Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 160 — ‘Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie’

Alexis Smith, Dallas, Hush Hush Sweet Jessie, Lady Jessica Farlow Montford

How sweet she is

What do I love about the final scene in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie”? Oh, pretty much everything. The Ewings stand in the Southfork driveway, panicked because no one knows the whereabouts of Miss Ellie and Jessica, whose murderous past has finally come to light. Suddenly, Donna arrives in Ray’s pickup truck. She gets out, bloodied and shaken, and explains that she’s just come from the Krebbs’ home, where Jessica knocked her out, swiped one of Ray’s handguns, took Ellie and drove who-knows-where in Donna’s car. J.R. looks stricken. “We’ve got to find them,” he says. “Jessica has killed once. Who knows what she’ll do with Mama?” Duh-duh-duh!

Is this a moment of pure camp? Yes, of course. How could any scene that requires the audience to imagine Alexis Smith abducting Barbara Bel Geddes at gunpoint not be campy? And what about the way Donna announces her news? Shouldn’t she hop out of Ray’s truck and offer the most important facts first: “Hey, everyone, Jessica has kidnapped Miss Ellie!” Instead, Donna tells the story chronologically; this allows the episode to end with the dramatic revelation that Mama has been abducted, but it isn’t very realistic. There’s also this: After Larry Hagman delivers his “We’ve got to find them” line, we get a reaction shot from Howard Keel and Patrick Duffy, who stand side by side and turn their eyes to the camera in near perfect unison. It’s priceless.

And yet despite all this, the scene is undeniably thrilling. The most valuable actors are Hagman, who makes J.R.’s concern easy to believe, and Susan Howard, whose halting, anguished delivery is pitch-perfect. She gets a big assist from the brilliant composer Richard Lewis Warren, whose underscore lends urgency to the entire sequence. I especially love how there’s no music during most of Donna’s monologue until she recalls awakening after Jessica knocked her out. Warren slowly brings in the orchestra when Donna says, “And then when I came to … they were both gone.” By the time she gets to this line — “Ray, she took one of your guns!” — the music has swelled. Can any “Dallas” fan watch this part without getting goose bumps?

The rest of “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” is almost as good. Smith is as over-the-top as ever when Jessica finally unravels in Ray and Donna’s kitchen, but Bel Geddes, with her believably bewildered expression, manages to keep the scene grounded. Meanwhile, Katherine proves she can wheel and deal with the best of them when she agrees to buy Cliff’s share of Wentworth Tool & Die at a bargain-basement price, and it’s great fun to see Morgan Brittany deliver lines like “Oil, oil, everywhere, and not a drop for Cliff.” Also, how can you not love the long-awaited moment when Pam confronts Katherine after learning she forged the letter that broke up her marriage to Bobby? The slap Pam delivers must be one of the most cathartic moments in “Dallas” history, and isn’t it nice to see Victoria Principal demonstrate some of the spark that once made her character so compelling?

“Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” raises a few other questions that probably wouldn’t occur to anyone but “Dallas” devotees. Here’s one: At the beginning of the episode, Lucy speaks on the phone to Jackie, Cliff’s secretary. Is this the first, and perhaps only, time these two women interact? Here’s another: After J.R. confronts Clayton and Ray with Jessica’s diary in a Braddock parking lot, the three men hop into J.R.’s Mercedes and hightail it back to the ranch. Is this the first time we’ve seen J.R. and Ray share a ride since they palled around in the first-season episode “Winds of Vengeance”?

There’s also this: When the producers named this episode, they were surely offering a loving nod to the 1964 thriller “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” which starred Bette Davis as a wealthy spinster driven mad by her scheming cousin, played by Olivia de Havilland. (Future “Dallas” star George Kennedy has a small role too.) The film, which received seven Oscar nominations, is now regarded by some as a camp classic. Did the “Dallas” producers know this episode would achieve a similar distinction?

Grade: A

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Bobby Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Donna Culver Krebbs, Hush Hush Sweet Jessie, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Through the looking glass

‘HUSH, HUSH, SWEET JESSIE’

Season 7, Episode 29

Airdate: May 11, 1984

Audience: 20.4 million homes, ranking 4th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Gwen Arner

Synopsis: Pam learns Mark knew he was dying and killed himself. Cliff reluctantly sells his share of Wentworth Tool & Die to Katherine, whom Pam slaps after she discovers Katherine’s role in ending her marriage to Bobby. Clayton tells Ray and Donna that Dusty is actually Jessica’s son. After J.R. uncovers evidence Jessica killed Clayton’s first wife, she kidnaps Miss Ellie.

