The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 3

“Dallas’s” third and final season was a thrill ride, even if our beloved Larry Hagman wasn’t around to take the trip with us. Here’s a look back at the highs and lows.

Performances

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Rising son

Josh Henderson was a revelation this year. As John Ross struggled to follow J.R.’s boot steps, he kept getting sidetracked by his own demons — and Henderson was outstanding at every turn. His performances were sometimes sly, sometimes sensitive and always superb. I was less enthralled with the other “J.R.”: Judith Ryland, a.k.a. Judith Light, who was moving during the hostage crisis but cartoonish most of the rest of the time (“Let’s go make us a drug deal.”).

Storylines

Ewing Global’s rocky road to its initial public offering was a modern take on classic “Dallas” wheeling and dealing. It included the dramatic boardroom showdown where Sue Ellen voted against John Ross’s plan; John Ross and Pamela’s trip to Las Vegas, where he gambled away J.R.’s wristwatch to prove his mettle to the sheik; and finally the frenzied day of the IPO, when Hunter McKay swooped in and turned the tables on John Ross — much like Hunter’s granddaddy Carter once did to J.R. Even Wolf Blitzer showed up to report on the Ewings’ doings. The worst storyline? Nope, not the drug cartel, which ended up being better than expected, but all the silliness involving the brothel, including the eye-rolling revelation that Judith is a madam.

Episodes

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Direct hit

The achingly poignant “Hurt,” written by Aaron Allen and directed by Patrick Duffy, dared to challenge the audience to stop sentimentalizing J.R. This was an actors’ episode, beginning with the theatrical scene where Elena exposed Bobby’s scheme to frame Cliff. No whiplash-inducing plot twists here; just solid Ewing family drama. There was also a lot to like about the “Lifting the Veil” wedding episode. Unfortunately, much of it was cut to make room for those bonkers brothel scenes.

Scenes

John Ross and Sue Ellen’s kitchen confrontation was the season’s emotional high point. It began with her standing at the counter, sloshing a drink, no longer denying her fall from the wagon. Into the room stormed John Ross, furious over his mother’s boardroom betrayal and still very much in denial about his addiction to power. The chills-inducing climax: He slams down his hand and screams, “I am not my father!” Maybe not, but this scene showed Henderson could light up our screens just like Hagman. Best scene runner-up: The unbearably tense moment when Ann, Harris and Judith hear Luis fire a shot after holding a gun to Emma’s head. The worst scene involved a corrupt politician, a hooker and a dog costume. Need I say more?

Twists

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Bug off

Sue Ellen gives a bottle of J.R. Ewing Bourbon to Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber, who was always a welcome guest on this show), but the smug jerk refuses to help her stop John Ross’s Southfork drilling scheme. Later, the guv pours from the bottle while plotting with a corrupt crony to cover up a scandal — unaware that Sue Ellen and Bobby are in a van outside, recording their conversation. How? Because Sue Ellen bugged the bottle! Oh, how I wish Linda Gray had been given more scenes like this.

Cliffhangers

Worst first: Christopher’s death. Jesse Metcalfe’s alter ego went out like a chump by protecting Elena, an increasingly exasperating character who brought Nicolas and the drug cartel into the Ewings’ lives and threatened to send Bobby to prison. (Jordana Brewster, however, was fantastic when Elena saw the car blow up.) I have no doubt Christopher’s murder would’ve opened dramatic new storylines for the show, but since we’ve been denied a fourth season, I can’t help but feel like a “Dallas” legacy character was killed off for no good reason. The best cliffhanger: The doomed three-way between John Ross, Pamela and Emma was sexy and provocative, although the resolution — learning Pamela overdosed to teach her cheating husband and his mistress a lesson — was bananas.

Villains

Dallas, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, TNT

Guess who?

Mitch Pileggi has always been one of “Dallas’s” best actors, but his performances this year were more complex than ever. Was Harris really working for the CIA, or was he merely out to get Judith? Did he mean it when he told Ann he loved her, or was he just messing with her head? Pileggi kept us guessing all season long — just like a certain Machiavellian character from an earlier era of “Dallas.” Runner-up: Emma Bell’s Emma, who had me throwing things at my TV one moment and reaching for the Kleenex the next.

Supporting Players

Here we have an embarrassment of riches. I loved Antonio Jaramillo, who was frightening and fascinating as cartel general Luis; Kevin Page, who turned sweet-natured Bum into John Ross’s unlikely conscience; and Donny Boaz, who made down-on-his-luck ranch hand Bo McCabe the closest thing this show had to a modern version of Ray Krebbs. But no performance touched me like Marlene Forte, who was heartbreaking in “Dead Reckoning,” the haunting episode in which Carmen learned Drew was dead. Honorable mention: Cynthia Jackson, who played Nurse Harlan, the no-nonsense nightingale who tangled with John Ross in the hospital (“Plant your ass over there in those seats before I plant it for you”).

Newcomers

Smiling cobra

Killer smile

Juan Pablo Di Pace was sinister and seductive as Nicolas Treviño, who changed the Ewings’ lives forever the day he waltzed into their boardroom and declared himself Cliff’s proxy. Now that he has Christopher’s blood on his hands, Nicolas will be remembered as the Ewings’ most dangerous foe since Katherine ran over Bobby. Honorable mention: AnnaLynne McCord, whose Heather McCabe — a working-class single mom who wanted to do right by her son — was refreshingly free of secret identities and hidden agendas.

