’s computer and found a copy of her grandmother Rebecca Wentworth’s will, which John Ross reviewed with Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher.

The will shows Rebecca left her estate – including her shares of Barnes Global – to her three children: Katherine, Cliff and Pam. Bobby determined the estate is in a living trust, which means if the Ewings can’t find Pam, Christopher will inherit her shares. “If we can get Pam’s shares, we can kick the legs out from under Cliff. Maybe his entire plan. That’s why J.R. wanted us to find Pam. That’s our move,” Bobby said.

What we don’t know: In a previous episode, we learned Katherine is dead. If this is true, who inherited her third of Barnes Global and why isn’t anyone asking about that? (Or does the living trust arrangement render that point moot? Help me out here, legal eagles.)

Wild speculation: I still like the idea that Katherine (Morgan Brittany) stole Pam’s identity before she died and that this whole thing is going to lead to nutty Ms. Wentworth. It seems unlikely, though, since Brittany recently told Dallas Divas Derby she hasn’t been contacted by the show’s execs. I’m also not sure the Ewings are going to find Pam alive. Given Cliff’s dark nature, isn’t it possible he offed Pam, perhaps in cahoots with her plastic surgeon Dr. David Gordon, who is expected to resurface before this season is over?

Another off-the-wall theory: Instead of bringing back Pam or Katherine, what if “Dallas” revives a member of the Barnes family who’ll be more familiar to today’s audience: Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir), Cliff’s “adopted” son, who killed himself earlier this season? One Dallas Decoder reader recently suggested the pills Frank swallowed might not have been all that lethal. Could Cliff have conspired with Frank to fake his death so Frank could go to Mexico and kill J.R.?


What we know: After J.R.’s death in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town, his friend Carlos del Sol (Castulo Guerra) told the Ewings that J.R. met a woman in a club near the hotel where he died. I previously dubbed this woman “Lady X.” In “Let Me In,” we learn her identity: Rhonda (Emily Kosloski), the club hostess. She tells Bobby that J.R. wanted to ask her about an American who frequented the club, which she said was owned by the local drug cartel. When Bobby showed her a picture of Harris, Rhonda identified him as the American in question.

“What would Ryland be doing with narco traffickers? Is that what his trucks are taking back and forth across the border? Maybe J.R. was on to that,” Bobby said. Carlos responded he would alert the Mexican federales and “let them know there may be a connection between the cartel and Ryland Transport.”

What we don’t know: Are Carlos and Rhonda telling the truth? All along, I’ve suspected Carlos is somehow involved in J.R.’s death. And what should we make of the odd expression on Bobby’s face after Rhonda tells him, “J.R.’s not the first man to invite me back to his hotel room. He just wanted to talk. Share a drink. He was kind to me. Gentlemen are in such short supply where I work. I’m so sorry, what happened to your brother.”

Wild speculation: What if Cliff is the killer and has secretly aligned himself with Carlos, a fellow billionaire, to frame Harris for the crime? Consider this: Why would Cliff, a global titan, need to join forces with Harris, a Texas trucking magnate, to bring down the Ewings? I know Cliff told Harris he wanted to take advantage of Harris’s “muscle” and friendship with the governor, but Cliff has demonstrated he has those kinds of resources and connections himself. Could Cliff be duping Harris?

On the other hand: The Rylands seem to have real connections to the Mexican border. Did you catch the Laredo address on the pill bottle Emma showed John Ross at J.R.’s funeral?


What we know: When J.R.’s private eye Bum (Kevin Page) gave Bobby, John Ross and Christopher the evidence that J.R. left behind, the package included a gun, which was accompanied by a letter from J.R. to John Ross. It stated: “Use what I’ve given you to take from them what they want to take from us. When you’ve done that, Bobby will know what to do.”

J.R. also left behind a letter to Bobby, which he refused to discuss with John Ross and Christopher. “This is between my brother and me – for now,” Bobby told them. Privately, Bobby told Bum to “pay off whoever you have to pay off so that everybody still thinks J.R. was killed by a mugger. When the time comes, we’ll take care of this ourselves – as a family.”

What we don’t know: Precious little. I don’t think the letter reveals the identity of J.R.’s killer; otherwise, why isn’t Bobby simply going after that person? Instead, I think the document somehow lets Bobby know that J.R. wasn’t the victim of a random crime. Or perhaps it reveals something else – like maybe some sort of family secret? Recall what Bobby said when he toasted his dead brother after receiving the note: “I knew you’d have at least one more left up your sleeve, J.R. It is a good one. I love you brother.”

