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.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 127 — ‘Cuba Libre’

Cuba Libre, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Black box

J.R. hopscotches across the Caribbean in “Cuba Libre,” making this one of the first “Dallas” episodes that require location subtitles. Our hero flies first to Puerto Rico, where he persuades Garcia, the greedy middleman in his Cuban oil deal, to slash his “fee” by 90 percent. Next, J.R. visits Havana to claim the $40 million owed to him by the mysterious moneyman Perez. This trip doesn’t go as smoothly. As soon as J.R. arrives at the airport, Cuban soldiers seize him with no explanation. J.R. protests his treatment loudly, and in the memorable final scene, as the soldiers toss him into a jail cell and slam the door, we hear him shout, “Hey! Hey! My name is J.R. Ewing!”

None of J.R.’s scenes are actually filmed in foreign locales, but the producers do an adequate job faking it. (This is also true of the scenes involving Pam, who spends this hour in the French Riviera, where Mark Graison shamelessly ignores his promise to leave her alone while she’s on vacation.) Stock footage is used for the establishing shots, with most of the scenes filmed on soundstages. One shot is nifty. Before the Cubans jail J.R., they interrogate him in a room that is pitch black, except for the ceiling light that shines on him. Filmmakers have been using this trick in interrogation scenes for years, but when it’s a scowl-faced Larry Hagman surrounded by darkness, the effect is especially sinister. (Almost three decades later, Marc Roskin would discover this for himself when he shoots a wizened Hagman in a pitch-black room in the TNT episode “The Last Hurrah.”)

The international intrigue in “Cuba Libre” is nicely balanced with several scenes that showcase the warmth within the family Ewing. Donna encourages Miss Ellie to admit that she might be developing feelings for Clayton, while Ray gently assures Mickey that his visiting mother, the homespun Lil Trotter, will have no trouble fitting in with the wealthy Ewings. I also like the scene where Sue Ellen visits Ewing Oil to quiz Bobby about J.R.’s relationship with Holly Harwood. The exchange, which draws on the easy rapport between Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy, ends with Bobby admiring Sue Ellen’s loyalty to her husband. “It’s not very often that I envy J.R. Maybe today I do, just a little,” he says before giving her a sweet peck on the cheek.

Duffy and Gray also figure into this episode’s sharpest scenes. In the first, Bobby visits the Cattleman’s Club and runs into Cliff, who offers to buy his frozen Canadian property. “Barnes, hell will freeze a lot colder than that field before I sell anything to you,” Bobby says. Cliff’s below-the-belt response: “So will your marriage.” Meanwhile, Sue Ellen visits Holly and tells her she doesn’t believe Holly’s claim that she’s having an affair with J.R. “You are a very sick little girl,” Sue Ellen seethes. I probably should feel sorry for Sue Ellen in this scene, since her faith in her husband is obviously misplaced. Yet somehow, this feels like a moment of triumph for Sue Ellen. Maybe it’s because no one delivers bitchy dialogue better than Gray.

The true champ in “Cuba Libre,” though, is Katherine Wentworth. She arranges for Bobby to use the Tundra Torque, an experiment drill bit developed by Wentworth Tool and Die, to penetrate his frozen Canadian field. Cliff finds out and refuses to give his blessing, but no matter. Bobby still seems mighty impressed by Katherine’s efforts to help him win the contest for Ewing Oil. Indeed, twice in this episode, Katherine brings high-ranking executives from the Wentworth companies to Bobby’s office to help him solve his Canadian drilling problem. Neither meeting lasts more than two minutes, making me wonder why these conversations couldn’t have been conducted over the phone.

Maybe these men know something the “Dallas” characters have yet to figure out: When Katherine Wentworth asks you to do something, you don’t turn her down.

Grade: B


Cuba Libre, Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

Never say never


Season 6, Episode 24

Airdate: March 25, 1983

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leonard Katzman

Director: Robert C. Thompson

Synopsis: J.R. pays off Garcia and travels to Cuba, where he’s thrown in jail. Katherine tells Bobby he can use the Tundra Torque, a cold-weather drill bit being developed by Wentworth Tool and Die, but Cliff refuses to give his blessing. After Bobby tells Sue Ellen that Holly has a vendetta against J.R., Sue Ellen concludes Holly is lying about her affair with J.R. Mark charms Pam during their trip to France. Lil visits and questions Mickey’s relationship with Lucy.

