Dallas Parallels: O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Dallas Parallels - O Mother, Where Art Thou? 1

If Christopher’s search for Pam on TNT’s “Dallas” reminded you of Pam’s search for Rebecca on the original series, you’re not alone. There are several similarities between the two storylines — and also one big difference, reminding us how history never repeats itself exactly, even on “Dallas.”

This one is kind of complicated, so let’s take it from the top. Pam grew up believing her mother, Rebecca Barnes, died when she and her brother Cliff were children. Many years later, when Pam and Cliff’s daddy Digger died, Pam realized there was no record of Rebecca’s demise, so she hired private eye John Mackey to find out what happened to her mother. Pam was shocked when Mackey told her Rebecca was still alive; according to his investigation, when Pam and Cliff were kids, Rebecca ran away, changed her name to Rebecca Burke and married Houston industrialist Herbert Wentworth. Pam went to the Wentworth mansion to confront Rebecca, who initially denied that she was Pam’s mom. Eventually, Rebecca fessed up — it seems she abandoned her family because she was miserable being married to Digger — and Pam forgave her.

History began to repeat itself when Victoria Principal left “Dallas” in 1987. Despite the pain Rebecca’s abandonment caused Pam, the writers explained Pam’s departure by having her leave Bobby and Christopher after she was badly burned in a car accident. One year later, the producers brought Pam back for a single scene — this time played by Margaret Michaels — when Cliff tracked her down in Houston and begged her to come home. Pam rejected Cliff’s invitation, explaining that she had moved on with her life. Only after Cliff left the room did the audience learn the truth: Pam only had months to live and wanted to spare Bobby, Christopher and Cliff the pain of having to watch her die. Who knew Pam was such a martyr?

Of course, the audience never saw Pam die, so fans like me spent years clinging to the hope that Principal would one day reprise the role. Finally, the second season of TNT’s “Dallas” seemed to lay the groundwork for the second coming of Pam Ewing — and in a nice touch, the storyline echoed the past. Consider: Digger’s death prompted Pam to embark on her search for Rebecca. Thirty-three years later, Christopher began his hunt for Pam after another death in the family: the murder of his Uncle J.R., who was shot and killed while trying to track down Pam, hoping to persuade her to help stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings.

This is where the similarities begin to mount: Christopher, picking up where J.R.’s search left off, discovered Pam had changed her name to Patricia Barrett — just like Pam learned the presumed-dead Rebecca Barnes had adopted the identity of Rebecca Burke. Meanwhile, Christopher’s obsession with finding Pam started to strain his relationship with his fiancée Elena, who was distracted by her brother Drew’s role in the Ewing Energies rig explosion. It wasn’t unlike the situation Pam once found herself in, when her preoccupation with finding Rebecca took its toll on her marriage to Bobby, who was distracted by his brother J.R.’s role in the Ewing 23 explosion.

More parallels: In the TNT episode “Guilt by Association,” Christopher sat in a car and watched the Zurich home where Pam supposedly lived; the shot was reminiscent of the scene in the classic episode “The Prodigal Mother” where Pam and Mackey (Richard Herd) staked out Rebecca’s Houston residence. Also: Christopher learned Pam had married her plastic surgeon, David Gordon, just like Rebecca had wed Herbert Wentworth. And when Christopher rushed into the Gordon home to confront Pam, he was crushed to hear the good doctor say his wife didn’t want to see her son — just like Pam was devastated when she entered the Wentworth mansion and Rebecca rejected her.

This brings us to the point where the two storylines diverge. On the original show, after Rebecca denied Pam, she felt guilty and went to see her daughter in Dallas, where the two women sat on a park bench and Rebecca tearfully told Pam that she was, in fact, her mother. Poor Christopher never got a park-bench scene on the TNT series. Instead, he learned an uglier truth: Cliff had paid Gordon to lie and say Pam had changed her name and married Gordon because as long as everyone believed Pam was alive, Christopher couldn’t inherit her shares of Barnes Global. Who knew Cliff was such a monster?

Christopher’s search concluded on a heartbreaking note, but it’s probably the only ending that makes sense. Principal has made it clear she isn’t interested in playing Pam again — and recasting the part was out of the question since “Dallas” fans don’t have a history of welcoming new performers in iconic roles. (See “Reed, Donna”) Besides, even if Principal was willing to return, how could the show have justified Pam’s decision to stay away from her family for more than 25 years? Please don’t tell me Katherine has kept her locked up in a dungeon all this time.

As far as I’m concerned, TNT showrunner Cynthia Cidre fixed one of the old “Dallas’s” biggest blunders — the ham-handed writing surrounding Principal’s 1987 exit — and redeemed Pam by revealing that she was, in fact, trying to come home to Bobby and Christopher when she died. It’s sad, I know. But at least we have closure. How often does that happen on “Dallas”?

 

‘I Want to See Her’

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Prodigal Mother, Victoria Principal

Calm?

In “The Prodigal Mother,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) walks briskly into her bedroom, followed by Bobby (Patrick Duffy).

BOBBY: Honey, you’re all wound up. You hardly touched your dinner. Don’t leave tonight. Wait till morning.

PAM: Bobby, I’ve waited all my life to see this woman. [Retrieves a suitcase from the closet, sets it on the bed, unzips it]

BOBBY: Well, it would be better for her if you saw her when you were calmer. And what if Mackey made a mistake? And even if he didn’t, she might not be the kind of woman that you think she is.

PAM: I don’t care what kind of woman she is. My mother’s alive. I want to see her.

BOBBY: I just wish I could go with you.

PAM: Well, I’m sure the airline would sell you a ticket. [Begins packing]

BOBBY: Honey, I can’t leave now. You know that. Not with the wells still on fire. I’ve got Scotty Hawthorne flying in here with a crack fire-shooting crew. There’s too much going on for me to leave.

PAM: There always is lately.

BOBBY: Now wait a minute. You know what Ewing 23 means to us.

PAM: Means to you, not to us.

BOBBY: Honey, I have to be here to make sure that nothing else goes wrong.

PAM: Look, Bobby, I understand. I don’t want to burden you with my problems, okay?

BOBBY: Will you be home by Wednesday?

PAM: Probably. Why?

BOBBY: It’s this fundraising thing for Dave Culver. Daddy would like us to be there.

PAM: Oh, well. I’ll be home then. I wouldn’t want to disappoint your family.

 

‘All I Want From Her Now Are Her Shares’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt by Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Ready?

In “Guilt By Association,” Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) enters his hotel room as Elena (Jordana Brewster) is ending a phone call to Drew.

CHRISTOPHER: Hey.

ELENA: [Begins unpacking] Hey.

CHRISTOPHER: Who were you talking to?

ELENA: Oh, it was my mom. She wanted to make sure we landed safely. How’d it go?

CHRISTOPHER: My mother’s bank account is registered to her home address, a man by the name of David Gordon. Apparently, he’s an American. Used to be a plastic surgeon.

ELENA: Do you think Pamela lives there?