Wild speculation: Once again, I return to the theory that J.R. planned his own death. I know a lot of fans don’t like this idea, but it seems like you can use the available evidence to support it. Suppose J.R. knew that he was dying and decided to take advantage of the situation by arranging to have himself shot, then leaving instructions for Bobby – via the letter – to use the gun to frame Cliff, Harris or both for his “murder”? Perhaps Bobby’s last line in his recap for Sue Ellen is telling: “We need to find a way to ruin them, before they ruin us.”

Or hell, maybe it really was Kristin.

Who done it? Share your theories below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Who Killed J.R.?” page.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 4

Too little too late?

Too little too late?

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

Will the police believe Ann or Harris? In last week’s episode, “False Confessions,” Bobby (Patrick Duffy) tried to protect Ann by confessing to shooting Harris. Meanwhile, as Harris lay in a coma, his mother Judith (Judith Light) vowed revenge. “I will make sure Bobby goes to jail, take him from Ann the way she took you from me,” she whispered into her son’s ear. After Bobby was arrested and freed on $1 million bail, Ann (Brenda Strong) persuaded him to recant his confession, then told family lawyer Lou (Glenn Morshower) the truth: that she shot Harris. There was just one problem: When Harris (Mitch Pileggi) woke up and the police asked him to name his assailant, he lied. “It was Bobby Ewing,” Harris said as Judith smiled. So which Ewing will go on trial – Bobby or Ann?

Has Pamela ruined all of her relationships? After J.R. and Frank conspired to expose Pamela’s role in Tommy’s death, Cliff (Ken Kercheval) turned the tables on them. Cliff framed Frank (Faran Tahir) for the shooting, then persuaded his “son” to fall on his sword for the good of the Barnes family. When Frank went before the judge, he lied and said he shot Tommy – then admitted to killing Becky, swallowed a poison pill and died. Elsewhere, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) – sensing that John Ross (Josh Henderson) was falling for her – rejected his offer to help, while Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) was outraged to see her beat the rap for Tommy’s death. So, to recap: Pamela has angered her father, alienated her lover and made her estranged husband madder than ever. Can any of her relationships be saved?

• Will John Ross regret betraying J.R.? J.R. (Larry Hagman) learned John Ross was “cavorting” with Pamela and ordered him to stop, but John Ross refused and turned to Cliff, tipping him off that Frank was in cahoots with J.R. What will happen when J.R. learns his son sold him out?

Will Elena strike oil? John Ross bribed Elena’s foreman to sabotage the Henderson drilling site, hoping it will cause her to miss the deadline to strike oil and repay her loan to Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Unfortunately for John Ross, Elena’s brother Drew (Kuno Becker) realized the foreman was up to no good and fired him. Will this give Elena (Jordana Brewster) time to get her project back on track – or will Sue Ellen end up calling in the loan and seizing Elena’s share of Ewing Energies?

What’s Drew up to? Speaking of Elena’s brother: Clyde (Brett Brock), John Ross’s private eye, watched Drew go to the outskirts of Dallas, where he met a truck driver and had a cryptic conversation about “the boss” they share. The driver tossed Drew the keys, and then Drew climbed into the truck and drove away. Where was he headed – and who is his mysterious employer?

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

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 14 – ‘False Confessions’

Dallas, False Confessions, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

J.R. Ewing here

You can feel the hate in “False Confessions.” This episode takes an unapologetically dark view of the Barnes/Ewing feud, which is fitting since the conflict has been going on for so long now it seems Biblical. The epic scope of Taylor Hamra’s script makes this one of “Dallas’s” most satisfying hours this season, which is a real achievement when you consider Larry Hagman appears in just three scenes, and never once does he come face to face with Ken Kercheval. Since Cliff isn’t expected to resurface until J.R.’s midseason funeral, this probably means we’ll never see these old enemies clash again. A sad thought, but one we better start getting used to.

