Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Draws More Younger Viewers

Dallas, Drew Ramos, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, Let Me In, TNT

Young love

This week’s “Dallas” episode, “Let Me In,” was seen by 2.6 million viewers on April 1, the same number that watched the TNT drama the previous week. By one measure, though, “Dallas’s” numbers grew: The latest telecast drew more than 1 million viewers between ages 18 and 49, a crucial demographic for TV advertising sales. This was the fifth time this year the show cracked the 1 million mark in that category.

“Dallas” is holding steady in one of the toughest times slots in television. TNT shows the series Monday nights at 9, where it faces the second hour of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which averaged 13.9 million viewers on April 1, as well as the second hour of NBC’s “The Voice,” which averaged 13.1 million. “Dallas’s” competition also includes Fox’s “The Following,” which drew 6.6 million viewers this week.

“Dallas” is getting a boost from people who record shows digitally and watch them a few days later. Last week’s episode, “Guilt and Innocence,” drew 2.6 million viewers on March 25, but by the end of the week, DVR users had pushed its audience to 3.3 million viewers, including 1.2 million between ages 18 and 49 and 1.4 million between 25 and 54, a demographic cable channels like TNT target.

Meanwhile, “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” the episode where the Ewings bid farewell to Larry Hagman’s famous character, was seen by 3.6 million viewers on March 11, but within a week of its telecast, DVR users had increased its audience to 4.9 million viewers. The audience included 1.6 million viewers between 18 and 49 and 1.9 million between 25 and 54.

‘Dallas’ Double Features

Call to Arms, Dallas, Governor Sam McConaughey, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, Steven Weber, TNT

Double trouble

Four episodes remain in “Dallas’s” second season, and TNT will show them during the next two weeks:

• On Monday, April 8, the cable channel will telecast “A Call to Arms” at 8 p.m., followed by “Love and Family” at 9 p.m.

• The following Monday, April 15, TNT will show “Guilt by Association” at 9 p.m., followed by the season finale, “Legacies,” at 10 p.m.

TNT is doubling up on “Dallas” to clear its schedule for the NBA basketball playoffs, which will dominate the cable channel’s lineup in late April and May.

Brewster Hits the ‘Runway’

Jordana Brewster will appear as a guest judge on the next episode of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” which will debut Thursday, April 4, at 10 p.m.

Speaking of “Dallas” and fashion: If you haven’t already done so, check out my interview with the new show’s costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, who discusses the secrets behind the show’s wardrobe. Who knew the Ewings wore clothing from secondhand shops?

Bottoms Up

My partner Andrew, who blogs about all things food at Cook In/Dine Out, is serving up his latest “Dallas Drinks” cocktail recipe: The Emma, a fiery concoction inspired by Emma Bell’s what-will-she-do-next wild child. Make yourself one today; just don’t consume it with Clonazepam!

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Rachel Sage Kunin

Rachel Sage Kunin

Rachel Sage Kunin

One of “Dallas’s” brightest stars works behind the scenes: Rachel Sage Kunin, the TNT drama’s costume designer extraordinaire. I’ve loved Kunin’s work since the series began and was excited to hear what it’s like to dress the Ewings.

Let me begin by saying this: I love your work! The cast looks gorgeous this season. Every character is stylish, but no one’s look is “over the top.” The clothes feel glamorous yet accessible. Is that your goal?

It is a conscious decision and a goal to make the clothes feel glamorous yet accessible. How great that someone can be sitting at home, enjoying the show and get inspired. Even I go into my closet and think, “What would Pamela do?” When shopping for myself I’ll go to the deep discount rack to find high-end looking pieces that Sue Ellen would wear.

I love this! Some of the Ewings’ clothes come from the discount rack. Who knew?

I also love going into secondhand shops in search for something special. I want the audience to be encouraged to do the same and know that it is possible. You don’t have to invest a million dollars to look like a million dollars.

How does the wardrobe process work? Do you receive a script and then try to decide what garments and accessories will work best for each scene?

Every costume choice I make is based on the needs of the script. I get my direction from the mood of each scene, what the characters are doing and how they relate to the story. Often times, I’ll buy a piece for a character not knowing where it might fit in. I’ll wait and wait just hoping the right moment comes along.

