Charlene Tilton Remembers Lucy Ewing’s Many Loves

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Southfork sweetheart

Poor Lucy Ewing never found Mr. Right — but not for lack of trying. To mark Valentine’s Day, Dallas Decoder spoke to Charlene Tilton about her character’s many romances. Read her memories below, along with an update on her latest projects.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Drive him crazy

Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly)

Back in the day, that relationship was very controversial. I was so much younger and looked so much younger than Steve. In our first scene in the hayloft, Lucy tells Ray, “Call me her name. Call me Pam.” That was some kinky stuff! [Laughs] I honestly didn’t get it until I watched it years later. I also remember Steve’s response when I walked in the room and we met for the first time. He said, “Oh shoot, she’s just a baby!” But Steve was so sweet. He made me feel very comfortable during filming. And Steve and his wife became great friends of mine — and that has continued until this day.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Greg Evigan, Lucy Ewing, Willie Gust

Cool van, bro

Willie Gust (Greg Evigan)

Oh, I loved him! He kidnapped Lucy and made her sing “Silver Threads and Golden Needles”! [Laughs] That was hysterical. Not one of Lucy’s brightest moments, but I loved doing that episode. Greg was great. Here we were, filming in these offbeat places around Texas, and he and I would hang out and have lunch or dinner together. He was an unbelievably talented actor and so handsome. I don’t know if you’ve seen him recently, but — hello! — that man looks great. He and his wife are the nicest people. He’s always been such a family man. He’s a gem.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Kit Mainwaring, Lucy Ewing, Mark Wheeler

Secret love

Kit Mainwaring (Mark Wheeler)

My favorite. Mark was an extremely, extremely talented actor, and I loved the storyline. Lord have mercy, there was nothing like this on television at the time. Kit was the son of a wealthy oil family, and J.R. wanted my character to marry his, even though he was secretly gay. The show wasn’t even allowed to use that word at the time. We had to say “homosexual.” But the writers did such a great job handling it. And I loved the storyline on so many levels. When J.R. threatens to expose Kit, Lucy says, “I’ll take care of it” and she shuts J.R. up. I look back at that episode and I have to tell you: I am so proud of my performance and Mark’s performance too.


Alan Beam, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Randolph Powell

Fur sure

Alan Beam (Randolph Powell)

Boy, wasn’t Alan a schemer! He really hurt Lucy when he teamed up with J.R., and then of course J.R. brought him down. But I loved Randolph. He was a gentleman: very nice, very talented — and with a very hairy chest. [Laughs] We had several bedroom scenes. He was cuddly!


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Leigh McCloskey, Lucy Ewing, Mitch Cooper

Married: The first year

Dr. Mitch Cooper (Leigh McCloskey)

Leigh is awesome. Like Mitch, he’s very intellectual, very cerebral. I loved all of our scenes together. I’ll never forget the first time Mitch comes on the screen. He’s working as a valet parking attendant, and Lucy comes out of the nightclub drunk. As soon as he smiles, you think, “I bet every woman on the planet wishes she were in Lucy’s drunken stilettos right now!” [Laughs] Mitch was Lucy’s knight in shining armor. He didn’t care about her family’s wealth. But after they got married, the producers didn’t really know what to do with us. I think that’s when they began to write Lucy into a corner. I did love when Lucy hired the maid to do all her cleaning behind Mitch’s back. I thought, “That’s a good idea!” [Laughs]


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Dennis Redfield, Lucy Ewing, Roger Larson

Just shoot her

Roger Larson (Dennis Redfield)

When Roger kidnapped Lucy and raped her, she became pregnant. I was pregnant in real life, and I had to do all of these episodes where I sit around saying, “I don’t want this baby.” As an actress, I felt I couldn’t give it my all because I didn’t want to affect my pregnancy with my beautiful daughter. So I would go home every night and say, “Mommy loves you.” I didn’t go as deep with that storyline as I normally would have. But Dennis is a wonderful, wonderful actor. And how funny is this? Years later, my daughter was going to a performing arts high school in Los Angeles where Dennis was teaching. I ran into him and it was so lovely. I was kind of sorry when I heard he quit acting because he was so good.


Bill Johnson, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Nicholas Hammond

Her favorite things

Bill Johnson (Nicholas Hammond)

Oh. My. Goodness. It’s so funny. I don’t remember my storyline with him. All I remember is that I was with Friedrich von Trapp! [Laughs] I am a “Sound of Music” fanatic. I’ve literally seen the movie over 150 times — and I am not kidding you. So when I saw his name on the call sheet in the makeup room, I started screaming, “Nicholas Hammond!” I was so enamored of him. All I wanted to do was ask him questions about Julie Andrews and filming in the Alps and Salzburg. Every time the director would yell, “Cut,” I’d ask Nicholas a ton of questions. “So when you were doing the ‘Do-Re-Me’ scene, what was that like?” I’m sure I was really annoying. [Laughs] But he was very polite and nice.


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Mickey Trotter, Timothy Patrick Murphy

Mick or treat

Mickey Trotter (Timothy Patrick Murphy)

My Timmy Pat. He and I became really great friends. We’d hang out off the set when we weren’t filming, even after “Dallas.” I genuinely adored him. I did not know that he was living a gay lifestyle. I had no idea. It makes me really sad because back in those days, a lot of actors felt like it would hurt their career to be out. When I learned he was dying of AIDS, I called him and we talked but he wouldn’t see me. He wouldn’t let anyone see him that sick. So I think of him with a lot of sadness because to hide a lifestyle, and to hide being sick, that seems like a lot of torture to me. But I loved our storyline, and I loved how the show pushed the envelope with Mickey’s death. The scene where I break down and lash out at Ray is one of my favorites. We did it in one take.


Charlene Tilton, Christopher Atkins, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Peter Richards

Night owls

Peter Richards (Christopher Atkins)

I love Christopher. He was great, but what a storyline! Here’s Lucy chasing this young man and he’s sneaking around with her aunt Sue Ellen. It was so provocative. And one of my very favorite scenes that I ever got to do on the show was the party where Lucy discovers that Peter is not interested in her and she gets drunk and tells him off. I have to say, as an actress, I’m really proud of that performance. And of course J.R. was behind the whole thing. He played Lucy like a puppet. He pulled all the strings! [Laughs]


Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Eddie Cronin, Frederic Lehne, Lucy Ewing

Wait, wait. Don’t tell him.