CHRISTOPHER: There’s only one way to find out. I’m headed over now. [Puts on his coat]

ELENA: Christopher, are you sure you’re prepared for this? Because if there’s anything —

CHRISTOPHER: I’m fine. [Turns away, looks out the window]

ELENA: You haven’t seen your mother in over 25 years. You must be feeling something.

CHRISTOPHER: [Turns toward her] Actually, I’m not. Because the woman I’m about to see ceased to be my mother the day she abandoned me.

ELENA: You keep saying that.

CHRISTOPHER: Because it’s the truth.

ELENA: But after all this time, don’t you want an explanation?

CHRISTOPHER: All I want from her now are her shares so I can take down Cliff. [Grabs his bag] Wish me luck.

ELENA: Good luck. [Kisses him goodbye]

How do you feel about Pam’s search for Rebecca and Christopher’s search for Pam? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Here’s Everything That’s Happened on ‘Dallas,’ Ever*

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson

Ain’t over yet

It’s never too late to start watching “Dallas.” If you missed the original show and the first two seasons of TNT’s sequel series, fear not: This post will tell you everything you need to know before Season 3 begins on Monday, February 24. (*OK, this isn’t really everything that’s happened on “Dallas.” For that, you’ll have to keep reading Dallas Decoder every day.)

 

The Original Series (1978 to 1991)

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal

In the beginning

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), the youngest son of a rich oil and cattle clan, marries Pam Barnes (Victoria Principal) and brings her home to Southfork, the Ewing ranch. This upsets everyone, especially Pam’s daddy Digger (David Wayne), who blames Bobby’s daddy Jock (Jim Davis) for stealing his sweetheart, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), and cheating him out of half of Ewing Oil. While Bobby’s devious brother J.R. (Larry Hagman) is building the family empire and catting around, J.R.’s neglected wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) becomes an alcoholic and has an affair with Cliff (Ken Kercheval), Pam’s vengeful brother. Later, J.R. and Sue Ellen have a son, John Ross, while Bobby and Pam adopt Christopher, the orphaned child of Sue Ellen’s sister Kristin Shepard (Mary Crosby) and sleazy Jeff Faraday (Art Hindle). Elsewhere, Ray Krebbs, Southfork’s foreman, discovers Jock is his daddy and marries savvy politico Donna Culver (Susan Howard), while Lucy (Charlene Tilton), the daughter of J.R. and Bobby’s middle brother Gary (Ted Shackelford) and his wife Valene (Joan Van Ark), gets engaged to everyone.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

End of an era

More drama: Digger dies and so does Jock, leaving Ellie to hold the family together with help from second hubby Clayton Farlow (Howard Keel). Southfork burns down, but the Ewings rebuild it. Cliff hooks up with Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers), who gives birth to their daughter Pamela Rebecca, but Afton refuses to let Cliff near the child because of his fixation with destroying the Ewings. Cliff and Pam’s half-sister Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany) arrives, becomes obsessed with Bobby and tries to kill him, then vanishes under a big hat. Sue Ellen beats the bottle and divorces J.R., while Pam has a bad dream, gets burned in a car crash and runs away. Bobby has an on-again, off-again romance with first love Jenna Wade (Priscilla Beaulieu Presley), who gives birth to their son Lucas and then marries newly divorced Ray. James (Sasha Mitchell), J.R.’s illegitimate son, shows up for a while and emulates the old man. Bobby marries April (Sheree J. Wilson), but she dies. J.R. marries Cally (Cathy Podewell), but she leaves. In the end, Cliff finally takes over Ewing Oil, leaving J.R. alone and suicidal.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Swan Song

Hurts so good

Best Episode: “Swan Song.” The eighth-season finale finds J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marriage on the rocks, unlike the vodka she’s secretly swilling in her bedroom.  Meanwhile, Bobby chooses Pam over Jenna, but crazy Katherine runs him over with her car. The episode ends with the Ewings bidding farewell to Bobby in a deathbed scene that’s so beautifully written and acted, you almost wish it wasn’t part of Pam’s dream. Almost.

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

Shot in the dark

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who shot J.R.? Sure, taking a couple of slugs to the gut is no fun for our hero, but at least he makes billions of dollars in a risky offshore oil deal before he’s gunned down. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, J.R.’s assailant turns out to be Kristin, his sister-in-law/ex-secretary/ex-mistress, who’s revealed as the shooter in one of the most-watched broadcasts in television history. (Props to Sue Ellen, who figures it all out.)

 

TNT Season 1 (2012)

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

When cousins clash

J.R. emerges from a nursing home and tricks Bobby into selling him Southfork so he can tap the ocean of oil flowing beneath it. Like their fathers, John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe) butt heads, except their rivalry has an added twist: John Ross has fallen for Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), who was Christopher’s childhood sweetheart. Christopher marries Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo), unaware that she’s the daughter of Cliff, who is now the gazillionaire owner of Barnes Global and still hell-bent on destroying the Ewings. Rebecca kills her lover Tommy Sutter (Callard Harris) in self-defense and has Cliff’s henchman Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) dispose of the body. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen runs for governor; Bobby’s new wife Ann (Brenda Strong) feels threatened by ex-husband Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), who knows she’s harboring a dark secret; and John Ross, Christopher and Elena form a company, Ewing Energies, but the partnership is threatened when Elena breaks her engagement to John Ross and reunites with Christopher, who dumps the pregnant Rebecca.

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

Bad does good

Best Episode: “Family Business.” In one of Hagman’s most poignant performances, J.R. learns Bobby is secretly battling cancer and returns Southfork to him, ending the season-long war for the ranch. Later, in a chill-inducing musical montage (set to Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around”), poor Bobby suffers a seizure and Rebecca shoots Tommy, splattering blood over her unborn twins’ stuffed animals. Hmmm. Foreshadow, much?

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

Pass the torch

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who loves J.R.? His son John Ross, who ends the season by gazing at the Dallas skyline with dear old dad and asking him to teach him “every dirty trick” he knows so he can push Christopher and Elena out of Ewing Energies. J.R. beams with pride and tells John Ross that he’s his son “from tip to tail.” Hey, J.R. may have given up the fight for Southfork, but he wasn’t giving up his devious ways — thank goodness.

 

TNT Season 2 (2013)

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, TNT

All about evil

Rebecca reveals she’s Pamela Rebecca Barnes and hooks up with John Ross. Ann shoots Harris after learning he kidnapped their daughter Emma when she was a baby and sent her to be raised by his control-freak mother, Judith (Judith Light). Ann gets probation, Harris recovers and Judith falls down the stairs. Frank takes the blame for Tommy’s death and kills himself at the request of Cliff, who causes Pamela’s miscarriage. When J.R. is murdered in Mexico, it appears Cliff is the killer, so Bobby, Christopher and newlyweds John Ross and Pamela plant evidence on Cliff to make sure he’s arrested. Oh, and Christopher also discovers Cliff covered up his mom’s death. Elsewhere, John Ross somehow inherits half of Southfork; Sue Ellen loses the election but continues to tangle with Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber); Emma (Emma Bell) sleeps with Elena’s ne’er-do-well brother Drew (Kuno Becker), becomes John Ross’s mistress and turns Harris in to the cops for drug trafficking; and when Christopher dumps Elena, jailbird Cliff asks her to become his proxy at Barnes Global, which the Ewings now control.

