‘Dallas’ Memoriam: Honoring Those We Lost in 2015

Carl Hardesty, Dallas, Edgar Randolph, Fritz Longley, George Coe, Lorimar, Martin E. Brooks, Merv Adelson

Here’s Dallas Decoder’s annual tribute to the “Dallas” actors, crew members and other contributors who died during the past year. Notable deaths among the show’s extended family also are included. Click on each person’s name to learn more about his or her career at IMDb.com.

 

Dallas, Lorimar, Merv Adelson

Merv Adelson

Merv Adelson

Died September 8 (age 85)

Adelson co-founded Lorimar, the producer of “Dallas,” “Knots Landing” and dozens of other popular shows from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. The studio’s name was created by combining the name of Adelson’s ex-wife Lori with Palomar Airport, where he used to fly airplanes.

 

Dallas, Old Acquaintance, Richard Anthony

Richard Anthony

Richard Anthony

Died April 20 (age 77)

Anthony played a waiter in the 1978 classic “Old Acquaintance.” His other credits include the 1968 “Star Trek” episode “Spectre of the Gun.”

 

 

Dallas, Edgar Randolph, Martin E. Brooks

Martin E. Brooks

Martin E. Brooks

Died December 7 (age 90)

Brooks played Edgar Randolph — a Sam Culver protégé who was later blackmailed by J.R. — in 10 episodes from 1983 to 1984. Brooks, who is best known as Dr. Rudy Wells on “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman,” also appeared in three 1992 “Knots Landing” episodes.

 

Carl Hardesty, Dallas, John Carter

John Carter

John Carter

Died May 23 (age 87)

Carter played Carl Hardesty, J.R.’s go-to man for setting up dummy corporations, in four episodes between 1982 and 1986. He also played a doctor in a 1984 installment of “Knots Landing.” His other credits include nine “Falcon Crest” episodes.

 

Al Checco, Dallas, Ewing Blues

Al Checco

Al Checco

Died July 19 (age 93)

In “The Ewing Blues,” Checco played the man who delivered food to Cliff’s townhouse, noticed J.R.’s appearance on the TV show “Talk Time” and expressed admiration for him. Checcho made guest spots on many other shows, including “Bonanza,” “Kung Fu,” “Growing Pains” and “Scrubs.”

 

Dallas, General Fritz Longley, George Coe

George Coe

George Coe

Died July 18 (age 86)

Coe played Fritz Longley, the retired general who inspired J.R.’s Middle East misadventures, in two 10th-season episodes, “Pari Per Sue” and “Enigma.” Coe also appeared regularly on “Saturday Night Live” during its first season and later voiced a character on “Archer.”

 

Dallas, Diana Douglas, Dr. Suzanne Lacey, Letter

Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas

Died July 3 (age 92)

Douglas played Dr. Suzanne Lacey, the child psychologist who treats John Ross after the Southfork fire, in the seventh-season classic “The Letter.” Douglas, who was married to Kirk Douglas, also played the physician who treated Gary Ewing after his fall from the wagon at the end of “Knots Landing’s” first season.

 

Dallas, Jay Gerber, Rosemont, Southfork Wedding Jinx

Jay Gerber

Jay Gerber

Died October 2 (age 86)

Geber played Rosemont, a sanitarium patient, in the 13th-season episode “The Southfork Wedding Jinx.” His other credits include “Knots Landing,” “L.A. Law” and “Gilmore Girls.”

 

 

Dallas: The Early Years, Ed Porter, Geoffrey Lewis

Geoffrey Lewis

Geoffrey Lewis

Died April 7 (age 79)

Lewis played Ed Porter in “Dallas: The Early Years.” The character actor’s extensive credits also include the Clint Eastwood film “Every Which Way But Loose,” a regular role on the “Alice” spinoff “Flo” and nine episodes of “Falcon Crest.”

 

Dallas, Riobert Magruder

Robert Magruder

Robert Magruder

Died January 2 (age 85)

Magruder, a Texas-based actor, played various roles in four episodes between 1978 and 1984, including a stint as a doctor in the third-season “Whatever Happed to Baby John?” two-parter.

 

 

Dallas, Ewing vs. Ewing, Gordon Oas-Heim

Gordon Oas-Heim

Gordon Oas-Heim

Died June 5 (age 88)

Oas-Heim appears in the credits of the fourth-season episode “Ewing vs. Ewing,” although he isn’t readily visible. The actor’s other credits include “The New Monkees” and a guest spot on “Diff’rent Strokes.”

 

 

Betsy Palmer, Knots Landing

Betsy Palmer

Betsy Palmer

Died May 29 (age 88)

Palmer, who is best known for playing Jason Vorhees’ mother in “Friday the 13th,” portrayed Valene Ewing’s Aunt Ginny on “Knots Landing” from 1989 to 1990.

