3 Days, 33 Episodes: Here’s How to Catch Up on TNT’s ‘Dallas’

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

Look back

Did you promise yourself you’d spend the summer getting acquainted — or reacquainted — with TNT’s “Dallas”? Did you fail to keep this promise? Relax: You still have time. Grab your DVDs and downloads and have a marathon of your own this weekend. Here’s how to watch all 33 hours of the show before the third season resumes on Monday, August 18.


Friday, August 15

9 to 11 p.m. Kick off your marathon on Friday night at 9 o’clock — the holiest hour of the week for “Dallas” fans — with a double feature of the TNT’s show’s first two episodes: “Changing of the Guard” and “Hedging Your Bets.”

Can you watch the former without getting chills when J.R. (Larry Hagman) doffs his cowboy hat, flashes his grin and declares, “Bobby may not be stupid, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter”? Can you watch the latter without getting choked up when our hero tells Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) she’s “still the prettiest girl at the ball”? Me either.


Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, TNT

First time for everything

Saturday, August 16

7 a.m. Rise and shine, darlins! With so much “Dallas” to watch today, there’ll be no sleeping in. Resume your marathon with “The Price You Pay,” in which Julie Gonzalo’s character receives a smartphone pic of her husband kissing another woman. Get used to it, honey.

8 a.m. Have breakfast with “The Last Hurrah,” in which John Ross (Josh Henderson) squirts Elena (Jordana Brewster) with his hose. Insert your own joke here.

9 a.m. Have you done your workout yet? Download “Truth and Consequences” to your mobile device and head to the gym. Mitch Pileggi’s debut as Harris Ryland is bound to get your heart racing.

10 a.m. Got errands to run? Chores to complete? You’ve got one hour. Make the most of it.

11 a.m. We learn jewelry makes Ann (Brenda Strong) cry in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Then again, doesn’t everything?

Noon. Grab lunch while watching “Collateral Damage,” in which Vicente Cano (Carlos Bernard) wonders if John Ross: 1) is a good dancer, and 2) has any oil in his pipeline. OMG, Vicente was such a flirt!

1 p.m. Tommy (Callard Harris) plants a kiss on Rebecca in “No Good Deed” — which is almost as creepy as when Nicolas starts smooching Elena in Season 3.

2 p.m. Bloody monkeys, Johnny Cash and the redemption of J.R. Ewing. It’s “Family Business” — one of my favorite episodes of this show.

3 p.m. Carmen (Marlene Forte) gets one of the crummiest chores in “Dallas” history — returning Elena’s engagement ring to John Ross — in “Revelations.” Also: More Johnny Cash!

4 p.m. Have you taken a bathroom break yet? If not, take care of that now, and then hurry back to your TV or tablet to watch the second-season opener, “Battle Lines,” in which Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) learns his wife is really his cousin. Ick.

5 p.m. In “Venomous Creatures,” J.R. saves Sue Ellen from going to jail and Judith Light discovers a taste for “Dallas” scenery.

6 p.m. Drew (Kuno Becker) arrives in “Sins of the Father” — his hair won’t show up for several more episodes — and calls John Ross “J-Ro.” Thank heavens that didn’t catch on. Also: Ann shoots Harris!

7 p.m. Has your family seen you at all today? Why not take a break from the Ewings and go have dinner with them.

8 p.m. to midnight: The next four episodes are a murder-a-thon, so brace yourself. Frank (Faran Tahir) offs himself in “False Confessions,” Brenda Strong kills it during Ann’s testimony scene in “Trial and Error,” Vicente bites the dust in “Blame Game,” and then the saddest shot of all: the death of J.R. Ewing in “The Furious and the Fast.”

Midnight. The nice thing about a late-night viewing of “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is that no one else in your house is awake to see you bawling. Once you’ve dried your tears, catch some shut-eye. Tomorrow is going to be another big day.


Dallas, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Leg up

Sunday, August 17

8 a.m. You did a hell of a job yesterday, “Dallas” fan. Your reward: You get to start your Sunday with the wonderfully wacky hodgepodge that is “Ewings Unite!” Miss Ellie disinherits Bobby from beyond the grave, Valene (Joan Van Ark) reveals she’s as loony as ever and Cliff becomes the most hated man in the history of “Dallas” fandom.

9 a.m. Audrey Landers shows she can slink around a corner better than anyone in “Guilt and Innocence.”

10 a.m. In “Let Me In,” Harris reveals his fondness for: 1) TV nature documentaries, 2) Almonds, and 3) Hunting Ramoses.

