Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 150 — ‘Where is Poppa?’

Christopher Atkins, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Peter Richards, Where is Poppa?

Who’s the daddy?

No matter how many times I see the Ewings rush to the hospital when one of their own gets sick or injured, it always moves me. Besides generating drama and suspense, these scenes also remind us that the characters care about each other, despite all their squabbling. Consider what happens in “Where is Poppa?” At the beginning of the episode, J.R. and Sue Ellen have one of their nasty marital spats, but in the fourth act, when he receives word at the office that she’s been struck by a car, he drops everything and races to Dallas Memorial. In moments like this, there’s no doubt this man loves his wife.

“Where is Poppa?” also delivers a nifty twist in the final scene, when the doctor who’s been treating Sue Ellen informs the family that she sustained only minor injuries — although the accident did cause her to suffer a miscarriage. What’s that, you say? You didn’t know Sue Ellen was pregnant? Apparently no one did, including Sue Ellen herself. Of course, “Dallas” has given us plenty of foreshadowing and other clues. Two episodes ago, J.R. told his wife how much he wished they could have another child; in the previous segment, she had breakfast in bed because she felt queasy. Now we know she was probably experiencing morning sickness.

Details like these feel like little rewards for attentive viewers. So does the episode’s final shot. After the doctor reveals Sue Ellen had a miscarriage, J.R. and Peter stand next to each other and wear stunned expressions. This is a clever ending because it leaves us pondering a big mystery — which man was the father of Sue Ellen’s unborn child? — without anyone ever actually asking the question. It’s also one of the few occasions where the audience has more information than J.R. We know Sue Ellen has slept with Peter, but J.R. doesn’t. This lends the scene unexpected poignancy; not only has he lost a child, he’s also lost a wife — metaphorically speaking, that is.

Other highlights of “Where is Poppa?” include Richard Lewis Warren’s score, which adds urgency to the sequence where the news of Sue Ellen’s accident spreads to the various Ewings. I also like the scene where Donna takes Paul Morgan to lunch to see if he knows anything about Edgar Randolph, who she suspects is being blackmailed by J.R. Besides giving the show an excuse to bring back Glenn Corbett, this scene represents another example of “Dallas’s” attention to detail. After all, the show has established that both Edgar and Paul are protégés of Donna’s first husband Sam Culver, so it makes sense that she would turn to Paul for information about Edgar.

Another good scene: J.R. takes Sly to lunch for her birthday and she tells him she used the $10,000 “bonus” she received from Cliff to help her brother start his own machine shop. Since Sly’s brother’s troubles were the reason she got swept up in the corporate espionage game in the first place, I’m glad scriptwriter Arthur Bernard Lewis took the time to give us an update on the brother’s life. It’s a nice touch.

I also appreciate how this episode’s title carries multiple meetings. “Where is Poppa?” refers to the mystery over the father of Sue Ellen’s child, but it can also be seen as a nod to Katherine’s mission to determine if Bobby or Naldo Marchetta is the father of Jenna Wade’s daughter, Charlie. During this episode’s third act, J.R. and Katherine are concluding one of their midday trysts when her private eye calls to let her know that he’s finally tracked down Naldo, who now lives in Los Angeles. Morgan Brittany is terrific in this scene; as Katherine, she shifts effortlessly from being disgusted over having to sleep with J.R. again to being giddy over the news that Naldo has finally been found. Larry Hagman is also a hoot, especially when he delivers one of J.R.’s immortal lines: “You got anything to drink around here? Some orange juice or coffee? Loving always makes me thirsty.”

So “loving” makes J.R. thirsty, huh? No wonder he always has a drink in his hand.

Grade: B


Charlie Wade, Dallas, Shalane McCall, Where is Poppa?

Who’s your daddy?


Season 7, Episode 19

Airdate: February 10, 1984

Audience: 21.2 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: William F. Claxton

Synopsis: When Sue Ellen is struck by a car, J.R. and Peter learn she was pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. Edgar goes home from the hospital. Marilee agrees to join Cliff’s bid. Katherine learns Naldo lives in Los Angeles.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Fran Bennett (receptionist), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Martin E. Brooks (Edgar Randolph), Anne Gee Byrd (Dr. Jeffries), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Pat Colbért (Dora Mae), Glenn Corbett (Paul Morgan), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie Dugan), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Anne Lucas (Cassie), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Joanna Miles (Martha Randolph), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Donegan Smith (Earl Johnson), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis)

“Where is Poppa?” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Here’s Everything That’s Happened on ‘Dallas,’ Ever*

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson

Ain’t over yet

It’s never too late to start watching “Dallas.” If you missed the original show and the first two seasons of TNT’s sequel series, fear not: This post will tell you everything you need to know before Season 3 begins on Monday, February 24. (*OK, this isn’t really everything that’s happened on “Dallas.” For that, you’ll have to keep reading Dallas Decoder every day.)


The Original Series (1978 to 1991)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

In the beginning

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), the youngest son of a rich oil and cattle clan, marries Pam Barnes (Victoria Principal) and brings her home to Southfork, the Ewing ranch. This upsets everyone, especially Pam’s daddy Digger (David Wayne), who blames Bobby’s daddy Jock (Jim Davis) for stealing his sweetheart, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), and cheating him out of half of Ewing Oil. While Bobby’s devious brother J.R. (Larry Hagman) is building the family empire and catting around, J.R.’s neglected wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) becomes an alcoholic and has an affair with Cliff (Ken Kercheval), Pam’s vengeful brother. Later, J.R. and Sue Ellen have a son, John Ross, while Bobby and Pam adopt Christopher, the orphaned child of Sue Ellen’s sister Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby) and sleazy Jeff Faraday (Art Hindle). Elsewhere, Ray Krebbs, Southfork’s foreman, discovers Jock is his daddy and marries savvy politico Donna Culver (Susan Howard), while Lucy (Charlene Tilton), the daughter of J.R. and Bobby’s middle brother Gary (Ted Shackelford) and his wife Valene (Joan Van Ark), gets engaged to everyone.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