Dallas, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Mourning glory

Best Episode: “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Our hero is laid to rest in an instant-classic hour that brings back several stars from the original series. The highlight: On the night before J.R.’s burial, Sue Ellen takes a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivers a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she calls “the love of my life.” Can someone please explain how Linda Gray didn’t win an Emmy for this performance?

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

Only you

J.R.’s Greatest Moment: Who killed J.R.? J.R. did, of course. It turns out he was dying of cancer and arranged his own death so Cliff could be framed for the crime, thus ending the Barnes-Ewing feud … for about 2 minutes, at least. Only a handful of people know the truth, including Bobby, J.R.’s loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), Christopher and John Ross, who gets it right when he says, “The only person who could take down J.R. … was J.R.”

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

The Best & Worst of TNT’s Dallas: Season 2

The second season of TNT’s “Dallas” was even better than the first. Here are my laurels, along with a few darts.

Performances

Woman of the year

Wonder woman

She spent Season 1 on the sidelines, but Linda Gray became “Dallas’s” star player this year. After losing the election, Sue Ellen maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, then fought tooth and manicured nail to save the company. Her determination took many forms: She flirted with Gary and later Ken, proving a woman in her 70s could still be playful and alluring, and blackmailed Governor McConaughey with a smile, demonstrating just how much she learned from her ex-husband. Speaking of J.R.: Gray shined brightest at his funeral, where Sue Ellen took a heartbreaking tumble off the wagon, then delivered a mesmerizing eulogy for the man she called “the love of my life.” It was a magnificent, unforgettable performance – and if there’s any justice in the world, Gray’s next big speech will be at the Emmys.

Storylines

The “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery was terrific because it allowed viewers to slide into J.R.’s boots and try to piece together the puzzle he left behind. The gun! That letter! Those cocaine shoes! How were the clues connected? This was “Dallas” at its most fun – and as an added bonus, it finally resolved Pam’s storyline and gave the character the redemption she deserved. (Pam may be dead, but please let Katherine live.) The season’s least satisfying storyline: Vicente Cano’s ambush on Southfork and the hostage crisis that ensued. This storyline did little to advance the season’s main narrative – the fight for Ewing Energies – nor did it give us much new insight into the characters. On the other hand: at least nobody made Sue Ellen sing.

Episodes

Tears of the son

Tears of the son

The beautiful, elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece” is landmark television. From the mournful version of the “Dallas” theme music that played under the special opening titles through the moving gravesite eulogies, scriptwriter Cynthia Cidre and director Michael M. Robin made J.R.’s death feel achingly real. This is their masterpiece. At the other end of the spectrum: “Ewings Unite!,” an uneven hour marred by J.R.’s silly will reading and Gary and Val’s drive-by reunion.

Scenes

Almost two months after watching “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” I’m still haunted by the memory of Sue Ellen getting drunk in her ex-husband’s bedroom on the night before his funeral. As Tara Holloway’s soulful rendition of “The Bottom” played, we watched Sue Ellen move around J.R.’s bed, caress a framed photo from their wedding and finally drown her sorrows with glass after glass of his bourbon. This was two-and-a-half minutes of exquisite agony. (Among the season’s other great scenes: Ann’s spellbinding testimony at her trial, Harris and Emma’s parking garage encounter, Harris’s Komodo dragon speech and the moment lusty John Ross storms off the elevator and into Pamela’s arms.)

Twists

Raw deal

Raw deal

The police discover Tommy’s body and murder weapon. John Ross warns Pamela, who frantically begins preparing to skip town as the police arrive with guns drawn. But wait! They’re not coming to arrest Pamela; they’re after Frank, who has been framed by Cliff. It was a classic “Dallas” fake-out and the season’s most surprising twist. The silliest: At J.R.’s will reading, Miss Ellie somehow takes half of Southfork from Bobby and gives it to John Ross. Howzat, Mama?

Traditions

Season 2 gave us a Southfork swimming pool scene, the return of the old Ewing Oil building and even a reference to Westar, but where were the barbecue and Oil Baron’s Ball (er, “Cattle Baron’s Ball”) episodes? On the other hand, we did get “The Furious and the Fast,” the fantastic racetrack-set episode that marked the “Dallas” directorial debut of Rodney Charters, the show’s ace cinematographer. Perhaps racecars will become a new “Dallas” tradition? I’m ready for another spin.

Villains

Evil dad

Evil dad

Steven Weber played McConaughey to smirking perfection and Mitch Pileggi and Judith Light were delicious as the evil Rylands, but Ken Kercheval scared the bejesus out of me as Cliff. The scene where he orders the destruction of the methane rig is chilling. Yet somehow, the brilliant Kercheval made sure we never lost sight of Cliff’s humanity, especially when he was arrested for J.R.’s murder. Make no mistake: Season 2 was the performance of Kercheval’s career.

Returning Favorites

Audrey Landers’ return as Afton in “Guilt and Innocence” was a hoot. Robert Rovner’s script gave Landers plenty to do, and she made the most of it: During the course of the hour, we got to see Afton badmouth Cliff (“He’s a mean drunk, that man”), flirt with John Ross, shoot daggers at Christopher and sweetly serenade Pamela with her favorite childhood lullaby. I also liked Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark’s return as Gary and Valene (even if Van Ark didn’t get enough to do), as well as the familiar faces who showed up in “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” especially Mandy and Cally (Deborah Shelton, Cathy Podewell), whose reminiscing about their romances with J.R. proved surprisingly poignant.

Newcomers

Welcome to Southfork

Welcome to Southfork

Each episode of “Dallas” clocks in at 42 minutes sans commercials, making screen time a commodity. It’s tempting to knock the producers for expanding the cast in Season 2 – except the newcomers are all so good! I was especially charmed by magnetic Kuno Becker, who was both smoldering and sweet as ne’er-do-well Drew, while Emma Bell knocked me out as Emma, who shifted effortlessly from sheltered princess to a pill-popping sexpot. Is there anything this actress can’t do?

Supporting Players

Like the original “Dallas,” the new show is beginning to feel like its own world, thanks to its growing population of reliable recurring characters. My favorites include steadfast Sheriff Derrick (Akai Draco), dutiful lawyer Lou Bergen (Glenn Morshower) and of course loyal private eye Bum (Kevin Page), who charmed me in his scene with Sue Ellen and moved me when he confessed his role in J.R.’s master plan. Season 2 also introduced two promising additions to the Ewing Energies secretarial pool: perky, sneaky Jill (Amber Bartlett) and statuesque Stacy (Natalie Quintanilla). The other great addition: lusty city transportation chief Alison Jones (Annie Wersching). Could she become this generation’s Marilee Stone?