11 a.m. John Ross and Pamela get wet in “A Call to Arms.”

Noon. You know what goes good with a nice, leisurely Sunday brunch? Watching Bobby take that badass, slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.”

1 p.m. Christopher discovers the mystery lady under the big hat is not his mama in “Guilt by Association.” It’s not Aunt Katherine either, sadly.

2 p.m. Kevin Page joins Mary Crosby as an answer to “Dallas’s” most famous trivia question in “Legacies.”

3 p.m. You might think this would be a good time to take a break, but you’d be wrong. The die is cast and there’s no turning back, so keep plugging away with the third-season episodes, beginning with “The Return,” in which J.R.’s belt buckle begins wearing John Ross. Also: Hello, Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace)!

4 p.m. Time for “Trust Me” a.k.a. “Judith’s Snow Day.”

5 p.m. In “Playing Chicken,” Professor Bobby Ewing teaches us about endangered wildlife.

6 p.m. “Lifting the Veil” is the episode that should’ve included Sue Ellen’s comparison of Emma (Emma Bell) to Kristin, but instead it’s the episode that gives us scenes of hookers in canine costumes.

7 p.m. Dinnertime! Enjoy a glass of J.R. Ewing Bourbon (surely you have some, right?) while watching “D.T.R.” After the episode, check your bottle and make sure Sue Ellen didn’t bug it.

8 p.m. Despite the title “Like Father, Like Son,” John Ross wants you to know that he is not his father! Also: Carter McKay has grandchildren!

9 p.m. Pamela rocks Stella McCartney in “Like a Bad Penny.”

10 p.m. It’s finally time for “Where There’s Smoke.” Southfork goes up in flames and you get to go down for a well-deserved rest. Don’t forget to watch “Dallas’s” midseason premiere Monday night!

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

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 30 — ‘D.T.R.’

Dallas, D.T.R., Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Woman of the hour

Let’s get this out of the way first: “D.T.R.” stands for “define the relationship,” as Christopher’s new girlfriend Heather helpfully explains in the scene where they get to know each other better in the bar. I wasn’t familiar with the expression until recently and neither were a lot of “Dallas” fans, judging by the reactions I’m seeing on Twitter. But no matter. This episode is really about the “Dallas” characters trying to dominate their relationships. Everyone is vying for control of everyone else, demonstrating once again that the real commodity on this show is power, not oil.

At the center of it all is Sue Ellen, a woman who spent years struggling to take charge of her own life. Now she’s trying to reign in John Ross, not just because he’s beginning to remind her of J.R., but also because he’s beginning to remind her of herself. Sue Ellen sees her son becoming addicted to feeding his own ego, just like she’s hooked on the booze inside her flask. This point is underscored in the scene where she tells John Ross that he’s being “reckless” by cheating on Pamela. Sue Ellen might as well be describing the person she used to be, during her own self-destructive phase, before she became the much more functional alcoholic we see today.

John Ross ends this scene by accusing his mother of taking out on him her lingering anger toward J.R. “Guess what, Mama? I’m not J.R.,” he says. These are surprising words coming from a young man who struts around wearing Daddy’s wristwatch and belt buckle, but they show how John Ross has picked up another one of Sue Ellen’s old habits: her penchant for denying the truth. Indeed, what fascinates me most about John Ross and Sue Ellen’s relationship this season is how they’re both borrowing different pages from J.R.’s playbook in their quest for the upper hand in their relationship. In the previous episode, John Ross showed he could treat Sue Ellen as cruelly as J.R. once did; in “D.T.R.,” Sue Ellen blackmails McConaughey in a bid to undermine her son. J.R. Ewing lives on through the people he loved most.

But even without these allusions to our hero, Sue Ellen and John Ross’s storyline is absorbing and effective. Much of this has to do with Linda Gray and Josh Henderson, who do remarkable work in “D.T.R.” Gray enlivens every scene she’s in through the sheer force of her presence; it’s become cliché to say she lights up the screen each time she appears, but I can think of no better way to describe what she brings to this show. Henderson, in the meantime, is nothing less than outstanding: In his hands, John Ross has become dark and dangerous. It doesn’t hurt that both actors receive wonderful material from scriptwriter Aaron Allen, who helps make the characters feel real and knowable. Strip away all the references to “fracking” and the “Arctic play” and it’s easy to see this is the story of a mother trying to save her son from himself.

