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.

More Details Released About ‘Dallas’s’ Third Season

Happy ending? Ha!

Happy ending? Ha!

TNT released some more tidbits about “Dallas’s” third season today, including clues about the new characters and how they’ll fit into the storylines. If you don’t want to know what’s going to happen, stop reading now.

Here are the headlines:

• TNT is pretty vague about what the main characters will be up to, although the press materials state Harris (Mitch Pileggi) will struggle to “keep Emma in check while also mending fences with Ann.” The emphasis is ours.

• Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) is described as “determined to find a happy ending with her new husband, John Ross, and make a home for herself on Southfork Ranch.” Good luck with that, honey.

• According to TNT, Nicolas Trevino (Juan Pablo Di Pace) comes to Dallas to act as Cliff’s proxy in Ewing Global, but “it will soon come to light that Nicolas has his own agenda.” The materials also describe Nicolas as “an old childhood friend” whom Elena (Jordana Brewster) turns to in her quest for justice.

• Heather (AnnaLynne McCord), whose last name isn’t given, is described as “a no-nonsense, calls-it-like-she-sees-it ranch hand [who] was raised by a single father and four older brothers. After her oldest brother was killed during a tour in Iraq, she ran away and eloped with her high school sweetheart.”

• TNT calls Di Pace “a regular cast member,” while McCord is listed as a guest star, along with Ken Kercheval, Judith Light and Marlene Forte. Also receiving the “guest star” treatment: Kuno Becker, who joined the show last year as Elena’s brother Drew.

Remember: “Dallas’s” season premiere is Monday, February 24, at 9 p.m. Eastern. That’s one month from today, not that we’re counting every second or anything.

What do you think of the latest “Dallas” tidbits from TNT? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

A Video Sneak Peek at ‘Dallas’s’ Third Season

TV Guide’s William Keck delivered another early Christmas present for “Dallas” fans today: a video that mixes snippets from the TNT show’s new season with clips from older episodes, all set to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

The video begins on a warm-and-fuzzy note, with a voiceover from John Ross (Josh Henderson), who says, “Whatever battles we face from here on, we fight together.” We also hear Bobby (Patrick Duffy) declare, “The Barnes/Ewing feud is over,” and then Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) says, “We’ve all worked so well together since J.R. died. I’d like to see that truce continue.”

Of course, this is “Dallas,” so things quickly go downhill from there. The new scenes show Elena (Jordana Brewster) firing a gun at a shooting range and hitting a male-shaped target in, um, a very sensitive spot; an angry Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) slamming his hand on a table; and Judith (Judith Light) hitting Harris (Mitch Pileggi) with a cane.

There are also new shots of John Ross and Christopher embracing in what appears to be the Southfork kitchen and workers erecting a “Ewing Global” sign in office space.

The older footage includes second-season shots of Pamela (Julie Gonzalo), Ann (Brenda Strong), Emma (Emma Bell), Drew (Kuno Becker) and Cliff (Ken Kercheval).

What do you think of “Dallas’s” holiday-themed Season 3 promo? Share your comments below and read more news from Dallas Decoder.

Oh, the Horror! Halloween Comes to #DallasChat

Dallas, Drew Ramos, Kuno Becker, TNT

Drew, scary

Our next #DallasChat on Twitter will be held Monday, October 28, from 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern time. Since Halloween is later this week, we’ll discuss “Dallas’s” scariest moments. Our theme: “Oh, the Horror!”

Here’s how #DallasChat works: I tweet a question roughly every five minutes for one hour. Each question is numbered and includes the hashtag #DallasChat, so your responses should do the same. A sample exchange:

Q1. Who is “Dallas’s” scariest villainess? #DallasChat

A1. Katherine Wentworth, of course! Morgan Brittany is positively frightening in the role. #DallasChat

Two pointers:

• 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.

• Include the hashtag #DallasChat in each tweet you send so others can see your contributions to the conversation. Feel free to start side conversations of your own, but be sure to include #DallasChat in those tweets too.

This promises to be a fun conversation. I hope you can join us!