Eddie Cronin (Frederic Lehne)

This was a fun storyline because it gave me something different to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how believable it was. Lucy parks her beautiful Mercedes so she can take the bus to the diner to work as a waitress? [Laughs] And then of course Eddie loved Betty, who also worked at the diner. I remember the fight scene between Lucy and Betty. Kathleen York is really a tall woman. She’s, like, 5’11 and I’m 5’2. So that was pretty funny.


Andrew Stevens, Casey Denault, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing

Cold Casey

Casey Denault (Andrew Stevens)

Andrew Stevens is another fabulous actor. He was very handsome and we would hang together off the set as well. He was there by himself and I was too. I really liked working with him.


Alex Barton, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Lucy Ewing, Michael Wilding

Eye to eye

Alex Barton (Michael Wilding)

Let me tell you: Michael Wilding was so handsome and nice. His character was interested in J.R.’s wife Cally, and I kept thinking, “Let Lucy come in and break this up!” [Laughs] I thought he was such a gentleman. He’s Elizabeth Taylor’s son in real life, and boy, did he have his mother’s eyes. Just gorgeous. Mesmerizing. He’s the one that got away!


Charlene Tilton’s Next Role: Tammy Faye Bakker

Charlene Tilton Tammy Faye Bakker RAW copy

Double Tammy

So what is Charlene Tilton up to these days?

The beloved “Dallas” star is continuing work on a one-woman stage production on the life of Tammy Faye Bakker. Tilton hopes to take the show on tour before hitting New York City.

Tilton’s other role: proud mom. Her daughter is country music star Cherish Lee, whose self-titled album is available from iTunes. One of the songs, “Nowhere,” has even inspired a fan-made video that features clips of Lucy and her many boyfriends.

To keep up with Tilton, be sure to like her Facebook page.

Which of Lucy Ewing’s love interests did you like best? Share your comments below and read more features from Dallas Decoder.

#DallasChat Daily: Who Stayed Too Long or Left Too Soon?

April Stevens Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Holly Harwood, Jenna Wade, Jeremy Wendell, Kristin Shepard, Lucy Ewing, Lois Chiles, Mary Crosby, Mickey Trotter, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Ray Krebbs, Sheree J. Wilson, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard, Timothy Patrick Murphy, William Smithers

Let’s face it: “Dallas” didn’t always know when to say goodbye. Some characters hung around long after their storyline possibilities were exhausted, while other favorites still had lots of untapped potential when they were written out.

Consider the group pictured here: Lucy, Ray, Donna, Jenna, Kristin, Jeremy, Mickey, Holly and April. (I’ll let you decide which character belongs in which category.) This is just a sampling; you’re welcome to name other characters too.

Your #DallasChat Daily questions: Which “Dallas” characters stayed too long? Which characters left too soon?

Share your comments below and join other #DallasChat Daily discussions.

The Dallas Decoder Interview: Steve Kanaly

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, TNT

Steve Kanaly

Steve Kanaly will be in Texas this week to film his latest guest spot as Ray Krebbs on TNT’s “Dallas.” I spoke to him recently about what it’s been like to walk in Ray’s boots for the past 35 years — and what the future might hold for everyone’s favorite cowboy.

I’m so excited you’re going to be visiting “Dallas” again. What can you tell us about this appearance?

I’m only in a single episode at this point. I made this bad joke more than a year ago, before Larry [Hagman] passed away, that they’re going to have Ray and Lucy in whenever there’s a wedding or a funeral. And that’s pretty much been the story. This is another wedding. It’ll be a big Southfork extravaganza.

Do you have a lot of lines? Fans like me want to see more of Ray.

No, it’s not a lot of lines, but that’s heartening to hear. I’m torn. Do you say, “No, thanks”? Or do you say, “OK, thank you. I’ll continue to be part of the background”? So I end up listening to all of my friends who tell me, “Take the money! Go be part of it. Something good might come of it.” [Laughs] But it’s still a thrill to say that you’re part of this phenomenon of “Dallas.” And this is the first year they’re going to have to get along without the J.R. character, so I want to wish them luck and help where I can. If being on the show helps, then I’m happy to do it.

Would you want to become a regular on the new show?

My wife says, “Be careful what you wish for.” They’re now filming the entire series in Dallas. I love Dallas, but I also love living in Southern California. I have a whole lifestyle here that I wouldn’t want to lose. And Dallas is nice, but I’d like to just be there on occasion. I would not want to be a regular character, if they’re listening out there. I’d like to appear more often.

And Charlene Tilton will be joining you again?

Yeah. And Afton [Audrey Landers] is in this show too. I saw the script and she has a nice role. I think the producers are going to stay with the younger offsprings’ storylines and the old guys will come in from time to time. They’re not really interested in going back to what we did before. And I have a lot of people on social networks saying, “We’ve got to get Ray back. Ray’s my favorite.” It’s all very flattering. I just wish somebody at the studio would pay attention. [Laughs]

There’s also been talk about bringing back Priscilla Presley as Jenna Wade. Ray could figure into that storyline.

There’s always talk. The last time we saw Ray, he was married to Jenna and raising Bobby’s baby. So that’s what I keep telling the guys on the new show. What about Bobby’s baby? [Laughs]

Bobby’s baby is probably 25 now!

Right. I’ve got a 25-year-old that I’ve been raising over in Europe. [Laughs] If Ray Krebbs ever comes back in a big way, that would be one avenue they could pursue.

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, TNT

Final goodbye

Your most recent appearance on the new show was J.R.’s funeral. What was that experience like?

It was very moving. I had been to two celebrations of Larry’s life — one here at his home in Ojai, where I live, and one in Santa Monica. And they were lovely, beautiful events. But it was not a final closing for me — not like playing that scene. It was really cold that day, and something happened when we filmed that scene that never happened to me at any other time in my 44-year career. I was the first guy to speak, and we had done a couple of rehearsals, and it was real quiet because of the somber nature of the moment. And I delivered my speech and I walk off and the next person comes up, and there are eight of us that do this. Well, it’s an uncut scene that runs for eight or nine minutes. And everybody does this without a flub.

Oh, wow.

Not one. And the director came up afterwards and said, “OK, that’s great. Everybody stay where you are. We’re going to go again. We’re going to move the cameras and come in tighter.” And you know, I’ll be darned if everybody wasn’t letter perfect again. I can’t explain it. I’ve never seen this before on a film set.

