Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 165 — ‘Jamie’

Dallas, Jamie, Jenilee Harrison

Distant cousin

Jamie Ewing arrives and Katherine Wentworth departs in “Jamie.” Is this a fair trade? I’ll reserve judgment on Jamie’s end of the exchange until I’ve revisited more episodes that feature her character, but there’s no doubt in my mind Katherine is leaving at the right moment. A little camp goes a long way on “Dallas,” and too often Morgan Brittany’s character veered toward the cartoonish. On the other hand, I appreciate how Katherine achieved mythic status after this episode, especially among the loyalists who continued to clamor for Brittany’s return until the final days of TNT’s sequel series. Also, the hats. I’ll miss the hats.

The stage is set for Katherine’s exit during the previous episode, which ends with her getting ready to inject Bobby with poison while he sleeps in a hospital bed. As “Jamie” opens, Bobby awakens and screams for help. J.R. and his security guards happen to be nearby and rush into the room, where they pull Katherine away before she can hurt poor, blind Bob. Moments later, while squirming to break free from the guards, Katherine confirms she fired the gunshots that landed Bobby in the hospital in the first place, and then she reveals he was her target all along — a clever twist since “Dallas” previously led the audience to believe J.R. was the intended victim. Brittany is as over the top as ever during Katherine’s confession, although she outdoes herself during her final scene in “Jamie,” when Katherine runs into Cliff on the courthouse steps. After admitting she tried to frame him, Katherine barks, “Get out of my way!” and shoves him aside — except Ken Kercheval is already standing about two feet away, so Brittany has to step toward him in order to push him out of the way. It’s silly, but also kind of wonderful.

The revelation that Katherine meant to shoot Bobby is a final homage to “Who Shot J.R.?” Just as J.R.’s assailant turned out to be his sister-in-law, so too does Bobby’s. I’m glad the comparisons end there, however. I’ve always believed it was a mistake to kill off Kristin, and so I’m glad “Dallas” doesn’t repeat the error with Katherine. After her encounter with Cliff, she skips bail and flees town, allowing the producers to bring Brittany back whenever the show needed an angel of death. Katherine finally succeeds in “killing” Bobby when Patrick Duffy leaves the series in 1985, and then she returns again to pave the way for Pam’s disappearance after Victoria Principal’s exit two years later. It’s the major difference between Kristin and Katherine’s fates: One becomes the answer to a trivia question, while the other becomes a legend.

The rest of “Jamie” is the usual mixed bag from this era of “Dallas.” I get a kick out of the final scene, when Jamie arrives at Southfork and interrupts the Ewings lounging around their swimming pool. J.R.’s greeting (“Miss, I’m sorry, this is private property”) sounds like something a Texan would say to a stranger who shows up on the doorstep unannounced. I also like the earlier scene where Donna cooks a big meal for Ray to butter him up before breaking news she knows he won’t like. If this were another TV show, we might expect Donna to tell Ray that she accidentally dented the car, or that she splurged on new living room furniture. But this is “Dallas,” where Donna’s news is that she spent $10 million to buy her own oil company. To his credit, Ray doesn’t flip out — a sign, perhaps, that the humble cowboy has finally outgrown his inferiority complex from earlier seasons.

“Jamie” also includes references to characters from days gone by (Valene, Muriel, Afton), as well as Pam’s return to Herbert and Rebecca Wentworth’s Houston mansion for the first time since the fourth-season classic “The Prodigal Mother.” There’s also a fun scene where J.R. and Sue Ellen sit on the Southfork patio and discuss Katherine’s confession, which recalls Jock and Miss Ellie’s breakfast conversation after Kristin’s confession in 1980. The “Jamie” exchange also is notable because it includes J.R.’s memorable observation that his family has a penchant for attracting “weirdoes” like Katherine, Jessica Farlow and the “crackpot” who kidnapped Lucy. (In this instance, he’s referring to obsessive photographer Roger Larson, although he could just have easily been talking about Willie Gust or even himself.)

Speaking of Lucy: Perhaps the best moment in “Jamie” belongs to Charlene Tilton, who delivers a surprisingly moving monologue when Ray discovers her character is working as a waitress at the Hot Biscuit roadside diner. When I watched these episodes as a kid, I remember everyone in my family thought this storyline was ridiculous. It doesn’t seem any more realistic now, but I nonetheless find myself admiring Lucy’s efforts to forge an identity outside her famous last name. So far, this is Tilton’s best storyline in years. And even if it isn’t your cup of tea, you have to admit: Lucy seems to be better at waitressing than modeling, don’t you think?