The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 2

The second season of TNT’s “Dallas” was even better than the first. Here are my laurels, along with a few darts.

Performances

Woman of the year

Wonder woman

She spent Season 1 on the sidelines, but Linda Gray became “Dallas’s” star player this year. After losing the election, Sue Ellen maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, then fought tooth and manicured nail to save the company. Her determination took many forms: She flirted with Gary and later Ken, proving a woman in her 70s could still be playful and alluring, and blackmailed Governor McConaughey with a smile, demonstrating just how much she learned from her ex-husband. Speaking of J.R.: Gray shined brightest at his funeral, where Sue Ellen took a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivered a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she called “the love of my life.” It was a magnificent, unforgettable performance – and if there’s any justice in the world, Gray’s next big speech will be at the Emmys.

Storylines

The “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery was terrific because it allowed viewers to slide into J.R.’s boots and try to piece together the puzzle he left behind. The gun! That letter! Those cocaine shoes! How were the clues connected? This was “Dallas” at its most fun – and as an added bonus, it finally resolved Pam’s storyline and gave the character the redemption she deserved. (Pam may be dead, but please let Katherine live.) The season’s least satisfying storyline: Vicente Cano’s ambush on Southfork and the hostage crisis that ensued. This storyline did little to advance the season’s main narrative – the fight for Ewing Energies – nor did it give us much new insight into the characters. On the other hand: at least nobody made Sue Ellen sing.

Episodes

Tears of the son

Tears of the son

The beautiful, elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is landmark television. From the mournful version of the “Dallas” theme music that played under the special opening titles through the moving gravesite eulogies, scriptwriter Cynthia Cidre and director Michael M. Robin made J.R.’s death feel achingly real. This is their masterpiece. At the other end of the spectrum: “Ewings Unite!,” an uneven hour marred by J.R.’s silly will reading and Gary and Val’s drive-by reunion.

Scenes

Almost two months after watching “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” I’m still haunted by the memory of Sue Ellen getting drunk in her ex-husband’s bedroom on the night before his funeral. As Tara Holloway’s soulful rendition of “The Bottom” played, we watched Sue Ellen move around J.R.’s bed, caress a framed photo from their wedding and finally drown her sorrows with glass after glass of his bourbon. This was two-and-a-half minutes of exquisite agony. (Among the season’s other great scenes: Ann’s spellbinding testimony at her trial, Harris and Emma’s parking garage encounter, Harris’s Komodo dragon speech and the moment lusty John Ross storms off the elevator and into Pamela’s arms.)

Twists

Raw deal

Raw deal

The police discover Tommy’s body and murder weapon. John Ross warns Pamela, who frantically begins preparing to skip town as the police arrive with guns drawn. But wait! They’re not coming to arrest Pamela; they’re after Frank, who has been framed by Cliff. It was a classic “Dallas” fake-out and the season’s most surprising twist. The silliest: At J.R.’s will reading, Miss Ellie somehow takes half of Southfork from Bobby and gives it to John Ross. Howzat, Mama?

Traditions

Season 2 gave us a Southfork swimming pool scene, the return of the old Ewing Oil building and even a reference to Westar, but where were the barbecue and Oil Baron’s Ball (er, “Cattle Baron’s Ball”) episodes? On the other hand, we did get “The Furious and the Fast,” the fantastic racetrack-set episode that marked the “Dallas” directorial debut of Rodney Charters, the show’s ace cinematographer. Perhaps racecars will become a new “Dallas” tradition? I’m ready for another spin.

Villains

Evil dad

Evil dad

Steven Weber played McConaughey to smirking perfection and Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light were delicious as the evil Rylands, but Ken Kercheval scared the bejesus out of me as Cliff. The scene where he orders the destruction of the methane rig is chilling. Yet somehow, the brilliant Kercheval made sure we never lost sight of Cliff’s humanity, especially when he was arrested for J.R.’s murder. Make no mistake: Season 2 was the performance of Kercheval’s career.

