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

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Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Requiem

Good grief

‘REQUIEM’

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

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘If It’s a Fight You Want. …’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ewing Touch, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

Face off

In “The Ewing Touch,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) approaches Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) outside a restaurant.

ELLIE: Rebecca. We should talk.

REBECCA: All right.

They walk together.

ELLIE: You and I share a grandson now. Let the two of us try to work together and put a stop to this family feud. Cliff has his own company now and J.R. is busy. They’re on equal ground. They really have no reason to fight each other.

REBECCA: [Stops, faces her] That’s a very fine attitude for you to have Ellie. But then again, it wasn’t your son who almost died.

ELLIE: But Rebecca, that’s over. It’s behind us. Cliff pulled out of it.

REBECCA: If it were one of your boys, would you be so quick to forgive?

ELLIE: I hope so.

REBECCA: I’ll tell you something, Ellie. I’m all for it. But if J.R. takes one step out of line, I guarantee you, we’ll destroy him.

ELLIE: Rebecca, I’ve done everything I know to put a stop to this nonsense. But if it’s a fight you want, just remember: Other people have fought the Ewings before — and they’ve regretted it.

REBECCA: We’ll see.

ELLIE: [Sighs] All right, Rebecca. I tried. Now it’s up to you.

Rebecca turns and walks away.

The Art of Dallas: ‘Changing of the Guard’

Changing of the Guard, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

Rebecca and Pam (Priscilla Pointer, Victoria Principal) embrace after learning Cliff survived his suicide attempt in this 1982 publicity shot from “Changing of the Guard,” “Dallas’s” sixth-season opener.

The Dal-List: ‘Dallas’s’ 35 Greatest Moments (So Far)

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, Victoria Principal

Icons

“Dallas” debuted 35 years ago today. To commemorate its anniversary, here’s my list of the franchise’s 35 greatest moments.

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Gripping grin

35. J.R. meets his match. “Dallas’s” first episode ends with Pam turning the tables on J.R. (Larry Hagman) after he tries to make it look like she was cheating on Bobby with Ray. “Looks like I underestimated the new Mrs. Ewing,” J.R. declares as he watches his baby brother and sister-in-law drive away. “I surely won’t do that again.” Hagman then smiles, ever so slightly. It lets us know J.R. has finally found a worthy adversary – and he couldn’t be happier about it.

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

Here we go again

34. Rivalry redux. When the truth comes out that Rebecca Sutter Ewing is actually Pamela Rebecca Barnes, J.R. pops into her office for a tête-à-tête. She turns out to be as ballsy as her namesake aunt, telling J.R.: “I must have done something right to deserve a visit from you.” J.R., for his part, shows he hasn’t lost his step. “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse,” he tells her with a sly grin. “I’m 1 for 1 on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being 2 for 2.” Fabulous.

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Full Circle, Ken Kercheval, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

All is forgiven

33. The “licorice scene.” Cliff (Ken Kercheval) invites estranged mom Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) to his apartment. Nervous small talk gives way to anger, as Cliff tells Rebecca how much her abandonment hurt him. She begins to leave, but Cliff stops her. “Mama,” he says, his voice cracking. “You didn’t take any licorice, and I remembered you liked it.” The music swells, mother and son embrace and we’re reminded why Cliff is the original “Dallas’s” most human character.

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Trial and Error

True confessions

32. Ann testifies. After shooting ex-husband Harris, Ann (Brenda Strong) goes on trial. In stirring testimony, she recalls how he and his mother Judith tormented her, but Ann also concedes her own failings – including how her pill addiction led to daughter Emma’s abduction. “God had punished me by taking my baby,” Ann says through tears. Before this scene, I wondered how we could forgive Ann for her crime. Afterward, I wondered how we couldn’t.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Howard Keel, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Miss Ellie Farlow, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Sting

Adios, Ray

31. Ray rides into the sunset. After Ray (Steve Kanaly) returns to Southfork and helps the Ewings win a range war, they bid him adieu as John Parker’s piano music plays in the background. Ray’s final moments with Ellie, Clayton, Bobby and even J.R. are touching, but the most moving part comes when he looks around and declares, “There’s a part of me that’s never going to leave here.” When major characters depart “Dallas,” the show usually screws it up. Not this time.

Close Encounters, Dallas, Deborah Shelton, Linda Gray, Mandy Winger, Sue Ellen Ewing

Get smart

30. Sue Ellen meets Mandy. At the Ewing Rodeo, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) runs into Mandy (Deborah Shelton), J.R.’s latest mistress, and offers her some advice: Get away while you can. It’s our first glimpse of a newly sober, newly wise Sue Ellen, but Mandy refuses to listen and turns to leave. That’s when Sue Ellen delivers a zinger: “Isn’t it strange how the mistress always thinks she’s smarter than the wife? If she’s so smart, why is she the mistress?” She’s got you there, darlin’.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Pam Ewing, Reunion Part 2, Victoria Principal

Sale of the century

29. “Sold!” After Bobby marries Pam, a drunken Digger barrels onto Southfork and recounts everything Jock “took” from him – including Pam, for whom Digger demands $10,000. “She was a Barnes and now she’s a Ewing, just like the oil wells,” he says. Bobby and Pam watch in horror as Jock (Jim Davis) tosses a $100 bill at Digger, who scoops it up. “Sold!” he declares as he leaves. Harsh? Yes, but after this scene, there was no doubt which family Pam belonged with.

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, End of the Road Part 2, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper

Pomp and circumstance

28. The royal wedding. The marriage of Lucy and Mitch (Charlene Tilton, Leigh McCloskey) was doomed from the start, but man, aren’t their nuptials fun? The two-part episode gives us lots of “Dallas” firsts, including the first Southfork wedding, the first time someone gets dunked in the pool (Lucy pushes Mitch) and the first appearance of Afton, who sleeps with J.R. during the reception – in his own marital bed! No wonder Sue Ellen still holds a grudge.

