Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘I’m Going to Do It to Cliff’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sins of the Fathers, Sue Ellen Ewing

Hold on

In “Sins of the Fathers,” an eighth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) is undressing in his bedroom when he notices a fur-clad Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) exiting hers.

J.R.: Sue Ellen?

SUE ELLEN: Oh, you’re back. Good. Have a nice dinner.

J.R.: Where you going all dressed up like that?

SUE ELLEN: I’m having dinner out.

J.R.: Out?

SUE ELLEN: Yes. [Enters J.R.’s room] I’m bringing someone back in my life that I never should’ve lost in the first place.

J.R.: [Approaches her] When did this all come about?

SUE ELLEN: I went to Barnes-Wentworth this morning to see —

J.R.: [Sharply] You went where?

SUE ELLEN: [Smiles] I just told you.

J.R.: You went to see Cliff Barnes?

SUE ELLEN: Would that bother you?

J.R.: I don’t believe it. Are you really trying to rub my nose in it by going out with that idiot?

SUE ELLEN: Well, he must have something. Look at all the women that the two of you have shared. Julie Grey, Afton, myself. [Smiles] As a matter of fact, Cliff is a wonderful lover.

J.R.: [Grabs her, pulls her into the room, slams the door behind them] I’m not going to let you do this to me.

SUE ELLEN: I’m not going to do it to you. I’m going to do it to Cliff. You never really wanted me anyway, so why does it bother you what I do? [He moves her onto the bed, lies on top of her]

J.R.: Because, honey, you belong to me and not anybody else is going to have you. I’ll tell you that right now.

SUE ELLEN: It’s a little late for that, J.R.

J.R.: [Chuckles] You’re just trying to get even with me, but you still want me, don’t you? [He tries to kiss her, she turns her head]

SUE ELLEN: Don’t! Get off of me. No! Get off of me!

J.R.: Oh, darlin’, I know what you like. [Nuzzles her neck] I know what you like, Sue Ellen. [Gasps] I know what you like, darlin’, and this is it. [They kiss — until she knees him in the groin.] Oh!

SUE ELLEN: And I know what you like — and I’m sure that wasn’t it. [She gets up and leaves him on the bed, writhing in pain.]

Watch this scene in “Sins of the Fathers,” available on DVD and at Amazon and iTunes, and share your comments below.

3 Days, 33 Episodes: Here’s How to Catch Up on TNT’s ‘Dallas’

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

Look back

Did you promise yourself you’d spend the summer getting acquainted — or reacquainted — with TNT’s “Dallas”? Did you fail to keep this promise? Relax: You still have time. Grab your DVDs and downloads and have a marathon of your own this weekend. Here’s how to watch all 33 hours of the show before the third season resumes on Monday, August 18.


Friday, August 15

9 to 11 p.m. Kick off your marathon on Friday night at 9 o’clock — the holiest hour of the week for “Dallas” fans — with a double feature of the TNT’s show’s first two episodes: “Changing of the Guard” and “Hedging Your Bets.”

Can you watch the former without getting chills when J.R. (Larry Hagman) doffs his cowboy hat, flashes his grin and declares, “Bobby may not be stupid, but I’m a hell of a lot smarter”? Can you watch the latter without getting choked up when our hero tells Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) she’s “still the prettiest girl at the ball”? Me either.


Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, TNT

First time for everything

Saturday, August 16

7 a.m. Rise and shine, darlins! With so much “Dallas” to watch today, there’ll be no sleeping in. Resume your marathon with “The Price You Pay,” in which Julie Gonzalo’s character receives a smartphone pic of her husband kissing another woman. Get used to it, honey.

8 a.m. Have breakfast with “The Last Hurrah,” in which John Ross (Josh Henderson) squirts Elena (Jordana Brewster) with his hose. Insert your own joke here.

9 a.m. Have you done your workout yet? Download “Truth and Consequences” to your mobile device and head to the gym. Mitch Pileggi’s debut as Harris Ryland is bound to get your heart racing.

10 a.m. Got errands to run? Chores to complete? You’ve got one hour. Make the most of it.

11 a.m. We learn jewelry makes Ann (Brenda Strong) cry in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Then again, doesn’t everything?

Noon. Grab lunch while watching “Collateral Damage,” in which Vicente Cano (Carlos Bernard) wonders if John Ross: 1) is a good dancer, and 2) has any oil in his pipeline. OMG, Vicente was such a flirt!

1 p.m. Tommy (Callard Harris) plants a kiss on Rebecca in “No Good Deed” — which is almost as creepy as when Nicolas starts smooching Elena in Season 3.

2 p.m. Bloody monkeys, Johnny Cash and the redemption of J.R. Ewing. It’s “Family Business” — one of my favorite episodes of this show.

3 p.m. Carmen (Marlene Forte) gets one of the crummiest chores in “Dallas” history — returning Elena’s engagement ring to John Ross — in “Revelations.” Also: More Johnny Cash!