 

 

Dallas, George Probert

George Probert

George Probert

Died January 10 (age 87)

Probert worked as a “Dallas” music editor on 74 episodes from 1979 to 1982. He also worked on “Lost in Space” and “The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo” and was an accomplished jazz musician.

 

 

Dallas, Geoffrey Ryan

Geoffrey Ryan

Geoffrey Ryan

Died September 20 (age 62)

Ryan served as a Los Angeles location manager for “Dallas” from 1981 to 1983. He also worked on several other Lorimar series, including “Knots Landing,” “Berrenger’s,” “Guns of Paradise” and “Bodies of Evidence.”

 

Dallas, Gregory Walcott, Jim Redfield

Gregory Walcott

Gregory Walcott

Died March 20 (age 87)

In 1980, Walcott appeared in “Who Done It?” and the following episode, “Taste of Success,” as refinery owner Jim Redfield. Ten years later, he returned in the 13th-season episode “Tale of Two Cities” as Jebediah Joyce, the Coast Guard commander who investigated the Ewing Oil tanker disaster.

 

Alan Weeks, Dallas

Alan Weeks

Alan Weeks

Died October 10 (age 67)

Weeks did one-time guest spots on shows such as “Police Woman” and “Fame.” His last credited appearances were two 1991 episodes of “Dallas” — “Designing Women” and “S is For Seduction” — in which he played Thomas, the judge in Carter McKay’s murder trial.

 

What do you remember about these artists? Share your memories below and read our tributes from 2014 and 2013.

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

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

Busy Bobby

‘THE BUCK STOPS HERE’

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 Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 47 – ‘Jenna’s Return’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Francine Tacker, Jenna's Return, Jenna Wade, Patrick Duffy

Dude, that’s not your wife

Bobby’s first love resurfaces in “Jenna’s Return” – and so does his chauvinistic streak. In this episode, Pam’s boss is so impressed by her performance at The Store, he invites her on a business trip to Paris, but instead of being happy for his wife’s success, Bobby sulks.

Making matters worse: While Pam’s away, Bobby spends his free time with old flame Jenna Wade, who pops up for the first time since the second-season episode “Old Acquaintance.” Francine Tacker takes over the role from Morgan Fairchild and doesn’t make much of an impression. I really wish Fairchild played Jenna here, too. She made the character livelier and sexier, which might have made Bobby’s behavior in the cliffhanging final scene, when he appears poised to sleep with Jenna, more credible.

Bobby’s storyline grabs much of the screen time in “Jenna’s Return,” but Ray and Donna’s travails are much more interesting.

The characters began dating just a few episodes ago and already I’m completely charmed by their romance. They make an unlikely couple, but Steve Kanaly and Susan Howard’s chemistry is undeniable, and “Dallas” works hard to make their characters’ relationship feel real.

The first time we see Ray and Donna in this episode, they’re sitting on her living room floor, playing backgammon. Ray is ready to go to bed, prompting night-owl Donna to jokingly bemoan her fate of falling in love with an early riser.

Later, Donna feels out-of-place when Ray takes introduces her to his rough-around-the-edges cowboy friends, while Ray gets a case of the jitters when Donna throws a dinner party to introduce him to her stepson Dave, a state senator, and his wife Luanne.

These little flashes of domesticity are a welcome addition to the show. Many fans may turn to “Dallas” for escapism, but it’s nice to see everyday life reflected now and then, and it’s clear – even at this early stage in Ray and Donna’s relationship – this is the role these characters are destined to fulfill.

Grade: B

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Dallas, Donna Culver, Jenna's Return, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

The real thing

‘JENNA’S RETURN’

Season 3, Episode 18

Airdate: January 18, 1980

Audience: 20.7 million homes, ranking 8th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Pam goes on a business trip to Paris, upsetting Bobby, who renews his friendship with Jenna and is tempted to sleep with her. Sue Ellen continues to see Dusty, arousing J.R.’s jealousy. Ray breaks up with Donna because they don’t have enough in common besides their love for each other.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Byron Clark (Tom), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Mel Ferrer (Harrison Page), Alba Francesca (Luanne Culver), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alex Harvey (Andy), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Brian Libby (Roy), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Don Porter (Matt Devlin), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Francine Tacker (Jenna Wade), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

“Jenna’s Return” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 21 – ‘Julie’s Return’

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Julie Grey, Julie's Return, Tina Louise

It’s just lunch

Julie Grey is “Dallas’s” most aptly named character. She inhabits a world with no absolutes, where nothing is only black or only white. Julie is all gray.

In “Julie’s Return,” J.R.’s onetime mistress and secretary blows back into town and renews her friendship with Jock. Like she did with J.R., Julie becomes Jock’s confidante, giving him the ego boost he needs as he recovers from the heart attack he suffered at the beginning of the second season.