Grade: C

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jamie, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

Heeere’s Katherine!

‘JAMIE’

Season 8, Episode 4

Airdate: October 19, 1984

Audience: 21 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Nick Havinga

Synopsis: After J.R. stops Katherine from poisoning Bobby, she confesses to the shooting and is arrested, only to skip bail later. Bobby regains his eyesight. Cliff’s success continues to rattle J.R. Lucy begins waitressing. Donna buys a small oil company. A young woman arrives at Southfork and announces she is Jamie Ewing, daughter of Jock’s late brother, Jason.

Cast: Norman Bennett (Al), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Jenny Gago (Nurse), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jenilee Harrison (Jamie Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Randolph Mantooth (Joe Don Ford), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Marina Rice (Angela), Deborah Shelton (Mandy Winger), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Kathleen York (Betty)

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

Dallas Parallels: O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Dallas Parallels - O Mother, Where Art Thou? 1

If Christopher’s search for Pam on TNT’s “Dallas” reminded you of Pam’s search for Rebecca on the original series, you’re not alone. There are several similarities between the two storylines — and also one big difference, reminding us how history never repeats itself exactly, even on “Dallas.”

This one is kind of complicated, so let’s take it from the top. Pam grew up believing her mother, Rebecca Barnes, died when she and her brother Cliff were children. Many years later, when Pam and Cliff’s daddy Digger died, Pam realized there was no record of Rebecca’s demise, so she hired private eye John Mackey to find out what happened to her mother. Pam was shocked when Mackey told her Rebecca was still alive; according to his investigation, when Pam and Cliff were kids, Rebecca ran away, changed her name to Rebecca Burke and married Houston industrialist Herbert Wentworth. Pam went to the Wentworth mansion to confront Rebecca, who initially denied that she was Pam’s mom. Eventually, Rebecca fessed up — it seems she abandoned her family because she was miserable being married to Digger — and Pam forgave her.

History began to repeat itself when Victoria Principal left “Dallas” in 1987. Despite the pain Rebecca’s abandonment caused Pam, the writers explained Pam’s departure by having her leave Bobby and Christopher after she was badly burned in a car accident. One year later, the producers brought Pam back for a single scene — this time played by Margaret Michaels — when Cliff tracked her down in Houston and begged her to come home. Pam rejected Cliff’s invitation, explaining that she had moved on with her life. Only after Cliff left the room did the audience learn the truth: Pam only had months to live and wanted to spare Bobby, Christopher and Cliff the pain of having to watch her die. Who knew Pam was such a martyr?

Of course, the audience never saw Pam die, so fans like me spent years clinging to the hope that Principal would one day reprise the role. Finally, the second season of TNT’s “Dallas” seemed to lay the groundwork for the second coming of Pam Ewing — and in a nice touch, the storyline echoed the past. Consider: Digger’s death prompted Pam to embark on her search for Rebecca. Thirty-three years later, Christopher began his hunt for Pam after another death in the family: the murder of his Uncle J.R., who was shot and killed while trying to track down Pam, hoping to persuade her to help stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings.

This is where the similarities begin to mount: Christopher, picking up where J.R.’s search left off, discovered Pam had changed her name to Patricia Barrett — just like Pam learned the presumed-dead Rebecca Barnes had adopted the identity of Rebecca Burke. Meanwhile, Christopher’s obsession with finding Pam started to strain his relationship with his fiancée Elena, who was distracted by her brother Drew’s role in the Ewing Energies rig explosion. It wasn’t unlike the situation Pam once found herself in, when her preoccupation with finding Rebecca took its toll on her marriage to Bobby, who was distracted by his brother J.R.’s role in the Ewing 23 explosion.

More parallels: In the TNT episode “Guilt by Association,” Christopher sat in a car and watched the Zurich home where Pam supposedly lived; the shot was reminiscent of the scene in the classic episode “The Prodigal Mother” where Pam and Mackey (Richard Herd) staked out Rebecca’s Houston residence. Also: Christopher learned Pam had married her plastic surgeon, David Gordon, just like Rebecca had wed Herbert Wentworth. And when Christopher rushed into the Gordon home to confront Pam, he was crushed to hear the good doctor say his wife didn’t want to see her son — just like Pam was devastated when she entered the Wentworth mansion and Rebecca rejected her.