Allen — who also wrote “Let Me In,” the episode where Harris stifles Emma’s bid for independence — uses “D.T.R.” to return to the power struggles within the Ryland family too. As John Ross points out, Emma is supposed to control Judith, who is supposed to control Harris, although it’s hard to figure out who really runs the show. Here’s what I find most interesting about these characters: As deceptive as they are, they use the truth to emotionally bludgeon each other. In “D.T.R.,” when Ann declares her “role” at Southfork is to care for her loved ones, Emma reminds her mother that she “lied to her husband about my very existence.” It’s harsh, but is it inaccurate? Similarly, in the tense scene where Judith and Emma haggle over Harris’s files, is Judith wrong when she tells Emma that she “degrades” herself by sleeping around?

The Rylands always give us plenty to ponder, but there’s no questioning the quality of the actors’ performances. Judith Light makes it clear Judith loves her rebellious granddaughter, while Emma Bell never lets us forget her character has vulnerabilities, no matter how wicked she behaves. I also love Brenda Strong, who knocks me out in the scene where Ann angrily kicks Emma off Southfork, although she’s equally good when Ann warily welcomes her daughter home. It’s also nice to see Steven Weber take another turn as the slick Governor McConaughey, as well as Todd Terry, who returns as hapless State’s Attorney Peter Bedford, one of the last people to have the honor of being blackmailed by J.R. Ewing. Speaking of J.R.’s victims: The “D.T.R.” scene where Cliff calls Pamela and tries to mend fences with her restores a shred of humanity to the character, but I mostly love the scene because it allows Ken Kercheval to revive his mantra from the second season: “I did not kill J.R.!”

There’s much more to like about “D.T.R.,” especially where Patrick Duffy is concerned. I love how cinematographer Rodney Charters, who doubles as this episode’s director, gives us a shot of solemn, solitary Bobby on horseback watching the smug John Ross inspect the Southfork drill site. It makes Bobby’s end-of-the-episode speech about upholding the Southworth traditions that much more poignant. It’s also a kick to see Bobby and Sue Ellen in the back of the van, eavesdropping on McConaughey, as well as the big reveal at the press conference, when Bobby steps forward as the new railroad commissioner. (Between this scene and the one in “Playing Chicken” where Bobby steps out of Rhonda’s car, Duffy is becoming “Dallas’s” master of the grand entrance.)

“D.T.R.’s” use of the J.R. Ewing Bourbon bottle is also inspired: The revelation that the cork is bugged is the third season’s best twist yet, but I also love how the bottle practically becomes a stand-in for J.R. himself. Gray has a Hagman-esque twinkle in her eye when Sue Ellen gives the bourbon to McConaughey at the top of the hour and reminds him that “good blackmail never sours.” The twinkle is there at the end of the episode too, when Sue Ellen reveals the dirt on McConaughey and he slides the bottles across his desk toward her and says, “This is why politicians should never accept gifts — especially gifts with J.R.’s name on them.”

The only thing missing from this scene is seeing J.R.’s smile, although I must say: Sue Ellen’s sly grin is pretty wonderful too. Of course, that’s always been true, hasn’t it?

Grade: A


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, D.T.R., Patrick Duffy

The steward


Season 3, Episode 5

Telecast: March 24, 2014

Audience: 1.79 million viewers on March 24

Writer: Aaron Allen

Director: Rodney Charters

Synopsis: Sue Ellen blackmails McConaughey into removing Babcock from the Railroad Commission and replacing him with Bobby. Emma blackmails Judith into giving John Ross access to Ryland Transport’s ships and tells him she wants a piece of the Arctic drilling venture. Harris blackmails the CIA into giving his family extra protection. Cliff urges Elena and Nicolas to turns John Ross against Pamela, and when Nicolas examines photographs of J.R.’s autopsy, he notices an unusual incision on his chest. Christopher learns Heather is divorced from Bo and that they have a young son, Michael.

Cast: Amber Bartlett (Jill), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Candace (Jude Demorest), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather McCabe), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Gino Anthony Pesi (George Tatangelo), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Todd Terry (State’s Attorney Peter Bedford), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“D.T.R.” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Picked Up More Viewers This Week

AnnaLynne McCord, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, D.T.R., Heather McCabe, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Reason to smile

“Dallas’s” audience grew a little this week: “D.T.R.,” the latest episode, debuted to 1.79 million viewers on March 24, or about 8,000 more viewers than the previous entry, “Lifting the Veil,” drew one week earlier.

The show lost viewers in one important category, however. “D.T.R.” grabbed 577,000 adults between 18 and 49, a demographic many advertisers pay top dollar to reach. On March 17, “Lifting the Veil” drew 595,000 viewers in the demo.