More than anything, “False Confessions” demonstrates how much Cliff has changed. Yesterday’s needy neurotic has become today’s guileful Godfather. How? Why? When? The new “Dallas” has never spelled this out, which makes it tough for longtime fans to figure out what turned Cliff so … evil. I suppose it’s up to each of us to fill in the gaps ourselves, so here’s my theory: After the original “Dallas” ended and J.R. slipped into depression and isolation, Cliff lost his biggest distraction in life, liberating him to focus on building an empire of his own. He’s become one of the world’s richest men, but he’s still hell-bent on beating the Ewings for the same reason Mitt Romney kept running for president – because after you’ve conquered the rest of the world, what else is left?

Whatever the reason for Cliff’s metamorphosis, there’s no denying that “Fatal Confessions” turns him into “Dallas’s” most tragic figure. Cliff pulls out the stops to protect Pamela from prosecution – probably because he loves her, but also because she’s so crucial to his plot against the Ewings. To make matters worse, he forces his “son” Frank to fall on his sword, again to keep his revenge scheme moving forward. It’s hard to not see the parallels with Cliff’s father Digger, who relied on his son to settle his scores with the Ewings, just like Cliff has done with his own children. Of course, Digger was a broken drunk, while Cliff is global titan – but that only makes Cliff seem smaller.

This much is certain: Kercheval is as watchable as ever. I loved his flamboyant performances on the old show; you never knew how Kercheval would approach a scene, which made him “Dallas’s” most electric actor. Now, as the more restrained Cliff, Kercheval turns out to be just as fascinating. Consider the tense scene where Cliff persuades Frank to “do the honorable thing” and kill himself. I would never have dreamed Cliff could be this cold and calculating, but man, does Kercheval sell it. (Credit also goes to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who has cleverly replaced Cliff’s flashy pocket squares with dark jackets and turtlenecks. It’s like an outward manifestation of the darkness that has consumed him.)

Not that Cliff is altogether unrecognizable in “False Confessions”: When he sees the TV news report about the police recovering Tommy’s body, his response (“Son of a bitch!”) brings to mind some of his exasperated reactions to J.R.’s one-upmanship from long ago. We also see a flash of the old Cliff’s shortsightedness in the great scene where John Ross comes to him, offering to betray J.R., only to be turned away because Cliff would never trust a Ewing. Contrast this with J.R. himself, who in the previous episode didn’t hesitate to enlist Frank in his plot against Pamela. Cliff might be richer, but J.R. will always be smarter.

Speaking of J.R.: Hamra deserves much praise for giving Hagman something to do besides deliver zingers. The exchange where J.R. comforts Bobby (“No baby brother of mine is going to spend his twilight years in jail”) showcases the effortless warmth between Hagman and Patrick Duffy, while once again casting J.R. in the unlikely role he’s come to play so well: defender of the family. Something similar happens in the equally wonderful scene where J.R. chastises John Ross for wanting to use Bobby’s misfortune for their gain. Not only does this echo a sweet moment from the original series, when J.R. told little John Ross it would be wrong to take advantage of Uncle Bobby after his shooting, it also recalls my favorite J.R./John Ross scene from last season. Back then, the roles were reversed: John Ross was the one who pleaded with J.R. to show “a little decency” where the cancer-stricken Bobby was concerned.

Hamra’s script includes many other nice touches that summon the show’s history and enduring themes of family and honor. I love when Sue Ellen recalls for John Ross how she was “nearly destroyed” when she got caught in the middle of J.R. and Cliff’s war. I also love the line where Cliff tells John Ross he only agreed to see him out of respect for his mother. There’s also Faran Tahir’s surprisingly heartbreaking performance during Frank’s jailhouse meeting with Cliff, as well as Judith Light’s big scene, when her character Judith comforts the comatose Harris. I know this one is supposed to creep me out, but heaven help me I find it kind of touching.

Stephen Herek, a first time “Dallas” director, makes “False Confessions” a technical achievement as much as anything. The autopsy-triggered musical montage is superbly executed, culminating in the new “Dallas’s” best fakeout (the cops were coming to arrest Frank, not Pamela!) since the end of “Changing of the Guard,” when we discovered J.R. was in cahoots with Marta. I also love the crosscutting between the scene where Ann finally admits to shooting Harris and the moment Harris wakes up and fingers Bobby for the crime.