Dallas Decoder Interview - Rachel Sage Kunin 2How much collaboration is there between you and the cast? Do the actors help you choose their character’s clothes?

I love collaborating with the cast. My motto is that they are the ones that have to be, feel, embody the character on camera and I am part of the process to help them do that. Everything I bring into the fitting room I feel has potential to work. From there, I like to play dress up and find the character with the actor. We discuss what looks and feels right. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure the costume serves the story and the actors are on board with that goal in mind.

What’s it been like to dress iconic characters like Bobby and Sue Ellen? When choosing their styles, were you influenced by the way they dressed on the old show?

I have had many “pinch me is this real?” moments dressing the original cast. It helps a great deal having the huge amount of backstory known about each of their characters. The way they dressed does inform me how they would dress now, 20 years later. We all had so much fun figuring that out.

What are your memories of working with Larry Hagman? What was it like to dress J.R. Ewing?

The first time I met Larry was an enchanting experience that I will never forget. I had no idea he was a lifelong admirer of costume. I brought in a rack of clothes that we started to try on. The first few fit well and looked great but we both knew they didn’t exude that special J.R. swagger. When he put on the tweed jacket with its suede western front yoke we got excited. He was so enthused he threw on his cowboy hat, looked in the mirror with that unique sparkle in his eyes and said, “Now… this is J.R.!” We knew we had found an important J.R. look.

I can picture that. What a great experience for you.

Every time I was with Larry was just as special and interesting as the time before. He was always so generous telling stories, showing me around his amazing collection of family pictures, always willing to share the highlights of his life.

Dallas Decoder Interview - Rachel Sage Kunin 4Who is your favorite character to dress – and why?

I genuinely enjoy dressing all of the characters for various reasons. They all give me a different creative outlet. Christopher is great for his modern but classic all-American aesthetic. I love putting together looks for John Ross because we can get away with taking some fashion risks. Elena is fun because she goes from rugged to elegant with such ease. I’m enjoying Pamela Rebecca’s transition, going from soft color and styles to being more sophisticated and sleek. Sue Ellen’s statement looks are always very exciting to produce. I could go on and on about each and every character, whether they have had one line in the show or pages and pages.

If you could raid the closet of one “Dallas” character, whose would it be? Whose clothes would you most like to wear yourself?

If I could raid one of their closets it would have to be Elena. She has the most range with lots of comfortable pieces and this season we have been building up her chic work looks. Head-to-toe, there is not a piece in her entire wardrobe that I would not wear.

I would imagine you get to see the actors when they’re not in costume, so give me some “Dallas” dish: Whose personal style is most unlike their character?

I would have to say that Patrick [Duffy] and Linda [Gray]’s styles are most unlike their characters. Patrick is more modern in his real life. He doesn’t wear Wranglers and is less conservative than Bobby. He has a light pink and white stripe shirt that I absolutely love on him but Bobby could never pull it off. Sue Ellen generally gilds the lily a bit more than Linda would.

You mentioned those “pinch me is this real” moments. Were you a fan of the original “Dallas”? Do you have a favorite look from one of the classic characters?

I am a big fan of the original series. Looking back on the show as an adult and more importantly as a research tool, I have been inspired by some of Sue Ellen’s black and white moments. I subtly incorporated that into a couple of her looks this season.

Dallas Decoder Interview - Rachel Sage Kunin 3Yes, I’ve noticed that! That’s a nice treat for longtime fans – and by the way, Sue Ellen looks amazing this season.

Thank you. Linda and I knew that we wanted to elevate Sue Ellen’s style this year. We have such a great time working together! We’ll email ideas back and forth before a fitting, throwing ideas around about our thoughts on the changes she has coming up. Or we’ll grab lunch together and chat about it. Then, we get in the fitting room and Sue Ellen appears. She is always so thankful for what I bring to the table and I am grateful to now be able to call Linda a friend.

Tell me about HSN’s new HSN’s new “Dallas” boutique. People are going to be “dressing like ‘Dallas.’” That’s such a huge compliment to you!

Being involved with the “Dallas” and HSN partnership has been wonderful. Yes, what a huge compliment that people want to dress like “Dallas.” The idea that people have a direct go-to place to shop for the “Dallas” flare is brilliant. It really has been the cherry on top of an already amazing experience.