4 p.m. Have you taken a bathroom break yet? If not, take care of that now, and then hurry back to your TV or tablet to watch the second-season opener, “Battle Lines,” in which Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) learns his wife is really his cousin. Ick.

5 p.m. In “Venomous Creatures,” J.R. saves Sue Ellen from going to jail and Judith Light discovers a taste for “Dallas” scenery.

6 p.m. Drew (Kuno Becker) arrives in “Sins of the Father” — his hair won’t show up for several more episodes — and calls John Ross “J-Ro.” Thank heavens that didn’t catch on. Also: Ann shoots Harris!

7 p.m. Has your family seen you at all today? Why not take a break from the Ewings and go have dinner with them.

8 p.m. to midnight: The next four episodes are a murder-a-thon, so brace yourself. Frank (Faran Tahir) offs himself in “False Confessions,” Brenda Strong kills it during Ann’s testimony scene in “Trial and Error,” Vicente bites the dust in “Blame Game,” and then the saddest shot of all: the death of J.R. Ewing in “The Furious and the Fast.”

Midnight. The nice thing about a late-night viewing of “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is that no one else in your house is awake to see you bawling. Once you’ve dried your tears, catch some shut-eye. Tomorrow is going to be another big day.


Dallas, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Leg up

Sunday, August 17

8 a.m. You did a hell of a job yesterday, “Dallas” fan. Your reward: You get to start your Sunday with the wonderfully wacky hodgepodge that is “Ewings Unite!” Miss Ellie disinherits Bobby from beyond the grave, Valene (Joan Van Ark) reveals she’s as loony as ever and Cliff becomes the most hated man in the history of “Dallas” fandom.

9 a.m. Audrey Landers shows she can slink around a corner better than anyone in “Guilt and Innocence.”

10 a.m. In “Let Me In,” Harris reveals his fondness for: 1) TV nature documentaries, 2) Almonds, and 3) Hunting Ramoses.

11 a.m. John Ross and Pamela get wet in “A Call to Arms.”

Noon. You know what goes good with a nice, leisurely Sunday brunch? Watching Bobby take that badass, slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.”

1 p.m. Christopher discovers the mystery lady under the big hat is not his mama in “Guilt by Association.” It’s not Aunt Katherine either, sadly.

2 p.m. Kevin Page joins Mary Crosby as an answer to “Dallas’s” most famous trivia question in “Legacies.”

3 p.m. You might think this would be a good time to take a break, but you’d be wrong. The die is cast and there’s no turning back, so keep plugging away with the third-season episodes, beginning with “The Return,” in which J.R.’s belt buckle begins wearing John Ross. Also: Hello, Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace)!

4 p.m. Time for “Trust Me” a.k.a. “Judith’s Snow Day.”

5 p.m. In “Playing Chicken,” Professor Bobby Ewing teaches us about endangered wildlife.

6 p.m. “Lifting the Veil” is the episode that should’ve included Sue Ellen’s comparison of Emma (Emma Bell) to Kristin, but instead it’s the episode that gives us scenes of hookers in canine costumes.

7 p.m. Dinnertime! Enjoy a glass of J.R. Ewing Bourbon (surely you have some, right?) while watching “D.T.R.” After the episode, check your bottle and make sure Sue Ellen didn’t bug it.

8 p.m. Despite the title “Like Father, Like Son,” John Ross wants you to know that he is not his father! Also: Carter McKay has grandchildren!

9 p.m. Pamela rocks Stella McCartney in “Like a Bad Penny.”

10 p.m. It’s finally time for “Where There’s Smoke.” Southfork goes up in flames and you get to go down for a well-deserved rest. Don’t forget to watch “Dallas’s” midseason premiere Monday night!

What are your favorite “Dallas” episodes? Share your choices below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

Dallas Parallels: She Bangs

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, Linda Gray, Sins of the Father, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Talk about a shocking twist! In “Sins of the Father,” one of the new “Dallas’s” second-season episodes, Ann discovers her ex-husband Harris kidnapped their daughter Emma when she was a child and raised her on his own. Ann goes to Harris’s home to confront him, and before you know it, she has shot the schmuck and left him for dead.

The scene brings to mind the original “Dallas’s” 11th season finale, “The Fat Lady Singeth,” which opens after J.R. has taken John Ross and stashed him at a private school so Sue Ellen can’t find him. In that episode’s final scene, Sue Ellen goes to J.R.’s hotel room and demands to know the boy’s location. The couple begins to argue, and before all is said and done, Sue Ellen has shot J.R.

Besides the gunfire, the two scenes share a few other similarities. When Ann goes to see Harris, she finds him seated in his den, reading papers. When Sue Ellen shows up at J.R.’s hotel room, he’s sitting on a sofa, reading the newspaper. In both sequences, the man gets up and crosses the room to the bar with the woman in tow. The two scenes also demonstrate Harris and J.R.’s cruelty. Harris taunts Ann, reciting the precious moments from Emma’s childhood that Ann missed. “I took that away from you,” he says. J.R. isn’t quite that vicious, but he boasts about how he outsmarted Sue Ellen when she was searching for the missing John Ross. “I was one step ahead of you,” J.R. says.