Costumes

Man of style

Man of style

“Dallas” doesn’t just have TV’s best-dressed cast; the actors are also smartly dressed. Everyone’s “look” fits their character perfectly. Case in point: J.R., whose western jackets, dark suits and Butch Dorer hats made him Season 2’s most dashing figure. My favorite outfit: the classic pinstripes he sported in “Venomous Creatures” when he blackmailed the smarmy prosecutor. A tip of the hat to costume designer Rachel Sage Kunin. Thanks to her, our hero went out in style.

Music

The music on “Dallas” is a mix of familiar tunes like Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory,” which played during J.R.’s memorial service, and oh-my-gosh-what-is-the-name-of-that-song-I-must-own-it selections like “Liar,” an unreleased number from the Unknown that was heard in “False Confessions” and “Legacies.” My favorite: “My Time Has Come,” the driving rock anthem from the Bowery Riots that played when Bobby did that cool slow-motion walk away from Cliff at the end of “Love and Family.” It was the ideal song to showcase Bobby at his badass best.

Props

Ugly truth

Ugly truth

I’m tempted to choose Christopher’s Miller Lite bottle or all those Microsoft Surface tablets as best props, but instead I’ll go with J.R.’s handsome bourbon decanter, which the three people he loved most – Bobby, Sue Ellen and Christopher – all drank from after his death. Worst prop? That’s easy: The awful painting of J.R. unveiled at the end of “Legacies.” Where’s J.R.’s nose? What happened to his right shoulder? My plea to the producers: Fix this before Season 3 starts.

Hashtags

Since so much of my “Dallas” viewing experience now takes place in the Twitterverse, it seems appropriate to honor the hashtags of Season 2: #BubbaNotEarl #ByeByeCloudDrive #Clonazepam #ContinuedLegalSubterfuge #EminentDomain #FentonWashburnEsquire #HighImpactPressureMoldedCocaine #HighVelocityBloodSplatter #HornedFrogsVsMustangs #HotelColon #JudgeRhonda #KomodoDragons #MoralsClause #NuevoLaredo #PatriciaBarrett #RickyRudd #RIPKatherine?

Quips

This category is always the toughest and Season 2 is no different. What to choose? Sue Ellen’s putdown of Afton (“She’s drama, John Ross.”)? Val’s greeting to Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch.”)? Vicente’s observation after realizing the Ewing cousins have traded romantic partners (“You Ewing boys share after all! I love it!”)? John Ross’s not-fit-for-print philosophy on romance (“Love is for [kitty cats]”)? In the end, I’ll go with the master. J.R.’s encounter with Pamela: “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse.” Oh, J.R. We’ll never stop missing you.

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

The Dal-List: 10 Reasons TNT Should Renew ‘Dallas’

Fired up! Ready to go!

Tanned. Rested. Ready.

“Dallas” fans know who killed J.R. and what happened to Pam, but one question remains unanswered: Will TNT renew the show for a third season? To help the good people at TNT make up their minds, here are 10 good reasons to give “Dallas” another year.

Ewing watch

Ewing watch

10. “Dallas” is TNT’s most-watched show (right now). TNT showed four original series this winter and spring: “Dallas,” the medical melodrama “Monday Mornings” and the cop shows “Southland” and “Boston’s Finest.” The “Dallas” telecasts averaged 2.7 million viewers, more than twice as many as any of the other shows. When you count DVR users who record “Dallas” and watch each episode within three days, the Ewings’ weekly audience rose to 3.5 million viewers. Now chew on this: the CW’s “Hart of Dixie” and “Beauty and the Beast” each average 1.5 million viewers per episode – and both shows just got renewed. What are you waiting for, TNT?

Roll on

Roll on, dude

9. Creatively, “Dallas” is on a roll. This show hit its stride in Season 2. The stories honored the classic “Dallas” themes, but with fun, fresh twists. “The Furious and the Fast” was like one of the old show’s Ewing Rodeo episodes, but with racecars instead of bucking broncos. “Who Killed J.R.?” echoed the most famous “Dallas” storyline of all time, but it was an even richer, more complex mystery. The new series has also expanded the “Dallas” universe by adding two more feuding families: the poor, proud Ramoses and the weird, wacky Rylands. The names may be new, but the conflicts – ambition, greed, lust – are “Dallas” all the way.

Love them Ewings

Love them Ewings

8. Critics love it. “Dallas” isn’t just adored by its fans; critics go gaga for the Ewings too. Season 2 scored an impressive “82” on Metacritic, which makes “Dallas” one of TV’s 10 best shows, according to the website. Variety’s hard-to-please critic Brian Lowry wrote the second-season opener “[clicks] on all cylinders, with plenty of bed-hopping, two-timing and Texas-sized dealmaking to go around.” In Entertainment Weekly, Henry Goldblatt praised the storytelling (“the plots are twistier than a fishtail braid”), while Jessica Shaw predicted viewers who watched “J.R.’s Masterpiece” would “shed enough tears to fill the TV legend’s ten-gallon hat.” She wasn’t kidding.

Agree

Consensus: “Dallas” is awesome

7. “Dallas” has something for everyone. Every Monday, I watch “Dallas” with the Twitterverse, where the kids swoon over hunks like Josh Henderson and Kuno Becker. And every Tuesday, I get a call from my mom, who wants to dish about the previous night’s episode, which she watches with her retirement community neighbors (“That Patrick Duffy is still so handsome!”). But “Dallas” doesn’t just bridge the generation gap. I talk to a lot of “Dallas” fans, and I know: This show appeals as much to blue-staters as it does to red-staters. Heck, if we want to break the gridlock in Washington, maybe we ought to make the politicians sit down and watch “Dallas” together.

Stay dry

Let the money pour in

6. The merchandising potential is enormous. The people who make the new “Dallas” have figured out something the producers of the old show never fully grasped: Fans don’t just want to watch “Dallas;” they want to experience it. HSN sells “Dallas” clothing and J.R.-branded bourbon is on the way, but that’s just scratching the surface. How about a “Dallas” soundtrack with all the cool music featured on the show? What about a line of John Ross Ewing prophylactics? Or maybe some Ann Ewing tissues, for those times when you need a good cry? Take it from me, TNT: There’s a lot more money to be made off this show. It is the Ewing way, after all.

All hail the queen

All hail the queen

5. Two words: “Linda Gray.” No one shined brighter during “Dallas’s” second season than Linda Gray, who delivered one amazing performance after another. Sue Ellen lost the election, maneuvered her way into Ewing Energies, fell off the wagon, flirted with Gary and Ken and blackmailed the governor into doing her bidding. Whew! Make no mistake: Gray has become “Dallas’s” star attraction. In the Washington Post, Hank Stuever praised Gray for discovering “new depth as an older and much wiser Sue Ellen. She is this show’s version of a dowager countess, and any scene she’s in is immediately improved.” We agree. Her performance alone merits a third season.