Dallas, Quality of Mercy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Have mercy

27. Who killed Mickey Trotter? When the plug is pulled on his comatose cousin Mickey, Ray blocks the door to his hospital room so the doctors can’t enter and revive him. It’s the beginning of a medical mystery that yields riveting performances from Kanaly, Tilton and Kate Reid as Lil, Mickey’s mom. Only at Ray’s murder trial do we learn the truth: He did disconnect Mickey’s life support, but only because Lil didn’t have the strength to do the mercy killing herself.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Survival

Stop! Or Mom will shoot

26. Ellie grabs her gun. The Ewings are awaiting word on J.R. and Bobby after their plane crashed in Cato Swamp. Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) answers the door to find a snoopy reporter. “Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet,” she says, then tells the newshound: “Anybody on my land, without invitation, is a trespasser. So unless I see your tail heading out of here … I’m going to blow it off.” It’s classic “Dallas”: Modern Texans defending old traditions like land and family.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Farlow, Pam Ewing, Winds of Change, Victoria Principal

Queens’ speeches

25. Pam’s surprise. After Bobby’s “death,” Ellie eulogizes him at the Oil Baron’s Ball, followed by Pam (Victoria Principal), who stuns everyone by announcing she won’t sell her shares of Ewing Oil to Westar as planned. J.R. is overjoyed, assuming this means Pam will sell them to him. She sets him straight: “I’m not selling at all. From now on, it’s going to be you and me. I’ll see you at the office, partner.” It’s one of many great moments from the unjustly maligned “dream season.”

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Requiem

Southfork soothsayer

24. Mama sees all. In 1983, when Sue Ellen tried to justify J.R.’s latest quest for power, Ellie delivered a spot-on prophesy: “Think ahead, Sue Ellen. Think 25 or 30 years ahead. 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. … Your loyalty to your husband is a wonderful thing. But you’re a mother too. And where will this all end?” Impressive, huh? Too bad no one ever thought to ask her where Pam is.

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Revelations, TNT

Bra-vo!

23. Sting! When Harris tries to blackmail Sue Ellen into aiding his dirty dealings, Ann begs him to stop. Harris confirms his crimes and suggests he’ll ease up on Sue Ellen – if Ann sleeps with him. Slowly, Ann unbuttons her blouse … and reveals a hidden mic. “Extortion, blackmail and a confession to money laundering, all recorded,” she says triumphantly. Ann then slugs Harris and hints she’ll shoot him if he doesn’t leave the Ewings alone. She wasn’t kidding, was she?

Adoption, Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Susan Howard,

Armor on

22. Pow! Donna (Susan Howard) is none too happy when Ray begins an affair with barfly Bonnie. Fed up with his philandering, she dons her fur coat, heads to the saloon and offers Bonnie $15,000 to leave Texas. Bonnie agrees, so Donna cuts the offer by a third. “Now that we know what you are, let’s haggle over your fee,” she says. Bonnie tosses a drink in Donna’s face – and then Donna belts her. Who knew “Dallas’s” classiest leading lady possessed such a mean right hook?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Road Back, Steve Kanaly

Open flames

21. Bobby to the rescue. “Dallas’s” sixth season ends with J.R., Sue Ellen, John Ross and Ray trapped inside Southfork as flames sweep through the house. We knew they’d survive; we just didn’t know how. The seventh-season premiere supplies our answer: In “Dallas’s” most thrilling opening, quick-thinking Bobby comes home, soaks himself in the pool and dashes into the house, where he rescues everyone. We should’ve known: Bobby always saves the day.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tangled Web

Face of fear

20. Sue Ellen’s discovery. Sue Ellen doesn’t want to believe it when Holly Harwood tells her she’s sleeping with J.R., but she agrees to come by the vixen’s house, where Holly says Sue Ellen will find J.R. in her bed. The audience watches as the fur-clad Sue Ellen arrives at Holly’s, slowly crosses the driveway (click clack go the heels), turns the front door knob and finally reaches the bedroom, where her worst fears are confirmed. It’s a brilliant, devastating sequence.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Brother Can You Spare a Child?, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Farlow

Making peace

19. Cliff asks for forgiveness. After Dandy Dandridge accuses Cliff of trying to cheat him out of their big gas strike, Cliff begins to see his daddy’s feud with Jock in a new light. Summoning Ellie to a Dallas park, Cliff extends a long-overdue olive branch. “Digger was wrong, and I was wrong. If it’s not too late. I’d like to make peace. I’d like to ask you to forgive me,” he says. It’s my favorite performance from Kercheval and a consequential moment in “Dallas” history.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Wheeler Dealer

Honor thy daddy

18. Molotov cocktails. “Dallas’s” best cocktail scene: Ellie worries Sue Ellen didn’t get enough to eat at dinner. J.R. waves around a liquor bottle and declares his wife “gets all the nourishment she needs from this.” He then declares Pam is “cracking up” and calls her daddy “a saddle tramp and a thief” and her mama “a whore.” That’s when Bobby (Patrick Duffy) punches J.R., forcing a furious Jock to separate them. Don’t you wish your family gatherings were this much fun?

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Mastectomy Part 2, Miss Ellie Ewing

Great performances

17. Ellie gets cancer. Ellie gets breast cancer in the 1979 “Mastectomy” two-parter, which won Bel Geddes an Emmy. It’s a brave performance from the actress, who had been treated for the disease in real life. Davis is equally moving as Jock struggles to comfort his wife. In one scene, he tells her it “doesn’t matter” that she’s lost a breast. “Because I’m not young anymore?” she snaps. “Don’t you think I care the way I look?” Rarely has “Dallas” felt so real.