Maybe Larry was smiling down on everyone.

It was my final goodbye to Larry, although I really can’t say my final goodbye. Larry was my neighbor. From my kitchen table, I can look up on this hilltop where his house was. So Larry’s on my mind every day.

That’s so nice. Let me ask you one more thing about that scene. After Sue Ellen gives her speech, she’s upset and as she returns to her seat, Ray reaches out and takes her hand. Did the director tell you to do that?

No, that was something I wanted to do. I feel so often that they don’t write these things as well as they might. There’s a lot of family interaction that should go on — like in real families — and that was just something that I wanted to add.

I noticed it when I watched the episode and thought, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” It was a small gesture, but it says so much about who Ray is.

That was it. You don’t know if they’re going to pay any attention to that or not. You want to make the most out of your moment. That’s the thing: Even when I go back and I’m doing kind of a walk-on, I want to make the most out of it.

Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Back in the day

Let’s talk about this great character of Ray Krebbs. I’ve got to tell you: My dad loves you. You’re the reason he watched “Dallas.” He grew up loving westerns and considered Ray the last of the TV cowboys.

That’s very flattering. In my first meeting for “Dallas,” my agent told me, “Oh, there’s three male roles that you could possibly play: J.R., Bobby or this guy Ray Krebbs.” And then I saw the script. Well, here’s this cowboy that’s got a girlfriend up in the barn. He runs a ranch in Texas and flies a helicopter, and I’m thinking, “Well, hell, this is my only chance to play a western character. And what a cool one.” Because like your father and a lot of other people my age, we grew up on old westerns. It was Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy. And of course John Wayne and Gary Cooper and all the big film stars that played westerns. And then suddenly westerns dried up. So this was my chance to play a western character and pay homage to the blue-collar guys who work hard and try hard and don’t always get the attention.

Was that the secret of Ray’s appeal — he was someone the audience could identify with?

Yeah, very much so. And the writers and the producers always wanted to make Ray very vulnerable. Pride was his big hurdle in life. You know, he tries a lot things and he fails many times, but he kind of always bounces back. He’s always a very honest and straightforward guy. You can always trust Ray to do what he thinks is right.

Did Ray change as the show progressed?

I think there were a lot of changes in the character. The arc was over 11 years. In the beginning, Ray was pretty loose and fancy-free. In the first episode, he was J.R.’s buddy and he was up in the hayloft with this teenage girl. And then there’s the period of Ray and Donna, and then he graduates to being a Ewing. That, by the way, was a huge thing for me.

Tell me about that.

In the third year of the show, I was not happy. They were not giving Ray Krebbs anything to do, and the show was moving further away from ranch life. So I’m thinking, “Gee, I don’t need this. I have a film career I can go back to.” And Larry Hagman said, “Hey, whoa. Don’t run off here. This thing’s about to catch on. We need you.” And so we came up with some story ideas. I had one I liked, which is Ray marries a Mexican girl. They didn’t want to do that then. The other one was, Ray was an illegitimate son of Jock. So thank you, Larry, for convincing me.

Were you two good buddies?

Yeah, the whole cast was very familial. Larry, from the beginning, having had another series experience, saw that it was an ensemble show. He was looking to be at the top of the heap from the very beginning, but he also knew that we all had to work together and act as a family to promote the show and to bring out the chemistry. He was a leader in that way. And we all joined the club. We became a family. I had my life at home with my wife and children and I had my life with my “Dallas” family.

Besides Ray finding out he was Jock’s son, what are your other favorite storylines? Mine is Ray’s relationship with his cousin Mickey Trotter, and how he tries to take him under his wing the way Jock did with Ray.

The Mickey Trotter stuff was, once again, a case of: It’s Ray’s turn. When you have a big cast, it can’t always be your turn. And when it is, you can get excited about it.

Do you remember working with Timothy Patrick Murphy?

Well, sure. He was a great young guy. Always prepared. Easy to get along with. He had a nice edge to him at times. I thought he did a great job as Mickey.

I want to ask you about one of my other favorite moments, which is your performance during Bobby’s deathbed scene. There’s a shot of you just standing there, holding Susan Howard and sobbing. It never fails to move me.

For me, it really was saying goodbye to a friend [Patrick Duffy], who you love. It wasn’t hard to find that emotion. We were all pretty upset that he was not going to be on the show anymore.

Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly, Susan Howard

Ray and Donna

I mentioned Susan Howard. How did you enjoy working with her?

We got along real well. She’s a very sweet girl. She brought a lot of nice things to the show — and she’s a real Texan. Our families got along well. She was a little bossy. [Laughs] And so I would come home and I would complain to my real wife about my stage wife bossing me around. [Laughs]

Well, you know, Donna was a little bossy.

That was her character too. Ray and Donna became one unit. It was “Ray and Donna.” And you know, you sometimes wish it didn’t quite happen like that. It’s better when they’re struggling in some way.

How did you feel when they wrote her out of the show? Because as you say, you were a pair and suddenly half of you were gone.

It’s just one of those things that nobody could do anything about. There were internal issues that were going on, and from my perspective it meant that there was an opening for Ray Krebbs to branch out and do other things — other business things, a new wife, new storylines. You know, after you’ve been on a show for a long time, you’re looking for those kinds of opportunities, so it was a mixed blessing. I know she was not happy leaving. But that’s just the way it turned out.

Let me get back to one thing. We touched on this briefly, but how are you and Ray alike and how are you different?

Well, I try to be honest with everybody in my personal life. I would say that Ray was like that, a straight shooter. I’m definitely a hard worker, which Ray was. I don’t have quite the amount of pride that he did. I don’t struggle with that. Ray had kind of a violent side to him that I don’t have. But you know, Ray was a guy that I liked to be. It was fun to be Ray. I never wanted to be any of the other characters. I never wished that I was Bobby or J.R. I know Kenny Kercheval wanted to play Ray. I think he was happy to be Cliff Barnes in the end.

I think I’ve read where he auditioned for Ray. I can’t even wrap my mind around what that would have been like.

He would have been good. He’s a wonderful actor. But they let me kind of develop this character. Certainly the story had a lot to do with it, but how I wanted to play it was pretty much was what I got to do and I can thank [producer] Leonard Katzman for that. Leonard trusted me. He was the guy who kind of gave me the nod for the part to begin with. If there was a lot of Steve Kanaly in Ray or a lot of Ray in Steve Kanaly, I don’t know. They got kind of mixed up along the way.