Returning Favorites

Audrey Landers’ return as Afton in “Guilt and Innocence” was a hoot. Robert Rovner’s script gave Landers plenty to do, and she made the most of it: During the course of the hour, we got to see Afton badmouth Cliff (“He’s a mean drunk, that man”), flirt with John Ross, shoot daggers at Christopher and sweetly serenade Pamela with her favorite childhood lullaby. I also liked Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark’s return as Gary and Valene (even if Van Ark didn’t get enough to do), as well as the familiar faces who showed up in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” especially Mandy and Cally (Deborah Shelton, Cathy Podewell), whose reminiscing about their romances with J.R. proved surprisingly poignant.

Newcomers

Welcome to Southfork

Welcome to Southfork

Each episode of “Dallas” clocks in at 42 minutes sans commercials, making screen time a commodity. It’s tempting to knock the producers for expanding the cast in Season 2 – except the newcomers are all so good! I was especially charmed by magnetic Kuno Becker, who was both smoldering and sweet as ne’er-do-well Drew, while Emma Bell knocked me out as Emma, who shifted effortlessly from sheltered princess to a pill-popping sexpot. Is there anything this actress can’t do?

Supporting Players

Like the original “Dallas,” the new show is beginning to feel like its own world, thanks to its growing population of reliable recurring characters. My favorites include steadfast Sheriff Derrick (Akai Draco), dutiful lawyer Lou Bergen (Glenn Morshower) and of course loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), who charmed me in his scene with Sue Ellen and moved me when he confessed his role in J.R.’s master plan. Season 2 also introduced two promising additions to the Ewing Energies secretarial pool: perky, sneaky Jill (Amber Bartlett) and statuesque Stacy (Natalie Quintanilla). The other great addition: lusty city transportation chief Alison Jones (Annie Wersching). Could she become this generation’s Marilee Stone?

Costumes

Man of style

Man of style

“Dallas” doesn’t just have TV’s best-dressed cast; the actors are also smartly dressed. Everyone’s “look” fits their character perfectly. Case in point: J.R., whose western jackets, dark suits and Butch Dorer hats made him Season 2’s most dashing figure. My favorite outfit: the classic pinstripes he sported in “Venomous Creatures” when he blackmailed the smarmy prosecutor. A tip of the hat to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin. Thanks to her, our hero went out in style.

Music

The music on “Dallas” is a mix of familiar tunes like Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory,” which played during J.R.’s memorial service, and oh-my-gosh-what-is-the-name-of-that-song-I-must-own-it selections like “Liar,” an unreleased number from the Unknown that was heard in “False Confessions” and “Legacies.” My favorite: “My Time Has Come,” the driving rock anthem from the Bowery Riots that played when Bobby did that cool slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” It was the ideal song to showcase Bobby at his badass best.

Props

Ugly truth

Ugly truth

I’m tempted to choose Christopher’s Miller Lite bottle or all those Microsoft Surface tablets as best props, but instead I’ll go with J.R.’s handsome bourbon decanter, which the three people he loved most – Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher – all drank from after his death. Worst prop? That’s easy: The awful painting of J.R. unveiled at the end of “Legacies.” Where’s J.R.’s nose? What happened to his right shoulder? My plea to the producers: Fix this before Season 3 starts.

Hashtags

Since so much of my “Dallas” viewing experience now takes place in the Twitterverse, it seems appropriate to honor the hashtags of Season 2: #BubbaNotEarl #ByeByeCloudDrive #Clonazepam #ContinuedLegalSubterfuge #EminentDomain #FentonWashburnEsquire #HighImpactPressureMoldedCocaine #HighVelocityBloodSplatter #HornedFrogsVsMustangs #HotelColon #JudgeRhonda #KomodoDragons #MoralsClause #NuevoLaredo #PatriciaBarrett #RickyRudd #RIPKatherine?

