Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 111 — ‘The Ewing Touch’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Ewing Blues, Miss Ellie Ewing,

Word from a mother

In “The Ewing Touch’s” most memorable moment, Miss Ellie warns Rebecca not to cross her family. “Other people have fought the Ewings before — and they’ve regretted it,” Ellie says. This is a great scene for several reasons, not the least of which is the fun that comes from seeing two old pros like Barbara Bel Geddes and Priscilla Pointer square off against each other. Moreover, I like how the exchange recalls Ellie’s famous admonishment of the cartel, when the tiny matriarch chastised a roomful of powerful oilmen with a similar don’t-mess-with-the-Ewings speech. Ellie’s latest clash pits her against a fellow grandmother, but the confrontation is no less satisfying. Think about it: Rebecca wants revenge against the Ewings because she blames J.R. for Cliff’s suicide attempt. Her vendetta is as irrational as it is unfair. She deserves Ellie’s rebuke.

Of course, as terrific as this scene is, don’t allow it to overshadow the rest of Bel Geddes’ work in “The Ewing Touch,” which is typically wonderful. Most of Ellie’s scenes show how she is resuming her life after Jock’s death. We see her happily toasting Christopher’s adoption, attending a “political meeting” with Donna and, in the most surprising turn, hosting a dinner party at Southfork so her family can meet Frank Crutcher, the gentleman she met at the Oil Baron’s Ball. Frank’s presence at Southfork makes her sons uncomfortable, but Ellie later assures Bobby that she thinks of Frank only as a friend. Nevertheless, the fact remains: Ellie is making room in her life for a man who isn’t Jock.

This transitional phase in the life of the Ewings is symbolized by a moving sequence involving, of all things, Jock’s car. At the beginning of “The Ewing Touch’s” third act, Ellie is quietly surveying the Southfork landscape when Bud, who owns the garage where Jock had his prized Lincoln Continental worked on, arrives and reminds Ellie that the car is overdue for servicing. Bud suggests Ellie might want to sell the vehicle, but she dismisses the idea. “You take it in and do whatever Jock would have done to it,” Ellie tells him. We then cut to a scene of Ray preparing to teach Mickey to ride a horse — a subtle reminder that Ray is following in Jock’s footsteps by taking a younger man under his wing — and then we return to Ellie standing in the driveway, watching as Bud drives away in Ewing 1. The family, like the car, is moving on.

The other highlight in “The Ewing Touch” is the scene where J.R. drops by Holly’s house and pokes fun of the shirtless hunk lounging near her swimming pool. “Traveling with the intellectual set, I see,” J.R. quips. Holly flirts with J.R. — which is a bit odd, given the brush-off she gave him a few episodes earlier — and even suggests he “stretch out” and spend some time with her by the pool. To the surprise of the audience and perhaps even to himself, J.R. rejects Holly’s offer, telling her he’s trying to “stay pure” for his wedding. Besides, he says, “I wouldn’t want to confuse Bonzo.”

The rest of “The Ewing Touch” is a bit uneven. Cliff gets angry at Pam for helping Bobby going into business with the McLeish brothers, even though she had no idea Cliff was interested in a deal with them too. This is a little irrational, even for Cliff. My feelings about Lucy’s storyline are mixed too: I like how she resists her client Bill Johnson’s attempt to date her — it seems she learned a valuable lesson about mixing business with pleasure when she got involved with Roger Larson in the previous season — but the Shirley Temple getup that Lucy sports during her photo shoot is more than a little creepy.

“The Ewing Touch” also offers two casting milestones. First, Tami Barber makes her final appearance as Bev, Lucy’s girlfriend, when she sits silently next to Ellie at Lucy’s final divorce hearing. Second, Josef Rainer makes his first appearance on “Dallas” as Runland, the parts supplier who gives Bobby the run-around. Rainer later appears in the “Dallas: The Early Years” TV movie as Sam Culver, Donna’s first husband, then returns to the show as Mr. Barton, Sue Ellen’s business advisor. His fourth and most famous “Dallas” role is Dr. David Gordon, the plastic surgeon who treats Pam after her car accident. According to TV Guide, the producers of TNT’s “Dallas” hoped Rainer would play Gordon again two recent episodes of the new show, and when they were unable to track him down, they recast the role with Sam Anderson.

Too bad. One actor playing four roles in two “Dallas” series and a movie? That might have been a record.

Grade: A


Dallas, Ewing Blues

Moving on


Season 6, Episode 8

Airdate: November 19, 1982

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 5th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Howard Lakin

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Driscoll gives J.R. permission to pump more oil and leaves town. Miss Ellie invites Frank to dinner and warns Rebecca about crossing the Ewings. Cliff is furious when he learns Pam helped Bobby land the McLeish deal. Christopher’s adoption and Lucy’s divorce are finalized.

Cast: Thomas Babson (Barry Archer), Tami Barber (Bev), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Norman Bennett (Bud), John Carter (Carl Hardesty), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nicholas Hammond (Bill Johnson), Fay Hauser (Annie), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Kenneth Kimmins (Thornton McLeish), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), John Larroquette (Phillip Colton), J. Patrick McNamara (Jarrett McLeish), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Josef Rainer (Runland), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Dale Robertson (Frank Crutcher), Albert Salmi (Gil Thurman), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Harold Suggs (Judge Thornby), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Ray Wise (Blair Sullivan), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“The Ewing Touch” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

The Art of Dallas: ‘The Big Shut Down’

Bev and Lucy (Tami Barber, Charlene Tilton) attend a garden party in this 1981 publicity shot from “The Big Shut Down,” a fifth-season “Dallas” episode.