Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You Have Too Damn Much Money’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Turning Point

Mo’ money, mo’ problems

In “Turning Point,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) sits on a bed, putting on his boots, while Katherine (Morgan Brittany) lies nearby, wrapped in a sheet.

J.R.: Well, that was definitely not terrific. A meeting with my tax accountant’s more exciting.

KATHERINE: Your disappointment has really shattered me.

J.R.: [Knotting his necktie] Well, you can relax, honey. I won’t be putting you through this sort of thing again. This is the last time I’ll be coming to your bed.

KATHERINE: [Snickers] I’d like to believe that.

J.R.: Oh, it’s true. It’s true. Too bad we couldn’t have gone out in a blaze of glory.

KATHERINE: Yeah. Too bad.

J.R.: [Rises, begins putting on his watch] You see, when I came to you and wanted to buy those fields that Wentworth Industries owns, and you turned around and made the deal with Bobby, that just clinched it, honey.

KATHERINE: What difference does it make to you? Ewing ended up with the fields.

J.R.: [Buttons his shirt sleeves] Well, it made me realize how much wealth you control. You know, I always felt deep down that Jenna Wade was a better mate for Bobby than you. And now I know why.

KATHERINE: And I don’t suppose I can stop you from telling me.

J.R.: [Chuckles, puts on his jacket] You just have too damn much money, Katherine. Putting you together with Bobby could double his assets, maybe even triple them. And I don’t want him to have that much power.

KATHERINE: You don’t? Well, there’s nothing you can do about it.

J.R.: [Opens the door, turns to face her] Oh, I’ve already done it, honey. I played the tape for Bobby of you and me in bed. It’s all over, Katherine. He’ll never marry you.

KATHERINE: [Sits up, leans forward, looks stunned] I’ll kill you, J.R.!

He smiles, exits.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 158 — ‘Turning Point’

Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany, Turning Point

Poor little rich girl

Am I the only one who feels sorry for Katherine Wentworth in “Turning Point”? At the beginning of the episode, she’s elated when Bobby invites her on a tour of the property he bought from her father’s old company. After plotting for more than a year to make Bobby her own, it’s the strongest sign yet that Katherine might have a shot with him. Then, at the end of the hour, after J.R. makes Katherine sleep with him, he cruelly tells her that he played Bobby the sex tape J.R. made with Katherine earlier. “It’s all over. … He’ll never marry you,” J.R. says. Katherine’s devastation is matched only by her rage. “I’ll kill you, J.R.!” she screams.

I suppose I should feel like Katherine is getting what’s coming to her, and in a way, I do. After all, she did break up “Dallas’s” golden couple, Bobby and Pam. Yet I can’t bring myself to completely dislike the poor thing. Some of this has to do with Morgan Brittany, who makes Katherine seem so nice in her scenes with Bobby and Pam, I kind of believe her, even though I know the truth. But there’s also this: Who among us hasn’t been in Katherine’s shoes? At some point, haven’t we all harbored a secret crush on someone who we know, deep down, will never be ours? Perhaps this, more than Katherine’s big hats and camp appeal, is what makes her an icon to so many gay men in the “Dallas” audience. Bobby is like the unattainable straight guy we all fall for in high school or college.

The question is: Why isn’t Bobby interested in Katherine? Yes, I know he claims he can never think of her as anything but a friend, but come on! Katherine is breathtakingly beautiful — those eyes! that hair! — and as far as Bobby knows, she’s a sincere, caring person. She seems like a much better match for him than his current flame, Jenna Wade, who stopped being interesting the moment she hung up her apron at Billy Bob’s. While we’re on this subject, can someone explain why J.R. wouldn’t want Katherine as a sister-in-law? He says her money threatens him, but as long as he has that sex tape, he has leverage over her. In the long run, wouldn’t the ability to control a wife of Bobby Ewing be worth more to him than any threat posed by her wealth?