Cast: Mary Armstrong (Louise), Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Bill Morey (Leo Wakefield), Charles Parks (Fred Robbins), Edmund Penney (doctor), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Sherril Lynn Rettino (Jackie Dugan), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montfort), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), D.J. Zacker (Louis)

“Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Poll: Who is ‘Dallas’s’ Greatest Villainess?

Alexis Smith, Angelica Nero, Barbara Carrera, Dallas, Hillary Taylor, Jessica Farlow Montford, Judith Light, Katherine Wentworth, Kristin Shepard, Mary Crosby, Morgan Brittany, Sheila Foley, Susan Lucci, TNT

“Dallas” has given us lots of great villainesses over the years. Time to choose your favorite!

 

Share your comments below and vote in Dallas Decoder’s other polls.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You Have Too Damn Much Money’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Turning Point

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

In “Turning Point,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) sits on a bed, putting on his boots, while Katherine (Morgan Brittany) lies nearby, wrapped in a sheet.

J.R.: Well, that was definitely not terrific. A meeting with my tax accountant’s more exciting.

KATHERINE: Your disappointment has really shattered me.

J.R.: [Knotting his necktie] Well, you can relax, honey. I won’t be putting you through this sort of thing again. This is the last time I’ll be coming to your bed.

KATHERINE: [Snickers] I’d like to believe that.

J.R.: Oh, it’s true. It’s true. Too bad we couldn’t have gone out in a blaze of glory.

KATHERINE: Yeah. Too bad.

J.R.: [Rises, begins putting on his watch] You see, when I came to you and wanted to buy those fields that Wentworth Industries owns, and you turned around and made the deal with Bobby, that just clinched it, honey.

KATHERINE: What difference does it make to you? Ewing ended up with the fields.

J.R.: [Buttons his shirt sleeves] Well, it made me realize how much wealth you control. You know, I always felt deep down that Jenna Wade was a better mate for Bobby than you. And now I know why.

KATHERINE: And I don’t suppose I can stop you from telling me.

J.R.: [Chuckles, puts on his jacket] You just have too damn much money, Katherine. Putting you together with Bobby could double his assets, maybe even triple them. And I don’t want him to have that much power.

KATHERINE: You don’t? Well, there’s nothing you can do about it.

J.R.: [Opens the door, turns to face her] Oh, I’ve already done it, honey. I played the tape for Bobby of you and me in bed. It’s all over, Katherine. He’ll never marry you.

KATHERINE: [Sits up, leans forward, looks stunned] I’ll kill you, J.R.!

He smiles, exits.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 158 — ‘Turning Point’

Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany, Turning Point

Poor little rich girl

Am I the only one who feels sorry for Katherine Wentworth in “Turning Point”? At the beginning of the episode, she’s elated when Bobby invites her on a tour of the property he bought from her father’s old company. After plotting for more than a year to make Bobby her own, it’s the strongest sign yet that Katherine might have a shot with him. Then, at the end of the hour, after J.R. makes Katherine sleep with him, he cruelly tells her that he played Bobby the sex tape J.R. made with Katherine earlier. “It’s all over. … He’ll never marry you,” J.R. says. Katherine’s devastation is matched only by her rage. “I’ll kill you, J.R.!” she screams.

I suppose I should feel like Katherine is getting what’s coming to her, and in a way, I do. After all, she did break up “Dallas’s” golden couple, Bobby and Pam. Yet I can’t bring myself to completely dislike the poor thing. Some of this has to do with Morgan Brittany, who makes Katherine seem so nice in her scenes with Bobby and Pam, I kind of believe her, even though I know the truth. But there’s also this: Who among us hasn’t been in Katherine’s shoes? At some point, haven’t we all harbored a secret crush on someone who we know, deep down, will never be ours? Perhaps this, more than Katherine’s big hats and camp appeal, is what makes her an icon to so many gay men in the “Dallas” audience. Bobby is like the unattainable straight guy we all fall for in high school or college.