This brings us to the point where the two storylines diverge. On the original show, after Rebecca denied Pam, she felt guilty and went to see her daughter in Dallas, where the two women sat on a park bench and Rebecca tearfully told Pam that she was, in fact, her mother. Poor Christopher never got a park-bench scene on the TNT series. Instead, he learned an uglier truth: Cliff had paid Gordon to lie and say Pam had changed her name and married Gordon because as long as everyone believed Pam was alive, Christopher couldn’t inherit her shares of Barnes Global. Who knew Cliff was such a monster?

Christopher’s search concluded on a heartbreaking note, but it’s probably the only ending that makes sense. Principal has made it clear she isn’t interested in playing Pam again — and recasting the part was out of the question since “Dallas” fans don’t have a history of welcoming new performers in iconic roles. (See “Reed, Donna”) Besides, even if Principal was willing to return, how could the show have justified Pam’s decision to stay away from her family for more than 25 years? Please don’t tell me Katherine has kept her locked up in a dungeon all this time.

As far as I’m concerned, TNT showrunner Cynthia Cidre fixed one of the old “Dallas’s” biggest blunders — the ham-handed writing surrounding Principal’s 1987 exit — and redeemed Pam by revealing that she was, in fact, trying to come home to Bobby and Christopher when she died. It’s sad, I know. But at least we have closure. How often does that happen on “Dallas”?

 

‘I Want to See Her’

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Prodigal Mother, Victoria Principal

Calm?

In “The Prodigal Mother,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) walks briskly into her bedroom, followed by Bobby (Patrick Duffy).

BOBBY: Honey, you’re all wound up. You hardly touched your dinner. Don’t leave tonight. Wait till morning.

PAM: Bobby, I’ve waited all my life to see this woman. [Retrieves a suitcase from the closet, sets it on the bed, unzips it]

BOBBY: Well, it would be better for her if you saw her when you were calmer. And what if Mackey made a mistake? And even if he didn’t, she might not be the kind of woman that you think she is.

PAM: I don’t care what kind of woman she is. My mother’s alive. I want to see her.

BOBBY: I just wish I could go with you.

PAM: Well, I’m sure the airline would sell you a ticket. [Begins packing]

BOBBY: Honey, I can’t leave now. You know that. Not with the wells still on fire. I’ve got Scotty Hawthorne flying in here with a crack fire-shooting crew. There’s too much going on for me to leave.

PAM: There always is lately.

BOBBY: Now wait a minute. You know what Ewing 23 means to us.

PAM: Means to you, not to us.

BOBBY: Honey, I have to be here to make sure that nothing else goes wrong.

PAM: Look, Bobby, I understand. I don’t want to burden you with my problems, okay?

BOBBY: Will you be home by Wednesday?

PAM: Probably. Why?

BOBBY: It’s this fundraising thing for Dave Culver. Daddy would like us to be there.

PAM: Oh, well. I’ll be home then. I wouldn’t want to disappoint your family.

 

‘All I Want From Her Now Are Her Shares’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt by Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Ready?

In “Guilt By Association,” Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) enters his hotel room as Elena (Jordana Brewster) is ending a phone call to Drew.

CHRISTOPHER: Hey.

ELENA: [Begins unpacking] Hey.

CHRISTOPHER: Who were you talking to?

ELENA: Oh, it was my mom. She wanted to make sure we landed safely. How’d it go?

CHRISTOPHER: My mother’s bank account is registered to her home address, a man by the name of David Gordon. Apparently, he’s an American. Used to be a plastic surgeon.

ELENA: Do you think Pamela lives there?

CHRISTOPHER: There’s only one way to find out. I’m headed over now. [Puts on his coat]

ELENA: Christopher, are you sure you’re prepared for this? Because if there’s anything —

CHRISTOPHER: I’m fine. [Turns away, looks out the window]

ELENA: You haven’t seen your mother in over 25 years. You must be feeling something.

CHRISTOPHER: [Turns toward her] Actually, I’m not. Because the woman I’m about to see ceased to be my mother the day she abandoned me.

ELENA: You keep saying that.

CHRISTOPHER: Because it’s the truth.

ELENA: But after all this time, don’t you want an explanation?

CHRISTOPHER: All I want from her now are her shares so I can take down Cliff. [Grabs his bag] Wish me luck.

ELENA: Good luck. [Kisses him goodbye]

How do you feel about Pam’s search for Rebecca and Christopher’s search for Pam? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 24 – ‘Guilt by Association’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt By Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Not the mama

Oh, how I wanted Victoria Principal to be under that hat.