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

4. Two more words: “Patrick Duffy.” Patrick Duffy arrived on our television screens in “The Man From Atlantis” in 1977 and he’s pretty much been entertaining us nonstop ever since. “Dallas.” “Step by Step.” “The Bold and the Beautiful.” “Dallas” again. Does TNT want to be the channel to break this 36-year streak? I’m betting it doesn’t. Like Gray, Duffy just gets better with age. On the new “Dallas,” Bobby is still the good guy we know and love, but he’s also kind of a badass. Did you see that slow-mo walk he took after he set up Cliff Barnes in “Love and Family”? Bobby deserves another season to show us how friggin’ cool he is.

"Oh, my!"

“Now pick up my show.”

3. The rest of the cast rocks too. Besides Gray and Duffy, the new “Dallas” has the best cast on television. Jordana Brewster consistently delivers smart, convincing performances as Elena, Julie Gonzalo and Henderson are slyly charming as Pamela and John Ross, and as Christopher and Ann, Jesse Metcalfe and Brenda Strong are the best criers in prime time. “Dallas” is also the destination for television’s best guest stars. In Season 2, we got Judith Light as loony Judith Ryland, Lee Majors as dashing Ken Richards and Steven Weber as smirktastic Governor Sam McConaughey. Aren’t you eager to see who’ll show up next year?

TNT tradition

Traditions matter

2. “Dallas” is part of TNT’s history. In 1991, when TNT was three years old, the cable channel added “Dallas” reruns to its lineup and held a contest inviting fans to submit lyrics to the famous theme music. The winner: Brian McCullough, who I interviewed last year. His lyrics“Oh we own this / And we own that / As far as the eye can see! / From Texas soil / We pump Ewing Oil / Daddy Jock, brother Bobby / And me! / Yes, I’m J.R. / I’m known near and far / A rat in a town / That’s cat-free! / I make big deals / And I’ve got one that’s real / Merging “Dallas” with TNT!” See, TNT? “Dallas” is your heritage. And if the Ewings have taught us anything, it’s the importance of being true to your roots.

Dal-List - 10 Reasons TNT Should Renew Dallas 1

Make him proud

1. He’s watching. You know he is. Don’t disappoint him. Renew this show, TNT.             Why do you think “Dallas” should be renewed? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

Drill Bits: DVR Users Give the ‘Dallas’ Finale a Big Boost

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Legacies, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT

Flying high

DVR users have been boosting “Dallas’s” ratings all year – and they didn’t disappoint last week.

“Guilt by Association” and “Legacies,” the last two episodes of “Dallas’s” second season, averaged 2.9 million viewers when TNT telecast them back-to-back on April 15. During the next three days, DVR users boosted the combined average for the two episodes to 3.8 million viewers, a 26 percent increase from the previous week.

“Legacies,” which resolved the “Who Killed J.R.?” mystery, performed especially well. When DVR users are included, the episode hit season highs in two important categories: It drew 1.9 million viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, an audience that TNT targets, and 1.5 million adults between 18 and 49, another crucial demographic.

TNT hasn’t announced if it will renew “Dallas” for a third season. Perhaps the cable channel will announce the show’s renewal at its May 15 “upfront,” when executives from TNT and sister station TBS will pitch their programming to advertisers?

Say Uncle

Who is Joaquin, the Mexican mystery man that Elena (Jordana Brewster) visited at the end of “Legacies”? Elena’s Twitter feed offers a clue. Here’s what she tweeted yesterday: “Can’t wait to introduce you all to my uncle Joaquin. He’s quite a character. And a potentially powerful ally.”

Meanwhile, is Ann (Brenda Strong) ready to get out of the Southfork kitchen? Here’s one of her character’s tweets: “I’ve been thinking about venturing away from the ranch, maybe get involved in some Dallas charities or politics. Sue Ellen inspired me.”

Let’s Play ‘Dallas’

When I was a kid, I used to play “Dallas” with my “Star Wars” action figures. Han Solo made a pretty good J.R., while the Bespin-gowned version of Princess Leia was glamorous enough to be Sue Ellen. Now it seems “Dallas” fans like me will be able to collect the real thing: Figures Toy Company has announced plans for a line of classic “Dallas” action figures, beginning with two versions of J.R. – “oil tycoon” and “Who Shot J.R.?”

No word on when the figures will become available. The company encourages fans to “like” its Facebook page for updates. Hopefully we’ll eventually get a Sue Ellen figure – complete with a flask and pearl-handed pistol.

And while we’re on the subject of “Dallas” merchandise: J.R.-branded bourbon will go on sale this fall. Plan accordingly.

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

TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘I Shot Your Father, John Ross’

Bum, Dallas, Legacies, Kevin Page, Steve Jones, TNT

It was you, Bum

In “Legacies,” “Dallas’s” second-season finale, Bobby and Bum (Patrick Duffy, Kevin Page) visit J.R.’s gravesite.

BOBBY: Thank you, J.R., for taking care of all of us. Even from the great beyond.

A Southfork pickup truck arrives. John Ross and Christopher (Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe) exit.

JOHN ROSS: Don’t you think it’s about time you told us what really happened to J.R.?

BOBBY: What do you mean?

CHRISTOPHER: You’ve been pulling our strings since the funeral, Dad. It’s time you trusted us.

BOBBY: You know basically what I know. Cliff Barnes is responsible for J.R.’s death.

JOHN ROSS: I’m not buying it, Uncle Bobby.

BOBBY: The Barnes/Ewing feud is over. You two can reset your futures. Never worry about Cliff Barnes again. What else do you need to know?

CHRISTOPHER: J.R.’s whole master scheme was in that letter. And you haven’t even come close to telling us what it really said. We’re out here now, all alone. It’s time.

BOBBY: [Looks at Bum, removes the letter from his coat pocket, begins to read as John Ross and Christopher walk closer] “Bobby, Doctors say I’ve only got a few days left. Damn cancer. I should have told you earlier, but you know how I detest pity.

JOHN ROSS: [To Christopher] My father was dying?

BOBBY: “The feud Digger Barnes started with our family caused more heartbreak than either of us has time to recount. Well, I guess you do have the time. Use it. Put an end to this feud, once and for all. I had Bum steal Cliff’s gun. That malignant little troll Barnes comes to Mexico every year for a Marlin fishing competition. I’m going to damn well stay alive long enough to be here when he arrives. Carlos del Sol will smooth out the rough edges in Mexico for you. And talk to Bum. He’s the final and most important piece of the puzzle. And the best friend I didn’t deserve to have. So remember the time that you got grounded for “borrowing” Daddy’s favorite shotgun? You swore up and down it wasn’t you but Daddy said there was no point in lying because he found those extra shells in your room. Well, we both know it was me who planted those shells. Now it’s time to play that card again. I can – ” It just goes on.

He turns away. Christopher embraces his father, takes the letter and resumes reading it.

CHRISTOPHER: “I can never make up for all the terrible, hurtful things I did to you, Bobby. And I have no excuses either one of us will believe. But I hope in the quiet place in your heart, where the truth lives, that my jealousy, as powerful as it was, was nothing compared to my love for you. Goodbye, baby brother. I guess I’ll be duck hunting with Daddy. I’ll tell him I was the one who borrowed his gun.”