End of an era

More drama: Digger dies and so does Jock, leaving Ellie to hold the family together with help from second hubby Clayton Farlow (Howard Keel). Southfork burns down, but the Ewings rebuild it. Cliff hooks up with Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers), who gives birth to their daughter Pamela Rebecca, but Afton refuses to let Cliff near the child because of his fixation with destroying the Ewings. Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany) arrives, becomes obsessed with Bobby and tries to kill him, then vanishes under a big hat. Sue Ellen beats the bottle and divorces J.R., while Pam has a bad dream, gets burned in a car crash and runs away. Bobby has an on-again, off-again romance with first love Jenna Wade (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley), who gives birth to their son Lucas and then marries newly divorced Ray. James (Sasha Mitchell), J.R.’s illegitimate son, shows up for a while and emulates the old man. Bobby marries April (Sheree J. Wilson), but she dies. J.R. marries Cally (Cathy Podewell), but she leaves. In the end, Cliff finally takes over Ewing Oil, leaving J.R. alone and suicidal.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Swan Song

Hurts so good

Best Episode: “Swan Song.” The eighth-season finale finds J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marriage on the rocks, unlike the vodka she’s secretly swilling in her bedroom.  Meanwhile, Bobby chooses Pam over Jenna, but crazy Katherine runs him over with her car. The episode ends with the Ewings bidding farewell to Bobby in a deathbed scene that’s so beautifully written and acted, you almost wish it wasn’t part of Pam’s dream. Almost.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Who Shot J.R.?

Shot in the dark

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who shot J.R.? Sure, taking a couple of slugs to the gut is no fun for our hero, but at least he makes billions of dollars in a risky offshore oil deal before he’s gunned down. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, J.R.’s assailant turns out to be Kristin, his sister-in-law/ex-secretary/ex-mistress, who’s revealed as the shooter in one of the most-watched broadcasts in television history. (Props to Sue Ellen, who figures it all out.)


TNT Season 1 (2012)

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

When cousins clash

J.R. emerges from a nursing home and tricks Bobby into selling him Southfork so he can tap the ocean of oil flowing beneath it. Like their fathers, John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe) butt heads, except their rivalry has an added twist: John Ross has fallen for Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), who was Christopher’s childhood sweetheart. Christopher marries Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo), unaware that she’s the daughter of Cliff, who is now the gazillionaire owner of Barnes Global and still hell-bent on destroying the Ewings. Rebecca kills her lover Tommy Sutter (Callard Harris) in self-defense and has Cliff’s henchman Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) dispose of the body. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen runs for governor; Bobby’s new wife Ann (Brenda Strong) feels threatened by ex-husband Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), who knows she’s harboring a dark secret; and John Ross, Christopher and Elena form a company, Ewing Energies, but the partnership is threatened when Elena breaks her engagement to John Ross and reunites with Christopher, who dumps the pregnant Rebecca.

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

Bad does good

Best Episode: “Family Business.” In one of Hagman’s most poignant performances, J.R. learns Bobby is secretly battling cancer and returns Southfork to him, ending the season-long war for the ranch. Later, in a chill-inducing musical montage (set to Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around”), poor Bobby suffers a seizure and Rebecca shoots Tommy, splattering blood over her unborn twins’ stuffed animals. Hmmm. Foreshadow, much?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Pass the torch

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who loves J.R.? His son John Ross, who ends the season by gazing at the Dallas skyline with dear old dad and asking him to teach him “every dirty trick” he knows so he can push Christopher and Elena out of Ewing Energies. J.R. beams with pride and tells John Ross that he’s his son “from tip to tail.” Hey, J.R. may have given up the fight for Southfork, but he wasn’t giving up his devious ways — thank goodness.


TNT Season 2 (2013)

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, TNT

All about evil

Rebecca reveals she’s Pamela Rebecca Barnes and hooks up with John Ross. Ann shoots Harris after learning he kidnapped their daughter Emma when she was a baby and sent her to be raised by his control-freak mother, Judith (Judith Light). Ann gets probation, Harris recovers and Judith falls down the stairs. Frank takes the blame for Tommy’s death and kills himself at the request of Cliff, who causes Pamela’s miscarriage. When J.R. is murdered in Mexico, it appears Cliff is the killer, so Bobby, Christopher and newlyweds John Ross and Pamela plant evidence on Cliff to make sure he’s arrested. Oh, and Christopher also discovers Cliff covered up his mom’s death. Elsewhere, John Ross somehow inherits half of Southfork; Sue Ellen loses the election but continues to tangle with Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber); Emma (Emma Bell) sleeps with Elena’s ne’er-do-well brother Drew (Kuno Becker), becomes John Ross’s mistress and turns Harris in to the cops for drug trafficking; and when Christopher dumps Elena, jailbird Cliff asks her to become his proxy at Barnes Global, which the Ewings now control.

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Mourning glory

Best Episode: “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Our hero is laid to rest in an instant-classic hour that brings back several stars from the original series. The highlight: On the night before J.R.’s burial, Sue Ellen takes a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivers a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she calls “the love of my life.” Can someone please explain how Linda Gray didn’t win an Emmy for this performance?

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

Only you

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who killed J.R.? J.R. did, of course. It turns out he was dying of cancer and arranged his own death so Cliff could be framed for the crime, thus ending the Barnes-Ewing feud … for about 2 minutes, at least. Only a handful of people know the truth, including Bobby, J.R.’s loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), Christopher and John Ross, who gets it right when he says, “The only person who could take down J.R. … was J.R.”

What are your favorite “Dallas” memories? Share them below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Don’t Threaten Me, Honey’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Katherine Wentworth, Larry Hagman, Morgan Brittany, Some Do ... Some Don't

Scandal sheet

In “Some Do … Some Don’t,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Katherine (Morgan Brittany) lies in bed, wrapped in a sheet, while J.R. (Larry Hagman) sits nearby, buttoning his shirt.