Cast: John Anderson (Richard McIntyre), Rita Rogers Aragon (Cuban guide), Terrence Beasor (businessman), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Henry Darrow (Garcia), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Erwin Fuller (businessman), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Britt Leach (Sperry), Santos Morales (Cuban leader), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Robert Pinkerton (Elliot), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Kate Reid (Lil Trotter), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Hansford Rowe (Andrew Forrest), Susan Saldivar (Maria), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Thomas Thomas (businessman), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ is on DVD. Go Ahead and Get Carried Away.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, No Good Deed, TNT

Arrested development

The first season of TNT’s “Dallas” was released on DVD last week. It has all 10 episodes and 2 hours of bonus material, including some Larry Hagman goodness you’ve never seen before.

In other words: Take a day off work. You’re going to need it.

The extras feature more than 25 deleted scenes, including three sequences starring Hagman. My favorite: a moving exchange from “Family Business” in which J.R. promises Ann he’ll protect Sue Ellen from Harris. I won’t give away anything else here, but trust me: This scene alone is worth the price of admission.

A lot of this unused footage will help you see the characters more clearly. Examples: We finally get to see the moment Sue Ellen decides to run for governor, as well as a wonderful exchange where Christopher talks about what it was like for him to grow up as Bobby’s son. The latter scene features beautiful performances from Jesse Metcalfe and Patrick Duffy, who described it as one of his favorite first-season moments during my brief chat with him last year.

Curiously, the deleted scenes don’t include the one with Josh Henderson from the publicity shot above, which TNT released to promote “No Good Deed,” the episode where John Ross is arrested for Marta’s murder. We also don’t get to see J.R. and Sue Ellen’s dance from “The Last Hurrah,” although given the number of fans who are clamoring for it, something tells me it won’t stay buried forever.

(We do, however, get to see Elena’s visit to a bank, where she scans a plaque listing the board of directors. Sue Ellen’s name is there, along with production designer Richard Berg and other members of the “Dallas” crew.)

The DVD’s other highlight: an audio commentary from executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, who do a nice job explaining how much work – and love – went into making the “Changing of the Guard” pilot. Robin, the episode’s director, calls the scene where Bobby visits J.R. in the nursing home one of the highlights of his career, while Cidre reveals it took 10 hours to film the episode’s fantastic dinner scene.

The bonus material also includes new segments on the making of the first season and “Dallas” lore. Also included: the behind-the-scenes production videos that were posted on the “Dallas” website last year, including costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s fun “Dressing Dallas” piece.

I could go on, but really, why are you still reading this? Go get the DVD and see for yourself!

Life After J.R.

“Dallas’s” second season begins two weeks from tonight, and the press is beginning to publish stories about what we’ll see. The best preview so far comes from Entertainment Weekly’s Karen Valby, who reports Hagman filmed five episodes before his death on November 23. An extra scene that had been cut from an earlier episode will be inserted into the sixth installment, while Episode 7, which Cidre handwrote in the days after Hagman’s death, will explain J.R.’s absence. His funeral will be seen in Episode 8, which TNT will telecast Monday, March 11.

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

Dallas Parallels: Strange Bedfellows

On “Dallas,” business routinely makes strange bedfellows, but the unlikeliest alliance of all might be formed in the second-season episode “Fallen Idol,” when J.R. and Pam join forces to squelch Bobby’s plan to build a shopping center on Southfork.

J.R.’s motivation is selfish – he doesn’t want the land developed because he’s secretly plotting to drill for oil there – but Pam has only Bobby’s interests at heart: She doesn’t trust his partner Guzzler Bennett and believes Bobby shouldn’t do business with him.

In one of the episode’s best scenes, J.R. takes Pam to lunch at a posh restaurant, where he confirms Pam’s suspicions by handing her a detective’s report that details Guzzler’s shady dealings. When Pam wonders how she’ll persuade Bobby to pull out of the deal, J.R. delivers a deliciously bitchy backhanded compliment: “Well. You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.”

The line echoes three decades into the future, when John Ross finds himself in a bind of his own. To gain leverage against Mitch Lobell, the sleazy lawyer who is extorting money from him, John Ross sets out to frame Lobell’s son Ricky, a recovering drug addict who’ll go to prison if he’s caught relapsing. To pull this off, John Ross enlists Rebecca, his cousin Christopher’s new bride.

John Ross’s scheme, which unfolds in “The Last Hurrah,” TNT’s fourth “Dallas” episode, is more devious – and complicated – than the one his daddy masterminded in “Fallen Idol.” Since Rebecca has no reason to want to help him, John Ross blackmails her by threatening to expose the fact the e-mail that broke up Christopher and Elena two years earlier came from Rebecca’s computer.

When Rebecca wonders how she’s supposed to get Ricky to do drugs again, John Ross delivers a J.R.-worthy backhanded compliment: “Now, Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out.”