The question is: Why isn’t Bobby interested in Katherine? Yes, I know he claims he can never think of her as anything but a friend, but come on! Katherine is breathtakingly beautiful — those eyes! that hair! — and as far as Bobby knows, she’s a sincere, caring person. She seems like a much better match for him than his current flame, Jenna Wade, who stopped being interesting the moment she hung up her apron at Billy Bob’s. While we’re on this subject, can someone explain why J.R. wouldn’t want Katherine as a sister-in-law? He says her money threatens him, but as long as he has that sex tape, he has leverage over her. In the long run, wouldn’t the ability to control a wife of Bobby Ewing be worth more to him than any threat posed by her wealth?

J.R.’s game is also off when it comes to Jessica, who drops cryptic hints about the mysterious death of Clayton’s first wife Amy throughout “Turning Point.” Finally, at the end of the episode, after Jessica and Clayton argue over his decision to sell the Farlows’ ranch, she stomps into Southfork and erupts in front of J.R. “Amy died so we could keep the Southern Cross, not sell it!” Jessica shouts. By now, shouldn’t it have dawned on J.R. that he’s in cahoots with a kook? At least our hero still has what it takes to stick it to Cliff Barnes. In “Turning Point’s” niftiest twist, we learn J.R. is secretly paying Cliff’s offshore drilling foreman, Max Flowers, to sabotage the project. J.R. also tricks Cliff into selling the Murphy and Kesey properties, a subplot that has the unusual effect of making me feel happy for J.R. and sorry for Cliff.

“Turning Point” has a few other highlights, including the cute scene where the Ewing women help Miss Ellie address her wedding invitations. Here’s how fascinated I am by the world this show creates: When Sue Ellen asks if “the Crenshaws” should be invited, I find myself wondering who these people are and how they know the Ewings. Ellie explains that one of the Crenshaws is the sister of another family friend, although I can’t make out the character’s name; it’s written in the subtitles as “Pat Bauer,” but it sounds to me like Barbara Bel Geddes says “Pat Powers,” which is the name of the fellow who palled around with Jock and Punk during a few fourth-season episodes. If I’m correct, then kudos to “Dallas” for bothering to mention a name that only the show’s most devoted loyalists would have recognized in 1984.

“Turning Point” has its share of oddities too. It’s a running joke that no one actually eats on this show, but the degree to which Linda Gray and Victoria Principal move their salads around their plates when Sue Ellen and Pam go to lunch is more amusing than usual. Also, why has Jackie, Cliff’s secretary, been replaced by “Susan” in this episode? Furthermore, isn’t funny to see Susan wear the white suit that Principal sported a few times during the fourth and fifth seasons? (My husband Andrew calls this Pam’s “Star Trek” dress because the jacket flap reminds him of the Enterprise crew’s movie uniforms.) Should we believe all the gals in the Barnes-Wentworth secretarial pool wear Pam’s hand-me-downs?

Perhaps more than anything, “Turning Point” is remembered among “Dallas” diehards as the final episode credited to cinematographer Bradford May, who gave the series such a rich, textured look. I’ve read varying accounts about why May didn’t work on the series after this season, but one thing is certain: “Dallas” will never look this good again.

Grade: B

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Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Turning Point

Wolf at the door

‘TURNING POINT’

Season 7, Episode 27

Airdate: April 13, 1984

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Gwen Arner

Synopsis: To finance his offshore oil project, Cliff is forced to sell valuable land, unaware that J.R. is the buyer. J.R. tells Katherine he played a tape of them having sex for Bobby and arranges for Peter to be arrested for drug possession. Jessica and Clayton argue over his decision to sell the Southern Cross. Pam and Mark continue their wedding plans.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Pat Colbért (Dora Mae), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Dana Halsted (Susan), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Donald May (Wes McDowall), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Denny Miller (Max Flowers), Dennis Patrick (Vaughn Leland), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montford), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), John Wyler (wedding planner)

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

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 157 — ‘Blow Up’

Alexis Smith, Blow Up, Dallas

Cut a bitch

“Dallas” delivers its share of camp over the years, but “Blow Up” manages to pack more silliness into a single episode than virtually any other. Donna runs around the Southfork patio, snapping Polaroids of the Ewings; Lucy gets stewed to the gills and airs the family’s dirty laundry at a poolside soiree; and Lady Jessica takes a break from helping Miss Ellie chop vegetables to contemplate slicing and dicing Mama herself. These scenes aren’t without their charms, but I can’t help but wish this episode took the characters and their storylines a little more seriously.

