Poll: Which ‘Dallas’ Episode is the Best?

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, House Divided, J.R. Ewing, J.R.'s Masterpiece, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Miss Ellie Ewing, Pam Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing, Swan Song, Things Ain't Goin' Too Good at Southfork, Victoria PrincipalHere’s a list of some of “Dallas’s” most memorable episodes. Vote for your favorite or share other choices in the comments below.

 

Share your comments below and vote in Dallas Decoder’s other polls.

The Dal-List: 37 Reasons to Love ‘Dallas’

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

Love to love them

“Dallas” debuted 37 years ago today. Here’s why we still love the Ewings.

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

Drive us crazy

37. “Digger’s Daughter.” Bobby marries Pam, Lucy and Ray take a roll in the hay and Jock calls J.R. a jackass. Could this show have gotten off to a better start?

Dallas, Southfork

Big house on the prairie

36. Southfork. To a lot of us, the white house on Braddock Road is more revered than the one on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Sue Ellen Ewing

Is blood thicker than liquor?

35. Bourbon and branch. Forget oil. This is what really fueled the Ewing empire.

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Can’t touch this

34. Every time Jock asks for “a touch” of bourbon. Spoiler: It was always more than a touch.

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing

Stop or mom will shoot

33. “Ray, get me the shotgun out of the hall closet.” The quintessential Miss Ellie moment.

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Long walk

32. Pam’s middle screen during the opening credits. It never changed! For almost a decade, she never stopped crossing the Southfork lawn.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Knots Landing, Larry Hagman

Fishy

31. J.R.’s first visit to “Knots Landing.” J.R.: Hey, that is good. What do you call this? Valene: Tuna fish.

Dallas, Kristin Shepard, Mary Crosby

Smirky

30. Kristin Shepard. So much more than the answer to a trivia question.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

About face

29. Sue Ellen’s 180s. No one does the slow, dramatic turn better.

Dallas, Who Shot J.R.

Clean scream

28. The cleaning lady who found J.R. Her reaction alone made it worth waiting eight months to find out who shot him.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Moment of truth

27. “It was you, Kristin, who shot J.R.” The most famous line in “Dallas” history.

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Daddy’s decree

26. “Real power is something you take.” Or maybe this is the show’s most famous line. Six words that encapsulate the Ewing creed.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

He sizzles

25. Breakfast on the patio. Would you like some insults with your bacon?

Afton Cooper, Audrey Landers, Dallas

Them pipes!

24. The musical stylings of Miss Afton Cooper. She can steal us away anytime she wants.

Dallas, Dallas Press

Bleeds it leads

23. Headlines like these. The editors of The Dallas Press: The only people more obsessed with the Ewings than we are.

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Snake in the grass

22. “Hey, Ray. … You getting good mileage on Donna’s car?” So nice of him to be concerned, isn’t it?

Dallas, Donna Culver Krebbs, Susan Howard

Wind ’em up

21. Donna vs. Bonnie. “Dallas’s” best barroom brawl.

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

Will power

20. Daddy’s will. Pitting your hyper-competitive sons against each other in a yearlong battle for control of the family empire? Sounds like a plan!

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

Watch out, wallpaper

19. “I’m going to drink myself into oblivion.” And she damn near did.

Dallas

Paging KITT

18. The synthesized seventh-season theme music. We half expect Knight Rider to come roaring into the credits.

Bobby Ewing, Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Eric Farlow, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Oh, that lighting!

17. Bradford May’s cinematography. The Ewings never looked as gorgeous as they did from 1983 to 1984.

Dallas, Larry Hagman, J.R. Ewing

J.R. Ewing here

16. The phone at the Oil Baron’s Club. Be careful with that thing or you’ll poke out Dora Mae’s eye!

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

Yes, sparklers

15. Lucy’s modeling career. There’s nothing about this picture I don’t love.

Dallas, Katherine Wentworth, Morgan Brittany

Hat attack

14. Katherine Wentworth. How can you blame a gal for going a little nuts over Bobby Ewing? Also: the hats!

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Turban renewal

13. When Sue Ellen changed into this outfit to go to the movies. What, you mean you didn’t wear something similar when you saw “Porky’s II” in 1984?

Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Ken Kercheval

The best loser

12. Cliff Barnes. As essential to the “Dallas” mythology as any Ewing. Ken Kercheval is brilliant.

Dallas, Fern Fitzgerald, Marilee Stone

Drip drop

11. “Marilee, you all right, honey? Did it go up your nose?” Best pool dunking ever.

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Buzz kill

10. When Bobby flat lines, jolting Pam. Gets us every time.

Dallas, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Who says cowboys don’t cry?

9. … And then when Ray loses it. Few things move me more than this moment.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

What a dream

8. The dream season. Look, we love Bobby as much as anyone, but this is one of “Dallas’s” best years — especially where the leading ladies are concerned.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

Mr. Clean

7. Bobby’s return. Was the dream explanation a cop-out? Sure, but who’s going to complain about seeing Patrick Duffy in the shower?

Dallas, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

The long goodbye

6. Pam. Give the lady her due: Fans spent twice as long clamoring for her return as she spent on the show.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Omri Katz

Word

5. “John Ross, this is Ewing Oil.” Chills.

Brad Pitt, Dallas, Randy

A star is born

4. Brad Pitt’s hair. Also: “Randy”!

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

Woman of the hour

3. “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” Linda Gray’s tour de force. If you can watch this episode without bawling like a baby, you’re stronger than me.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

Another star is born

2. “I am not my father!” Chills again!

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Forever our hero

1. Larry Hagman. How we loved this man. What an actor! What a guy! We’ll never stop missing him, and we’ll always be grateful he shared his gift with the world.

Why do you love “Dallas”? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.” 

You’re Invited to Our ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ Party on March 16

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

Who done it?

Dallas Decoder is throwing a party to mark the 35th anniversary of the “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger — and you’re invited!

On Monday, March 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern, let’s all watch “A House Divided,” the classic 1980 episode that ends with J.R. getting shot. While we’re watching, let’s share our memories and observations during our #DallasChat on Twitter.

It’ll be like live tweeting a current TV show — except instead of a network broadcasting the episode for us, it’s up to each of us to play it on the device (TV, tablet, laptop, etc.) of our choice.

Here’s how it will work:

1. Get the episode. You’ll find “A House Divided” on the “Dallas: The Complete Third Season” DVD set, which is available from Amazon, WB Shop and many other online retailers. You can also purchase the individual episode from Amazon and iTunes.

2. Watch it. No matter what device you use to watch the episode, don’t hit play until March 16 at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain, 6 p.m. Pacific). The show starts with brief previews — the first thing you’ll see is Vaughn Leland declaring, “It was crooked!” — followed by the opening credits and then the episode itself. It’s important we all start watching at the same time so we’re in sync.

3. Discuss it. Once the show begins, go to Twitter and join the discussion. Include #DallasChat in all your tweets, and enter #DallasChat in Twitter’s search field to see what other fans are saying. Click “All” to see all the related tweets. (I’ll be tweeting from my Twitter handle, @DallasDecoder.)

“Who Shot J.R.?” is one of the most important moments in “Dallas” history, so I hope we can all enjoy it together through the magic of social media. It’ll be fun!

Got questions about #DallasChat? Leave them in the comments section below.

CBS, Here’s Your Chance to Save ‘Dallas’

#SaveDallas, CBS, Dallas, Larry Hagman, Les Moonves, Leslie Moonves, Save Dallas

Wheeler dealers (Associated Press)

MEMORANDUM

To: Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer, CBS Corporation

From: Dallas Decoder

Re: #SaveDallas

Mr. Moonves, have I got a deal for you.