JOHN ROSS: I’m sorry. I’m confused. Who shot my father, Uncle Bobby?

BUM: I shot your father, John Ross. He only had a few days left and he asked me to do it. He said that’s the way it had to be. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Please believe that J.R.’s last act was an act of love. For his family. And for you.

John Ross walks toward Bum.

JOHN ROSS: The only person who could take down J.R. … was J.R.

John Ross shakes Bum’s hand. Bum wipes away a tear and leaves. Bobby hands John Ross the letter and walks away, leaving John Ross to kneel by the headstone.

JOHN ROSS: Thank you, Daddy, for watching over us. I love you.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 25 – ‘Legacies’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Legacies, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Brother’s keeper

Will it surprise you to learn that I like “Legacies”? Probably not, judging by some of the comments I’ve received on this website and others lately. Some of you seem to think I’m too generous to the new “Dallas.” If I am, it’s only because I genuinely love the show. I’m also the first to admit it isn’t perfect, as “Legacies” demonstrates. This isn’t the finest hour in “Dallas” history, but it does a nice job resolving the “Who Killed J.R.” mystery and giving his death meaning. Ultimately, isn’t that what all of us want when we lose a loved one?

The episode’s best scene takes place in the Southfork graveyard, where John Ross and Christopher listen as Bobby finally reads aloud the letter J.R. left him. We learn J.R. was dying of cancer and put his master plan in motion because he wanted to end the Barnes/Ewing feud. The plan itself: J.R. had Bum shoot him so Cliff could be framed for J.R.’s “murder.” Outlandish? Sure, but there’s also something profound about the idea that J.R., the ultimate warrior, died wanting to make peace. It’s not out of character either. This is who J.R. was at the end of his life: a kinder, gentler scoundrel who wanted to protect his family, especially when it gave him an excuse to dig into his old bag of tricks.

The letter to Bobby is the centerpiece of Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner’s script. Even though Patrick Duffy and Jesse Metcalfe take turns reading the words, Larry Hagman’s voice is the one I hear. In my favorite passage, J.R. acknowledges the “terrible, hurtful” things he did to Bobby over the years, then adds: “I hope in the quiet place in your heart, where the truth lives, that my jealousy, as powerful as it was, was nothing compared to my love for you.” This isn’t the first time we’ve heard J.R. declare his love for his youngest brother, but it might be the first time Bobby has heard it. (In the past, Bobby was “dead” or unconscious when J.R. poured out his heart to him.) Anyone who has loved and lost a brother will find meaning in this moment.

The gravesite scene also gives us two unforgettable performances. The first comes from Duffy, whose tears move me like nothing else I’ve seen on “Dallas” this season. Bobby is usually such a pillar of strength; to see him lose his composure is touching. I’m also impressed with Kevin Page, who chokes up when Bum tells John Ross that he was the one who ended J.R.’s life. If you buy the premise that J.R. arranged his own death and that Bum pulled the trigger, it’s probably because Page is so convincing in this scene. Did you ever imagine you’d want to give Bum a hug?

“Legacies’” other big revelation comes at the top of the hour, when Christopher learns: a) his mother died of pancreatic cancer, and b) Cliff paid her doctor to create the illusion she was alive so Christopher couldn’t inherit her shares of Barnes Global. I wanted Victoria Principal to return to “Dallas” as much as anyone, but I also appreciate how this twist honors “Dallas” continuity. We last saw Pam in 1988, when we learned she had months to live. Now we find out she died in 1989. The math works. Much more importantly, this scenario redeems Pam. It always seemed out of character for her to abandon her family, so Cidre and Rovner’s script reveals Pam was undergoing experimental treatments so she could reunite with them. If nothing else, the new “Dallas” deserves credit for making sense of Pam’s absence, which was always one of the old show’s biggest blunders.

“Legacies” offers no such redemption for Cliff. To make the J.R.-killed-J.R. twist work, “Dallas” had to turn Cliff into a monster; otherwise, there was no chance the audience would accept the idea of the Ewings framing him for J.R.’s murder. A lot of fans are having a hard time believing Bobby would go along with this. I understand their incredulity, as well as their frustration with the historical rewriting that went into Cliff’s transformation. (His scheme to defraud Christopher must have started toward the end of the original show, when Cliff had become a pretty good guy.) Still, given the severity of Cliff’s crimes, is there any doubt he belongs in jail?

Even if you don’t like what happened to Cliff, you can’t deny Ken Kercheval gave the performance of his career this season. In “Legacies,” Kercheval makes you feel Cliff’s desperation and anger when the police drag him away in handcuffs (“I did not kill J.R.! I did not kill J.R.!”). There’s also something poignant about the scene where Bobby visits Cliff in that dingy Mexican jail. Here’s a son of Jock, giving the son of Digger one last chance to make peace. Confess to your real crimes, Bobby says, and I’ll help you beat this murder rap. But Cliff is defiant to the bitter end: “I have never done anything that the Ewings asked me to do, and I’m not going to start today.”

As far as I’m concerned, Cliff has to stay in jail for the duration of “Dallas.” If he gets out, J.R.’s master plan will fail and our hero’s final “victory” will be nullified. Of course, this doesn’t mean Kercheval can’t continue to appear in jailhouse scenes like the one we get at the end of “Legacies,” when Cliff anoints Elena (of all people!) as the Ewings’ latest antagonist by revealing J.R. cheated her father out of oil-rich land. This is an interesting twist, although the scene ends with a silly sound effect: After Kercheval delivers the last line (“Make the Ewings pay for the sins against your family”), listen closely and you’ll hear Hagman’s cackle mixed into the background music. (While we’re on the subject of poorly executed J.R. tributes, the painting of him revealed at the end of this episode is atrocious.)

“Legacies” director Steve Robin also gives us two memorable musical montages, one of the new show’s best signatures. The first sequence depicts the daughters of “Dallas” betraying their daddies: While Pamela plants the gun in Cliff’s trunk, Emma spikes Harris’s pancake batter, knocking him out long enough to sneak into his safe and swipe the evidence of his drug trafficking. These scenes play out to a reprise of “Liar,” the bluesy number from the Unknown that was previously heard in “False Confessions” when the police arrest Frank for Tommy’s murder.

The second “Legacies” montage, set to the Mavericks’ “Come Unto Me,” shows Elena visiting the heavily guarded compound of Joaquin, a mysterious friend from her childhood. Meanwhile, John Ross visits Emma, who gives him the rest of the papers she stole from Harris. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of John Ross cheating on Pamela, but once I saw the Hagman-esque glint in Josh Henderson’s eye and heard him deliver the scene’s kicker – “Just don’t tell my wife” – I was sold. (On a related note: Is that J.R.’s watch on John Ross’s wrist?)