The scenes contain major differences too. Sue Ellen’s lover Nick accompanies her to J.R.’s, while Ann is alone when she goes to Harris’s. Sue Ellen shoots J.R. three times — using his gun — after Nick plunges to his death while scuffling with J.R. on the balcony. Ann, on the other hand, brings her own gun to Harris’s and fires once. The biggest difference: After Ann shoots Harris, she turns, leaves and goes home to Southfork, where she allows Bobby to confess to the shooting to protect her. In contrast, when Sue Ellen shoots J.R., she immediately dials the police to report the crime.

Ultimately, Harris and J.R. both survive their shootings, and Ann and Sue Ellen both get away with their crimes. Ann goes on trial and is sent to prison, but she gets off on parole. J.R. declines to press charges against Sue Ellen to spare John Ross from the spectacle of a trial. Will we see either woman pick up a gun again? It’s hard to say with Sue Ellen, but not Ann. After all, she recently received a dove-hunting gun — bequeathed to her by J.R. in his will.


‘I Was One Step Ahead of You’

Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman


In “The Fat Lady Singeth,” J.R. (Larry Hagman) is seated in his hotel room, reading the newspaper, when Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) knocks on the door.

J.R.: Who is it?

SUE ELLEN: J.R., it’s me.

J.R.: Go away, Sue Ellen. I got nothing to talk to you about. [Tosses aside the paper, rises and walks toward the door]

SUE ELLEN: Let me in!

J.R.: I knew it was your man asking around about John Ross. But I was one step ahead of you, wasn’t it?

Nick (Jack Scalia) kicks open the door and enters the room, followed by Sue Ellen.

SUE ELLEN: Where is my son, you bastard?

J.R.: Where you’ll never find him.

NICK: That’s not good enough. Where is he?

J.R.: None of your damn business, Pearce.

NICK: I’m making it my business. [As they approach J.R., he steps backward to the bar.] Now do you tell me, or do I start taking you apart? [J.R. reaches for the phone. Nick smacks it out of his hand.] You’re one sorry excuse for a man.

J.R.: Get out of here.

NICK: Not without some answers. And believe me, I will truly enjoy kicking the crap out of you.

SUE ELLEN: Where is he, J.R.?

J.R.: [Pulls a handgun from behind the bar] You’re trespassing. If I have to use this, the law will be on my side, so get the hell out here.

NICK: You don’t have the guts to use it.

J.R.: Call off your gigolo, honey.

Nick lunges for J.R. and they scuffle, leaving the handgun on the floor. As Sue Ellen screams, they wind up on the balcony, where Nick plunges over the side of the railing. Sue Ellen picks up the handgun, aims at J.R. and shoots three times. She walks to the phone and dials.

SUE ELLEN: I’d like to report a double murder. This is Sue Ellen Ewing.


‘I Took That Away From You’

Dallas, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, Sins of the Father, TNT


In “Sins of the Father,” Ann (Brenda Strong) enters the Ryland home, where Harris (Mitch Pileggi) is seated in the living room, reading papers.

HARRIS: [Tosses the papers on the coffee table] Emma’s a pretty amazing girl, isn’t she? She holds a hell of a grudge, though. Me and Mama raised her right.

ANN: Why? Why did you take her from me?

HARRIS: [Slaps his knee, rises] You know, last time we talked, you were wearing a wire. So if we’re going to continue this conversation, I’m going to have to — [Ann sighs and spreads her arms as Harris feels her body] Now, if I remember correctly — [She unbuttons her blouse and shows him her chest. He smiles.]

ANN: Why’d you take her?

HARRIS: I just did what you didn’t have the guts to follow through on. [Steps away, grabs his glass off the table, walks to the bar]

ANN: That’s a lie. It destroyed me! Did you hate me that much?

HARRIS: Oh, Annie. It all worked out for the best. Besides, she’s a grown woman. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. [Pours himself a drink]

ANN: Just tell the truth for once in your miserable life. Why?

HARRIS: You really have to ask?

ANN: I want to hear you say it.

HARRIS: Because you were about to leave me. And after all I did for you, turning a gangly, raw-bone girl into a proper woman.

ANN: Broken puppet.

HARRIS: There was no way you were going to make a fool out of me by leaving. You had to pay a price. And the look on your face right now? It’s priceless.

ANN: Go on.

HARRIS: [Smiles] Oh, you still like the pain, don’t you? How’s it going to help to hear about what you lost? Is it going to get you back any of Emma’s first steps? Or her dance recitals? Or any of those birthdays? Is it going to get you even one of those nights, snuggled up to her, telling her bedtime stories while she fell asleep? No. Because I took that away from you. Forever. See? Hearing that didn’t help at all, now did it?

