Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Do You Want Anything?’

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Quandary, Victoria Principal

Tea for two

In “Quandary,” a ninth-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) enters Bobby’s office, followed by J.R. (Larry Hagman).

J.R.: What the hell are you doing here? Don’t you have any respect at all? This is my brother’s office. Nobody’s supposed to be here.

PAM: Calm down, J.R. If you want me to go to another office, I’ll —

J.R.: I don’t want you in the building.

PAM: Well, that’s too bad, because you and I are partners now.

J.R.: That may be so, but I don’t want you hanging around here.

PAM: I’m not hanging around! I’m going to be working here right by your side, every day of the week.

J.R.: You can’t be serious.

PAM: What did you think I meant last night at the ball?

J.R.: I don’t know what you meant, but I’ll tell you what I mean: I don’t want you in my sight, much less my offices. And I always get what I want.

PAM: Your threats aren’t going to work. I’m here to stay, so get used to it. [Sits, punches the intercom] Phyllis?

PHYLLIS: Yes?

PAM: I’d like a cup of tea. A cup of herbal tea, please. [To J.R.] Do you want anything?

J.R.: This is no sentimental game, Pam. You’re in the big leagues now. And you better hope you can handle the heat, because you’re going to get plenty of it. And that’s no threat. It’s a promise.

He exits as Phyllis (Deborah Tranelli) enters with the tea.

PHYLLIS: Will there be anything else?

PAM: No, Phyllis. Not right now. Thank you.

PHYLLIS: Okay. [Smiles, exits]

Watch this scene in “Quandary,” available on DVD and at Amazon and iTunes, and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 199 — ‘Quandary’

Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Quandary, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

Courageous convictions

In “Quandary,” expectant parents Ray and Donna Krebbs deal with the news their child will be born with Down syndrome. Donna wants to have the baby, believing it would be wrong to terminate the pregnancy just because the child will be abnormal. Ray has strong feelings too: He candidly admits he isn’t ready to raise a child who is likely to have many health problems. By the end of the episode, though, Donna has brought her husband around to her way of thinking. Placing Ray’s hand on her belly, she tearfully says, “This baby was conceived in love — our love. How could it be anything but right?”

Like Sue Ellen’s efforts to get sober, Ray and Donna’s storyline feels like a deliberate attempt to inject more realism into “Dallas’s” ninth season. Fans who come to the series for escapist entertainment tend to be dismissive of these sorts of things, but I find a lot here to admire. Steve Kanaly and Susan Howard each deliver moving performances, and Joel J. Feigenbaum’s script is sensitive without ever resorting to schmaltz. There’s no doubt “Dallas” is trying to educate its audience — particularly in the scene where Donna’s doctor ticks off a list of Down syndrome statistics — but the story never becomes as heavy-handed as Miss Ellie’s third-season bout with breast cancer, “Dallas’s” other stab at so-called relevant storytelling.

Besides, it’s not like Feigenbaum doesn’t give us the usual wheeling and dealing too. After announcing her decision in the previous episode to take Bobby’s place at Ewing Oil, Pam shows up for work in “Quandary” and immediately clashes with J.R. She memorably cuts short his attempt to bully her by buzzing Phyllis and ordering “a cup of tea — a cup of herbal tea,” then quietly melts after he storms out of the room. Later, Pam is forced to crash a staff meeting when J.R. fails to invite her, which is a fun scene for a lot of reasons, especially since it confirms that J.R. and his secretaries are not, in fact, the only employees of this multi-billion-dollar corporation. I also like how J.R. and Cliff’s meetings with mysterious shipping executive Angelica Nero illustrate their differing styles: Cliff leaps at the opportunity to join forces with her, while J.R. plays it much cooler, wining and dining Angelica and even pretending to not mind when she orders mussels at La Champagne.

“Quandary” also has fun with Cliff and Jamie in the scene where she hangs up on him — repeatedly — when he calls to apologize for their latest fight. I also appreciate how this episode shows Sue Ellen telling Dusty she needs to focus on the other relationships in her life before she resumes her romance with him. Isn’t it nice to see Linda Gray’s character becoming smarter and wiser? In the same spirit, I like how Pam and Mark’s relationship is maturing. He spends this episode feeling overshadowed by Bobby’s ghost, and then in the sexy final scene, Pam barges into Mark’s bedroom, kicks off her heels and climbs into bed with him. If that doesn’t prove she wants the guy, what does?