“Dallas” is averaging a little more than 2 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m. this year, down from 2.7 million viewers on Mondays last season.

“The numbers could be better, but they could also be a lot worse,” said Marc Berman, editor in chief of TV Media Insights, a top industry news site.

“Dallas” is one of three original dramas on TNT’s winter schedule. The other two are “Rizzoli & Isles,” which averages 3.85 million viewers on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., and “Perception,” which averages 1.96 million viewers on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

“Dallas” gets a nice lift from DVR users who record each episode and watch it a few days later. For example, by the end of last week, DVR users had boosted “Lifting the Veil’s” audience to 2.6 million viewers — an increase of almost 1 million people. This audience included 1.5 million adults between ages 18 and 49 and 1.7 million adults between 25 and 54, a demographic TNT targets.

There’s also this: Since March 10, TNT has been running each new “Dallas” episode twice in prime time on Mondays — once at 9 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. The 10 p.m. replays have averaged 751,000 viewers.

If you combine the audiences for the two telecasts, “Dallas” has averaged roughly 2.6 million viewers during the past three Monday nights. Berman said there probably isn’t a lot of overlap between the two showings, although he hung around after this week’s 9 p.m. telecast of “D.T.R.” to catch the first few minutes of the 10 p.m. replay.

“It was such a fantastic opening with Sue Ellen. I had to see it again,” he said.

Look Who’s Talking

Fresh off her dynamo performance in this week’s episode, Linda Gray is scheduled to drop by “The Talk” on Thursday, March 27. CBS airs the show weekdays at 2 p.m.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Takes a Ratings Dip

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lifting the Veil, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Gang’s all here

“Dallas” slipped in the ratings this week: “Lifting the Veil,” the latest episode, was seen by 1.78 million viewers on March 17. This is the TNT drama’s smallest audience yet. There’s a bright spot, however: The show drew 595,000 viewers in the advertiser-prized demographic of adults between ages 18 and 49, up from 512,000 viewers in this category one week earlier.

“Dallas” also continues to get a lift from DVR users who record the show and watch it a few days later. The previous episode, “Playing Chicken,” debuted to 1.99 million viewers on March 10, although when DVR users are counted, the audience increased to 2.7 million viewers. This haul includes 1.1 million adults between ages 25 and 54, a demographic that TNT targets, and 889,000 adults between ages 18 and 49.

“Dallas” is averaging about 2.1 million viewers on Monday nights this winter, down from 2.7 million last year. The show is essentially tied with the crime drama “Perception” as the second most-watched drama on TNT’s winter schedule. Only “Rizzoli & Isles,” which is averaging 3.9 million viewers on Tuesday nights, is more popular.

TNT will pull both “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Perception” from its schedule after tonight and bring them back in June, while “Dallas” will continue to show new episodes until mid-April and then take its long-planned midseason break. The second half of “Dallas’s” third season will begin Monday, August 18, TNT announced last week.

How About Some More Retail Therapy?

Buckle up

Buckle up

Since we told you about the Ewing Oil Company Store last month, the independent online retailer has added several new products, including its most exclusive offering yet: a J.R. belt buckle like the one John Ross inherited on “Dallas” a few episodes ago.

The bronze buckle, which measures 3 inches by 4 inches, features a rope twist border and a flowering field surrounding the “JR” initials. The price: $65.95. Stephen W. Phillips, who owns and operates the store, plans to sell 23 buckles in honor of Ewing 23, the oil field that famously blew up on the original series.

The buckles will ship in the summer, Phillips said. Each one will come with a Ewing Oil stock certificate, a J.R. Ewing business card and a replica of John Ross’s black credit card.

Other recent additions to the store’s inventory: new versions of the J.R. liquor decanters (each one named for one of his mistresses; we’re partial to the “Harwood” model), a Braddock County road sign and a Harris Ryland bake oven.

If the store adds green corsets to its lineup, we’ll let you know.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 3, Week 4

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Playing Chicken, TNT

Mama sees all

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Lifting the Veil,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode:

What will Sue Ellen do about John Ross? In “Playing Chicken,” Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) continued to plan a traditional Southfork wedding for the recently eloped John Ross and Pamela (Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo), even though she harbored lingering doubts about her son’s fidelity to his bride. Sue Ellen told Ann (Brenda Strong) she feared John Ross was sleeping with Emma (Emma Bell); Ann then shared Sue Ellen’s suspicions with Harris (Mitch Pileggi) and asked him to help her reign in their daughter. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen met with Bum (Kevin Page) to determine if he told her the truth about John Ross being faithful to Pamela. After Sue Ellen laid a major guilt trip on Bum, he confessed everything. “I lied to you, Sue Ellen. You were right about John Ross and Emma. I’m sorry,” Bum said. Sue Ellen’s response: “Not nearly as sorry as I am.” How will she deal with the truth about her son?