KATHERINE: I never thought this would happen. Ever since we met, it’s been like a game. And now, finally one of us won.

J.R.: Well, it wasn’t exactly the Olympics. Of course, they got four years of practice. [Chuckles]

KATHERINE: Don’t rush off. You know, you told me some time ago that you’d help break up Bobby and Jenna. Nothing’s happened.

J.R.: Now don’t tell me you made this ultimate sacrifice just to get my help.

KATHERINE: Well, this is what you wanted. Now what about what I want?

J.R.: Well, I have a little problem there.

KATHERINE: I thought that there were never any problems for you, J.R.

J.R.: Katherine, as much as I like you — and I like you a lot now — I think Bobby and Jenna are a match made in heaven.

KATHERINE: [Outraged] You what? Look, you promised me —

J.R.: I promised that if we went to bed I’d help you. I just wanted to find out how far you were willing to go to get Bobby, that’s all.

KATHERINE: Don’t even dream of double-crossing me.

J.R.: Well, Katherine, don’t threaten me, honey. You’re way of our your league. [Rises, walks to the dresser, begins tying his necktie] Besides, Bobby and Jenna belong together. After all, he is the father of her little girl.

KATHERINE: Now you don’t know that. Not for sure.

J.R.: [Turns toward her] Oh, yes I do. I’ve known for a long time. You see, I have a friend over in Rome who got me a copy of the birth certificate — years ago, I guess. I suppose that was the purpose of you going over there, wasn’t it? Oh, I wish I could have seen your face when you found out Bobby was the father.

KATHERINE: I don’t care if he is the father. I want him and I’ll get him.

J.R.: Hm. Maybe yes, maybe no. But you’ve just done something that’s going to keep you from getting Bobby for good. Did you ever meet a lady named Holly Harwood?

KATHERINE: Just once. She made a disgusting play for Bobby in my presence.

J.R.: I think Bobby might have liked her. But she made the same mistake that you did, honey. She slept with me. [Crosses the room, retrieves his jacket from the back of a chair] If she ever did have a chance with him, that knocked her right out of the box.

KATHERINE: Oh, I’m sure there were other reasons.

J.R.: [Walks back to the dresser, puts on his watch] Well, I wouldn’t put it to the test if I were you. No, you just do what I want, when I want and nobody will ever know about tonight.

KATHERINE: Not so fast, J.R. It is your word against mine. And why would Bobby possibly believe you?

J.R.: [Turns toward her] Oh, he might not believe me, but he will believe his own ears. [Holds up a tape recorder] He may have never heard you under these conditions, but you have a very distinctive voice, no matter what you’re saying. [Katherine looks stunned.] Would you like me to play this back for you?

KATHERINE: [Defeated] No.

J.R.: [Picks up his hat, exits] I’ll call you.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 141 — ‘The Buck Stops Here’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

Round and round

“The Buck Stops Here” memorably ends with Pam Ewing and Jenna Wade competing against each other in a mechanical bull-riding competition. It’s an appropriate metaphor for these characters, whose lives go up and down but rarely move forward. For example, during the course of this episode, we learn Pam is still hung up on ex-husband Bobby, even though she’s also in a relationship with Mark Graison. Meanwhile, Jenna has returned to town after a long absence and rekindled her romance with Bobby, but he upsets her when he asks if he’s the father of her daughter Charlie. If it feels like you’ve seen both of these stories before, it’s because you have.

Let’s start with Pam. She spends most of “Dallas’s” previous season trying to choose between Bobby and Mark, a storyline that makes her seem more than a little wishy-washy. Once Pam divorces Bobby, the writers begin to rehabilitate her character, even giving her a promising new career in the oil industry. It’s the return of the smart, confident Pam that Victoria Principal played exceedingly well during “Dallas’s” early years. Too bad it doesn’t last. In “The Buck Stops Here,” Principal’s character is back where she was a year earlier, torn between Bobby and Mark.

At least Arthur Bernard Lewis’s script makes Pam aware that she’s emotionally stuck. In the first act, Pam confides her conflicted feelings to Katherine, a scene that is probably meant to make Pam seem introspective but instead makes her seem whiny and not in control of her own emotions. At one point, Katherine tells her, “You know, sometimes I don’t understand you at all.” Pam’s response: “Sometimes I don’t understand myself at all.” The exchange brings to mind “Dallas’s” fifth season, when Pam was unable to explain the erratic behavior she exhibited before her mental breakdown — a storyline I’d just as soon not be reminded of.

The weak plotting leaves me feeling bad for Principal, an enormously appealing actress who deserves better material. Don’t get me wrong: I want Bobby and Pam back together as much as anyone, but if the show was going to insist on breaking them up, at least give Pam something better to do than to pine after her ex-husband. On the other hand: I’ll confess I get a kick out of seeing Pam and Jenna shoot daggers at each other throughout the charity rodeo and the mechanical bull-riding competition. There’s also the terrific scene where Jenna compliments Pam on her performance, telling she’s going to be “a tough act” to follow. “I am a tough act to follow,” Pam responds. On this show, have truer words been spoken?

“Dallas” struggles to come up with a fresh angle for Jenna too. The show introduces the character in the second-season episode “Old Acquaintance,” when Jenna — played by Morgan Fairchild — is depicted as a scheming heiress who tries to break up Bobby and Pam by insinuating Charlie is Bobby’s daughter. Eventually, Pam confronts Jenna and forces her to admit that Jenna’s ex-husband is the little girl’s father. In Season 3, Jenna — now played by Francine Tacker — returns briefly and once again tempts Bobby, except this time Charlie’s paternity isn’t part of the equation. So why is Bobby suddenly pestering Jenna about the issue in “The Buck Stops Here”? My guess is the producers figured audiences wouldn’t remember this subplot was resolved years earlier, although I have no idea why they think “who is Charlie’s father?” is such a compelling storyline in the first place.