You know better than anyone how hard fans are fighting to save “Dallas” after TNT canceled the show last week. There’s an online petition calling on CBS to pick up the series, and Linda Gray tells Dallas Decoder that when she ran into you a few days ago, you told her you’ve been inundated with emails from “Dallas” diehards pleading with you to bring the show home to CBS. (Sorry about clogging your inbox, sir. “Dallas” fans are a passionate bunch.)

Most tantalizing of all, there are unconfirmed reports that CBS is interested in hearing a pitch from the show’s producers. If these stories aren’t true, they should be. After all, nothing would make more sense from a business perspective — and nothing would be more poetic — than having CBS ride to “Dallas’s” rescue.

For starters, “Dallas” comes with a fan base that has stuck with it for more than three decades. We watched the original show on CBS in the 1970s and 1980s, we watched CBS’s reunion movies and specials in the 1990s and early 2000s, and we watched all three seasons of the TNT sequel. We’re nothing if not loyal.

Not all of us are old-timers either. “Dallas” has always bridged the generation gap. I started watching when I was a kid, sitting on the living room floor while Mom and Dad watched from their easy chairs. Now I’m a grown-up and I’m still watching — and so are younger viewers like my niece, a new “Dallas” devotee who thinks Josh Henderson, a.k.a. John Ross Ewing III, is a dreamboat.

This is why “Dallas” is an ideal fit for CBS, the only network that still believes in broadcasting. You and your executive team have a gift for delivering shows that everyone enjoys, from “The Big Bang Theory” to “Big Brother.” Imagine how easily “Dallas” would slide into your Friday lineup, where it would join “Blue Bloods,” another multigenerational family drama, and the “Hawaii Five-0” revival. It would be smart scheduling and a lovely nod to “Dallas’s” glory days, when the original show ruled Friday nights.

Yes, I know television has changed a lot since then. Families don’t gather in the warm glow of a living room TV set the way mine did when I was growing up. But “Dallas” still has the power to bring people together — look at how fans have united since the #SaveDallas campaign began — and viewers will always want to watch great drama, whether it’s on TV, a tablet or a device that fits in your pocket.

Besides, the Ewings never go out of style. I realize “Dallas’s” ratings on TNT haven’t always reflected that, especially toward the end of the show’s run. But you’ve got to wonder: What kind of numbers did TNT expect? When “Dallas” wasn’t airing on holidays, it was forced to compete with the Emmys and “Monday Night Football.” To make matters worse, the network scheduled the season finale on the first night of the new season, when “Dallas” was forced to go head-to-head with multiple premieres — including the debut of CBS’s newest hit, “Scorpion.” (Congrats on another blockbuster, by the way.)

But this isn’t just about numbers, Mr. Moonves. This is about tradition too. When the original “Dallas” came along in the 1970s, CBS was getting clobbered in the ratings by ABC, which was riding high with “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Charlie’s Angels.” Then J.R. got shot and “Dallas” zoomed to the top of the Nielsens, taking the rest of CBS with it. Today, the original “Dallas” is remembered as one of the greatest successes in the network’s history, along with “I Love Lucy,” “All in the Family,” “60 Minutes” and “Survivor.”

There’s a personal connection here too, Mr. Moonves. You made your mark in television as a young executive at Lorimar, the storied studio that produced “Dallas,” along with “Knots Landing” and “Falcon Crest.” You arrived around the time Bobby Ewing stepped out of the shower and gave “Dallas” a new lease on life. That’s exactly what we need right now — a fresh start.

Check out the picture I’ve attached to this memo. It shows you and Larry Hagman at a party for TV critics in 1997. I love the expression on his face — I wonder what joke he’s cracking here? — but I also love the expression on yours. You look like you admire Mr. Hagman as much as “Dallas” fans do. Imagine how proud he’d be if you saved “Dallas,” a franchise that meant so much to him.