“Guilt by Association,” the “Dallas” episode that promised to reveal Pam Ewing’s fate, ends with Christopher spotting the woman he believes is his mother in the lobby of a Zurich bank. She’s wearing a wide-rimmed hat and walking alongside the doctor that Christopher believes she married. Christopher runs after the woman, grabs her shoulder, spins her around and comes face to face with … a stranger. “Who are you? Where’s my mother?” he demands. Cut to John Ross and Pamela in the vault of another bank, where they’ve just stumbled across a death certificate for Pamela’s namesake aunt. “Christopher’s mother is dead,” Pamela announces.

Talk about feeling deflated! Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a blind loyalist to Pam Ewing. I adored the character when the original “Dallas” began but always regretted how the show turned her into the saint of Southfork in her later years. I suppose that’s the main reason I hoped Principal would reprise the role: so that she could take Pam back to her scrappy, sexy roots. And even though I read the actress’s recent statement in which she eschewed the idea of playing Pam again – and even though I remembered that the last time we saw the character, she was, you know, dying – I still held out hope that somehow, in some way, Principal might actually resurface at the end of this episode.

Of course, “Guilt by Association” leaves me feeling as disappointed for Christopher as I do for myself. He goes through this episode insisting the only reason he wants to find his mother is so he can get his hands on her shares of Barnes Global and stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings. But clearly this is about more than business for Christopher. We see his true feelings when he begins to weep after Dr. Gordon tells him that Pam never wants to see him again. We also hear the hope in Christopher’s voice when he catches up with the mystery woman and says, hopefully, “Mom!” Is there anything more heartbreaking than a Ewing who misses his mama?

This makes “Guilt by Association” another showcase for Jesse Metcalfe, who has quietly established himself as a forceful presence in “Dallas’s” post-Hagman era. But this episode is also historic. Pam Ewing, “Dallas’s” original heroine, is dead. We don’t find out the details of her demise until the next episode, “Legacies,” but there’s no doubt we’re witnessing a moment of consequence. Symbolism abounds. Notice how Taylor Hamra’s smart script allows Cliff’s daughter to announce the death of Digger’s. I also appreciate how “Guilt by Association” mimics “The Prodigal Mother,” the classic “Dallas” episode in which Pam goes to Houston to confront her long-lost mother, Rebecca Wentworth. Director Jesse Bochco even gives us a shot of Christopher sitting in a car, scoping out Dr. Gordon’s house, that recalls a similar scene from the earlier episode of Pam spying on the Wentworth mansion.

The other highlight of “Guilt by Association:” the sly, sexy confrontation where Sue Ellen marches into the governor’s office and blackmails him into abandoning his scheme to prevent the Ewings from pumping oil out of their land. The exchange reminds us how much Sue Ellen learned from J.R., but it also demonstrates how essential Linda Gray has become to the new “Dallas.” You could have given this scene to another Ewing, but would it have been nearly as much fun? I also love Steven Weber, who plays Governor McConaughey to smirking perfection. I hope he returns in the show’s third season. What a great foil.

“Guilt by Association” also gives us the cool car chase that ends with a signature “Dallas” fake-out – that’s not Drew on the motorcycle, it’s his very blond friend! – as well as a memorable guest turn from reliable Sam Anderson, who takes over the role of Pam’s plastic surgeon Dr. Gordon, played on the original series by Josef Rainer. Anderson also made a couple of appearances on the old “Dallas” as a cop who investigated the death of the star witness in Jenna Wade’s murder trial, beginning with a 1985 segment called “Dead Ends.” Come to think of it, that would have made a fitting title for this episode too.

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, David Gordon, Guilt By Association, Sam Anderson, TNT

Another dead end

‘GUILT BY ASSOCIATION’

Season 2, Episode 14

Telecast: April 15, 2013

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 2.8 million viewers on April 15

Synopsis: In Zurich, Christopher discovers Elena has been protecting Drew and sends her home, then comes face to face with the woman he thought was Pam. When John Ross and Pamela conclude Cliff killed J.R., they work with Bobby to plant evidence that will lead the police to Cliff. Sue Ellen uses information from Ken to persuade McConaughey to ease up on the Ewings. After the Ewings bail out Emma, she moves back in with Harris, who later finds her snooping in his office. The police nab Vickers after Drew plants cocaine in his car.

Cast: Sam Anderson (Dr. David Gordon), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Micky Hoogendijk (Mikki), Annalee Jeffries (Carina), Emily Kosloski (Rhonda Simmons), Lee Majors (Ken Richards), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“Guilt by Association” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

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: Jock Ewing’s 15 Greatest Moments

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

We still miss you, Daddy

Last month, Dallas Decoder critiqued “The Search,” the episode where “Dallas” bids farewell to the great Jim Davis. Here’s a look at 15 memorable moments featuring the actor and his mighty character, Jock Ewing.