The scenes with Donna and her camera are fun because it’s nice to think the Ewings spend their Sunday afternoons enjoying each other’s company, just like so many families do in real life. I also like the picture Donna snaps of Ray and his half-brothers sitting together and holding their beers, although the shot is so casual, it takes me out of the moment. This looks like a picture of Larry, Patrick and Steve, not J.R., Bobby and Ray. I also wish this scene could have been filmed on the real Southfork patio instead of the show’s Hollywood soundstage, which seems faker than usual. Maybe it’s the studio acoustics; notice how you hear every footstep the actors take, something that rarely happens when you see patio scenes that were shot outdoors in Texas.

The patio is also the setting for the party the Ewings throw for Jessica, although these scenes are a little more convincing because they take place at night, when the darkness helps conceal the soundstage’s shortcomings. The gathering recalls the shindig in “Triangle” (right down to Ray’s plaid suit, which he wears to both parties), although I get the biggest kick out of seeing J.R. whisper into Lucy’s ear, feeding her suspicions as they watch Sue Ellen and Peter dance. Uncle and niece are like two characters in a play standing in the shadows, commenting on the action unfolding downstage. Too bad it falls apart when Lucy gets drunk and accuses Sue Ellen and Peter of having an affair. Charlene Tilton gives this performance her all, but Lucy’s preoccupation with Peter is no more believable than Sue Ellen’s interest in him. Also, is it me or is Lucy angrier than she was last season, when she blamed Sue Ellen’s drunken driving for paralyzing Mickey Trotter?

Of course, nothing in “Blow Up” approaches the campiness of Jessica’s big scene. How can you not roll your eyes when you see her standing at the Southfork kitchen counter, a huge knife in one hand and a tomato in the other as she glares at Ellie? How about when composer Lance Rubin’s eerie piano score swells just as Donna enters the room and snaps Jessica out of her trance-like state? Perhaps this scene was genuinely creepy when it debuted in 1984, but now it plays like a parody of a slasher film from that era. “Blow Up’s” climactic moment, when Jessica enters her bedroom and cuts Ellie’s face out of one of Donna’s snapshots, holds up better. I especially like how Patrick Duffy, who directed this episode, uses a handheld camera to follow Alexis Smith as she circles the picture on the nightstand. It adds to the sense that Jessica is spinning out of control.

A lot of “Dallas” fans love the over-the-top depiction of Jessica’s villainy and Smith’s ferocious approach to the role, but I prefer the show to play it straight. Just think: At this point during the previous season, Sue Ellen was walking in on J.R. and Holly Harwood in bed. Yes, it was a scene of pure soap opera, but it set the stage for some of the darkest, most absorbing hours in “Dallas” history. The more I watch the seventh season, the more I find myself wondering what happened to the show that gave us J.R. and Bobby’s contest for Ewing Oil, the collapse of J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marriage and the sweet romance between Lucy and Mickey.

On the other hand: Not everything about “Blow Up” falls short of the show’s usual standards. There’s surprising poignancy to the scene where J.R. tells Sue Ellen it’s time they begin living again like man and wife; Linda Gray does a beautiful job conveying Sue Ellen’s inner conflict, and Hagman gives us the impression J.R. is willing to forgive his wife and abandon his secret plot against her, if only she’d give him another chance. When she turns him down, you feel sympathy for both of them.

I also like Victoria Principal’s performance, although Mark and Pam’s storyline — he doesn’t know he’s dying but she does and is desperately trying to keep the secret — is beginning to feel like demented version of a “Three’s Company” plot. Kudos also go to Morgan Brittany, who makes Katherine’s concern for Mark seem sincere. Sure, Mark’s diagnosis may represent a stroke of dumb luck for Katherine because it’s helping push Pam deeper into his arms, thus making it easier for Katherine to snatch Bobby for herself, but I also get the feeling Katherine genuinely likes Mark and feels sorry for him.

Wait, did I just suggest Katherine Wentworth is becoming a believable character? Isn’t it funny how different this show looks now that Lady Jessica around?

Grade: B

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Dallas, Blow Up

Who shot the Ewings?

