TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Denial, Anger, Acceptance’

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Denial Anger Acceptance, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Rachel Sage Kunin, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The Ewings weren’t dressed to the nines in “Denial, Anger, Acceptance,” but that doesn’t mean their clothing should be overlooked. We can learn a lot about the characters, even when they aren’t runway ready.

Consider the brown coat Brenda Strong wears when Ann arrives at the hospital and lies to Bobby about her whereabouts earlier in the evening, telling him she was grocery shopping when the Southfork fire began. The cloak-like coat, which ties at Ann’s waist, conceals most of her body — a fitting choice for a character who is covering up her secret smooch with ex-husband Harris. Later, after Judith spills the beans to Bobby and he erupts at his wife (yet again), Ann is seen wearing a sweater with a wide neckline — an ideal way to symbolize how exposed and vulnerable she feels.

I also like the waffle-knit robe Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) wears during her visit to the hospital gift shop. The robe, which bears the hospital’s name (“Forest Park Medical Center”), reminds me of the kind of thing you might find hanging in a nicer hotel room closet — which seems entirely appropriate for Sue Ellen. You don’t expect her to give up her appreciation for the finer things in life just because she’s sick, do you?

Costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin and her team also deserve praise for making the blue shirt Bobby wears at the beginning of this episode look so convincingly distressed. Notice how the soot is concentrated around the neckline, the only area that would have been exposed by his jacket when he dashed into the fire to rescue his family. This is probably the most memorable look of all in this episode, which — let’s face it — doesn’t happen often with Patrick Duffy’s blue-jeans-and-boots character.

Even the folks at TNT had fun with Duffy’s costume, tweeting the following tidbit earlier today: “Fun fact: The scorch marks on Bobby’s shirt aren’t from the fire, they’re from Judith’s withering glare.”

At least she didn’t turn him to stone.

What were your favorite looks in “Denial, Anger, Acceptance”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Rodney Charters

Rodney Charters (Photo: Douglas Kirland)

Rodney Charters (Photo: Douglas Kirland)

Rodney Charters is the director of photography — a.k.a. cinematographer — for TNT’s “Dallas,” which resumes its third season on Monday, August 18. The New Zealand native previously worked on “24,” where he earned two Emmy nominations, as well as series such as “Shameless” and “Nashville.” I spoke to Charters in the spring, as he was wrapping up production on “Dallas’s” third-season finale, and then caught up with him again last week.

You have one of the coolest jobs on “Dallas.” For readers who may not know, can you explain what you do?

The director of photography is really responsible for “imaging” the script. It places me in sort of an interesting position of being on the right hand of the director and, along with the production designer, one of two people who help the director realize his or her vision. The director is the captain of the ship, but the director of photography and the production designer are the lieutenants.

So you help determine what viewers see on their screens — how the actors appear in a given shot, how they’re lit, the overall look of the scene, et cetera.

We’re shooting a scene today where the director wants to look through a window into a darkened bar and see a character, and then pull [the camera] out through the window — without seeing himself in the reflection — to find another character doing something to the first person’s car. So we’ll try to achieve that by putting up a dark false wall to hide the camera, or we’ll use filters to take away the reflection.

That sounds like a lot of work for a single shot.

You have to be ahead of the game because we never have an enormous amount of time to shoot an episode. Yesterday, we had two locations that required quite a bit of work. We were in a restaurant that had a certain style of lamp, but the production designer and the set decorator wanted to bring in more lamps, and they all needed to be hung 20 feet from a very tall ceiling. And they worked very carefully to do that before we arrived, so that once we showed up, we were ready to shoot.

Dallas, Michael M. Robin, Rodney Charters, TNT

Director Michael M. Robin and Charters

There’s a lot of teamwork involved, isn’t it?

Every time a cinematographer touches a camera, he needs to think of half a dozen other people he needs to work with in order to bring about what happens in the frame.

And that includes your own team. Talk a little bit about how the work is divvied up.

My right hand man is my gaffer. He’s responsible for physically placing all of the lights for me. There’s a team of grips who are responsible for mounting and putting up the equipment that supports the cameras. And then, of course, there are the camera operators. So roughly there’s a team of 15 to 20 people who work directly for me on set, and then I liaise with several others.

Like Rachel Sage Kunin, the costume designer.

She’ll consult with me about whether the material in a costume is going to work. On the Ewing Global set, there’s a green screen hanging outside the window, and we project the Dallas skyline onto that screen [in post-production]. If an actor wore green in one of those scenes, the exterior of Dallas might show up on their clothing. So all of that comes into play.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Rodney Charters, TNT

Linda Gray and Charters (David Strick/The Hollywood Reporter)

That raises an interesting point. Most of “Dallas’s” interior shots — including all the rooms inside Southfork — are filmed on a soundstage, while the exterior shots are shot outdoors. Which environment do you prefer?

I think a balance is worthy. There are some efficiencies on a stage because lights have been pre-hung and actors feel comfortable in certain areas, so you can leave some lights up to save time. But I’m a firm believer that what we put before the camera should feel as real as possible. When we’re shooting on the Southfork stage and you see through the window to the trees outside, that’s actually a giant photo mural. That presents challenges because when we shoot exteriors at Southfork in the winter, the trees are just woody nobs, and then when we go back to the stage, the trees outside look like they’re flowering.

Could you do green screens on the Southfork sets?

Green screen has its own problems. Backings reflect onto any reflective material on the set, so if you have glass tables or other glass surfaces as we do at Southfork, you run into problems. In the large apartment that Pamela occupied for so long, any lights we put up are then reflected in the windows. We drop the blinds down one section because we are on the 19th floor and we cannot rotate the windows, which is our trick on the Ewing Global set, where all the glass is on a gimbal. In Pamela’s apartment, we struggle to avoid seeing ourselves [so] we put up walls of black material and then wear black to avoid seeing the camera and the operators.

Hollywood magic!

