The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 10 Most Memorable Monologues

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Trial and Error


Few will forget the courtroom testimony that Ann (Brenda Strong) delivered at the end of “Trial and Error,” last week’s “Dallas” episode. Here’s a look at the Barneses’ and Ewings’ 10 most memorable monologues from the original series and its “Knots Landing” spinoff.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing


10. Miss Ellie’s lament. With the Ewing empire on the brink of collapse, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) goes to the site of Jock’s first strike and curses his memory. “Damn it all, Jock. You couldn’t have been an insurance salesman. Or a shoe salesman. No, you had to have oil in your blood. In your heart. And now … our sons are fighting for their lives.” It’s one of the better moments from one of the show’s better later episodes. (“Judgment Day”)

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

She remembers mama

9. Pam’s discovery. Pam (Victoria Principal), believing Rebecca Wentworth is her long-lost mother, confronts the Houston matron in her opulent home. “I found you. You’re alive. And I’m so happy. I don’t know how to tell you how happy I am,” she says through tears. With every line, Principal seems to reveal a little more of herself, so much so that by the end of the speech, her lip quivers uncontrollably. Bravo. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Barnes Wentworth

Runaway mom

8. Rebecca’s confession. After denying her identity, Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) sits with Pam on a park bench and tells her the truth: She is, in fact, Pam’s mother. “I never divorced Digger,” Rebecca says as her voice begins to crack. “I was afraid that if I tried, he’d find me, and drag me back to that awful life. Pamela, I saw a chance for happiness, and I took it. Don’t blame me for that.” Pointer’s delivery is hauntingly beautiful. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Ted Shackelford

No beach bum

7. Gary’s mea culpa. Gary (Ted Shackelford) begs Lucy to stay in Knots Landing and apologizes for his past sins, telling her he’s trying hard to be a better man. “I’m not a loser anymore,” Gary says. At one point, he becomes tongue-tied, as if he can’t find the words to convey his guilt and regret. In the DVD commentary, Shackelford laughs and suggests he paused because he couldn’t remember his next line. No matter. It still works. (“Home is For Healing”)

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Bye bye, love

6. Sue Ellen’s kiss-off. In Linda Gray’s “Dallas” departure, Sue Ellen shows J.R. the scandalous movie she’s made about their marriage – and vows to screen it for the public only if he misbehaves. “If I feel that you’re not doing right by John Ross … or if I get up on the wrong side of the bed one morning. Or if I’m simply bored – then I’ll release the movie. And then, J.R., you will be the laughingstock of Texas.” Corny? Sure, but also mighty triumphant – and darn memorable. (“Reel Life”)

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval

Never too late

5. Cliff’s regret. My favorite Ken Kercheval scene: Cliff summons Miss Ellie to a park and apologizes for perpetuating his father’s grudge against the Ewings. “Digger was wrong, and I was wrong. If it’s not too late. I’d like to make peace. I’d like to ask you to forgive me,” Cliff says. In an interview with Dallas Decoder, Kercheval fondly recalled his friendship with Bel Geddes. What a shame these two pros didn’t get more screen time together. (“Brother Can You Spare a Child?”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

American dad

4. Jock’s plea. After Pam suffered her first heartbreaking miscarriage, Jock (Jim Davis) sat at her bedside and begged her and Bobby not to leave Southfork. “Us Ewings, we’re just not an easy family to live with, as you found out. We’ve had things our way for so long that maybe – well, maybe it got in the way of our being just people. I guess that you don’t have no reason to really care, but I want to keep my family together.” Who knew the old man could be so soft? (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

He knows father best

3. Ray’s tribute. Ray (Steve Kanaly) tries to make Miss Ellie accept Jock’s death by reminding her of his humanity. “He was a man, just like anybody else. He had friends. He had lots of friends. But he had enemies, too. He was human, ambitious. He knew that the oil game was rough, hardball all the way. But he wanted what was best for his wife, and for his sons. And he did what he thought was right.” The most honest eulogy Jock ever received. (“Acceptance”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Honor thy daddy

2. J.R.’s promise. J.R. (Larry Hagman), after slipping into a depression over Jock’s death, addresses a portrait of his father. “I’m back, Daddy. And nobody’s going to take Ewing Oil away from me. Or my son, or his son. I swear to you. By God, I’m going to make you proud of me.” The combination of Hagman’s conviction, scriptwriter David Paulsen’s dialogue and Bruce Broughton’s rousing score never fails to give me chills. (“The Phoenix”)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Exit the hero