In the end, both unlikely alliances are derailed by last-minute changes of heart. In “Fallen Idol,” Guzzler has an attack of conscience and pulls out of his deal with Bobby; in “The Last Hurrah,” Rebecca comes close to getting Ricky to relapse but backs out at the 11th hour, prompting Marta del Sol to finish the deal on John Ross’s behalf.

J.R. and Pam teamed again during the classic show’s “dream season,” when they became reluctant partners at Ewing Oil. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of John Ross and Rebecca’s unholy alliance either.


‘You’re a Very Clever Woman, Pam. You’ll Think of Something.’


In “Fallen Idol,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. and Pam (Larry Hagman, Victoria Principal) sit across from each other in a posh restaurant.

PAM: Your invitation came as quite a shock. I never imagined the two of us having lunch together.

J.R.: Well, you’re a member of the family now. You fought for it and you won, and I think it’s time we bury the hatchet.

PAM: [Smiles] J.R., please don’t make me lose this good food. Why don’t you try telling me the truth for a change?

J.R.: [Chuckles] You always could see right through me, couldn’t you?

PAM: Like glass.

J.R.: Well, do you believe I care for Bobby?

PAM: I think it’s debatable.

J.R.: Well, let’s see if we can find something we both agree on. You love Bobby, right?

PAM: You know I do.

J.R.: You’d do anything to protect him from harm?

PAM: [Concerned] Who’s going to harm Bobby?

J.R.: Guzzler. I think you’d better read this. He’s getting Bobby involved so deeply in this building project, he may never get out of it. [Hands Pam documents]

PAM: What’s all this mean?

J.R.: Read it. You’ll find out that Guzzler is not only broke, he’s a crook. He was building an office complex down in New Orleans. Ran out on his partner, left him holding the bag. The company went under and they never even finished digging the foundations. Then he went up to Montana, big pile of money, started some sort of phony land deal. That collapsed. The authorities are still trying to unravel it to find out who to file charges against. Then Guzzler went looking for another mark – and he found one: Bobby.

PAM: J.R., if I don’t trust you, how am I supposed to trust this report?

J.R.: I’ll let you talk to a private investigator if you want to, or you can hire your own. I’ll pay for it.

PAM: Why didn’t you tell all this to Bobby yourself?

J.R.: Well, I can’t say anything bad about Guzzler. Bobby’s got some kind of blind spot where that man is concerned.

PAM: Yeah, I know.

J.R.: I want you to stop this project before Bobby signs any agreement with him.

PAM: And how can I do that?

J.R.: Well, you’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.

PAM: J.R., what are you getting out of this?

J.R.: Does it matter?


‘Rebecca, You Strike Me as an Extremely Resourceful Woman’


In “The Last Hurrah,” the fourth episode of TNT’s “Dallas,” Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) meets John Ross (Josh Henderson) near an abandoned building.

REBECCA: I told you on the phone I don’t know anything about any e-mail.

JOHN ROSS: [Pulls a piece of paper out of the envelope in his hand and shows it to her] Maybe that will refresh your memory. I had somebody trace this back to your IP address. You really know how to break a girl’s heart. That stuff you wrote was mean.

REBECCA: [Shakes her head] I didn’t send this. I swear.

JOHN ROSS: If that’s true, then why’d you come?

REBECCA: I came because you’re accusing me of something I didn’t do.

JOHN ROSS: [Turns his back] You’re going to have to be a lot more convincing than that if you want Christopher to believe you.

REBECCA: [Steps forward, holds the paper] No, you can’t show this to him.

JOHN ROSS: I don’t want to have to. That depends on you.

REBECCA: But I didn’t send it!

JOHN ROSS: The proof is in your hand. Now, I need you to do something for me.

REBECCA: What do you want me to do?

JOHN ROSS: [Smiles, hands her the envelope] This guy’s a drug addict. I need you to get pictures of him doing drugs.

REBECCA: You can’t be serious. How am I supposed to pull that off?

JOHN ROSS: Now, Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out. And once you do, I’ll let you get away with whatever scam you’re trying to pull on my dimwitted cousin. [She slides the envelope in her bag as John Ross walks away.]

What do you think of J.R. and John Ross’s unlikely alliances with Pam and Rebecca? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 1

The first season of TNT’s “Dallas” brought the Ewings back to series television after a two-decade absence. I loved it – mostly.


Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

The Great One

The new “Dallas” cast divides into two categories: Larry Hagman and everyone else. As the now-elderly J.R., Hagman was sometimes mischievous, sometimes moving and always magical. Trying to figure out how Hagman does what he does is futile, so I just sit back and enjoy the ride. Nominate him in a supporting category if you must, but if Larry the Great doesn’t take home an Emmy next year, we should all raise hell.