There are always multiple solutions to any challenge. You’re always looking for the decisions that will allow you to get 200 people on and off a set within a 12-hour day. Today we’re starting at 1 o’clock and we’ll shoot right through the night. We’ll probably end up finishing at 3 a.m. We’re going to be in and out of four different locations, and only one of those is a stage. That’s a huge amount of loading and unloading of 15 tractor-trailer units full of equipment.

It sounds like every day is like making a movie.

The difference is you’re on a television schedule. A feature [film crew] can say, “Look, we’re going to be on this street corner, right at sunset, and we want to photograph it just as the dying rays of the sun are visible.” And everything works around that one moment. You prepare for it, you arrive at that spot and then you shoot that. And that may be all you do that day. [On “Dallas”], we may shoot 12 pages of script in order to have a lighter page count for a complex stunt day — a page being roughly a minute of finished screen time. A feature film crew will shoot only two pages of script, so they can do one scene a day and they can appropriately arrive and execute the whole scene just at the magic moment when the light is hitting its perfection.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Rodney Charters, TNT

On set with Jesse Metcalfe

So what do you like best about your job?

I love working with the actors to make them feel comfortable in the space we provide them. There’s a process to how you light a show and the mood and tone you set — the actors pick up on that and it helps them with their performance. Sometimes a director will say, “I don’t see enough of the eyes. Can you do something here?” Because ultimately, all of the true emotion in a scene is expressed by the eyes. And if the eyes aren’t there, you don’t telegraph what’s going on with the actor.

You must enjoy working with Linda Gray, who has such amazing eyes.

Oh, she’s fantastic. The whole cast is extraordinary. We’re really blessed. Great actors, all of them. We just try to make them feel at home. And it rapidly becomes a team. It’s like professional sports. Everybody’s being trained at a high level and they easily fit together. They do the job they’ve trained to do, and they do it well.

You’ve also directed some episodes. You must enjoy that.

Directing is the ultimate. It’s like playing a Stradivarius. [Laughs] The big picture becomes very, very complex when you’re not only responsible for positioning and framing the images, but also working closely with the actors. Because the director will walk away from the monitors at the “video village” and go right past the camera and talk very quietly with an actor. It’s you and the actor, trying to motivate a performance. Only the director can do that, and ultimately, there’s nothing better.

You directed last season’s racecar episode, which is one of my favorites.

Well, that was up my alley because it moved fast and had a lot of action. We’re usually much more of a language kind of show, with most of the action in the bedroom. [Laughs]

Dallas, D.T.R., Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Emma Bell and Judith Light in “D.T.R.”

You also directed “D.T.R.,” the episode where Sue Ellen blackmails the governor and Emma and Judith have that tense showdown in the restaurant.

That scene was particularly cool. I was thrilled to be able to elicit those kind of performances. Both of those actors — Emma Bell and Judith Light — are superb. I loved the physicality of [Light’s] hand grabbing the documents and both hands sliding across the table. Little touches like that — if you don’t photograph them, they’re not going to be in the scene.

So what’s your proudest accomplishment on “Dallas”?

Well, that scene is pretty high on the list, [along with] one dangerously dramatic scene in [the third season’s 13th episode, airing September 15]. I also had fun with the pilot, because it helped set the tone and look of the show. But overall, there’s a sense of satisfaction about the whole series. You can see the city of Dallas [on “Dallas”]. That’s important to me because I try to make it feel as real as possible. But it’s a soap, let’s face it.

How do you feel about doing the big close-ups, which are a “Dallas” staple?

Well, a lot of people are watching on television on tablets and smartphones, so the big close-ups are helpful in those instances. We’re facing a big change in the way people watch television. It’s all on-demand now. And “demand” may be the shopping queue or the bank queue. There’s a myriad of different places where people can choose to watch their favorite episodes. I was in Singapore [recently] and watched a young woman commuting while she watched her favorite soap — a hospital drama made in Korea and translated into her local dialect but under her bigger screen was an iPhone and a stream of chat which she would respond to as she watched. I was fascinated [because] I believe this is the future of success, delivering to the world on demand. But we have got to get her to fall in love with “Dallas”!

Dallas, "Changing of the Guard," John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Josh Henderson in “Changing of the Guard”

How do you like to watch television?

I don’t have a television, to be honest. I use Apple TV to watch what I want on demand. Appointment TV is gradually taking over fans’ viewing habits.

Really, no TV?

No. I have a 60-inch screen, and in the process of finishing off the shows, I receive an online master. It doesn’t get any better than the way I watch it. It’s a pristine, 50-gigabyte file of digital data. But generally, I’m an on-demand person. I’d rather buy an online stream and watch it on my 60-inch screen.

Well, maybe we’ll all just come over to your house and watch “Dallas” on your big screen!

Yeah, OK. [Laughs]

But seriously: You’ve spoken before about how much you appreciate the fans.

I really do thank them for continuing to watch us. It’s the most vital part of what we do. I’m on Twitter — I’m @rodneykiwi — and it’s very satisfying to see what the fans are saying. It’s a tremendous worldwide community. It’s very exciting to think that our product is being seen in Arabian villages in the darkest part of the Sahara in Africa. It’s just a fantastic business to be in.

Share your comments below and read more interviews from Dallas Decoder.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Julie Gonzalo

Julie Gonzalo (Courtesy Regard Magazine)

Julie Gonzalo (Courtesy Regard Magazine)

It’s no secret your Dallas Decoder is a big fan of Julie Gonzalo — a.k.a. Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing Ewing on TNT’s “Dallas” — so I was hugely excited to speak to her recently. Gonzalo was gracious, insightful, down-to-earth and generally awesome. She discussed Pamela’s many ups and downs — and offered a hint of what we’ll see when “Dallas” resumes its third season on Monday, August 18.

Pamela has probably evolved more than any other “Dallas” character during the past two-and-a-half seasons. Do you agree?

Yeah, I think so. It’s definitely one of those roles where every season, we see a different side of her. It’s very exciting as an actor to be able to rediscover her every year and to find something new to play around with.

That’s what’s so impressive about you: You do it all so well! You can be really sweet, but you can also be a bitch on wheels.

Well, thank you! [Laughs]

I mean that as a compliment, I hope you know.