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, John Ewing III Part 2,

Naming rights

15. Naming John Ross. The Ewings are in a waiting room at Dallas Memorial Hospital, where Sue Ellen has gone into labor. A nurse enters and tells J.R. his wife has given birth to a son, prompting a beaming Jock to declare, “John Ross Ewing III!” Did it ever occur to the Ewing patriarch that J.R. and Sue Ellen might want to choose their child’s name themselves? Do you think it would’ve mattered to him if they did? (“John Ewing III, Part 2”)

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Lucy Ewing, Prodigal Mother

Grandaddy knows best

14. Advising Lucy. The Ewings didn’t always want to hear Jock’s opinion, but usually he was right. Example: When Lucy (Charlene Tilton) was brooding after a spat with Mitch, Jock told her, “He’s a nice enough boy [but] you can do a lot better.” Lucy ignored Jock’s advice – she and Mitch got hitched – but she probably should’ve heeded Granddaddy’s wisdom. After all, the marriage lasted just 12 episodes. (“The Prodigal Mother”)

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

Friends with no benefits

13. Leaving Julie. After Jock suffered a heart attack, the Ewings began treating him like an invalid, causing him to turn to flirty ex-secretary Julie (Tina Louise) for comfort. It looked like their relationship might become a full-fledged affair – but Jock knew his limits. “I appreciate your friendship,” he told Julie, adding that things couldn’t go further because it would “hurt Miss Ellie too much.” Smart man. (“Julie’s Return”)

Barbecue, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Family man

12. Comforting Pam. During her first few weeks as a Ewing, poor Pam (Victoria Principal) was bullied, blackmailed, offered a bribe and held hostage. By the time J.R. caused her miscarriage, Bobby and his bride were ready to get the hell off Southfork – until Jock persuaded them to stay. “I want to keep my family together,” he told Pam as he sat at her bedside. It was our first glimpse of the tough Texan’s tender side. (“Barbecue”)

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

Best. Screencap. Ever.

11. “Buying” Pam. Jock was chilling on the Southfork patio when drunk Digger roared into the driveway, demanding $10,000 for Pam. “Ten thousand! There’s a hundred,” Jock huffed as he tossed a C-note at his ex-partner, who eagerly scooped it up and pronounced his daughter “sold.” If Pam felt insulted, she shouldn’t have. When a Ewing is willing to negotiate your purchase price, you know they truly care. (“Reunion, Part 2”)

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Miss Ellie Ewing, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1

You were thinking it too, Mama

10. Scolding Sue Ellen. Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has just arrived at Dallas Memorial, where the Ewings are keeping vigil after J.R.’s shooting. Surely Jock will comfort his frantic daughter-in-law, right? Um, no. He accuses Sue Ellen of “gallivanting” while her husband is dying, prompting Kristin to defend Big Sis. “Sue Ellen was sick,” she says. Snaps Jock: “Sick? You mean drunk!” Harsh, but not untrue. (“No More Mr. Nice Guy, Part 1”)

Dallas, Dove Hunt, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Stare master

9. Confronting Owens. On a hunting trip, the Ewing men were ambushed by Tom Owens (Richard J. Wilkie), a farmer who claimed Jock ruined him decades earlier. Owens cocked his gun and aimed it at his wounded enemy, who didn’t blink. “If you’re gonna do it, do it!” Jock shouted, moments before the defeated Owens lowered the weapon and declared, “I’m not a killer.” You’re also no match for Jock Ewing, mister. (“The Dove Hunt”)

Dallas, David Wayne, Digger Barnes, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Frenemies forever

8. Destroying Digger. When Bobby and Pam announced her pregnancy at the Ewing Barbecue, Jock and Digger (David Wayne) shook hands and called a truce – which lasted all of three minutes. Digger broke the peace by criticizing Jock’s parenting skills, which prompted the Ewing patriarch to deliver a devastating takedown of his ex-partner (“He’s been a loser every day of his life.”) Yeah, it was cruel, but remember: Digger started it. (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Silent Killer

Guts and glory

7. Joshing J.R. Jock spent a lot of time chewing out J.R. (Larry Hagman), but they had nice moments too. During one cocktail hour, when J.R. joked baby John Ross was becoming a “little fatty,” Jock playfully patted his eldest son’s belly and said, “Just like his daddy.” It was a reminder: Not only was Jock the only Ewing capable of reigning in J.R. – he was also the only one who could get away with razzing him. (“The Silent Killer”)