ANN: Oh, it helped a lot. [Pulls a gun from her purse, shoots him, walks away]

What do you think of Sue Ellen and Ann’s gunplay? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Dallas Parallels: Drama Mamas

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Brown Ryland, Lucy Ewing, Secrets, Sins of the Father, TNT

When Emma began popping pills and chasing boys on TNT’s “Dallas,” a lot of fans were reminded of Lucy’s antics on the original show. The two women share at least one more similarity: Both have strained relations with their long-lost mamas.

In the 1979 episode “Secrets,” Valene goes to Lucy’s college campus and approaches her daughter, one year after J.R. forced Val to flee Southfork without saying goodbye. At the time, J.R. lied and told Lucy that Val took off after demanding money from him, so when Lucy sees her mother again in “Secrets,” she treats her coldly and walks away. Val doesn’t give up and tries to speak to Lucy again later that day, explaining that J.R.’s extortion claim was untrue. Lucy doesn’t want to hear it. “Don’t bother, lady,” she says.

Thirty-four years later, when Ann learns her long-missing daughter Emma is living in Dallas, she approaches Emma at the stable where she’s riding her horse. This reunion turns out no better than Val and Lucy’s. It seems Ann’s ex-husband Harris kidnapped Emma and raised her to believe Ann was evil — just like J.R. snatched baby Lucy and brought her to Southfork, where she grew up being fed lies about Val. In “Sins of the Father,” Ann tries to tell Emma her side of the story, but Emma doesn’t want to listen. “This is a waste of time, Ann,” she says.

Eventually, both daughters learn to forgive their drama mamas. Lucy’s icy demeanor melts when she sees Val stand up to J.R., just like Emma has a change of heart after she hears her mother defend herself against Harris’s lies during his shooting trial. Of course, poor Lucy ends up getting hurt again when she discovers her parents got remarried without bothering to tell her. Something tells me that’s one problem Emma will never encounter.


‘Don’t Bother, Lady’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Secrets


In “Secrets,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Lucy (Charlene Tilton) finds Valene (Joan Van Ark) waiting for her in the college campus parking lot.

LUCY: Hi. You’re still here, Mama. I thought you’d have gotten your money and gone by now.

VAL: Lucy, I wrote to you and I explained that I did not take any money from J.R.

LUCY: Why should I believe that?

VAL: Because it’s true. But I know that I have got a lot more explaining to do to you.

LUCY: Don’t bother. It really doesn’t matter to me.

VAL: Honey, I know how you must feel.

LUCY: Oh, no, you don’t. You don’t know anything about me. [Turns away]

VAL: I know that I gave birth to you. And that I love you very much.

LUCY: You love me like you love my daddy? You ran off and left him too.

VAL: No, I never did. We just never had a chance.

LUCY: [Begins to cry] We had a chance, all right. We were all together at the ranch. We could’ve made it. Except it got too rough for you two, so you both ran off. That’s funny. It was too rough for you, but it was all right to leave me there.

VAL: Well, that was your home and you were brought up there. I knew that Miss Ellie would take care of you. They love you.

LUCY: Oh, yeah. According to you, everybody loves me. Why don’t I feel like they do? Why do I feel like I don’t belong to anybody?

VAL: [Tries to touch Lucy, who smacks away her hand] Darling, listen, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but you do belong to your daddy and me.

LUCY: I’ll tell you something, lady. I hurt sometimes, but I can handle that. What I can’t handle is you coming back again and making me think I really do have a mama. And then one day, finding out you’re gone again. So don’t bother, lady. Don’t even try.

VAL: [Crying] Oh, my baby.


‘This is a Waste of Time, Ann’

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Brown Ryland, Sins of the Father, TNT


In “Sins of the Father,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Ann and Emma (Brenda Strong, Emma Bell) sit across from each other at a police station conference table.

ANN: I know you’re angry. But I just wanted to talk to you.

EMMA: Using the police to get me here wasn’t very helpful.

ANN: The police brought you here because your father kidnapped you.

EMMA: Rescued me.

ANN: [Sighs] I understand you’ve probably spent your whole life hating me.

EMMA: Never gave you much thought, actually.

ANN: Emma, when you were born, there was a lot going on.

EMMA: This is a waste of time, Ann.

ANN: Your father’s had your whole life to convince you I’m a monster. Please, just give me five minutes to try and prove I’m not. What did he tell you about me?

EMMA: He told me you were a drug-addicted, depressed, hopeless mess.

ANN: I was. When you were born, I was lost and confused and hated myself because your father made me believe I should.

EMMA: Don’t blame him for your failings.

ANN: I took tranquilizers to try and push away that pain. To stay in the marriage, to be a good mother. But it made things worse. And I started falling down this dark hole, farther and farther until I lost sight of who I was, and what really mattered: You. I’m so sorry. When I lost you, I died inside.

EMMA: You seem to have recovered quite nicely.