Returning Favorites

Two “Dallas” vets earn a spot in the “best” column: Audrey Landers, who was a hoot when Afton showed up at John Ross and Pamela’s wedding, smacked the groom upside his head and sparred with Sue Ellen; and Ken Kercheval, who was downright tragic in the scene where Pamela refused to get Cliff out of jail. You could always count on Landers and Kercheval to make the most of their “Dallas” guest spots; what a shame they never had a scene together. My other old favorite: the return of “Dallas’s” retro-style split-screen opening credits. What took so long?

Costumes

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Stylin’

Highlighting just one of costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s creations is tough, but if forced to choose, I’ll go with Pamela’s black-and-white dress, which looked striking on Julie Gonazalo. The dress also highlighted the link between Pamela and Sue Ellen, who wore a lot of black and white on the original show. No costume deserves a spot in the “worst” column, although now that I know how much effort went into choosing the jewelry for J.R.’s daughter’s debut, I sure wish that scene hadn’t been left on the cutting room floor.

Music

Johnny Cash returned to “Dallas” for the first time since Season 1 with his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” which played during the powerful sequence where Bobby destroys his den after J.R.’s masterpiece unravels. Can you watch this scene without getting chills? Other highlights: Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss Me,” which was heard when John Ross and Pamela were making love on their honeymoon while lonely Emma was crying herself to sleep; The Doors’ “Break On Through,” an ideal choice for the diaphragm puncturing/threeway/Southfork fire montage; and Eric Church’s “Devil, Devil,” the song that played when Nicolas’s henchman killed Luis and El Pozolero. And who didn’t love Henderson’s “I See You” during John Ross’s breakdown in the elevator during the season finale?

Props

Best & Worst of TNT's Dallas - Season 3 7 copy

Good to the last drop

Best: The J.R. Ewing Bourbon bottles, which popped up throughout the season, including the last scene, when John Ross toasts his dearly departed daddy in the back of the limousine. I also got a kick out of seeing Henderson sport replicas of some of Hagman’s signature accessories, even if it looked like that J.R. belt buckle was wearing John Ross instead of the other way around. My least favorite prop: Candace’s severed hands. Good grief. Were those things purchased in the Halloween aisle at Kmart?

Quips

It’s always tough to choose a favorite in this category, and this year is no exception. Contenders include Judith’s J.R.-like analogy (“Money and morality are like two cars on a one-lane road. When they meet, morality’s going to end up in the ditch.”), John Ross’s apt description of his family (“We’re slow, but we do figure things out.”), and Sue Ellen’s memorable put-down of a longtime rival (“Just so you know, Afton, the most despicable thing J.R. ever did was you.”). But nothing tops Miss Texas’s memorable schooling of Emma at the wedding: “Has anyone ever told you about my sister Kristin? She was a lot like you. She ended up face down in the pool.” It’s a shame this line was cut from the episode, but at least TNT had the good sense to turn it into a promo.

Hashtags

#OhNoNotChristopher

#ChristopherRIP

If you didn’t watch “Dallas” while simultaneously tweeting about it, you missed half the fun. The year in hashtags: #Aftershave #BeachBoys #BeMyProxyNicolas #CafeConLechePorFavor #DefineTheRelationship #GoFrackYourself #GoodBlackmailNeverSours #GraspingSuccubus #IceBreakingShips #JusticeNotRevenge #LesserPrairieChicken #MamaLike #MillerLight #MobyDick #Mole #Pozole #SeismicSuperstar #Sprinkles #StupidPills #Supermajority #SurfaceRights #WhoWoreItBetter #WhichEwingDies #YouSmellLikeMyWife #RenewDallasTNT #SaveDallas #DallasForever

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

‘Dallas’s’ Third and Final Season Comes to DVD on January 13

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Harris Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, Josh Ross Ewing, Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Mitch Pileggi, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

III

Mark your calendars: The third and final season of TNT’s “Dallas” will come to DVD on Tuesday, January 13.

The three-disc set will contain all 15 episodes, along with never-before-aired scenes. The recommended sale price is $39.98

You can pre-order the set from WBshop.com, the online retail arm of Warner Bros., the studio that produced “Dallas,” as well as Amazon.

Which deleted scenes would you like to see on the “Dallas: The Complete Third Season” DVD set? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

Tonight on #DallasChat: ‘The Best and Worst of Season 3’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Gone but not forgotten

You’re invited to Dallas Decoder’s next #DallasChat on Twitter, which I’ll hold Monday, September 29, from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern time.

Now that another year of “Dallas” has concluded, our theme will be: “The Best and Worst of Season 3.”

If you have ideas for questions, leave them in the comments section below, tweet them to me @DallasDecoder or post them to my Facebook page. I may choose one or more questions and ask them during our discussion.

New to #DallasChat? Here’s how it works: For one hour, I tweet 10 questions to my fellow “Dallas” fans. Each question is numbered and includes the hashtag #DallasChat, so your answers should do the same. Please include the show’s official hashtag, #DallasTNT, in your tweets too.

Here’s a sample exchange:

Q1. Who was your favorite character on #DallasTNT this season? #DallasChat

A1. Christopher. I loved his storyline with Heather. I’m going to miss him. #DallasTNT #DallasChat

Two tips:

• During the discussion, enter #DallasChat in Twitter’s search field. This will help you watch the search results so you can follow the conversation. Click “All” to see all the related tweets.

• Be sure to include #DallasChat in your tweets. This allows the other participants to see your contributions to the conversation.

This promises to be a fun discussion. I look forward to seeing you tonight!