At least Jenna comes off as a little more clear-eyed than Pam. The character has felt more down-to-earth and interesting since Priscilla Presley took over the role three episodes ago. Some of this comes from the writing — Jenna has lost her fortune and is now working as a waitress to pay the bills — but some of it also comes from Presley, who instills her character with much more backbone than I remembered. In one of “The Buck Stops Here’s” best scenes, Katherine tries to bribe Jenna into moving to Houston and leaving Bobby alone. Katherine pretends she’s acting in Pam’s interest, but Jenna is savvy enough to realize Katherine wants Bobby for herself. I also like the scene where Bobby takes Jenna to dinner at the Oil Baron’s Club (which makes its debut in this episode) and asks her if she misses being rich. “Damn right I do,” she says. Isn’t it kind of refreshing to see the working class depicted as something other than noble?

Besides recycling old storylines, “The Buck Stops Here” demonstrates the sexism that pervades this era of “Dallas.” At the beginning of the episode, when Pam and Katherine have their heart-to-heart talk, Katherine is aghast to learn Pam and Mark have never had sex. “You can’t expect a man to wait forever. This isn’t the 19th century,” she says. It also seems like every man on this show has at least two women interested in him: Mark is romancing Pam while being chased by snooty socialite Tracy Anders, while Pam, Jenna and Katherine are all in love with Bobby.

(Frankly, everyone’s interest in Patrick Duffy’s character mystifies me a little, at least in “The Buck Stops Here.” Notice how Bobby cheerfully tells Katherine all about his wonderful afternoon with Jenna, even though Katherine confessed her own unrequited romantic feelings for Bobby during the previous episode. Likewise, isn’t it kind of crass of Bobby to plant such a passionate kiss on Jenna at the end of this episode, knowing that his ex-wife is watching them? Where’s the sweet, sensitive Bobby that we all know and love?)

Amid all the complications and sexism that characterize Bobby and Pam’s love lives, Sue Ellen’s May/December romance with camp counselor Peter Richards feels like a breath of fresh air. At least this is a love triangle where one woman (Sue Ellen) is the object of affection for two men (J.R. and Peter). The previous episode ended with Sue Ellen and Peter sharing a brief kiss, but in “The Buck Stops Here,” she meets Peter for lunch — the restaurant’s name isn’t shown, but I’d recognize the inside of a 1980s Pizza Hut anywhere — and wisely tells him that their relationship can’t go any further. It’s nice to see Sue Ellen grow as a character, even as some of her “Dallas” sisters struggle to move forward.

Of course, even though I like seeing the Ewing and Barnes women take center stage for a change, I can’t help but feel bad for J.R., who doesn’t have much to do in “The Buck Stops Here” except to stand by helplessly as Cliff steals another deal from him. In fact, Larry Hagman is completely absent from the episode’s fourth act, an extreme rarity on this show. It’s no fun to watch our hero get beat, but but I’m heartened by the scene where J.R. summons Harry McSween to his office to help him set a trap for his enemy. “I want that little insect to bite — and bite hard,” J.R. says. The line leaves me rubbing my hands in glee. J.R. vowing to exterminate Cliff? Oh, this is going to be fun!

Grade: B


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jenna Wade, Patrick Duffy, Priscilla Presley

Busy Bobby


Season 7, Episode 10

Airdate: December 2, 1983

Audience: 22.3 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Peter tells Sue Ellen he loves her, but she insists it’s merely an infatuation. Pam sleeps with Mark after she spots Bobby kiss Jenna passionately. After J.R. loses another deal to Cliff, he realizes Ewing Oil has a mole.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), Mary Armstrong (Louise), John Beck (Mark Graison), Tye Bell (Buzz), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Jack Collins (Russell Slater), Joe Dorsey (Ben Kesey), 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), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Roy McAdams (rodeo announcer), Andrea McCall (Tracy Anders), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Don Wood (Dan Fuller)

“The Buck Stops Here” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Bobby … I’m in Love With You’

Morning After, Morgan Brittany, Patrick Duffy

What’s not to love?

In “Morning After,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby and Katherine (Patrick Duffy, Morgan Brittany) have a picnic in a park.

BOBBY: Well, this is a first.

KATHERINE: In what way?

BOBBY: I cannot remember, ever in my life, having a picnic in the middle of a working day. [They toast.]

KATHERINE: Well, do you mind?

BOBBY: I think it’s wonderful. I’ve just never done it before. [He pops a grape into his mouth.]

KATHERINE: Bobby, there’s something I should tell you. I was very disappointed that you didn’t ask me to the Oil Baron’s Ball.

BOBBY: Ask you to be my date? Katherine, the thought never occurred to me.

KATHERINE: Don’t you think it should have?

BOBBY: You are Pam’s sister.

KATHERINE: But you’re not married to Pam anymore.

BOBBY: Well, I realize that, of course —

KATHERINE: Bobby, why did Jenna Wade come back into your life?

BOBBY: What?

KATHERINE: I’d just like to know about her.

BOBBY: All right. Jenna Wade. Jenna is probably the first girl that I ever truly loved.

KATHERINE: Yes, that’s what I’d heard. But what about now? How do you feel about her now?

BOBBY: Katherine, you forgive me if this sounds rude, but I don’t think that’s any of your business.

KATHERINE: But of course it is. Don’t you understand why?

BOBBY: No, I don’t.

KATHERINE: You don’t, do you? Bobby, don’t you realize I’m in love with you? I’ve been in love with you from the first time I ever saw you. I just never said anything because you were married to my sister.

BOBBY: Katherine, I … I don’t know what to say. I didn’t have the slightest idea.

KATHERINE: I thought it was written all over my face.

BOBBY: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.