You once did a TV Guide interview where you said people on the set would call you Ray.

Not just the set! [Laughs]

You said that that didn’t happen so much to Linda [Gray] or Larry. No one called them Sue Ellen and J.R. in real life.

Larry would call me Ray sometimes. [Laughs] This was when we were neighbors in Ojai! “Hey, Ray. Oh, I mean Steve.” So it was an enduring character, I think. And I did my homework. I went to the rodeo all the time. And I made friends with all these cowboys. I went into the cattle business. This is funny: The first week I’m on the show, this one guy, who was a Teamster captain and a cowboy, came up and said, “Well, Mr. Kanaly, you’re doing a real good job with this Ray Krebbs, but I’ve got to tell you: Around here, see, nobody wears them damn Levi’s. You got to wear Wrangler’s. You’ve got to wear boot-cut Wranglers. That’s what the real cowboys wear.” So I began to understand that there was a real fashion and you had to pay attention. The cowboys and the people who love the westerns are very critical of what they see. And if you don’t have the right jeans on, or if you wear your hat in some funny way, or if it’s an odd hat in their opinion, they’re going to notice.

Switching gears a bit: You recently filmed a guest spot for “DeVanity,” an online serial.

Yeah. The producer, Michael Caruso, sent me some material and it was a six-page scene. And I read it and said, “Hell, this is good!” And Michael told me, “Well, I wrote it for you.” So I was obligated to say yes. And it’s virtually for zero money. But all the years I ever did “Dallas,” I think the longest scene I ever had was with Barbara Bel Geddes, and it was five pages.

So besides acting, what else are you up to these days?

I’m happily married to my original wife for 38 years. We’re best buds. We’re very invested in being grandparents. We have four grandkids now and they’re all up in San Francisco, so we try to go up there once a month for at least a week or so. One of my other main things is staying healthy, so I work out every day. I do that nearby at a school where I’m a volunteer, teaching a program that has to do with sport shooting. It’s very rewarding. And I paint and play the piano. I’ve done that all of my life.

Tell me about your painting.

I do watercolor, transparent watercolors. It’s something that I’ve done for years.

It’s hard to imagine Ray Krebbs picking up a paintbrush, unless he’s whitewashing a fence maybe.

Yeah, right. I guess there’s one area where Ray and Steve are not at all alike.

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

The Best & Worst of Dallas: Season 6

There’s lots to love and little to loathe about “Dallas’s” sixth season.


Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Oh, darlin’

Every cast member shines during Season 6, but Linda Gray’s performance during Sue Ellen’s alcoholic spiral makes her first among equals. Sue Ellen doesn’t just lose her self-respect; she comes close to losing her life when she drives drunk and crashes J.R.’s car. What impresses me most about Gray is how she keeps the audience rooting for Sue Ellen, even when she makes mistakes. What an amazing performance.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Still our hero

Give it up for Patrick Duffy too. If you were surprised to see Bobby unleash his inner junkyard dog on the most recent season of TNT’s “Dallas,” then check out Season 6 of the original series, which marks the first time the character reveals his ferocious side. The “Dallas” writers take Bobby to a very dark place during the yearlong contest for Ewing Oil, but Duffy makes sure we never forget he’s still the Bobby Ewing we know and love. Bravo.


Speaking of J.R. and Bobby’s contest: It’s too early for me to call this “Dallas’s” all-time greatest plot — I still have eight more seasons to revisit — but it’s hard to imagine anything surpassing the battle royale between the brothers Ewing. The reason the storyline succeeds isn’t the premise, which — let’s face it — is more than a little implausible. (A major corporation splits in half for a year to determine which of its top two executives should be in charge?) No, this arc works because it involves every character and showcases their complexities. Is it surprising to see Bobby play dirty or to witness J.R. wracked with guilt at season’s end? Sure, yet it never feels out of character for them. “Dallas” is always at its best when the characters, not the writers, drive the narrative, and that’s never been truer than it is here.


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

Power hour

This is the first season that I’ve reviewed in which none of the episodes received anything less than a “B” grade. For the record: Year 6 consists of 28 hours, and I handed out nine “B’s,” 16 “A’s” and three (!) “A+’s.” My favorite is “Penultimate,” a powerful hour of television that deals with the fallout from Sue Ellen’s accident and leaves us wondering: What’s more destructive — her addiction to booze or her addiction to J.R.?


The final moments in “Tangled Web” never fail to give me chills. We’re with Sue Ellen every step of the way when she walks across Holly’s driveway, enters the house and sees her in bed with J.R. (Trivia: My readers tell me when this scene was broadcast in 1983, it was scored, but for whatever reason the music doesn’t appear on the DVD. I’d love to see the original version, but I must say: The lonely sounds of Sue Ellen’s heels clicking and clacking help make this scene so effective.) More great moments: Cliff comes to terms with his guilt over Rebecca’s death (this is Ken Kercheval at his most brilliant) and three scenes that showcase the incomparable Barbara Bel Geddes — Miss Ellie predicts the future for Sue Ellen, eulogizes Jock a the Oil Baron’s Ball and testifies at the hearing to overturn his will.

Hands down, my least favorite scene: In “A Ewing is a Ewing,” J.R. comes on to Holly and she tells him “no,” but he has sex with her anyway. Was this really necessary to demonstrate J.R.’s villainy?

Supporting Players

Dallas, Mickey Trotter, Timothy Patrick Murphy


Do you despise cocky Mickey Trotter when he arrives at the beginning of Season 6? Are you surprised when he tries to save Sue Ellen at the end of the year? If you answer “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, then credit Timothy Patrick Murphy, who does a nice job turning Mickey from a punk into a prince over the course of the season. Also, thanks to Murphy, Lucy finally gets a leading man worthy of Charlene Tilton’s charm.


Jock’s portrait is introduced during “Dallas’s” fifth season, but the show makes magnificent use of it throughout Season 6. Jock looms in the background of so many crucial scenes, including the will reading, which marks one of the few occasions when all of the Ewings are together in one room (even Gary’s there!), and J.R. and Ray’s fistfight in “Ewing Inferno,” when all hell breaks loose — literally. TNT, take note: This is how you use a portrait to help keep alive a character’s memory.


Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Susan Howard

Red hat mama

I love Pam’s upswept hairdo and western dress in “Barbecue Three,” her print skirt in “Brothers and Sisters” and Afton’s navy blouse/white skirt combo in “The Ewing Blues,” but my favorite fashion statement is made by Susan Howard, who sports a striking red hat when Donna attends the inaugural meeting of the Texas Energy Commission (also “Barbecue Three”). Eat your heart out, Katherine Wentworth!


Throughout Season 6, Larry Hagman zings like no one else. Here’s J.R. to Holly, upon spotting her lounging around her pool with a shirtless stud: “Traveling with the intellectual set, I see.” To Mickey, after the young man announces he’s a Trotter, not a Krebbs: “Oh, well. I’m bound to sleep more soundly tonight knowing that.” To Katherine, upon hearing she has something to discuss with him: “Oh, don’t tell me. Not Cliff Barnes. I couldn’t handle that.” In the end, though, my favorite quip comes from Sue Ellen, who is aghast when J.R. criticizes Pam for giving “aid and comfort to the opposition” during the hearing to overturn Jock’s will. “Opposition?” Sue Ellen says. “J.R., that’s your mother.”

What do you love and loathe about “Dallas’s” sixth season? Share your comments below and read more “Best & Worst” reviews.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You are a Cocky, Snotty Little Kid’

Caribbean Connection, Dallas, Donna Krebbs, Mickey Trotter, Susan Howard, Timothy Patrick Murphy

Ouch, Donna

In “Caribbean Connection,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, Mickey (Timothy Patrick Murphy) enters the Krebbs home as Donna (Susan Howard) stands at the kitchen counter, writing on a notepad.

DONNA: Hello, Mickey.

MICKEY: Hi. Is Ray here?

DONNA: [Looks up] No.

MICKEY: Well, I guess he’ll be here any minute, huh? We’re supposed to go someplace together.

DONNA: Well, if you’re gonna wait, why don’t you make yourself a cup of coffee?

MICKEY: Yeah. [Pours himself a cup while Donna moves to the sofa, which is strewn with papers] Boy, I’ll tell you, it’s amazing. [Sips]

DONNA: [Looking at files] What’s amazing?

MICKEY: Well, that people as rich as you and Ray live in a house like this?

DONNA: [Smiles] You don’t approve of the way that we live?

MICKEY: This place? I don’t know. I guess it’s all right for a ranch hand. I tell you, I’ve seen better looking tract houses.

DONNA: [Puts down the file] You know, Mickey, Ray built this house with his own two hands.

MICKEY: [Smiles] Yeah, I built a doghouse once with my own two hands. Doesn’t mean I’d live in it. [She looks away.] Sorry. It was just a joke. I tell you one thing, though. If I came into one-tenth the kind of money you two have, I’d get me a house that showed it. Something like Southfork. [Sits on the arm of the chair near her] Now you have to admit, that’s a fine looking house.

DONNA: Yes, it’s quite a house. Full of loving and warm, tender people. [Mickey chuckles.] Money means a lot to you, doesn’t it?

MICKEY: I wouldn’t mind having a little.

DONNA: Is that why you’re so interested in Lucy?

MICKEY: No. You’re real wrong about that.


MICKEY: [Gets up, walks away] You know, I really want to know something. What is it that you have against me? What did I ever do to you? [Silence] Come on, really. I mean, is it because once I got in trouble in Kansas? Because Ray had to bail me out. What?

DONNA: No, no. It isn’t that. I happen to think that everybody is entitled to a few mistakes.

MICKEY: Then what? I wanna know.

DONNA: [Stands, raises her voice] All right, I’m going to tell you: because you are a cocky, snotty little kid. And Ray happens to think the world of you. He has a great big emotional investment in you and you know, I just keep thinking that one of these days, you are going to let him down with a great big thud.

MICKEY: [Softly] I won’t let Ray down. Look, yes, I screwed up in the past but I’m really trying to straighten myself out.

DONNA: Maybe you are. Maybe I’m the one who’s wrong. I hope so.

MICKEY: I wouldn’t hurt Ray. Not if I can help it.

DONNA: I hope not.

Ray (Steve Kanaly) enters. He seems rushed.

RAY: Sorry I’m late.

MICKEY: No, that’s all right. I just got here.

RAY: Well, you ready to go?

MICKEY: Yeah, sorry. [Donna takes his coffee mug. Mickey walks past Ray and exits.]

RAY: You OK, honey?

DONNA: [Smiles] I’m fine.

RAY: [Smiles, gives her an air kiss] Bye.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 124 — ‘Caribbean Connection’

Bobby Ewing, Caribbean Connection, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Scene to remember

The final moments in “Caribbean Connection” set up one of “Dallas’s” best week-to-week cliffhangers. J.R. is in a seedy cocktail lounge, delivering $100,000 in cash to Walt Driscoll, along with instructions for him to use the money to pay off the middleman in their scheme to sell oil to Cuba. Little does J.R. know that Bobby has discovered J.R.’s plot and is in midst of creating a replica of Driscoll’s briefcase. The next time we see Bobby, he’s on his office phone talking to Ray, who has followed Driscoll to his motel. “I’m on my way. You keep him busy if you have to,” Bobby says. He rushes through the Ewing Oil reception area and runs into J.R., who steps off the elevator as Bobby steps on. The ever-cocky J.R. tells Bobby that it’s going to be “a red-letter day” for his half of the company. Bobby smiles slyly. “Maybe you’re right, J.R.,” he says. “Maybe it will be a day to remember.”

Freeze frame, cue questions: What is Bobby up to? Where’s the dummy briefcase? How will Ray keep Driscoll from getting away? And who is “Ted,” the person Bobby tells Ray to call before he hangs up the phone? The audience won’t learn the answers until the next episode, the appropriately titled “The Sting,” but no matter. Like all great cliffhangers, this sequence is done so well, we don’t require an immediate resolution. Watching this piece of expertly made television is its own form of satisfaction. Surely Patrick Duffy, who directed “Caribbean Connection,” and editor Lloyd Richardson deserve a lot of credit, but no one contributes more to the success of this sequence than composer Richard Lewis Warren. His underscore, with a steady beat that mimics a ticking clock, adds urgency and tension, making this one of the sixth season’s highlights.