Dallas, Family Ewing

Bye, Bobby

16. Bobby’s funeral. After Bobby “dies” saving Pam, the Ewings bury him in a lush Southfork pasture, near the treehouse that Jock built for him as a boy. All of Bobby’s loved ones are there, including Pam, whose Jackie Kennedy-esque pillbox hat reinforces the idea that “Dallas’s” version of Camelot is ending. As the gathering disperses, J.R. movingly tells Bobby he wishes he’d taken the time to let him know how much he loved him. It’s one of the few times we see J.R. cry.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Paternity Suit, Tyler Banks

Welcome to fatherhood

15. J.R. becomes a daddy. When the Ewings learn the results of the paternity test that proves J.R., not Cliff, fathered John Ross, J.R. enters the Southfork nursery, picks up his son, holds him close and kisses him. According to “Dallas” historian Barbara A. Curran, CBS received 10,000 positive letters in response to J.R.’s embrace of his son. Later, David Jacobs, the show’s creator, called it “Dallas’s” best scene: “Just a private moment between J.R. and 100 million people.”

Dale Midkiff, Dallas, Dallas: The Early Years, Jock Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, Molly Hagan

When they were young

14. In the beginning. “Dallas: The Early Years,” Jacobs’ 1986 prequel movie, ends at a 1951 Southfork barbecue, where Jock and Ellie (Dale Midkiff, Molly Hagan) embrace as a teenaged J.R. spars with bratty Cliff. Moments later, Cliff drags kid sister Pammy away from her new playmate: Little Bobby. Jerrold Immel’s theme swells, the camera pulls back for a bird’s eye view of the ranch and then the familiar shots from “Dallas’s” famous titles sweep across the screen. Perfect.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Waterloo at Southfork

Mad mama

13. Mama vs. the cartel. When J.R.’s latest plot backfires and the cartel takes advantage of him, Ellie comes to junior’s defense. She summons the group to the Ewing Oil offices, where she blasts them, one by one. “I don’t apologize for what my son did,” Ellie says. “It’s a family matter. We may be wrong and we may be right, but we’re Ewings. We stick together – and that’s what makes us unbeatable.” Foolish oil barons. Shouldn’t they know better than to mess with mama?

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Long Goodbye, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Prey, meet hawk

12. A classic clash. During Bobby and Pam’s separation, J.R. tells her if she doesn’t go through with the divorce, he’ll destroy Bobby, Cliff and everyone else she cares about. “You’ve known me long enough to know I don’t make idle threats,” J.R. says as he circles her. The chilling moment tells us much about their rivalry. Cliff might have been J.R.’s most persistent enemy and Jeremy Wendell might have been the most powerful, but no one threatened J.R. quite like Pam.

Blast from the Past, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy,

Good morning indeed

11. Bobby’s back! (Or is he?). CBS announced Duffy would return to “Dallas” a few weeks before the 1985-86 season finale aired, but no one knew how he’d come back or who he’d play. In the episode’s last scene, Pam awakens and finds Bobby – or someone who looks an awful lot like him – lathering up in her shower. No matter how you feel about the notorious “dream” twist, you have to admit: It was nice to have Duffy back on the show – and in his birthday suit no less!

Changing of the Guard, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Leonor Varela, Marta del Sol, TNT, Veronica Martinez

Welcome back

10. J.R. returns. TNT’s first episode ends with John Ross visiting J.R. in the nursing home. The younger man is dejected because Uncle Bobby just sold Southfork to conservationist Marta del Sol. But wait, what’s this? J.R. is sipping champagne with Marta! It turns out the two are in cahoots. “Bobby may not be stupid, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter,” J.R. tells his son as he doffs his Stetson and flashes his grin. For me, this is the moment I knew “Dallas” was truly back.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, New Beginnings, Sue Ellen Ewing

Two of a kind

9. J.R. and Sue Ellen reminisce. After putting John Ross to bed, J.R. and Sue Ellen retreat to their room, where they recall their courtship in warm, nostalgic terms. For a couple that is usually at war with each other, this scene is about the characters taking off their armor – symbolized by Sue Ellen’s dressing gown and J.R.’s removal of his coat and tie – and showing each other they still care. You can’t understand their love story until you’ve seen this moment.

Bobby Ewing, Check and Mate, Dallas, Larry Hagman, J.R. Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Lose some, win some

8. Bobby beats J.R. After a yearlong contest for control of Ewing Oil, Harv Smithfield declares J.R. the winner. But wait, what’s this? Here comes Thornton McLeish with news that Bobby’s Canadian fields have come in, making Bobby the victor. The twist concluded one of “Dallas’s” greatest storylines, an arc that touched all the characters and made “Tundra Torque” part of every “Dallas” diehard’s vocabulary. We never like to see J.R. get beat, but when Bobby does it, we let it slide.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ellie Saves the Day, Miss Ellie Ewing

To the rescue

7. Ellie saves Southfork. J.R. secretly mortgages Southfork to finance a risky deal, only to have it blow up in his face. With the loans due, the Ewings scramble to pay the banks but come up empty. After a stroll around the ranch, Ellie gathers everyone and announces she’ll raise the cash by allowing Ewing Oil to drill on the land. It’s an early example of an enduring “Dallas” theme: Sometimes you have to set aside your principles to protect your family.