J.R.’s game is also off when it comes to Jessica, who drops cryptic hints about the mysterious death of Clayton’s first wife Amy throughout “Turning Point.” Finally, at the end of the episode, after Jessica and Clayton argue over his decision to sell the Farlows’ ranch, she stomps into Southfork and erupts in front of J.R. “Amy died so we could keep the Southern Cross, not sell it!” Jessica shouts. By now, shouldn’t it have dawned on J.R. that he’s in cahoots with a kook? At least our hero still has what it takes to stick it to Cliff Barnes. In “Turning Point’s” niftiest twist, we learn J.R. is secretly paying Cliff’s offshore drilling foreman, Max Flowers, to sabotage the project. J.R. also tricks Cliff into selling the Murphy and Kesey properties, a subplot that has the unusual effect of making me feel happy for J.R. and sorry for Cliff.

“Turning Point” has a few other highlights, including the cute scene where the Ewing women help Miss Ellie address her wedding invitations. Here’s how fascinated I am by the world this show creates: When Sue Ellen asks if “the Crenshaws” should be invited, I find myself wondering who these people are and how they know the Ewings. Ellie explains that one of the Crenshaws is the sister of another family friend, although I can’t make out the character’s name; it’s written in the subtitles as “Pat Bauer,” but it sounds to me like Barbara Bel Geddes says “Pat Powers,” which is the name of the fellow who palled around with Jock and Punk during a few fourth-season episodes. If I’m correct, then kudos to “Dallas” for bothering to mention a name that only the show’s most devoted loyalists would have recognized in 1984.

“Turning Point” has its share of oddities too. It’s a running joke that no one actually eats on this show, but the degree to which Linda Gray and Victoria Principal move their salads around their plates when Sue Ellen and Pam go to lunch is more amusing than usual. Also, why has Jackie, Cliff’s secretary, been replaced by “Susan” in this episode? Furthermore, isn’t funny to see Susan wear the white suit that Principal sported a few times during the fourth and fifth seasons? (My husband Andrew calls this Pam’s “Star Trek” dress because the jacket flap reminds him of the Enterprise crew’s movie uniforms.) Should we believe all the gals in the Barnes-Wentworth secretarial pool wear Pam’s hand-me-downs?

Perhaps more than anything, “Turning Point” is remembered among “Dallas” diehards as the final episode credited to cinematographer Bradford May, who gave the series such a rich, textured look. I’ve read varying accounts about why May didn’t work on the series after this season, but one thing is certain: “Dallas” will never look this good again.

Grade: B


Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Turning Point

Wolf at the door


Season 7, Episode 27

Airdate: April 13, 1984

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 2nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Gwen Arner

Synopsis: To finance his offshore oil project, Cliff is forced to sell valuable land, unaware that J.R. is the buyer. J.R. tells Katherine he played a tape of them having sex for Bobby and arranges for Peter to be arrested for drug possession. Jessica and Clayton argue over his decision to sell the Southern Cross. Pam and Mark continue their wedding plans.

Cast: Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Pat Colbért (Dora Mae), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Dana Halsted (Susan), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Omri Katz (John Ross Ewing), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Donald May (Wes McDowall), Shalane McCall (Charlie Wade), Denny Miller (Max Flowers), Dennis Patrick (Vaughn Leland), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montford), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), John Wyler (wedding planner)

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

Dallas Parallels: The Saboteurs

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

J.R. Ewing is a man of many talents, but he takes special delight in the fine art of sabotage. During the original “Dallas’s” seventh season, after Cliff Barnes blackmails J.R.’s secretary Sly into spying on her boss, J.R. retaliates by turning one of Cliff’s employees against him. J.R.’s ultimate goal: to ruin Cliff, once and for all.

The scheme begins when J.R. tricks Cliff into investing in some expensive offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Once Cliff is leveraged to the hilt, J.R. bribes Max Flowers, Cliff’s foreman, to slow down the drilling so Cliff won’t strike oil before his bank loan comes due, thus bankrupting him.

This must be one of the dirty tricks J.R. teaches John Ross, because three decades later, the son pulls a similar stunt. It begins during the second season of TNT’s “Dallas,” when John Ross is secretly plotting to seize control of Ewing Energies from his partners, who include onetime love Elena Ramos. To nab her share, John Ross bribes Brian “Bubba” Davis, Elena’s foreman, to drill in the wrong direction on land where she’s trying to strike oil. By delaying Elena’s strike, John Ross hopes to prevent her from repaying a loan to his mother Sue Ellen, thus putting Elena’s piece of Ewing Oil in play.