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

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 14 – ‘False Confessions’

Dallas, False Confessions, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

J.R. Ewing here

You can feel the hate in “False Confessions.” This episode takes an unapologetically dark view of the Barnes/Ewing feud, which is fitting since the conflict has been going on for so long now it seems Biblical. The epic scope of Taylor Hamra’s script makes this one of “Dallas’s” most satisfying hours this season, which is a real achievement when you consider Larry Hagman appears in just three scenes, and never once does he come face to face with Ken Kercheval. Since Cliff isn’t expected to resurface until J.R.’s midseason funeral, this probably means we’ll never see these old enemies clash again. A sad thought, but one we better start getting used to.

More than anything, “False Confessions” demonstrates how much Cliff has changed. Yesterday’s needy neurotic has become today’s guileful Godfather. How? Why? When? The new “Dallas” has never spelled this out, which makes it tough for longtime fans to figure out what turned Cliff so … evil. I suppose it’s up to each of us to fill in the gaps ourselves, so here’s my theory: After the original “Dallas” ended and J.R. slipped into depression and isolation, Cliff lost his biggest distraction in life, liberating him to focus on building an empire of his own. He’s become one of the world’s richest men, but he’s still hell-bent on beating the Ewings for the same reason Mitt Romney kept running for president – because after you’ve conquered the rest of the world, what else is left?

Whatever the reason for Cliff’s metamorphosis, there’s no denying that “Fatal Confessions” turns him into “Dallas’s” most tragic figure. Cliff pulls out the stops to protect Pamela from prosecution – probably because he loves her, but also because she’s so crucial to his plot against the Ewings. To make matters worse, he forces his “son” Frank to fall on his sword, again to keep his revenge scheme moving forward. It’s hard to not see the parallels with Cliff’s father Digger, who relied on his son to settle his scores with the Ewings, just like Cliff has done with his own children. Of course, Digger was a broken drunk, while Cliff is global titan – but that only makes Cliff seem smaller.

This much is certain: Kercheval is as watchable as ever. I loved his flamboyant performances on the old show; you never knew how Kercheval would approach a scene, which made him “Dallas’s” most electric actor. Now, as the more restrained Cliff, Kercheval turns out to be just as fascinating. Consider the tense scene where Cliff persuades Frank to “do the honorable thing” and kill himself. I would never have dreamed Cliff could be this cold and calculating, but man, does Kercheval sell it. (Credit also goes to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who has cleverly replaced Cliff’s flashy pocket squares with dark jackets and turtlenecks. It’s like an outward manifestation of the darkness that has consumed him.)

Not that Cliff is altogether unrecognizable in “False Confessions”: When he sees the TV news report about the police recovering Tommy’s body, his response (“Son of a bitch!”) brings to mind some of his exasperated reactions to J.R.’s one-upmanship from long ago. We also see a flash of the old Cliff’s shortsightedness in the great scene where John Ross comes to him, offering to betray J.R., only to be turned away because Cliff would never trust a Ewing. Contrast this with J.R. himself, who in the previous episode didn’t hesitate to enlist Frank in his plot against Pamela. Cliff might be richer, but J.R. will always be smarter.

Speaking of J.R.: Hamra deserves much praise for giving Hagman something to do besides deliver zingers. The exchange where J.R. comforts Bobby (“No baby brother of mine is going to spend his twilight years in jail”) showcases the effortless warmth between Hagman and Patrick Duffy, while once again casting J.R. in the unlikely role he’s come to play so well: defender of the family. Something similar happens in the equally wonderful scene where J.R. chastises John Ross for wanting to use Bobby’s misfortune for their gain. Not only does this echo a sweet moment from the original series, when J.R. told little John Ross it would be wrong to take advantage of Uncle Bobby after his shooting, it also recalls my favorite J.R./John Ross scene from last season. Back then, the roles were reversed: John Ross was the one who pleaded with J.R. to show “a little decency” where the cancer-stricken Bobby was concerned.

Hamra’s script includes many other nice touches that summon the show’s history and enduring themes of family and honor. I love when Sue Ellen recalls for John Ross how she was “nearly destroyed” when she got caught in the middle of J.R. and Cliff’s war. I also love the line where Cliff tells John Ross he only agreed to see him out of respect for his mother. There’s also Faran Tahir’s surprisingly heartbreaking performance during Frank’s jailhouse meeting with Cliff, as well as Judith Light’s big scene, when her character Judith comforts the comatose Harris. I know this one is supposed to creep me out, but heaven help me I find it kind of touching.