ANN: [Sighs, pulls a keepsake box from her bag, sits it on the table] I spent years looking for you. Praying that you were still alive. [Emma opens the box, examines the mementos and newspaper clippings inside] I never stopped loving you, Emma.

EMMA: [Closes the box] I think you’ve confused love with guilt. I’ve lived a great life with my father. If you care about me at all, you’ll leave me alone. And you’ll stop what you’re trying to do to him. [Pushes the box across the table toward Ann] Now I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave.

What do you think of Valene and Ann’s attempts to reconcile with their daughters? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 17 – ‘The Furious and the Fast’

Dallas, Furious and the Fast, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT

One last shot

We know it’s coming, but still it shocks us. “The Furious and the Fast” ends with the murder of J.R. Ewing, or at least what looks like his murder. It’s jarring, chilling, sad. It’s also a technological feat. The producers apparently created the sequence using recycled footage and audio clips, although the Hollywood trickery is probably obvious only to the most eagle-eyed “Dallas” obsessives. Yet as impressive as the scene is, it isn’t the only reason to admire this episode, which is one of the new “Dallas’s” most entertaining hours yet.

The historic final scene: John Ross is alone in the darkened Ewing Energies conference room, a drink in his hand, his shoes propped on the table. He receives a phone call from J.R., who wants an update on their latest plot against Bobby and Christopher. John Ross tells him the scheme failed, but J.R. is nonplussed: “Don’t you worry, son. I’ve got a plan. It’s going to be my masterpiece – because you shouldn’t have to pay for my sins.” John Ross looks puzzled and asks J.R. what he means. Another cryptic response: “Just remember: I’m proud of you. You’re my son, from tip to tail.” John Ross smiles, but when the camera cuts to J.R., the old man looks startled. Cut back to John Ross, who hears two gunshots and leaps to his feet. “Dad! Dad!” he exclaims. Then, finally: “Dad?”

“The Furious and the Fast” was filmed after Larry Hagman’s death last fall, and it appears as though the producers cobbled together J.R.’s final moments using bits and pieces from other recent scenes. The shots of him on the phone come from the “False Confessions” exchange where Frank calls J.R. to inform him that John Ross and Pamela have become lovers. (The original scene took place in J.R.’s bedroom; in the recycled version, the walls have been turned red.) Hagman’s dialogue, in the meantime, seems to have been pulled from a variety of episodes. J.R. delivered the “you shouldn’t have to pay for my sins” line in “The Price You Pay,” while the “masterpiece” bit comes from “Sins of the Father.” “Tip to tail” was memorably heard at the end of “Revelations,” the first-season finale.

I’m sure the “Dallas” producers would’ve preferred to film Hagman’s final performance as J.R. while the actor was still alive, or better yet, to never have occasion to create such a scene at all. This sequence represents their effort to make the best of a sad situation, so I salute them for coming up with something that not only looks and feels convincing, but also offers a fittingly mysterious beginning to the “Who Killed J.R.?” storyline that’s destined to dominate the rest of the season.

It also feels appropriate that J.R.’s final words are for his son since Josh Henderson sells this scene more than anyone. The smile that breaks across John Ross’s face when J.R. announces he’s proud of him is touching. You can also hear the heartbreak in Henderson’s voice when John Ross realizes what’s happening to his father on the other end of the phone. Credit also goes to director Rodney Charters, who pulls back the camera each time John Ross exclaims “Dad!” until we’re finally left with that wide shot of Henderson alone in the dark. The echo created by John Ross’s final “Dad?” is another nice touch.

Of course, even though I admire the audaciousness of trying to recapture the old “Who Shot J.R.?” magic, it’s a little unnerving to see the new “Dallas” shoot yet another character. J.R. is the fourth person on this show to take a bullet during the past eight episodes. It’s also worth noting how different this whodunit is from the one triggered by the 1980 episode “A House Divided.” Back then, J.R.’s shooting capped an hour in which several characters were each given a clear motivation for wanting him dead. This time around, there are no obvious suspects, although I’m sure they’ll emerge soon enough. Still, I wonder: What character in the “Dallas” mythology is big enough for this job? Who has the stature to take down J.R. Ewing?

I’ll save those worries for another day, though, because to focus only on the implications of “The Furious and the Fast’s” final scene would mean overlooking the rest of this excellent episode. Ted Shackelford’s return as Gary Ewing inspires many of the hour’s best moments, including his fun exchanges with Linda Gray. To get Gary to lower his defenses, Sue Ellen flirts shamelessly with him, allowing us to see a side of her that’s been dormant for much too long. How wonderful of “Dallas” to show that a woman in her 70s can still be sexy and playful. I also appreciate how Julia Cohen’s script has Sue Ellen and Gary acknowledge their past battles with the bottle, which seems to be a sly nod to the memorable scene in 1980 when Gary’s attempt to bond with fellow alcoholic Sue Ellen ended in disaster.

