Dallas Parallels: Rebels Without a Clue

Dallas, False Confessions, James Richard Beaumont, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Sasha Mitchell, TNT, Tunnel of Love

J.R. Ewing wouldn’t dream of betraying his beloved daddy, the mighty Jock Ewing. Unfortunately for J.R., his own sons have a bad habit of rebelling against their father.

In “False Confessions,” one of TNT’s second-season “Dallas” episodes, John Ross meets with Cliff Barnes to tell him J.R. is plotting against Cliff’s daughter Pamela. Cliff is suspicious of his longtime enemy’s son. “Are you telling me that you’re willing to betray your own father?” he asks. John Ross responds by explaining J.R.’s parental performance has been less than stellar, but Cliff is too blinded by his own hatred to trust John Ross. “You’ve wasted enough of my time today,” Cliff says.

The exchange evokes memories of “Tunnel of Love,” a segment from the original “Dallas’s” final season. In that episode, Cliff receives a visit from James Richard Beaumont, J.R.’s eldest son, who offers to give Cliff the evidence he needs (“incredible information, fully documented!”) to finally bring down J.R. But Cliff passes, citing two reasons: He’s skeptical of James (“Why should I trust you more than I trust your daddy?”) and he’s reeling from the death of April Ewing, Bobby’s wife and Cliff’s friend. Cliff kicks James out of his office, telling him, “Why don’t you take your fully documented information and go blow it out your exhaust?”

The two scenes reveal a lot about Cliff, who had mostly put his feud with the Ewings behind him when he spoke with James but was angrier than ever by the time he encountered John Ross. (What made Cliff so hateful? Could it be his hatred of the Ewings is another Barnes family genetic disorder; perhaps it went it to remission by the end of the original “Dallas,” only to flare up again in the years before the new series began.)

More than anything, these scenes tell us a lot about J.R.’s sons, who seem as oblivious as they are rebellious. James is aware of Cliff’s friendship with April; shouldn’t James have known Cliff would be grief-stricken in the aftermath of her death? Likewise, John Ross knows better than anyone how much Cliff hates J.R.; why would John Ross expect Cliff to trust the information he brings him?

Of course, these are sons of J.R. Ewing we’re talking about. The apple falls only so far from the tree. When John Ross tells Cliff that he’s looking out for Pamela, he can’t resist getting in a J.R.-style dig at Cliff, telling him, “If you had paid her more attention, it wouldn’t have come to this.” Likewise, when Cliff brushes off James, James delivers a parting shot worthy of his daddy: “You know, you’re as big a loser as everybody says you are.”

Something tells me that line in particular would have made J.R. awfully proud.


‘Why Should I Trust You More Than I Trust Your Daddy?’

Dallas, Cliff Barnes, Ken Kercheval, Tunnel of Love


In “Tunnel of Love,” a 14th-season “Dallas” episode, a depressed Cliff (Ken Kercheval) sits at his office desk, mindlessly tossing miniature darts at a tabletop board, when James (Sasha Mitchell) enters.

JAMES: [Smiling] Mr. Barnes, I’d like to talk to you.

CLIFF: Not really a very good time. [Briefly looks up, then tosses a dart]

JAMES: [Approaches the desk] Oh, I know. I just found out about April myself. You were good friends, weren’t you?

CLIFF: Yeah. Real good friends. [Tosses a dart]

JAMES: Well, look, I won’t take up much of your time.

CLIFF: [Sighs] Well, that’s good because I’m not really in the best shape right now. [Tosses a dart]

JAMES: I have a deal for you.

CLIFF: It’s a lousy time to try to make a deal with me. [Tosses a dart]

JAMES: It’s about J.R. I know you’ve been trying to bring him down for years. Well, I can make it happen for you.

CLIFF: Some other time.

JAMES: Did you hear what I said?

CLIFF: Yeah, I heard you. [Tosses a dart]

JAMES: Look, I’m giving you a chance to finally nail him to the cross. I’ve got incredible information, fully documented. We could take him down together.

CLIFF: Why should I? [Looks up]

JAMES: Isn’t it obvious?

CLIFF: No, it’s not obvious. You’re his son. Why should I trust you more than I trust your daddy?

JAMES: Hey, I hate him worse than you do.

CLIFF: Well, maybe that’s so. But like I say, timing is everything. And right now, your timing stinks. [Tosses a dart]

JAMES: What are you talking about? Hey, I’m giving this to you. I don’t want anything in return.