Stephen Herek, a first time “Dallas” director, makes “False Confessions” a technical achievement as much as anything. The autopsy-triggered musical montage is superbly executed, culminating in the new “Dallas’s” best fakeout (the cops were coming to arrest Frank, not Pamela!) since the end of “Changing of the Guard,” when we discovered J.R. was in cahoots with Marta. I also love the crosscutting between the scene where Ann finally admits to shooting Harris and the moment Harris wakes up and fingers Bobby for the crime.

While we’re on the subject of Bobby: His top-of-the-hour confession to shooting Harris has all the casualness of someone admitting to leaving the cap off the milk carton. I’m also bothered by Ann’s response, which is to say she has none. As difficult as it is for me to accept that this strong, loving wife would resort to shooting her ex-husband, it’s even harder for me to believe she’d allow Bobby to take the rap for it. I’m glad when Ann finally pipes up at the end of the episode, but I wonder if this is going to be enough to make the audience forgive her.

When I asked Brenda Strong about this last week, she expressed her confidence in the show’s writers to redeem Ann, saying they “are holding the big picture in mind.” I suppose that’s enough for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they haven’t done much to disappoint me this season.

Grade: A


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, False Confessions, Ken Kercheval, TNT

Changed man


Season 2, Episode 4

Telecast: February 11, 2013

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Stephen Herek

Audience: 2.4 million viewers on February 11

Synopsis: To protect Ann, Bobby confesses to shooting Harris. Later, Bobby recants his confession, but when Harris emerges from his coma, he tells the police that Bobby was the shooter. Drew fires Bubba, the foreman that John Ross bribed to sabotage Elena’s drilling project. After Frank digs up Tommy’s body and tells J.R. about John Ross and Pamela’s relationship, J.R. orders his son to stay away from her. Cliff has Tommy’s murder pinned on Frank and persuades him to commit suicide.

Cast: Amber Bartlett (Jill), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Brett Brock (Clyde Marshall), Pam Dougherty (Judge Barbara Hirsch), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Mike Gassaway (Henry Mott), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Danny Hunter (Judge Leonard Knox), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Marcua M. Mauldin (Detective Ronnie Bota), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Matthew Posey (Bubba), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank Ashkani), Brian Thornton (Detective Miles Danko)

“False Confessions” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Returns, But Some Viewers Don’t

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT, Venomous Creatures

He showed up. Did you?

Mondays are a bitch: “Dallas” opened its second season in its new Monday time slot this week – and a lot of fans didn’t show up.

The two-hour premiere drew 2.98 million viewers on January 28. As the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, the numbers were down 58 percent from the series debut last summer and 32 percent from the first-season finale. Ouch.

There could be a couple of explanations for the decline. TNT showed “Dallas’s” first season during the summertime, when the competition on other channels tends to be lighter. This week’s premiere – which actually consisted of two one-hour episodes, “Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures,” that were telecast back-to-back – faced fresh episodes of “The Biggest Loser” and “The Bachelor” on the broadcast networks.

Also worth noting: “Dallas” was a hit with DVR users last year. The series averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights, but once people who recorded the show and watched later were counted, “Dallas’s” weekly haul surged to 6.1 million viewers. Perhaps ratings for the second-season premiere will get a big boost once DVR users are included?

And don’t forget: “Dallas” has a history of bouncing back from ratings dips. Back in 1978, CBS moved the original “Dallas” to Saturday nights for its second season. ABC’s “Fantasy Island” crushed the show, prompting CBS to restore it to its original Sunday berth before shifting it to Fridays, where it remained for the rest of its run.

Say You Want a Resolution?

It’s no secret “Dallas’s” longtime fans are clamoring for the return of Pam, the classic show’s heroine, immortalized by Victoria Principal. And if fans can’t have Pam, they at least want to know what happened to the character, who fled Southfork in 1987.

We may soon get our wish.

Check out this tantalizing exchange from Jesse Metcalfe’s recent conference call with reporters and bloggers:

Reporter: Will we learn any more this season about what happened with Pam in the last 20 years, where she’s been and what happened with her and Christopher?