Dallas, Fall of the House of Ewing, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Omri Katz

Don’t forget it, boy

6. J.R. schools John Ross. J.R. is giving John Ross one last look around Ewing Oil when Wendell, the new owner, orders them off the premises. “Take this eyesore with you,” he says as he reaches for Jock’s portrait. J.R. is incensed: “Touch that painting and I’ll kill where you stand!” J.R. takes the picture off the wall, holds it aloft and – with trumpets blaring in the background – declares: “John Ross, this is Ewing Oil.” I dare you to watch this scene without getting chills.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Executive Wife, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Word

5. Jock schools Bobby. Bobby, furious that Jock has yanked millions of dollars out of Ewing Oil without telling him, interrupts Daddy’s lunch at the Cattlemen’s Club. “You gave me the power to run that company, and damn it, I intend to run it,” Bobby fumes. “Let me tell you something, boy,” Jock huffs. “If I did give you power, you got nothing. Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!” Six words that sum up the Ewing creed – and “Dallas” itself.

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

The man

4. The man comes around. The TNT episode “Family Business” ends on a thrilling note: With Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” playing in the background, Rebecca shoots Tommy, while back at the ranch, seriously ill Bobby collapses. The most poignant moment of all comes before the montage, when J.R. glances at Ellie’s picture, takes a shot of bourbon and signs the Southfork deed, returning ownership to Bobby. In that instant, our hero grows. So does “Dallas.”

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

Farewell, J.R.

3. J.R.’s funeral. “Dallas” bids farewell to J.R. with a moving, instant-classic episode featuring Emmy-worthy performances from Gray and Duffy. Who’ll ever forget Sue Ellen getting drunk in J.R.’s bedroom the night before his burial, or her heartbreaking eulogy? What about the poignant final scene, when Bobby spots J.R.’s hat and tearfully declares, “I love you brother.” This is the moment the TNT series rose to the occasion – and then surpassed it.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Swan Song, Victoria Principal

Saving the day, again

2. “Swan Song.” Leonard Katzman’s masterpiece. Donna reveals her pregnancy to Ray. J.R. threatens to send Sue Ellen back in the sanitarium. Pam nobly tells Bobby to go back to Jenna, but he chooses Pam instead. It culminates with the dramatic driveway sequence in which Katherine runs over Bobby, followed by his deathbed farewell, the most moving scene in “Dallas” history. It’s all so beautifully done, it’s almost enough to make you regret it turned out be a dream.

Dallas, House Divided, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Top gun

1. “Who Shot J.R.?” “Dallas’s” most famous storyline is also its greatest extended moment, and not just because it sparked a worldwide phenomenon. Nothing better demonstrates the show’s ability to create multi-dimensional characters who fascinate audiences and make us care. Despite his dastardliness, after J.R. was shot, we couldn’t help but feel sympathetic toward him as he struggled to regain his ability to walk and cope with his exile from Ewing Oil. Likewise, once Kristin was identified as his assailant – in a broadcast watched by 83 million people – how could you not feel sorry for her, especially after J.R. vowed to “handle” her his “own way”? Will “Dallas” ever top this moment? Who knows? I just hope the people who make the show never stop trying.

Now it’s your turn. Share your choices for “Dallas’s” greatest moments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 8 Most Moving Funerals

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

Texas mourn

J.R. Ewing will be laid to rest in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” a special “Dallas” episode that TNT will telecast on Monday, March 11. Raise a glass of bourbon (and don’t forget the branch!) as we recall the most moving funerals from the original series, as well as two Ewing funerals seen on its “Knots Landing” spinoff.

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

Surprise, surprise

8. J.R. Ewing. It’s easy to forget that J.R. (Larry Hagman) already had one funeral. In “J.R. Returns,” a 1996 “Dallas” reunion movie, he faked his death as part of a convoluted plot to wrest control of Ewing Oil from Cliff. The memorial service brought Bobby, Sue Ellen, John Ross and Christopher together at Southfork, along with Cliff, who announced, “I just came to make sure he was dead.” While John Ross (Omri Katz) was eulogizing his father, J.R. himself arrived – on the back of a truck hauling pigs, no less. “Hey, what’s going on? Bobby throwing a party?” he asked. It was silly, but what I wouldn’t give to have J.R. turn up as a surprise guest in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”

Chris Weatherhead, Dallas, Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Son, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Meg Callahan

Black cat down

7. Blackie Callahan. Blackie who? As “Dallas” neared the end of its run, the producers cast Denver Pyle as Blackie, an aging wildcatter who helped J.R. find oil in the town where Jock had his first strike. In the 1991 episode “Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons,” one of “Dallas’s” final hours, J.R. attended Blackie’s funeral, where his daughter Meg (Chris Weatherhead) realized J.R. had been paying Blackie royalties out of his own pocket. The scene was surprisingly touching, not just because it showcased J.R.’s softer side, but also because of Meg’s poignant dialogue: “I guess that’s what life’s all about. The young taking over from the old, shaping things their way.” How prophetic.

Abby Ewing, Dallas, Donna Mills, Knots Landing, Finishing Touches

Black widow

6. Gary Ewing. “Knots Landing” fans were stunned when Gary (Ted Shackelford) was suddenly murdered in 1984. Everyone on the cul-de-sac turned out for his funeral, which was seen at the end of the episode “Finishing Touches.” The sad affair brought out the best in everyone – except for Gary’s widow Abby (Donna Mills), who refused to make peace with his ex-wife Valene. As the minister read from Ecclesiastes, a lone guitarist strummed in the background and we saw Gary’s friends and neighbors mourning him quietly. Then the camera cut to … Gary, seated in what looked like a police station. It turned out he was alive and in a witness protection program. Thank goodness Miss Ellie never heard about any of this!

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Love and Death, Ted Shackelford

Bachelor father

5. Valene Ewing. When Joan Van Ark left “Knots Landing” in 1992, the producers “killed off” Valene in a fiery car crash. CBS had slashed the show’s budget, so no departed stars came back for her funeral, which was seen in the episode “Love and Death.” But two important figures in Val’s were mentioned, at least: Lilimae was said to be not up for the trip, while Lucy was traveling in Europe and couldn’t be reached. At the memorial service, Val’s best friend Karen MacKenzie eulogized her as “the little engine that could.” It proved too much for Gary and Val’s little girl Betsy, who ran away in tears. She missed her mommy, but she was probably also afraid Karen was going to break into her “Pollyanna” speech.