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 40 — ‘Brave New World’

Brave New World, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Going down

Throughout “Dallas’s” third season, John Ross strives to honor J.R. without becoming him. He wears Daddy’s wristwatch and belt buckle and embarks on one ambitious scheme after another, hoping to emulate J.R.’s business successes without repeating his personal failures. Nothing goes according to plan, of course, and by the end of the season’s final hour, “Brave New World,” John Ross has lost his company, his wife and his family’s goodwill. In a climactic scene, the young man who was so eager to be a better man than J.R. — the son who previously slammed his hand on Sue Ellen’s kitchen counter and insisted he wasn’t his father — stands before her and Uncle Bobby and repeats this assertion, this time with a caveat. “I’m not just like my father,” John Ross says. “I’m worse.”

Chilling? Yes, but also poignant. The truth is, John Ross isn’t worse than J.R. Not by a long shot. John Ross is more heroic than his father, as we see at the beginning of “Brave New World,” when he defeats the drug cartel and tries to avenge Emma’s rape by nearly killing Luis. John Ross is also much more emotional than J.R., which we witness during this episode’s elevator scene, when — having lost it all — he collapses in tears and listens to an old voice mail in which J.R. says he’s proud of him. How could anyone this sensitive be worse than J.R.? Maybe the setbacks John Ross experienced this season will harden him and make him as cruel and as calculating as his father, but he’s not there yet.

Regardless of how bad John Ross becomes, there’s no denying how good Josh Henderson is at articulating his character’s complexities. Henderson allows us to feel John Ross’s vein-popping rage in “Brave New World’s” opening scene, when John Ross slams Luis to the floor, digs a gun barrel into his face and screams, “You regret what you did to her now? Huh?” Henderson offers a different kind of anger in the scene with Bobby and Sue Ellen, when he doesn’t deliver the “I’m worse” line as much as he growls it. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the elevator scene, which is moving not just because we hear Larry Hagman’s voice, but also because we see Henderson’s tears. (By the way: J.R.’s voice mail comes from a phone conversation between him and John Ross in the first-season episode “The Price You Pay,” and the song that plays when John Ross begins weeping was written and performed by Henderson. Is there anything he can’t do?)

If John Ross’s elevator breakdown supplies “Brave New World” with its emotional high point, what is there to say about Christopher’s death at the end of the episode? Even though TNT’s promos warned us a Ewing would die, this is still a shocking moment. Much of the credit goes to Jordana Brewster, whose anguish is palpable when Elena sees Christopher’s car blow up with him inside. (And yes, that is supposed to be Christopher, even though we don’t actually see Jesse Metcalfe get behind the wheel.) Nevertheless, this doesn’t feel like the blaze-of-glory exit the heroic Christopher deserves. Is the audience supposed to admire him for dying while helping Elena? Sorry, but I can’t fathom why he remains so devoted to her after all the terrible choices she’s made. I recognize killing off Metcalfe opens lots of new storytelling avenues for this series, but I can’t help but wish Elena had been the one to blow up instead.

Christopher’s death puts a grisly punctuation mark on this season’s better-than-expected drug cartel storyline. There’s also a nifty musical montage in which the braided henchman Jacobo kills Luis and El Pozolero in their jail cell before a cane-wielding Nicolas is revealed as the mastermind behind the murders. (The cool song that powers this sequence: Eric Church’s “Devil, Devil.”) Other highlights include Mitch Pileggi’s beautiful performance when Harris professes his love for Ann, as well as Elena and Nicolas’s dramatic showdown, although I wish she hadn’t shot him. Now virtually every leading lady on this show has plugged someone. Likewise, I could do without Judith Light’s mugging when John Ross tells Bobby and Sue Ellen he’s worse than J.R. — a scene that should’ve been reserved for Ewings only. (And isn’t it funny how the elevator doors open and reveal Judith at the precise moment John Ross announces she’s the new railroad commissioner?)

Criticisms aside, “Brave New World,” which comes from scriptwriter Robert Rovner and director Steve Robin, brings the third season to a satisfying conclusion and resets the table for “Dallas’s” fourth year — and TNT willing, there’ll be one. The scene where Bobby and Sue Ellen foil Pamela’s plan to reclaim Ewing Global is heartening because it suggests the Barnes/Ewing feud isn’t over, despite what Pamela told Cliff a few episodes ago. I especially like how Pamela accuses her in-laws of screwing her over like Jock cheated Digger. (Is she wrong?) The other promising development: the addition of Tracey McKay to the Bobby/Ann/Harris triangle — especially if it means Tracey and Harris will join forces against the newly reconciled couple.

“Dallas’s” most intriguing new storyline, of course, is John Ross’s discovery that J.R. has a secret daughter. Like all “Dallas” fans, I have lots of questions about this one, beginning with the obvious: Who’s the mama? I figured the young woman would turn out to be the product of J.R.’s marriage to Cally, although executive producer Cynthia Cidre tells Dallas Decoder the daughter’s mother is dead. (Cally is still alive in this “Dallas” universe, or at least she was when she showed up at J.R.’s funeral last season.) Will the mother turn out to be J.R.’s longtime secretary Sly, who slept with him shortly before he fired her at the end of the original series? What if Kristin Shepard didn’t suffer a miscarriage after J.R. impregnated her in 1980? Could the daughter be the product of J.R.’s romp with Katherine Wentworth, who may or may not be lurking around somewhere? The mind reels.

More questions: How is John Ross going to use the existence of a half-sister to his advantage? You might think someone like him wouldn’t want other siblings hanging around, especially if there’s a possibility they could stake a claim on his inheritance. On the other hand, he must have something up his sleeve. How else to explain his toast to J.R. and his “Thank you, Daddy” line in the final shot? (Is this a nod to the classic scene where J.R. gazes at the heavens and thanks Jock after sneaking a peek at his will?) There’s also the question of where John Ross’s sister will fit into “Dallas’s” romantic sphere. If she likes guys, she doesn’t have a lot of options among the show’s main cast members, does she? If, however, she likes gals, there are a few tantalizing possibilities. This could be fertile new storytelling terrain for “Dallas,” although I’m not sure the show would want to go that route after the uproar over John Ross, Pamela and Emma’s threesome this year.