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Rebecca Barnes, Rebecca Sutter, TNT

Your next queen

Among the rest of the cast, give it up for Julie Gonzalo, who made Rebecca’s desperation palpable as the character’s world collapsed in the season’s final hours. Seeing Rebecca drag around Tommy’s dead body in “Revelations” reminded me of when Abby Ewing did something similar on “Knots Landing” – which is fitting since Gonzalo seems destined to claim Donna Mills’s crown as television’s next great queen bee.


The war for Southfork was the ideal vehicle to re-introduce “Dallas,” not just because the storyline ensnared every character – even Gary got involved – but also because it helped keep alive the memory of Miss Ellie, whose ghost looms over the new show the way Jock’s did on the old one.

The most incomplete plot: Sue Ellen’s run for governor. The character’s foray into politics can be seen as a logical outgrowth of her civic activism on the original show (remember all those Daughters of the Alamo luncheons Sue Ellen hosted?), but I wish the new series had acknowledged some of the skeletons rattling around her closet. Given Sue Ellen’s scandalous past, shouldn’t voters have been more skeptical of her candidacy?


Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Scarred, inside and out

“Family Business,” the episode where J.R. returns the Southfork deed to Bobby, is as good as any of the best entries from the classic series. This intimate hour offered poignant performances from Hagman and Patrick Duffy, but no one moved me like Josh Henderson, especially in the scene where John Ross pours out his heart to Elena about his failure to live up to J.R.’s legend (“I spent my entire life missing him, wanting to be with him, wanting to be him.”).

“The Last Hurrah,” the Ewing barbecue episode, was the season’s biggest letdown. It brought together more original cast members than any other TNT entry – in addition to J.R., Bobby and Sue Ellen, we also saw Cliff, Ray and Lucy – yet these old favorites shared little screen time. On the other hand, allow me to defend “The Last Hurrah’s” much-maligned calf-birthing sequence, a metaphor I appreciated, even if the snarkmeisters at Entertainment Weekly didn’t.


As fantastic as J.R. and John Ross’s tense-then-tender “shaving scene” was in “The Price You Pay,” nothing wowed me like Ann’s sting against smarmy ex-husband Harris Ryland in “Revelations.” What a great scene! I liked Brenda Strong’s character from the beginning, but this was the moment that made me love her. Somewhere, Miss Ellie is smiling.


Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT

Great twist!

The new “Dallas’s” twist-a-minute storytelling was often too much, but not always: The moment Ann exposed the mic she was using to record Ryland’s confession was terrific, and so was the big reveal at the end of “Changing of the Guard,” when the audience learned J.R. and Marta were in cahoots.

Meanwhile, what should have been the season’s biggest twist – the revelation that Rebecca is Cliff’s daughter – was no surprise at all, at least not to “Dallas” diehards. Gonzalo’s character’s first name was a huge tipoff, and once we discovered Cliff had become a high-stakes gambler, her “Changing of the Guard” reference to her poker-playing daddy became another big clue. Still, seeing Cliff emerge from his jet in the final moments of “Revelations” – and then hearing Frank Ashkani refer to Rebecca as “Miss Barnes” – was pretty damn cool.


Charlene Tilton’s appearance in “Collateral Damage,” when Lucy and John Ross reminisced about his boyhood antics while brunching at the Omni, was fabulous. Let this serve as the model for integrating old favorites into new storylines.

Less enthralling: The “Truth and Consequences” scene featuring Jerry Jones. Nothing against the Dallas Cowboys owner, but why remind fans of the dreadful 1998 reunion reunion movie “War of the Ewings,” which also featured a Jones cameo?


Dallas, Leonor Varela, Marta Del Sol, Veronica Martinez, TNT

Nut’s landing

The TNT series spent a lot of time honoring its predecessor. Among the best tributes: Ann’s penchant for shotguns and pearls (a la Miss Ellie), Marta’s deadly dive in “Collateral Damage” (shades of Julie Grey) and John Ross’s “Changing of the Guard” meeting with Marta at Cowboys Stadium, which evoked J.R.’s many stadium encounters in days of yore.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out some of the historical liberties the new show took: Ellie’s commitment to a sanitarium after Jock’s death (when did this happen?), Grandpa Southworth giving the Ewing brothers the Southfork mineral rights (Ellie controlled them on the old show) and Cliff’s visit to Islamabad in the early 1980s (did he do it during the summer reruns?).