Daddy Dearest, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Ghost writer

6. Inspiring J.R. Virtually every “Dallas” episode after Jim Davis’s death seems to depict one Ewing or another taking inspiration from Jock’s memory. In one instance, J.R. stands in front of his daddy’s portrait and reads one of his old letters, which offers classic bits of wisdom like, “Never let the bastards get you down.” This is what makes Jock so cool: He doesn’t need to be alive to keep his family in line. (“Daddy Dearest”)

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Survival

Call waiting

5. Dispatching Ray. Another glimpse of Jock’s softer side: When the Ewing plane went down in Louisiana swampland with J.R. and Bobby aboard, the Ewing patriarch sent ranch foreman Ray (Steve Kanaly) to find his sons. The family kept vigil at Southfork until Ray finally called with good news: J.R. and Bobby were alive. “Bring them home,” Jock said. Davis’s eyes were wet when he delivered the line. So were ours. (“Survival”)

Dallas, Fourth Son, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Daddy issues

4. Accepting Ray. In another beautiful performance from Davis, Jock tells Ray he just found out he’s his daddy. The humble cowboy offers to keep this a secret to spare Jock grief from his family, but instead Jock summons everyone to the living room and proudly announces Ray is his son. This was a hard truth for some to accept (cough, cough J.R.), but it demonstrates how Jock never took the easy way out. (“The Fourth Son”)

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Jock Ewing, Jim Davis, Return Engagements, Ted Shackelford

Hug it out, fellas

3. Celebrating Gary and Val. When Jock learned Gary and Val (Ted Shackelford, Joan Van Ark) were getting remarried, he declined to attend; there was too much bad blood between father and son. But moments before the ceremony began, in walked Jock. “I believe I have a son getting married here today,” he said. “I’d like to attend … if I’m welcome.” Awww. You’re always welcome, big guy. (“Return Engagements”)

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

Power tip

2. Teaching Bobby. When Bobby (Patrick Duffy) felt Jock was undermining his authority at Ewing Oil, he loudly reminded his daddy that Jock “gave” him the power to run the company. In one of the all-time great “Dallas” scenes, Jock set his “boy” straight: “Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take!” With those 10 words, Jock established the creed that would define the Ewings for generations to come. (“Executive Wife”)

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

Jock the rock

1. Loving Ellie. Few things move me more than the way Jock stood by Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) when she had her mastectomy. While Ellie struggled to deal with the loss of her breast, Jock never left her side, offering her the support and comfort she needed. Jock may have been a rich oil baron and a stern father, but above all, he was a devoted husband and Ellie’s best friend. The way he loved her made us love him. Ellie never stopped missing him. Neither have we. (“Mastectomy, Part 2”)

What do you consider Jock Ewing’s greatest moments? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Dallas Styles: Purple!

It’s a family thing

Pam is the focus of “Executive Wife,” and in all her scenes, she wears purple. It starts off subtly – in Victoria Principal’s first appearance in this episode, Pam sports a purple belt with a blue pantsuit – but the color becomes more prominent as the story progresses.

Perhaps the purple suggests Pam is emotionally bruised after being rejected by Rebecca in the previous episode, “The Prodigal Mother.” Or maybe it signifies Pam’s romantic state: If purple is produced by blending red with blue, then isn’t it the ideal pigmentation to represent Pam’s heart-versus-head struggle to resist Alex Ward’s temptation in this episode?

The color is frequently seen on other characters during “Dallas’s” fourth season, but “Executive Wife” might be the show’s purplest episode of all. In addition to seeing it on Pam, Sue Ellen wears a purple floral print dress when J.R. takes her ring shopping; Donna wears a purple dress when she and Cliff run into J.R. and Sue Ellen during their shopping spree; and Bobby’s secretary Connie sports a pinkish-purple blouse in “Executive Wife’s” first act.

As if that wasn’t enough, when Mitch and Lucy announce their engagement to the Ewings, she wears a purple dress, while he sports a purple necktie. In Mitch’s case, the color is particularly appropriate. After all, if he survives his entry into the family Ewing, he may well qualify for a purple heart.

The Art of Dallas: ‘The Prodigal Mother’

Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) comes clean to Pam (Victoria Principal) in this 1981 publicity shot from “The Prodigal Mother,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You Are My Mother’

Mama remembers

Mama remembers

In “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “The Prodigal Mother,” Rebecca (Priscilla Pointer) approaches Pam (Victoria Principal) outside The Store and asks to walk with her.

