The Art of Dallas: ‘Little Boy Lost’

With Dusty (Jared Martin) watching, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) attends a preliminary custody hearing for John Ross in this 1981 publicity shot from “Little Boy Lost,” a fifth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘She Was Kristin’

The survivor

The survivor

In “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “Gone But Not Forgotten,” after the Farlow limousine parks in the Southern Cross ranch’s driveway, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) exits and walks away, followed closely by Dusty (Jared Martin).

DUSTY: Sue Ellen?

SUE ELLEN: Kristin is dead. I knew it but it didn’t hit me until right now.

DUSTY: I know darling.

SUE ELLEN: That beautiful young girl is gone. My sister. We didn’t play together very much when we were growing up. She always made fun of my boyfriends. And then when she went to high school, she was no longer “Sue Ellen’s little sister.” She was Kristin. She had an identity. She was real smart. She could have been anything that she wanted to be.

DUSTY: What happened?

SUE ELLEN: [Pauses, faces him] Mama is what happened. Mama wanted us girls to have everything that she wanted but couldn’t get by herself. We were like little dolls, created to fulfill all the things that she wanted. She wanted wealth and position and decided that we could get it for her. Maybe that’s why Kristin turned to drugs. Because she failed to live up to the goals that Mama had created for her. Maybe that’s why I had a problem with alcohol.

DUSTY: What about your father? Didn’t he have any say in how you were brought up?

SUE ELLEN: Daddy? The only thing I remember about my daddy was the smell of liquor on his breath. He left us right after Kristin was born. And I guess it was about a year later Mama got a letter saying he was dead.

DUSTY: Well, I think I had better go to that funeral with you.

SUE ELLEN: No, John Ross and I can go to Albuquerque. I don’t think I can explain you to Mama. [Smiling] Not quite yet, anyway. [They kiss.]

DUSTY: I think you had better leave John Ross here at the ranch with me.

SUE ELLEN: No, he’ll be all right. My mama hasn’t seen him since he was a little baby anyway.

DUSTY: [Touching her face] You ready to go in now?

SUE ELLEN: Yes.

She kisses his hand and they walk toward the house.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 79 – ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’

Foiled again!

Foiled again!

At the end of “Gone But Not Forgotten,” Sue Ellen and John Ross are gliding cheerfully through a Love Field airport terminal when they’re suddenly approached by two of J.R.’s goons. While one man distracts Sue Ellen, the other snatches the child. Is this the end of our heroine’s bid for happiness?

No, because seconds later, Dusty Farlow and a trio of white-hatted cowboys swarm the thug clutching John Ross. “Give us the boy,” Dusty says, and even though he’s using crutches to stand, there’s no doubt he means business. As Sue Ellen and John Ross are reunited, J.R., who’s been watching the whole thing from a mezzanine, fumes.

Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Jared Martin are terrific here, but the real star is Bruce Broughton, whose score lets us know exactly what we should be feeling as we watch Dusty come to Sue Ellen’s rescue. I especially love how the music swells when director Leonard Katzman zooms in on J.R. the moment his scheme is foiled.

But as much as I like this sequence, the highlight of “Gone But Not Forgotten” comes at the end of the first act, when Katzman pans his camera across John Ross’s darkened Southfork nursery and stops at the doorway. The character we expect to see standing there is Pam, who has been using the boy’s absence as the means to express her dashed dreams of having children, but instead we find J.R. looking around the room in silence.

It’s impossible to watch this scene and not be reminded of the third-season episode “Paternity Suit,” when J.R. walks into the nursery and picks up John Ross for the first time. As joyous as that moment was, this one is very sad. Once again, Broughton’s music is instructive: His piano score shifts to a few bars of the “Dallas” theme when the camera reaches J.R.

For the audience, the “Gone But Not Forgotten” nursery scene is also useful. Hagman’s sad eyes let us know John Ross isn’t just a pawn in J.R.’s war with Sue Ellen. J.R. genuinely loves the boy, and it’s hard to not feel bad for a dad who misses his son – even when that father is J.R. Ewing.

Grade: A

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Her hero

Her hero

‘GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN’

Season 5, Episode 2

Airdate: October 16, 1981

Audience: 23.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: J.R. is cleared in Kristin’s death and hires a new secretary: Sly. Dusty foils J.R.’s scheme to snatch John Ross from Sue Ellen. Pam’s preoccupation with having children worries Bobby. Afton breaks up with Cliff.