Metcalfe: Yes. Yes we will. Unfortunately I can’t tell you much more than that. I’m sorry.

OK, fellow Pam fans. Start salivating.

Dress Like ‘Dallas’

If you love the styles worn by the women of Southfork, you’re in luck: HSN has opened an online Dallas boutique featuring clothing and accessories inspired by Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Ann (Brenda Strong), Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). The show’s ace costume designer, Rachel Sage Kunin, selected the products in the collection.

Sorry, fellas. If you want to dress like John Ross or Christopher, you’re on your own.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 11 – ‘Battle Lines’

Battle Lines, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

The last hurrah

“Battle Lines” is the first hour of the new “Dallas’s” second season and the beginning of Larry Hagman’s last hurrah as J.R. Ewing. The actor filmed this episode about two months before his death last fall, but you wouldn’t know he was nearing the end of his life by watching him here. Hagman looks thin and sounds a little raspy, but the light in his eyes hasn’t dimmed. Not one bit.

J.R. appears four times in “Battle Lines.” Predictably, they are the best scenes in the episode. In the first, John Ross strides through the reception area at Ewing Energies and is greeted by his assistant, who apologizes for the unexpected visitor waiting for him in his office. “Don’t worry about it. I know how slippery snakes can be,” John Ross says, and as he enters the room, we find J.R. with his boots propped up on junior’s desk. “Is that any way to talk about your father?” the old man asks with a smirk.

The first time I watched “Battle Lines” and saw Hagman sitting there, I almost got teary. But as the scene played out, with J.R. and John Ross plotting against Bobby and Christopher, I saw how much fun Hagman seemed to be having, and pretty soon, I was enjoying the ride. J.R.’s dialogue is a little corny (“Just remember my boy, vengeance is a dish best served cold”), but that’s OK. What J.R. says has never mattered as much as how Hagman says it, and his delivery here is flawless. Every line drips with equal parts honey and venom.

Hagman also supplies “Battle Lines” with its most poignant moment, when J.R. hangs his head in sorrow after watching the TV news report about Sue Ellen’s Election Day scandal. The actor also gets two scenes with Patrick Duffy, and both sequences cast J.R. as the impolitic octogenarian and Bobby as his eye-rolling straight man. Here’s J.R. explaining the reason for his visit to Ewing Energies: “I came over to deliver some muffins to the pretty little secretaries. Who could’ve guessed so many would turn out to be men?” And here he is offering his prescription for dealing with Cliff Barnes: “We should hire some roughnecks, take him for a long ride.” Cue Bobby’s exasperated reaction, and then J.R.’s kicker: “I’m just putting it on the table, Bobby.”

But even though Hagman is the best thing about “Battle Lines,” he isn’t the only good thing. Josh Henderson looks like he’s having as much fun as his on-screen daddy, although if the younger actor feels any temptation to imitate Hagman, he’s wisely resisting it. Hagman swaggers, but Henderson struts. J.R. is confident, but John Ross is cocky. Both actors have charm to spare, but Henderson is giving John Ross his own brand of cool. He gives me hope for the post-J.R. era of “Dallas.”

The other actor to watch in “Battle Lines” is Julie Gonzalo, who transforms desperate Rebecca into driven Pamela. Gonzalo gets an assist from costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin, who has skillfully traded Rebecca’s cheery dresses for Pamela’s dark suits, but the wardrobe change isn’t the only reason this metamorphosis succeeds. Gonzalo now carries herself with unflinching resolve, although she offers enough of a hint of vulnerability to suggest Pamela’s quest for revenge has more to do with her own broken heart than her daddy’s vendetta against the Ewings. It’s a clever performance.

I also appreciate the classic “Dallas” shorthand that Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner drop into their “Battle Lines” script, including Pamela’s references to her namesake aunt and mother Afton, as well as the mention of Westar during Elena’s business meeting. (And is that the old Oil Baron’s Club building I spot through the office window in that scene?) The other “Battle Lines” highlights are Christopher and Elena’s sexy romp in the Southfork swimming pool (turns out the new show’s first pool scene was worth the wait), and the introduction of Christopher’s racecar subplot, which is an intriguing way to continue last season’s alternative fuels saga. I also like this story because it gives the underappreciated Jesse Metcalfe something to do besides reacting to Henderson. Metcalfe looks like he’s having a lot of fun in those racetrack scenes. Isn’t it nice to see Christopher smile for a change?