I’m taking it as a huge compliment! [Laughs] That’s the idea, especially on a show like this, where you need to sell vengeance and you need to sell sweetness, sometimes in the same scene.

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Good girl gone bad

So which side do you like to play best?

Oh, the naughty side. There’s something so fun about doing things you don’t do in your normal life. And on “Dallas,” the villains are usually the most memorable characters — everybody wants to see what they’ll be doing next. When we were working on Season 2 [when Pamela was out for revenge], I was having a blast. I really loved being conniving and backstabbing.

What’s really striking to me is just how popular Pamela is. I hear it all the time from my fellow fans. They love her.

To hear that makes me so, so happy.

Oh, my goodness. I hope you’re aware of how devoted people are to Pamela. It doesn’t matter what she does, the fans root for her.

That’s amazing, because sometimes I feel like, “Which Pamela are they talking about?” The fans love the original Pamela [Victoria Principal’s character], so sometimes I’m not sure if they’re talking about my character or hers.

Well, she has a loyal and passionate following, but you do too.

That’s just incredible. I have so much fun playing Pamela and I hope that translates [on screen]. I think there are so many beautiful, fully formed characters on the show, so I’m very flattered to hear fans like her.

I think a real turning point in the character’s evolution came last season, when Pamela lost her babies.

Yeah, absolutely. I think everything changed for her in that moment. That probably was one of my most challenging episodes. The grieving period was so difficult. I’m not a parent — and I never want to know what it feels like to lose a child — so it’s hard to go into an emotion like that. And it was really tough to maintain yourself in a really sad moment. You go home and you’re asking yourself, “Why am I so sad?” You never want to bring your work home, but there are points where it overtakes your life a little bit, and that was one of those times.

It was a courageous performance for a lot reasons, and one of them is that Pamela didn’t look her best in that episode — and you’re very beautiful.

Well, thank you. But no, I loved that. I sometimes have problems when we’re doing a morning scene and everyone’s hair and makeup are perfect. I think, “No, this isn’t how it happens in real life!” [Laughs] Even if you have all the money in the world, you don’t wake up looking amazing. You just don’t. But in that episode, I wanted her to look bad because it was a bad moment.

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Pushing the envelope

Let’s shift gears and talk about another one of Pamela’s memorable moments: the threesome scene from the midseason cliffhanger. What can you tell me about that?

Well, what do you want to know? [Laughs]

I want to know it all!

I’m sure you do! The funny part is how I found out about it. Cynthia [Cidre, the co-executive producer] said it so nonchalantly: “Yeah, you’re going to come into the room, and you’re going to catch [John Ross and Emma] together, and then you’re going to join them.” She said it like it was no big deal. So I thought, “Oh, OK. It’s no big deal.” But I also thought, “Why not? Let’s push the envelope a little.” I mean, “Dallas” is known for that.


I didn’t realize people were going to see it and say, “What the. … ” [Laughs] But I still don’t see it as a big deal. There are things out there that are much more explicit.

Still, it’s got to be weird to have the crew around while you’re making out with two other people.

Totally, but it’s also a very respectful atmosphere and a very respectful crew. And we’re all so comfortable with each other. By that point, Josh [Henderson] and I had become really good friends and Emma [Bell] and I had been hanging out a lot, so it was one of those things that was like, “OK, it’s another day at work.” [Laughs]

So what do you think was going through Pamela’s mind when she walked into that hotel room and saw John Ross and Emma?

At that moment, she had already downed a bottle of pills. [Joining them] wasn’t the approach that people expected from her, being the strong woman that she is. But I also like the fact that nobody could predict that. I like the idea that even strong characters have weak moments, especially when they’re being hurt. She really believed John Ross was made for her. They’re very similar creatures. So once she realized he wasn’t the man she thought he was, she went a little crazy. Anybody would, I think.

And tell me about the famous green corsets you and Emma wore this season. How did you feel about having to spend so much time in that thing?

It’s one of those things that you can’t really take deep breaths in. [Laughs] As any actress will tell you, when you’ve got to wear a costume like that, you’re thinking, “Oh, God. I can’t eat this or I can’t eat that. I have to drink a lot of water and I have to go to the gym.” Because you’re not just putting it on for the people in front of you — you’re putting it on for a TV show that will be watched over and over again for years to come. But to me, it was a beautiful costume. I thought both characters looked great.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Dressed to thrill

I agree, although my favorite outfit of the season was Pamela’s black-and-white dress.

Wasn’t it beautiful? The moment I put it on with Rachel [Sage Kunin, the costume designer], I said, “Yep, this is it.” And the tag said it was a Stella McCartney and I said, “Of course, it’s a Stella McCartney.” I’m a huge fan of hers. Huge fan of her dad too.

Is it fun to have an episode like that, where you get to kick it up a notch?

Yeah, you look forward to those episodes. Rachel’s so great at picking out beautiful clothing. I always say, “Ooh, I want to wear this!” And Rachel will say, “No, it’s not appropriate for this scene,” and I’m like, “Dammit!” So when your character gets to go to Vegas and do the hair and wardrobe differently, that’s always very exciting.

I think that outfit is going to be remembered as one of the iconic “Dallas” looks.


Oh, absolutely. It was kind of a tribute to Sue Ellen, who had so many memorable black-and-white costumes.

Yeah, and I think we played up a lot of similarities between Pamela and Sue Ellen — and I love that. During the second half of the season, there are a lot of moments between our characters. I really enjoy working with [Linda Gray]. I’m always telling her, “You know, it would be my honor to be half the woman you are.”

She’s so cool, and I’m thrilled to hear you two are going to have more scenes together. Pamela was pretty mean to her in the midseason cliffhanger.

Well, she had her reasons. [Laughs]

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT


Overall, it seems like the cast is a pretty tight-knit group.

Totally. Josh has become one of my closest buddies at work. He’s the one I work with most, and we really have a great time working together. And I was just on the phone with Jordana [Brewster] the other day. We’re trying to see each other [during the hiatus]. I really appreciate these people, and I really like these people. I mean, if the show were to end tomorrow, I know I’ll still have a friendship with most of them.