BOBBY: I could just never see you and I being together.

KATHERINE: Am I so unattractive?

BOBBY: Oh, no. Of course not. But you’re Pam’s sister. I could never think of you in any other way.

KATHERINE: But you could think of Jenna Wade in another way.

BOBBY: Jenna and I have known each other a long time. And we’ve always had very strong feelings for one another.

KATHERINE: Well, lucky Jenna.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 140 — ‘Morning After’

Christopher Atkins, Dallas, Linda Gray, Morning After, Peter Richards, Sue Ellen Ewing

Special needs

The characters on “Dallas” usually have affairs when they fall in lust or in love, but neither scenario is true for Sue Ellen Ewing and Peter Richards. Their romance is based on their mutual neediness. Sue Ellen, having been betrayed by J.R. once too often, needs to be reminded of what life was like before it turned into one extended heartache. Peter, a bright young man who is eager for the world to take him seriously, needs to feel like a grownup. Put another way: She needs to feel younger, he needs to feel older. This doesn’t make their relationship right, but I can see why they’re drawn to each other.

In “Morning After,” Sue Ellen and Peter finally acknowledge what’s happening between them. It begins when Peter visits Southfork and overhears J.R. and Sue Ellen arguing. J.R. wants his wife to sleep with him; when she refuses, he suggests it’s because Peter is “getting” to her. Sue Ellen insists this isn’t true but wonders if J.R. is jealous. His response: “Jealous? Are you kidding? The one thing I don’t have to worry about is a schoolboy with a crush on my wife.” The next day, Peter persuades Sue Ellen to meet him at a quiet pier, where he says he doesn’t think he should continue working with John Ross because he’s developed feelings Sue Ellen. She tells Peter it’s “not so unusual” for a young man to be attracted to an older woman, comparing him to a student who develops a crush on a teacher. Sue Ellen urges him to not “give up” on John Ross, who adores Peter and would be sad to lose him as his counselor. “It’ll all work out. You’ll see,” she says.

Except this is “Dallas,” and so of course things won’t work themselves out. To begin with, Sue Ellen is also attracted to Peter, although she doesn’t want to admit it. Why? Scriptwriter David Paulsen never makes this clear, but it seems safe to assume the always ladylike Sue Ellen believes it would be wrong for a woman in her 40s to desire a college student like Peter. Regardless of the character’s motivation, Linda Gray does a nice job bringing Sue Ellen’s conflicted feelings to light. This is especially true in the scene where Sue Ellen shoots down Lucy’s suggestion that Peter has a crush on her. Gray delivers her lines with just enough defensiveness in her voice to let the audience know that Sue Ellen doesn’t believe a word of what she’s saying. Charlene Tilton’s skepticism in this scene is also pitch-perfect. When Sue Ellen insists Peter is nothing more than John Ross’s friend, Lucy snaps, “He’s John Ross’s friend? John Ross is 5 years old. Peter is in college.”

Sue Ellen’s denials bring to mind one of “Dallas’s” earlier May/December romances: Jock’s affair-of-the-heart with Julie Grey. Like Sue Ellen does with Peter, Jock initially denies anything is happening between him and Julie, although he eventually realizes their relationship is wrong and ends it. Also, like Sue Ellen and Peter’s romance, Jock and Julie’s affair is rooted in mutual neediness: He needs Julie to help reclaim his vitality after his heart attack, while she needs Jock to validate her self-worth. One difference between the two relationships: Julie fools herself into thinking it’s OK to pursue Jock, but Peter does no such thing when it comes to his feelings toward Sue Ellen. Even after Peter eavesdrops on J.R. and Sue Ellen’s spat and realizes they aren’t the happy couple they pretend to be in public, Peter tells Sue Ellen their friendship can’t continue. “You’re married. I just don’t think anything should happen between us,” he says.

Ultimately, this is why Sue Ellen is so attracted to Peter: Unlike the husband who has caused her so much pain, Peter is principled. He still has some growing up to do, though. The day after Sue Ellen’s conversation with Peter at the pier, she drops John Ross off at camp and discovers Peter hasn’t shown up for work. Sue Ellen returns to the pier, where she finds Peter sitting on the dock, looking like a sad little boy. She again reassures him that everything will work itself out, then holds his hand and walks him toward her car, where, in the episode’s final scene, he kisses her. The sentimental underscore lends this scene a “Summer of ’42” vibe, and Christopher Atkins is earnest enough to make Peter’s kiss seem gentle and sweet. But isn’t it also kind of childish? For all of Sue Ellen’s talk about how mature Peter is, he apparently isn’t grown up enough to control his impulses.

Sue Ellen and Peter’s relationship will take more twists and turns as “Dallas’s” seventh season progresses, but by the end of “Morning After,” it feels like their affair is already doomed. The qualities that attract these characters to each other are the same qualities that seem destined to tear them apart them. Sue Ellen is drawn to Peter’s youth and, having had her first taste of self-empowerment in the previous episode, she seems to enjoy being the dominant player in their relationship. Notice how she goes to the pier to retrieve him, and she takes his hand and walks him to her car. Peter’s attraction to Sue Ellen, in the meantime, is based on how she treats him like a man. As their relationship deepens and she asserts herself more, will he still feel the same way?

Peter isn’t the only character who comes clean in “Morning After.” In one of this episode’s most interesting scenes, Katherine finally tells Bobby she loves him and is surprised to see the revelation shocks him. I suspect a lot of “Dallas” fans probably share Katherine’s surprise, although Bobby’s explanation (“You’re Pam’s sister. I could never think of you in any other way.”) seems reasonable to me. Regardless, I feel sorry for Katherine. Yes, she did an awful thing by working with J.R. to orchestrate Bobby and Pam’s breakup, but Morgan Brittany imbues her character with such sad desperation that she becomes a sympathetic figure. I also have to admire how Katherine goes after what she wants, unlike so many of the other women on this show who never seem fully in control of their own lives.