What will Judith do about John Ross? When Harris told Judith (Judith Light) that Emma and John Ross are sleeping together, Judith was nonplussed. “Good for her. John Ross is a nice-looking young man,” she said. But Judith changed her tune when Harris told her John Ross now possesses Harris’s secret files, which he said contains “unflattering” information about her. She told Harris, “I’m sure we can find something to compromise young Mr. Ewing enough to convince him to return those files. And by ‘we,’ of course I mean ‘me.’” What should worry John Ross more — the fact that Judith thinks he’s cute or the fact she wants those files back?

Will John Ross and Pamela say, “I do”? Emma seemed determined to undermine John Ross’s marriage. She buddied up to Pamela during a shopping spree and then ruined her plan to surprise John Ross with new lingerie: Emma bought the same outfit and wore it for John Ross first; when he saw Pamela wearing it, he was rattled and lost interest in having sex with his wife. Given all the turbulence in John Ross’s life, we wonder: Will his wedding to Pamela go off without a hitch?

What will Elena and Nicolas do next? Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace) tracked down Rhonda Simmons (Emily Kosloski), the woman whose testimony helped convict Cliff (Ken Kercheval) of J.R.’s “murder,” and offered her $25,000 to admit she lied, but Rhonda refused to betray the Ewings. Meanwhile, Elena (Jordana Brewster) came up empty-handed when she searched for surveillance video to prove Cliff’s gun was stolen from the firing range. The setbacks frustrated Elena, but Nicolas confessed his love for her and they had sex — unaware that Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) was digging into Nicolas’s past in Mexico, where he met a beautiful woman named Lucia (Angélica Celaya), who introduced herself as Nicolas’s wife. Should Elena continue to trust Nicolas — and should Christopher trust Lucia?

What will the Ewings do about their business? John Ross blackmailed Bo (Donny Boaz) into joining his Southfork drilling venture by threatening to expose the ranch hand’s drug-dealing past. But John Ross’s scheming was for naught: Bobby (Patrick Duffy) shut down the project when he revealed the state would refuse to issue John Ross a drilling permit because the project endangered the lesser prairie chicken, a threatened species in Texas. If the Ewings can’t tap the oil under the ranch, how will they finance their Arctic drilling plans?

Will our old favorites have much to do? John Ross and Pamela’s wedding will bring three stars from the original “Dallas” back to Southfork: Lucy (Charlene Tilton), Ray (Steve Kanaly) and Afton (Audrey Landers). When Kanaly spoke to Dallas Decoder before production on this episode began, he told us Ray and Lucy don’t have big roles in this episode, but suggested Afton will be featured more prominently. If nothing else, will we hear the divine Miss Cooper sing?

What “Dallas Burning Questions” are on your mind? Share your comments below and watch TNT’s “Dallas” tonight.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Playing Chicken’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Playing Chicken, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

There were a lot of classic looks in “Playing Chicken,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode, including the long-sleeved blue dress that Linda Gray wore during Sue Ellen’s memorable lunch with Bum. Gray looks great no matter what you dress her in, but blue has always been one of her best colors. I also love how Sue Ellen’s blue-and-green dangly earrings complemented the dress. It was kind of hard to see them when the scene began, but as Sue Ellen and Bum’s conversation progressed — and it became clear she was playing him like a fiddle — the earrings seemed to reveal themselves more. They became an effective symbol for her below-the-radar manipulation of poor, well-meaning Bum.

The guys sported timeless looks in “Playing Chicken” too. John Ross spent much of this episode in western garb, including the dark blue denim shirt he wore in the scene where he learned about the plight of the lesser prairie chicken. It evoked the cowboy-hats-and-jeans getups that Josh Henderson sported during “Dallas’s” first season. I also loved the white shirt and khakis that Jesse Metcalfe wore in Christopher’s scenes in Mexico. The outfit was stylish yet practical; if I had to go sleuthing around the hot, dusty streets of Nuevo Laredo, this is probably what I’d wear.

Of course, “Playing Chicken” will probably be remembered for all the revealing outfits. No one showed more skin than Emma Bell’s Emma Ryland, who strutted around Southfork in that tangerine “monokini.” Like Sue Ellen’s earrings, the swimsuit can be seen as a symbol since it helped expose Emma’s determination to undermine John Ross and Pamela’s marriage. (By the way, in response to all the inquiries from fans, costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin tweeted the bathing suit came from Sauvage Swimwear.)