That’s not unlike what happened on the original show.

Right. You look at Linda and Larry and Patrick [Duffy]. You see the love they have for one another and how beautiful their friendship is, and it’s all because of the show. I hope that can be us one day.

You touched on this a few moments ago, but how do you prepare for your scenes? How do you “become” Pamela? Linda told me she doesn’t feel like her character unless she has Sue Ellen’s heels on.

It definitely helps me to be in costume. I don’t think I look anything like Pamela unless I’m in her wardrobe. Energy-wise, I don’t feel like her. When I’m working with my coach, I’m Pamela, but I don’t fully become her until my hair is done and my makeup is done. I look in the mirror and I say, “Oh, there she is.”

Working with a coach — that’s a part of the process I think a lot of fans aren’t aware of or tend to overlook.

A lot of us have coaches. I always work with a coach because I never want to feel like I know everything. As an actor, I never want to stop learning. The more I work, the more I want to learn. If I ever start to think, “No, it’s cool, I got this, I can wing it,” then I don’t want to be an actor anymore. I just did an acting workshop last weekend that focused on voice and movement and all these different things. You just never want to stop learning.

I have such admiration for people like you, who can get up and perform in front of an audience or a camera.

I was just in New York and I was lucky enough to see “All the Way” with Bryan Cranston and my mouth was on the floor. He’s phenomenal. And I bet he doesn’t feel like he knows everything, although to me he’s perfect. It’s like, “You’re cooked. You’re done. You’re good.” [Laughs] But again, you just want to keep advancing yourself and surrounding yourself with people you know you can learn from.

Well, speaking of great actors, tell me about working with Mr. Hagman.

Ah, what a class act. He was divine. He really was such a beautiful energy to be around, as he would say. He said we’re all energies. I did one scene with him, and it’s funny because I don’t really keep any of my scripts, but I did save those pages. It’s the scene where Pamela is talking to Frank in her office, and J.R. walks in. And Larry was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. He was such a flirt too. [Imitating him] “You should keep those pants. Those pants belong to you.” And I’m like, “Well, thank you. I can only wonder what you’re checking out.” I was very lucky to have that scene with him.

It’s one of my favorite scenes from the new series.


Oh, absolutely. It’s another scene that honors the past. It evokes all the great confrontations he had with Victoria Principal. And it’s great because you really held your own against him.

I tried, I tried! You know, when we were rehearsing the scene, I just wanted to do it with a smile. I thought, she’s so giddy because J.R. Ewing is in her office. He’s here to talk to her. I remember the director saying, “I didn’t see it with a smile, but it works.”

And how do you enjoy working with your TV parents, Ken Kercheval and Audrey Landers?

Oh, Daddy and Mommy. He’s such a trip. He’s great, and she’s so sweet. Pamela and Afton don’t really get along, so it’s hard to roll your eyes at your mother. I tell her, “Oh, you’re so nice.” It was really lovely to have her at the wedding.

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Always a bride

The wedding! That was a fun episode too.

It was! I’m just so bummed they had to cut a lot of it out.

My mom was furious we never got to see the vows.

The vows were really cute. They were really meaningful. There was so much subtext. And then there was a scene of them dancing, and John Ross is singing to her.


I know. I really hope they put it on DVD because it’s really beautiful. And Josh sings really well. I was laying my head on his shoulder and he’s singing a Blake Shelton song. There’s a cute little interaction between them, and then you kind of start to see a little doubt in her. It was a tiny little hint in there. When they cut it, I was like, “Dammit, no!” [Laughs]

So what can you tell us about the second half of Season 3?

The second half, in my opinion, is even better than the first, at least for my character. There’s a lot more Pamela that we’ll get to discover. There’s so much that, I think, is going to take people by surprise. There’s definitely a stronger Pamela coming.

That makes us fans happy. We love the strong Pamela best.

Me too. She’s so much fun. I love when she has the upper hand. She walks into a room and owns it. It’s funny because playing someone so confident — so comfortable with who they are — has made me more confident. So I definitely owe that to her.

Share your comments below and read more interviews from Dallas Decoder.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Where There’s Smoke’

Dallas, Christopher Ewing, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT, Where There’s Smoke

Julie Gonzalo and Emma Bell donned Pamela and Emma’s green corsets again in “Dallas’s” midyear cliffhanger, but this time around, the question isn’t who wore it better — it’s who used the lingerie more effectively?

The corsets debuted earlier this season, when Pamela wore the sexy undergarment for John Ross on the night before their wedding. Little did she know Emma had worn an identical corset for him the previous evening, knowing it would spoil Pamela’s surprise. In “Where There’s Smoke,” this week’s episode, Pamela finally discovered John Ross and Emma’s affair and went to the Omni to interrupt their latest tryst. Emma had her corset on again, and as we soon discovered, Pamela was also wearing hers — part of a twisted plot to lure her husband and his mistress into a threesome before going into an overdose-fueled seizure on them.

Some fans feel the three-way sex scene was too graphic, but I was too busy pondering the symbolic value of the costumes: In the earlier episode, Emma wore her corset in a scheme to undermine John Ross and Pamela’s marriage; in “Where There’s Smoke,” Pamela wore hers in a scheme to ruin John Ross and Emma’s affair. Like J.R.’s wristwatch and Candace’s blue dress, it’s another example of how costumes play an important role in “Dallas’s” storytelling.

Two more looks in “Where There’s Smoke” caught my eye. Costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin smartly dressed Josh Henderson in another three-piece suit, which helped project John Ross’s sense of confidence when he finally met Judith Ryland. And even though many of us were heartbroken when Christopher shaved off his beard, the loss was eased a bit by seeing Jesse Metcalfe sport that nifty brown varsity jacket. Not only is the jacket stylish — the lettermen look is big in menswear this spring — but what could be a better accessory for all-American Christopher?

Let’s just hope the Ewings know a good dry cleaner; that jacket is going to be full of soot come August.