Then again, maybe that’s all the more reason to do it.

Grade: B

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Brave New World, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Hot wheel

‘BRAVE NEW WORLD’

Season 3, Episode 15

Telecast: September 22, 2014

Audience: 1.72 million viewers on September 22

Writer: Robert Rovner

Director: Steve Robin

Synopsis: John Ross’s commandos rescue him and the Mexican police arrest El Pozolero and Luis, who are later murdered in their jail cells by Nicolas’s henchman. When the government seizes the cartel’s Ewing Global assets, Pamela plans to buy them back, but Bobby and Sue Ellen beat her to the punch, infuriating both John Ross and Pamela. Bobby and Ann reconcile, but she becomes alarmed when she finds him comforting a grieving Tracey. Elena realizes Nicolas is responsible for Drew’s death and shoots Nicolas in a fit of anger, but he escapes. John Ross walks in on Pamela and Nasir in bed and later forms an alliance with Judith, who returns Candace’s blue dress to him, replaces Bobby on the railroad commission, and gets her hands on Harris’s tape of her drug deals. Emma gives one of Harris’s secret files to John Ross, who discovers J.R. has a daughter and tells Bum to find her. Elena learns she’s pregnant and is getting ready to leave a gas station when a car bomb planted by another one of Nicolas’s henchmen goes off, killing Christopher.

Cast: Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Melinda Clarke (Tracey McKay), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Akari Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Antonio Jaramillo (Luis), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Pete Partida (Jacobo), Gino Anthony Pesi (George Tatangelo), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Carlos Sandoval (El Pozolero), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Mikal Vega (Walter)

“Brave New World” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Cynthia Cidre

Cynthia Cidre, Dallas, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Cynthia Cidre

Spoiler alert! “Dallas” fans are still reeling from this week’s season finale, in which Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) was killed when his car blew up and John Ross (Josh Henderson) learned J.R. has a secret daughter. I spoke with executive producer Cynthia Cidre about the cliffhangers — and what fans will see if “Dallas” returns next year.

Is Christopher really dead?

Yes. Believe me, we thought about teasing that: Did he die? Did he not die? And then, because I knew he was going to be dead for sure, I just felt dirty about doing that. It didn’t feel honest. So I thought the explosion was pretty big, and pretty definite — although I’m told all the blogs are saying he’s not really dead.

Yeah, the readers on my site are filling up the comments section with all kinds of theories.

That’s fun. I’ve got to read that.

But why kill a Ewing?

Well, we aim to surprise everybody — always. We like doing what you don’t see coming at the end of every season. I thought we did that well in Season 1, when we found out Rebecca was Pamela Barnes, and then we had Season 2 end with Elena finding out J.R. cheated her father. We always want to do the unexpected. And what would people expect less than if you actually killed off one of your main characters?

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Endgame, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Swan song

Why Christopher?

If you really think about it, there were really only two options. I couldn’t kill Sue Ellen or Bobby because somebody might kill me. I couldn’t kill John Ross because the show is really on Josh’s shoulders since Larry [Hagman] died. That left Ann and Christopher. Whose death would have the bigger impact? It would be Christopher’s.

Was there a lot of debate in the writers’ room?

We pitched it back and forth for months and months: “Are we doing it? Can we do it? Are we insane? This will drive the fan nuts. They’ll want to watch the next season to see what happens. No, we can’t do it. Yes, we can. No, we can’t.” And by the way, it costs a lot of money, so we had to get permission from the studio and the network. Finally, when the money came through, Mike [Robin, a “Dallas” executive producer and director] and I looked at each other and said, “Oh, my God. I guess we’re really doing it.”

When was the scene filmed?

Only about three weeks ago. That we kept it secret is more incredible. At a certain point, only the writers and Mike knew, and then it became the studio, and then it became the network. Every time it went to someone else, I would freak and think, “How are you going to keep this secret?” Then we had to budget it and schedule it, and that involved a whole other film crew because our crew was not working. So we used the crew for “Major Crimes.”

You kept it in the TNT family.

They didn’t know what they were shooting. They knew there was going to be an explosion, but they had no idea what show, what character. And then when Jordana [Brewster] showed up on set, they realized, “Oh my God, we’re shooting the finale for ‘Dallas.’” We talked to them afterwards and said, “Guys, you’re so great to do this. You showed up on a Saturday. Thank you for your time. Please, please, please keep this to yourselves.”

Jesse Metcalfe gave a nice statement to Entertainment Weekly. What was Jordana’s reaction to the news?

I only told her the night before we shot it. She was shocked. At first she thought we were killing her because we wouldn’t tell her what we were shooting. So I finally told her, “Just rest easy. We’re not killing you, okay?”

It was a big twist, which is why I’m sorry it aired on such a tough night. What’s your reaction to the ratings?

Well, we held our own, which is insane since seven other shows premiered that day. There was “The Blacklist,” there was “The Voice,” there was “Monday Night Football.” Literally, I’m stunned. But we’re a DVR darling. Every episode this summer has gone up [significantly in viewers through DVR playback]. All I can do is make a show we’re proud of and hope the diehard fans show up.

Dallas, Bobby Ewing, Brave New World, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Brave new world

You’re still waiting to hear whether you’ll be renewed for a fourth year, but as you said the other day, you’ve already started writing next season’s storylines. So how’s Bobby going to cope with his son’s death?