Other notable moments in “Morning After” include the scene where Cliff invites Pam to join him for a business dinner with Ben Kesey, whose oil company Cliff wants to buy. Of course, smarmy Cliff arrives late because he knows Kesey will be attracted to his sister and wants them to have plenty of time alone together. This won’t be the first time Cliff will use a woman named Pam in this manner, is it? Fortunately, in “Morning After,” Victoria Principal’s Pam is smart enough to figure out what’s happening and calls Cliff on his manipulation. Too bad Donna doesn’t demonstrate the same gumption in her scene with Paul Morgan. After she thanks Morgan for defending Ray during his murder trial, Morgan flirts with Donna shamelessly, predicting she’ll “wake up one day and leave that guy.” Why doesn’t Donna slug him? On the other hand, Morgan isn’t wrong, is he?

The other great scene in “Morning After” showcases Larry Hagman’s wonderful chemistry with Tilton. It begins when J.R. arrives for breakfast on the Southfork patio, ranting about his brawl with Cliff at the Oil Baron’s Ball the previous night. When J.R. reveals Cliff bit him, Lucy snickers. Says J.R.: “It’s not a laughing matter, young lady. A human bite is a very serious thing. Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of Cliff Barnes.” Lucy’s response: “Are you going to bite him back?”


Grade: B


Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Morning After

Who bit J.R.?


Season 7, Episode 9

Airdate: November 25, 1983

Audience: 21.2 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: After Cliff is named oil baron of the year, he gets into a fistfight with the Ewings. Katherine declares her love to Bobby, who says he considers her a friend. Peter confesses his crush to Sue Ellen and kisses her. Cliff uses information from Sly to steal another deal from J.R.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Glenn Corbett (Paul Morgan), Joe Dorsey (Ben Kesey), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Debi Sue Voorhees (Caroline), Tom Williams (Joe Clooney), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Morning After” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 135 — ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, My Brother's Keeper

Brotherly love

J.R. goes through “My Brother’s Keeper” trying to buck up Bobby, who’s feeling down as his divorce date approaches. In a memorable scene, the brothers go out for a night on the town, where J.R. arranges for Bobby to bump into a call girl he hired to take Bobby’s mind off his troubles. Does it matter that J.R. is also secretly plotting to shut Bobby out of Ewing Oil, or that J.R. knows Pam will be at the restaurant and will spot her estranged husband dining with the other woman? Of course it matters. But even though J.R. has ulterior motives, the concern he displays for his brother in this episode feels very real.

It’s another example of what makes J.R. a forerunner for the protagonists of modern television drama. As critic Matt Zoller Seitz recently noted, one of the reasons the final hours of “Breaking Bad” were so riveting is because they showed how Walter White, the loving husband and father, and Heisenberg, his ruthless alter ego, had come to co-exist within the same mind and body. You can say something similar about J.R. Even though he’s scheming against Bobby and helped orchestrate the breakup of his marriage, he genuinely loves his brother and wants to help him cope with the loss of Pam and Christopher. J.R. is nothing if not a compartmentalist.

Like J.R., Cliff also balances his love for a sibling with his desire to advance his own agenda. In Cliff’s case, he wants Pam to divorce Bobby so she can marry Mark and pave the way for Cliff, Pam and Mark to form a business partnership. But unlike J.R.’s relationship with Bobby, Cliff’s affection for Pam feels a little less complicated. Watch the sweet scene in “My Brother’s Keeper” where Cliff insists on accompanying Pam to the courthouse for her divorce hearing. The warm rapport between Ken Kercheval and Victoria Principal makes me believe Cliff’s concern for Pam trumps everything else. (Interestingly enough, J.R. and Cliff essentially switch roles on TNT’s “Dallas,” where J.R. extols the virtues of putting family first and Cliff is willing to sacrifice his own daughter in his war against the Ewings.)

Three more scenes in “My Brother’s Keeper” deserve mentioning. In the first, Donna stands with Ray at a fence outside their house as he laments the tragedy that has befallen his family since Amos Krebbs’ funeral a year earlier. The shot echoes one from “Where There’s a Will,” the sixth-season episode where Ray and Donna stand in the same spot as he debates whether to attend the funeral. I also like the “My Brother’s Keeper” scene where Bobby and Pam sit silently in an office while their lawyers politely discuss the terms of their divorce. Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal avoid eye contact throughout this sequence, making it feel even sadder than their farewell conversation at the end of the previous episode.

My other favorite scene from “My Brother’s Keeper” is also notable for what isn’t said. It comes at the end of the second act, when Katherine answers a knock on Pam’s hotel room door. “Who is it?” Katherine asks. The voice on the other side of the door belongs to Cliff, who jovially asks: “Who are you?” The eye roll that Morgan Brittany offers in response is priceless. In an episode that leaves us pondering sibling connections, this scene is a reminder that some of these relationships aren’t complicated at all.

Grade: B


Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

Don’t fence him in


Season 7, Episode 4

Airdate: October 21, 1983

Audience: 21.2 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Bobby and Pam’s divorce is finalized. J.R. and Bobby learn their battle has depleted Ewing Oil’s reserves. Mickey tells Ray he doesn’t want to live as an invalid. Sue Ellen gets to know Peter.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Stephanie Blackmore (Serena Wald), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lew Brown (Clarence Colby), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Glenn Corbett (Paul Morgan), 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), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Sean McGraw (Moran), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Kate Reid (Lil Trotter), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Tracy Scoggins (Diane Kelly), Harold Suggs (Judge Thornby), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Chana Vowell (Dee)

“My Brother’s Keeper” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Art of Dallas: ‘Hell Hath No Fury’

Dallas, Hell Hath No Fury, John Beck, Katherine Wentworth, Mark Graison, Morgan Brittany

Katherine and Mark (Morgan Brittany, John Beck) are seen in this 1983 publicity shot from “Hell Hath No Fury,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 123 — ‘Brothers and Sisters’

Brothers and Sisters, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval

Sad as hell

In the best scene from “Brothers and Sisters,” Pam watches as Cliff finally unleashes the guilt that’s been consuming him since Rebecca took his spot aboard the doomed Wentworth jet. “I was supposed to be on that trip! She died and I lived!” he screams. Director Larry Hagman shoots Ken Kercheval in a tight close-up, with the colorful window in Cliff’s living room in the background. It reminds me of Howard Beale delivering one of his jeremiads in front of the stained glass that adorns his news set in “Network.” This homage probably wasn’t intentional, but the comparison fits nonetheless. Kercheval is every bit as mesmerizing as Peter Finch was in that movie. (Coincidentally or not, Kercheval has a small role in “Network.”)