Quips

This category is always the toughest and Season 2 is no different. What to choose? Sue Ellen’s putdown of Afton (“She’s drama, John Ross.”)? Val’s greeting to Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch.”)? Vicente’s observation after realizing the Ewing cousins have traded romantic partners (“You Ewing boys share after all! I love it!”)? John Ross’s not-fit-for-print philosophy on romance (“Love is for [kitty cats]”)? In the end, I’ll go with the master. J.R.’s encounter with Pamela: “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse.” Oh, J.R. We’ll never stop missing you.

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

The Dal-List: 10 Reasons TNT Should Renew ‘Dallas’

Fired up! Ready to go!

Tanned. Rested. Ready.

“Dallas” fans know who killed J.R. and what happened to Pam, but one question remains unanswered: Will TNT renew the show for a third season? To help the good people at TNT make up their minds, here are 10 good reasons to give “Dallas” another year.

Ewing watch

Ewing watch

10. “Dallas” is TNT’s most-watched show (right now). TNT showed four original series this winter and spring: “Dallas,” the medical melodrama “Monday Mornings” and the cop shows “Southland” and “Boston’s Finest.” The “Dallas” telecasts averaged 2.7 million viewers, more than twice as many as any of the other shows. When you count DVR users who record “Dallas” and watch each episode within three days, the Ewings’ weekly audience rose to 3.5 million viewers. Now chew on this: the CW’s “Hart of Dixie” and “Beauty and the Beast” each average 1.5 million viewers per episode – and both shows just got renewed. What are you waiting for, TNT?

Roll on

Roll on, dude

9. Creatively, “Dallas” is on a roll. This show hit its stride in Season 2. The stories honored the classic “Dallas” themes, but with fun, fresh twists. “The Furious and the Fast” was like one of the old show’s Ewing Rodeo episodes, but with racecars instead of bucking broncos. “Who Killed J.R.?” echoed the most famous “Dallas” storyline of all time, but it was an even richer, more complex mystery. The new series has also expanded the “Dallas” universe by adding two more feuding families: the poor, proud Ramoses and the weird, wacky Rylands. The names may be new, but the conflicts – ambition, greed, lust – are “Dallas” all the way.

Love them Ewings

Love them Ewings

8. Critics love it. “Dallas” isn’t just adored by its fans; critics go gaga for the Ewings too. Season 2 scored an impressive “82” on Metacritic, which makes “Dallas” one of TV’s 10 best shows, according to the website. Variety’s hard-to-please critic Brian Lowry wrote the second-season opener “[clicks] on all cylinders, with plenty of bed-hopping, two-timing and Texas-sized dealmaking to go around.” In Entertainment Weekly, Henry Goldblatt praised the storytelling (“the plots are twistier than a fishtail braid”), while Jessica Shaw predicted viewers who watched “J.R.’s Masterpiece” would “shed enough tears to fill the TV legend’s ten-gallon hat.” She wasn’t kidding.

Agree

Consensus: “Dallas” is awesome

7. “Dallas” has something for everyone. Every Monday, I watch “Dallas” with the Twitterverse, where the kids swoon over hunks like Josh Henderson and Kuno Becker. And every Tuesday, I get a call from my mom, who wants to dish about the previous night’s episode, which she watches with her retirement community neighbors (“That Patrick Duffy is still so handsome!”). But “Dallas” doesn’t just bridge the generation gap. I talk to a lot of “Dallas” fans, and I know: This show appeals as much to blue-staters as it does to red-staters. Heck, if we want to break the gridlock in Washington, maybe we ought to make the politicians sit down and watch “Dallas” together.

Stay dry

Let the money pour in

6. The merchandising potential is enormous. The people who make the new “Dallas” have figured out something the producers of the old show never fully grasped: Fans don’t just want to watch “Dallas;” they want to experience it. HSN sells “Dallas” clothing and J.R.-branded bourbon is on the way, but that’s just scratching the surface. How about a “Dallas” soundtrack with all the cool music featured on the show? What about a line of John Ross Ewing prophylactics? Or maybe some Ann Ewing tissues, for those times when you need a good cry? Take it from me, TNT: There’s a lot more money to be made off this show. It is the Ewing way, after all.

