Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Good Luck, Ray’

Used and abused

Used and abused

In “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “The Maelstrom,” Ray (Steve Kanaly) approaches Bonnie (Lindsay Bloom) at the Longview bar, then leads her to a booth where they sit across from each other.

RAY: I want to straighten a few things out.

BONNIE: Is that middleweight waiting outside?

RAY: Look, I’m sorry about what happened. Honest.

BONNIE: You’re sorry? My jaw is still sore. [Begins to leave]

RAY: Bonnie, let me explain something … about me. I’ve been feeling real down. I still can’t understand all the reasons myself. Let’s just say there were some things in my life I just couldn’t handle. So I figured I’d better get back to where I belong.

BONNIE: With crazy broads like me?

RAY: No, you’re a good person, Bonnie. But you were –

BONNIE: Available?

RAY: Yeah. Bonnie, I tell you. If I can make it work out with Donna, the truth is –

BONNIE: That’s where it’s at for you?

RAY: That’s right. I feel terrible about using our – about using you. It was wrong. I know it.

BONNIE: Listen. You’re wife isn’t one of my favorite people. You understand? But if it can work for you, for keeps … [smiles] then you can’t beat it.

RAY: You mean that, don’t you?

BONNIE: [Leans back] Come on. You don’t think I know the difference between this and something real? What is all this? Musical beds. One-night stands. It adds up to nothing. [Raises her glass] So, here’s hoping you can make it work. Good luck, Ray.

RAY: Thank you, Bonnie. [Reaches across the table, touches her arm]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 97 – ‘The Maelstrom’

Old habits

Old habits

Oh, these Ewing women. How they confound me. Every time it seems like they’re about to find happiness on their own terms, they fall back into frustrating old patterns. This usually means falling back into the arms of men who are no good for them.

In “The Maelstrom,” after Sue Ellen puts the kibosh on reconciling with J.R., she sleeps with Cliff. You can’t blame Sue Ellen for being reluctant to get back together with her ex-husband, but why is she taking up with Cliff again? The last time these two had a fling, things didn’t go well: Sue Ellen wanted to leave J.R. for Cliff, but Cliff dumped her because he feared their affair would ruin his political career. Nice guy, huh? (If you haven’t watched the great scene in the second-season episode “For Love or Money” when Cliff breaks up with Sue Ellen, check it out. Linda Gray will break your heart.)

This time around, Sue Ellen is divorced and Cliff is out of politics, but they’re no better suited for each other now than they were then. It’s pretty clear Sue Ellen only wants Cliff because she knows it will make J.R. jealous. Witness “The Maelstrom” scene where she calls Cliff and, as J.R. listens, tells him how much she enjoyed spending the previous night with him. I also don’t believe for a second Cliff loves Sue Ellen. He’s chasing her for the same reason she’s chasing him: to upset J.R.

Lucy’s latest romance is odder still. Earlier in the fifth season, she sleeps with Roger, the photographer helping her get started in her modeling career, only to decide later she wants to keep their relationship strictly professional. Fair enough. But in “The Maelstrom,” obsessive Roger reveals the shrine to Lucy that he’s built inside his studio, which ought to send her scurrying from the room. Instead, Lucy and Roger fall into a passionate embrace and have sex. Huh?

The absurdity of it all makes “The Maelstrom” one of the season’s weakest entries, but the hour isn’t a total loss. Patrick Duffy, the episode’s director, delivers several clever shots. I especially like how he pans his camera above Charlene Tilton and Dennis Redfield during their love scene and zooms in on one of the glamour shots of Lucy plastering Roger’s wall. Sue Ellen’s shadowy arrival at Cliff’s apartment is also cool, and it’s nice to see Bobby and Ray branding cattle, even if the footage is recycled from the second-season episode “Bypass.”

Speaking of Ray: “The Maelstrom” scene where he breaks up with Bonnie is the episode’s highlight, thanks to sensitive performances from Steve Kanaly and Lindsay Bloom. This feels like a conversation between two people who’ve made bad choices but aren’t necessarily bad people. I also like when Donna calls home and speaks to Ray, who thanks her for sticking with him through his depression. The fact that Donna interrupts Ray while he’s shaving is significant since the stubble he’s worn since “The Search” had come to symbolize the dark cloud that enveloped him after Jock’s death.

J.R. and Katherine’s exchange in “The Maelstrom” also holds up well, and not just because this is the first time master villains Larry Hagman and Morgan Brittany appear together on “Dallas.” In the scene, Katherine, a local TV reporter (she does have a job, you know), is doing person-on-the-street interviews about the Dallas restaurant scene’s recessionary struggles when she comes across J.R., who says the economic downturn hasn’t affected his eating out habits. “My eating in habits haven’t changed much either,” he cracks.

Watching this scene recently, it occurred to me: Three decades after “The Maelstrom” was produced, people are once again watching their wallets when they go out to eat. Who knew an old “Dallas” episode could be so timely?

Grade: C

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Ready for her close up

Ready for her close up

‘THE MAELSTROM’

Season 5, Episode 20

Airdate: February 26, 1982

Audience: 30 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Will Lorin

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: Ray sobers up and bids Bonnie farewell. Sue Ellen sleeps with Cliff, upsetting J.R. J.R.’s lawyer informs him the child that Bobby and Pam are adopting might be J.R.’s son.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Lindsay Bloom (Bonnie), Peter Brandon (Lowell Greer), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Bruce French (Jerry Macon), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Art Hindle (Jeff Farraday), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Dr. Mitch Cooper), Pamela Murphy (Marie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Dennis Redfield (Roger Larson), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Joey Sheck (waiter), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Ray Wise (Blair Sullivan)

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