While we’re on the subject of Bobby: His top-of-the-hour confession to shooting Harris has all the casualness of someone admitting to leaving the cap off the milk carton. I’m also bothered by Ann’s response, which is to say she has none. As difficult as it is for me to accept that this strong, loving wife would resort to shooting her ex-husband, it’s even harder for me to believe she’d allow Bobby to take the rap for it. I’m glad when Ann finally pipes up at the end of the episode, but I wonder if this is going to be enough to make the audience forgive her.

When I asked Brenda Strong about this last week, she expressed her confidence in the show’s writers to redeem Ann, saying they “are holding the big picture in mind.” I suppose that’s enough for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they haven’t done much to disappoint me this season.

Grade: A


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, False Confessions, Ken Kercheval, TNT

Changed man


Season 2, Episode 4

Telecast: February 11, 2013

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Stephen Herek

Audience: 2.4 million viewers on February 11

Synopsis: To protect Ann, Bobby confesses to shooting Harris. Later, Bobby recants his confession, but when Harris emerges from his coma, he tells the police that Bobby was the shooter. Drew fires Bubba, the foreman that John Ross bribed to sabotage Elena’s drilling project. After Frank digs up Tommy’s body and tells J.R. about John Ross and Pamela’s relationship, J.R. orders his son to stay away from her. Cliff has Tommy’s murder pinned on Frank and persuades him to commit suicide.

Cast: Amber Bartlett (Jill), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Brett Brock (Clyde Marshall), Pam Dougherty (Judge Barbara Hirsch), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Mike Gassaway (Henry Mott), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Danny Hunter (Judge Leonard Knox), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Marcua M. Mauldin (Detective Ronnie Bota), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Matthew Posey (Bubba), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank Ashkani), Brian Thornton (Detective Miles Danko)

“False Confessions” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 3


Will she get caught?

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

Is Harris dead? At the end of “Sins of the Father,” last week’s installment, Ann (Brenda Strong) learned Harris (Mitch Pileggi) couldn’t be prosecuted for kidnapping their daughter Emma (Emma Bell) and went to his home to confront him. When Harris taunted Ann, she pulled a handgun from her purse and shot him, leaving him bleeding on the floor. Since Pileggi was added to “Dallas’s” opening credits three weeks ago, it seems unlikely Harris will die. Then again, this is the new “Dallas,” where anything can happen and usually does. So who knows?

What will happen to Ann? In a chat last week with Dallas Decoder and other bloggers, Strong said Ann was in “an altered state” when she plugged Harris. The trailer for tonight’s episode shows Bobby (Patrick Duffy) being arrested for the shooting. If Ann allows her husband to take the rap for a crime she committed, does that mean she’s still out of her mind?

• Will Pamela get caught? An update on “Dallas’s” other shooting storyline: After Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) gunned down Tommy last season, she turned to Frank (Faran Tahir) to dispose of the weapon and the body. Last week, the police discovered Tommy’s blood in Pamela’s old condo, and J.R. (Larry Hagman) urged Frank to expose her role in Tommy’s death. Will he?

• John Ross and Pamela: What will J.R. and Cliff say? Pamela believes she’ll snag a percentage of Ewing Energies during her divorce from Christopher, and she promised to share her piece of the company with her new lover/partner-in-crime John Ross (Josh Henderson). Meanwhile, John Ross seems to be falling for Pamela, unaware that J.R. is out to get her. Will John Ross be forced to choose between his father and his lover – and how will Cliff (Ken Kercheval) feel when he discovers his daughter has hooked up with J.R.’s son?

Will Christopher and Elena learn the truth about John Ross? Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is angling to win a lucrative contract to fuel the city’s municipal fleet, unaware that John Ross is trying to undermine him. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has vowed to call in Elena’s loan if she doesn’t strike oil on the Henderson property. This prompted Elena to ask for drilling help from her brother Drew (Kuno Becker), who recently returned to town with a chip on his shoulder. What Elena doesn’t know: John Ross has bribed her foreman to sabotage the Henderson project. Will John Ross’s schemes succeed?

Where’s Becky? When Pamela got frustrated with Tommy’s demanding sister Becky (Alex McKenna), she urged Frank to pay her off once and for all. Later, Becky didn’t show up for the court hearing where she was supposed to recant her false testimony against Christopher. Did Frank run Becky out of town – or did he make her disappear forever?

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: ‘A Rare and Beautiful Thing. …’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Sins of the Father, TNT

Night visitor

In “Sins of the Father,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Frank (Faran Tahir) enters his darkened home and finds J.R. (Larry Hagman) seated there.

