The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 13 Most Harrowing Kidnappings

Ann Ewing, Boxed In, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

Your turn, Annie

The Ewings discover Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) have been kidnapped in “Boxed In,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode. Fortunately, our favorite TV family has plenty of experience dealing with this kind of thing. Here’s a look at the 13 most harrowing kidnappings from the original series.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Lucy Ewing, Willie Gust

Far out!

13. Lucy (1978). When the Ewings refused to let Valene come to Lucy’s birthday party, Lucy ran away from Southfork and hitched a ride with Willie Gust (Greg Evigan) — and who can blame her? Willie had the tightest jeans, the most feathery hair and the grooviest custom van in Texas, right down to the wall-to-wall fake-fur carpeting. Too bad Willie was also a lunatic who ended up taking Lucy (Charlene Tilton) on a cross-Texas crime spree. Bobby rescued her, of course, but we never found out what happened to Willie. Was he really as psychotic as he seemed? Or were those jeans merely cutting off the circulation to his brain?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing

J.R. Duncan

12. John Ross (1979). Hey, remember when Sue Ellen nipped a little too much from her “special bottle” of Scope, escaped from the sanitarium, wrecked her car and gave birth to John Ross? And remember how Priscilla Duncan (Sheila Larken) quietly snatched the baby from the hospital? And then remember how happy we all were when Pam figured out what happened and reunited J.R. and Sue Ellen with their son? Well, hindsight being what it is, am I the only one who now thinks John Ross might have been better off with Ms. Duncan? Sure, she was nuts, but think of all the daddy issues the kid would’ve avoided.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Who shut up J.R.?

11. J.R. Ex-mobster Joseph Lombardi wanted answers when his son Nick Pearce plunged to his death after tussling with J.R. (Larry Hagman) on a high-rise balcony, so Lombardi sent his goons after our hero. They bound and gagged J.R. and brought him to a cheap motel, where Lombardi grilled him about the night Nick died. J.R. insisted it was all an accident — and fortunately Sue Ellen confirmed his account, prompting Lombardi to release him. It was cool to see Hagman act opposite the great Joseph Campanella, and we have to give Lombardi props for stand up to ol’ J.R. But would I want to see him kidnapped again? Fahgettaboudit.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Cuff him if you can

10. Bobby. “Dallas” has given us a lot of credibility-stretching storylines over the years (cough, cough Haleyville), but you know what I’ll never believe? I’ll never believe that Bobby James Ewing (Patrick Duffy) — that strapping, hunk of Grade A Texas beefcake — could be outmuscled by the clowns who kidnapped him during the middle of the show’s second season. For goodness sakes, Bobby is the kind of guy who can take on a barroom full of drunk cowboys and walk away without a scratch. The only thing more ridiculous than seeing him abducted is seeing the Ewings turn to Cliff Barnes to rescue him!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Darlin’ detained

9. Sue Ellen. Oh, for the love of Pete. Sue Ellen, what have you gone and done now? Did you really allow that creep B.D. Calhoun to slip you a mickey so he could photograph himself with you and send the pictures to J.R.? Didn’t you learn not to trust strange men during Pam’s dream the previous season? Actually, even though Sue Ellen should have known better, this subplot marked the beginning of a turning point in her marriage: Once J.R. vanquished Calhoun, he felt so bad about what happened to his family, he finally kicked that Winger tramp to the curb. Hmmm. On second thought, maybe Sue Ellen knew what she was doing all along.

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Welcome to the jungle

8. Pam. When an old back injury flared up during “Dallas’s” ninth season, Victoria Principal took a break from the show, leaving the writers scrambling to explain her absence. Their solution? Have Pam kidnapped by jungle mercenaries, of course! The subplot proves surprisingly effective, especially when we see Cliff’s determination to rescue his sister. (Their reunion after the bad guys release her is one of many great scenes between Principal and Ken Kercheval.) Looking back, I can’t help but wonder: Why couldn’t “Dallas” come up with a good storyline to explain Principal’s absence when she left the show for good two years later?