I just finished the first [episode] outline and it’s all about him. How’s he dealing with this? He has a pretty good idea who did it, even though there’s absolutely no proof. And Nicolas is in Mexico, so he can’t get to him. So you’re going to see a slightly different Bobby than you’ve seen before. He’s extraordinarily angry and vengeful, he’s extraordinarily hurt — and he’s refusing to express his hurt.

What about the rest of the family?

It affects everybody. Elena’s guilt goes without saying. She feels like her hands are dirty. There’s going to be a tortured relationship between her and Bobby. Believe me, this will be the emotional core of the show. The other thing that will be at the core of it is John Ross’s sister.

Yes, let’s talk about her. What can you say?

I can tell you that although J.R. has many spawns around town — if not around the world — this girl is different and special, and there’s a reason for that. That’s going to be the surprise that I hope will make your head spin.

You’re killing me here.

We had originally filmed the scene of John Ross finding her as an alternate ending because we didn’t know if we were going to get the money to blow up the car. But because we hadn’t cast the actress, all you were going to see was [the character’s] hand, and it was a great hand. It had bitten cuticles and some chipped nails and a bunch of bracelets. It was in a very exotic location. And we shot it, and it worked, but we thought because we’re going to move forward six months [when the new season opens], it would be better if John Ross finds her then. Because what the heck is he doing with her for six months?

So who’s this character’s mother?

It was a woman. [Laughs]

That’s good to know!

She’s passed away, so we’re not going to meet her. If I tell you that, then I would be spoiling something that I think would be a lot of fun — which, by the way, has been a pitch in our writers’ room for three years. We have something called the “duck pond,” where we throw up crazy ideas. And finally, that one looked good to us this year, so we’re employing it.

Will we see more old favorites from the original show?

Yes. There will be one who is a very, very, very popular old character. We’re excited to bring him or her back.

Wait, what? You’re not going to tell me if it’s a him or a her?

[Laughs] Okay, it’s a her. We’re looking forward to that storyline. It’ll be a lot of fun.

What about Cliff Barnes? Will Ken Kercheval be back?

Maybe. We’ve used him extensively for three seasons, but he’s in jail. We decided to leave him in jail, and so that kind of hurt us a little bit. There’s not a lot he can do from there. But there are some pitches about that also.

What about this business of adding a wing onto Southfork?

We’re doing it!

Really?

It burned! We have to add a wing. [Laughs] It’s a two-bedroom house with 15 people living in it.

But what about fans like me who consider Southfork sacred ground?

That’s why we’re going to put [the addition] in the back of the house. You won’t get to see it from the front, so the silhouette of the house will remain the same. We did not want to upset anybody. But we’ve made fun of [Southfork’s size] from the beginning.

I think that’s part of the show’s charm.

Yeah, definitely. We talk about it all the time. I mean, if you’ve ever visited that house, it’s probably 2,000 square feet, but somehow there are eight bedrooms. [Laughs]

Speaking of fans: Do you pay attention to the fan sites?

Not that much because I hate to get sucked into it. I mean, I want to hear all the good ones, and I want to hear the bad ones too. Mike Robin always leads with the good news. I lead with the bad news. That’s how I want notes from the studio. That’s how I want notes from the network. Just give me the bad news and I’ll fix it.

Brave New World, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT, Which Ewing Dies?

Listen up

Fans talk a lot about the show on social media. Do you do that?

No.

Why is that?

I don’t know. I feel like it’s passed me by — like I didn’t catch on at the beginning — and now my brain is so overloaded, unless I dump some “Gilligan’s Island” from my hard drive, I can’t learn anything new. But I know it’s very important, and thank goodness, all of our actors do it. They’re really into it, and they have a lot of followers. I also know the younger members of our writing staff do it. I just haven’t. Every time somebody tries to introduce me to it, I’m like, “No, I have so many emails I have to answer!”

But you hear what fans say. Is it hard to balance giving them what they want with pursuing your own creative vision for the show?

Maybe, because I’m not sure I always give the fans what they want. Maybe they’d like it to be more soapier than it is. I come from very dark writing. I wrote violent movies for Michael Mann and many other dark directors. That’s a place where I’m comfortable, and so I’ll often go to that place. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s probably not the best choice.

Can you give an example?

I just did it in something we were [discussing] for Season 4 about Pamela. I said, “How about she does this and this and this,” and then Robert Rovner [a “Dallas” executive producer and writer] said, “But that’s not empowering for her.” And I said, “You know what? You’re absolutely right.” I was going to a dark place for her. But I just want to work to the best of my ability, and I do want to make it delicious, and so I try never to steal that from the show.

You mentioned the “duck pond” in the writers’ room. Do I dare ask what other ideas are up there?

Most of them are goofy — and then one day they’re not goofy any more.

What I’d give to be a fly on the wall when you guys are discussing this stuff.

You have no idea. There are four comedy writers [on staff] and the things that get said inside that room — you can’t repeat them on the outside. Seriously, it’s insane. Every other day, I’m crying. We have fun. And at the end of the day, somehow the work gets done.

Share your comments below and read more interviews from Dallas Decoder.

‘Which Ewing Dies?’ It’s [Spoiler]

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Warning: This article reveals the identity of the character killed during “Dallas’s” third-season finale. Other storylines are also discussed. Scroll down to read more.

 

 

 

No, seriously, if you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

 

 

 

You’ve been warned.

 

 

As promised, TNT’s “Dallas” killed off a Ewing in its third-season finale. The victim: Christopher, who apparently perished in a car bombing. In another surprise twist, John Ross learned he has a sister — or maybe a half-sister — courtesy of J.R.