These relationships stand in contrast to J.R. and Mandy’s, which no longer rings true. After spending much of the previous season refusing to become J.R.’s mistress, Mandy has now surrendered all her principles, although the show hasn’t gotten around to telling us why. In “Quandary,” she even allows J.R. to buy her a love nest, which the couple “christens” by hopping into a bubble bath and sipping champagne. What happened to the strong, independent-minded woman who once threw a key in J.R.’s face when he tried to rent her an apartment? Did Mandy have a lobotomy when she left town a few episodes ago, or has she always been this vacuous? Could it be the air in those bubbles is a metaphor for the space between her ears?

Grade: B

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Dallas, Deborah Shelton, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Mandy Winger, Quandary

Bubble heads

‘QUANDARY’

Season 9, Episode 8

Airdate: November 8, 1985

Audience: 19.5 million homes, ranking 11th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Joel J. Feigenbaum

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: Ray and Donna decide to continue her pregnancy. Angelica uses Cliff as bait to lure J.R., although her real target is J.R. Jamie leaves Cliff over deceiving Pam, whose decision to work at Ewing Oil sparks backlash from J.R. and Mark. Sue Ellen tells Dusty she must decide what to do about her marriage. J.R. and Mandy resume their affair.

Cast: John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Farlow), Barbara Carrera (Angelica Nero), Linda Gehringer (Ewing Oil employee), Lee Gideon (Carl), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jenilee Harrison (Jamie Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Frances Lee McCain (Dr. Amy Rose), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Dack Rambo (Jack Ewing), Sherril Lynn Rettino (Jackie Dugan), Deborah Shelton (Mandy Winger), Michael Skipper (Bill Crawford), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Merete Van Kamp (Grace)

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

The Dal-List: 10 Classic Clashes Between J.R. and Pam

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Julie Gonzalo, Larry Hagman, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Venomous Creatures

2 for 2?

The confrontation between J.R. and Pamela (Larry Hagman, Julie Gonzalo) in “Venomous Creatures,” one of this week’s new “Dallas” episodes on TNT, was an instant classic. The scene demonstrated how Gonzalo can hold her own against the legendary Hagman, but it also evoked memories of J.R.’s showdowns with the original Pam (Victoria Principal). Here’s a look at some of those moments.

Dallas, Digger's Daughter, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Fight or flight

10. Let the games begin. J.R. and Pam’s first fracas set the stage for all the fights that followed. On the day she arrived at Southfork, he gave her a friendly tour of the ranch – then offered her a bribe to leave: “I’m willing to spend some money now to avoid any inconvenience. But if you insist upon being driven away – which you surely will be – you’re going to come out of this without anything, honey.” Pam ignored J.R.’s offer, but maybe she should’ve taken the money and run. Think of all the pain she would’ve been spared! (“Digger’s Daughter”)

Dallas, Barbecue, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Fall gal

9. Legend of the fall. J.R. and Pam’s most controversial encounter: During her first Ewing barbecue, pregnant Pam retreated to a Southfork hayloft for some much-deserved alone time. Suddenly, a drunken J.R. showed up, crawled (slithered?) toward her and apologized for “going too far” during her early weeks at Southfork. While trying to get away from him, Pam slipped, fell and lost her baby. Some fans remember J.R. pushing Pam, but when you watch this scene, it’s pretty clearly an accident. J.R. was bad, but he wasn’t evil. (“Barbecue”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Love and Marriage, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Stud or dud?

8. Stud finder? If there was sexual tension between J.R. and Pam, it was strictly one-sided. When he suggested her demanding job at The Store might prompt lonely Bobby to reclaim his reputation as Dallas’s top stud, Pam declared that Bobby “isn’t standing at stud anymore. … He left the field wide open for you. Of course, from what I hear, that still leaves the field wide open.” J.R.: “Anytime you want to find out, it can be easily arranged.” Pam: “Don’t bother, J.R. Even if I weren’t married to Bobby, you aren’t man enough.” OK then! (“Love and Marriage”)

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Quandary, Victoria Principal

Bag it, J.R.