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Jock's Trial Part 2, Ken Kercheval, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

Digger departed

4. Digger Barnes. Poor, old Digger. After a life of hard livin’, Keenan Wynn’s tragic character was laid to rest in the last scene of the 1980 episode “Jock’s Trial, Part 2.” It was a fittingly humble affair. When the minister asked Digger’s sister Maggie if she’d like him to say anything special, she wearily responded, “No, please. Just the 23rd Psalm. It’s all he’d have had patience for.” The funeral was difficult for Pam (Victoria Principal), who had just discovered that Digger wasn’t her “real” daddy, and Cliff (Ken Kercheval), who slowly walked away from the gravesite before the final freeze frame. Maybe Cliff was sad – or maybe he was just ticked that so many Ewings showed up.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Requiem, Victoria Principal

Fit for a queen

3. Rebecca Wentworth. Priscilla Pointer’s grande dame received a grand sendoff in “Requiem,” a 1983 episode directed by Hagman. He memorably showed three black limos arriving at the cemetery and allowed us to watch as the Barneses and Ewings exited the cars, one by one. In true “Dallas” style, Pam was accompanied by Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and half-sister Katherine (Morgan Brittany), who was secretly plotting to steal him for herself. The crowd also included a slew of recurring characters – including Punk and Mavis Anderson and Marilee Stone – and a throng of paparazzi. It felt like the kind of funeral that a Texas society matron would receive – but what was up with all those palm trees in the background?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Tunnel of Love

Cry Bobby

2. April Ewing. When Bobby’s wife April (Sheree J. Wilson) was killed during their Parisian honeymoon, he buried her in the City of Lights. This always struck me as odd. Shouldn’t April have been laid to rest in Dallas or maybe Ohio, where she grew up? On the other hand, you can’t deny that the funeral, seen in the 1990 episode “Tunnel of Love,” is as sad as April’s death. Bobby is the only mourner there, although young cyclist Mark Harris (played by Duffy’s son Padraic and named for his “Man From Atlantis” character), who tried to help Bobby rescue April, watches from the distance. The fact that priest conducts the service in French reinforces the sense of isolation. Never before has our hero seemed so alone.

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

Good grief

1. Bobby Ewing. Bobby’s burial in 1985’s “The Family Ewing” is exquisite. Everything feels right: It’s a fairly intimate gathering in a lush Southfork pasture, attended by the Ewings, the Barneses and close associates like Harv Smithfield. Even the wardrobe is perfect, right down to Pam’s Jackie Kennedy-esque pillbox hat. Director Nick Havinga allows us to hear the minister deliver the 23rd Psalm under Jerrold Immel’s solemn score, and then after the family disperses, we’re left with J.R. delivering his memorable speech at Bobby’s gravesite. “I wish I’d take the time to tell you how much I love you,” he says with wet eyes. Does it matter that this scene turned out to be part of Pam’s dream? Yes, but only a little.

What “Dallas” funerals moved you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 10 Most Memorable Monologues

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT, Trial and Error

Testify!

Few will forget the courtroom testimony that Ann (Brenda Strong) delivered at the end of “Trial and Error,” last week’s “Dallas” episode. Here’s a look at the Barneses’ and Ewings’ 10 most memorable monologues from the original series and its “Knots Landing” spinoff.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Curses!

10. Miss Ellie’s lament. With the Ewing empire on the brink of collapse, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) goes to the site of Jock’s first strike and curses his memory. “Damn it all, Jock. You couldn’t have been an insurance salesman. Or a shoe salesman. No, you had to have oil in your blood. In your heart. And now … our sons are fighting for their lives.” It’s one of the better moments from one of the show’s better later episodes. (“Judgment Day”)

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

She remembers mama

9. Pam’s discovery. Pam (Victoria Principal), believing Rebecca Wentworth is her long-lost mother, confronts the Houston matron in her opulent home. “I found you. You’re alive. And I’m so happy. I don’t know how to tell you how happy I am,” she says through tears. With every line, Principal seems to reveal a little more of herself, so much so that by the end of the speech, her lip quivers uncontrollably. Bravo. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Barnes Wentworth

Runaway mom

8. Rebecca’s confession. After denying her identity, Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) sits with Pam on a park bench and tells her the truth: She is, in fact, Pam’s mother. “I never divorced Digger,” Rebecca says as her voice begins to crack. “I was afraid that if I tried, he’d find me, and drag me back to that awful life. Pamela, I saw a chance for happiness, and I took it. Don’t blame me for that.” Pointer’s delivery is hauntingly beautiful. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Ted Shackelford

No beach bum

7. Gary’s mea culpa. Gary (Ted Shackelford) begs Lucy to stay in Knots Landing and apologizes for his past sins, telling her he’s trying hard to be a better man. “I’m not a loser anymore,” Gary says. At one point, he becomes tongue-tied, as if he can’t find the words to convey his guilt and regret. In the DVD commentary, Shackelford laughs and suggests he paused because he couldn’t remember his next line. No matter. It still works. (“Home is For Healing”)

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Bye bye, love

6. Sue Ellen’s kiss-off. In Linda Gray’s “Dallas” departure, Sue Ellen shows J.R. the scandalous movie she’s made about their marriage – and vows to screen it for the public only if he misbehaves. “If I feel that you’re not doing right by John Ross … or if I get up on the wrong side of the bed one morning. Or if I’m simply bored – then I’ll release the movie. And then, J.R., you will be the laughingstock of Texas.” Corny? Sure, but also mighty triumphant – and darn memorable. (“Reel Life”)