More highlights: John Ross’s bratty greeting to Uncle Gary (“Who the hell let you off the cul-de-sac?”) and Gary’s heart-to-heart with Bobby, when he reveals his fall from the wagon and split from Valene. Patrick Duffy and Shackelford slip comfortably into their familiar dynamic of the responsible baby brother and the all-too-human middle sibling. Isn’t it remarkable how two actors who look nothing alike can seem so believable as brothers? In my recent interview with Shackelford, he expressed his willingness to reprise his role beyond the three-episode stint that begins with this episode. Given how easily he interacts with Henderson, Gray and Duffy here, this seems like an idea worth serious consideration.

Indeed, if “The Furious and the Fast” does anything, it demonstrates how important it is to inject fresh blood (or in Shackelford’s case, familiar blood) into a show like this. I was apprehensive when I read last year about the producers’ plans to add newcomers like Kuno Becker and Emma Bell to the cast, fearing they would rob the core cast of screen time, which already feels too scarce. But I was wrong. Bell knocks me out as timid, confused Emma, and I’m completely charmed by Becker, whose effortless chemistry with Jordana Brewster might be the season’s nicest surprise.

Also fascinating: Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light as Harris and Judith Ryland, whose mother/son relationship grows weirder with each episode. (This episode’s best line: Judith’s frigid “Now pick that up” after Harris kicks over the chair in Emma’s bedroom.) Altogether, the “Dallas” cast now includes 11 regular cast members and several recurring guest stars, yet in this episode at least, no one gets shortchanged.

“The Furious and the Fast” also gets a big lift from Charters’ expertly executed racecar sequences, which generate genuine suspense and make the episode feel a little like this generation’s version of a Southfork rodeo. And even though it seems unlikely the city’s transportation chief would award Christopher the fuel contract on the basis of how many laps his methane-powered car can complete, you have to admit: The race offered a clever metaphor for the familial squabbling that is so central to this show. Like the Ewing Energies-sponsored car, John Ross and Christopher sometimes seem to go around in circles with their feuding, yet it rarely gets boring.

When I watched “The Furious and the Fast” for the first time the other night, I kept looking at the clock, expecting to see the show was almost ever. Some of this stemmed from the dread I was feeling, knowing this would be Hagman’s last episode. But my clock-watching was also done with a sense of wonder. This episode was so dense, every scene felt like it was bound to be the last one of the night. By the time those gunshots finally rang out, I was plenty sad, but I was also damn satisfied. J.R.’s final hour turned out to be one of “Dallas’s” finest.

Grade: A


Dallas, Furious and the Fast, Gary Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

Return engagement


Season 2, Episode 7

Telecast: March 4, 2013

Writer: Julia Cohen

Director: Rodney Charters

Audience: 2.8 million viewers on March 4

Synopsis: Gary Ewing returns to Dallas and votes with Bobby to stop drilling on Southfork, which Bobby and Christopher hope will force Sue Ellen to return her share of Ewing Energies to Elena. Sue Ellen flirts with Gary, hoping to break his alliance with Bobby. Harris and Judith try to send Emma back to London, but she runs away to Southfork. At J.R.’s behest, Bum digs for dirt on Harris. Drew and Elena discover there may be oil under the land their father sold to Bobby. Christopher is poised to clinch the city fuel contract after the Ewing Energies car wins a big race. John Ross speaks to J.R. on the phone, but the call is interrupted when it appears J.R. is shot.

Cast: Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Kenneth Wayne Bradley (Jim West), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Cory Hart (Brett Cochran), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Judith Light (Judith Ryland), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Ricky Rudd (himself), Ted Shackelford (Gary Ewing), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Curtis Wayne (Denny Boyd), Annie Wersching (Alison Jones)

“The Furious and the Fast” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunesWatch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’s’ Ratings Rise Again

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT, Trial and Error

Feel that ratings momentum!

“Dallas’s” audience has grown for the second week in a row. The TNT drama’s latest episode, “Trial and Error,” was seen by 2.5 million viewers on February 18, up from the 2.4 million who watched the previous week’s telecast.

The “Trial and Error” audience included about 890,000 viewers between ages 18 and 49, a group advertisers pay a premium to reach.

TNT shows “Dallas” on Monday nights at 9, where it faces stiff competition from the broadcast networks and other cable channels. This week, “Dallas’s” rivals included CBS’s “2 Broke Girls” (10.3 million viewers), Fox’s “The Following” (8.4 million) and History’s “American Pickers” (4.4 million).

But DVR users are giving “Dallas” a big boost each week. The two-hour season premiere was seen by 4 million viewers within a week of its January 28 debut, up 36 percent from the number who watched on opening night.

DVR users who recorded Season 2’s third hour, “Sins of the Father,” and watched it within three days of its premiere boosted the audience to 2.9 million viewers, while DVR users pushed the audience for the fourth episode, “False Confessions,” to 3.1 million viewers over a three-day period.

Is She Back?

