Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Now Get Out’

Dallas, Linda Gray, Offshore Crude, Sue Ellen Ewing

… And stay out!

In “Offshore Crude,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) stands and looks out her bedroom window as J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters the room.

J.R.: Sue Ellen? Well, I expected to see you lying down with an ice pack on your head.

SUE ELLEN: [Turns to face him] What are you doing in my room?

J.R.: [Steps forward] Oh, well. They told me downstairs that you weren’t feeling well. [Slides his hands in his pockets]

SUE ELLEN: Are you suddenly concerned about my health?

J.R.: Well, of course I’m concerned, honey. I came up here to make sure you were resting comfortably and you’re not resting at all, are you?

SUE ELLEN: I will when you leave.

J.R.: Well, why aren’t you downstairs entertaining your young admirer? Acne’s not contagious, is it?

SUE ELLEN: You are really revolting. What do I have to do, put a lock on my door to keep you out of my room? [Turns toward the window]

J.R.: [Chuckles] It was just a joke.

SUE ELLEN: [Faces him] Well, your jokes aren’t funny. They are disgusting and boring.

J.R.: Well, I get the distinct impression I’m not wanted. Not even you can get me down, Sue Ellen. My life’s moving on just the way I like it to. [Walks toward the door]

SUE ELLEN: I’m very happy for you. Now get out.

He shakes his head as he exits, closing the door behind him.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 146 — ‘Offshore Crude’

Christopher Atkins, Dallas, Linda Gray, Offshore Crude, Peter Richards, Sue Ellen Ewing

Wrong turn, darlin’

The “Offshore Crude” scene where Sue Ellen goes to Peter’s apartment to break up with him is one of “Dallas’s” sillier moments. When she arrives, Peter is wearing nothing but a towel and a face full of shaving cream, so he excuses himself and returns to the bathroom to finish freshening up. While he’s at the sink, Sue Ellen stands with her back to him and pours out her heart, explaining why the two of them can no longer see each other. She finishes her speech and is surprised to see Peter is unfazed, until she realizes he didn’t hear a word she said because the water was running. Sue Ellen, who apparently is too drained to repeat herself, allows the none-the-wiser Peter to hug her tightly and gush about how important she is to him. “I love you. I really do love you,” he says.

Oh, good grief. Linda Gray and Christopher Atkins do their best to sell this scene, but there’s only so much they can do. Sue Ellen’s confession that she only slept with Peter to persuade him to go back to college isn’t credible, and I don’t believe she’d deliver such important news while he’s shaving and she’s facing the other direction. Frankly, I’m even a little surprised to discover the baby-faced Peter shaves. Like Bobby and Pam’s breakup at the beginning of “Dallas’s” seventh season, this is another example of how the writers rely on misunderstanding and miscommunication to drive their storytelling. Sometimes this show has more in common with “Three’s Company” than I care to admit.

Nothing else about “Offshore Crude” is quite this fatuous, except for the shots that depict the Ewings spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon by the Southfork swimming pool. These scenes were filmed on “Dallas’s” Hollywood soundstage, where the pool is noticeably smaller than its real-life Texas counterpart. So why does the show concoct a race between Bobby, Ray and Peter? It only takes Patrick Duffy, Steve Kanaly and Atkins a few strokes each to go from one end of the pool to the other. Bradford May, the show’s seventh-season cinematographer, makes the outdoor sets look a little more convincing than they did in previous seasons, although there’s still no mistaking them for the real thing. Scenes like this make me so happy the new “Dallas” films its exterior scenes outdoors.

The rest of “Offshore Crude” is standard-issue, mid-1980s “Dallas.” J.R. and Sue Ellen have a couple of good fight scenes, including one where he enters her bedroom and wonders if she’s avoiding Peter because she’s afraid his acne is contagious. I love how Gray hisses Sue Ellen’s response: “Your jokes aren’t funny. They are disgusting and boring.” (I predict I’ll spend the next week quoting that line to anyone who will listen.) Larry Hagman is also wonderfully diabolical in “Offshore Crude’s” final scene, when J.R. summons Edgar Randolph to his office and tells him he’s glad Edgar rejected his recent attempt to bribe him: “If my money can’t buy you, nobody else’s can either.” No matter how much time I spend with J.R., he always manages to surprise me.

I also like the scene where Cliff and Marilee sneak off to a bar on a Saturday night to plot their latest business deal. Fern Fitzgerald delivers another one of her delicious performances as the wine-sipping Marilee, who is clearly savoring this opportunity to mix business with pleasure. I also love seeing Cliff trade in his flashy suit for that nifty electric blue shirt. “Offshore Crude” also includes a fun scene between Miss Ellie and Clayton, who skip the usual family dinner at Southfork to take in a meal at the Oil Baron’s Club. The conversation is mostly designed to lay the groundwork for the arrival of his sister Jessica at the end of the season, but it also plays on the charming rapport between Barbara Bel Geddes and Howard Keel and ends with Clayton asking for the check so he can whisk Ellie away to the city’s last big-band dance club.

This turns out to be the only time Bel Geddes and Keel appear in “Offshore Crude.” What a shame. I’d much rather see Ellie and Clayton on the dance floor than watch the rest of the Ewings frolicking around that tiny pool.

Grade: B

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Dallas, Edgar Randolph, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Martin E. Brooks, Offshore Crude

Unbought

‘OFFSHORE CRUDE’

Season 7, Episode 15

Airdate: January 13, 1984

Audience: 20.3 million homes, ranking 6th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Ray Danton

Synopsis: Cliff decides to bid on the offshore oil leases after Sly lies and tells him that J.R. is planning to bid too. J.R. lets Edgar know he has damaging information about him. Peter tells Sue Ellen he loves her. After failing to find Naldo in Rome, Katherine returns to Dallas.

Cast: Mary Armstrong (Louise), Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Martin E. Brooks (Edgar Randolph), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), 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), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Anne Lucas (Cassie), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Alberto Morin (Armando Sidoni), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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