Bobby’s attempt to foil J.R.’s Cuban deal also offers another example of how much the younger brother has changed since the fight for Ewing Oil began. Earlier in “Caribbean Connection,” we see Bobby snoop around Sly’s desk in search of evidence linking J.R. to Driscoll. Later, Bobby and Ray sneak into Driscoll’s hotel room seeking more clues. Bobby is also unusually cranky in this episode: He snaps at Ray when they’re staking out Driscoll in the motel parking lot and he’s rude to Afton when she tells him that Pam helped Cliff forge a business deal between with Mark Graison. “It’s amazing how nice she can be to some people, isn’t it?” Bobby sniffs. The sadness that he felt when Pam left him a few episodes ago has gradually turned into anger. Now Bobby seems downright bitter. Notably, this is the first “Dallas” episode in which Duffy and Victoria Principal have no scenes together.

“Caribbean Connection” yields several other good moments, including Donna’s confrontation with Mickey. I’ve always believed she was a little hard on him in this scene, especially when she calls him a “cocky, snotty little kid.” Then again, who can blame her? The audience knows that Mickey has softened since he arrived at Southfork, but Donna hasn’t been privy to his transformation, which has mostly occurred in his private conversations with Lucy. Besides, the most important part of this scene isn’t what it reveals about Donna and Mickey’s relationship to each other, but what it reveals about Mickey’s feelings toward his cousin. “Ray happens to think the world of you. … I just keep thinking that one of these days, you are going to let him down with a great big thud,” Donna says. Mickey’s response: “I won’t let Ray down!” Timothy Patrick Murphy delivers the line with such conviction, there’s no doubt that Mickey has come to think the world of Ray too.

Another great scene in “Caribbean Connection”: J.R. and Sue Ellen’s meeting with Roy Ralston, the local TV host who’s trying to talk J.R. into running for office. Sue Ellen worries a campaign could bring their marital skeletons out of the closet, but she tells J.R. she’ll go along with his political aspirations regardless. “I’m touched, Sue Ellen. I truly am,” J.R. responds. The exchange brings to mind a terrific deleted scene from the new “Dallas’s” first-season DVD set in which Sue Ellen, now a gubernatorial candidate, tells her campaign backers that she won’t run away from her scandalous past. The “Caribbean Connection” scene also seems unusually relevant, given the real-life political headlines from recent years. Ralston predicts voters won’t hold J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marital troubles against them. He tells the couple: “Despite all your earlier problems, you’re still together and more in love than ever before. I can just see it: True love conquers all!”

Spoken like a modern-day politico, huh?

Grade: B


Caribbean Connection, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Modern marriage


Season 6, Episode 21

Airdate: March 4, 1983

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 4th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Will Lorin

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: J.R. pressures Holly to send 50 million barrels of oil to Puerto Rico, unaware the real destination is Cuba. Bobby discovers J.R.’s connection to Driscoll and works with Ray to set up Driscoll. Katherine encourages Mark to keep pursuing Pam. Sue Ellen worries her past will hurt J.R.’s political prospects. Mickey and Donna clash.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Mary Armstrong (Louise), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Sly), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Dulcie Jordan (maid), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), John Reilly (Roy Ralston), Patricia Richarde (Ms. Finch), Joey Sheck (Mark’s friend), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

“Caribbean Connection” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 115 — ‘Barbecue Three’

Barbecue Three, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Mr. Right

In “Barbecue Three,” J.R. finally reveals his plan to win the contest for Ewing Oil: He begins flooding the market with cut-rate gasoline, hoping to drive up his half of the company’s profits. This ignites a firestorm within the cartel, prompting Cliff and a band of angry oilmen to come to the annual Southfork barbecue and demand J.R. stop lowering prices. The Ewings don’t like what J.R.’s doing either, but to everyone’s surprise, they close ranks around him when the confrontation with the cartel threatens to turn violent. “If you want to get to J.R., you’re going to have to come through us,” Bobby tells the group.

Like Ellie’s defense of J.R. in the fifth-season classic “Waterloo at Southfork,” this is another example of the Ewings circling the wagons against outsiders, one of “Dallas’s” hallmarks. There’s another reason this scene is satisfying: For once, J.R. isn’t wrong. Sure, he pulled some dirty tricks to get his hands on the crude he needed to produce all that cheap gas, but the cartel has no right to complain about it. J.R. is selling his product at a lower price than his competitors. Who are they to tell him to stop? (On another note: Why doesn’t Marilee Stone join her fellow cartel members in confronting J.R.? Surely it isn’t because she’s a woman. If you ask me, Marilee is much more intimidating than mild-mannered Jordan Lee, who stands alongside Cliff in this scene.)

To be fair, the other characters’ objections to J.R.’s scheme feel a little more justified than the cartel’s. Before the barbecue, Bobby complains J.R. will show “huge short-term profits and deplete our reserves,” which seems like a reasonable concern. Meanwhile, Donna, now a member of the Texas Energy Commission, becomes irritated when her fellow regulators backtrack on their opposition to J.R. As Donna explains to Punk Anderson, “Some of the members of the commission have political ambitions. They’re not about to vote against lower gasoline prices, even if it means conserving our oil reserves.” Fair enough, although the comment feels a little hypocritical coming from the widow of a governor and the stepmother of a senator.

Indeed, Arthur Bernard Lewis’s script covers so many different reactions to J.R.’s cheap gas gambit — his family, his competitors in the cartel and the politicians all weigh it —“Barbecue Three” feel like a lesson in capitalism. Lewis even manages to reflect the consumers’ point of view, albeit subtly. J.R. announces his cut-rate gas plan at the opening of the first J.R. Ewing-branded gas station, where we see a couple of attendants lowering the per-gallon price from $1.21 to 89 cents. Later, the TV news coverage shows long lines of motorists waiting to fill up. There’s also a scene where Sly, J.R.’s secretary, tells her boss she thinks what he’s doing is “terrific” and hopes he can “keep it up.” (Seeing Deborah Rennard deliver this line, I couldn’t help but imagine Sly’s everyday working-class drudgeries: fighting traffic during morning rush hour, standing in line at the bank to deposit her paycheck, shopping for bargains at The Store.)