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval

Never too late

5. Cliff’s regret. My favorite Ken Kercheval scene: Cliff summons Miss Ellie to a park and apologizes for perpetuating his father’s grudge against the Ewings. “Digger was wrong, and I was wrong. If it’s not too late. I’d like to make peace. I’d like to ask you to forgive me,” Cliff says. In an interview with Dallas Decoder, Kercheval fondly recalled his friendship with Bel Geddes. What a shame these two pros didn’t get more screen time together. (“Brother Can You Spare a Child?”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

American dad

4. Jock’s plea. After Pam suffered her first heartbreaking miscarriage, Jock (Jim Davis) sat at her bedside and begged her and Bobby not to leave Southfork. “Us Ewings, we’re just not an easy family to live with, as you found out. We’ve had things our way for so long that maybe – well, maybe it got in the way of our being just people. I guess that you don’t have no reason to really care, but I want to keep my family together.” Who knew the old man could be so soft? (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

He knows father best

3. Ray’s tribute. Ray (Steve Kanaly) tries to make Miss Ellie accept Jock’s death by reminding her of his humanity. “He was a man, just like anybody else. He had friends. He had lots of friends. But he had enemies, too. He was human, ambitious. He knew that the oil game was rough, hardball all the way. But he wanted what was best for his wife, and for his sons. And he did what he thought was right.” The most honest eulogy Jock ever received. (“Acceptance”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Honor thy daddy

2. J.R.’s promise. J.R. (Larry Hagman), after slipping into a depression over Jock’s death, addresses a portrait of his father. “I’m back, Daddy. And nobody’s going to take Ewing Oil away from me. Or my son, or his son. I swear to you. By God, I’m going to make you proud of me.” The combination of Hagman’s conviction, scriptwriter David Paulsen’s dialogue and Bruce Broughton’s rousing score never fails to give me chills. (“The Phoenix”)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Exit the hero

1. Bobby’s goodbye. As Bobby (Patrick Duffy) lay dying in his hospital bed, he bids his family farewell. To Miss Ellie: “Oh, Mama. I’m sorry.” To Pam: “All that wasted time. We should’ve been married.” He seems to be looking at J.R. when he delivers his last words: “Be a family. I love you so much.” Duffy has never been better, and when the monitor flatlines and Principal leaps? Fuhgeddaboudit! Yes, the scene’s emotional impact is diminished somewhat by the fact it turned out to be a dream. Still, does “Dallas” get better than this? (“Swan Song”)

Which “Dallas” monologues moved you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 5 Most Meddlesome Mamas

Dallas, Judith Brown Ryland, Judith Light, TNT, Venomous Creatures

Boss mom

Judith Light is making quite a mark on TNT’s “Dallas,” where her cunning character, Judith Brown Ryland, exerts enormous influence over equally sadistic son Harris. Of course, Mrs. Ryland isn’t this franchise’s first meddlesome mama. Here’s a look at five others from the original “Dallas” and its “Knots Landing” spinoff, ranked in order from least intrusive to most.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Boys’ mama

5. Miss Ellie Ewing. Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) spent most of her time quietly fretting about her sons and their wives, but occasionally she couldn’t help but stick her nose in their business. Like the time she called out J.R. for allowing Sue Ellen’s drinking to spiral out of control. Or the time she suggested the newly divorced Sue Ellen stop dating Cliff. Or the time she pressured Ray – gently, of course – into confessing his financial failings. Did the Ewings mind Miss Ellie’s interference? I doubt it. I mean, look at that woman’s kind face. How could anyone ever get mad at Mama?

Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Barnes Wentworth

Mommy’s revenge

4. Rebecca Wentworth. For a long time, Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer), Cliff and Pam’s mom, wasn’t meddlesome enough: She abandoned her kids when they were little and allowed them to believe she was dead. Once Cliff and Pam grew up, Rebecca re-entered their lives and tried to make up for lost time, but she overcorrected a bit, like the time she told Cliff to stop seeing Sue Ellen. Later, while Cliff was recovering from a suicide attempt, Rebecca browbeat him into resuming his war against the Ewings, even buying him his own oil company so he’d have a platform to launch his attacks. Gee, thanks Mom.

Abby Cunningham Ewing Sumner, Dallas, Donna Mills, Knots Landing

Maternal affairs

3. Abby Cunningham. Abby (Donna Mills) was a pretty good mom, although sometimes she was more smothering than mothering. Remember when she ordered daughter Olivia to stop seeing Harold Dyer, just because he was in the mob? Or how about when Olivia suspected Abby of killing her crush, Peter Hollister? Abby didn’t really do it, but the fact that Olivia thought Abby was capable of murder tells you what kind of mom she could be. Then there was the time Abby flipped out after discovering Olivia was using drugs. Oh, Abby. It was the ’80s. Girls just wanted to have fun!

Dallas, Martha Scott, Patricia Shepard

Mother wants best

2. Patricia Shepard. This one warrants a psychological dissertation. Patricia (Martha Scott), mother to Sue Ellen and Kristin, only wanted the best for her girls – and I mean that literally. When J.R. was courting Sue Ellen, Patricia didn’t think he was rich enough. Of course, once they wed, Patricia came around – so much so that when Sue Ellen began to lose interest in her marriage, Patricia began grooming Kristin to replace her as the next Mrs. J.R. Ewing. Weird! Later, Patricia softened and even made amends with Sue Ellen – but that turned out to be part of Pam’s dream. Thanks for nothing, Pam.

