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.

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.

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Well, Big Brother, As You Wish’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Love and Family, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Raise a glass

In “Love and Family,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is in the Southfork study, pouring himself a glass of bourbon when Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) enters.

BOBBY: Hello.

SUE ELLEN: Hi Bobby. I heard about the accident. How’s Emma? And where’s Ann?

BOBBY: Well, Ann’s upstairs asleep. Emma’s in jail. Christopher and Elena are on their way to Zurich to see if they can get Pam’s one-third shares of Barnes Global. [Takes a sip]

SUE ELLEN: At least someone’s making progress. Not me. Ken Richards is still under a rock somewhere. And I have been in meetings with bank executives all day. And not one of them is willing to cover our bank loan. Two hundred million’s a lot to ask for, Bobby. [Sits]

BOBBY: Well, J.R. always said fortune and misfortune are just two buckets from the same well.

SUE ELLEN: I know this is hard, Bobby. Doing J.R.’s bidding.

BOBBY: No, Sue Ellen, this isn’t what’s hard for me. What’s hard for me is to think outside the box. To do things in a way that I’m not used to doing them. It’s usually just straight up and straightforward. Guess that’s why J.R. thought he had to spell things out for me.

SUE ELLEN: What are you talking about?

Bobby’s cell phone buzzes. He receives a text message from John Ross: “Her shares will be mine by morning.”

BOBBY: [Sits] Hubris. J.R. always knew that that was Cliff Barnes’ Achilles heel. If J.R. were here with us right now, he’d just smile and say, “Let Barnes have his day. Let that bastard go all in, think he’s won. Let him be the architect of his own disaster.” [Raises his glass to a framed photo of J.R.] Well, big brother, as you wish.

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

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Faces Tough Ratings Competition

Bobby Ewing, Call to Arms, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Steven Weber, TNT

No match

“Dallas” felt a ratings pinch on April 8, when TNT telecast back-to-back episodes against tough competition on the broadcast networks.

TNT showed the first hour, “A Call to Arms,” at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than usual. The episode drew 1.9 million viewers, including roughly 760,000 adults between ages 18 and 49, a group advertisers pay a premium to reach.

“Dallas’s” second hour, “Love and Family,” was shown in the 9 p.m. time slot, where it was seen by 2.4 million viewers, including more than 1 million people between 18 and 49. Through last week, “Dallas” has averaged about 2.7 million viewers in its Monday telecasts.

The April 8 “Dallas” double feature was seen opposite NBC’s two-hour “The Voice,” which drew 13.7 million viewers, including more than 6 million between 18 and 49, a season high for that series. Meanwhile, the second half of “Love and Family” faced CBS’s coverage of the NCAA basketball championship, which averaged 20.7 million viewers between 9:30 and 11 p.m.

“Dallas” continues to perform well with DVR users too. Last week’s telecast, “Let Me In,” attracted 2.6 million viewers on April 8, but during the next three days, DVR users boosted the audience to 3.6 million. This included 1.3 million adults between 18 and 49, a 16 percent increase over the previous week, and 1.5 million between 25 and 54, a 9 percent jump.

Et Cetera

• TNT has made no announcements, but Patrick Duffy says “Dallas” will return for a third season, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Daily News.

• “Lost” alum Sam Anderson will play Dr. David Gordon, Pam’s plastic surgeon, during the two-hour “Dallas” season finale, which will TNT will show Monday, April 15, from 9 to 11 p.m. Anderson replaces Josef Rainer, who played Gordon in 1988. Producers couldn’t locate Rainer to reprise the role, TV Guide reported yesterday.

• Dallas Divas Derby’s second brackets competition is down to its final two contestants: Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) and Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby). Vote for your favorite through April 15.

A Dallas Decoder Programming Note

I’ll be posting a little less regularly through the rest of this week. My goal is to post critiques for “A Call to Arms” and “Love and Family,” along with my selections for Scene of the Day, sometime between now and April 15. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific.