‘BLOW UP’

Season 7, Episode 26

Airdate: April 6, 1984

Audience: 22 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: Donna becomes suspicious of Jessica, who assures J.R. that Miss Ellie and Clayton’s wedding won’t take place. J.R. feeds Lucy’s suspicions about Sue Ellen and Peter. Mark refuses to rush his wedding to Pam, who orders Cliff to not ask her fiancé for a loan. Katherine offers to sell Ewing Oil some valuable land in exchange for Bobby teaching her about the industry.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Pat Colbért (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Walker Edmiston (Ewing Oil employee), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nanci Hammond (hostess), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Barry Jenner (Dr. Jerry Kenderson), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Denny Miller (Max Flowers), Dennis Patrick (Vaughn Leland), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montford), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 155 — ‘The Unexpected’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Steve Kanaly, Sue Ellen Ewing, Susan Howard, Unexpected

Keeping it real

Lady Jessica Montford makes her memorable debut at the end of “The Unexpected,” sweeping into the Southfork living room on the arm of brother Clayton Farlow and introducing herself to her future in-laws as only she can. Jessica is brazen, asking which Ewing husbands “play around” on their wives, and a little baffling, gifting J.R. with an antique sword. The scene is like something out of a stage play, which should come as no surprise since actress Alexis Smith was a major Broadway star. At one point, with Clayton standing behind her, Jessica asks him a question without turning to face him. It’s as if Smith can’t bring herself to break the theater’s golden rule: Never turn your back on the audience.

I wish the same thing could be said about the series itself. “Dallas” always distinguished itself through the believability of its performances, but “The Unexpected” is another example of how the show cranked up the camp to compete with rival soap “Dynasty,” which was skyrocketing in the ratings at the time with over-the-top storylines and acting. Until this episode, the “Dallas” audience only had to contend with Morgan Brittany’s gentle nibbling of scenery; now we have Smith inhaling it with abandon. Consider “The Unexpected’s” final scene, when Miss Ellie walks Jessica to her guest room, tells her how happy she is to welcome her to the family and closes the door. Jessica’s smile turns to a scowl. “Family?” she says, standing in the middle of the room, alone. “Oh, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t count on you marrying brother Clayton, Miss Ellie. I wouldn’t count on it all.” I’ll admit this moment amuses me, but it also makes me cringe a little.

Let me be clear: It’s not that I dislike Smith or don’t admire the gusto she brings to her role. My point is that her broad performance feels out of place on “Dallas.” On the other hand, Jessica’s swing-for-the-fences debut in “The Unexpected” gives me new appreciation for the regular cast members — particularly the always wonderful Barbara Bel Geddes, who manages to exude warmth, sincerity and the slightest hint of skepticism in Ellie’s scenes with Jessica. Perhaps my opinion will change as I watch “Dallas’s” remaining seventh-season episodes, but in this segment at least, Smith makes Jessica feel like a character, while Bel Geddes makes Ellie feel like a person.

Other storylines in “The Unexpected” yield mixed reactions too, especially where “Dallas’s” leading ladies are concerned. It’s good to see Sue Ellen wise up — she realizes J.R. is only being nice to Peter because he’s hatching some sort of plot against him — but I wish she had the gumption to do something about it. Meanwhile, Lucy finally figures out Peter isn’t interested in her, but only after she sacrifices her self-respect by throwing herself at him. Then there’s Pam, who’s wrong to ask Mark’s doctor to not tell him he’s dying, even if I admire her selflessness in accepting his marriage proposal. (This is another step in Pam’s lamentable journey toward sainthood, but so far it hasn’t gotten too annoying.) The only heroine who doesn’t disappoint me is Afton, who gets so fed up with having to cook breakfast for distracted Cliff and demanding Vaughn, she simply walks out of the kitchen and leaves them to fend for themselves. Good for her.

The other highlights of “The Unexpected” include J.R.’s crashing of Cliff and Vaughn’s lunchtime negotiation at the Oil Baron’s Club, where J.R. slyly manipulates Cliff into signing the paperwork for Vaughn’s loophole-riddled loan. I also like the scene of J.R. and Serena in bed, where he reveals to her — and the audience — that Sue Ellen, not Peter, is the real target of his scheme. “I’ll tell you, she’s like a runaway mare with a bit between her teeth,” J.R. says. “I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried affection, patience, understanding. But she won’t pay attention to anything.” This is a great moment because I love hearing Larry Hagman’s drawl when he delivers that “runaway mare” line, but also because you get the feeling J.R. has convinced himself what he’s saying is true.