Look, Mr. Moonves, I don’t mean to get too sentimental here. J.R. Ewing didn’t become a successful oil baron by letting his emotions rule his decision-making, and I suspect you didn’t become the most powerful person in television by doing the same. I also realize the odds of a broadcast network picking up a discarded cable series are pretty long. But this show is special, for all the reasons I just pointed out.

“Dallas” once saved CBS. Here’s your chance to return the favor.

Why do you think CBS should save “Dallas”? Share your ideas below and check out Dallas Decoder’s Save Dallas Page for links to news coverage, petitions, other fan sites and more.

‘Dallas’ is Bringing the Heat. Now Let’s See Some Heart.

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

III

Did “Dallas” go too far by showing John Ross, Pamela and Emma’s three-way in last week’s midseason finale? I say no. The scene put a fitting punctuation mark on a storyline that’s been building all year while continuing some longtime “Dallas” traditions, including the original show’s practice of pushing the envelope in its depiction of sexuality. I liked it, but now it’s time for the new series to get back to emulating its predecessor in other ways — starting with restoring its focus on the Ewings and delving deeper into their lives. To put it another way: “Dallas” has shown us the heat; now it needs to show us some heart.

Before I get to that, let’s address the controversy over the threesome. Many viewers have taken to Facebook and Twitter to decry the scene, saying they were offended by the sight of John Ross, Pamela and Emma making out — especially when the women kissed. If you find this distasteful, probably nothing I can say will change your mind, but let me point this out: These characters are consenting adults. They’re acting in the privacy of a hotel room, and no one is being forced to do anything against their will. (Yes, Pamela is under the influence of drugs, but she apparently decided to sleep with her husband and his mistress before she popped the pills.) Contrast this with J.R.’s extra-marital affairs on the old show, which almost always took place behind Sue Ellen’s back. To me, that’s more immoral than a consensual threesome.

Some fans also say the “Dallas” three-way is too graphic. I suppose whether or not you agree depends on your definition of “graphic.” In this case, there’s a lot of kissing but not much nudity: John Ross takes off his shirt, but the women remain in their lingerie. It strikes me as much less explicit than what I saw a few nights later on another cable drama, “Mad Men,” when Roger Sterling woke up in a room full of half-naked bodies after an orgy. For the record, this didn’t offend me either because it helped illustrate Roger’s ongoing womanizing, which is central to his character.

Ultimately, this is why I believe “Dallas’s” threesome works: It serves the story. From the beginning, the John Ross/Pamela/Emma triangle has been about the characters using sex to achieve some other purpose: John Ross sleeps with Emma to gain access to her father’s secret files; Pamela buys a sexy corset to surprise her husband and help him take his mind off his problems; Emma buys the same outfit to seduce John Ross and one-up Pamela. In the midseason finale, sex is once again used as a tool when Pamela lures John Ross and Emma into the ménage a trois, only to spring a drug-induced seizure on them. It’s kind of poetic.

Let’s not forget that sex has always been part of “Dallas.” The first episode in 1978 showed the teenaged Lucy rolling around in the hay with silver-haired Ray. “Dallas” went on to break ground in other ways too: Lucy became engaged to a closeted gay man in 1979, which ended up being one of television’s first sympathetic portraits of homosexuality, and during the mid-1980s, the show hinted Grace was more than a mere “assistant” to Angelica Nero. “Dallas” also gave us prostitutes, J.R.’s affairs and Sue Ellen’s foray into the lingerie business — which included plenty of shots of Mandy Winger modeling nighties that were every bit as revealing as Pamela and Emma’s corsets — along with countless scenes of shirtless men kissing women wrapped in bed sheets. Sometimes it was tawdry and sometimes it was romantic — just like on the new “Dallas.”

Did the producers of the TNT series go out of their way to be a little more provocative than usual with the three-way? Of course they did. They wanted to grab as big an audience as possible in order to keep fans hooked during the show’s four-month hiatus. This is also nothing new: Cliffhangers are a “Dallas” tradition going back to the days of “Who Shot J.R.?” By today’s standards, this latest stunt was a success: The midseason finale, “Where There’s Smoke,” debuted to 2.1 million viewers on April 14. It was “Dallas’s” second biggest audience of the year, although it’s probably nothing compared to the chatter the episode inspired on social media and around office water coolers. People are buzzing about a “Dallas” cliffhanger again. When was the last time that happened?