And then there were the dueling emerald green corsets worn by Bell and Julie Gonzalo’s Pamela Barnes Ewing. Yowza! Not since Sue Ellen dabbled in the lingerie business back in the 1980s have we seen such revealing undergarments on “Dallas.” This wasn’t just an excuse to put Bell and Gonzalo in skimpy underwear, either; now that we know Emma intentionally ruined Pamela’s surprise for John Ross, we have a whole new reason to despise her.

The question is: Who wore it best? I like the way Gonzalo settled this debate when TNT posed the question to viewers at the end of the episode. As Gonzalo tweeted, “Who wore it best?!? SCREW THAT. we BOTH did!”

Darlin’, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

What were your favorite looks in “Playing Chicken”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

Say What?! This Week’s Best Dallas Sound Bites

“Dallas” delivers the most delicious dialogue on television. Here are the best sound bites from “Playing Chicken,” this week’s episode.

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Bum, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Kevin Page, Patrick Duffy, Playing Chicken, TNT

What are your favorite lines from “Playing Chicken”? Share them below and read more “Say What?!”

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘He is Awful Cute, Though’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Playing Chicken, TNT

Cock a doodle don’t

In “Playing Chicken,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) speaks to a group of Southfork ranch hands as Bo (Donny Boaz) stands near him.

JOHN ROSS: Thank y’all for coming. First off, I want to say that I was wrong. My uncle was right. You start messing with a man’s livelihood, you make an enemy. I want to thank Bo here for helping you guys to know that I am not your enemy. And working with me, drilling oil, we’re all going to have a better livelihood. I can promise you that. All right, guys, let’s get this mess cleaned up.

BO: You heard the man. Let’s get to it.

As the crowd disperses, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) arrives in a pickup truck, gets out and approaches John Ross. He carries a cage covered with a blanket.

BOBBY: Well, good morning, John Ross.

JOHN ROSS: If you’re here to try to stop me again, Uncle Bobby, you can’t. We already settled that.

BOBBY: I know I can’t stop you, John Ross. But my little friend here certainly can. [He removes the blanket, revealing a bird inside the cage.]

JOHN ROSS: [Chuckles] A chicken?

BOBBY: Well, now, it’s not just a chicken. This is a lesser prairie chicken — a species native to this area, right here.

JOHN ROSS: Well, I have spent most of my life here on Southfork, and I’ve never even heard of a lesser prairie chicken. Nor have I seen one.

BOBBY: Well, that’s the point, boy. They’re rare. In fact, they’re endangered. The Sierra Club — you know who they are — well, they’re pressing for an investigation into whether or not fracking for oil right here on Southfork will endanger their very existence. Investigations like that take months. Hell, sometimes years. And the railroad commission just won’t issue a permit to drill until the fate of my little friend here is completely resolved. [Smiles] He is awful cute, though, isn’t he? Lesser prairie chicken.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 28 — ‘Playing Chicken’

Bobby Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Playing Chicken, TNT

Always the winner

Bobby Ewing plays two games of chicken in “Playing Chicken,” and of course he wins both. First, Bobby uses — forgive me for this — fowl means to foil John Ross’s latest scheme to drill on Southfork. Later, when Nicolas tries to prove the Ewings framed Cliff for J.R.’s “murder,” Bobby faces off against the younger man and forces him to blink first. Both scenes are a kick, reminding us how essential Patrick Duffy is to “Dallas.” They also demonstrate Duffy’s versatility; no matter what the script calls for, this man always delivers — and he always looks damn cool doing it.

The scene with John Ross opens with Josh Henderson’s character giving his crew of ranch-hands-turned-roughnecks a pep talk when a cheerful Uncle Bobby shows up toting a cage with a big bird inside. Bobby proceeds to give his ambitious nephew a lesson on the plight of the “lesser prairie chicken,” explaining how it’s an endangered species whose presence on Southfork means the government will deny John Ross’s request for a drilling permit, lest he disturb the creature’s natural habitat. John Ross fumes; Bobby smiles. “He is awful cute, though, isn’t he?” Bobby asks, motioning toward the cage.

I love this scene mostly because it’s nice to see “Dallas” lighten up, but also because it recalls all the times Bobby bested J.R. with a wink and a grin. The role of happy warrior has always suited Duffy well, and his timing here is as sharp as ever. Everyone else seems to get into the spirit too: Henderson shows he can deadpan with the best of them, while director Jesse Bochco delivers a whimsical shot of John Ross from inside the chicken’s cage. (Shades of the “horse-cam” used to shoot Emma Bell last year.) Even composer Rob Cairns has a little fun with this scene; his underscore is noticeably jauntier than usual.