All hail the queen

All hail the queen

5. Two words: “Linda Gray.” No one shined brighter during “Dallas’s” second season than Linda Gray, who delivered one amazing performance after another. Sue Ellen lost the election, maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, fell off the wagon, flirted with Gary and Ken and blackmailed the governor into doing her bidding. Whew! Make no mistake: Gray has become “Dallas’s” star attraction. In the Washington Post, Hank Stuever praised Gray for discovering “new depth as an older and much wiser Sue Ellen. She is this show’s version of a dowager countess, and any scene she’s in is immediately improved.” We agree. Her performance alone merits a third season.

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

4. Two more words: “Patrick Duffy.” Patrick Duffy arrived on our television screens in “The Man From Atlantis” in 1977 and he’s pretty much been entertaining us nonstop ever since. “Dallas.” “Step by Step.” “The Bold and the Beautiful.” “Dallas” again. Does TNT want to be the channel to break this 36-year streak? I’m betting it doesn’t. Like Gray, Duffy just gets better with age. On the new “Dallas,” Bobby is still the good guy we know and love, but he’s also kind of a badass. Did you see that slow-mo walk he took after he set up Cliff Barnes in “Love and Family”? Bobby deserves another season to show us how friggin’ cool he is.

"Oh, my!"

“Now pick up my show.”

3. The rest of the cast rocks too. Besides Gray and Duffy, the new “Dallas” has the best cast on television. Jordana Brewster consistently delivers smart, convincing performances as Elena, Julie Gonzalo and Henderson are slyly charming as Pamela and John Ross, and as Christopher and Ann, Jesse Metcalfe and Brenda Strong are the best criers in prime time. “Dallas” is also the destination for television’s best guest stars. In Season 2, we got Judith Light as loony Judith Ryland, Lee Majors as dashing Ken Richards and Steven Weber as smirktastic Governor Sam McConaughey. Aren’t you eager to see who’ll show up next year?

TNT tradition

Traditions matter

2. “Dallas” is part of TNT’s history. In 1991, when TNT was three years old, the cable channel added “Dallas” reruns to its lineup and held a contest inviting fans to submit lyrics to the famous theme music. The winner: Brian McCullough, who I interviewed last year. His lyrics“Oh we own this / And we own that / As far as the eye can see! / From Texas soil / We pump Ewing Oil / Daddy Jock, brother Bobby / And me! / Yes, I’m J.R. / I’m known near and far / A rat in a town / That’s cat-free! / I make big deals / And I’ve got one that’s real / Merging “Dallas” with TNT!” See, TNT? “Dallas” is your heritage. And if the Ewings have taught us anything, it’s the importance of being true to your roots.

Dal-List - 10 Reasons TNT Should Renew Dallas 1

Make him proud

1. He’s watching. You know he is. Don’t disappoint him. Renew this show, TNT.             Why do you think “Dallas” should be renewed? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 12

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderosn, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Pamela Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The end?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Guilt by Association” and “Legacies,” the final episodes from “Dallas’s” second season:

Is Cliff headed for a fall? At the end of “Love and Family,” the second half of last week’s two-hour telecast, Cliff (Ken Kercheval) called in the loan on Ewing Energies and took control of the company. Little did he know Bobby (Patrick Duffy) has some of J.R.’s old tricks up his sleeve. Bobby told Sue Ellen that if the Ewings allow Cliff to believe he won, the family can take him down once and for all. Is he right?

• Will Christopher find Pam? After Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) discovered his missing mama may be living under the name “Patricia Barrett” in Zurich, he took off with Elena (Jordana Brewster) to find her. Will Christopher be reunited with Pam – or will Patricia Barrett turn out to be someone else?

Will John Ross seize Pamela’s shares? After Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) persuaded Cliff to give her control of Aunt Katherine’s third of Barnes Global, John Ross (Josh Henderson) married her to gain a foothold in the company. Will John Ross’s plan work?