Alexis Smith, Dallas, Lady Jessica Montford

Serial mom

1. Lady Jessica Montford. This loony lady could out-meddle them all. Jessica (Alexis Smith) was the biological mother of Dusty Farlow, although he grew up believing she was his aunt (don’t ask). Jessica committed all manner of evil in Dusty’s name, including murdering a bunch of people to ensure he’d inherit a big chunk of Westar stock. Her killing spree was pretty heinous, but if you ask me, Jessica’s vilest crime was the time she knocked out Miss Ellie and stuffed her in a car trunk. Sorry Lady Jessica, but when you did that, you broke Dallas Decoder’s cardinal rule: Never mess with Mama!

Which “Dallas” mamas do you consider most meddlesome? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

The Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela’s Mother, Afton Cooper

Dallas Decoder Guide to Pamela's Mother, Afton Cooper 1

In “Battle Lines,” the first episode of the new “Dallas’s” second season, Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) reveals she’s the daughter of Cliff and Afton, portrayed by Ken Kercheval and Audrey Landers in the original series. Everyone knows Cliff’s story, but how well do you remember Afton? Here’s a refresher.

Hussy

Hussy

She started off as J.R.’s gal. Afton, a Mississippi girl of modest means, came to Southfork in 1981 to attend the wedding of her brother Mitch (Leigh McCloskey) to Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton). J.R. (Larry Hagman) was instantly smitten with hot-to-trot Afton – and the feeling was mutual. In fact, Afton was so fascinated with J.R., she slept with him during the wedding reception – in the bed he shared with Sue Ellen! Not cool, Afton!

Heroine

Heroine

With Cliff, Afton found true love. J.R. made Afton spy on his nemesis Cliff (Ken Kercheval), but she ended up falling in love with the poor schmuck. She quit working for J.R., ditched the bad girl act and became Cliff’s main squeeze, sticking by him through thick and thin. Although Cliff often took Afton for granted, she’d do anything for him. Once, she even slept with a creepy refinery owner to help Cliff seal a big deal. That’s love, people.

Girls

Pam’s pal

Afton and Pam: BFFs. As Cliff’s steady girlfriend, Afton grew close to his mom Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) and sister Pam (Victoria Principal). But wise Afton was always suspicious of Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine (Morgan Brittany). When she realized Katherine was trying to steal Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Afton warned Pam and everyone else, but no one took her seriously. Silly Barneses. When Afton speaks, you ought to listen!

Meow!

Best of enemies

Afton and Sue Ellen: Not BFFs. When Cliff began to fall in love with Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) again, Afton didn’t take it lying down. In one of the classic “Dallas” showdowns, she confronted Sue Ellen and told her to stay away from Cliff. Afton: “We both do seem to have the same taste in men.” Sue Ellen: “The fact that you were sleeping with my ex-husband doesn’t mean we have the same taste in anything.” She’s got you there, Afton.

Saving the day ... again

Saving the day … again

Bobby’s savior. When Afton went to the Ewing Oil offices late one night to confront J.R. over his latest scheme against Cliff, J.R. was nowhere to be found – but Bobby was bleeding on the floor! (He’d been shot by Katherine. See what I mean about Afton always being right?) She called an ambulance for Bobby – and then she went home, packed her bags and left town to get away from these drama addicts. This was her smartest move yet.

Ring

Otherwise engaged

Mommy? Yes. Wifey? No. A few years after she left him, Cliff discovered Afton had become a single mom to an adorable moppet named Pamela Rebecca (Jenna Pangburn). He became convinced the child was his and proposed to Afton, but she lied and told him another man was the father. Afton feared Cliff was still obsessed with the Ewings, and she didn’t want him anywhere near their daughter. Once again, Afton was right.

What pipes!

What pipes!

Oh, and girlfriend can sing too! You know how TNT’s “Dallas” features pop music and everyone thinks it’s so cool? Well, before Adele and Johnny Cash began supplying the Ewings with their own personal soundtrack, that was Afton’s job. She worked as a singer, which gave “Dallas” a clever excuse to showcase Landers’ gorgeous voice. Landers wrote the songs she performed on the show, including Afton’s signature, “Steal Me Away.”

Who’s that girl?

Who’s that girl?

Nothing to see here. Move along. The 1996 reunion flick “J.R. Returns” ends with Cliff finally giving up his fight with J.R. and reuniting with Afton and the teenaged Pamela Rebecca (Deborah Kellner). It now seems like the events of this movie didn’t really happen (was it another one of Pam’s dreams?), but fear not: Maybe Afton will get another shot at a happy ending when she visits the new “Dallas” later this season.

What do you remember about Afton Cooper? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Decoder Guides.”

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You’re a Cold and Insensitive Man’

Now he's done it

Now he’s done it

In “Goodbye, Cliff Barnes,” “Dallas’s” fifth-season finale, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) is in the Southfork living room when Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) arrives.

ELLIE: Rebecca, what a surprise.

REBECCA: This is not a social call, Ellie.

ELLIE: Rebecca, what’s the matter?

REBECCA: Maybe Digger was right. When I was married to him, I was too young or too stupid to realize it.

ELLIE: What are you talking about?

REBECCA: Digger never had a chance. Jock was too shrewd, too strong and too fast. And now it’s happening between J.R. and Cliff. It’s the same fight all over again.

ELLIE: Rebecca, will you please calm down and tell me what’s happened?

REBECCA: When I found out that Cliff was using Wentworth funds, I fired him. I think it’s time you did the same with J.R. He used Ewing funds to destroy my son. Cliff is in Dallas Memorial, in a coma.

J.R. and Sue Ellen (Larry Hagman, Linda Gray) enter.

SUE ELLEN: [Steps toward Rebecca] My God.

REBECCA: J.R. set him up. He lost everything. Last night, he tried to kill himself.

SUE ELLEN: No.

ELLIE: Rebecca, I’m so sorry. If there’s anything I can do.