What were your favorite looks in “Where There’s Smoke”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Like a Bad Penny’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Like a Bad Penny, Linda Gray, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

I knew I’d found my look of the week the moment Pamela turned up in that black-and-white dress in “Like a Bad Penny,” “Dallas’s” latest episode. The dress was a brilliant choice for Julie Gonzalo’s character for many reasons, beginning with its symbolic value: Pamela increasingly reminds fans of her mother-in-law Sue Ellen, who long ago made black-and-white outfits one of her signature looks.

Pamela’s dress, a Stella McCartney design, is a work of art: It features a rounded neck, long sleeves and contrasting panels that create a sexy, hourglass illusion. I also love how Gonzalo moved in it: The first time we saw her wearing it, when Pamela and John Ross turned the corner and came down the hall in the Las Vegas hotel, notice how Gonzalo sashayed. She looked so striking, I’m surprised the show didn’t give her a bigger entrance; if ever a scene called for a dramatic, slow-motion walk, this was it.

The dress was costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s pièce de résistance in “Like a Bad Penny,” but let’s also hear it for hair stylist Charles Yusko, who once again showed off Pamela’s emerald earrings without putting her hair up. Instead, Gonzalo’s hair was swept back; it reminded me of one of Victoria Principal’s styles on the original “Dallas.” The dress may have been Sue Ellen, but the hair was Aunt Pam.

Not to be “out-blinged,” Josh Henderson sported a nifty tie tack and cuff links during the Las Vegas scenes, along with the much-loved J.R. wristwatch, which boomeranged back to him after he gambled it away. I also loved Emma Bell’s red, multi-zippered coat; it wasn’t a traditional trench coat, but it still made an ideal accessory for Emma, who went Nancy Drew on us and started snooping into her father’s scheme against John Ross. I also want to give one more nod to Jesse Metcalfe’s beard, which is slated to go away during next week’s midseason finale. Sigh.

Finally, a few thoughts on the sanitarium stylings of Sue Ellen Ewing. She spent much of this episode in a gray T-shirt and seemed to wear very little makeup, which allowed us to focus on Linda Gray’s moving, heartfelt performance. And yet Sue Ellen remained beautiful nonetheless. If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: Even when she’s wearing nothing more than a simple tee, Linda Gray still looks amazing.

What were your favorite looks in “Like a Bad Penny”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 32 — ‘Like a Bad Penny’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Like a Bad Penny, TNT

Not afraid to lose

John Ross has never reminded me of J.R. as much as he does in “Like a Bad Penny.” To salvage a botched business deal with a powerful sheik, John Ross competes against him in a high-stakes poker game and deliberately loses, even though it means gambling away his prized “J.R.” wristwatch. Except the watch is never really at risk, is it? John Ross bets that by humbling himself in the sheik’s presence, he’ll win the man’s approval and eventually recover the timepiece, which is precisely what happens at the end of the episode. Could J.R. have played it any better?

At every turn in “Like a Bad Penny,” Josh Henderson evokes a little of the old Hagman magic. After John Ross throws the game and surrenders the watch, he offers the sheik a J.R.-esque, fake-sincere apology for bungling the deal in the first place. Then, John Ross huddles privately with Pamela and hints his defeat is part of a bigger scheme. This is the kind of conversation J.R. used to have with Sly on the original “Dallas”; whenever the chips were down, he’d let his loyal secretary — and by extension, the audience — know he had one more trick up his sleeve. John Ross does something similar here by offering Pamela a sly grin and a nugget of J.R.-style wisdom: “Sometimes the only way to win is to show the other person you’re not afraid to lose.”

Sure enough, in “Like a Bad Penny’s” most satisfying scene, the sheik’s son Nasir comes to Southfork, tells John Ross the sheik wants to do business with him after all — and returns the wristwatch. This is a poignant moment because it gets to the conflict brewing within John Ross. Earlier, when he loses the watch, he expresses his relief to Pamela, saying he wants to his “own man, instead of the man everybody else wants me to be.” John Ross seems sincere in that scene, but you can also see how happy he is when he gets the watch back and hears Nasir say, “My father saw J.R. in you.” I can’t help but feel sympathy for John Ross: He desperately wants to escape J.R.’s shadow, but he’s also as desperate as ever to make his father proud. (I also have to wonder: What kind of snow job did J.R. pull on his old friend the sheik to make him think he was such an upstanding, honorable businessman?)

I’m less enthralled with this episode’s depiction of Pamela. If John Ross is the “new” J.R., is she doomed to fulfill Sue Ellen’s old role of the subservient wife? Despite all the “us against the world” talk between John Ross and Pamela at the top of the hour, she’s relegated to the background during the big poker scene. Even worse, she’s still in the dark about her husband’s affair with Emma. (At this point, who doesn’t know John Ross and Emma are sleeping together?) Also worth mentioning: While John Ross eventually reclaims his watch, Pamela doesn’t get back her emerald earrings, which she puts up as collateral so he can enter the card game. It’s just like the old days, when Sue Ellen always seemed to pay the price for J.R.’s transgressions.

But not all the Sue Ellen/Pamela parallels are lamentable: In the poker scene, I love how costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin puts Julie Gonzalo in that spectacular black-and-white dress, evoking one of Linda Gray’s signature looks. Speaking of Gray: She’s very moving in Sue Ellen’s sanitarium scenes, although it’s hard to see the character slip back into her bad, old habits. During her conversation with Ann, Sue Ellen blames J.R.’s cheating for turning her into an alcoholic, which suggests she has forgotten all the lessons she learned during the original series about taking responsibility for her own life. Bobby also falls back into an old pattern when he insists on taking Sue Ellen home to Southfork over the objections of her doctor. This lapse I don’t mind, though, because the Ewings’ insistence on taking care of their own has always been one of “Dallas’s” charms.