“Barbecue Three” also delivers two Lucy/Mickey scenes that showcase the nice chemistry between Charlene Tilton and Timothy Patrick Murphy. In the first, Mickey asks Lucy on a date, only to be introduced to her cold shoulder. Later, at the barbecue, he tries again to charm her and begins to realize her snobbish demeanor masks deeper problems. Patrick Duffy also has several good moments in this episode, including a monologue in which Bobby promises Pam he won’t lose the fight for Ewing Oil: “Daddy taught me a lot of tricks in my early days with the company. Things that I hated doing. But I learned. And I learned real good. And I can get right down in the mud if I have to.” It’s a nice reminder that Bobby’s recent discovery of his inner junkyard dog on TNT’s “Dallas” has precedence.

I also appreciate the details in “Barbecue Three.” The scene leading up to the first Texas Energy Commission meeting is expertly executed. Director Leonard Katzman shows us Ray and Donna (looking chic in her red hat) arriving at the municipal building and being greeted by a throng of news reporters, which helps lend the moment a sense of drama and suspense. You get the feeling something big is about to happen, a notion that’s reinforced by the sight of so many familiar oil industry leaders in the audience. And even though the “Dallas” producers actually make us sit through the commission members reciting the pledge of allegiance, it really doesn’t slow down the momentum. Later, when J.R. is planning his press conference, I like his brief exchange with his public relations chief. Sometimes you get the feeling Ewing Oil has no other employees besides the people who work in J.R. and Bobby’s executive suite, so it’s nice to see the show acknowledge that the Ewing brothers don’t do everything themselves.

There are a couple of nice touches during the barbecue sequences too. Debra Lynn Rogers, who played Toni, the woman Ray flirted with during the previous season’s “Barbecue Two,” plays the role again in this episode, except now she’s dancing with Mickey. Meanwhile, Peyton E. Park, who played Larry, the Ewings’ caterer in “Barbecue Two,” reprises the role here. In “Barbecue Three,” we also meet a woman who appears to be Jordan’s wife. He introduces her as Evelyn, although in the third-season episode “Paternity Suit,” Jordan seemed to refer to his spouse as “Sara.” Is this a continuity error, or are they two different women? If it’s the latter, I have to wonder: Between Sara, Kristin and now Evelyn, is Jordan trying to give J.R. a run for his money as “Dallas’s” biggest lothario?

Grade: A


Barbecue Three, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Gasman cometh


Season 6, Episode 12

Airdate: December 17, 1982

Audience: 21.8 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: The Texas Energy Commission revokes J.R.’s variance but faces public backlash when he opens a chain of popular cut-rate gas stations. Holly asks Bobby to help her get J.R. out of her company. Mickey realizes Lucy is troubled. After angry oilmen confront J.R. at the Ewing Barbecue, Miss Ellie vows to go to court to break Jock’s will and sell Ewing Oil.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Ken Farmer (oilman), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), James Karen (Elton Lawrence), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Julio Medina (Henry Figueroa), Peyton E. Park (Larry), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Debra Lynn Rogers (Toni), Kirk Scott (Buchanan), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Arlen Dean Snyder (George Hicks), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Robert Swick (Ewing Oil employee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Barbecue Three” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 114 — ‘Post Nuptial’

Dallas, Linda Gray, Post Nuptial, Sue Ellen Ewing

December bride

“Post Nuptial” picks up where the previous “Dallas” episode left off, as the Ewings and their guests wait to see what will happen after Cliff stands up during the middle of J.R. and Sue Ellen’s wedding ceremony. The answer: Not much. After a few moments of cringe-worthy silence, Cliff walks to the bar and pours himself a drink while the minister completes the vows and announces that J.R. and Sue Ellen are once again husband and wife. If there’s a lesson here for “Dallas” fans, it might be this: Lackluster cliffhangers are bound to produce underwhelming resolutions.

Of course, Cliff hasn’t caused his last scene. At the reception, he refuses Pam and Afton’s pleas to leave, then asks Sue Ellen to dance. Sue Ellen looks rattled and reluctantly accepts Cliff’s offer, which stretches credibility a little too thinly for my taste. It was one thing for Sue Ellen to quietly renew her relationship with Cliff while she was a divorcee, but to dance with him on the day she remarries J.R.? That seems like a lot for the audience to swallow. Don’t forget: This is the man who once sued J.R. and Sue Ellen for custody of John Ross, claiming he was the child’s biological father.

More than anything, Cliff and Sue Ellen’s scene at the reception is a plot device to squeeze a fight scene into this episode. When J.R. spots his wife and his enemy on the dance floor, he approaches Cliff and punches him, which leads to a brawl that ends with almost every lead actor on the show falling or being pushed into the Southfork swimming pool. A confession: I’ve never loved these “dunkings” as much as other fans seem to. It’s always seemed a little silly to me, and by the end of the series, the pool fights had become pretty predictable. Since this is one of the first, though, I can appreciate how much fun it must have been in 1982 to see the tuxedo-clad Ewings and Cliff splashing around the pool. The best part is when Mickey Trotter joins the fracas, seemingly for the hell of it.

(You also have to enjoy J.R. and Mickey’s encounter earlier at the reception, when the young ranch hand makes the mistake of asking J.R. about Lucy’s whereabouts. Larry Hagman and Timothy Patrick Murphy both have charm to spare and good chemistry together; what a shame this is one of the few scenes their characters share during Murphy’s too-brief tenure on the show.)

The wedding scenes in “Post Nuptial” are limited to the first act, allowing scriptwriter David Paulsen to devote the remainder of the hour to advancing the season’s storylines. Naturally, J.R. remains the center of the action and keeps the audience guessing. He whisks Sue Ellen away on a quick honeymoon to a waterfront resort, where she tells him she wants “a total commitment” from him. “No other women, no games,” she says. This seems like the kind of conversation the couple should have had before they walked down the aisle, but no matter. J.R. assures Sue Ellen he’s not going to repeat the mistakes he made during their first go-round as husband and wife. “I promise you,” he says.

Does he mean it? I believe he does. After all, J.R. resisted the temptation to cheat with Holly in “The Ewing Touch,” one of the previous episodes. The audience is less sure of J.R.’s sincerity at the end of “Post Nuptial,” when Bobby — having snooped around into J.R.’s business dealings — confronts him with evidence that suggests J.R. is selling oil to countries on the government’s embargo list. “You’re talking about an illegal act, Bob. … I assure you, a thought like that never crossed my mind,” J.R. says. He sounds sincere, but since “Dallas” hasn’t revealed the reason he’s pumping so much extra oil, we can’t quite be sure if he’s telling the truth this time.