Not everything in “Battle Lines” works. Director Michael M. Robin does a nice job bringing the sleek Ewing Energies set to life, but the CGI skyline outside the windows looks, well, like CGI. (I’m not buying that logo on the outside of the Barnes Global building either.) More bothersome: the plot holes in Brenda Strong’s storyline. I’m glad we now know Ann’s secret – when she was married to Harris, they had a daughter who was snatched from her stroller at the Texas State Fair – although I’m not sure why Ann kept this from Bobby, or why Bobby wouldn’t know in the first place. Don’t the Ewings ever check out the people they marry?

The revelation of Sue Ellen’s blackmail scheme doesn’t ring true either. She learns the medical examiner has ratted her out while watching a TV news report that includes a sound bite from her gubernatorial opponent’s camp. Shouldn’t the reporter have contacted Sue Ellen for comment too? And while we’re on this subject: I had hoped Sue Ellen’s campaign would become a metaphor for the character’s redemption after her scandalous behavior on the old show. Imagine if the car accident that led to Mickey Trotter’s death had become Sue Ellen’s Chappaquiddick, or if the new series had used her past affairs to say something about the double standard that so many women politicians encounter in real life. Think about what Linda Gray could have done with material like that.

Or maybe don’t think about it. Season premieres are about moving forward, and that’s what “Battle Lines” does. This episode feels like the work of storytellers who are more confident than they were at the outset of last season. They seem to have a better understanding of what they want “Dallas” to be, and also what diehards like me want to see. More and more, those things don’t seem mutually exclusive.

Grade: B


Battle Lines, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT



Season 2, Episode 1

Telecast: January 28, 2013

Writers: Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner

Director: Michael M. Robin

Audience: 2.9 million viewers on January 28

Synopsis: Rebecca reveals she is Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Cliff and Afton’s daughter, and tells Christopher she wants partial ownership of Ewing Energies. Christopher brings Tommy’s sister Becky to Dallas to testify at his annulment hearing, but she secretly aligns with John Ross, who wants to use Pamela and Becky to maneuver Christopher out of the company. Ann tells Bobby she and Harris have a daughter, Emma, who was kidnapped as a child, but when Ann tracks down the young woman, Emma rejects her. Sue Ellen’s blackmail scheme is exposed on Election Day.

Cast: Amir Arison (Dr. Varun Rasmussen), Emma Bell (Emma), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Brett Brock (Clyde Marshall), Caitlin Custer (Brandee Cartwell), Jason Douglas (Erik Allen), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Eddie Gossage (himself), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Sean Hennigan (Robert Cartwell), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Alex McKenna (Becky Sutter), Glenn Morshower (Lou Bergen), Tammy Nguyen (Charlotte), Marco Perella (Mark), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Natalie Quintanilla (John Ross’s secretary), Ricky Rudd (himself), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank Ashkani)

“Battle Lines” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ is on DVD. Go Ahead and Get Carried Away.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, No Good Deed, TNT

Arrested development

The first season of TNT’s “Dallas” was released on DVD last week. It has all 10 episodes and 2 hours of bonus material, including some Larry Hagman goodness you’ve never seen before.

In other words: Take a day off work. You’re going to need it.

The extras feature more than 25 deleted scenes, including three sequences starring Hagman. My favorite: a moving exchange from “Family Business” in which J.R. promises Ann he’ll protect Sue Ellen from Harris. I won’t give away anything else here, but trust me: This scene alone is worth the price of admission.

A lot of this unused footage will help you see the characters more clearly. Examples: We finally get to see the moment Sue Ellen decides to run for governor, as well as a wonderful exchange where Christopher talks about what it was like for him to grow up as Bobby’s son. The latter scene features beautiful performances from Jesse Metcalfe and Patrick Duffy, who described it as one of his favorite first-season moments during my brief chat with him last year.

Curiously, the deleted scenes don’t include the one with Josh Henderson from the publicity shot above, which TNT released to promote “No Good Deed,” the episode where John Ross is arrested for Marta’s murder. We also don’t get to see J.R. and Sue Ellen’s dance from “The Last Hurrah,” although given the number of fans who are clamoring for it, something tells me it won’t stay buried forever.