“Like a Bad Penny,” the first “Dallas” script from Pierluigi D. Cothran, is directed by Millicent Shelton, who previously helmed “Trust Me,” the episode that brought back Judith Ryland in such memorable fashion. There are no coke-snorting shockers here, although it is kind of surprising to see “Dallas” adding more characters. Besides introducing Nasir, the sheik’s son, this episode brings back Drew; the Mexican drug lord Luis; and Hunter, the mysterious McKay offspring who surfaced in “Like Father, Like Son.” I recognize “Dallas” needs newcomers to interact with the core cast, but I would’ve preferred the show devote more attention to Sue Ellen’s sanitarium stay or to Elena, who needs clarity. She doesn’t mind lying to Christopher about Nicolas’s identity, but she refuses to show Pamela the video of John Ross and Emma? And can someone explain why both Ramos siblings blame the whole Ewing family for J.R.’s sins against their father?

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m being overly critical, because there’s a lot about this episode to admire. Christopher’s entanglement with Heather and Bo has turned into one of the third season’s most effective storylines: The McCabes bring a touch of working-class humanity to the show, helping to keep it grounded, and all of the actors are doing good work. I also get a kick out of Emma’s investigation into Harris’s shenanigans in “Like a Bad Penny”; if ever she tires of being John Ross’s girl on the side, she could have a future as “Dallas’s” resident girl detective.

This raises a question: Who — or what — does the title of this episode refer to? Is it the John Ross/Emma video clip, which pops up repeatedly during the course of the hour? Is it Candace’s blue dress, which seems destined to join the list of “Dallas’s” most famous outfits? Is it Drew? Or is it J.R.’s watch? If it’s the latter, here’s hoping more of J.R.’s “bad pennies” turn up. I’m impressed by the clever way “Dallas” is using props to help keep his spirit alive, beginning with the J.R. Ewing Bourbon bottle in “D.T.R.” and now the wristwatch in “Like a Bad Penny.” The scene where Nasir stands at the Southfork gate and places the timepiece in John Ross’s hand is surprisingly moving; it’s almost as if J.R. himself has come home.

Let’s just hope John Ross remembers to check the watch for bugs.

Grade: B


Dallas, Linda Gray, Like a Bad Penny, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Blame game


Season 3, Episode 7

Telecast: April 7, 2014

Audience: 1.87 million viewers on April 7

Writer: Pierluigi D. Cothran

Director: Millicent Shelton

Synopsis: John Ross meets Nasir Ali and persuades his father, a powerful sheik, to supply the capital he needs to buy a controlling interest in Ewing Global once it goes public. Bobby and Ann get Sue Ellen released from the sanitarium and bring her to Southfork to recover. John Ross and Harris each dismiss Candace, who tells Emma about her father’s scheme to frame John Ross for a sex crime. Christopher tries to help Bo, who tells Heather he wants to reconcile. Drew returns to Dallas and vows revenge against the Ewings after discovering J.R. swindled the Ramoses out of their land. Elena refuses to show Pamela the video of John Ross and Emma, so Nicolas goes behind her back and sends it Pamela on his own. Nicolas also meets with his secret partners: Hunter McKay, who wants to bring down the Ewings, and the Mexican drug lord Luis, who wants to take over Ewing Global and use it to launder the cartel’s drug profits.

Cast: Jonathan Adams (Calvin Hanna), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Donny Boaz (Bo McCabe), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Dallas Clark (Michael), Gail Cronauer (Dr. Monika Englert), Jude Demorest (Candace Shaw), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Janeen Howard (Nadia), Antonio Jaramillo (Luis), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Fran Kranz (Hunter McKay), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Pej Vahdat (Nasir Ali)

“Like a Bad Penny” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Dal-List: 31 Things That Happen When You Watch ‘Dallas’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Mr. Cool

What happens when “Dallas” fans watch the show? Here are 31 experiences we all share when we tune in to TNT on Monday nights.

1. You settle into your comfiest chair with a pint of ice cream and/or a tall glass of wine and think, “It’s ‘Dallas’ night. Life is good.”

2. The teaser scene starts. If it features Josh Henderson, you reach for something to fan yourself.

3. The theme song begins and you get chills because it’s biologically impossible to not get excited when you hear this music.

4. You see the three-way split-screen opening credits. You feel joy.

5. Before the first commercial break, someone blackmails someone else. (Note: This will happen at least six more times before the episode ends.)

6. Sex!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

How does she do it?

7. Linda Gray appears and looks fantastic. You turn to the spouse/roommate/cat sitting next to you and say, “How does she manage to get more beautiful each week?”

8. The spouse/roommate/cat doesn’t make a peep because you’ve trained him/her/it to be completely silent when “Dallas” is on.

9. Is Sue Ellen blackmailing someone? Putting John Ross in his place? It doesn’t matter. Whatever she’s doing, you think, “Gray is totally crushing this scene.”

10. Someone mentions J.R. You smile and feel thankful for all the wonderful performances Larry Hagman gave us over the years.

11. Bobby (Patrick Duffy) calls John Ross “boy.” You realize you never get tired of hearing him do this.

12. Brenda Strong appears and you can’t help but wonder: Is Ann is going to shoot someone tonight?

13. Something happens in the storyline that doesn’t quite add up but you decide not to dwell on it because the rest of the show is So. Damn. Good.

14. You suddenly get a hankering for a Miller Lite. You’re not sure why.

15. You hop onto Twitter, read the cast’s tweets and feel impressed by how cool the actors are.

16. “Maybe I should buy a Microsoft Surface,” you think.

17. You notice how fantastic Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo’s hair looks and wish Charles Yusko could style your hair too.

18. You see everyone’s amazing clothes and wonder if Rachel Sage Kunin would be willing to go shopping with you.

19. Nicolas appears. It occurs to you: Juan Pablo Di Pace is wearing too much clothing.

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

Love to hate

20. Emma (Emma Bell) does something scandalous and you love it even though you pretend to hate her.

21. Harris (Mitch Pileggi) does something mean and you love it even though you pretend to hate him.

22. Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) doesn’t smile until Heather (AnnaLynne McCord) shows up but it’s OK because it’s the best smile ever and it’s always worth the wait.

23. Fracking!

24. Also: “Heritage!” “Tradition!” “Legacy!”

25. More sex.

26. Judith Light does something nuts.

27. The episode ends with a twist. You exclaim, “How did I not see that coming?!” followed by, “How is the show over already?!”