There are also two nice segues in “The Unexpected.” In the first, J.R. tells Katherine he’ll give her the tape of them having sex “when Pamela Ewing becomes Mrs. Mark Graison.” Cut to Mark and Pam at a restaurant, where he pours her a glass of champagne and says, “Mrs. Mark Graison — that has a nice ring to it.” Later, the scene that introduces Jessica ends with her raising a glass of bourbon and toasting, “To the Ewings … and to the Farlows.” Cut to another restaurant, where a jubilant Cliff toasts the newly engaged Pam and Mark. “To the Barneses and the Graisons,” Cliff says. He continues by praising “the union of these important families into the biggest, most powerful dynasty in Texas.”

Watch it, Barnes. No need for any “dynasty” talk here. Your show does fine on its own, thank you very much.

Grade: B

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Alexis Smith, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Howard Keel, Lady Jessica Montford, Unexpected

Our Alexis

‘THE UNEXPECTED’

Season 7, Episode 24

Airdate: March 16, 1984

Audience: 20.6 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Nick Havinga

Synopsis: After Pam asks Dr. Kenderson to not tell Mark he’s dying, she accepts Mark’s marriage proposal, hurting Bobby. J.R. manipulates Cliff into accepting Vaughn’s loan, even though the terms put Barnes-Wentworth at risk. Sue Ellen grows suspicious of J.R.’s friendliness toward Peter. Clayton’s sister Jessica Montford arrives and privately vows to prevent his marriage to Miss Ellie.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Stephanie Blackmore (Serena Wald), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Pat Colbért (Dora Mae), Robert Donavan (Metcalf), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Wendy Fulton (Jan Higgins), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie Dugan), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Bill Morey (Leo Wakefield), Dennis Patrick (Vaughn Leland), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montford), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘A Bird in the Hand, Honey’

Dallas, Fools Rush In, J.R. Ewing, Katherine Wentworth, Larry Hagman, Morgan Brittany

Two of a kind

In “Fools Rush In,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) is seated at his office desk when Katherine (Morgan Brittany) enters the room.

KATHERINE: Hello, J.R. What’s this problem you called me about? I don’t have a lot of time.

J.R.: The one thing I never thought you were was stupid.

KATHERINE: Hey, look, I didn’t come here to be insulted.

J.R.: You’re here because of that asinine move you made with Naldo Marchetta. Of all the dumb, idiotic things I ever heard —

KATHERINE: Now, J.R., I don’t find that dumb at all. I simply isolated Bobby from Jenna, just like I isolated him from Pam.

J.R.: What you did was break him up with the one woman that could’ve gotten him out of my hair for good.

KATHERINE: [Leans forward] I’m that woman, J.R. Remember?

J.R.: A bird in the hand, honey. And Jenna was in the hand till you screwed it up.

KATHERINE: Look, I didn’t break up Bobby and Pam so he could marry Jenna Wade. I want him for myself.

J.R.: Well, you just might have blown it for all of us. For all I know, he could be out there sniffing around his ex-wife’s door right now. I don’t give a damn who Bobby ends up with as long as it’s not Pamela Barnes. [Stands, turns and looks out the window] Jenna was perfect, just perfect. Well, I guess you’ll have to do.

KATHERINE: Well, you’re certainly big on compliments, aren’t you?

J.R.: With Bobby on the loose again, the only sure way to keep him and that Barnes woman apart is to make sure she goes ahead and marries Mark Graison. [Turns to face her]

KATHERINE: Well, I have no objection to that.

J.R.: [Mocking] Oh, you have no objection to that, do you? Well, you just better keep pushing until that happens, honey!

KATHERINE: [Turns, begins to leave, then stops at the door] I’ll do my best.

J.R.: [Steps forward] Well, your best better be real good. Because if it’s not, I’m going to play Bobby that little tape I made. You remember? You and me in the sack? After he hears that, he’ll never even look at you again.

#DallasChat Daily: Who Deserved to Be in ‘Dallas’s’ Credits?