Dallas, Daniel Pilon, Jenna Wade, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley

Take her. Please.

7. Jenna. When Jenna (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley) fled Dallas on the day she was supposed to marry Bobby, she left behind a note that explained she had fallen in love with someone else and was running away. Except that wasn’t true: Jenna’s ex Renaldo Marchetta (Daniel Pilon) had kidnapped her and forced her to pen the letter to throw the Ewings off their trail. When this storyline aired during the winter and spring of 1985, I spent weeks on the edge of my seat, anxious to see how it would turn out. Little did I know things would end on such a tragic note, when Dreadful Jenna™ returned to Southfork. Oh, the humanity!

B.D. Calhoun, Dallas, Hunter von Leer, John Ross Ewing, Omri Katz

Captive audience

6. John Ross (1986). Here we go again. After B.D. Calhoun (Hunter von Leer) kidnapped and released Sue Ellen, he set his sights on John Ross (Omri Katz), J.R. and Sue Ellen’s son. Calhoun snatched the kid from a hotel pool in Los Angeles, where J.R. and Bobby sent their wives and boys to protect them from the threat Calhoun posed. The crazed mercenary forced little John Ross to make a hostage tape, which turned Sue Ellen into a blubbering mess when she watched it. Fear not, honey: The Ewing brothers eventually rescued John Ross, who would grow up to star alongside Emma Ryland in a much different kind of video.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Gagged, reeling

5. Lucy (1982). Well, what do you know? Lucy’s been kidnapped yet again. This time, the culprit is Roger Larson, the photographer who helped turn her into Texas’s tiniest top model. Unlike most of the other kidnappings on this list, Roger didn’t abduct Lucy for ransom or revenge — he was obsessed with her. He kept the Ewing heiress locked in a room plastered with the pictures he took of her. (Do stalkers do this in real life, or only on TV?) Bobby and Pam eventually rescued Lucy, but not before Pam told off Roger in one of Principal’s best scenes. Gee, like Sue Ellen, maybe Lucy should’ve gotten kidnapped more often too.

Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing, Valene Ewing

Feet first

4. Lucy (Early 1960s). Lucy’s first kidnapping is an integral part of “Dallas” lore. It’s mentioned in the first episode, when Lucy recalls how J.R.’s “old boys” snatched her from Valene’s arms when she was a baby and brought her to Southfork to be raised by Jock and Miss Ellie. We finally saw the kidnapping in a “Knots Landing” flashback, where we learned the ugly mess probably could’ve been prevented: No, I’m not referring to the fact that Lillimae refused to let Val (Joan Van Ark) into her shack when J.R.’s henchmen were chasing her. I’m talking about the fact Val was barefoot when she was trying to outrun them. Good grief, Val. Buy some shoes.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tyler Banks

Carry on

3. John Ross (1981). When Sue Ellen and John Ross went to live at the Southern Cross, J.R. was determined to get his boy back. He saw an opportunity when Sue Ellen took the child with her to Kristin’s funeral in New Mexico. Mother and son were gliding through a Love Field terminal when two of J.R.’s thugs approached. While one man distracted Sue Ellen, the other snatched the child. Suddenly, Dusty Farlow and a trio of Southern Cross cowboys swarmed the dude holding John Ross. “Give us the boy,” Dusty demanded — and of course the guy did. This might have been “Dallas’s” briefest abduction, but wasn’t it exciting!

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Trunk show

2. Miss Ellie. Look everybody, Donna’s here! What’s wrong, Donna? You seem upset. What’s that, you say? Jessica called Dusty and told him Clayton’s wedding to Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) is off? And then Jessica knocked you out with the phone? And then she stole your car? And then she took Mama?! Geez, Donna, couldn’t you have given us that last bit of information first? No matter. Between Susan Howard’s pained delivery and Richard Lewis Warren’s tension-building score, the scene where the Ewings discover Mama has been abducted by loony tune Jessica is positively thrilling — even if Donna did bury the lede.