In this episode’s best scene, Miss Ellie summons Julie to Southfork to find out why she is spending so much time with Jock. Julie tells her they are close friends.

“Our relationship is not what you thought it was,” Julie says.

“No, Julie. It’s far more serious,” Ellie responds.

Aside from being a great moment of domestic soap opera, this conversation reminds us how Julie, in the first-season episode “Spy in the House,” fails to recognize her relationship with J.R. is toxic until it’s too late. The pattern continues here: Julie refuses to acknowledge her friendship with Jock is inappropriate.

If a lesser actress played Julie, the audience would probably resent the character for coming between Jock and Ellie, but Tina Louise’s sympathetic performance makes that impossible. We don’t root for Julie here, but we recognize her humanity.

Listen to how Julie describes her relationship with Jock during her conversation with Miss Ellie: “For that man to need my friendship, to want my company, you don’t know what that means to me.” This is a woman who finds validation in her relationships with men. It’s sad.

Julie has a lot in common with another woman on “Dallas:” Sue Ellen. Is it a coincidence J.R.’s wife and mistress both suffer from such achingly low self-esteem?

Just as Julie and Sue Ellen remind me of each other, the Julie/Jock/Ellie triangle makes me realize how closely “Julie’s Return” mirrors “Old Acquaintance,” an earlier second-season episode.

In both installments, a Ewing wife (Pam in “Old Acquaintance,” Ellie in “Julie’s Return”) feels threatened when her husband (Bobby, Jock) begins spending his free time with a woman from his past (Jenna, Julie).

“Dallas” acknowledges these parallels in “Julie’s Return” when Pam confronts a weepy Ellie in her bedroom and urges her to fight for her marriage. It’s a great scene and another reason why this episode is among the second season’s strongest.

Grade: A

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Dallas, Julie Grey, Julie's Return, Tina Louise

She’s baaack

‘JULIE’S RETURN’

Season 2, Episode 16

Airdate: January 26, 1979

Audience: 14.8 million homes, ranking 32nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Les Martinson

Synopsis: Julie returns to Dallas and renews her friendship with Jock. With Miss Ellie’s prodding, Jock ends the relationship, sending Julie back into J.R.’s arms.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Tina Louise (Julie Grey), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Richard Roat (Victor), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Kenneth White (Seth Stone)

“Julie’s Return” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 13 – ‘Election’

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Election, Ken Kercheval

Smear campaign

If ever anyone questioned the politics of “Dallas’s” first families, “Election” should clear things up.

Cliff runs for state senate on a pro-environment, anti-corruption platform. Martin Cole, the candidate the Ewings recruit to run against him, is described as a churchgoer who opposes gun control, abortion rights and higher taxes.

Could it be clearer?

When “Election” begins, the liberal Cliff is cast in a better light than the conservative Ewings. In the first scene, he rejects a big campaign contribution from a sleazy oil industry emissary – even though his shoestring campaign desperately needs cash.

Contrast this with J.R. and Jock. When Cole’s campaign flounders, they resort to dirty tricks, exposing the fact that when Cliff was younger, his pregnant girlfriend died after a botched abortion.

But ultimately, “Election” takes a cynical view of all politics. In the final scene, after Cliff has lost his race, he calls top aide Peter Larson and tells him he’ll run again – but in his next campaign, he’ll take the oil industry’s money. “Peter,” Cliff says, “I just became a realist.”

This is a turning point for Cliff – the moment he decides the ends (beating the Ewings) are more important than the means (honoring your principles). These are the values that will define his character through the rest of “Dallas’s” run.

Of course, “Election’s” harsh judgment of politics shouldn’t come as a surprise. Other early episodes make it clear “Dallas” doesn’t hold politicians in high regard.

“Digger’s Daughter” introduces Bobby as Ewing Oil’s “road man,” who supplies state legislators with broads and booze to get them to vote the company’s way. “Spy in the House” features a state senator who takes bribes. In “Old Acquaintance,” another senator’s mistress jeopardizes his appointment to a federal job.

Crooked politicians like these seem as realistic today as they did in the Watergate era, when “Dallas” debuted.

Just as timeless is “Election’s” references to the importance of television advertising in politics, although Jock goes a little overboard when he urges Cole to buy more airtime. “I want to see your face every time I turn that damn thing on,” the old man barks.

It’s the only thing in this episode that doesn’t really ring true. I mean, has anyone ever wished for more political ads on TV?

