Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘What’s Your Excuse?’

Dallas, Garnet McGee, J.R. Ewing, Kate Mulgrew, Larry Hagman, Triangle

Pillow talk

In “Triangle,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, country-western singer Garnet McGee (Kate Mulgrew) nibbles from a plate on her dining room table while J.R. (Larry Hagman), stretched across her bed, pours himself a drink.

J.R.: You hungry again?

GARNET: Honey, I am always hungry.

J.R.: Were you very poor?

GARNET: Uh-huh. You want some of this? [He shakes his head no. She sits at the table.] There were 10 of us, J.R. You know, I never had a pair of shoes of my own, brand-new, till I was 16 years old and started working? Always had my mama’s or my big sister’s. I figure that’s how come I’m so greedy now. What’s your excuse?

J.R.: [Takes a sip] I don’t need one.

GARNET: [Joins him on the bed] That’s probably how come I like you so much.

J.R.: Is it?

GARNET: You’re just the way I am. [Counts the money from their poker game while he caresses her hair] Maybe a little worse. And not the least little bit ashamed of it, are you?

J.R.: Do you really like me?

GARNET: Well, I still have a whole pack of little brothers and sisters to take care of – not to mention myself. [He nuzzles her neck.] Hey, hey J.R. Don’t you have to go home now?

J.R.: Sue Ellen’s a very understanding wife. When Ray gets back, I want you to finish it. I mean it. Finish it with him – because if you don’t, I will. [Nuzzles her neck again]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 16 – ‘Triangle’

Dallas, Garnet McGee, Kate Mulgrew, Triangle

Honky-tonk angel

“Triangle” is an episode about a country-western singer, and it plays out like an old-fashioned country-western song. Hearts are broken, dreams are dashed and before all is said and done, Ray nearly tells the Ewings to take their job and shove it.

Kate Mulgrew is mesmerizing as Garnet McGee, the rising star who gets caught between Ray and J.R. Mulgrew looks like a glammed-up Patsy Cline and sounds a bit like her, too. This is Garnet’s only appearance on “Dallas,” but Mulgrew makes such a strong impression, the character is referred to periodically throughout the show’s run, including during the series finale.

“Dallas” probably wants the audience to dislike Garnet after she cheats on Ray, but I’m willing to cut her some slack. After all, Garnet is trying to make it in showbiz – “a life of hard work and terrible disappointment,” as Miss Ellie describes it – and it’s not like she isn’t upfront with Ray about her priorities.

Consider the scene where Ray asks her to elope and she turns him down, citing her weekend singing engagements. Garnet is direct (“I can’t afford a reputation for running out on club dates”), but Ray is both dismissive (“It’s only a weekend”) and manipulative (“You don’t want to marry me. That’s it, isn’t it?”).

J.R. and Garnet’s revealing pillow talk also makes me sympathetic toward her.

After she sleeps with him to get a record deal, she notes their similarities. “You’re just the way I am,” she says. “Maybe a little worse. And not the least bit ashamed of it.” The implication: Ray isn’t the first man who has made Garnet feel bad about her own ambition.

A similar theme is explored during an earlier second-season episode, “Black Market Baby,” when Bobby objects to Pam’s desire to delay motherhood so she can pursue a career. In “Triangle,” Pam doesn’t seem to begrudge Garnet’s aspirations, but she clearly doesn’t approve of her methods.

During the Southfork party scene, Pam accuses Garnet of using Ray “until something better comes along.” Garnet, alluding to Pam’s romance with Ray before she married Bobby, responds, “Didn’t you?”

Meow! So much for sisterhood.

Of course, even if Garnet and Pam are bitchy to each other, at least they know there’s more to life than standing by your man.

Grade: A


Dallas, Garnet McGee, J.R. Ewing, Kate Mulgrew, Larry Hagman, Triangle

Cheatin’ hearts


Season 2, Episode 11

Airdate: November 26, 1978

Audience: 13.2 million homes, ranking 39th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Vincent McEveety

Synopsis: Ray falls for country singer Garnet McGee, who rejects his marriage proposal to focus on her career. She sleeps with J.R. to get a record deal, and when a heartbroken Ray discovers her infidelity, he ends their relationship.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Nancy Bleier (Connie), Edward Call (Sam Gurney), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Michael Dudikoff (Joe Newcomb), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Harry Middlebrooks (Mervin), Kate Mulgrew (Garnet McGee), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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