Will Ken and Vickers help the Ewings? Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has been searching for Ken (Lee Majors), hoping he can help the Ewings expose the link between Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber), Harris (Mitch Pileggi) and Cliff. Meanwhile, Drew (Kuno Becker) confessed his role in the rig explosion to Elena and went on the run to find Vickers (Alex Fernandez), who went missing after Drew implicated him in the bombing. Both Ken and Vickers are expected to appear on “Dallas” tonight; will they be found in time to make a difference?

Will Emma clean up her act? Emma (Emma Bell) told Harris she would move back into his house, then she got high and wrecked her car. Ann (Brenda Strong) refused to bail out her daughter until she agreed to get help for her addiction. Will Ann stick to her guns – and will Emma get help?

Who killed J.R.? Here’s my final guess. What’s yours?

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

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 23 – ‘Love and Family’

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Love and Family, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Walking tall

The final moments in “Love and Family” give me chills. Bobby tells Sue Ellen they need to act like J.R. and let Cliff believe he’s won, and then as a rousing rock tune rises in the background, Bobby raises a glass of bourbon to a framed photograph of his beaming big brother. Cut to John Ross and Pamela standing before a justice of the peace (John Ross: “You doing this because you love me, or because you hate your father?” Pamela: “I do.”), then to Cliff as he sweeps into Ewing Energies and takes the keys from Bobby. “I can only imagine the look on J.R.’s face right about now,” Cliff smirks. “Me too,” Bobby responds. As our hero walks away in slow motion, a sly smile breaks across his face, the drumbeat builds, the screen fades to black, and all I can think is: Damn, this show is cool.

Patrick Duffy’s smile recalls all the classic “Dallas” episodes that end with J.R.’s grin, but we feel the character’s presence throughout this episode. Christopher’s obsession with beating Cliff recalls J.R.’s own efforts to outmaneuver him during the original series. Likewise, John Ross’s ploy to snag a piece of Barnes Global by marrying Pamela bears the hallmarks of an old-school, whatever-it-takes J.R. scheme. Even the way Bobby subtly pressures John Ross into the marriage is a little J.R.-esque. Perhaps the lesson here is that J.R.’s values weren’t his alone; they belong to the whole Ewing family. This is why we shouldn’t question “Dallas’s” ability to keep going after Larry Hagman’s death. His loss leaves a hole that will never be filled, but the “Dallas” themes have always been bigger than any one character. So far the new show has done a hell of a good job reminding us of this.

In addition to keeping J.R.’s spirit alive, “Love and Honor” director Randy Zisk also showcases Brenda Strong and Emma Bell, who deliver standout performances during Ann’s confrontation with her daughter at the scene of Emma’s car wreck. My heart breaks for Emma when she lashes out at Ann for allowing the controlling Rylands to take her away when she was a child (“You escaped! You did four years! I did 20, Ann!”). I also cheer when Ann tells her daughter she won’t bail her out until she agrees to get help for her addictions. “Why are you doing this?” Emma screams as Sheriff Derrick leads her away in handcuffs. “Because I’m your mother!” Ann responds. This is probably Bell’s best scene yet and Strong’s finest moment since Ann’s testimony in “Trial and Error.” (Perhaps not coincidentally, that episode, like “Love and Family,” was written by John Whelpley, who joined the “Dallas” writing team this season.)

“Love and Family’s” other great performances come from Jordana Brewster and Kuno Becker, who knock me out in the scene where Drew finally confesses his role in the rig explosion to Elena. Brewster has to convey a lot of emotions – shock, anger, disappointment – all in the same breath. She sells every one. Likewise, Becker makes me feel Drew’s anguish and guilt. These two actors have another terrific scene at the end of the episode when Elena and Carmen (Marlene Forte, who holds her own against her on-screen children) bring Drew money and bid him farewell as he sets off to find Harris’s missing henchman, Roy Vickers. It’s a measure of how much I’ve come to like Becker that as I watch Drew ride away on his motorcycle, I find myself worried for the character.