Does “Legacies” have plot holes? You bet. It appears the police exhume J.R.’s body, pull the slugs out of the chest cavity (shouldn’t this have been done before the burial, by the way?) and match the bullets to Cliff’s gun, all in the time it takes Cliff and Pamela to fly from Dallas to Mexico and check into their hotel. That’s mighty swift police work, even by TV standards. Also, if the police decide to check out Cliff’s claims that he was framed, they could start by talking to the people who work at the bank where John Ross and Pamela planted the belt buckle in Cliff’s safe deposit box.

I suppose finding flubs like these is its own kind of joy, but I got a much bigger kick out of playing detective and trying to solve the “Who Killed J.R.” mystery. Don’t forget: This storyline was created on the fly by people who were working under tight pressure while simultaneously mourning the biggest star “Dallas” will ever know. All things considered, I think Cidre and company did a hell of a job. This was the most fun I had watching television in a long time. Isn’t that the point?

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval, Legacies, TNT

The bitter end

‘LEGACIES’

Season 2, Episode 15

Telecast: April 15, 2013

Writers: Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner

Director: Steve Robin

Audience: 2.9 million viewers on April 15

Synopsis: Christopher learns Pam died in 1989 and that Cliff has been paying her doctor to create the illusion she’s alive to prevent Christopher from inheriting her third of Barnes Global. Vickers is killed on Cliff’s orders. After John Ross and Pamela plant evidence to lead the police to Cliff, he’s arrested for J.R.’s murder. John Ross and Christopher persuade Bobby to read J.R.’s letter, which reveals he was dying of cancer and had Bum shoot him so Cliff could be framed. Harris is arrested after Emma exposes his role in the drug trafficking. Cliff sends Elena documents that prove J.R. stole oil-rich land from her father, prompting her to visit someone from her past named Joaquin. John Ross cheats with Emma, who brings him documents from Harris’s safe.

Cast: Sam Anderson (Dr. David Gordon), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Karen Borta (reporter), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Cody Daniel (deliveryman), Akai Draco (Sheriff Derrick), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Alex Fernandez (Roy Vickers), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Annalee Jefferies (Carina), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Marcus M. Mauldin (Detective Bota), Benito Martinez (policeman), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing)

“Legacies” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 24 – ‘Guilt by Association’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt By Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Not the mama

Oh, how I wanted Victoria Principal to be under that hat.

“Guilt by Association,” the “Dallas” episode that promised to reveal Pam Ewing’s fate, ends with Christopher spotting the woman he believes is his mother in the lobby of a Zurich bank. She’s wearing a wide-rimmed hat and walking alongside the doctor that Christopher believes she married. Christopher runs after the woman, grabs her shoulder, spins her around and comes face to face with … a stranger. “Who are you? Where’s my mother?” he demands. Cut to John Ross and Pamela in the vault of another bank, where they’ve just stumbled across a death certificate for Pamela’s namesake aunt. “Christopher’s mother is dead,” Pamela announces.

Talk about feeling deflated! Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a blind loyalist to Pam Ewing. I adored the character when the original “Dallas” began but always regretted how the show turned her into the saint of Southfork in her later years. I suppose that’s the main reason I hoped Principal would reprise the role: so that she could take Pam back to her scrappy, sexy roots. And even though I read the actress’s recent statement in which she eschewed the idea of playing Pam again – and even though I remembered that the last time we saw the character, she was, you know, dying – I still held out hope that somehow, in some way, Principal might actually resurface at the end of this episode.

Of course, “Guilt by Association” leaves me feeling as disappointed for Christopher as I do for myself. He goes through this episode insisting the only reason he wants to find his mother is so he can get his hands on her shares of Barnes Global and stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings. But clearly this is about more than business for Christopher. We see his true feelings when he begins to weep after Dr. Gordon tells him that Pam never wants to see him again. We also hear the hope in Christopher’s voice when he catches up with the mystery woman and says, hopefully, “Mom!” Is there anything more heartbreaking than a Ewing who misses his mama?

This makes “Guilt by Association” another showcase for Jesse Metcalfe, who has quietly established himself as a forceful presence in “Dallas’s” post-Hagman era. But this episode is also historic. Pam Ewing, “Dallas’s” original heroine, is dead. We don’t find out the details of her demise until the next episode, “Legacies,” but there’s no doubt we’re witnessing a moment of consequence. Symbolism abounds. Notice how Taylor Hamra’s smart script allows Cliff’s daughter to announce the death of Digger’s. I also appreciate how “Guilt by Association” mimics “The Prodigal Mother,” the classic “Dallas” episode in which Pam goes to Houston to confront her long-lost mother, Rebecca Wentworth. Director Jesse Bochco even gives us a shot of Christopher sitting in a car, scoping out Dr. Gordon’s house, that recalls a similar scene from the earlier episode of Pam spying on the Wentworth mansion.

The other highlight of “Guilt by Association:” the sly, sexy confrontation where Sue Ellen marches into the governor’s office and blackmails him into abandoning his scheme to prevent the Ewings from pumping oil out of their land. The exchange reminds us how much Sue Ellen learned from J.R., but it also demonstrates how essential Linda Gray has become to the new “Dallas.” You could have given this scene to another Ewing, but would it have been nearly as much fun? I also love Steven Weber, who plays Governor McConaughey to smirking perfection. I hope he returns in the show’s third season. What a great foil.

“Guilt by Association” also gives us the cool car chase that ends with a signature “Dallas” fake-out – that’s not Drew on the motorcycle, it’s his very blond friend! – as well as a memorable guest turn from reliable Sam Anderson, who takes over the role of Pam’s plastic surgeon Dr. Gordon, played on the original series by Josef Rainer. Anderson also made a couple of appearances on the old “Dallas” as a cop who investigated the death of the star witness in Jenna Wade’s murder trial, beginning with a 1985 segment called “Dead Ends.” Come to think of it, that would have made a fitting title for this episode too.

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, David Gordon, Guilt By Association, Sam Anderson, TNT

Another dead end

‘GUILT BY ASSOCIATION’

Season 2, Episode 14

Telecast: April 15, 2013

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 2.8 million viewers on April 15

Synopsis: In Zurich, Christopher discovers Elena has been protecting Drew and sends her home, then comes face to face with the woman he thought was Pam. When John Ross and Pamela conclude Cliff killed J.R., they work with Bobby to plant evidence that will lead the police to Cliff. Sue Ellen uses information from Ken to persuade McConaughey to ease up on the Ewings. After the Ewings bail out Emma, she moves back in with Harris, who later finds her snooping in his office. The police nab Vickers after Drew plants cocaine in his car.

Cast: Sam Anderson (Dr. David Gordon), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Micky Hoogendijk (Mikki), Annalee Jeffries (Carina), Emily Kosloski (Rhonda Simmons), Lee Majors (Ken Richards), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“Guilt by Association” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’ Ends the Season with Bigger Ratings

Dallas, Guilt by Association, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT

Compounding interest

“Dallas” got a nice ratings boost on April 15 with a season-ending double feature that revealed what happened to Pam and who killed J.R.

“Guilt by Association” the first of the evening’s two episodes, was seen by 2.82 million viewers, including 1 million adults between ages 18 and 49, an important demographic in TV ad sales.