Cast: Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Raleigh Bond (pathologist), James L. Brown (Harry McSween), Barry Corbin (Sherriff Fenton Washburn), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Bruce French (Jerry Macon), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Heather Lowe (Heather), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Bill Morey (judge), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Herbert Rudley (Howard Barker), Lane Smith (prosecutor), William Smithers (Jeremy Wendell), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Gone But Not Forgotten” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Art of Dallas: ‘Lover, Come Back’

Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) finds Dusty (Jared Martin) again in this 1981 publicity shot from “Lover, Come Back,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Goodbye, My Darling’

Farewell, my lovely

Farewell, my lovely

In “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “Lover, Come Back,” Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is preparing to leave Dusty (Jared Martin) for the evening.

SUE ELLEN: I have to get to Southfork, darling, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning. [She kisses him and begins walking away.]

DUSTY: No, Sue Ellen. Don’t come back. Ever.

SUE ELLEN: [She turns back toward him.] I have to. I couldn’t stand to lose you again.

DUSTY: You have lost me, Sue Ellen. You’re pretending we are as we used to be. We’re not.

SUE ELLEN: [She stands behind him, leans down and puts her arms around him.] But we love each other. That hasn’t changed.

DUSTY: The only thing we have left is a memory of how we were. And that was perfect. But I’d rather remember it like that than to be together now and have it die.

SUE ELLEN: [Moves around to face him, kneels down] But I won’t let it die.

DUSTY: I know you wouldn’t, Sue Ellen. You wouldn’t want to. You look at me now, you see me the way I used to be, and nothing else matters.

SUE ELLEN: And it never will.

DUSTY: Sue Ellen, someday it will. Not now, not a month from now, not a year, maybe even more than that, but someday you’re gonna walk in that door and you’ll see me – not as you want to see me, but as I really am. And then you’re going to realize that you’re married to a man who can’t walk again, who’s never going to make love again.

SUE ELLEN: [Crying] No, no.

DUSTY: And I’ll see it in your eyes. And you’ll cover it up, pretend that nothing has changed, but I’ll know. And that’s going to destroy me.

SUE ELLEN: No, I’d never hurt you. Dusty, I love you.

DUSTY: I love you. That’s the only thing I have left. If I didn’t know that, I might as well not have survived that plane crash. But if you really love me, don’t make me see myself in your eyes every day. Let me have my memories of you, and my dreams of you. Love me enough to do that.

SUE ELLEN: [Sobbing] You’ll never know how much I love you. Never. [They kiss.] Goodbye, my darling. [She rises, exits the room] Goodbye.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 70 – ‘Lover, Come Back’

Tracks of her tears

Tracks of her tears

“Lover, Come Back” is an episode about reunions. Sue Ellen discovers Dusty is alive and rushes to his side, Ray and Donna get back together and J.R. returns to the cartel. All three stories require a healthier-than-usual suspension of disbelief.

Dusty’s return is the most fantastical, of course. At the end of “Dallas’s” third season, Sue Ellen learned Dusty died in a plane crash. In “Lover, Come Back,” after some Nancy Drew-style sleuthing, Sue Ellen finds out Dusty survived the accident but is now confined to a wheelchair; the body found in the wreckage belonged to one of his ranch hands.

Today’s audiences might find the character’s return from the dead clichéd, but Linda Gray brings so much conviction to Sue Ellen’s weepy reunion with Dusty – and charismatic Jared Martin is such a welcome presence on “Dallas” – I’m willing to overlook it.

Both actors are especially wonderful in the episode’s touching final scene, when Dusty sends Sue Ellen away because he believes he can’t make her happy as long as he’s paralyzed. Everything here works, particularly scriptwriter Leonard Katzman’s beautiful dialogue (“Don’t make me see myself every day in your eyes.”) and Martin’s stoic delivery. This is good old-fashioned soap opera, right down to the tight close-up of Gray’s tear-streaked face.

Surprisingly, the reunion of Ray and Donna, who are usually “Dallas’s” most down-to-earth couple, feels less credible. In “Lover, Come Back,” he asks her to persuade Miss Ellie to drop her fight against the Takapa development. Donna gets righteous, Ray gets angry, their argument turns passionate and the next thing you know, she is waking up to his marriage proposal, which she accepts on the spot. How efficient!