The same thing can’t be said about Cliff. The scene where we learn Katherine willed her share of the Barnes-Wentworth empire to him raised the ire of “Dallas” diehards who remember there was never any love lost between those two characters. I suspect we’re going to find out there’s more to this story. Perhaps Cliff cheated Katherine out of her share, or maybe she faked her death and is in cahoots with him in his plot against the Ewings. (On “Dallas,” stranger alliances have occurred.) Either way, this seems to be another nail in Cliff’s coffin. The character has turned so villainous; it’s hard for me to imagine how the show can redeem him.

More and more, I wonder if we might be witnessing the last hurrah of Cliff Barnes. Ken Kercheval was positively chilling at the beginning of the season, when Cliff was so focused on bringing down the Ewings, he allowed Frank to kill himself rather than disrupt his schemes. Since J.R.’s death, Kercheval has given us glimpses of the man Cliff used to be – a sweeping hand gesture here, a self-satisfied smirk there – which is a clever way of signaling how Cliff is letting his guard down. (Costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s choices for Cliff’s wardrobe might be telling too. Notice how his all-black outfits are slowly giving way to more colorful garments. Even the old pocket squares are back.) With the Rylands now established as potent Ewing foes, I wonder if John Ross and Pamela’s wedding in this episode will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the Barnes/Ewing feud – or will it serve as a kind of denouement?

With these questions on my mind, I can’t help but find Bobby’s slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of this episode kind of poignant. After all these years, Cliff has gotten his revenge. (Tellingly, the title of the terrific song that plays during this sequence is “My Time Has Come” by the Bowery Riots.) Even if you don’t like Cliff, you have to admire his persistence. You also have to admit: It’s going to be mighty satisfying to see the Ewings take this bastard down.

Grade: A

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Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Love and Family, Pamela Barnes, TNT

Here we go again?

‘LOVE AND FAMILY’

Season 2, Episode 13

Telecast: April 8, 2013

Writer: John Whelpley

Director: Randy Zisk

Audience: 2.4 million viewers on April 8

Synopsis: John Ross marries Pamela after she persuades Cliff to give her one-third of Barnes Global. Cliff takes control of Ewing Energies. After Emma gets high and wrecks her car, Ann refuses to bail her out. Drew confesses his role in the bombing to Elena, who gives him money after he goes on the run to find the missing Vickers. Christopher and Elena leave for Zurich to find Pam.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Will Beinbrink (Curran), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Ralph Brown (justice of the peace), Ron Corning (news anchor), Jerry Cotton (judge), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Todd Everett (prosecutor), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Cynthia Izaguirre (news anchor), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“Love and Family” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 11

Ewings, united

Ewings, united

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “A Call to Arms” and “Love and Family,” the latest episodes from “Dallas’s” second season:

• Will Ewing Energies collapse? In “Let Me In,” last week’s episode, the Ewings were shocked to learn the state was: a) blaming Christopher’s technology for the Ewing Energies rig explosion, and b) fining the company $1 billion. The family vowed to fight back, but the conspiracy against them was bigger than they realized: Governor Sam McConaughey (Steven Weber), one of Harris’s allies, covered up the truth about the blast, which was caused by Cliff and Harris’s bomb. Later, Ken (Lee Majors) sent Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) documents that suggest the governor is in Harris’s pocket, but it was too little, too late: McConaughey used his power to seize the Henderson drilling site, effectively cutting off the Ewings’ oil fortune as the deadline to pay the fine loomed. How will the family get out of this jam?

• Will Pamela turn on Cliff? The rig explosion caused Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) to lose her unborn twins, sending her into a depression. John Ross (Josh Henderson) comforted Pamela and told her the rig was sabotaged, which seemed to revive her fighting spirit. “Promise me that when you find out who did this, you’ll make them pay,” she told Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe). Once Pamela discovers Cliff (Ken Kercheval) ordered the explosion, will she align herself with the Ewings in their battle against him?