During the back-to-back episodes, Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) were rescued from the cartel, Elena (Jordana Brewster) shot and wounded Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace) after discovering he was responsible for her brother’s death, and Bobby and Ann reconciled, although she worried Tracey (Melinda Clarke) was making a play for her husband.

At the end of the second hour, Bobby and Sue Ellen (Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray) joined forces to buy back Ewing Global from the government after the feds seized the cartel’s assets. John Ross (Josh Henderson) — angry that he was shut out of Ewing Global and that Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) was cheating on him with Nasir (Pej Vahdat) — formed an alliance with Judith (Judith Ryland) and reconnected with Emma, who gave him a mysterious red file that Harris (Mitch Pileggi) had been compiling on J.R. before his death.

Meanwhile, after a more-menacing-than-ever Nicolas ordered hits on El Pozolero and Luis (Miguel Sandoval, Antonio Jaramillo), Elena was seen getting sick in a gas station bathroom, where the results of a home pregnancy test revealed she was expecting. She was on her way to join Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) in the car when it blew up — the result, apparently, of a bomb planted by one of Nicolas’s henchmen.

The final scene: John Ross was in the back of limousine, where he received a call from Bum (Kevin Page), who wanted to discuss the contents of the mysterious red file on J.R. “What do you want me to do about it?” Bum asked. John Ross’s response: “I want you to find her, Bum. I want you to find my sister.”

Dallas Decoder’s coverage of the season finale will continue throughout the week, including a special edition of #DallasChat on Tuesday, September 23, as well as full-length critiques of the season-ending episodes, “Endgame” and “Brave New World,” and much more.

What did you think of “Dallas’s” third-season finale? Share your comments below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Which Ewing Dies?” page.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 3, Week 14

Dallas, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Southfork showdown?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Endgame” and “Brave New World,” the final episodes from “Dallas’s” third season:

Will Bobby rescue Ann and Emma? In the previous episode, “Boxed In,” Bobby (Patrick Duffy) learned about the kidnapping of Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) and devised a plan to secure their release. He persuaded his fellow railroad commissioners to approve an emergency drill near the Texas-Mexico border, hoping it will distract law enforcement long enough for the Mendez-Ochoa cartel to bring a train full of drugs into the United States. Bobby went to the Mexican “kill house,” where Ann and Emma are being held, and pitched his plan to Luis (Antonio Jaramillo), who said he’d go along with the scheme. Luis then threw Bobby a curveball, telling him he could take only one hostage home. Will Bobby really be forced to choose?

What will happen when Sue Ellen meets Judith? When Bobby embarked on his plan to bring Ann and Emma home, he received support from Harris and Judith (Mitch Pileggi, Judith Ryland). The publicity photos for tonight’s episodes show the Rylands at Southfork, where it looks like Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Judith will finally come face to face. This will probably be a low-key meeting between two understated, unassuming women, don’t you think?

What will happen to Ewing Global? After Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) moved into Elena’s old cottage on Southfork, she agreed to help John Ross (Josh Henderson) do his part to help save Ann and Emma. The estranged spouses went to Las Vegas, where Pamela charmed Nasir (Pej Vahdat), the sheik’s son, and persuaded him to give her and John Ross a huge loan. John Ross and Pamela’s plan: to make the cartel an offer it can’t refuse by buying in one fell swoop all the divisions of the company the gangsters are liquidating, piece by piece. Will the plan work?

Will Christopher rescue Elena? Elena (Jordana Brewster) was stunned when Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace) confessed his connection to the cartel. Later, after Nicolas’s wife Lucia (Angélica Celaya) received the photographs her private eye snapped of Nicolas and Elena at their lakeside hideaway, Lucia agreed to tell Christopher where he’ll find her husband and Christopher’s ex-fiancée. Will Christopher arrive in time to save Elena? And why do the promos for tonight’s episode show Elena wielding a gun?

What brings Tracey back into Bobby’s life? Melinda Clarke, who made her “Dallas” debut a few weeks ago as Tracey McKay, one of Bobby’s ex-flames from the late 1980s, will appear during “Brave New World,” the second of tonight’s back-to-back episodes. Will she turn to Bobby to recover from the death of her nephew Hunter, or could she have something else in mind?

Which Ewing dies — and what’s J.R.’s secret? By now, everyone knows the “Dallas” producers are planning to kill a Ewing tonight. Showrunner Cynthia Cidre told Dallas Decoder the character will indeed be named “Ewing” and that the death will occur near the end of tonight’s finale. So who’ll be the victim? Perhaps equally importantly is this: According to TNT’s preview of the cliffhanger, “John Ross learns a shocking secret about J.R. that sends him halfway around the globe in search of a surprising new cohort.” What’s the secret, and who’s the cohort?

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

‘Which Ewing Dies?’ New Clues Emerge in ‘Dallas’s’ Mystery

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

There’s still no telling which Ewing will die during “Dallas’s” third-season finale, although executive producer Cynthia Cidre offered a helpful hint when she told Dallas Decoder the death will be storyline-driven. So whose demise would yield the most drama? Here’s how the loss of certain characters might affect the storytelling.

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Please don’t go, girl

Ann Ewing. Even if Bobby brings Ann and Emma home from Mexico, the gals may not be out of danger. Suppose there’s a final clash between the Ewings and the cartel and Ann gets caught in the crossfire? What if Bobby holds Harris and Judith responsible for her death and embarks on a quest for revenge? It would add another dimension to the Ewing/Ryland feud while evoking the last season of the original show, when April was murdered and Bobby became obsessed with getting revenge. Of course, Bobby’s anger after Ann’s death would probably pale in comparison to the rage Brenda Strong’s fans would feel if “Dallas” kills off Ann — and can you imagine how upset they’ll be when Bobby starts dating again? (You know he will. It usually doesn’t take Bob long to mend a broken heart.) Even though Ann’s death could open new storylines for Patrick Duffy, it would be sad to see “Dallas” lose Strong, a marvelous actress and one of the show’s biggest boosters on social media. Nevertheless, like KSiteTV points out, our beloved Annie might be the likeliest to go.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Like father, like son?