But the real eye roller comes when J.R. summons the cartel members to his office, just as Hank phones to announce the Asian coup succeeded and the nationalized oil wells will be returned to their rightful owners. The cartel members are gleeful – J.R. even gets a kiss from Marilee, who sued the Ewings at the beginning of the season because she blamed J.R. for her husband’s suicide – and Leslie later compliments him on a job well done.

“I do have my moments, don’t I?” he responds.

Yes, J.R., you do. But this isn’t one of them.

Grade: B

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Together again

Together again

‘LOVER, COME BACK’

Season 4, Episode 16

Airdate: February 20, 1981

Audience: 27.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leonard Katzman

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Sue Ellen learns Dusty is alive but he doesn’t want her back because he’s paralyzed. Ray and Donna get engaged. J.R. is welcomed back into the cartel when the Asian coup succeeds and the oil wells are “denationalized.”

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Len Birman (Claude Brown), Claudia Bryar (cleaning lady), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ron Hayes (Hank Johnson), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherrill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Martin West (Phil McKenna), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Lover, Come Back” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 37 – ‘Rodeo’

Dallas, Dusty Farlow, Jared Martin, Rodeo

Those eyes

Rodeos pit man against beast and on “Dallas,” no one is more beastly than J.R. In “Rodeo,” Sue Ellen, having failed to tame her savage husband, considers climbing in the saddle with a man who seems far less brutish: Dusty Farlow.

Sue Ellen meets the dashing cowboy when she enters a Braddock café with an armful of packages and accidentally bumps into him. Dusty’s first words – “Let me help you, ma’am” – are prophetic, letting us know he’s a different creature than J.R. The attraction between Sue Ellen and Dusty is instant.

Their brief conversation at the café continues the next day at the Ewings’ annual rodeo, where Dusty is the star competitor. Sue Ellen tells him about her loneliness; he tells her about his nomadic life on the rodeo circuit. They realize they have more in common than either might have guessed.

Linda Gray and Jared Martin have an undeniable chemistry, although let’s be honest: It would be hard for any actress to not have chemistry with him. With his lean frame, passionate delivery and come-hither eyes, Martin exudes sensuality.

Together, Gray and Martin make “Rodeo” a third-season highlight and one of my favorite “Dallas” episodes. I also like Leonard Katzman’s direction, which captures the rhythms of a real-life rodeo. Katzman constantly ducks and dives, cutting between the action in the arena and the drama unfolding in the crowd.

Toward the end of the episode, Dusty tells Sue Ellen he doesn’t need the prize money he’s poised to take home but wants it anyway. “The competition,” he says, “that’s not the important thing – it’s winning.”

The line evokes memories of the second-season episode “For Love or Money,” when Cliff compares his affair with Sue Ellen to a game. We remember how Sue Ellen was hurt the last time she sought love with another man.

In “Rodeo’s” closing moments, J.R., fed up with Sue Ellen’s public flirtation with Dusty, yanks her into their bedroom. She slaps him and he throws her onto the bed – and we’re reminded of another second-season scene: the disturbing climax in “Black Market Baby,” when J.R. forces himself on his unhappy wife.

In that episode, Sue Ellen submits to J.R. This time, she bucks him off.

“I’ve wasted more than enough time on you,” J.R. sneers before leaving.

In “Rodeo’s” final shot, Katzman freezes the frame on Sue Ellen, lying on her bed, while Jock’s voice is heard over the loudspeaker outside, announcing Dusty has won the award for best all-around cowboy.

But is he the best man for Sue Ellen?

Grade: A

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Dallas, Rodeo

Eight-second ride

‘RODEO’

Season 3, Episode 8

Airdate: November 9, 1979

Audience: 17 million homes, ranking 15th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: The Ewings host their annual rodeo at Southfork, where Sue Ellen arouses J.R. jealousies by flirting with cowboy Dusty Farlow. Meanwhile, J.R. stages a fight with Alan, who impresses Lucy; Digger drops by to see Jock and Miss Ellie’s grandson; and Ray learns Donna’s husband is dying.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Randolph Powell (Alan Beam), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Keenan Wynn (Digger Barnes)

“Rodeo” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.