28. Once again, your spouse/roommate/cat knows better than to answer.

29. You think, “I can’t wait to read Dallas Decoder’s critique of this episode, which will probably be posted on Wednesday unless he’s busy in which case I’ll have to wait until Thursday.”

30. TNT plays the previews for next week’s show. You look at the nearest calendar and curse it because you have to wait seven whole days for another episode.

31. The closing credits end and TNT starts replaying the episode. You grab another pint of ice cream and/or refill your wineglass and start all over.

What did I overlook? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘D.T.R.’

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, D.T.R., Governor Sam McConaughey, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, Linda Gray, Steven Weber, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

The Ewings and the Rylands made one bold fashion statement after another in “D.T.R.,” this week’s “Dallas” episode. Nothing was more striking than the red jacket Linda Gray wore in the scene where Sue Ellen ambushed Governor McConaughey and sprung her trap for him. Red was the ideal color for Sue Ellen’s big power play, and did you notice the jacket featured star-shaped cutouts? I can think of nothing more suitable for Gray, who was the star of this hour. I also loved Steven Weber’s bright blue tie, which evoked a certain real-life Texas governor/White House aspirant who made blue neckties one of his signatures.

My other favorite looks in “D.T.R.” include Sue Ellen’s leather jacket, which pulled double duty: She wore it when she confronted John Ross in her office and told him he was being “reckless and dumb,” and she kept it on later that night, when she and Bobby eavesdropped on McConaughey. In both situations, the jacket reminded us how Sue Ellen is undeniably cool. Speaking of John Ross: Are you enjoying Josh Henderson’s three-piece suits as much as me? He looks sharp every time he wears one, but the suits also help symbolize how John Ross has become all business.

I also love every outfit that costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin chose for Brenda Strong in “D.T.R.” I described Ann’s tunic-blouse in the previous episode as a work of art; the same thing can be said about the beautiful dress she wore in “D.T.R.” when she returned from her shopping spree and kicked Emma off Southfork. I also like Ann’s blue sweater set in the scene where she welcomed Emma home; the sweater set is nothing flashy, but it perfectly fits the character’s casually elegant style.

Finally, there’s Judith Light’s pearl choker, which offers a window into Mother Ryland’s double life. The choker is a brilliant accessory for the scene where Judith drops all those sweet, grandmotherly pearls of wisdom (“Never let a man screw you for nothing”) on Emma in the restaurant. Later, when Judith came home at 3 a.m. — wild-haired after a long night at the bordello — the choker took on a whole other meaning. In this light, it looked a little like the kinky collars you sometimes see S&M enthusiasts sporting.

Hey, you don’t suppose Judith spent the evening entertaining canine-loving Commissioner Babcock, do you?

What were your favorite looks in “D.T.R.”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 29 — ‘Lifting the Veil’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Lifting the Veil, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Long time coming

“Lifting the Veil” reveals new truths about several “Dallas” characters, beginning with John Ross. We’ve always known he was as ambitious and as charming as J.R., but in the scene where Sue Ellen confronts him about his infidelity and he treats her cruelly, we discover the son can also be as mean as the father. This episode offers fresh insight into Sue Ellen’s psyche as well. It’s clear now that she’s having trouble letting go of the past, although to be fair, every time she takes a nip from her flask, we’re reminded that the past has a pretty firm grip on her too.

The confrontation between mother and son is the hands-down highlight of “Lifting the Veil,” an hour that brims with history and heartache. The scene begins when Sue Ellen enters John Ross’s bedroom while he’s getting ready for his wedding and tells him she knows he’s been cheating with Emma. John Ross dismisses the relationship as “just business,” which only disgusts Sue Ellen further. “Just like your daddy, finding a way to explain infidelity,” she says. John Ross responds by pointing out the smell of alcohol on his mother’s breath, but she doesn’t back down and threatens to tell Pamela about his affair. John Ross is nonplussed. He brushes past Sue Ellen and delivers his lowest blow yet: “You have looked the other way you’re whole life, Mama. One more time’s not going to hurt.”

Josh Henderson does a nice job bringing John Ross’s dark side into the light, just like Larry Hagman used to do with J.R. For Henderson, though, this amounts to a creative risk: Until now, he’s played John Ross as a (mostly) likable rapscallion, but in this scene, the actor shows us he’s equally adept at making his character seem like an unapologetic jerk. Henderson makes John Ross’s ever-growing hubris feel believable throughout this episode (including during his pre-wedding visit to the brothel), but especially in this scene. Linda Gray, in the meantime, is as magnificent as ever. You can feel Sue Ellen’s pain when Gray delivers that “just like your daddy” line; it’s the character’s saddest moment since her graveside eulogy for her ex-husband in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” In some ways, “Lifting the Veil” serves as a kind of companion piece to the funeral episode. The first one shows Sue Ellen grieving the loss of J.R.; in the second, she mourns his “return” through the sinful nature of their son.

I also like how Bethany Rooney, a first-time “Dallas” director, stages John Ross and Sue Ellen’s confrontation. The conversation unfolds while he’s fastening his cuff links and putting on his jacket; the casualness of his actions makes his words seem even more devastating. This is one of those times I wish TNT’s Southfork sets more closely resembled those used on the original “Dallas.” J.R. and Sue Ellen’s old bedroom was such a battleground; how cool would it have been to see John Ross and Sue Ellen clash in that setting? On the other hand: the newer bedroom has become a consequential place in its own right. This is where Sue Ellen once slapped J.R. and where she got drunk on the night before his funeral. It’s where John Ross defended his relationship with Pamela to his father and now, it’s where he defends his unfaithfulness to her to his mother.

Speaking of Pamela: I also like the “Lifting the Veil” scene where John Ross pleads with her to go through with their wedding, despite the fact that he was missing for much of the day. Henderson is so heartfelt, it almost inoculates John Ross from the anger we feel toward him after he’s mean to his mama. (Emphasis on “almost.”) Julie Gonzalo makes Pamela’s disappointment palpable, and I like how Taylor Hamra’s script gives her a line where she notes how much John Ross’s apologies sound like the ones Cliff used to offer her. It’s a subtle reminder that Pamela is still haunted by her daddy, just like John Ross is haunted by his.