CLIFF: You know something? You’re not a bit more compassionate than your old man. Did you ever think of what Bobby’s state of mind is right now? And you want me to go gunning for his brother — at this time?

JAMES: This has nothing to do with Bobby.

CLIFF: That’s where you’re wrong. You just don’t understand. It’s a family. So why don’t you take your fully documented information and go blow it out your exhaust?

JAMES: You know, you’re as big a loser as everybody says you are. [Turns and walks toward the door]

CLIFF: One of these days maybe you’ll grow up. [James turns to face him.] And hopefully you will find out that revenge is not the most important thing.

James walks out the door as Cliff tosses another dart.


‘You’re Willing to Betray Your Own Father?’

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


In “False Confessions,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) arrives at a fairgrounds stadium, where Cliff (Ken Kercheval) sits waiting for him.

JOHN ROSS: Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Barnes.

CLIFF: [Looks up] What can I do for you?

JOHN ROSS: [Sits next to him] I wanted to let you know that your guy Frank? He’s got a deal with J.R. Conspiring against your daughter.

CLIFF: Well, J.R. plotting against my family — that’s no secret.

JOHN ROSS: What about Frank?

CLIFF: Frank is like family. He’s been with me for over 25 years.

JOHN ROSS: Then he’s about to forfeit one hell of a pension. J.R. told me himself. I figured if there’s anybody that can stop him, it’d be you.

CLIFF: Are you telling me that you’re willing to betray your own father?

JOHN ROSS: Shouldn’t come as a surprise that his performance as a father hasn’t exactly gained my undying loyalty.

CLIFF: Aren’t you taking a dangerous risk being here talking to me behind his back?

JOHN ROSS: Let’s just say my interest depends on Pamela’s wellbeing.

CLIFF: Why are you so interested in my daughter’s wellbeing?

JOHN ROSS: One of us should be. If you had paid her more attention, it wouldn’t have come to this.

CLIFF: I took this meeting out of respect for your mother. You’ve wasted enough of my time today. [Rises, calls out to his henchmen]

JOHN ROSS: [Rising] You may not believe me, but you’re foolish not to check up on what Frank is up to with J.R.

CLIFF: [Glares at him] Goodbye, John Ross. [Turns and leaves]

What do you think of James and John Ross’s betrayals of J.R.? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Dal-List: Classic ‘Dallas’s’ 8 Most Moving Funerals

Dallas, Family Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Texas mourn

J.R. Ewing will be laid to rest in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” a special “Dallas” episode that TNT will telecast on Monday, March 11. Raise a glass of bourbon (and don’t forget the branch!) as we recall the most moving funerals from the original series, as well as two Ewing funerals seen on its “Knots Landing” spinoff.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, J.R. Returns, Larry Hagman

Surprise, surprise

8. J.R. Ewing. It’s easy to forget that J.R. (Larry Hagman) already had one funeral. In “J.R. Returns,” a 1996 “Dallas” reunion movie, he faked his death as part of a convoluted plot to wrest control of Ewing Oil from Cliff. The memorial service brought Bobby, Sue Ellen, John Ross and Christopher together at Southfork, along with Cliff, who announced, “I just came to make sure he was dead.” While John Ross (Omri Katz) was eulogizing his father, J.R. himself arrived – on the back of a truck hauling pigs, no less. “Hey, what’s going on? Bobby throwing a party?” he asked. It was silly, but what I wouldn’t give to have J.R. turn up as a surprise guest in “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”

Chris Weatherhead, Dallas, Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Son, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Meg Callahan

Black cat down

7. Blackie Callahan. Blackie who? As “Dallas” neared the end of its run, the producers cast Denver Pyle as Blackie, an aging wildcatter who helped J.R. find oil in the town where Jock had his first strike. In the 1991 episode “Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons,” one of “Dallas’s” final hours, J.R. attended Blackie’s funeral, where his daughter Meg (Chris Weatherhead) realized J.R. had been paying Blackie royalties out of his own pocket. The scene was surprisingly touching, not just because it showcased J.R.’s softer side, but also because of Meg’s poignant dialogue: “I guess that’s what life’s all about. The young taking over from the old, shaping things their way.” How prophetic.