1. Bobby’s goodbye. As Bobby (Patrick Duffy) lay dying in his hospital bed, he bids his family farewell. To Miss Ellie: “Oh, Mama. I’m sorry.” To Pam: “All that wasted time. We should’ve been married.” He seems to be looking at J.R. when he delivers his last words: “Be a family. I love you so much.” Duffy has never been better, and when the monitor flatlines and Principal leaps? Fuhgeddaboudit! Yes, the scene’s emotional impact is diminished somewhat by the fact it turned out to be a dream. Still, does “Dallas” get better than this? (“Swan Song”)

Which “Dallas” monologues moved you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 18 – ‘Kristin’

Dallas, James Houghton, Kenny Ward, Knots Landing, Kristin, Kristin Shepard, Mary Crosby

Killer smile

I’ve always had a soft spot for television crossovers. When I was a kid, I loved seeing Mary Richards visit Rhoda Morgenstern in New York and watching Steve Austin and Jamie Somers fight Bigfoot together. Somehow, crossovers made television seem more real: If Mork could show up on the Cunninghams’ doorstep, why couldn’t he show up on mine?

All these years later, I still think it’s cool when Kristin Shepard pops in on Gary and Valene Ewing, even if “Kristin,” the “Knots Landing” episode that brings her to town, is a little lackluster. (Trivia: “Kristin” also features Tom Fuccello, “Dallas’s” Senator Dave Culver, although he’s somewhat confusingly cast as a different politico here.)

This episode aired about a month after Kristin was fingered as J.R.’s shooter on “Dallas,” and I’m sure that’s no coincidence. If CBS’s goal was to send Kristin to Southern California so “Knots Landing” could soak up some “Who Shot J.R.?” Nielsen afterglow, the ploy worked: On the night it debuted, “Kristin” was seen in 15.6 million homes, or about 2 million more than watched “Knots Landing” the previous week.

Too bad the show didn’t come up with something more interesting for Kristin to do. Her fling with Kenny Ward feels like more of the same. On “Dallas,” Kristin slept with J.R. and tried to seduce Bobby. Is she only capable of chasing married men?

The change of scenery does reveal another side to the character, albeit fleetingly. When Kristin confesses her pregnancy to Val, she seems genuinely frightened about her future. This might be the character’s first sincere moment since Colleen Camp played the role during “Dallas’s” second season.

Interestingly, something similar happened when Lucy visited Gary and Val in “Home is For Healing.” In that first-season “Knots Landing” episode, Lucy suddenly became a more interesting, believable character. What is it about Knots Landing that brings out the best in the women of “Dallas”?

Of course, as soon as we catch this glimpse into Kristin’s humanity, she decides she’s overstayed her welcome and departs Gary and Val’s. I understand why the show sends her packing: Kristin arrived in town on the heels of Abby Cunningham, and the cul-de-sac only had so much room for man-stealing hussies.

Still, I wish Mary Crosby had hung around a few episodes longer. With more time, “Knots Landing” might have turned Kristin into a three-dimensional character, something “Dallas” never really achieved.

Grade: B


Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Kristin, Kristin Shepard, Mary Crosby, Ted Shackelford

Bad to the last drop


“Knots Landing” Season 2, Episode 5

Airdate: December 18, 1980

Audience: 15.6 million homes, ranking 29th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Diana Gould

Director: Nicholas Sgarro

Synopsis: When Kristin is arrested at a Hollywood party, she turns to Val, who invites Kristin to stay with her and Gary. Kristin has a fling with neighbor Kenny Ward, whose wife Ginger walks in on them, prompting Ginger to sue for divorce. Kristin confesses her pregnancy to Val and decides to leave, much to Gary’s relief.

Cast: Eric Coplin (Mark Russelman), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Peter Elbling (Al Tuna), Tom Fuccello (Ed Kroft), Danny Gellis (Jason Avery), David Haskell (Dr. Karl Russelman), James Houghton (Kenny Ward), Kim Lankford (Ginger Ward), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Donna Mills (Abby Cunningham), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Louise Vallance (Sylvie), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“Kristin” is available on DVD. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Knots Landing Scene of the Day: ‘Stay, Lucy. Stay the Week.’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Gary Ewing, Home is For Healing, Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing, Lucy Ewing, Ted Shackelford, Valene Ewing

Surfside summit

In “Home is For Healing,” a first-season “Knots Landing” episode, Lucy and Valene (Charlene Tilton, Joan Van Ark) are having a heart-to-heart while strolling along the beach when they spot Gary (Ted Shackelford) running toward them.

GARY: Lucy! Lucy!

LUCY: Daddy.

GARY: I don’t want you to go. No, no. Just let me say this. I know I ran away from you and Mama a lot. I was weak. I let my brother and my father drive me away, and I ran. I was a drunk and a gambler and a loser. Well, I may not be all that terrific now, but I’m not a loser anymore. I’m working. And I’m not drinking and I’m not gambling. And instead of running away from the important things, I try to run toward them. Now, I may blow them every now and then, but at least I face them and look them in the eye. [He pauses.] Now, what happened the last couple of days is that we all had plans. You and Mama were gonna be little girl and tending mother. And I was gonna be a father, capital “F.” Well, I guess we just forgot to get to know each other.