Grade: A

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Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Election, Ken Kercheval, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

Welcome to the real world

‘ELECTION’

Season 2, Episode 8

Airdate: November 5, 1978

Audience: 11.5 million homes, ranking 48th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Barry Crane

Synopsis: Cliff’s run for state senate divides Pam and Bobby. After J.R. exposes skeletons in Cliff’s closet and he loses, Cliff vows to play dirty during his next campaign.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Norman Bartold (Evans), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Joshua Bryant (Peter Carson), Allen Cae (Martin Cole), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Buck Young (Seth Stone)

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

The Art of Dallas: ‘Old Acquaintance’

Jenna and Bobby (Morgan Fairchild, Patrick Duffy) shop in this 1978 publicity shot from “Old Acquaintance,” a second-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Then Go Get Him’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Old Acquaintance, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Don’t forget the miracle whip

In “Old Acquaintance,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) is brushing a horse’s mane when Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) approaches.

ELLIE: Where’s Bobby?

PAM: I don’t know. He’s probably with Jenna.

ELLIE: You’re taking it well.

PAM: You think so? It doesn’t show then. It’s awful watching somebody you love slide away. Bobby’s known Jenna a lot longer and a lot of different ways. But I can handle Jenna. It’s the little girl that worries me. The child could tip it. There, I may be outmatched, Miss Ellie.

ELLIE: If you take that attitude, you are. Jenna was never stoical about anything in her life. When she goes down, she goes down kicking and screaming.

PAM: I don’t think kicking and screaming would help.

ELLIE: [Smiling] I knew a woman once. Her man couldn’t decide whether or not to do right by her. So she took a horsewhip to him. Helped him make up his mind fast.

PAM: I don’t think a horsewhip would work with Bobby.

ELLIE: I don’t see why not. It worked on his daddy all right.

PAM: [Smiling] Miss Ellie!

ELLIE: [Chuckles] Of course, I really wanted his daddy.

PAM: [Serious] I really want Bobby.

ELLIE: Then go get him.

PAM: Yeah. [She turns and walks toward the house.]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 8 – ‘Old Acquaintance’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jenna Wade, Morgan Fairchild, Old Acquaintance, Patrick Duffy

Devil in a red blouse

“Old Acquaintance” should not be forgotten. This isn’t one of “Dallas’s” all-time best episodes, but it includes one of my all-time favorite “Dallas” scenes: the pep talk Miss Ellie gives Pam when it looks like her marriage to Bobby is on the rocks.

The conversation begins with Pam lamenting Bobby’s preoccupation with his old flame Jenna Wade and her daughter Charlie.

“I knew a woman once,” Ellie says. “Her man couldn’t decide whether or not to do right by her – so she took a horsewhip to him. Helped him make up his mind fast.”

“I don’t think a horsewhip would work with Bobby,” Pam responds.

“I don’t see why not. It worked on his daddy all right.”

It’s fun to imagine Ellie as a young spitfire, whipping Jock into shape. It isn’t a difficult mental picture to draw, either. Barbara Bel Geddes is wonderful as the Ewings’ wise, soft-spoken matriarch, but if you’ve seen her spirited performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic “Vertigo,” you know Bel Geddes, like Ellie, had a lot of spunk when she was younger.

Speaking of elegant actresses: Morgan Fairchild makes a marvelous Jenna Wade.

Fairchild is remembered as one of the great vixens of 1980s television, so it’s a bit surprising to see how restrained she is here. The actress resists the temptation to make Jenna bitchy. Instead, she plays her as a woman whose machinations are rooted in desperation, not vindictiveness.

“Old Acquaintance” is also memorable thanks to Robert Jessup’s sumptuous cinematography, particularly in Bobby and Jenna’s scenes in the park and during Ellie’s pep talk, when Victoria Principal’s raven hair pops against the backdrop of that green-gold Southfork pasture.

Of course, not everything here works: “Old Acquaintance” makes Pam seem pretty foolish when Bobby takes her to meet Jenna and Charlie at the little girl’s school.

During the visit, Pam sits in Bobby’s car and admires Charlie’s ragdoll Jewel – then accidentally leaves with it. You have to wonder: How does Pam not realize she’s holding the doll when she and Bobby drive away?

Forgetting an old acquaintance is understandable, but come on, Pam. You just met Jewel!

Grade: B

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Dallas, Jenna Wade, Maynard Anderson, Melissa Anderson, Morgan Fairchild, Nicki Flacks, Old Acquaintance, Peter Mark Richman

Blonde in a bind

‘OLD ACQUAINTANCE’

Season 2, Episode 3

Airdate: October 7, 1978

Audience: 9.6 million homes, ranking 58th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Camille Marchetta

Director: Alex March

Synopsis: Jenna Wade, Bobby’s old flame, turns to him when her married lover ends their affair. Bobby suspects he may be the father of Jenna’s daughter Charlie and begins spending his free time with them. Pam confronts Jenna, who admits Bobby isn’t the father, and Bobby and Pam reconcile.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Morgan Fairchild (Jenna Wade), Laurie Lynn Myers (Charlie Wade), Nicki Flacks (Melissa Anderson), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Peter Mark Richman (Maynard Anderson), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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