Christopher Ewing. If the thought of watching Bobby lose yet another wife doesn’t put a lump in your throat, imagine what it would be like to see him lose a son. Dropping Jesse Metcalfe from “Dallas” would be shocking, although the show would undoubtedly send Christopher out in a blaze of glory. Suppose Nicolas runs afoul of the Mexican drug lord El Pozolero, who retaliates by ordering a hit on Elena — only to have Christopher take the bullet for her? It would be this “Dallas’s” version of Bobby pushing Pam out of the path of Krazy Katherine’s car, minus the “it was all a dream” twist. Once again, Bobby might blame the Rylands for bringing the cartel into the Ewings’ lives and seek revenge, giving Duffy a powerful storyline next year. Christopher’s death could also allow “Dallas” to introduce a grown-up version of Lucas, Bobby’s biological son with Jenna — and not a moment too soon. Now that Pamela, Elena and Emma have all taken turns in John Ross’s bed, aren’t the “Dallas” leading ladies going to be in the market for some fresh beefcake?

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jordana Brewster, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Adios, Elena?

Elena Ramos. Cidre told Dallas Decoder the character who dies is named Ewing, adding, “It’s a Ewing we know well.” This would seem to rule out Jordana Brewster’s character — unless there’s a quickie wedding between Christopher and Elena during the season finale and Elena kicks the bucket shortly thereafter. It’s true the show has set the stage for Elena to be at the center of a “who’s the daddy?” pregnancy storyline, now that she’s bedded both Nicolas and John Ross while using her Swiss cheese diaphragm. But what if all that pregnancy business is a decoy to throw fans off the Elena death trail? In Cidre’s Ultimate Dallas interview, she coyly hinted the pregnancy storyline won’t play out the way the audience expects. Could that mean it won’t play out at all? Whatever the case, as much as I like Brewster, killing off Elena could be an efficient way to get rid of the Ramoses, whom many vocal fans never warmed to. Think about it: Now that Drew is dead and Carmen has quit working for the Ewings, what’s left for Elena to do?

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Gone, darlin’, gone?

Pamela Barnes Ewing. Now here’s a death that would truly suck. Julie Gonzalo and her character are hugely popular, especially among fans who are clamoring to see John Ross and Pamela get back together. But what if the Bobby/Ann scenario described above happens instead to John Ross and Pamela? Suppose she dies tragically at the hands of the cartel, setting John Ross off on a mission to destroy Nicolas and/or the Rylands? What if Cliff blames John Ross for his daughter’s death and comes after him, creating a circle of vengeance? There’s also the Barnes/Ewing feud to think about. Does Cliff have other kids who might crawl out of the woodwork to do battle with the Ewings? Or what if — I can barely bring myself to write this — the show decides to drop the feud altogether? Pamela did declare it was over recently (although she also said her fight with John Ross is just beginning). I can’t imagine “Dallas” without these two families squabbling, but don’t forget the title of this season’s final hour: “Brave New World.” Could that be the biggest hint of all?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

No, nope, nada

Bobby, Sue Ellen or John Ross Ewing. I refuse to entertain the thought of any of these three characters dying. It also seems unlikely the show would kill off a beloved character from the original “Dallas.” It’s hard enough to imagine losing Ann, Christopher and Pamela! If pressed, I guess I could envision a scenario in which … nope, sorry. Can’t do it.

 

 

 

Who do you think will die? Share your theories below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Which Ewing Dies?” page.

‘Which Ewing Dies?’ ‘Dallas’ Producer Offers a Tease

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Endgame, Jesse Metcalfe, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

Watch you backs, darlins

Warning: This article contains clues about the identity of the Ewing who’ll die during “Dallas’s” September 22 cliffhanger.

The character who dies in “Dallas’s” season finale is named Ewing, executive producer Cynthia Cidre told Dallas Decoder yesterday. “It’s a Ewing we know well,” she said.

Cidre declined to give additional details about the death, which has been the subject of intense speculation among fans since earlier this week, when TNT began airing a promo that promises “one Ewing will die” during the September 22 telecast.

Some fans predicted the show would kill off someone who is close to the Ewings but not necessarily a family member, but Cidre’s comments suggest this won’t be the case. She wouldn’t say if the character is played by one of the show’s main cast members, which keeps alive another fan theory — that the show will kill off someone from the original series, not one of the regular characters on TNT’s version.

The two-hour finale will be comprised of two episodes, “Endgame” and “Brave New World,” that will air back-to-back. Cidre said the death will come toward the end of the second hour, but it won’t necessarily be the last scene.

The “Dallas” producers decided to kill off the character for storyline purposes, not because the actor or actress wanted to leave, Cidre said. “It’s really what serves the story. We knew we wanted to hit something big at the end of the season. This is our first year without Larry [Hagman], and we wanted to make our own name in the ‘Dallas’ universe. It’s a pretty amazing scene,” she said.

Executives from both TNT and Warner Bros., the studio that produces “Dallas,” encouraged Cidre to go through with the death storyline when she pitched it to them. “They came back and said, ‘Trust yourselves. If you think it works, do it. … See if you can surprise [the audience] again.’”