What will happen to Drew and Emma? Southfork’s newest lovebirds, Drew and Emma (Kuno Becker, Emma Bell), grew closer even as they wrestled with their inner demons. Guilt-ridden Drew hasn’t told Elena (Jordana Brewster) or anyone else that he planted the bomb on the rig. Meanwhile, after Sue Ellen spotted Emma in a bar getting high and flirting with an older man, Sue Ellen told Ann (Brenda Strong), who realized she doesn’t know her daughter as well as she thinks. Of course, this might be the least of Emma’s troubles. When she defied Harris’s orders to stop seeing Drew, Harris had the young man savagely beaten, then showed Emma the results of his handiwork. “No more looking for trouble, OK?” Harris sad. “Yes, Daddy,” she responded through tears. Will Emma really obey him?

Will Bobby solve J.R.’s puzzle? Carlos (Castulo Guerra), J.R.’s Mexican friend, introduced Bobby (Patrick Duffy) to Rhonda (Emily Kosloski), the mystery woman who was supposedly seen entering J.R.’s Nuevo Laredo hotel room on the night he died. Rhonda told Bobby she is the hostess in a club owned by members of the local drug cartel, and that J.R. wanted to speak to her because Harris frequents the club. She explained: “J.R.’s not the first man to invite me back to his hotel room. He just wanted to talk. Share a drink. He was kind to me. Gentlemen are in such short supply where I work. I’m so sorry, what happened to your brother.” Did she tell Bobby the truth?

Where’s Pam? Speaking of J.R.: After Bobby told Sue Ellen about her ex-husband’s master scheme, John Ross found a copy of Rebecca Wentworth’s will, which showed she left her estate – including her shares of Barnes Global – to her three children: Katherine, Cliff and Pam. “If we can get Pam’s shares, we can kick the legs out from under Cliff,” Bobby said. “That’s why J.R. wanted us to find Pam. That’s our move.” Has the time come for Bobby to finally confront his ex-wife?

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 10

Will she let him in?

Will she let him in?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Let Me In,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

How will Pamela cope? In “Guilt and Innocence,” last week’s episode, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) was rushed to the hospital after being injured in the explosion aboard the Ewing Energies rig. She had emergency surgery to save the lives of her unborn twins but suffered complications after the procedure. In the final scene, the babies’ hearts stopped beating. How will this loss affect Pamela and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), their relationship with each other and their relationships with John Ross and Elena (Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster)?

Will Christopher be vindicated? Christopher feared his technology caused the explosion, but Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) was convinced her nephew wasn’t to blame. She turned to Ken Richards (Lee Majors), an old flame who is now one of the chairmen of the state board investigating the blast, and asked him for inside information. Ken poked around and told Sue Ellen the evidence suggests the rig was bombed, although it would be “months before anything official comes out.” When Sue Ellen relayed this information to John Ross and Christopher, they immediately suspected Cliff (Ken Kercheval) was the saboteur. Will the cousins be able to prove their suspicions?

What’s Harris’s next move? After Judith (Judith Light) fell down the stairs, she was taken to the hospital, where she tried to persuade Emma (Emma Bell) that Harris was out to get them. Emma didn’t believe Judith, much to Harris’s relief. To get his mother out of his hair (so to speak), Harris (Mitch Pileggi) had her drugged and shipped to a rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, Emma slept with Drew (Kuno Becker), who was consumed with guilt over his role in the bombing and refused to obey when Vickers (Alex Fernandez) ordered him to leave town. With the ice thawing between Harris and Emma, will he try to interfere with her relationship with Drew?

What’s the governor got to do with this? “Let Me In” will introduce Steven Weber as “Dallas’s” newest villain: Governor McConaughey. In “Ewings Unite!,” Cliff told Harris that one of the reasons he wanted to form an alliance with him is because Harris has “a certain friendship with our governor.” Will McConaughey help Harris influence the investigation into the rig explosion?

Where in the world is Pam Ewing? After the blast, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) finally forgave Ann (Brenda Strong) for keeping her past from him. All was well until the end of the episode, when Bobby received an update on J.R.’s investigation into Pam’s disappearance: It seems she entered Abu Dhabi with a man – “presumably her husband,” according to the report – in 1989. The news rattled Ann. What does it mean for Ann’s marriage to Bobby – and what does it have to do with J.R.’s death?

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