Carlos Bernard was effectively oily as Vicente Cano and Faran Tahir makes Frank a genuinely frightening dude, but my prize for best villain goes to Mitch Pileggi, whose Harris Ryland was creepy and charming all at once. Here’s hoping Pileggi will become the new “Dallas’s” answer to Jeremy Wendell, J.R.’s best adversary from the old show, played by the great William Smithers.

Supporting Players

Dallas, Margaret Bowman, Mrs. Henderson, TNT

Mrs. Henderson, Presented

Let’s hear it for the supporting actors – many of them honest-to-goodness Texans – who didn’t log a lot of screen time but made each moment count. My favorites: Richard Dillard, who was perfectly sleazy as Bobby’s double-dealing lawyer Mitch Lobell; Glenn Morshower as Lobell’s no-nonsense replacement, Lou; Brett Brock, who had real presence as John Ross’s private eye, Clyde Marshall; Kevin Page, who was oddly endearing as J.R.’s henchman Bum; and Margaret Bowman, who was a hoot as Southfork neighbor Miss Henderson.


TNT’s heavy use of music on “Dallas” might be the new show’s best innovation of all. In “Hedging Your Bets,” J.R. and Sue Ellen reunited at the Cattle Baron’s Ball to the sounds of Justin Townes Earle’s gorgeous “Midnight at the Movies,” while Adele’s “Turning Tables” was the ideal soundtrack for Christopher and Rebecca’s “Changing of the Guard” wedding sequence.

The real highlight: the instant classic montage that concluded “Family Business,” when Bobby’s collapse and Rebecca and Tommy’s gun struggle played out as Johnny Cash’s “The Man Who Came Around” boomed in the background. And while Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” was a fine choice to end “Revelations,” I hope the show doesn’t return to that particular well for awhile.


Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Cool zip

The zip-front dress Sue Ellen wore when she visited Ryland in “The Enemy of My Enemy” was the perfect garment for a woman who was exposing her vulnerabilities in a bid to help her son. I also liked how the dress showed Linda Gray, now in her 70s, could still be sexy and playful.


Loved the groovy spectrum artwork in Sue Ellen’s office. Hated the watercolor painting of Jock and Ellie that hangs in the Southfork living room.


As much as I enjoyed all the hilarious stuff that came out of J.R.’s mouth, Sue Ellen delivered the season’s best line in “No Good Deed” when she blackmailed the hapless medical examiner by reminding him, “You’ve been writing more prescriptions than Michael Jackson’s doctor – which is odd, since all of your patients are dead.”

Biggest head-scratcher: “We ain’t family, bro.” – John Ross’s putdown of Christopher in “Hedging Your Bets.”

Behind the Scenes

Much praise goes to the many talented folks on the other side of the camera, including Michael M. Robin, the most inventive director in the history of the “Dallas” franchise; cinematographer Rodney Charters, who makes the real-life Dallas look so good, the city should name a street after him; and the TNT Publicity Machine, which did a helluva job promoting the show in the months before its debut.

Of course, the biggest hat tip goes to Cynthia Cidre, the new “Dallas’s” creative force. After an uneven start, Cidre – with help from a team of talented writers – brought “Dallas” back to its roots as a character-driven family drama. Let’s hope they keep the momentum going in Season 2.

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

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Ken Kercheval

Ken Kercheval

TNT’s “Dallas” just finished its first season with three big revelations: Cliff Barnes is Rebecca’s father (!), the mastermind behind her scheme (!!), and the owner of a really cool jet (!!!). Ken Kercheval, Cliff’s real-life alter ego, graciously spoke to me this week about his iconic character and what the future might hold for the Barneses and the Ewings.

So tell me: What’s it like to be playing Cliff Barnes again after all these years?

Same old, same old. I know this guy pretty well so it’s just like putting on the same set of clothes that you wore a few years back.

When the producers invited you to reprise the role, did they talk to you about the direction they were planning to take Cliff?

The only thing they said is that he had gone off and become very, very, very rich. Richer than the Ewings. That’s it. That’s absolutely all I know.

Cliff has done a pretty mean thing, using his daughter to get back at the Ewings – including his nephew Christopher. What do you think of that?

Damned if I know. I swear, I don’t have a clue. [The producers] are very, very close-mouthed about where they’re going with it.

Will you be back next season?

I will be. So far they only have four episodes written and I know I’m in the fourth one. I’ll be filming that at the very beginning of November, and then I go to England to do the Irving Berlin musical “White Christmas.”

Maybe you’ll get to work with Linda Gray again. You two always had great chemistry.

She’s always fun to work with. She knows what she’s doing. I think [the writers] should rekindle Cliff and Sue Ellen’s love affair.

