The Art of Dallas: ‘Post Nuptial’

Cliff Barnes, Ken Kercheval, Linda Gray, Post Nuptial, Sue Ellen Ewing

Cliff and Sue Ellen (Ken Kercheval, Linda Gray) share an eye-raising dance in this 1982 publicity shot from “Post Nuptial,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘No Other Women, No Games’

Linda Gray, Post Nuptial, Sue Ellen Ewing

Better late than never

In “Post Nuptial,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. and Sue Ellen (Larry Hagman, Linda Gray) are on the patio of their honeymoon suite, where she leans on a table as he pours himself a cup of coffee.

SUE ELLEN: I rode over to the boat dock yesterday and I thought maybe we could take a boat out for a sail this afternoon.

J.R.: Oh, you know me and water. Unless it’s cooped up in a swimming pool, I have a definite aversion to it.

SUE ELLEN: [Giggles, touches his face] I’ll protect you.

J.R.: More than enough to wet my bourbon, it scares the devil out of me, honey.

SUE ELLEN: That’s not true.

J.R.: No, the truth is, I have a meeting in town today.

SUE ELLEN: [Exasperated] J.R.!

J.R.: I couldn’t get out of it.

SUE ELLEN: Well, this is my honeymoon!

J.R.: Well, it’s mine too. [Reclines in his seat] This is an important meeting. It really is. Vital to our future, as a matter of fact. [Sips his coffee]

SUE ELLEN: Then I’m going with you.

J.R.: It’s business!

SUE ELLEN: When we started our new life together, I wanted to make sure that that included both family — and business.

J.R.: You sound like a different woman.

SUE ELLEN: [Smiles] I am. And I want you to be different too. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it works this time.

J.R.: So am I.

SUE ELLEN: If you really do mean that, then I want a commitment from you. No other women, no games. A total commitment, all the way.

J.R.: That’s what I did when I married you this time, Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: I certainly hope so. Because I couldn’t handle it any other way.

J.R.: [Leans forward, sets down his cup] You won’t have to. [Kisses her] I promise you.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 114 — ‘Post Nuptial’

Dallas, Linda Gray, Post Nuptial, Sue Ellen Ewing

December bride

“Post Nuptial” picks up where the previous “Dallas” episode left off, as the Ewings and their guests wait to see what will happen after Cliff stands up during the middle of J.R. and Sue Ellen’s wedding ceremony. The answer: Not much. After a few moments of cringe-worthy silence, Cliff walks to the bar and pours himself a drink while the minister completes the vows and announces that J.R. and Sue Ellen are once again husband and wife. If there’s a lesson here for “Dallas” fans, it might be this: Lackluster cliffhangers are bound to produce underwhelming resolutions.

Of course, Cliff hasn’t caused his last scene. At the reception, he refuses Pam and Afton’s pleas to leave, then asks Sue Ellen to dance. Sue Ellen looks rattled and reluctantly accepts Cliff’s offer, which stretches credibility a little too thinly for my taste. It was one thing for Sue Ellen to quietly renew her relationship with Cliff while she was a divorcee, but to dance with him on the day she remarries J.R.? That seems like a lot for the audience to swallow. Don’t forget: This is the man who once sued J.R. and Sue Ellen for custody of John Ross, claiming he was the child’s biological father.

More than anything, Cliff and Sue Ellen’s scene at the reception is a plot device to squeeze a fight scene into this episode. When J.R. spots his wife and his enemy on the dance floor, he approaches Cliff and punches him, which leads to a brawl that ends with almost every lead actor on the show falling or being pushed into the Southfork swimming pool. A confession: I’ve never loved these “dunkings” as much as other fans seem to. It’s always seemed a little silly to me, and by the end of the series, the pool fights had become pretty predictable. Since this is one of the first, though, I can appreciate how much fun it must have been in 1982 to see the tuxedo-clad Ewings and Cliff splashing around the pool. The best part is when Mickey Trotter joins the fracas, seemingly for the hell of it.

(You also have to enjoy J.R. and Mickey’s encounter earlier at the reception, when the young ranch hand makes the mistake of asking J.R. about Lucy’s whereabouts. Larry Hagman and Timothy Patrick Murphy both have charm to spare and good chemistry together; what a shame this is one of the few scenes their characters share during Murphy’s too-brief tenure on the show.)

The wedding scenes in “Post Nuptial” are limited to the first act, allowing scriptwriter David Paulsen to devote the remainder of the hour to advancing the season’s storylines. Naturally, J.R. remains the center of the action and keeps the audience guessing. He whisks Sue Ellen away on a quick honeymoon to a waterfront resort, where she tells him she wants “a total commitment” from him. “No other women, no games,” she says. This seems like the kind of conversation the couple should have had before they walked down the aisle, but no matter. J.R. assures Sue Ellen he’s not going to repeat the mistakes he made during their first go-round as husband and wife. “I promise you,” he says.

Does he mean it? I believe he does. After all, J.R. resisted the temptation to cheat with Holly in “The Ewing Touch,” one of the previous episodes. The audience is less sure of J.R.’s sincerity at the end of “Post Nuptial,” when Bobby — having snooped around into J.R.’s business dealings — confronts him with evidence that suggests J.R. is selling oil to countries on the government’s embargo list. “You’re talking about an illegal act, Bob. … I assure you, a thought like that never crossed my mind,” J.R. says. He sounds sincere, but since “Dallas” hasn’t revealed the reason he’s pumping so much extra oil, we can’t quite be sure if he’s telling the truth this time.

I also like the “Post Nuptial” scene where Afton vows to leave Cliff after the brouhaha he caused at the wedding. In a tense moment, she also comes close to confessing her recent indiscretion with Gil Thurman, only to chicken out at the last minute and collapse into Cliff’s arms. I’m a fan the Ken Kercheval/Audrey Landers pairing over the long haul, but this is one point in their relationship where I don’t understand why she sticks with him.

Thank goodness we have Sue Ellen around to cheer on. In addition to the scene where she demands that “total commitment” from J.R., we get to see her accompany him to the refinery he wants to buy. When the refinery owner informs the couple his business isn’t for sale, Sue Ellen pipes up with, “You haven’t even heard our offer yet.” It’s an early glimpse of the shrewd energy executive she’ll one day become. Too bad it takes a few decades for it to happen.

Grade: B


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Post Nuptial

Who do you trust?


Season 6, Episode 11

Airdate: December 10, 1982

Audience: 21.8 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: After J.R. and Sue Ellen are married, Afton decides to leave Cliff but doesn’t follow through. Holly tells Bobby about her connection to J.R. Bobby fears J.R. may be illegally selling oil to countries on the State Department’s embargo list. Donna, now a member of the Texas Energy Commission, vows to rescind J.R.’s variance to pump excess oil. Lucy rejects the advances of her client, Bill Johnson.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Parley Baer (minister), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Ivan Bonar (Perkins), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Jon Cypher (Jones), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Gerry Gibson (Jimmy Otis), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nicholas Hammond (Bill Johnson), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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