Everyone is buzzing about Jesse Metcalfe’s new interview with TV Guide, in which he drops a big hint about you-know-who’s possible return to Southfork. Is this the news “Dallas” diehards have been longing to hear?

Now It Can Be Told

If you’ve read Edward McPherson’s fascinating essay on “Dallas” in the Paris Review, then you know – wait, stop. What do you mean you haven’t read it?

The two-part piece, published in December, traces the evolutions of Dallas the city and “Dallas” the TV show. It pays special attention to the echoes between the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the shooting of J.R. Ewing in 1980, examining how each incident shaped the way people see Dallas and the way Dallasites see themselves. McPherson, who grew up in Big D, will give you a new appreciation for all things Dallas, but don’t take my word for it. Go read Part 1 and Part 2. I’ll wait.

OK, now that you’ve enjoyed McPherson’s piece (I told you it was good, didn’t I?), you know that he spent time last fall on the set of TNT’s “Dallas,” where he got to observe production and meet the cast and crew. He even exchanged a fist bump (!) with Larry Hagman.

McPherson also describes how he helped the folks behind the scenes come up with a few words of dialogue. Now it can be told: The episode McPherson observed being filmed was “False Confessions,” which TNT telecast last week, and the scene that he contributed to is the one where Christopher interrupts John Ross’s conversation with Elena’s drilling foreman, Bubba, played by Matthew Posey. McPherson’s line, which Posey delivered: “But we’ve got a problem.”

“It was a total throwaway line, but fun nonetheless,” McPherson told me last week. He said he’s happy the episode has finally been shown, adding that he was “quite good about keeping the spoilers to myself.”

McPherson also said he’d love to hear what “Dallas” fans think of his essay, so be sure to share your feedback in the comments sections that accompany parts 1 and 2.

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

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’s’ Ratings Rise During Week 3

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, False Confessions, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Relax. The numbers will go up.

More viewers made time for “Dallas” this week.

TNT’s telecast of the latest episode, “False Confessions,” was seen by 2.4 million viewers on Feb. 11. The audience grew almost 10 percent from the previous week’s telecast.

“Dallas” is also getting a healthy boost from DVR users. The two-hour season opener – comprised of back-to-back telecasts of “Battle Lines” and “Venomous Creatures” – was seen by 2.9 million viewers on January 28, although the audience soared to 3.7 million when people who recorded the show and watched it a few days later were counted.

The second season’s third episode, “Sins of the Father,” was seen by 2.2 million viewers on Feb. 4, but by the end of the week, DVR users had increased the audience to 2.9 million.

“Dallas’s” first season averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights last summer, although DVR users boosted its weekly haul to 6.1 million.

In last week’s edition of “Drill Bits,” TV ratings expert Marc Berman said a decline was expected since “Dallas” is now being telecast on Mondays in the winter, when it faces tougher competition on the broadcast networks.

Strong Speaks

Dallas Decoder was lucky to participate in a press call last week with Brenda Strong, who dished on her character Ann’s recent shooting of ex-husband Harris, “Dallas’s” ratings, working with Larry Hagman and more. If you haven’t already read it, be sure to check it out.

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

Dallas Burning Questions: Season 2, Week 3


Will she get caught?

Here are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “False Confessions,” TNT’s latest “Dallas” episode.

Is Harris dead? At the end of “Sins of the Father,” last week’s installment, Ann (Brenda Strong) learned Harris (Mitch Pileggi) couldn’t be prosecuted for kidnapping their daughter Emma (Emma Bell) and went to his home to confront him. When Harris taunted Ann, she pulled a handgun from her purse and shot him, leaving him bleeding on the floor. Since Pileggi was added to “Dallas’s” opening credits three weeks ago, it seems unlikely Harris will die. Then again, this is the new “Dallas,” where anything can happen and usually does. So who knows?

What will happen to Ann? In a chat last week with Dallas Decoder and other bloggers, Strong said Ann was in “an altered state” when she plugged Harris. The trailer for tonight’s episode shows Bobby (Patrick Duffy) being arrested for the shooting. If Ann allows her husband to take the rap for a crime she committed, does that mean she’s still out of her mind?

• Will Pamela get caught? An update on “Dallas’s” other shooting storyline: After Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) gunned down Tommy last season, she turned to Frank (Faran Tahir) to dispose of the weapon and the body. Last week, the police discovered Tommy’s blood in Pamela’s old condo, and J.R. (Larry Hagman) urged Frank to expose her role in Tommy’s death. Will he?

• John Ross and Pamela: What will J.R. and Cliff say? Pamela believes she’ll snag a percentage of Ewing Energies during her divorce from Christopher, and she promised to share her piece of the company with her new lover/partner-in-crime John Ross (Josh Henderson). Meanwhile, John Ross seems to be falling for Pamela, unaware that J.R. is out to get her. Will John Ross be forced to choose between his father and his lover – and how will Cliff (Ken Kercheval) feel when he discovers his daughter has hooked up with J.R.’s son?