In this scene and others, what impresses me most about Kercheval is his fearlessness. He never holds back during Cliff’s most dramatic moments, seemingly giving the role every ounce of energy he possesses. The result is a character who feels utterly human. Cliff and Pam’s conversation in “Brothers and Sisters” lasts just two and a half minutes, yet during that span Kercheval manages to convey a full range of emotion: depression, anger, self-pity, insecurity, love. The actor achieves this not only through the way he delivers his dialogue, but also through his body language. To see what I mean, watch this scene with the sound muted. Focus on how Kercheval carries himself: the hunched shoulders that demonstrate Cliff’s tension, the downward glances that telegraph his guilt, the way he presses his hands to his chest when Cliff finally gives voice to the rage within him. It’s fascinating.

I also love how Kercheval always seems to bring out the best in his co-stars. This is something I never thought much about until I heard Patrick Duffy praise Barbara Bel Geddes during the audio commentary on the DVD for “A House Divided.” Duffy says he always stepped up his game when Bobby had a scene with Miss Ellie, and it seems like Kercheval had a similar effect on his fellow performers. In “Brothers and Sisters,” Victoria Principal has to work hard to keep up with Kercheval, but she gets the job done. Pam goes toe to toe with Cliff during their shouting match, although Principal’s best moment comes at the end of the scene, when Pam holds her brother in her arms and reminds him how much Rebecca loved him. Principal is the saving grace here; she allows a display of raw emotion to end on a warm note.

The best subplot in “Brothers and Sisters”: Katherine asks Bobby to meet her for lunch at a Dallas restaurant, knowing Pam will be there with Mark Graison. It feels like the kind of thing Abby would have orchestrated on “Knots Landing,” which might be why I like it so much. (Not every great soap opera scheme must involve a multi-million-dollar business deal, something the “Knots Landing” writers knew better than anyone.) Indeed, Katherine’s stunt demonstrates how smart the “Dallas” producers were to bring back Morgan Brittany, who filled the void created when Afton went from troublemaking vixen to put-upon heroine. I especially like how Katherine’s shenanigans lead to Bobby and Pam’s crackling confrontation at the end of the episode. “You know, I wonder whatever happened to the phrase ‘for richer or poorer, for better or worse’? Do you remember any of that?” Bobby asks. Pam’s response: “I wonder what happened to the Bobby Ewing I said those words to?”

The other great moments in “Brothers and Sisters” are small but meaningful. The kitchen scene where Donna realizes Ellie is nervous about her date with Clayton is sweet, and so is Mickey and Lucy’s conversation by the pool, where she tells him she isn’t ready to start dating again. I also love seeing Sly and Phyllis arrive together at the office, chatting about the latter’s date the night before. It’s a throwaway line, but isn’t it nice to know these women have lives outside the office? The next scene is equally revealing: Phyllis enters Bobby’s office and discovers him asleep on the sofa. Rather than wake him, she quietly returns to her desk, buzzes Bobby on the intercom and lets him believe she thinks he merely came to work extra early. Nice of her not to embarrass the boss when he’s sleeping off a hangover, huh?

I also get a kick out of the scene where TV host Roy Ralston drops by Ewing Oil with a bag full of fan mail for J.R., who enchanted Ralston’s viewers after appearing on his show, “Talk Time.” (I wonder: Was Hagman’s real-life fan mail used in this scene?) Ralston urges J.R. to run for office and to treat his show as a platform for his candidacy. This pre-sages what happened in real life nine years later, when another famous Texas, Ross Perot, turned a string of guest spots on “Larry King Live” into a presidential campaign. I doubt the “Dallas” producers ever seriously considered giving J.R. a career in politics — it would have upset the balance of power on the show — yet it’s tantalizing to consider nonetheless.

Mr. Ewing goes to Washington. Imagine the possibilities!

Grade: A


Brothers and Sisters, Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

Here comes trouble


Season 6, Episode 20

Airdate: February 25, 1983

Audience: 21.2 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Will Lorin

Director: Larry Hagman

Synopsis: Katherine schemes to drive a wedge between Bobby and Pam. With Pam and Christopher gone, Bobby throws himself into the fight for Ewing Oil. Holly discovers J.R. is shipping oil to Puerto Rico, unaware the real destination is Cuba. Talk show host Roy Ralston encourages J.R. to run for office. Lucy tells Mickey she needs time before she’s ready to date again. Clayton sells the Southern Cross and makes plans to move to Dallas.

Cast: Mary Armstrong (Louise), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ben Hartigan (Holly’s advisor) Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), John Reilly (Roy Ralston), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Marilyn Staley (waitress), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis)

 “Brothers and Sisters” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 121 — ‘Requiem’

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth, Requiem, Victoria Principal

Goodbye, Mama

Rebecca Wentworth swept into “Dallas” like a character from a Douglas Sirk movie, so it’s only fitting that she leaves in the same manner. Her death in “Requiem” is pure soap opera. In the scene, Rebecca lies in a hospital bed after being injured in a plane crash, but except for the white bandages that frame her face, you would never know this woman had just suffered major trauma. With soft strings playing in the background, Rebecca makes Pam promise to take care of Cliff. “You’re my good girl,” she says. Through tears, mother and daughter declare their love for each other — and then the monitor flat lines, the music swells and a medical team rushes into the room. “Mama? Mama”?” Pam cries.