7. Tea for one. When Bobby “died,” Pam joined Ewing Oil as J.R.’s new partner, bringing the animosity between them to new heights. Within minutes of her first day on the job, J.R. minced no words letting Pam know how he felt about her new career: “I don’t want you in my sight, much less my offices!” Pam didn’t miss a beat. She ignored J.R.’s huffing and puffing, buzzed her secretary Phyllis on the intercom and ordered “a cup of tea – a cup of herbal tea.” Pam then turned to J.R. and asked if he wanted anything. He didn’t. (“Quandary”)

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Nothing's Ever Perfect

Dream on, Pam

6. Truce? In your dreams. After spending months fighting with J.R. at Ewing Oil, Pam decided their war wasn’t worth it and sold him the share of the company she controlled. After signing the papers, Pam told him, “It’s all yours, J.R. I hope this does mean that we can all live in peace now.” His response: “We’ve got nothing to fight about anymore.” Ha! This scene aired six months before Bobby stepped out of Pam’s shower. Looking back, the moment J.R. and Pam made nice should’ve been the first clue our heroine was dreaming. (“Nothing’s Ever Perfect”)

Dallas, Fallen Idol, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Hold the butter

5. Dining with the devil. For purely selfish reasons, J.R. didn’t want Bobby doing business with shady college chum Guzzler Bennett, so J.R. invited Pam to lunch to enlist her help in stopping Bobby and Guzzler’s project. When Pam wondered how she might persuade Bobby to call off the deal, J.R. told her, “You’re a very clever woman, Pam. You’ll think of something.” I also love her cutting response to his attempt to butter her up at the start of the scene: “J.R., please don’t make me lose this good food.” (“Fallen Idol”)

Dallas, Ewing Inferno, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Sting like a bee

4. Slap! J.R. and Pam’s fights almost never turned physical. Emphasis on “almost.” While Pam waited alone for Bobby inside his office one day, J.R. popped in to say hello. She wasn’t in the mood for his insincerities. “Save that nonsense for somebody who doesn’t know you,” she said, then chastised him for his latest extramarital fling. “Climb down off your soapbox, honey,” J.R. responded before accusing her of sleeping around. Before all was said and done, Pam had stomped away, leaving J.R. with a big red mark on his cheek. (“Ewing Inferno”)

Dallas, If At First You Don't Succeed, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Change of tune

3. Get your feud on. When Cliff was arrested for Bobby’s shooting, Pam accused J.R. of framing her brother. Cue J.R.’s eye-roll: “I’m getting kind of tired of that old song. Mean, nasty J.R. beating up on poor, innocent Cliff Barnes.” Pam’s response: “I’ve never believed in the Barnes/Ewing feud, J.R., but now I’m going to join it. I’m going to do everything I can to help Cliff – and I’m not going to rest until all our family scores are settled!” Something tells me Pam’s namesake niece would be proud of auntie here. (“If at First You Don’t Succeed”)

Dallas, Legacy of Hate, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Babble on, honey

2. True lies. Just to mess with her, J.R. sent Pam on a wild goose chase to the Caribbean to find her presumed dead lover Mark Graison. When she found out, she stormed into J.R.’s office and demanded an explanation. J.R. played dumb. “You’re babbling like a lunatic,” he said, adding: “I never liked you a hell of a lot, you know that, Pam? But I never thought you were stupid until now.” Principal is fantastic here – and so is Hagman. Pam knows J.R.’s lying. The audience knows he’s lying too. Yet somehow, we kinda believe him. (“Legacy of Hate”)

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

Choose or lose

1. The choice. J.R. rejoiced when Pam left Bobby, but when he found out she was thinking about reconciling with him, J.R. knew he needed to act fast. He showed up on Pam’s doorstep and tried to persuade her that a divorce was in her best interest. “How nice! You’re concerned about my happiness,” she said, sarcasm dripping from every word. J.R.’s matter-of-fact response: “Oh, no. I don’t give a damn about you or your happiness, honey. But I do care about what’s good for me.” As Pam stood with her back to him, J.R. circled her, explaining she had two options: divorce Bobby and bring the Barnes/Ewing feud to an end, or return to him and watch as “all hell [breaks] loose.” Hagman is downright chilling, and as Pam, Principal looks visibly shaken. We can sympathize; in this scene, J.R. scares us too! (“The Long Goodbye”)

What do you think are J.R. and Pam’s best confrontations? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”