Cidre predicted fans will be eager to see what happens to the Ewings after they lose one of their own. “New things are going to happen. There’s going to be new blood. There’s going to be new conflict. … You can’t just keep playing the same conflicts over and over again,” she said.

The two-hour finale will find “pretty much all” the characters in physical jeopardy, Cidre said. The first hour is more action-packed, while the second hour wraps up the year’s storylines before concluding with what she called “our biggest cliffhangers of all time.”

More “Dallas” dish from Cidre:

• On preparing for a fourth season: Although TNT hasn’t renewed “Dallas” for another season, the show’s writers are back at work crafting storylines in case the series gets picked up. Cidre has delivered a 60-page “bible” outlining the new storylines to TNT and Warner Bros., and the first few scripts have been written. If TNT decides to bring the show back, Cidre said the network will probably announce the renewal in October, and cameras will start rolling about six weeks later. “We still have our building, we have our stages, we’re paying rent. We just don’t have an official pickup,” she said.

• On possible fourth-season airdates: Cidre’s writing team has been told to prepare another 15-episode split season. If “Dallas” is renewed, she expects the show to follow the same schedule it did this year, with eight episodes beginning in mid-February, followed by a break and the year’s final episodes starting in August.

• On “Dallas’s” Monday time slot: Although many fans wish TNT would move “Dallas” to a less competitive night, Cidre said she doesn’t mind airing on Mondays. However, she wishes “Dallas” could follow “Major Crimes” or another one of TNT’s popular dramas. “Because our show is sexier, we do get a slightly different demographic. It would help to have a lead-in,” Cidre said.

Which Ewing will die during “Dallas’s” two-hour season finale on Monday, September 22? Share your predictions below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

‘Which Ewing Dies?’ Here Are Three Possible Scenarios

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Which Ewing Dies

“Dallas” has thrown viewers for a loop with the promo for next week’s two-hour season finale, which declares, “One Ewing will die!”  Who will it be? I have no idea, but that won’t stop me from trying to figure it out. Here are three possibilities:

1. A “main” Ewing dies. In the promo, when the the looming death is announced, shots of five characters flash onto the screen: Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), John Ross (Josh Henderson), Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and Ann (Brenda Strong).

It’s hard to believe “Dallas” will kill off any of these people, each of whom brings something valuable to the series. The “safest” Ewings would seem to be Bobby and Sue Ellen, two beloved figures from the original “Dallas,” and John Ross, who’s become a fan favorite on the new show. Ann has a loyal following too, and her character offers an important link to the Rylands, who are now prominent players in the “Dallas” universe.

By my reckoning, this leaves Christopher as the likeliest candidate to die among the five Ewings shown in the promo. Losing Metcalfe would be a shame since Christopher is “Dallas’s” most upstanding character, fulfilling the role Bobby once played on the original series. (Bobby is still a hero, but now that he’s running drugs for the cartel, he’s also a little morally compromised, don’t you think?)

On the other hand: TNT’s original concept for “Dallas” — John Ross and Christopher clashing in the foreground while J.R. and Bobby battle in the background — changed after Larry Hagman died. Increasingly, the central conflict within the Ewing family is the generational struggle between John Ross and Bobby, leaving Christopher an odd man out.

So if forced to guess which one of these Ewings might head to the Big Southfork in the Sky, I’ll go with Christopher — although make no mistake: I hope it doesn’t come to that.

2. Another main character dies. What if “Dallas” plans to kill off Pamela (Julie Gonzalo)? She’s still a Ewing via her marriage to John Ross, although she made a big deal of declaring herself a Barnes in “Boxed In,” this week’s episode. If you stretch the definition of “Ewing,” another candidate emerges: Emma (Emma Bell), stepdaughter to Bobby, stepsister to Christopher and stepcousin to John Ross. That’s about as close as you can get to being a Ewing without actually being one.

Or consider this: What if there’s a come-from-out-of-nowhere revelation that Harris or Judith (Mitch Pileggi, Judith Light) are Ewing kin? Or what if Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace) turns out to be a bastard son of J.R.? Don’t roll your eyes. This is “Dallas” we’re talking about.

Nevertheless, my choice among this crop of candidates is Elena (Jordana Brewster). She isn’t a Ewing, but that doesn’t mean things won’t change during the course of the two-hour season finale. Suppose Christopher and Elena have a quickie wedding, only to have the happy occasion end tragically when she’s killed by the cartel? Not only would this be a shocking twist, it would also echo one of the most memorable moments from the original show’s later years: the murder of Bobby’s bride April (Sheree J. Wilson) during their Parisian honeymoon.

And just so we’re clear: I’m not one of the “Dallas” fans clamoring for the elimination of the Ramos family. I like Brewster, although I wonder where her character can go after she waged war against the Ewings this season. If Elena has reached the end of the line, will the show get rid of her by killing her off?

3. An off-screen Ewing dies. Just because the promo suggests a Ewing will die next week, we shouldn’t assume the victim will be someone from the TNT series. What if it’s a character from the original series? There are several choices among the extended family, including Lucy, Gary, Val and Cally, as well as Ray and James, who are Ewings by blood, if not name.

Here’s one potential scenario: We lose Gary, setting up a fight between Bobby and John Ross for his portion of the Southfork mineral rights. Another possibility: Suppose Ray dies off-screen — perish the thought! — paving the way for the show to introduce an adult version of Lucas, Bobby’s son, whom Ray and Jenna raised?

Indeed, if “Dallas” is going to kill off a character from the old show, the death will have to serve the storyline on the new series. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Something else to keep in mind: I’m the guy who figured Cliff really did kill J.R. What the hell do I know?

Who do you think will die? Share your theories below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Which Ewing Dies?” page.