The Dallas Decoder Guide to Gary Ewing

Black sheep

Black sheep

Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) returns to Southfork in “The Furious and the Fast,” tonight’s episode of TNT’s “Dallas.” Gary appeared occasionally on the original “Dallas” and was a main character on its “Knots Landing” spinoff, but how much do you remember about him? Here’s a refresher.

Mama’s boy

Mama’s boy

Mom liked Gary best. Jock and Miss Ellie had three sons: J.R., Gary and Bobby. Gary was Mama’s favorite and Bobby was Daddy’s, which explains why J.R. turned out the way he did – but that’s a story for another day. Gary never got along with his macho father and older brother and left Southfork, which upset his parents royally. I always thought Jock and Ellie should have looked on the bright side: Gary is the only one of their adult children who moved out of the house. You can’t say the same thing for those freeloaders J.R. and Bobby.

Scene from a marriage

Scene from a marriage

Valene: Gary’s true love. Young Gary fell for teenage waitress Valene Clements (Joan Van Ark). They got married and had baby Lucy – not in that order – and lived at Southfork, where J.R. tormented Gary until he ran away. Val tried to escape with Lucy, but J.R. sent some “old boys” to retrieve the child and bring her back to Southfork, where Jock and Ellie raised her. Eventually, Gary and Val reunited and moved to Knots Landing, where they spent 14 seasons dealing with affairs, divorces and television’s nosiest neighbors.

Blues brothers

Blues brothers

Bobby: Gary’s best bro. Aside from Mama, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is the only Ewing who seemed to understand Gary. This makes sense; the brothers have a lot in common. Both are moralistic, both love Southfork and both look great in swim trunks. Bobby has been known to give Gary a verbal kick in the rear when he needs it, but when Bobby “died,” Gary went to pieces. Thank goodness that was just a bad dream! Wait, Gary does know Pam woke up, right? If not, he’s in for a hell of a surprise when he arrives at Southfork tonight.

Brotherly hate

Brotherly hate

J.R.: Worst. Brother. Ever. J.R. (Larry Hagman) meddled in Gary’s life and tried to sleep with his second wife Abby, but his worst attacks were verbal. Over the years, J.R. called Gary a “wimp,” a “no-account,” a “loser” and “Daddy’s big mistake.” (Whoops, that last one was J.R.’s term for Ray.) If Gary was such a screw-up, why did J.R. feel so threatened by him? He explained it this way: “That man is full of anger and frustration. Maybe even hatred, I don’t know. If he ever channeled all that energy, well, it could make my life miserable.” Now you know.

Takes one to know one

Takes one to know one

Gary and Sue Ellen: Not each other’s biggest fans. Gary and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) didn’t interact much, but when they did, it tended not to go well. Before Sue Ellen admitted she had a drinking problem, Gary tried to talk to her about his own struggles with booze. The conversation ended with Sue Ellen exclaiming, “Stop preaching at me! I am not an alcoholic!” Later, when Kristin Shepard visited Knots Landing, Gary told Val how much Kristin reminded him of her big sister Sue Ellen. He didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Daddy’s girl

Daddy’s girl

All his children. In addition to rivaling J.R. and Bobby in the number of beautiful women he attracted, Gary has more children than either brother. Gary and Val are parents to Lucy (Charlene Tilton), as well as twins Betsy and Bobby, who was named in honor of his “dead” uncle. When Gary believed Val was dead, he took up with Kate Whittaker, who later gave birth to his daughter Molly. However, Kate ended up raising Molly with Brian Cunningham, Gary’s stepson during his marriage to Abby. See? Gary really is all Ewing!

Flashback!

Flashback!

All his faces. Gary has been played by more actors than almost any other Ewing. David Ackroyd created the role in 1978 during the original “Dallas’s” second season, Joel Allen played him as a child in “Dallas: The Early Years” and Andrew Fielder played him as a young man in a “Knots Landing” flashback. Of course, there’s only one real Gary: the great Shackelford, who joins Hagman, Duffy and Tilton as the only actors who’ve portrayed their characters on “Knots Landing” and both versions of “Dallas.” He’ll be joined soon by Van Ark. Welcome to the club!

What do you remember about Gary Ewing? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”