Bobby’s other big scene begins with Nicolas arriving in a darkened parking lot to meet Rhonda Simmons, the club hostess whose testimony helped convict Cliff. Nicolas believes Rhonda is going to turn against the Ewings; when he finds her standing near her car, he congratulates her and tells her she’s made “the right decision.” Suddenly, the passenger door opens and out steps … Bobby, who makes it clear Rhonda isn’t changing her story after all. This would be a triumphant moment no matter which Ewing had emerged from Rhonda’s car, but the fact that it’s Bobby makes it especially satisfying. He’s always been our white knight, and frankly he’s the only Ewing with the moral authority to make framing Cliff for murder seem like the right thing to do.

But even though Patrick Duffy is the indisputable man of the hour in “Playing Chicken,” Gail Gilchriest’s terrific script ensures no one gets shortchanged. It’s especially nice to see lots of scenes with the always wonderful Brenda Strong, whose character gets to demonstrate a little personal growth. When Sue Ellen confides in Ann her fears about John Ross and Emma, I expect Ann to dismiss the suggestion outright. Instead, she says, “I know I’ve been defensive about Emma’s behavior in the past. You were right about her drug use. Maybe you’re right this time too.” Strong always makes Ann feel like one of the grownups in the room, but the job is easier when she has smart writing like this to work with.

It’s also interesting to see Ann turn to Harris to help reign in Emma. I love Duffy and Strong together, but there’s also no denying the actress’s chemistry with Mitch Pileggi. Does this scene suggest Ann is softening toward her ex-husband? Or is the show merely using Ann to smooth Harris’s rough edges? During their conversation, Ann urges Harris to come clean to Emma about his connection to the CIA; he rejects that suggestion, but he nonetheless reveals a little humility: “I never meant to put the people that I love in danger, Annie. As awful as you think I am, I do love our daughter.” Who knew the “l” word was in Harris’s vocabulary? Also, notice how he says “the people that I love.” Does that include Ann?

Other highlights: Sue Ellen’s masterful manipulation of Bum, as well as the scene where he shows up on her doorstep and confesses his deception. I’m delighted “Dallas” is exploring the relationship between these characters, not just because they have such an opposites attract charm — the uptown lady and the downtown private eye — but also because Kevin Page might be the only actor on this show who comes close to matching Linda Gray’s soulfulness. I have no idea where Sue Ellen and Bum are headed, but whether they remain friends or become something more, I hope we keep seeing a lot of scenes between them.

I’m a little less enthralled with the romance that develops in “Playing Chicken” between Elena and Nicolas, especially since we’ve been told their characters grew up thinking of each other as siblings. On the other hand, I’m more impressed than ever with Juan Pablo Di Pace: Nicolas is so suave and charming in his first two “Dallas” appearances, but in “Playing Chicken,” there are times he seems downright sinister. At the end of this episode, we learn Nicolas has a wife — Angélica Celaya makes an intriguing debut as Lucia Treviño — and I have no doubt we’re going to learn he’s hiding even more.

I also like “Playing Chicken’s” scenes of Christopher sleuthing around Mexico, as well as the fun Gilchriest has with John Ross’s complicated love life. No one delivers oh-no-she-didn’t moments better than Bell: What makes us despise Emma Ryland more, when she accompanies Pamela on the shopping trip and brags about her lover’s sexual prowess, or when she shows up at John Ross’s office wearing the same emerald corset that Pamela is planning to surprise him with? Fans are directing a lot of venom at Bell’s character on social media these days, and I hope the actress is wearing it as a badge of honor. She’s doing a fantastic job making Emma a vixen we love to hate.

I’m also left pondering the scene where John Ross rejects Pamela’s romantic overtures. Is this an attack of conscience, or is he beginning to realize Emma is dangerous? Whatever the reason, John Ross’s personal entanglements are probably going to be the least of his worries. In “Playing Chicken’s” most chilling scene, Harris tells Judith that the files in his safe — which include “unflattering” information about her — are now in John Ross’s possession. Says Judith: “I’m sure we can find something to compromise young Mr. Ewing enough to convince him to return those files. And by ‘we,’ of course I mean ‘me.’” If you were John Ross, what would make your heart drop more — hearing Judith say she wants to “convince” you of something or hearing her earlier statement that she thinks you’re “a nice-looking young man.” Shudder.