REBECCA: Years ago, I closed a door in my mind. I sealed off a part of my life. And I thought it would be sealed off forever. It almost was. I led a comfortable life, happily married to a man that I adore. Then you phoned, making a crack in that seal I thought was so strong. We met. And the crack became larger. And then I saw you and your brother. Both of you together. And I couldn’t. [They sit on a bench.] The whole thing, the whole secret, sealed place broke open. And the past came rushing back. Digger Barnes. Hutch McKinney. And the awful, awful pain of having to abandon my own flesh and blood.

PAM: You are my mother.

REBECCA: Yes, I am.

Pam grabs Rebecca’s hand.

REBECCA: And although you haven’t known me, the newspapers have made it impossible for me to ignore you or Cliff. You can’t imagine the unhappiness of seeing one’s own children and not being able to talk to them.

PAM: That’s what I don’t understand. Why couldn’t you?

REBECCA: [Tears begin streaming down her face] My husband has no idea that I was married. Or that I have two children. He knows nothing about Hutch McKinney. He is not a well man. I think if he found out now, the shock would devastate him.

PAM: Why didn’t you tell him before?

REBECCA: I never divorced Digger. I was afraid that if I tried, he’d find me, and drag me back to that awful life. [Voice begins cracking] Pamela, I saw a chance for happiness, and I took it. Don’t blame me for that.

PAM: Do you mean that now that I’ve found you, we can’t see each other?

REBECCA: [Shakes her head no] I wanted to talk to your brother too. [Voice cracks] I don’t think I could go through this again.

PAM: Well, it’s probably best if you don’t.

REBECCA: Pamela, try to understand. To lose one family in a lifetime is horrible. To lose a second….

PAM: I’m sorry. [Touches Rebecca’s face] Oh, I’m sorry.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 63 – ‘The Prodigal Mother’

The lady in Houston

The lady in Houston

“The Prodigal Mother” reminds me of one of those “women’s pictures” from the 1950s. The episode marks the end of Pam’s search for her long-lost mother, and it’s as gorgeously soapy as anything Douglas Sirk directed. I love it.

More than anything, “The Prodigal Mother” is distinguished by two big, memorable monologues. This is the first script from David Paulsen, who became one of “Dallas’s” most prolific scribes, and boy, does he knock it out of the park with these speeches.

The first speech comes when Pam visits Rebecca Wentworth, the fabulously wealthy woman that Pam’s private detective has identified as Rebecca Barnes, whom Pam and Cliff believed died long ago. In the scene, Rebecca’s maid escorts Pam into the fern-festooned solarium inside her Houston mansion. Rebecca, draped in what appears to be sea-green satin, stands at the other end, leaning against a column. “Won’t you come in?” she says. It’s the kind of thing people only say in movies.

Victoria Principal steps forward and begins Pam’s speech, which is worth recalling it in its entirety:

I’ve rehearsed it a dozen times. Now the words just won’t come out. I know who you are. When I was a child, I used to think about you every day: My mother, who died and went to heaven. And I used to wonder what you were like. What you smelled like. Sometimes, I even thought I could remember. When Digger told us that you died, I could never really accept that. But when Digger was dying and told us about you and Hutch McKinney, I don’t exactly know why, but somehow I knew that you were still alive. And I’ve been searching for you since that day. Everybody told me I shouldn’t. That it was useless. My brother and my husband said that I’d just be more hurt when I found out that you were really dead. But I found you. You’re alive. And I’m so happy. I don’t know how to tell you how happy I am.

Principal’s delivery is really lovely. It feels very brave: With every line, the actress seems to reveal a little more of herself, so much so that by the end of the monologue, her lip looks like it’s quivering uncontrollably. Principal does this a lot during her crying scenes on “Dallas,” and while I sometimes find it a bit much, I don’t here. Here, it’s perfect.

Mama Said

The daughter in Dallas

The daughter in Dallas

“The Prodigal Mother’s” other big speech comes toward the end of the episode, when Rebecca takes Pam on a stroll through the park and and finally admits she is her mother. I remember watching this scene as a child and being struck by Rebecca’s line about how she “closed a door” in her mind. That line has always stuck with me.

Just as Principal shines during her monologue, Priscilla Pointer does a terrific job delivering hers. Like Barbara Bel Geddes, Pointer is a New York stage veteran who knows how to tone things down for the more intimate confines of television. Pointer’s mannerisms and expressions never feel anything less than natural. She will always be one of my favorite “Dallas” actresses.

I also love how the scene between Pam and Rebecca sounds. When it begins, it’s so quiet – almost eerily so. Aside from the dialogue, the only thing we hear are the women’s heels on the sidewalk and a few birds chirping in the distance. It’s as if the whole world has come to a standstill, and for these two characters, I suppose it has.