LUCY: Daddy –

GARY: I said, “no credit cards” because using your grandfather’s credit cards would screw up your values and our future as a family. What I should have said was, “Please don’t use the credit cards because it makes me feel bad.”

LUCY: Daddy, I get it.

GARY: What?

LUCY: You were right. We forgot to get to know each other.

GARY: Stay, Lucy. Stay the week.

VAL: Hey, you know what I wanna do now?

GARY: What?

VAL: I’ve dreamed of doing this since we moved in here.

LUCY: What, Mama?

VAL: Go running in the ocean with you.

LUCY: We’ve been walking in it.

VAL: No, I mean really in it. Up to your knees and running.

LUCY: It’s too cold.

VAL: Oh, no it isn’t. Watch!

She runs into the surf, tosses her shoes onto the beach.

GARY: Come on. Come on, honey. [He rolls up his pants and walks into the ocean.]

LUCY: It’s too cold.

GARY: Hey, it’s only cold for a minute. [Lucy lays her shoes on the beach, grabs Gary’s extended hand] Right!

The three join hands and run through the waves.

Critique: ‘Knots Landing’ Episode 6 – ‘Home is For Healing’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Gary Ewing, Home is For Healing, Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing, Lucy Ewing, Ted Shackelford, Valene Ewing

Three if by sea

In “Home is For Healing,” Lucy finally discovers her parents have remarried and moved to Southern California. The moment of truth occurs off-screen, which is a bit unexpected since “Dallas” and “Knots Landing” each spent so long laying the groundwork for what was shaping up to be a Big Reveal.

But no matter. “Home is For Healing” is still a solid episode, thanks mostly to Rena Down’s script, which casts Gary, Valene and Lucy as a broken family that wants to put itself back together but can’t figure out how to do it.

I especially like Lucy in this setting. Her role here – the heiress trying to adjust to life in the ’burbs – is more interesting than what was happening with her at the time on “Dallas,” where Lucy was romancing Alan Beam just to spite J.R.

Charlene Tilton strikes the perfect balance in “Home is For Healing,” making us see Lucy as a young woman who still carries around the heart her parents broke when she was a little girl. Tilton makes Lucy seem vulnerable without being childish. It’s a great performance.

“Home is For Healing” also gets a big lift from Ted Shackelford, who brings brings a lot of heart to the scene where Gary owns up to his failures as a father.

This happens at the end of the episode, when Gary interrupts Val and Lucy’s stroll along the beach. In the midst of Gary’s big speech, he becomes tongue-tied and bows his head, as if he can’t find the words to convey his guilt and regret. In the episode’s DVD commentary, Shackelford laughs at this moment and says he paused because he couldn’t remember his next line. Whatever the reason, it works well because it makes us sympathetic toward Gary and eager to forgive him for his mistakes.

I also love when Lucy agrees to spend the rest of the week in Knots Landing and Gary invites her to run with him and Val in the ocean. Lucy is sweetly reticent – this North Texas landlubber fears the water will be too cold – but Gary doesn’t relent. “Come on, honey,” he says.

We know what Gary is really asking is for his daughter to give him and Val another chance to be parents, which is why it’s so moving when Lucy finally takes his hand and the three of them go frolicking through the surf. It’s a lovely ending to a lovely hour of television.

Grade: A


Charlene Tilton, Constance McCashin, Dallas, Home is For Healing, Knots Landing, Laura Avery, Lucy Ewing

Hi, neighbor


“Knots Landing” Season 1, Episode 6

Airdate: January 31, 1980

Audience: 15.5 million homes, ranking 38th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Roger Young

Synopsis: When Lucy learns Gary and Val have remarried, Val persuades her to come to Knots Landing for a visit. Lucy and Val grow close, but Gary struggles to connect with his daughter. She decides to go home and Val agrees to accompany her, but Gary persuades Lucy to stay for the rest of the week.

Cast: Robert Brian Berger (Charlie), Tricia Boyer (Jill), Joseph Butcher (Terry), Breck Costin (Curt), James Houghton (Kenny Ward), Kim Lankford (Ginger Ward), Michele Lee (Karen Fairgate), Claudia Lonow (Diana Fairgate), Constance McCashin (Laura Avery), Christopher Murray (Les), Don Murray (Sid Fairgate), John Pleshette (Richard Avery), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Louise Vallance (Sylvie), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing)

“Home is For Healing” is available on DVD. Watch the episode and share your comments below.