J.R.: You lost a step, Frank. It’s a sad day when an old man can sneak up on a super ninja.

FRANK: What are you doing here?

J.R.: Well, I heard they found some – what do you call it? – high velocity blood splatter at Pamela Barnes’s old condo. Word is it might belong to Tommy Sutter.

FRANK: I’m no detective, but whatever they found in Pamela’s condo is Pamela’s problem.

J.R.: Well, I’m no detective either, but it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know you clean up whatever mess Cliff asks you to. And this certainly is a mess.

FRANK: It may be hard for an old, retired fellow like you to understand this, but I’m a busy man. I don’t have time to chat.

J.R.: Well, I’m retired, but not by choice. Getting pushed out of my place at the table stung like hell. But you know how that feels, don’t you Frank? After all the jams you’ve gotten Cliff out of, to be treated like a lapdog by that spoiled princess? You’re not a Barnes, Frank. No matter how much Cliff appreciates what you’ve done, when push comes to shove, he’s going to protect his daughter. Now we both know that rich folks don’t go to jail. However, the people that clean up after them do.

FRANK: What are you suggesting?

J.R.: Tell me where the body and the gun are. I’ll make sure they pop up. You can get your place back at the Barnes Global table, and I make sure that Barnes girl doesn’t get a piece of Ewing Energies. [Smiles]

FRANK: If there were a body, the moment it appeared, Cliff would know I sold him out.

J.R.: [Chuckles] Frank, I’m J.R. Ewing. I can make a body appear in the middle of a church social without anybody knowing how it got there.

FRANK: Why should I trust you?

J.R.: Because we both want to destroy Pamela. And it’s a rare and beautiful thing when enemies share the same enemy. [Rises] I’ll be expecting your call. [Walks past him] Make it soon.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 13 – ‘Sins of the Father’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Sins of the Father, TNT

The master

Larry Hagman supplies “Sins of the Father” with its best moments, including the cool scene where J.R. pressures Frank to betray Cliff, as well as the surprisingly sentimental one where he vows to help Bobby get revenge against Ryland. But for once, Hagman isn’t the only great thing about the new “Dallas.” Every member of the ensemble shines in this episode, especially Brenda Strong, whose performances are pitch perfect. This is the first time I’ve cared about Ann’s storyline this season, and that’s mostly because Strong does such a beautiful job selling it.

Strong has always had the most thankless job on this show because Ann has been assigned a dual role previously occupied by two of the most beloved figures in the “Dallas” mythos. Not only has Ann succeeded Pam as Bobby’s wife, she’s also assumed Miss Ellie’s mantle as the first lady of Southfork. Now, in “Sins of the Father,” with all her secrets seemingly exposed, Ann finally begins to feel like her own woman. She repeatedly calls Harris a “son of a bitch,” lobs a few barbs at Judith, and then confesses to Emma her past addiction to tranquilizers. We’re not in Pam or Ellie territory anymore.

I applaud the “Dallas” writers for turning Ann into a flawed heroine, but Strong gets the credit for making the character so convincingly human. Ann’s tears during her reunion with Emma at the end of “Battle Lines,” the second-season premiere, seemed to exceed what the moment called for, but I never get that feeling watching her in “Sins of the Father.” Strong strikes the right balance between regret and resolve in this episode’s Ann/Emma scene, making me believe Ann is a woman who hasn’t forgotten her mistakes, even if she’s risen above them.

Strong is downright mesmerizing at the end of “Sins of the Father,” when Ann confronts Harris and shoots him. It’s unsettling to see Ann behave so coldly, although I can’t say the shooting shocked me since TNT’s second-season promos included a glimpse of her brandishing a gun. I also can’t help but notice how closely Ann’s shooting of Harris mirrors Pamela’s shooting of Tommy in last season’s “Family Business,” right down to the victim’s slow-motion fall to the floor. There’s one big difference, of course: Pamela’s shooting was an act of self-defense, while Ann shoots Harris in cold blood. How’s the show going to redeem her after this?