REBECCA: I don’t want your help. I’m here to warn you: The Barnes-Ewing feud is still going on! It’s always been an uneven fight. The rich Ewings against the poor Barneses. Well, now it’s even. I swear I’ll break the Ewing family – and I have the money to do it. [Leaves]

SUE ELLEN: I have to go the hospital and see Cliff.

J.R.: [Grabs her arm] No, Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: I have to! [Leaves]

ELLIE: [Steps toward J.R.] I want to hear it from you, J.R. Did Rebecca tell me the truth?

J.R.: Yes, she did.

ELLIE: And you drove Cliff to attempt suicide?

J.R.: How was I to know he was going to do a dumb thing like that?

ELLIE: You don’t care, do you?

J.R.: I told you before, Mama. I couldn’t stand the idea of him being with Sue Ellen. Now I didn’t force him to embezzle from Wentworth Tool and Die. I didn’t force him to get into a deal that he didn’t check and double check. If that man is dying, it’s because of his own greed. Not me.

ELLIE: You’re a cold and insensitive man, J.R. And I’m going to remove you as president of Ewing Oil just as soon as Bobby gets back.

J.R.: Well, you don’t know it yet, but you won’t be able to do that. I’m going to go find Sue Ellen and talk some sense into her. [Leaves]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 103 – ‘Goodbye, Cliff Barnes’

Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger

“Goodbye, Cliff Barnes” leaves the title character’s fate up in the air after he tries to kill himself, making this the most literal of all “Dallas” cliffhangers. For a long time, I also considered it one of the show’s least satisfying season finales. Was there ever any doubt Cliff would survive?

I now realize that’s not the real question here. Cliff is merely a supporting player in the bigger story of “Dallas’s” fifth season: J.R.’s fight to reclaim Sue Ellen and John Ross. As the year draws to a close, everything is going his way – until Cliff, depressed over being beaten by J.R. yet again, overdoses on tranquilizers. Suddenly, J.R.’s grand plan to reunite his family looks like it’s going to collapse.

The final scene is telling. J.R. and a guilt-ridden Sue Ellen hover at the hospital bedside of the comatose Cliff. “If Cliff dies, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to marry you,” she says. Larry Hagman inhales, and as the frame freezes and the executive producer credit flashes, the image we’re left with isn’t Cliff with that tube coming out of his mouth; it’s a shot of an anxious – and possibly conscience-stricken – J.R.

You have to admit: This is a pretty nifty trick by the people who made the show. Cliff is the character who might be dying, but J.R. is the one we’re worried about. This cliffhanger is also the act of confident storytellers. Although “Dallas’s” ratings dropped during the 1981-82 season from the “Who Shot J.R.?”-inflated highs of the previous year, it was still the most popular show on television. The producers knew they didn’t need a gimmicky finale to keep the audience hooked.

Of course, even though “Goodbye, Cliff Barnes” keeps the focus on Hagman, don’t overlook Ken Kerchval. He delivers his most moving performance since Cliff’s reunion with Rebecca at the end of the previous season. Kercheval is especially heartbreaking in the scene where Cliff begs Sue Ellen to take him back. “I know I can start over. I know I can build a new life if you’ll just believe in me and love me,” he says through sobs. This is why I love Kercheval: He’s never afraid to show us Cliff at his most pathetic. Kercheval is probably “Dallas’s” bravest actor.

Linda Gray does a beautiful job in this scene too. Tears streak her face when Sue Ellen rejects Cliff’s plea and tells him she has accepted J.R.’s marriage proposal. “Cliff, I don’t want to see you again. Please go,” she says. Bruce Broughton’s background music, which includes those exquisite strings, adds to this scene’s tragic spirit. (I also love Gray’s breathy delivery in the episode’s final moments. “If Cliff dies, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to marry you” is one of those bits of “Dallas” dialogue I like to go around quoting, not because it’s such a great line but because it’s so much fun to imitate Gray’s performance. Try it yourself sometime.)

Two other scenes in “Goodbye, Cliff Barnes” mine “Dallas’s” rich history. In the first, Cliff gets drunk in a dive bar, evoking memories of Digger’s debut in “Dallas’s” first episode. Later, Rebecca storms into Southfork, confronts Miss Ellie and points out how the Barnes men always seem to end up carrying torches for Ewing women. It’s a great moment not just because Barbara Bel Geddes and Priscilla Pointer are such fun to watch, but also because it’s nice to see their characters finally acknowledge the complicated history they share.

Other highlights: The glamorous shot of J.R. and Sue Ellen kissing after a night at the symphony. The fun scenes of Bobby and Pam chasing down clues about Christopher’s paternity in Los Angeles (even if Pam forgives Bobby a little too easily for initially lying about the child’s identity). Howard Keel’s nice performance in the scene where Clayton scuttles his plan to propose to Sue Ellen.

None of this makes “Goodbye, Cliff Barnes” the show’s best cliffhanger, but it’s certainly much better than I remembered. Then again, that’s turned out to be true for much of the fifth season. These episodes are three decades old, but they still manage to surprise me. It’s another reason “Dallas” is such a durable show.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dark of the moon

Dark of the moon

‘GOODBYE, CLIFF BARNES’

Season 5, Episode 26

Airdate: April 9, 1982

Audience: 27.9 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Sue Ellen accepts J.R.’s marriage proposal and breaks the news to Cliff, who tries to kill himself by overdosing on tranquilizers. After Rebecca vows revenge, Miss Ellie promises to oust J.R. as Ewing Oil’s president. Bobby and Pam learn Farraday, not J.R., fathered Christopher. Lucy tells Muriel that Roger raped her.

Cast: Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Karlene Crockett (Muriel Gillis), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Phyllis Flax (Mrs. Chambers), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Bob Hoy (Detective Howard), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper)

“Goodbye, Cliff Barnes” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.