(We do, however, get to see Elena’s visit to a bank, where she scans a plaque listing the board of directors. Sue Ellen’s name is there, along with production designer Richard Berg and other members of the “Dallas” crew.)

The DVD’s other highlight: an audio commentary from executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin, who do a nice job explaining how much work – and love – went into making the “Changing of the Guard” pilot. Robin, the episode’s director, calls the scene where Bobby visits J.R. in the nursing home one of the highlights of his career, while Cidre reveals it took 10 hours to film the episode’s fantastic dinner scene.

The bonus material also includes new segments on the making of the first season and “Dallas” lore. Also included: the behind-the-scenes production videos that were posted on the “Dallas” website last year, including costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin’s fun “Dressing Dallas” piece.

I could go on, but really, why are you still reading this? Go get the DVD and see for yourself!

Life After J.R.

“Dallas’s” second season begins two weeks from tonight, and the press is beginning to publish stories about what we’ll see. The best preview so far comes from Entertainment Weekly’s Karen Valby, who reports Hagman filmed five episodes before his death on November 23. An extra scene that had been cut from an earlier episode will be inserted into the sixth installment, while Episode 7, which Cidre handwrote in the days after Hagman’s death, will explain J.R.’s absence. His funeral will be seen in Episode 8, which TNT will telecast Monday, March 11.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Drill Bits: Ratings Rise Again for TNT’s ‘Dallas’

Charlene Tilton, Collateral Damage, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, TNT

Viewers love Lucy

TNT’s “Dallas” isn’t pulling the kind of numbers it did on opening night, but the show continues to perform well. The July 18 telecast of the latest episode, “Collateral Damage,” was seen by 3.9 million viewers, making it that evening’s second most-watched cable program behind USA’s “Royal Pains.”

“Dallas’s” July 18 audience included 1.2 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the group advertisers covet.

This is the second week “Dallas’s” audience grew. The July 11 telecast of “The Enemy of My Enemy” attracted 3.6 million viewers, ranking 26th in the weekly cable ratings. On July 4, “Truth and Consequences” was seen by 3.4 million viewers, finishing 16th.

“Dallas’s” numbers haven’t gone unnoticed by the press: Larry Hagman graces this week’s Entertainment Weekly cover, while USA Today, in an article this week about the broadcast networks’ summer struggles, called the series “a summer bright spot.”

Read All About It

Speaking of Entertainment Weekly: Karen Valby has penned a terrific spread that includes some juicy tidbits from the season’s remaining episodes (murder! near-death experiences! marriage proposals!).

Also featured: a preview of the second season’s overarching theme and sidebars on Patrick Duffy and Hagman’s bromance, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe’s rivalry and yes, J.R.’s eyebrows.

The other highlight: Jill Greenberg’s fantastic photos, including a cute recreation of this season’s best scene.

If you’re a “Dallas” fan, you owe it to yourself to purchase a copy (or two).

Strong Emmy Contenders

“Dallas” won’t be eligible for Emmys for another year – and if Hagman isn’t nominated, Dallas Decoder is going to raise hell – but Brenda Strong, a.k.a. Ann Ewing, received a nod yesterday for her voiceover work during the final season of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

This is Strong’s second Emmy nomination for narrating “Desperate Housewives.” The award will be handed out during this year’s Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, which will be held Saturday, September 15.

What is Ann’s Secret?

While we’re on the subject of Brenda Strong: In a new interview with Celebuzz, the actress reveals Ann is “going to have a mini breakdown, and then it’s like a phoenix rising from the ashes. She’s going to come back stronger than she was before.”

To hear Strong describe it, “No Good Deed,” next week’s “Dallas” episode, will be essential viewing. “[B]y the time I got the script for episode eight, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough,” she says. “I called our writer and said, ‘Thank you for giving me such an interesting woman to play.’”

Gray and Gonzalo in the News

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Rebecca Sutter Ewing, TNT

Many faces of Rebecca

Two other “Dallas” leading ladies – Linda Gray and Julie Gonzalo – also gave revealing interviews in the press this week:

• In a chat with the McClatchy-Tribune newspapers, Gray recalls what it was like to balance the demands of fame, family and career during the original show’s heyday. “I was just kind of going along, this is part of the job and trying to fit it all in. And I couldn’t do it,” Gray says.