Cliff in “The Last Hurrah” (Photo credit: Zade Rosenthal/TNT)

I think that would be great.

I do too!

You two filmed a scene this season that was cut before TNT showed the episode [“The Last Hurrah”] on television. Can you tell us what we missed?

There’s a scene outside the opera house where we’re walking along [and] I’ve offered [Sue Ellen] my financial support for her running for governor. And she says she has to turn it down. And I [say], “Why? Have you got a better offer?” And I just stop her and say, “J.R. is absolutely never going to change. Don’t bank on [him] because the man will never change.”

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see that. Hopefully when the first season is released on DVD, the scenes that were edited out will be included as extras.

Maybe. I never could figure out why they were cut. To begin with, the one scene was replaced by the birthing of that calf.

What did you make of that?

I thought, what’s that relevant to? I didn’t understand it. But, you know, it’s not my place to understand it. I think the writers are extremely clever. And I know that Cynthia [Cidre, the executive producer] told me that her team of writers sat down and watched every single episode that had ever been filmed of the [original] show. I said, “I hope they got paid well.” That’s a lot of work.

What was it like to film the airport hangar scene where Rebecca is revealed as Cliff’s daughter?

Cold. Very, very, very cold. But it was nice working with Julie [Gonzalo, who plays Rebecca]. She’s so good! Among the younger cast, she’s the only one besides [Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Christopher] that I’ve done a scene with.

You think highly of Cynthia Cidre, too.

She’s fantastic. Oh, she is one smart woman. She really knows what she’s doing.

If we can go back in time for a minute, you and Larry Hagman are the only actors who were regulars during all 14 seasons of the original “Dallas.” Do you have favorite scenes from the old show that stand out?

When I first reunited with my mom [Rebecca Wentworth, played by Priscilla Pointer], I think, is my favorite scene.

The “licorice scene” where Cliff tearfully offers his mother her favorite candy. I love that one too.

That was a powerful scene for me.

You also had one with Barbara Bel Geddes, where Cliff sits with Miss Ellie on a park bench and basically makes amends for the whole Barnes-Ewing feud.

Oh, definitely. I remember that scene very well because we almost never worked together. [Before filming] I went to her trailer and we were going over the lines and I said, “Well, right here, when I say this line, can you turn and look at me?” And she thought about it and said, “Well, I don’t think that would be right, Kenny.” So then when we filmed the scene, I delivered that line and she didn’t look at me so I didn’t say my next line. And so finally she looked at me. And when the scene was over, she said, “You dirty dog. I told you I didn’t want to look at you and you tricked me into looking at you!”

Barbara was my best friend on the show, off stage. My very best friend. She’d say, “Kenny, if you were just a little bit older or I was a little bit younger….”

When you were playing Cliff the first time around, did you like him?

Yeah, I did. I really did. I thought he was a nice guy too. J.R. was coming after my ass all the time, so I was always had to defend myself. If I did something that wasn’t quite right, it’s because I had to.

Well, now Cliff seems to have the upper hand. I’m looking forward to seeing what his next move will be.

I am too!

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

Things Ewings Say

Things Ewings Say copy

Don’t darlin’ her either

J.R. isn’t the only sharp-tongued Ewing on TNT’s “Dallas.” To help you prepare for tomorrow’s telecast of “Revelations,” the first-season finale, we offer this review of memorable lines from other characters.

• “Count your blessings, Christopher. Those two old geezers would still find a reason to fight.”

Lucy (Charlene Tilton), after her cousin announces J.R. and Cliff won’t be able to attend his wedding in “Changing of the Guard”

• “We ain’t family, bro.”

John Ross (Josh Henderson) to Christopher in “Hedging Your Bets”

• “OK, can we just go bake something?”

Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), after failing to hit the target during shooting practice with Ann in “The Price You Pay”

• “Hair loss isn’t one of them, right?”

Bobby (Patrick Duffy), upon hearing his new medication has side effects in “The Price You Pay”

• “You got your daddy’s charm. Let’s hope you didn’t get his morals.”

Miss Henderson (Margaret Bowman), responding to John Ross’s sweet talk in “The Last Hurrah”

“He was dyslexic, not stupid.”

Elena (Jordana Brewster), responding to J.R.’s quip about John Ross’s childhood aversion to reading, in “The Last Hurrah”

“I know all the things Daddy used to say.”

Bobby, after J.R. quotes Jock for the umpteenth time, in “Truth and Consequences”

“I like your husband. And I always thought his brother was a prick.”

Harris (Mitch Pileggi), agreeing to Ann’s request to help Bobby by cancelling his contract with J.R. in “Truth and Consequences”

• “The people in Texas are way too friendly. It tries my nerves.”