Even though Strong dominates “Sins of the Father,” this is a solid hour for all the “Dallas” women. For me, seeing Sue Ellen march into Ewing Energies and threaten to call in Elena’s loan was a little metaphysical: Suddenly it was the 1980s again and I was back in my parents’ living room, watching Sue Ellen square off against one of her rivals, except this time the fight was over her son, not J.R. The role of Mama Bear fits Linda Gray well, although I think this moment would’ve been more effective if Sue Ellen had taken it upon herself to go after Elena instead of being manipulated into it by John Ross. Regardless, I welcome the return of the take-no-prisoners Sue Ellen, and I’m thrilled to see her get involved with the family business. At long last, the new “Dallas” seems to have figured out how to put Gray’s gifts to good use.

As for Elena: How nice is it to see her do something besides moon over John Ross and/or Christopher? Jordana Brewster is an actress with tremendous poise and grace, and I’m glad the writers are turning Elena into such a smart, savvy businesswoman. She keeps her cool when Sue Ellen confronts her (Elena: “I’m not sure where all this anger is coming from, but if this is about something more personal, we should talk about it”), but Elena would be dull if she was perfect, and in “Sins of the Father” she isn’t. Brother Drew’s return rattles her, although I also feel the warmth between the characters during their heart-to-heart in the Southfork pasture. I hope the show will continue to develop Elena and Drew’s relationship with each other, as well as the one they share with mama Carmen. Between the three of them, Brewster, Kuno Becker (a promising addition to the show) and Marlene Forte have the potential to turn the Ramoses into a meaningful presence at Southfork.

Let’s also hear it for John Ross and Pamela. Their first scene in “Sins of the Father,” when they frolic in bed, arguing over who gets to be on top, is fun, and their repeated use of “Dallas’s” most enduring term of endearment – “darlin’” – is cute. On the other hand, John Ross’s worried expression over Pamela’s connection to Tommy’s death at the end of the episode feels a little out of place. I like the idea of him falling for Pamela, but isn’t it a little soon? For that matter, I also don’t buy the notion that the detective investigating Tommy’s death would call Christopher to the crime scene for a chit-chat (shouldn’t Christopher be a suspect too?), and I wonder if Harris would really be beyond punishment for kidnapping Emma. The criminal justice system on this show seems to be exist in another dimension.

Of course, every time “Dallas” offers head-scratchers like these, it usually cuts to something wonderful – like Hagman’s scenes. Director Jesse Bochco smartly shrouds Hagman and Faran Tahir in darkness during J.R.’s exchange with Frank, which makes it feel that much more mysterious. I also love how scriptwriter Bruce Rasmussen peppers J.R.’s dialogue with an extra dash of homey references (church socials, lapdogs), which allows Hagman to play off the suave Tahir. My gut tells me Frank isn’t long for this world, which is too bad because of all the new show’s villains, he’s the most menacing.

Hagman’s other highlight: the scene where Bobby asks J.R. to help him get revenge against Harris. Besides capitalizing on the chemistry between Hagman and Patrick Duffy, the scene also draws upon the deep familiarity between these characters. J.R.: “I’ve seen that look before. You go over there to get justice and you’re likely to beat him to death.” Bobby: “That’s why I need you. Help me find a way to bring him down.”

I wish the show had allowed the audience to savor the idea of J.R. and Bobby joining forces against a common enemy; instead, it cut to the scene of Ann shooting Harris, which kind of undermines any threat J.R. might pose. Then again, something tells me Mr. Ryland is going to be just fine (please note: Mitch Pileggi was added to this show’s opening credits two episodes ago), so J.R. might yet get his chance to stage his “masterpiece” against Harris. Rarely have I wanted to see anything more.

Grade: A


Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Sins of the Father, TNT

Woman on the edge


Season 2, Episode 3

Telecast: February 4, 2013

Writer: Bruce Rasmussen

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 2.2 million viewers on February 4

Synopsis: When the police begin to suspect Pamela killed Tommy, J.R. urges Frank to betray her. After Christopher warns Becky she’s in danger, she receives a visit from Frank and disappears. At John Ross’s urging, Sue Ellen threatens to call in Elena’s loan, prompting Elena to turn to her estranged brother Drew for help striking oil. Ann tries to connect with Emma but is once again rejected. Bobby asks J.R. to help him get revenge against Harris, unaware Ann has shot him.

Cast: Amber Bartlett (Jill), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Rebecca Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Alex McKenna (Becky Sutter), Marcus M. Mauldin (Detective Ronnie Bota), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Matthew Posey (Bubba), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank Ashkani)

“Sins of the Father” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.