So does this mean the new show should spice things up even more? I think that would be the wrong lesson to take from last week’s ratings bump. Instead, I hope the producers will remember this: Sex on the original “Dallas” was always balanced by moments of familial warmth, like the quiet scenes where Miss Ellie dispensed wisdom to one of her troubled children or the humorous occasions where Bobby bested J.R. with a wink and a grin. There’ve been flashes of these kinds of scenes this year — the women of Southfork sit around the patio planning Pamela’s wedding, Bobby introduces John Ross to the lesser prairie chicken — but they’ve been too far and few between. In their place, we’re getting scenes about Mexican drug lords, upscale brothels and misguided quests for “justice.”

More problematic is this: Two-and-a-half seasons into TNT’s “Dallas,” fans still aren’t sure what makes some of the main characters tick. Jordana Brewster is a terrific actress, but poor Elena has whiplashed from being “good” to “bad” and back again. Constantly adding new players to the mix isn’t helping us get to know the people we should be paying attention to. It’s not like the new “Dallas” isn’t capable of delving deep: One of the reasons “J.R.’s Masterpiece” remains the TNT show’s high-water mark isn’t just because it paid such loving tribute to Larry Hagman’s character — it’s also because it opened a window into Sue Ellen’s psyche and allowed Linda Gray to deliver one of her finest performances.

The closest we’ve come this year is the powerful scene where John Ross confronts his mother about her alcoholic relapse. Frankly, this is another reason I’m willing to cut the show some slack when it comes to that now-notorious threesome. I’ve seen what Josh Henderson’s character can do when his clothes come off, but I’ve also seen what happens when John Ross bares his soul. Doesn’t everyone else on “Dallas” deserve the same opportunity?

What do you think? Share your comments below — please be respectful — and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.

The Dal-List: 15 Reasons You Should Be Watching ‘Dallas’

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

Watch and love

What’s that, you say? You’re not watching the new season of “Dallas”? Well, put down that bottle of stupid pills and listen up. Here are 15 excellent reasons to start tuning in to the series, which TNT shows every Monday night.

Dallas, Judith Light, Judith Ryland, TNT

Snow’s the boss

15. Judith Ryland is nuts. Remember Angela Bower, Light’s sensible, self-controlled character on “Who’s the Boss?” Well, go ahead and put that performance out of your mind because Angela is nothing like Judith Ryland, the coke-snortin’, drug-traffickin’, truth-bomb-droppin’, cane-thumpin’ control freak Light plays on “Dallas.” Judith is the most wicked and unpredictable character on television today. What will crazy lady do next? I have no clue, but I can’t wait to find out.

Dallas, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Nicolas Trevino, TNT

Delicious

14. Di Pace = Divine. So the Ewings are sitting around their boardroom, being Ewings, when all of a sudden some dude named “Nicolas Treviño” waltzes in and starts bossing everyone around. Who is Nicolas? Who cares! What matters is that he’s played by Juan Pablo Di Pace, who is absolutely delectable. I mean, look at this guy. How is he even real? Di Pace is suave, charming and so far, he’s had sexual chemistry with virtually everyone he’s had a scene with. Don’t you want to be there when Judith meets him?

Dallas, Elena Ramos, John Ross Ewing, Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Watch and learn

13. You can learn stuff. Did you know that in Texas, a company can’t unload a major division unless a “supermajority” of its shareholders approve the sale? Or that sometimes oil-rich “shale formations” can rise within a property’s “surface rights”? I know both things are true because “Dallas” tells me so. I’ll confess: I’m sometimes dubious of the veracity of the legal and technical mumbo-jumbo these characters spout, but it mostly checks out. So do your brain a favor and start watching. You’ll be entertained and enlightened.