More than anything, this episode demonstrates how “Dallas” is finding a new rhythm in its third season. The first hour, “The Return,” took its time establishing the year’s themes and plotlines; the second episode, “Trust Me,” delivered the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from the TNT series (Judith does coke! Harris is CIA!); and “Playing Chicken” slows down the action once more to allow the audience to catch its breath. If the pattern holds, does that mean the next installment will be another roller coaster? I wouldn’t bet against it, especially now that we know Judith Ryland has John Ross in her crosshairs. Let the battle of the “J.R.s” begin.

Grade: A


Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Playing Chicken, TNT

Good at being bad


Season 3, Episode 3

Telecast: March 10, 2014

Audience: 1.9 million viewers on March 10

Writer: Gail Gilchriest

Director: Jesse Bochco

Synopsis: Christopher investigates Nicolas in Mexico, where he meets Lucia, Nicolas’s wife. Bobby foils John Ross’s attempt to drill on Southfork and Nicolas’s attempt to turn Rhonda against the Ewings. Later, Nicolas reveals long-hidden feelings to Elena and they have sex. Bum admits to Sue Ellen that John Ross is sleeping with Emma. When Harris tells Judith that Emma gave damaging files about her to John Ross, Judith vows to “convince” John Ross to give back the documents. Bobby promises Ann he’ll keep her and Emma safe following Harris’s revelation that he’s working with the CIA to bring down the drug cartel.

Cast: Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Angélica Celaya (Lucia Treviño), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Currie Graham (Commissioner Stanley Babcock), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Emily Kosloski (Rhonda Simmons), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Scott Mullins (Nate), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Geoffrey Rivas (shopkeeper), Aaron Spivey-Sorrells (ranch hand), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Michael Swanner (Dewey Templeton)

“Playing Chicken” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Gets a Slight Ratings Boost

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Playing Chicken, TNT

Ratings flash!

“Dallas” experienced an uptick in the ratings this week: “Playing Chicken,” the latest episode, debuted to 1.985 million viewers on March 10, including 512,000 adults between ages 18 and 49, the demographic that advertisers pay top dollar to reach.

The total audience grew by roughly 50,000 viewers, or about 2.6 percent. The previous episode, “Trust Me,” debuted to 1.934 million viewers on March 3.

However, when you include viewers who recorded “Trust Me” on their DVRs and watched it within three days, the episode’s audience reached 2.7 million viewers. This audience includes 1.1 million adults between ages 25 and 54, a demographic that TNT targets, and 864,000 adults in the 18-to-49 demo.

So far this season, “Dallas” is averaging 2.2 million viewers on Monday nights, compared to 2.7 million viewers on Mondays last year. Of the three original dramas that TNT is showing this winter, “Dallas” ranks second: On Tuesday nights, “Rizzoli & Isles” is averaging 3.5 million viewers, while “Perception” is averaging 1.9 million viewers.

Earlier this week, Dallas Decoder suggested three things fans can do to help boost “Dallas’s” audience. Don’t forget to keep talking about the show — online and in real life!

DeGeneres Does ‘Dallas’

Ellen DeGeneres will welcome two “Dallas” stars to her talk show this week: Jesse Metcalfe is scheduled to appear on Thursday, March 13, while Jordana Brewster will be a guest on Friday, March 14. “Ellen” is syndicated, so check your local listings for broadcast times.

Summer in ‘Dallas’

“Dallas’s” third season will continue through mid-April, and then the show will take a midseason break and return in the summer. How long will we have to wait?

TNT hasn’t announced the airdates, but the cable channel did outline some of its summer plans this week. On Sunday, June 22, the action series “The Last Ship” will debut at 9 p.m., followed by the fourth-season opener of the sci-fi show “Falling Skies.” Meanwhile, the FBI drama “Legends” is slated to premiere on Wednesday, August 20, at 9 p.m.

In addition to these shows, TNT’s summer lineup will include new episodes of “Major Crimes,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Perception” and “Franklin & Bash” and the launch of “Murder in the First,” a crime drama from producer Steven Bochco, whose son Jesse Bocho is a frequent “Dallas” director, including helming “Playing Chicken.”

Double Doses of ‘Dallas’

Starting this week, TNT is doubling up on “Dallas” on Monday nights. Each new episode will continue to debut at 9, and then TNT will show it again at 10.

TNT had been filling the 10 p.m. slot with “The Private Lives of Nashville Wives,” a new reality series. The numbers weren’t good, and so TNT is shifting that show to Monday nights at 11.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.