April Ewing, Dallas, Sheree J. Wilson

Grand theft auto

1. April. Every abduction on this list ends happily for the victim — except this one. The original “Dallas” kicked off its final season with the kidnapping of April (Sheree J. Wilson) during her Parisian honeymoon with Bobby. The storyline was a little complicated — the culprit was Hillary Taylor (Susan Lucci), a mystery woman who took April so she could assume her identity and make a big speech at an OPEC conference — and yet it was also a dramatic thrill ride. Fans expected Bobby to get his bride back by the time all was said and done — and so imagine our surprise when she was gunned down at the conference. It was a hell of a way to start the original show’s last season, telegraphing to the audience that this would be the year anything could happen on “Dallas” — and damn near did.

Which kidnapping did you find most harrowing on “Dallas”? Share your thoughts below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

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.

#DallasChat Daily: Which Sister-in-Law Belonged with Bobby?

Abby Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Cally Ewing, Cathy Podewell, Donna Krebbs, Donna Mills, Jenna Wade Krebbs, Joan Van Ark, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Sue Ellen Ewing, Susan Howard, Valene Ewing

Bobby would never steal one of his brother’s wives, but I bet some of those gals wish they had married him instead. So how about we play a little fantasy matchmaking?

Should Sue Ellen or Cally have married Bobby instead of J.R.? If Valene and Abby hadn’t married Gary, would they have been better off as better halves to Bobby? Instead of marrying Ray, should Donna and Jenna have waited around for Bobby to become available?

Your #DallasChat Daily question: Which sister-in-law should have married Bobby?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

#DallasChat Daily: What’s Your Favorite ‘Dallas’ Wedding?

April Stevens Ewing, Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Cally Harper Ewing, Cathy Podewell, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, J. Eddie Peck, Jim Davis, Joan Van Ark, Jock Ewing, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow, Omri Katz, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Sheree J. Wilson, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tommy McKay, Valene Ewing, Victoria Principal

Everyone loves the weddings on the original “Dallas.” Do you have a favorite?

Was it Lucy and Mitch’s 1981 extravaganza, or Miss Ellie and Clayton’s understated 1984 affair? How about J.R. and Sue Ellen’s remarriage in 1982, or Bobby and Pam’s second-time-around in 1986? Perhaps you prefer J.R. and Cally’s union in 1989, or Bobby and April’s 1990 nuptials?

Your #DallasChat Daily question: What’s your favorite “Dallas” wedding?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

#DallasChat Daily: Who Was Jock’s Favorite Daughter-in-Law?

Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Jim Davis, Joan Van Ark, Jock Ewing, Knots Landing, Linda Gray, Pam Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, Susan Howard, Valene Ewing, Victoria Principal

Every “Dallas” fan knows Bobby was Jock’s favorite son, but figuring out which daughter-in-law he favored is a bit tougher.

Jock was no fan of Pam when she arrived at Southfork, but he movingly persuaded her to stay at the ranch when Bobby threatened to take her and leave after her first miscarriage. Jock scolded Sue Ellen when she went missing after J.R.’s shooting, but he also rushed to her defense when Cliff claimed he was John Ross’s father. Jock was friends with Donna before she got together with Ray, but when the couple’s relationship hit a rough patch, he refused to intervene. As for Valene? Yes, Jock helped prevent her from raising Lucy, but the old man also showed up at Gary and Val’s second wedding, hoping to mend fences.

Your #DallasChat Daily question: Which one of Jock’s daughters-in-law did he like best?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Have a great discussion!

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: TV Hall of Fame Won’t Induct Larry Hagman in 2014

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Let him in

Sorry to deliver bad tidings during the holidays, but it looks like Larry Hagman won’t be inducted into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame next year.

The academy announced its 2014 honorees before Christmas and Hagman wasn’t on the list. The inductees will be Jay Leno, Julia Louis-Drefus, producer David E. Kelley, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, programming executive Brandon Stoddard and sound engineer Ray Dolby, who’ll be honored posthumously.