Tommy (Callard Harris) in “The Enemy of My Enemy”

• “What now?”

John Ross, after Bobby and Christopher enter his room in “The Enemy of My Enemy”

“I’m sorry I threw up in your bathroom.”

Rebecca to Elena in “Collateral Damage”

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Yep, he’s his mama’s son.’”

Lucy, recalling the time she found John Ross drunk after he broke into the Southfork liquor cabinet as a child, in “Collateral Damage”

• “You’ve been writing more prescriptions than Michael Jackson’s doctor – which is odd, since all of your patients are dead.”

Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), blackmailing a medical examiner in “No Good Deed”

“If I catch you anywhere near Bobby’s room, I’ll shoot you. And since you have no heart, it’ll be somewhere more vital.”

Ann (Brenda Strong), chasing J.R. away from her ill husband in “Family Business”

What’s your favorite quote from “Dallas’s” first season? Share your choices below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Things Ewings Say (J.R. Edition)

Things Ewings Say (J.R. Edition) copy


If the first season of TNT’s “Dallas” taught us anything, it’s this: J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) still has a way with words. With “Revelations,” the eagerly awaited season finale two days away, here’s a look back at some of his best lines.

• “Son, the courts are for amateurs and the faint of heart.”

Responding to John Ross’s suggestion that he could win a legal fight with Bobby in “Changing of the Guard”

• “Son, never pass up a good chance to shut up.”

Imparting more wisdom to John Ross in “Hedging Your Bets”

• “I hate to hit a man below the belt, but you know I will.”

Threatening Mitch Lobell in “Hedging Your Bets”

• “Time has not been kind to that face.”

Upon seeing Cliff Barnes for the first time in many years in “The Price You Pay”

• “Bullets don’t seem to have much an effect on me, darlin’.”

Greeting a shotgun-wielding Ann in “The Price You Pay”

• “I’m going to tell you the truest thing my daddy ever told me: Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take.”

Quoting Jock to John Ross in “The Price You Pay”

• “Those people are not passing away because of old age. They’re trying to get away from the food.”

Describing the culinary options at his nursing home in “The Price You Pay”

• “That Mexican girl?”

Describing Elena in “The Last Hurrah”

• “Our girl is crazier than an outhouse rat.”

Describing Marta in “The Last Hurrah”

• “Are you really going to break bread with this lowlife?”

Upon learning Sue Ellen plans to have lunch with Cliff in “The Last Hurrah”

• “Well what fun would I get out of telling you that?”

His response when John Ross asks where he’s going in “Truth and Consequences”

• “For a chance to make money from me, Cliff Barnes would push his mama in a puddle of piranhas.”

Assessing his chances of joining Cliff’s high-stakes poker game in “The Enemy of My Enemy”

• “A cheated man is a dangerous man. Just ask my son.”

Describing Frank Ashkani in “Collateral Damage”

• “OK, I admit, I have lapses where I do wrong now and then.”

Offering Bobby the understatement of a lifetime in “Family Business”

What’s your favorite J.R. quote from “Dallas’s” first season? Share your choices below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: Ann’s Pearls

She wears them well

On the original “Dallas,” Miss Ellie’s pearl necklace symbolized her role as wife, mother and fount of wisdom. Along with the beloved matriarch’s sack dresses, those little white beads became Ellie’s most enduring signature.

On TNT’s “Dallas,” Ann’s beads serve as visual shorthand for her role as Bobby’s wife and the new woman of Southfork. The first time we see her wearing them, during that terrific dinner scene in “Changing of the Guard,” TNT’s first “Dallas” episode, we know instantly what kind of character Ann is supposed to be.

Of course, putting Ann in pearls automatically invites comparisons to Miss Ellie, which is a bit risky since Barbara Bel Geddes is so revered among “Dallas” diehards. Indeed, while I tend to see Ann’s pearls – along with her Ellie-esque penchant for guns – as affectionate tributes to Bel Geddes’ character, some of my fellow “Dallas” fans seem to view them as cheap mimicry.

Perhaps this explains “The Last Hurrah” scene where J.R. gives Ellie’s pearl necklace to Sue Ellen. It’s as if the “Dallas” producers, anticipating there might be some Ann skeptics in the audience, wanted to make sure everyone understood the character doesn’t have a monopoly on white beads. In other words: Brenda Strong might be playing the new lady of the manor, but Linda Gray has inherited Bel Geddes’ mantle as “Dallas’s” elder stateswoman, so Sue Ellen gets the honor of possessing the pearls Ellie actually wore.