Abby Ewing, Dallas, Donna Mills, Knots Landing, Finishing Touches

Black widow

6. Gary Ewing. “Knots Landing” fans were stunned when Gary (Ted Shackelford) was suddenly murdered in 1984. Everyone on the cul-de-sac turned out for his funeral, which was seen at the end of the episode “Finishing Touches.” The sad affair brought out the best in everyone – except for Gary’s widow Abby (Donna Mills), who refused to make peace with his ex-wife Valene. As the minister read from Ecclesiastes, a lone guitarist strummed in the background and we saw Gary’s friends and neighbors mourning him quietly. Then the camera cut to … Gary, seated in what looked like a police station. It turned out he was alive and in a witness protection program. Thank goodness Miss Ellie never heard about any of this!

Dallas, Gary Ewing, Knots Landing, Love and Death, Ted Shackelford

Bachelor father

5. Valene Ewing. When Joan Van Ark left “Knots Landing” in 1992, the producers “killed off” Valene in a fiery car crash. CBS had slashed the show’s budget, so no departed stars came back for her funeral, which was seen in the episode “Love and Death.” But two important figures in Val’s were mentioned, at least: Lilimae was said to be not up for the trip, while Lucy was traveling in Europe and couldn’t be reached. At the memorial service, Val’s best friend Karen MacKenzie eulogized her as “the little engine that could.” It proved too much for Gary and Val’s little girl Betsy, who ran away in tears. She missed her mommy, but she was probably also afraid Karen was going to break into her “Pollyanna” speech.

Bobby Ewing, Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Jock's Trial Part 2, Ken Kercheval, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

Digger departed

4. Digger Barnes. Poor, old Digger. After a life of hard livin’, Keenan Wynn’s tragic character was laid to rest in the last scene of the 1980 episode “Jock’s Trial, Part 2.” It was a fittingly humble affair. When the minister asked Digger’s sister Maggie if she’d like him to say anything special, she wearily responded, “No, please. Just the 23rd Psalm. It’s all he’d have had patience for.” The funeral was difficult for Pam (Victoria Principal), who had just discovered that Digger wasn’t her “real” daddy, and Cliff (Ken Kercheval), who slowly walked away from the gravesite before the final freeze frame. Maybe Cliff was sad – or maybe he was just ticked that so many Ewings showed up.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Requiem, Victoria Principal

Fit for a queen

3. Rebecca Wentworth. Priscilla Pointer’s grande dame received a grand sendoff in “Requiem,” a 1983 episode directed by Hagman. He memorably showed three black limos arriving at the cemetery and allowed us to watch as the Barneses and Ewings exited the cars, one by one. In true “Dallas” style, Pam was accompanied by Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and half-sister Katherine (Morgan Brittany), who was secretly plotting to steal him for herself. The crowd also included a slew of recurring characters – including Punk and Mavis Anderson and Marilee Stone – and a throng of paparazzi. It felt like the kind of funeral that a Texas society matron would receive – but what was up with all those palm trees in the background?

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Tunnel of Love

Cry Bobby

2. April Ewing. When Bobby’s wife April (Sheree J. Wilson) was killed during their Parisian honeymoon, he buried her in the City of Lights. This always struck me as odd. Shouldn’t April have been laid to rest in Dallas or maybe Ohio, where she grew up? On the other hand, you can’t deny that the funeral, seen in the 1990 episode “Tunnel of Love,” is as sad as April’s death. Bobby is the only mourner there, although young cyclist Mark Harris (played by Duffy’s son Padraic and named for his “Man From Atlantis” character), who tried to help Bobby rescue April, watches from the distance. The fact that priest conducts the service in French reinforces the sense of isolation. Never before has our hero seemed so alone.

Dallas, Family Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Good grief

1. Bobby Ewing. Bobby’s burial in 1985’s “The Family Ewing” is exquisite. Everything feels right: It’s a fairly intimate gathering in a lush Southfork pasture, attended by the Ewings, the Barneses and close associates like Harv Smithfield. Even the wardrobe is perfect, right down to Pam’s Jackie Kennedy-esque pillbox hat. Director Nick Havinga allows us to hear the minister deliver the 23rd Psalm under Jerrold Immel’s solemn score, and then after the family disperses, we’re left with J.R. delivering his memorable speech at Bobby’s gravesite. “I wish I’d take the time to tell you how much I love you,” he says with wet eyes. Does it matter that this scene turned out to be part of Pam’s dream? Yes, but only a little.

What “Dallas” funerals moved you most? Share your choices below and read more “Dal-Lists.”