Like a lot of Hagman’s fans, I’ve been hoping the late actor would finally get his spot in the Hall of Fame, which the academy’s chairman and chief executive, Bruce Rosenblum, refers to as the organization’s “highest honor” in its announcement. Hagman should have been inducted a long time ago, but including him in 2014 might have helped make amends with fans who were justifiably outraged when the academy excluded him from the special tributes during this year’s Primetime Emmys broadcast.

I’m not the only one who thought this could have been Hagman’s year. Chris Beachum, senior editor of the awards website Gold Derby, listed Hagman among 24 possible inductees for 2014, along with journalist Ed Bradley and filmmaker Ken Burns. (Louis-Dreyfus and Kelley were on Beachum’s list too.)

According to the Hall of Fame announcement, candidates are submitted by academy members to a selection committee chaired by Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television Group, which includes the studio that produces TNT’s “Dallas.” Presumably, the committee reviews the nominations, weighs each individual’s contributions to television and chooses the final selections.

I suppose it’s possible no one submitted Hagman’s name this year, but that seems mighty unlikely, especially after the brouhaha that erupted over his snub during the Emmy tributes. No matter where the blame lies, isn’t it a shame Hagman is once again being overlooked by the medium he helped shape?

Vote for ‘Dallas’

TNT’s “Dallas” is one of the choices in’s race for this year’s best nighttime soap opera. The show was in the lead until a few days ago, when it slipped to second place behind FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.” (If you’re puzzled by “Sons of Anarchy’s” inclusion in the soap opera category, get in line.)

Cast your votes here. The polls close Wednesday, January 2.

OWN It, Darlin’

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Encore, encore!

Did you miss Linda Gray’s recent appearance on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” You have another opportunity to catch it: OWN is scheduled to repeat the episode Friday, January 3, at 6 p.m. (Sue Ellen Ewing is back on Friday night, at least for one week.) Also, if you missed it, be sure to check out my recent tribute to Gray, who is Dallas Decoder’s Woman of the Year for 2013.

Life on the D-List

’Tis the season for list-making, and so TV Guide has published its ranking of the 60 best series of all time. The good news: “Dallas” makes the cut. The bad news: It’s in 47th place.

Look, I love lists and understand the tough calls that go into making them, but shouldn’t “Dallas” rank a little higher? After all, the series ran 14 seasons, pioneered serialized storytelling, produced the biggest prime-time cliffhanger of all time, held the top spot in the Nielsens for three seasons and inspired a sequel that’s about to begin its third year.

If nothing else, couldn’t TV Guide have ranked “Dallas” 38th instead of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”? Or 46th, instead of “Barney Miller”?

Elsewhere, Entertainment Weekly is out with its list of the best and worst episodes for 50 shows, including TNT’s “Dallas.” As EW sees it, the second-season finale, “Legacies,” was the show’s finest hour in 2013 while “Trial and Error” was the worst, although the magazine doesn’t seem to have many complaints about it. Neither do I.

Return Engagement?

Will “Knots Landing’s” Gary and Valene pay another visit to TNT’s “Dallas” anytime soon? Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark have different opinions, she tells Showbiz 411. Says Van Ark: “Ted’s not sure if we’re ever going back. But I’m convinced we are. I’d like to mix it up with Sue Ellen some more.”

You said it, honey. “Dallas” fans are spoiling for a Sue Ellen/Val rematch after this year’s showdown.

#DallasChat Returns January 6

Reminder: #DallasChat, my Monday evening Twitter discussion of all things “Dallas,” is taking a break for the holidays. The next #DallasChat will be held January 6 at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Don’t miss it.

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

Dallas Parallels: Drama Mamas

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Brown Ryland, Lucy Ewing, Secrets, Sins of the Father, TNT

When Emma began popping pills and chasing boys on TNT’s “Dallas,” a lot of fans were reminded of Lucy’s antics on the original show. The two women share at least one more similarity: Both have strained relations with their long-lost mamas.