But give Ann her due. In “Truth and Consequences,” the character begins coming into her own, especially in the scene where she meets Rebecca for coffee and offers the confused young woman comfort (“You’re young, Rebecca. You make mistakes when you’re young. It doesn’t mean you can’t change.”), as well as a little tough love (“Your choices are yours.”).

Strong is terrific in this scene, which demonstrates how, even though Ann doesn’t have children of her own (that we know of, that is), she has the potential to become a significant maternal figure to “Dallas’s” younger characters.

I also think it’s notable that Ann is sans necklace when she visits ex-husband Harris Ryland in “Truth and Consequences” and asks him to help slow down the drilling on Southfork.  Since Ann’s pearls symbolize her role as Bobby’s wife – and since her meeting with Ryland takes place behind Bobby’s back – it’s probably best she leaves the beads at home.

Drill Bits: For Patrick Duffy, Edits Go with the TV Territory

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Price You Pay, TNT

Don’t cut Bobby!

TNT’s “Dallas” has given audiences lots of great scenes this season, but some of the best moments – like J.R. and Sue Ellen’s dance at the Ewing barbecue in “The Last Hurrah” – have been left on the cutting room floor.

As Patrick Duffy sees it, that’s showbiz.

“Several of my favorite scenes didn’t make it to the show,” the actor told me during a conference call with bloggers and critics last month. “These scripts are so compact and so intense and every scene is so brilliantly done. You finish filming and you think I can’t wait to see that – and then it’s edited out. … You just can’t put everything in each episode.”

In some cases, scenes are merely shortened, not completely cut. “I had a scene with Jesse [Metcalfe] in a barn, which they only kept the lead-in scene for that,” Duffy said. “And they eliminated it. It was one of my favorite ones [from] that episode.”

TNT’s “Dallas” is the fourth weekly series for Duffy, who takes a Zen-like approach to the cuts. “I’ve learned to let those feelings go and just enjoy what I see,” he said.

Besides, the footage isn’t really lost. “It still exists somewhere,” Duffy said, adding the deleted scenes could wind up on TNT’s “Dallas” DVD releases.

Red, White and Ewing

TNT’s next “Dallas” episode, “Truth and Consequences,” will debut Wednesday, July 4, at 9 p.m. The cable channel had planned to pre-empt the show on Independence Day, when prime-time viewership levels tend to plummet, but reversed course and announced the schedule change yesterday. No reason was given for the about-face.

Speaking of ratings: “The Last Hurrah,” “Dallas’s” June 27 telecast, was seen by 4.1 million viewers, a small dip from the previous episode’s numbers. This week’s audience included 1.4 million adults between the ages of 18 and 49, the viewers advertisers covet.

Hopefully “Dallas’s” numbers will hold steady on July 4. Before “Truth and Consequences” premieres that evening, TNT plans to show back-to-back reruns of “Dallas’s” first four hours, beginning at 5 p.m.

And in case you’re wondering: No, this won’t be “Dallas’s” first holiday premiere.

The old show aired fresh episodes on at least seven official or “almost official” holidays: “Barbecue Two” (New Year’s Day 1982), “Mama Dearest” (New Year’s Eve 1983), “Ray’s Trial” (Veteran’s Day 1983), “Dire Straits” (Valentine’s Day 1986), “Territorial Imperative” (Halloween 1986), “The Call of the Wild” (Veteran’s Day 1988) and “The Sting” (Inauguration Day 1989).

Line of the Week

“Rebecca, you strike me as an extremely resourceful woman. I’m sure you’ll figure that out.”

I loved John Ross’s comment to Rebecca in “The Last Hurrah” – not just because Josh Henderson’s delivery was so Hagman-esque, but also because the line kind of paid tribute to the enigmatic Rebecca, who is becoming one of my “Dallas” favorites. (By the way: If you thought Julie Gonzalo was terrific in this week’s episode, wait until you see next week’s installment.)

I also couldn’t help but notice John Ross’s line echoed the “compliment” J.R. gave his favorite sister-in-law (“You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.”) in “Fallen Idol,” an episode from the original show’s second season.

Take a Shot of J.R.

A reminder: This week’s “Dallas Drinks” offering is The J.R., a shot of bourbon, peppermint schnapps and black-as-oil coffee liqueur. It’s mighty delicious – the recipe comes from Cook In/Dine Out – but it has a lot of kick. You’ve been warned.

While I’m shamelessly plugging my own stuff, a reminder that I’m in the midst of critiquing the original show’s “Who Shot J.R.?” episodes. My “A House Divided” critique was posted this week; I’ll get to the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” two-part episode next week, followed by “Nightmare” (Monday, July 9) and “Who Done It?” (Tuesday, July 10).

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