Bum, Dallas, Kevin Page, Steve Jones, TNT

Bum in the night

12. Bum. You know what’s really cool about “Dallas” this season? Kevin Page is being featured more prominently than ever. His character, Steve “Bum” Jones, will go down in TV history as the last guy to shoot J.R., but Page’s greatest contribution to the show might be the way Bum has become John Ross’s conscience. And am I the only one who’s noticed Page’s off-the-charts chemistry with Linda Gray? He’s now a vital part of “Dallas.” Here’s hoping Bum gets bumped up to a series regular soon.

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Perfection

11. Jesse Metcalfe has a beard now. I know what you’re thinking: Metcalfe has such a nice face, why cover it up? I felt that way when I heard about the beard too. But then I saw it and oh my goodness it’s the best beard in the history of facial hair. (Yours is nice too, Mr. Pileggi.) I mean, take a look at that thing. What’s not to love? The sad part is the beard is going to go away midseason, but that’s still a good a reason to watch the show. Let’s all savor every second of Christopher’s scruff before he shaves it off.

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Total. Badass.

10. Bobby Ewing is still pissed! Remember when Bobby screamed at Ann before J.R.’s funeral last season? Well, Patrick Duffy continues to bring an edge to his character this year. Who didn’t love Bobby’s recent “stupid pills” quip, or how he always looks like he wants to throttle John Ross? There’s also this: Duffy’s portion of “Dallas’s” new opening credits feature last year’s scene in which Bobby did that badass, “Reservoir Dogs”-style slow-mo walk. Now we get to relive it each week!

Ann Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, TNT

Feel the love

9. Brenda Strong is awesome. We love Ann Ewing. We love how she stands by Bobby, how she embraces the Ewings for all their Ewing-ness, how she never seems to regret that one time she tried to kill Harris. That’s what makes Strong such an amazing actress. No matter what the script calls for, she never let us lose sight of her character’s humanity — even when Ann grabs her gun and starts shooting people. And isn’t it cool that Patrick Duffy finally has a leading lady who can look him in the eye?

Dallas, Elena Ramos, Jordana Brewster, TNT

Spy in the house

8. Elena Ramos is a sneaky bitch. Did you watch the first two seasons of TNT’s “Dallas”? Remember how Jordana Brewster’s character never had much to do? Yeah, well, those days are over. Elena found out J.R. Ewing screwed over her daddy and now she’s joined forces with Cliff Barnes to secretly plot against the rest of the Ewings. Does it make sense? No, but Brewster is such a good actress, she makes it all seem perfectly reasonable. Isn’t it great to see her get a juicy storyline to sink her teeth into?

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

So good at being bad

7. Emma Ryland is a naughty bitch. Look, I love my bitches, OK? One of my all-time favorite “Dallas” characters is Mary Crosby’s Kristin Shepard, the shrew who shot J.R. The old show killed off Crosby waaay too soon, but now that we have Emma Bell slinking around Southfork, it’s almost like Kristin’s back. Bell’s character, shameless Emma Ryland, is an oversexed vixen who can’t keep her hands off John Ross. (Blame her?) It doesn’t hurt that Bell is also a terrific actress. No one does bad better.

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, TNT

We’re not worthy

6. Julie Gonzalo is fabulous. Is there a more fascinating young heroine on television today than Pamela Barnes Ewing? The answer is no, there is not. Every season, Gonzalo unravels new layers of her character; she’s played Pamela as a sweet-as-spun-sugar ingénue, a corporate tigress, a devastated daughter, and now a suspicious bride. Gonzalo’s talents know no bounds, and even though I’m a gay man, I’m kind of in love with her. (It’s cool, though, because my partner loves her too.) All hail Queen Julie!