Dallas, Deborah Shelton, Dusty Farlow, Jared Martin, Jeremy Wendell, John Beck, Katherine Wentworth, Kristin Shepard, Mandy Winger, Mark Graison, Mary Crosby, Morgan Brittany, William Smithers

As much as we all love “Dallas’s” opening credits, they aren’t without their quirks.

Linda Gray and Steve Kanaly weren’t added to the title sequence until the second season, while poor Ken Kercheval had to wait until Season 3 to get star billing. By the time the show was winding down, the credits had become a free-for-all: Lesley-Anne Down was added to the opening titles the moment she joined the show, even though hardly anyone remembers her character, Stephanie Rogers.

Meanwhile, actors who made lasting contributions to “Dallas” — including John Beck (Mark), Morgan Brittany (Katherine), Mary Crosby (Kristin), Jared Martin (Dusty), Deborah Shelton (Mandy) and William Smithers (Jeremy) — were never promoted to the title sequence. (This is just a sampling, of course. Feel free to name additional actors in your response.)

Your #DallasChat Daily question: Which “Dallas” actors deserved a spot in the opening credits?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

#DallasChat Daily: What’s Your Favorite ‘Dallas’ Ball?

Audrey Landers, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jenilee Harrison, Ken Kercheval, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Morgan Brittany, Patrick Duffy, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Steve Forrest, Steve Kanaly, Victoria Principal

Few traditions on the original “Dallas” could match the grandeur of the annual Oil Baron’s Ball. Do you have a favorite?

Was it Miss Ellie’s moving tribute to Jock at the 1982 ball? How about the 1983 affair, when the Ewing and Barnes women faced off in the powder room and Cliff won the Oilman of the Year Award and insulted Jock, triggering a knock-down, drag-out fight with J.R, Bobby and Ray? There’s also the 1985 ball, when Jamie threw a pie in Cliff’s face and Pam announced she was going to take Bobby’s place as J.R.’s partner in Ewing Oil? And who could forget the 1986 shindig, when Wes Parmalee told the world he was Jock Ewing?

Your #DallasChat Daily question: What’s your favorite “Dallas” ball?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Loving Always Makes Me Thirsty’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Katherine Wentworth, Larry Hagman, Morgan Brittany, Where is Poppa?

Dastardly duo

In “Where is Poppa?,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Katherine (Morgan Brittany) sits in bed with a sheet wrapped around her while J.R. (Larry Hagman) sits at the foot, putting on his boots.

KATHERINE: I don’t like this arrangement at all, J.R.

J.R.: [Chuckles] Well, Katherine, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. And I happen to like it a lot at the moment. Now, of course, we could go to Bobby and tell him all about us. That might solve your problem.

KATHERINE: I don’t understand why you want to go to bed with me when you know I can’t stand you.

J.R.: Well, honey, I’m a man of lusty appetites. [Gets up, walks to the dresser] And unfortunately, my wife is not going to bed with me anymore. At least not for now. [Ties his necktie] And my favorite lady of the evening is out of town. I just can’t stand going to bed with strangers. And despite what you say, you enjoy what we’re doing just as much as I do. [Sits next to her on the bed, caresses her arm] You can’t hide that from me.

KATHERINE: You’re disgusting.

J.R.: Come on. Dangerous relationships, they excite you, don’t they? They really turn you on. And if by some miracle, you happen to land Bobby, it’s not going to be long before you’re trying to find a way back into my bed. We’re a lot alike, you know. It’s just that I’m smarter than you are. [Smiles] Now, you got anything to drink around here? Some orange juice or coffee? Loving always makes me thirsty.

KATHERINE: [Rolls her eyes] It’s in the kitchen. [Folds her arms, sighs]

The telephone on the nightstand rings. The caller is Earl Johnson (Donegan Smith).

KATHERINE: Hello.

JOHNSON: Mrs. Wentworth? This is Earl Johnson.

KATHERINE: Oh, yes. [Leans forward] Do you have any news?

JOHNSON: Yes. One of my operatives has located Renaldo Marchetta in Los Angeles.

KATHERINE: [Smiles] Oh, that’s wonderful.

JOHNSON: Do you want us to do anything else?

KATHERINE: Yes. Don’t let him out of your sight until you hear from me. Goodbye. [Hangs up the phone, grabs a pillow and leans back in bed]

J.R.: [Standing in the doorway with a glass of orange juice] Good news, I hope.

KATHERINE: Maybe good enough to get you out of my bed.