Larry Hagman directed “Requiem,” and I love how he pulls together all the technical aspects of this scene — the tight close-ups of Priscilla Pointer and Victoria Principal, Bruce Broughton’s dramatic underscore, the monitor’s extended beep — to create a moment that tugs at the heartstrings without apology. Pointer and Principal deserve praise too. The tears from both actresses flow freely, but neither one goes overboard. For an old-fashioned Hollywood death, the weeping feels quite real. (According to Barbara A. Curran’s “Dallas: The Complete Story of the World’s Favorite Prime-Time Soap,” Pointer’s daughter, the actress Amy Irving, was on the set the day this scene was filmed and cried along with her mother and Principal.)

The only thing more emotional than Rebecca’s death is the scene where Cliff finds out about it. It begins when Afton arrives at his townhouse and finds him curled up on the sofa, sleeping off a hangover. He doesn’t know Rebecca was in an accident, much less that she’s gone forever. As Afton breaks the sad news, Hagman slowly zooms in on Ken Kercheval’s face until it fills the frame. His anguished expression recalls the one he wore at the end of the recent “Ewings Unite!” episode of TNT’s “Dallas,” when Cliff orders the explosion of the Ewing Energies oil rig, even though he knows his pregnant daughter Pamela is aboard. Both expressions stir strong feelings: In the 1983 scene, I want to reach through my television screen and give Cliff a hug; in 2013, I want to wring his neck. Is there any doubt Kercheval is one of “Dallas’s” most gifted actors?

Other “Dallas” cast members shine in “Requiem” too. This is the episode that brings back Morgan Brittany after an extended break (before “Requiem,” her most recent appearance came in the 101st episode, “The Investigation”), and the actress gets to show us new shades of Katherine’s persona. I believe the character’s tears are real when she comes to Southfork to comfort Pam, although we’re also left with the impression that Katherine still harbors a crush on her sister’s husband. (“Pam, it must be such a comfort for you to have someone like Bobby,” she says.) We also begin to see Katherine’s knack for duplicity. She’s nice to Cliff when Pam’s around, but the moment Katherine and Cliff are alone, Katherine unleashes her venom and blames him for their mother’s death. “You did this! You killed her!” she screams.

The other highlight of “Requiem” is Rebecca’s funeral, which is one of “Dallas’s” grandest. Hagman opens the sequence with a wide shot of several limousines arriving at the cemetery. Next, we watch as the door to each car opens and the various Barneses, Ewings and Wentworths exit. They all march slowly into the cemetery, along with secondary characters like Jordan Lee, Marilee Stone and Punk and Mavis Anderson. There’s even a handful of reporters present to cover the action. This feels like a funeral fit for a queen, although the emotional kicker comes in the next scene. J.R. is in his office, watching TV news coverage of the burial, when Mike Hughes bursts into the room. Hughes, whom Rebecca was on her way to see when the Wentworth jet crashed, is furious because J.R. has decided to back out of his deal to buy his refinery. Since the point of Rebecca’s trip was to talk Hughes out of selling to J.R. in the first place, this means she died in vain, no?

“Requiem” also includes the famous scene where Miss Ellie speaks to Sue Ellen and predicts the Ewing grandsons will one day inherit their fathers’ rivalry. When this episode debuted 30 years ago, most viewers probably didn’t pay much attention to this scene, but since the debut of TNT’s sequel series, it’s come to occupy a prominent spot in “Dallas” lore. The conversation begins with Sue Ellen drawing a parallel between Rebecca’s death and J.R. losing his variance to pump more oil than anyone else in Texas. Ellie tells Sue Ellen the comparison is ridiculous. “Think 25 or 30 years ahead,” she says. “I won’t be here then. And the fight won’t be between J.R. and Bobby. It’ll be between John Ross and Christopher. Think carefully, Sue Ellen. Your loyalty to your husband is a wonderful thing, but you’re a mother too. And where will this all end?”

The most interesting part of Ellie’s speech isn’t her prediction about her grandsons, but the challenge she lays down to her daughter-in-law. “I won’t be here,” she tells Sue Ellen. The implication: But you will be, and it might be up to you to keep the peace in this family. Are you up to the task? Indeed, to watch this scene now is to see how much Sue Ellen has changed — and how much she hasn’t. In 2013, our heroine is John Ross’s biggest champion, just like she stood in J.R.’s corner three decades ago. But Sue Ellen has outgrown many of her other tendencies. Can you imagine her making the kind of shallow observation that she does in “Requiem,” when she equates J.R.’s business setback with Rebecca’s death? Make no mistake: Sue Ellen still has her share of struggles, but she’s come a long way. Witness the recent scene where she seemed to echo Ellie’s concern about the destructive patterns within the family Ewing.

Mama was right about a lot of things in 1983, but I bet even she couldn’t have predicted how wise Sue Ellen would become.

Grade: A


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Requiem

Good grief


Season 6, Episode 18

Airdate: February 11, 1983

Audience: 15.4 million homes, ranking 16th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Linda Elstad

Director: Larry Hagman

Synopsis: Rebecca dies from injuries sustained in the plane crash. Katherine arrives for the funeral and blames Cliff for their mother’s death. Pam decides to take Christopher and leave Southfork. When the Texas Energy Commission revokes J.R.’s variance, he joins forces with Driscoll to secretly sell oil to Cuba.

Cast: John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Jane D’Auvray (nurse), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), John Ingle (surgeon), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Richard Kuss (Mike Hughes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Ryan MacDonald (Casey), Ben Piazza (Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Arlen Dean Snyder (George Hicks), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Requiem” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.