This brings me to a gripe: I wish “Lifting the Veil” played up the old Barnes/Ewing feud a little more. The wedding of J.R.’s son and Cliff’s daughter is a moment of consequence to students of “Dallas” mythology; I’m glad Rooney gave us a glimpse of the framed photograph of J.R., but I would’ve also loved a shot of Cliff, stewing in his Mexican jail cell, knowing his daughter was marrying a Ewing back home. Likewise, “Dallas” does such a nice job of incorporating Audrey Landers into the narrative whenever she guest stars — Sue Ellen and Afton’s bitchy exchange was a special treat for longtime fans — so I can’t help but wonder why the show seems to struggle to find meaningful things for Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton to do when Ray and Lucy visit.

Additionally, it’s worth noting this episode takes place in a single day — you’d have to dig deep into “Dallas’s” past, all the way back to 1978’s “Barbecue,” to find another — although I wish the focus remained on the doings at Southfork the way it does in the early episode. I could do without most of the “Lifting the Veil” scenes set at the brothel (the fanciest little whorehouse in Texas?), especially the silly bit with the railroad commissioner and his canine fetish. The revelation that Judith Ryland is the madam is also a bit much, especially when you consider the show has already established her as a drug smuggler. Does Mother Ryland rob banks too? On the other hand: I like the twist that Harris is secretly working with John Ross’s secretary, Candace, although I’m not wild about his scheme to use her to collect, uh, DNA evidence from John Ross in order to frame him for a sex crime.

My reservations about the Rylands aside, you’ve got to love Judith Light’s 1980s lion’s–mane hair in her brothel scene, as well each actor’s pitch-perfect look at the wedding. Since interviewing “Dallas” costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin and hairstylist Charles Yusko, I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for how crucial the wardrobe and hair teams are to establishing each character’s persona. To see what I mean, go watch the wedding scenes at the end of the new show’s first episode, “Changing of the Guard.” Notice how much more sophisticated and womanly Gonzalo’s character looks in “Lifting the Veil” when compared to the earlier wedding? The two sequences were filmed just two years apart, so the change in the actress’s appearance is achieved mostly through Yusko and Kunin’s magic.

In a show that has more than its share of big stars, it’s always worth remembering that some of the brightest work behind the scenes.

Grade: B


Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Lifting the Veil, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

Like father, like husband


Season 3, Episode 4

Telecast: March 17, 2014

Audience: 1.8 million viewers on March 17

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Bethany Rooney

Synopsis: John Ross blackmails a Texas land-use commissioner into giving him a permit to drill on Southfork, while Harris tells Judith he’s secretly working with Ewing Energies secretary Candace, who’s going to help Harris frame John Ross so he can blackmail him and reclaim his files. Sue Ellen confronts John Ross about his affair with Emma, but John Ross dismisses his mother’s concerns and exchanges vows with Pamela. Christopher returns from Mexico and warns Elena that Nicolas is married, but Nicolas assures Elena he’s getting a divorce. Later, Lucia arrives in Dallas and threatens to expose secrets from Nicolas’s past if he doesn’t reconcile with her, while Christopher and Heather make love.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Angélica Celaya (Lucia Treviño), Candace (Jude Demorest), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Currie Graham (Commissioner Stanley Babcock), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), AnnaLynne McCord (Heather), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Denyse Tontz (Chastity), Erika Page White (Sapphire)

“Lifting the Veil” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

TNT’s Dallas Styles: ‘Playing Chicken’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Playing Chicken, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

There were a lot of classic looks in “Playing Chicken,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode, including the long-sleeved blue dress that Linda Gray wore during Sue Ellen’s memorable lunch with Bum. Gray looks great no matter what you dress her in, but blue has always been one of her best colors. I also love how Sue Ellen’s blue-and-green dangly earrings complemented the dress. It was kind of hard to see them when the scene began, but as Sue Ellen and Bum’s conversation progressed — and it became clear she was playing him like a fiddle — the earrings seemed to reveal themselves more. They became an effective symbol for her below-the-radar manipulation of poor, well-meaning Bum.

The guys sported timeless looks in “Playing Chicken” too. John Ross spent much of this episode in western garb, including the dark blue denim shirt he wore in the scene where he learned about the plight of the lesser prairie chicken. It evoked the cowboy-hats-and-jeans getups that Josh Henderson sported during “Dallas’s” first season. I also loved the white shirt and khakis that Jesse Metcalfe wore in Christopher’s scenes in Mexico. The outfit was stylish yet practical; if I had to go sleuthing around the hot, dusty streets of Nuevo Laredo, this is probably what I’d wear.

Of course, “Playing Chicken” will probably be remembered for all the revealing outfits. No one showed more skin than Emma Bell’s Emma Ryland, who strutted around Southfork in that tangerine “monokini.” Like Sue Ellen’s earrings, the swimsuit can be seen as a symbol since it helped expose Emma’s determination to undermine John Ross and Pamela’s marriage. (By the way, in response to all the inquiries from fans, costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin tweeted the bathing suit came from Sauvage Swimwear.)

And then there were the dueling emerald green corsets worn by Bell and Julie Gonzalo’s Pamela Barnes Ewing. Yowza! Not since Sue Ellen dabbled in the lingerie business back in the 1980s have we seen such revealing undergarments on “Dallas.” This wasn’t just an excuse to put Bell and Gonzalo in skimpy underwear, either; now that we know Emma intentionally ruined Pamela’s surprise for John Ross, we have a whole new reason to despise her.

The question is: Who wore it best? I like the way Gonzalo settled this debate when TNT posed the question to viewers at the end of the episode. As Gonzalo tweeted, “Who wore it best?!? SCREW THAT. we BOTH did!”

Darlin’, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

What were your favorite looks in “Playing Chicken”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”