Dallas, Harris Ryland, Mitch Pileggi, TNT

This stud’s for us

5. Ryland, Harris Ryland. Mitch Pileggi may be best known as Skinner on “The X Files,” but is there any doubt Harris Ryland is the role he was born to play? Pileggi brings a wicked, Hagman-esque gleefulness to his “Dallas” performances; he’s so damned charismatic, you can’t help but root for Harris, no matter how mean he is to the Ewings. This character is constantly keeping us on our toes — now that we know he’s CIA, should we trust him? — but one thing is certain: Pileggi is a total stud.

AnnaLynne McCord, Dallas, Heather, TNT

Dressed to thrill

4. This is the best-dressed cast on TV. One of “Dallas’s” biggest stars works behind the camera: Rachel Sage Kunin, the show’s insanely gifted costume designer. In every scene of every episode, Kunin somehow chooses the absolute perfect look for each character. One example: Heather’s sexy dress/cowgirl boots combo, which showed how the character was both tough and feminine. Kunin isn’t just the show’s wardrobe chief; she’s a storyteller in her own right — and a hugely talented one at that.

Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Always our darlin’

3. Sue Ellen is drunk again. Hold on, darlins. I’m not celebrating the fact our beloved heroine has fallen off the wagon. OK, I guess I am celebrating it, but only because I know Sue Ellen’s road back to sobriety is going to be a blockbuster television — and that means we’re going to be treated to another knockout performance from Linda Gray. As phenomenal as she was last year, my gut tells me Gray is going to be even more spectacular this season. Who knew such a thing was even possible?

Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

The son also rises

2. This guy. Oh, Josh Henderson. Where do I even begin with you? You impress the hell out of me. Your performance honors both of your TV parents: In your capable hands, John Ross is as ambitious as J.R. and as sensitive as Sue Ellen. You’re also a brilliant foil for Uncle Bobby and Cousin Christopher and the perfect match for Pamela. And then there’s that smile of yours, which is sweet, sly and oh-so-sexy — all at once. Is John Ross now one of the best reasons to watch “Dallas”? Damn skippy, he is.

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

Do it for him

1. This guy too. No one loved a good time more than Larry Hagman, the great actor who brought J.R. Ewing to life. If Mr. Hagman were still here, I have a feeling he’d love how much fun TNT’s “Dallas” has become. Everyone involved in creating the show — the writers, the directors, the actors, the crew — is making Mr. Hagman proud by churning out the most consistently entertaining hour of television, week after week. Now it’s time for the audience to do its part by watching and enjoying the show!

What do you love about “Dallas’s” third season? Share your comments below and read more “Dal-Lists.”

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.

One Year Later, Larry Hagman’s Legacy Lives

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

Remember the titan

The first anniversary of Larry Hagman’s death is November 23, although to me, he never really went away. Hagman’s old “Dallas” episodes run on a seemingly endless loop in my house. I watch him all the time, and that would probably be true even if I didn’t write and edit this website. Larry Hagman still brings me joy. The other day, I re-visited the 1983 segment where J.R. goes to the Oil Baron’s Ball and slyly insults every relative seated near him. With each gleeful quip, Hagman’s smile couldn’t be contained. Neither could mine.

Do I wish Hagman were still around, filming new episodes of TNT’s “Dallas” revival? Of course, although given the remarkable body of work he left behind (more than 380 appearances as J.R. in the various “Dallas” shows, spinoffs and sequels), to want more from him feels almost greedy. Likewise, while I’ll always regret that I never met my hero, I did get to speak to him on the phone once. How lucky am I? By most accounts, Hagman was a hell of a guy — joyful, generous, wise, progressive, amusingly eccentric — and so one year after his death, whatever sadness I feel is reserved for the people who knew him best. As a fan, I lost an actor whose work I admired from afar. But Hagman’s family and friends? They lost a real, special man.