Will Christopher and Elena learn the truth about John Ross? Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is angling to win a lucrative contract to fuel the city’s municipal fleet, unaware that John Ross is trying to undermine him. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) has vowed to call in Elena’s loan if she doesn’t strike oil on the Henderson property. This prompted Elena to ask for drilling help from her brother Drew (Kuno Becker), who recently returned to town with a chip on his shoulder. What Elena doesn’t know: John Ross has bribed her foreman to sabotage the Henderson project. Will John Ross’s schemes succeed?

Where’s Becky? When Pamela got frustrated with Tommy’s demanding sister Becky (Alex McKenna), she urged Frank to pay her off once and for all. Later, Becky didn’t show up for the court hearing where she was supposed to recant her false testimony against Christopher. Did Frank run Becky out of town – or did he make her disappear forever?

What “Dallas Burning Questions” are on your mind? Share your comments below and watch TNT’s “Dallas” tonight.

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 5 Most Shocking Shootings

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Who Shot J.R.?

The one heard round the world

TNT’s “Dallas” delivered a shocker at the end of “Sins of the Father,” this week’s episode: Ann (Brenda Strong) shot her ex-husband Harris (Mitch Pileggi) and left him bleeding on his den floor. It was the latest example of “Dallas’s” long tradition of using gunplay to throw viewers for a loop. Here’s my list of the five most shocking shootings seen during the original series.

Dallas, Fat Lady Singeth, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

She bangs

5. J.R. Ewing (1988). “Dallas’s” 12th season ended with Sue Ellen and boyfriend Nick Pearce (Linda Gray, Jack Scalia) bursting into a high-rise hotel room to confront J.R. (Larry Hagman) over his latest misdeeds. J.R. pulled a gun, Nick lunged at him and before you knew it, studly Mr. Pearce went tumbling over the balcony. That’s when Sue Ellen picked up J.R.’s gun, fired three shots at him and dialed the police to report “a double murder.” Even though this was the fourth (!) time J.R. was shot on the show – and even though there was no doubt he’d survive – you have to admit: Seeing Sue Ellen plug him was pretty surprising.

Dallas, Don Starr, Jordan Lee, Terminus

For whom the booth tolls

4. Jordan Lee. This longtime Ewing frenemy had a penchant for hooking up with shady women – we’re looking at you, Kristin – but when Jordan (Don Starr) got involved with mysterious Sheila Foley (Susan Lucci), he paid the ultimate price. Jordan helped Sheila with her convoluted scheme to masquerade as Bobby’s wife because he believed Sheila merely wanted to make a big speech criticizing OPEC at a Parisian oil conference. When he realized she had deadlier aims, he ducked into a phone booth to call J.R. for help – but before Jordan started dialing, one of Sheila’s goons shot him, ending his 12-year run on the show.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, End Game, Patrick Duffy

Twist of fake

3. Bobby Ewing. The last episode of “Dallas’s” eighth season felt awfully familiar: The whole world was mad at J.R., and one by one, his enemies were vowing revenge. (Peter Richards: “I swear I’ll kill you!”) As the hour drew to a close, we were given a first-person perspective as someone entered the darkened Ewing Oil suite, walked into J.R.’s office and fired three shots into the back of his chair. A body slumped to the floor, but it wasn’t J.R. – it was Bobby (Patrick Duffy)! Was this a shameless rip-off of the “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger from four years earlier? Absolutely. Was it also one of the show’s best-ever fake-outs? You bet it was.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, No More Mr. Nice Guy Part 1, Who Shot J.R.?

Big shot

2. J.R. Ewing (1980). Hold your fire, fellow fans. I know what you’re thinking: How can this one not be ranked first on a list of shocking “Dallas” shootings? Because CBS spoiled the surprise. Before the network broadcast “A House Divided,” the serial’s most famous cliffhanger, it aired promos that showed J.R. getting shot. As if that wasn’t bad enough, CBS also ran a half-page ad in TV Guide with a screaming headline (“It Had to Happen – J.R. is Shot!”). So yes, even though J.R.’s shooting was a stroke of storytelling genius – and even though it cemented “Dallas’s” spot in the TV Hall of Fame – it wasn’t much of a shock.

April Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Sheree J. Wilson, Terminus

French twist

1. April Ewing. Did you see this one coming? I sure didn’t. Like Jordan’s death, this shooting was part of the storyline about Sheila masquerading as Bobby’s kidnapped wife April (Sheree J. Wilson) during their Parisian honeymoon. April was supposed to be released to Bobby’s custody at the OPEC conference – but when gunfire broke out, she got caught in the crossfire. The scene ended with Bobby weeping as he cradled his dead bride’s body. Wilson had become “Dallas’s” leading lady at this point, making this the first time the show had killed off one of its main characters (not counting Jock, of course). Her death remains one of the show’s boldest – and most heartbreaking – plot twists.

Which “Dallas” shootings shocked you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”