I also like the “Post Nuptial” scene where Afton vows to leave Cliff after the brouhaha he caused at the wedding. In a tense moment, she also comes close to confessing her recent indiscretion with Gil Thurman, only to chicken out at the last minute and collapse into Cliff’s arms. I’m a fan the Ken Kercheval/Audrey Landers pairing over the long haul, but this is one point in their relationship where I don’t understand why she sticks with him.

Thank goodness we have Sue Ellen around to cheer on. In addition to the scene where she demands that “total commitment” from J.R., we get to see her accompany him to the refinery he wants to buy. When the refinery owner informs the couple his business isn’t for sale, Sue Ellen pipes up with, “You haven’t even heard our offer yet.” It’s an early glimpse of the shrewd energy executive she’ll one day become. Too bad it takes a few decades for it to happen.

Grade: B


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Post Nuptial

Who do you trust?


Season 6, Episode 11

Airdate: December 10, 1982

Audience: 21.8 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Michael Preece

Synopsis: After J.R. and Sue Ellen are married, Afton decides to leave Cliff but doesn’t follow through. Holly tells Bobby about her connection to J.R. Bobby fears J.R. may be illegally selling oil to countries on the State Department’s embargo list. Donna, now a member of the Texas Energy Commission, vows to rescind J.R.’s variance to pump excess oil. Lucy rejects the advances of her client, Bill Johnson.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Parley Baer (minister), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Ivan Bonar (Perkins), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Jon Cypher (Jones), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Tom Fuccello (Senator Dave Culver), Gerry Gibson (Jimmy Otis), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Nicholas Hammond (Bill Johnson), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Post Nuptial” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 107 — ‘The Big Ball’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Big Ball, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Miss Ellie Ewing, Patrick Duffy

Mama’s family

No matter how often I see it, the next-to-last scene in “The Big Ball” always gives me goose bumps. Punk Anderson stands before a packed ballroom of tuxedo-clad oilmen and their gussied up wives and announces the establishment of the Jock Ewing memorial scholarship. “I don’t know what old Jock would have said about this, but … maybe Miss Ellie could speak for him,” Punk says. The camera cuts to the Ewing matriarch, who is weeping at a table with her family. Silence. Slowly, Bobby rises and begins clapping, followed — one by one — by J.R., Pam and Sue Ellen. Finally, the entire room erupts as Ellie’s sons escort her to the stage.

The speech that follows proves worthy of the dramatic setup. “Jock Ewing was a great man, measured in the only true value of a man. Not in money or power, but in friends,” Ellie says. This is my favorite line in Leonard Katzman’s script. I don’t remember watching “The Big Ball” on the night it debuted in 1982, but I remember reading that statement a few years later in Laura von Wormer’s “Dallas” book. I’ve never forgotten it. I also love how Barbara Bel Geddes delivers the line and the rest of the speech. This is one of those moments when Bel Geddes makes me forget I’m watching an actress playing a TV character. In that moment, she is a Texas widow eulogizing her husband in front of their family and friends. It’s a beautiful, moving performance.

“The Big Ball” is the first “Dallas” episode set at the Oil Baron’s Ball, which became one of the show’s best-loved traditions. In later years, the ball is the setting for big, dramatic showdowns and even a food fight or two, but the affair depicted here is rather subdued. Not that I’m complaining. The real appeal of the Oil Baron’s Ball episodes has always come from seeing the entire “Dallas” universe in one room. From this perspective, “The Big Ball” doesn’t disappoint. In addition to Ellie and her sons and their significant others, this ball brings together Cliff, Rebecca, Clayton, Jordan, Marilee, Holly and an interesting newcomer: Frank Crutcher, played by the old western actor Dale Robertson, who had recently concluded a brief-but-memorable run on rival soap “Dynasty.”

The ballroom sequences contrast nicely with the scenes set in Emporia, Kansas, where Ray and Donna attend the funeral of Amos Krebbs. I don’t know where these scenes were shot — my guess is they were filmed somewhere in North Texas — but it looks and feels like a sleepy town in the Midwest. When Ray and Donna arrive at Aunt Lil’s house, notice the neighbors sitting on the front porch across the street. The guest stars lend an air of authenticity too: Kate Reid is utterly believable in her second appearance as humble, homespun Lil, while Timothy Patrick Murphy is terrific in his “Dallas” debut as cocky, restless Mickey.

I also can’t help but feel touched by Steve Kanaly’s heartfelt performance in the scene where Amos is buried. Ray, who doesn’t want his Kansas relatives to know that he was really Jock Ewing’s son, kneels at his mother Margaret’s tombstone. “Probably better that it happened this way, Mama,” Ray says. “Nobody knows the truth. Chances are old Amos is probably headed in the opposite direction than you anyhow.” Besides serving as this episode’s other great speech, Ray’s monologue puts a nice punctuation mark on the saga of Jock, Amos and Margaret, which was revealed in the fourth-season classic “The Fourth Son.” The funeral might be for Amos, but Margaret is the one we end up mourning in this scene.

“The Big Ball” also features Jared Martin’s first appearance on “Dallas” since Dusty bid Sue Ellen farewell in the fifth-season episode “Starting Over.” I’ve always loved Martin’s chemistry with Linda Gray, but frankly their characters annoy me a little here. Dusty rides out to a Southern Cross pasture to find Sue Ellen, they have a heart-to-heart talk and then they return together to the house where — surprise! — he introduces her to his new wife. It makes for a dramatic moment, but couldn’t Dusty have found a kinder way to let Sue Ellen know he has married another woman? The disappointment ends up sending Sue Ellen back to Southfork, and not a moment too soon. After all, she does have a child to raise, doesn’t she?

Grade: A


Big Ball, Dallas, Kate Reid, Lil Trotter, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

No place like home


Season 6, Episode 4

Airdate: October 22, 1982

Audience: 20.7 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer and Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Sue Ellen leaves the Southern Cross after Dusty visits with his new wife. Ray and Donna go to Kansas for Amos’s funeral, where they meet Mickey Trotter, Ray’s angry young cousin. At the Oil Baron’s Ball, Miss Ellie meets Frank Crutcher and Pam discovers her mother is dating Clayton. After the ball, Ellie decides to have Jock declared legally dead.

Cast: Melody Anderson (Linda Farlow), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Alice Hirson (Mavis Anderson), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Kate Reid (Lil Trotter), Dale Robertson (Frank Crutcher), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

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