• Gonzalo tells the entertainment news site Collider.com she uses “different voices” to play the mysterious Rebecca. “The scenes that I have with Tommy and another member of the family, I’m changing faces all the time, but that’s the most fun I had,” Gonzalo says.

Hagman’s Ten Grand Ten Gallon

Larry Hagman wears a $10,000 Stetson and has a “personal costumer” who holds it for him between takes. These and other interesting tidbits – including cool insights from “Dallas” wardrobe designer Rachel Sage Kunin – are included in USA Today’s recent article on prime-time television headgear.

Line of the Week

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Yep, he’s his mama’s son.’”

Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) in “Collateral Damages,” recalling the time she found John Ross drunk after he broke into the Southfork liquor cabinet as a child. Only on “Dallas” do sentimental childhood memories involve children getting soused.


In “Truth and Consequences,” we saw Metcalfe’s character, Christopher Ewing, beat the stuffing out of brother-in-law Tommy Sutter (Callard Harris). Fittingly, The Christopher, the latest cocktail from Cook In/Dine Out, also packs a punch. If you like your “Dallas Drinks” spicy, be sure to give this one a try.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.

Drill Bits: This Week, Ratings Rose for TNT’s ‘Dallas’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, Patrick Duffy, TNT, Truth and Consequences

His blood pressure rose too

Ratings for TNT’s “Dallas” rebounded this week after dipping on Independence Day.

Approximately 3.4 million viewers watched “Truth and Consequences,”the show’s fifth episode, on July 4. Although the audience was down about 18 percent from the previous week – no surprise there, TV audiences always shrink on holidays – “Truth and Consequences” still managed to become the evening’s top original cable show and the 16th most-watched cable program of the week.

TNT’s sixth “Dallas” installment, “The Enemy of My Enemy,” did better: It scored 3.6 million viewers on July 11, including 1.3 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the group advertisers pay a premium to reach. “Dallas” and USA’s “Royal Pains” tied for second place among the 18-to-49 crowd that evening; the top-rated cable show in that demographic: ESPN’s “ESPY Awards,” which was seen by 1.5 million viewers in that group.

“Dallas” is averaging 4.5 million viewers of all ages on Wednesday nights, although the numbers go up when people who record the show and watch it later are counted.

‘Who Shot J.R.?’ Still Making News

“Who Done It?,” the “Dallas” episode that reveals Kristin as J.R.’s shooter, remains one of the most memorable television moments of the past 50 years, according to a study published this week.

The 1980 broadcast ranked 44th on the memorable moments list, ahead of “events” like Chaz Bono’s participation in “Dancing with the Stars” (No. 59) and Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries (No. 76), but below ABC’s 1977 miniseries “Roots” (No. 36) and the Beatles’ performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (No. 43).

Sony Electronics and the Nielsen television research company conducted the study. The findings are based on a survey in which people were given a list of landmark TV events and asked to rank them.

News stories dominated the list: Coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ranked first, followed by reporting on the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster (No. 2) and the 1995 verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial (No. 3).

Dressing ‘Dallas’

Here at Dallas Decoder, we’re big fans of Rachel Sage Kunin, costume designer for TNT’s “Dallas,” which is why we’re pleased to see her get a little love in the press.

In a new interview with the design site Artinfo, Kunin reveals why Linda Gray is her favorite cast member to dress – and why we’re unlikely to see John Ross sporting a Stetson with his business suits.

ICYMI: Gray Speaks

Ultimate Dallas’s revealing interview with Gray stirred the Ewing-verse this week, prompting us to weigh in with a call for more screen time for Sue Ellen. Of course, we weren’t the only ones. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the Dallas Morning News’s blog post and Dallas Divas Derby’s wish list for the new show’s second season (No. 3: Save Sue Ellen!).

Line of the Week

“What now?”

John Ross’s exasperated response to seeing Bobby and Christopher barge into his room at the end of “The Enemy of My Enemy” made me laugh. Look, I love Bobby and Christopher, but you gotta admit: These two can be a little too Dudley Do-Right for their own good. I see why John Ross finds them a little hard to take sometimes.

Sweet and Strong

A reminder: This week’s “Dallas Drinks” offering is The Bobby, named for Patrick Duffy’s all-American hero. The recipe comes from Dallas Decoder’s favorite spouse at Cook In/Dine Out.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.