“Legacies,” the second hour, drew 2.99 million viewers, including 1.1 million in the 18-to-49 demo. This makes “Legacies” the season’s second most-watched “Dallas” telecast after the landmark “J.R.’s Masterpiece” funeral episode, which drew 3.6 million viewers on March 11.

“Dallas” averaged 2.7 million viewers on Monday nights this year, although DVR users who record the show and watch it later in the week have boosted its weekly average to 3.4 million viewers. “Dallas” averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesdays last summer, when there is much less competition on other channels.

TNT has not announced whether it will order a third season, but this week the Hollywood news site Deadline suggested “Dallas” is “a slam dunk for renewal.” Although ratings fell this season, the well-known “Dallas” brand generated strong international sales for the studio that produces the show, Deadline reported.

Name that Tune!

Dallas, Faran Tahir, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, TNT, Venomous Creatures

Liars

Forget “Who Killed J.R.?” Here’s the question “Dallas” fans really want answered: What’s the name of the song that kept popping up on the show this season?

You know the song I’m talking about. It was first heard in “False Confessions” when the police arrested Frank Ashkani (Faran Tahir) for Tommy’s murder. The song played again in “Legacies” when Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) planted the gun in Cliff’s trunk.

Here’s the answer: The song is called “Liar” and it comes from a band called The Unknown, a TNT spokeswoman told us yesterday.

The bad news: This appears to be an unreleased track. I can’t find it on iTunes or anyplace else. So if you want to keep hearing it, just do what I do and watch those scenes over and over.

Speaking of “Dallas” music: The song that played at the end of “Legacies,” when John Ross (Josh Henderson) proved again he’s his daddy’s son from tip to tail, is “Come Unto Me” by the The Mavericks. Meanwhile, the terrific tune that appeared at the end of “Love and Family,” when Bobby (Patrick Duffy) took that slow-mo stroll out of Ewing Energies, is “My Time Has Come” by The Bowery Riots.

Cidre Speaks

In case you missed it: “Dallas” producer Cynthia Cidre gives TV Guide the post-mortem on the second season, including her reaction to Victoria Principal’s statement-hear-round-the-world, whether Katherine Wentworth is really dead and those cocaine shoes. Earlier this week, Cidre spoke to Yahoo! about what we might see during a third “Dallas” season, including the possibility that – gasp! – John Ross might build his own house on Southfork.

Divas II

Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) had a good week: Not only did she track down Ken (Lee Majors), turn the tables on McConaughey (Steven Weber) and announce Cliff’s arrest, she also defeated sister Kristin (Mary Crosby) in Dallas Divas Derby’s second brackets competition. Get it, girl.

Killing J.R.

Last December, not long after Larry Hagman’s death, I asked three writers and a director from the original “Dallas” how they think J.R. should die. Now that the character has been laid to rest once and for all, it’s interesting to go back and read their ideas, which aren’t far off base from what ended up happening.

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

‘Who Killed J.R.?’ ‘Dallas’ Solves the Big Mystery

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, TNT, Who Killed J.R.?

He done it

We now know who killed J.R. Ewing.

In “Legacies,” “Dallas’s” second-season finale, the Ewings completed the execution of the master plan that J.R. (Larry Hagman) devised before his death. All of our questions were finally answered:

• Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) learned Pam was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and went to Abu Dhabi to receive experimental treatments. The treatments failed and Pam died in 1989, but Cliff (Ken Kercheval) paid her doctor, David Gordon (Sam Anderson), to create the illusion that Pam was still alive so Christopher couldn’t inherit her share of Barnes Global.

• The police nabbed Roy Vickers (Alex Fernandez), but Cliff had him murdered in jail before he could reveal Cliff was the mastermind behind the rig explosion. Meanwhile, the police arrested Harris (Mitch Pileggi) after Emma (Emma Bell) exposed his role in the Mexican drug trafficking. (The high heels were made of cocaine!)

• After John Ross (Josh Henderson) discovered Cliff had flown to Nuevo Laredo before J.R.’s death, he decided Cliff must have killed J.R. Bobby confirmed John Ross’s suspicions and revealed the gun that J.R. left for John Ross actually belonged to Cliff. To make sure the police caught Cliff, John Ross and Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) planted J.R.’s belt buckle in his safe deposit box; when the cops discovered it, J.R.’s body was exhumed and investigators determined the slugs found in his chest cavity came from Cliff’s gun. The Mexican police arrested Cliff and hauled him away.

But wait, there’s more!

Bobby went to see Cliff in the Mexican prison and offered him a deal: Confess to blowing up the rig, having Vickers assassinated and his conspiracy against the Ewings and Bobby would help him. But Cliff didn’t bite. “I have never done anything that the Ewings asked me to do – and I’m not going to start today,” he seethed. As Bobby walked away, Cliff asked him who really killed J.R. Bobby’s response: “You’ll never know, Cliff.”

Cut to J.R.’s gravesite, where John Ross and Christopher persuaded Bobby to finally read the letter that J.R. left him. Here’s what J.R. wrote:

“Bobby, Doctors say I’ve only got a few days left. Damn cancer. I should have told you earlier, but you know how I detest pity. The feud Digger Barnes started with our family caused more heartbreak than either of us has time to recount. Well, I guess you do have the time. Use it. Put an end to this feud, once and for all.

“I had Bum steal Cliff’s gun. That malignant little troll Barnes comes to Mexico every year for a marlin fishing competition. I’m going to damn well stay alive long enough to be here when he arrives. Carlos del Sol will smooth out the rough edges in Mexico for you. And talk to Bum. He’s the final and most important piece of the puzzle. And the best friend I didn’t deserve to have.

“So remember the time that you got grounded for ‘borrowing’ Daddy’s favorite shotgun? You swore up and down it wasn’t you but Daddy said there was no point in lying because he found those extra shells in your room. Well, we both know it was me who planted those shells. Now it’s time to play that card again.

“I can never make up for all the terrible, hurtful things I did to you, Bobby. And I have no excuses either one of us will believe. But I hope in the quiet place in your heart, where the truth lives, that my jealousy – as powerful as it was – was nothing compared to my love for you. Goodbye, baby brother. I guess I’ll be duck hunting with Daddy. I’ll tell him I was the one who borrowed his gun.”

After the letter was read, John Ross asked who actually pulled the trigger. Bum filled in the blanks: “I shot your father, John Ross. He only had a few days left and he asked me to do it. He said that’s the way it had to be. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Please believe that J.R.’s last act was an act of love. For his family. And for you.”

So for those of you keeping score: Yesterday, I suggested a terminally ill J.R. could have arranged his own death and fingered Bum as the person who pulled the trigger, but I ended up naming Cliff as his most likely assailant.

I should have, uh, stuck to my guns. Because like John Ross told Bum, “The only person who could take down J.R. … was J.R.”

What do you think of the resolution to the big mystery? Share your comments below and read more posts on Dallas Decoder’s “Who Killed J.R.?” page.