Both storylines include scenes where the victims (Cliff, Elena) visit their drilling sites with their siblings (Pam, Drew) and talk about how proud their deceased fathers would be if they strike oil. The strongest similarities, however, are found in scenes where the saboteurs (J.R., John Ross) meet with the duplicitous foreman (Flowers, Bubba) to discuss their schemes.

In the 1984 episode “Turning Point,” J.R. ducks into a dive bar and sits in a booth across from Flowers, who worries a member of his crew will figure out what he’s up to and tip off Cliff. J.R. expresses confidence the plan will work and dismisses his enemy’s capabilities. “You’re just going to have to make sure he keeps getting the short straw. Hell, he’s used to that anyway, isn’t he?” J.R. says.

The parallel sequence is found in the 2013 episode “False Confessions.” This scene also takes place in a dive bar, where the principals sit across from each other in a darkened booth. Like Flowers, Bubba worries someone close to the victim — in this case, Elena’s fiancée Christopher — will figure out the scheme against her. Like J.R., John Ross expresses confidence the plan will succeed and takes a swipe at his rival. Referring to Christopher, John Ross says, “It’s good that he thinks he has a chance. That’ll make it hurt more when he loses.”

Originally, I ended this post by pointing out how J.R.’s plot fails, while John Ross’s plan succeeds, but as Dallas Decoder reader Stephan points out in the comments section below, neither scheme is particularly successful. In J.R.’s case, Cliff fires Flowers and replaces him with a new foreman who hits a gusher at the 11th hour, saving Cliff from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Elena fails to strike oil on her land and loses her share of Ewing Energies, but only after Sue Ellen invokes a morals clause in her contract with Elena.

So more than anything, J.R. and John Ross’s forays into sabotage confirm what we already know: Like father, like son.


‘Someone Might Tip Him Off’

Dallas, Denny Miller, Max Flowers, Turning Points


In “Turning Point,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters a bar and sits at a booth across from Flowers (Denny Miller).

J.R.: Hello, Flowers. I hardly recognized you.

FLOWERS: That’s okay. Want a beer?

J.R.: Yeah, sure. If that’s all they got.

FLOWERS: [To a waitress] Hon, bring us a couple beers.

J.R.: So how’s everything in the gulf? Cliff Barnes ready to strike oil?

FLOWERS: Not yet. But the whole operation’s got me worried.

J.R.: Yeah? Why’s that?

FLOWERS: Well, you’ve been paying me a lot of money to slow things down. I don’t think I’ve been able to slow them down enough.

J.R.: Well, now, you’ve been doing a good job so far.

FLOWERS: Oh, I know. I’ve been able to miss the most promising geological formations. Barnes is so dumb, he doesn’t know that. But the crew is getting suspicious, and someone might tip him off.

J.R.: Well, you’ve just got to get rid of any potential troublemakers.

FLOWERS: Oh, I’ve been trying to do that. And I’ve hired the worst crew I could find. But you know, that’s hard to do. [J.R. chuckles.] Most of those guys are pretty sharp.

J.R.: Well, you’ve just got to hold it up for another couple of weeks at the most. Barnes is just about to run out of money.

The waitress sets two beers on the table.

FLOWERS: Thanks. If he was drilling any other tract, it’d sure be easier. He’s got possibly the richest tract in the gulf.

J.R.: Yeah, I know that. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t be pouring every dollar he can get his hands on into it.

FLOWERS: Okay. I just wanted you to know that I’m doing my best. But sooner or later, even an idiot with a long straw could suck up oil out of that tract.

J.R.: You’re just going to have to make sure he keeps getting the short straw. [Sips his beer] Hell, he’s used to that anyway, isn’t he? [Chuckles]


‘He’s On Your Tail’

Dallas, Brian Bubba Davis, Matthew Posey, TNT


In “False Confessions,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) enters a bar and sits at a booth across from Bubba (Matthew Posey).

JOHN ROSS: [Slaps an envelope on the table] Let’s call that your severance.

BUBBA: [Peeks inside] Much obliged, John Ross. But you should know that Christopher’s after me. He thinks you put me up to it.

JOHN ROSS: Just because he’s a pussy doesn’t mean he ain’t smart.

BUBBA: [Chuckles] You’re not concerned that he’s on your tail?

JOHN ROSS: It’s good that he thinks he has a chance. That’ll make it hurt more when he loses.

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