Until then, please keep the conversations going in the comments section of my recent posts. I’ll do my best to approve comments as they come in, but I probably will be unable to chime in as often as I’d like. Please know how much I appreciate your contributions, though. I hope things will get back to normal next week. Thanks for understanding.

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

‘Who Killed J.R.?’ New Questions as the Mystery Deepens

Carmen Ramos, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Harris Ryland, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Marlene Forte, Mitch Pileggi, Patricia Barrett, TNT, Who Killed J.R.? This week’s “Dallas” double feature, “A Call to Arms” and “Love and Family,” yielded some new clues in the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, along with six new questions:

1. Is Pam really alive? The Ewings’ contact in the Justice Department found a list of deposits being made to a Swiss bank account by Barnes Global. These payments mirrored the payments being made to Pam Ewing’s dormant trust. The Swiss account is linked to someone named “Patricia Barrett,” whose signature matches Pamela Barnes’.

Later, another contact e-mailed Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) a photo from a Zurich bank surveillance camera that showed Patricia, although the woman’s face was shielded by a big hat. Christopher showed the image to Bobby (Patrick Duffy), who wasn’t sure if it was his ex-wife. “It’s been 24 years since I’ve seen Pam. And then it was after that car accident. She was so badly burned, covered with bandages. I can’t tell. I can’t tell son,” Bobby said.

2. Is Katherine really dead? As Cliff (Ken Kercheval) moved closer to taking over Ewing Energies, he took Pamela (Julia Gonzalo) to lunch and presented her with a pair of emerald earrings. “They belonged to your Aunt Katherine. She willed them to me with the rest of Wentworth Estates,” Cliff said.

Was he telling the truth? On the original “Dallas,” the only thing Katherine (Morgan Brittany) gave Cliff was withering looks. Would she really have left him her estate? What if Cliff, who seems to grow more despicable with each episode, stole Katherine’s share of Barnes Global, along with her jewelry box? Or did Cliff and Katherine patch things up in the years between the old “Dallas” ended and the new one began? Did they set aside their differences and join forces to destroy the Ewings? Could Katherine be the woman in the big hat who calls herself Patricia Barrett?

Yes, I know the woman in the hat doesn’t seem to resemble Brittany. But what if Katherine had plastic surgery and got a new face to go along with her new identity?

Dallas, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Pam Ewing, Patricia Barrett, TNT, Who Killed J.R.?3. What’s Pamela really up to? After Cliff gave Pamela the earrings, she persuaded a reluctant Cliff to give her Aunt Katherine’s shares of the company too. “I want to be your partner in Barnes Global,” Pamela explained. Unbeknownst to Cliff, his daughter knows he caused the loss of her unborn twins and has secretly aligned with the Ewings to fight him.

But could Pamela be up to something else too? This is more off-the-wall speculation and it gets a little confusing, but hang with me. Consider: When Christopher’s contact compared Patricia Barrett’s signature to Pam’s, the latter read “Pamela Barnes,” not “Pamela Ewing.” There could be a reasonable explanation for this, of course: After the disfigured Pam fled Southfork in 1987 and divorced Bobby, she could have reverted to her maiden name.

Or what if Pamela – the Julie Gonzalo character, not the Victoria Principal one – is actually the one funneling the money from the dormant trust to the Swiss bank account? Could she be deceiving the Ewings and her father? Is Pamela, not Pam, behind the Patricia Barrett scheme?

This would mean the woman in the big hat in the bank surveillance footage is an accomplice of Pamela, which would explain why the “Pamela Barnes” signature in “A Call to Arms” didn’t look much like the one that Gonzalo’s character signed when she received her annulment papers in “Blame Game.” (In the above image, the “Patricia Barrett” signature is on top, followed by the “Pamela Barnes” signature from “A Call to Arms” in the middle and Pamela’s annulment signature at the bottom.)

4. What’s Harris really up to? Trucks. Mexico. Knockoff designer shoes. Does any of this have anything to do with J.R.’s death?