And even though Rebecca did an awful thing by abandoning her two small children, this scene makes it impossible for me to dislike her. For this, Paulsen deserves a lot of credit. His dialogue humanizes Rebecca, particularly when she explains why she never divorced Digger. “I was afraid that if I tried, he’d find me, and drag me back to that awful life,” she says. Based on what we know about bitter, miserable Digger, can we honestly blame her? Rebecca might not deserve our respect, but after this scene, she’s at least entitled to some of our sympathy.

Of course, the most haunting part of Pam and Rebecca’s exchange is how it foreshadows Pam’s own tragic character arc, which I hope TNT’s “Dallas” will someday resolve. Imagine seeing Principal sitting on a park bench with Jesse Metcalfe as Pam explains why she abandoned Christopher and Bobby, all those years ago. If done well, it would be even more powerful than what we witness in “The Prodigal Mother.”

Party Lines

The grand sweep

The grand sweep

In another Sirkian masterstroke, before Rebecca comes clean to Pam, Paulsen’s script has the woman run into each in the most glamorous of settings: the black-tie fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Dave Culver, which the Ewings attend. I love how Irving J. Moore directs the sequence, positioning his camera in the crowd as the Ewings arrive with a grand, all-smiles, glad-handing sweep through the ballroom.

Moore also allows the viewer to eavesdrop on the characters as they comment on the action around them. My favorite exchange begins when Sue Ellen slyly points out the guest of honor is “about as liberal a politician as the state of Texas allows. Ewing money usually never flows in that direction.” J.R.’s response that “Ewing money always flows in the direction of power” is perfect – and perfectly plausible.

“The Prodigal Mother’s” other great scene is its last. Pam, having just agreed to keep Rebecca’s identity secret, comes to Cliff’s apartment to tell him what she learned during her visit to Houston. As expected, Cliff, who believes Pam shouldn’t be digging up the past, doesn’t try to conceal his indifference.

“So, do we have a mother?” he asks.

Pam is silent. Cliff again asks what she learned during her trip.

Finally, she lies and tells him her detective was mistaken. Principal then delivers the episode’s final line, which is its best. “The lady in Houston,” she says, “was just a lady in Houston.”

Oh, that line gets me every time. What sacrifice! What noble suffering! What exquisite agony!

What a great episode.

Grade: A+

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Benchwarmers

Benchwarmers

‘THE PRODIGAL MOTHER’

Season 4, Episode 9

Airdate: January 2, 1981

Audience: 28.1 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Pam’s detective tracks down her mother: Rebecca Wentworth, the wife a wealthy Houston industrialist. Rebecca tearfully admits her real identity to Pam but says she doesn’t want her ill husband to know the truth. Lucy proposes to Mitch, who accepts.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Michael Bell (Les Crowley), Karlene Crockett (Muriel Gillis), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jerry Haynes (Pat Powers), Richard Herd (John Mackey), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), John Martin (Herbert Wentworth), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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

Dallas Styles: Jock’s Medallion

Lion king

In the famous painting of Jock that hangs at Southfork (and later, Ewing Oil) after the character’s death, he wears his signature gold medallion. The lion’s head, which dangles on a chain around Jock’s neck, reminds the world of his role as father of the Ewing pride.

When Jock was alive, sometimes his own family needed the reminder.

Jim Davis is first shown wearing the lion’s head in the fourth-season episode “The Venezuelan Connection,” when an enraged Jock chases down Bobby in the Southfork driveway after discovering his youngest son has bought a refinery.

“Why in the hell didn’t you check with me first?” Jock demands.

“There wasn’t time, Daddy. I had to move fast,” Bobby responds.

“Move fast? So fast you didn’t have time to talk to me?”

Similar scenes unfold in other fourth-season episodes. In “The Prodigal Mother,” Jock is wearing the medallion when he makes a dismissive remark about Mitch and Lucy stands up to him, and in “Executive Wife,” the lion’s head is hanging around Jock’s neck when Ray suggests he should check with Bobby before taking millions of dollars out of the company to invest in a land deal.

In that instance, Jock lets Ray know he’s still top dog (er, cat) at Ewing Oil.

“Let me tell you something, Ray,” he says. “Ewing Oil is mine. I started it. I worked it. I made it what it is today. And if Bobby or anybody else don’t like the way I do things, they know what they can do.”

As Jock speaks, the medallion around his neck catches the Texas sunlight, drawing the viewer’s attention and helping to illuminate the Ewing patriarch’s message. There’s no doubt: Jock may be a lion in winter, but he’s still a lion.