In the 1979 episode “Secrets,” Valene goes to Lucy’s college campus and approaches her daughter, one year after J.R. forced Val to flee Southfork without saying goodbye. At the time, J.R. lied and told Lucy that Val took off after demanding money from him, so when Lucy sees her mother again in “Secrets,” she treats her coldly and walks away. Val doesn’t give up and tries to speak to Lucy again later that day, explaining that J.R.’s extortion claim was untrue. Lucy doesn’t want to hear it. “Don’t bother, lady,” she says.

Thirty-four years later, when Ann learns her long-missing daughter Emma is living in Dallas, she approaches Emma at the stable where she’s riding her horse. This reunion turns out no better than Val and Lucy’s. It seems Ann’s ex-husband Harris kidnapped Emma and raised her to believe Ann was evil — just like J.R. snatched baby Lucy and brought her to Southfork, where she grew up being fed lies about Val. In “Sins of the Father,” Ann tries to tell Emma her side of the story, but Emma doesn’t want to listen. “This is a waste of time, Ann,” she says.

Eventually, both daughters learn to forgive their drama mamas. Lucy’s icy demeanor melts when she sees Val stand up to J.R., just like Emma has a change of heart after she hears her mother defend herself against Harris’s lies during his shooting trial. Of course, poor Lucy ends up getting hurt again when she discovers her parents got remarried without bothering to tell her. Something tells me that’s one problem Emma will never encounter.


‘Don’t Bother, Lady’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Secrets


In “Secrets,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Lucy (Charlene Tilton) finds Valene (Joan Van Ark) waiting for her in the college campus parking lot.

LUCY: Hi. You’re still here, Mama. I thought you’d have gotten your money and gone by now.

VAL: Lucy, I wrote to you and I explained that I did not take any money from J.R.

LUCY: Why should I believe that?

VAL: Because it’s true. But I know that I have got a lot more explaining to do to you.

LUCY: Don’t bother. It really doesn’t matter to me.

VAL: Honey, I know how you must feel.

LUCY: Oh, no, you don’t. You don’t know anything about me. [Turns away]

VAL: I know that I gave birth to you. And that I love you very much.

LUCY: You love me like you love my daddy? You ran off and left him too.

VAL: No, I never did. We just never had a chance.

LUCY: [Begins to cry] We had a chance, all right. We were all together at the ranch. We could’ve made it. Except it got too rough for you two, so you both ran off. That’s funny. It was too rough for you, but it was all right to leave me there.

VAL: Well, that was your home and you were brought up there. I knew that Miss Ellie would take care of you. They love you.

LUCY: Oh, yeah. According to you, everybody loves me. Why don’t I feel like they do? Why do I feel like I don’t belong to anybody?

VAL: [Tries to touch Lucy, who smacks away her hand] Darling, listen, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but you do belong to your daddy and me.

LUCY: I’ll tell you something, lady. I hurt sometimes, but I can handle that. What I can’t handle is you coming back again and making me think I really do have a mama. And then one day, finding out you’re gone again. So don’t bother, lady. Don’t even try.

VAL: [Crying] Oh, my baby.


‘This is a Waste of Time, Ann’

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Brown Ryland, Sins of the Father, TNT


In “Sins of the Father,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) sit across from each other at a police station conference table.

ANN: I know you’re angry. But I just wanted to talk to you.

EMMA: Using the police to get me here wasn’t very helpful.

ANN: The police brought you here because your father kidnapped you.

EMMA: Rescued me.

ANN: [Sighs] I understand you’ve probably spent your whole life hating me.

EMMA: Never gave you much thought, actually.

ANN: Emma, when you were born, there was a lot going on.

EMMA: This is a waste of time, Ann.

ANN: Your father’s had your whole life to convince you I’m a monster. Please, just give me five minutes to try and prove I’m not. What did he tell you about me?

EMMA: He told me you were a drug-addicted, depressed, hopeless mess.