5. What does Carmen know? Several Dallas Decoder readers say Carmen (Marlene Forte) should be a prime suspect in the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery. The theory: Cliff, Harris (Mitch Pileggi) or another of J.R.’s enemies has dirt on one of Carmen’s children, Elena or Drew. This enemy blackmailed Carmen into visiting Mexico and shooting J.R.

I’ve always been skeptical of this idea, although there are some clues to support it: In “Blame Game,” the episode where J.R. departs Southfork, Elena mentions Carmen is in Mexico – which is where J.R. died. Meanwhile, in “Love and Family,” when the Ewings watched TV news coverage of the police manhunt for Drew, Carmen said, “I know he’s always been trouble, Mr. Bobby, but he’s not a killer. He would never do such a thing unless he was forced to by other people. Bad people.” Was Carmen speaking from experience?

6. What does Bobby know? When John Ross (Josh Henderson) entered Bobby’s Southfork study in “Love and Family,” the safe was open and Bobby was reading what looked like a handwritten letter, which he discreetly slid under a book upon noticing his nephew’s arrival. Presumably, this is the mysterious document that J.R. left for Bobby. There’s really nothing new here to report, except to wonder anew: What the hell does the letter say?

Who done it? Share your theories below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Who Killed J.R.?” page.

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.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Draws More Younger Viewers

Dallas, Drew Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Let Me In, TNT

Young love

This week’s “Dallas” episode, “Let Me In,” was seen by 2.6 million viewers on April 1, the same number that watched the TNT drama the previous week. By one measure, though, “Dallas’s” numbers grew: The latest telecast drew more than 1 million viewers between ages 18 and 49, a crucial demographic for TV advertising sales. This was the fifth time this year the show cracked the 1 million mark in that category.

“Dallas” is holding steady in one of the toughest times slots in television. TNT shows the series Monday nights at 9, where it faces the second hour of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which averaged 13.9 million viewers on April 1, as well as the second hour of NBC’s “The Voice,” which averaged 13.1 million. “Dallas’s” competition also includes Fox’s “The Following,” which drew 6.6 million viewers this week.

“Dallas” is getting a boost from people who record shows digitally and watch them a few days later. Last week’s episode, “Guilt and Innocence,” drew 2.6 million viewers on March 25, but by the end of the week, DVR users had pushed its audience to 3.3 million viewers, including 1.2 million between ages 18 and 49 and 1.4 million between 25 and 54, a demographic cable channels like TNT target.

Meanwhile, “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the episode where the Ewings bid farewell to Larry Hagman’s famous character, was seen by 3.6 million viewers on March 11, but within a week of its telecast, DVR users had increased its audience to 4.9 million viewers. The audience included 1.6 million viewers between 18 and 49 and 1.9 million between 25 and 54.

‘Dallas’ Double Features

Call to Arms, Dallas, Governor Sam McConaughey, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, Steven Weber, TNT

Double trouble

Four episodes remain in “Dallas’s” second season, and TNT will show them during the next two weeks:

• On Monday, April 8, the cable channel will telecast “A Call to Arms” at 8 p.m., followed by “Love and Family” at 9 p.m.

• The following Monday, April 15, TNT will show “Guilt by Association” at 9 p.m., followed by the season finale, “Legacies,” at 10 p.m.

TNT is doubling up on “Dallas” to clear its schedule for the NBA basketball playoffs, which will dominate the cable channel’s lineup in late April and May.

Brewster Hits the ‘Runway’

Jordana Brewster will appear as a guest judge on the next episode of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” which will debut Thursday, April 4, at 10 p.m.

Speaking of “Dallas” and fashion: If you haven’t already done so, check out my interview with the new show’s costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, who discusses the secrets behind the show’s wardrobe. Who knew the Ewings wore clothing from secondhand shops?

Bottoms Up

My partner Andrew, who blogs about all things food at Cook In/Dine Out, is serving up his latest “Dallas Drinks” cocktail recipe: The Emma, a fiery concoction inspired by Emma Bell’s what-will-she-do-next wild child. Make yourself one today; just don’t consume it with Clonazepam!

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