Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘My, You’re a Tough Lady’

Yes, she is

Yes, she is

In “Dallas’s” fifth-season episode “The Prodigal,” Roger (Dennis Redfield) is surprised when Pam (Victoria Principal) enters his photography studio.

ROGER: Hi. Did an agency send you?

PAM: No. No, I’m Pamela Ewing, Lucy’s aunt.

ROGER: Oh, my mistake. You’re really lovely. I thought you were probably here for some tests.

PAM: I’ll tell you what I’m here for. I’m here to give you a warning.

ROGER: [Chuckles] A warning? You’re too pretty to give warnings.

PAM: [Steps forward] Cut out the phony charm. And stay away from Lucy. Understand? You took a lot of nice photos, and it was good for both of you. But that’s it. Hands off.

ROGER: My, you’re a tough lady.

PAM: Yes, I am.

ROGER: Alright, let’s be reasonable. [Sits] I’m sorry if I offended anybody.

PAM: I’m not here for an apology. Just stay away from my niece.

ROGER: And if I don’t? What will you do? Sic the Ewing family on me?

PAM: Maybe, but I don’t think I’ll have to. I can take care of people like you myself.

ROGER: Are you threatening me?

PAM: Yes, I guess you might say that.

ROGER: [Menacing] I don’t like threats.

PAM: [Sternly] Well, then consider it a promise. And consider this too: I did you a favor coming here myself this time. But if there’s a next time, you will deal with my husband. [Turns and leaves]

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 98 – ‘The Prodigal’

Welcome back

Welcome back

“The Prodigal” marks the triumphant return of Pam Ewing. What’s that you say? You didn’t realize she had gone away? Well, consider this: The Pam who emerges during “Dallas’s” third season – the one who cries a lot and obsesses over having children – doesn’t bear much resemblance to the strong-willed, independent-minded heroine we meet when the show begins. That’s the Pam we see again in “The Prodigal.” It’s nice to have her back.

Pam’s “return” comes toward the end of the episode, when a frightened Lucy tells her that Roger has become obsessed with her. (Lucy leaves out the detail about having sex with Roger after discovering the shrine he’s built to her.) Pam springs into action and asks for the location of Roger’s studio. “Don’t you think you should wait for Bobby?” Lucy asks. Pam ignores the question. “Lucy, what’s the address?”

The next time we see Pam, she’s entering Roger’s studio, where she introduces herself as Lucy’s aunt and explains she’s there to deliver “a warning.” Roger smirks. “A warning? You’re too pretty to give warnings,” he says. Pam tells him to “cut out the phony charm” and orders him to stay away from Lucy. He responds by asking if she plans to “sic the Ewing family” on him if he fails to obey. “Maybe, but I don’t think I’ll have to,” Pam says. “I can take care of people like you myself.”

See what I mean? This is the Pam I fell in love with during early “Dallas” episodes like “Lessons,” when she rescues Lucy from her high school blackmailer, and “Black Market Baby,” when she stands up to Bobby’s chauvinism. Victoria Principal always delivers great performances – even when Pam is weepy and preoccupied with children – but the actress is at her best during moments like these. In this scene, Pam is calm and direct, which makes her seem genuinely intimidating. Principal makes me believe Pam is a woman you don’t want to mess with.

Pam and Roger’s encounter is one of several great confrontations in “The Prodigal.” I also love when Katherine and Cliff get in a screaming match over his management of her father’s company (Katherine: “You disgusting little man!” Cliff: “I might be a disgusting little man, but I am president of Wentworth Tool and Die now!”), as well as Afton’s visit to Sue Ellen’s townhouse, where they exchange deliciously bitchy barbs (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.”).

I also like the scene where Clayton visits Afton in her dressing room to learn more about Cliff, his rival for Sue Ellen’s affections. Howard Keel and Audrey Landers are two of my favorite “Dallas” performers, and it’s nice to see them share screen time. But I also can’t help but think: Since these two have such gorgeous singing voices, wouldn’t it have been nice if this scene had been set to music?

Grade: A

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Just duet

Just duet

‘THE PRODIGAL’

Season 5, Episode 21

Airdate: March 5, 1982

Audience: 28.4 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: J.R. uncovers evidence Christopher is his son. Bobby threatens Farraday when he returns to Dallas and demands hush money. Pam warns Roger to stay away from Lucy. While researching her new book, Donna learns Jock and Sam once staged a land grab that resulted in another man’s suicide. Afton tells Sue Ellen that Clayton is in love with her. Katherine clashes with Cliff and cozies up to J.R.

Cast: Lewis Arquette (Dr. Kensington) Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Peter Brandon (Lowell Greer), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Bill Erwin (Abel Greeley), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Phyllis Flax (Mrs. Chambers), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Art Hindle (Jeff Farraday), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Gary Pagett (Murphy), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Dennis Redfield (Roger Larson), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Ray Wise (Blair Sullivan)

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