ANN: I was. When you were born, I was lost and confused and hated myself because your father made me believe I should.

EMMA: Don’t blame him for your failings.

ANN: I took tranquilizers to try and push away that pain. To stay in the marriage, to be a good mother. But it made things worse. And I started falling down this dark hole, farther and farther until I lost sight of who I was, and what really mattered: You. I’m so sorry. When I lost you, I died inside.

EMMA: You seem to have recovered quite nicely.

ANN: [Sighs, pulls a keepsake box from her bag, sits it on the table] I spent years looking for you. Praying that you were still alive. [Emma opens the box, examines the mementos and newspaper clippings inside] I never stopped loving you, Emma.

EMMA: [Closes the box] I think you’ve confused love with guilt. I’ve lived a great life with my father. If you care about me at all, you’ll leave me alone. And you’ll stop what you’re trying to do to him. [Pushes the box across the table toward Ann] Now I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave.

What do you think of Valene and Ann’s attempts to reconcile with their daughters? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Art of Knots Landing: ‘New Beginnings’

Joan Van Ark, J.R. Ewing, Knots Landing, Larry Hagman, New Beginnings, Val Ewing

J.R. (Larry Hagman) asks Valene (Joan Van Ark) to sign his copy of “Capricorn Crude,” her novel inspired by the Ewings, in this 1982 publicity shot from “New Beginnings,” a fourth-season “Knots Landing” episode.

Knots Landing Scene of the Day: ‘You Are Disgusting!’

Joan Van Ark, Knots Landing, New Beginnings, Val Ewing


In “New Beginnings,” a fourth-season “Knots Landing” episode, Valene (Joan Van Ark) is seated behind the counter in a bookstore, signing a copy of her book for a customer (Rita Crafts).

VAL: There you go. [Slides the book across the counter]

CUSTOMER: I’ll bet you’re glad this day’s almost over.

VAL: [Smiles] Oh, no. Not really. I enjoy meeting people who buy my book.

CUSTOMER: Thank you.

The customer walks away as a man slides an open book in front of Val.

VAL: OK, how would you like that signed, sir?

She looks up and sees it’s J.R. (Larry Hagman).

J.R.: “To my favorite brother-in-law in the whole wide world.”

VAL: What are you doing here?

J.R.: Well, aren’t you going to sign it? I bought it fair and square, with the promise that you’d autograph it for me.

VAL: [Whispers] You are disgusting!

J.R.: [Looks around with mock concern] Come on, darlin’. Your public’s waiting. [She scribbles on the page, closes the book, slides it toward him and looks away.] Oh, thanks. [Examining her signature] Oh, that’s just wonderful. I’m going to stick this in my special collection of memorabilia. Right next to the knitting needles of Madame Defarge.

VAL: Leave me alone, J.R.

J.R.: Well, honey, what’s the rush? You know, it’s not often I get a chance to talk to a real, live celebrity. [Chuckles] You know, everybody said I’d hate what you wrote about us, but I don’t. I really don’t. And it’s nice having a best-selling authoress in the family. Especially since I own her publishing company.

VAL: You what?

J.R.: That’s right. Lock, stock and all the profits. I’m glad to keep it in the family. Oh, golly. I forgot. You’re on your way out of the family, aren’t you?

VAL: Well, you know what they say. Behind every cloud there’s a silver lining. Now would you please step aside because I’ve got paying customers to attend to. [Takes a book from someone else and smiles]

J.R.: Oh, of course. I’m looking forward to your new book. And just remember: I have first rights.

VAL: Yes, thank you.

As he walks away, the first customer approaches him.

CUSTOMER: Aren’t you J.R.?

J.R.: Yeah, that’s right.

CUSTOMER: Oh, would you sign this for me, please? [Hands him her book and a pen]

J.R.: Well, sure. [Looks at Val and shrugs] There you go.

CUSTOMER: Oh, thank you so much.

J.R.: My pleasure. [Chuckles]