Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 64 – ‘Executive Wife’

The bloom is off

The bloom is off

In “Executive Wife,” Pam feels hurt by her mother’s rejection and needs Bobby’s support, but he’s too busy running Ewing Oil to notice. For a moment, Pam allows herself to be tempted by another man: magazine publisher Alex Ward.

Sound familiar? It should. Pam and Bobby went through the same scenario in the third-season episode “Jenna’s Return,” except back then, the roles were reversed: Pam was the spouse who was preoccupied with work, which sent lonely Bobby into the arms of magazine editor Jenna Wade.

I appreciate “Executive Wife’s” attempt to depict the challenges facing dual-career couples, which were becoming more common in the 1980s, but it doesn’t change the fact this subplot is a rehash.

It isn’t “Executive Wife’s” only retread, either. Three episodes ago, in “The Fourth Son,” Bobby had to choose between keeping Jock’s commitment to Brady York and honoring a deal Bobby made himself. In “Executive Wife,” he has an opportunity to get back into business with the cartel, but he’s once again hamstrung by Ewing Oil’s commitment to Brady.

At least this time around, Bobby’s dilemma leads to one of “Dallas’s” all-time great scenes: Bobby and Jock’s showdown at the Cattleman’s Club, where the golden son confronts his beloved father over Jock’s decision to deplete Ewing Oil’s cash reserves without first checking with Bobby.

This is where Jim Davis ferociously delivers Jock’s famous line that “real power is something you take.” The dialogue perfectly encapsulates the Ewings’ approach to life, which explains why TNT’s “Dallas” had J.R. repeat the line to John Ross in its recent “The Price You Pay” episode.

“Executive Wife” also features the scene that inspired artist Ro Kim’s classic classic painting of Jock, which shows up after the character’s death during “Dallas’s” fifth season and becomes one of the show’s most enduring props.

In the scene, Jock stands in a Southfork pasture with Ray and vents his frustration with Bobby’s management of Ewing Oil. Davis wears the same straw hat, blue-and-white checked shirt and gold medallion he does in the painting, so watching him here is a bit like seeing the portrait spring to life.

If only that were really possible.

Grade: B

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Picture perfect

Picture perfect

‘EXECUTIVE WIFE’

Season 4, Episode 10

Airdate: January 9, 1981

Audience: 26.4 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Rena Down

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Jock puts Bobby in a bind when he invests in his friend Punk Anderson’s plan to build a resort at Takapa Lake, depleting Ewing Oil’s cash reserves. Bobby is too busy with work to pay attention to Pam, who allows herself to be tempted by dashing magazine publisher Alex Ward. J.R. Lucy and Mitch decide to get married before he graduates from medical school.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Michael Bell (Les Crowley), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Ted Gehring (Brady York), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Jerry Haynes (Pat Powers), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), William Smithers (Jeremy Wendell), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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