Don’t get me wrong: Hagman’s death upset me a year ago. He died on the day after Thanksgiving, giving Black Friday a whole other meaning. Now the timing feels kind of cosmic. The anniversary of his death will always come two days after the anniversary of the “Who Shot J.R.?” revelation and around Thanksgiving, reminding us to feel grateful for the wonderful performances he gave us. We can also feel thankful to the people who help keep Hagman’s memory alive, including the folks who run his Facebook page, which offers a treasure trove of rare photographs and other mementos. For that matter, we should also give thanks to the “Dallas” producers and cast members,  who have done an impressive job honoring their show’s biggest star. The episode where Hagman’s alter ego is laid to rest, “J.R.’s Masterpiece,” lived up to its title, but the tributes haven’t stopped there. Showrunner Cynthia Cidre has promised to keep Hagman’s name atop the production call sheets for the duration of the series, reminding the cast and crew that “Dallas” is the house Hagman built.

There are also hints that J.R. will figure into next season’s storylines, wheeling and dealing from beyond the grave, and a recent tweet from the set suggests Josh Henderson will sport his on-screen daddy’s signature wristwatch and belt buckle. If the producers are looking for one more way to honor Hagman, “Dallas” fan Joe Siegler has a nifty suggestion: Instead of continuing to have the cast take turns delivering each episode’s “Previously on ‘Dallas’” voiceover, why not use Hagman’s version exclusively? This would be a small gesture, but I can’t imagine a better way to start each new hour of “Dallas” than by hearing J.R.’s voice.

Of course, Hagman’s legacy extends beyond the show he made famous. We live in a golden age of television drama, populated by antiheroes like Walter White and Don Draper. None of them would exist if J.R. Ewing hadn’t come first. What a shame so many TV critics neglect to mention that. Even more shameful: Hagman’s omission from the special tributes during this year’s Emmy broadcast and his snub in the dramatic supporting actor race. Few performers deserved Emmy recognition more than Hagman this year — and not just because he didn’t receive a trophy during the original “Dallas’s” heyday. Hagman did some of the best work of his career on the TNT series. One example: last year’s “Family Business” episode, which showcased his powerful, poignant portrait of the aging J.R.

On the other hand: Who needs Emmys? If the past year has taught me anything, it’s how much affection “Dallas” fans have for Hagman. Our love for him is deep and real, and it will sustain his legacy for a long time to come. It’s another reason I don’t feel a strong sense of loss as the anniversary of his death approaches. The truth is, Larry Hagman isn’t really gone; he just lives in our hearts now.

How will you remember Larry Hagman and J.R. Ewing? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.

Drill Bits: J.R. Ewing, Ready for Action

Dallas, Figures Toy Company, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Figures of interest

It took a few decades, but J.R. Ewing is finally an action figure.

Figures Toy Company is now selling two J.R. figures: “Oil Tycoon,” which comes dressed in a three-piece business suit, and a “Who Shot J.R.?” version that features a replica of the vest Larry Hagman wears in the famous scene where J.R. is gunned down.

Both figures are 12 inches tall and come with cowboy hats. The figures sell for $79.99 apiece or $159 for a set. Figures Toy Company began accepting orders on its website last week and plans to ship the figures in December.

Each figure will be limited to quantities of 750 during the initial production run, so collectors should order them while they can.

“I am an avid ‘Dallas’ fan from when I was a child,” said Anthony Balasco, the company’s founder and chief financial officer. He remembered how Mego Corporation scuttled plans for a line of “Dallas” figures during the show’s heyday and decided Figures Toy Company would finish what Mego started.

To create Hagman’s action figure likeness, the Figures Toy Company sculptor relied on photos of the late actor provided by Warner Bros., the studio that licenses “Dallas” merchandise. “The only challenge was to decide what year/time period to use for J.R. We choose the earlier years when the show was at its most popular ratings,” Balasco said.

Figures Toy Company, which Balasco founded in 1989, also sells figures based on other classic TV shows and entertainers, including “The Dukes of Hazzard,” the 1960s “Batman” series and the rock band KISS. A line of “Gilligan’s Island” figures is in the works too.

There are no plans to make figures based on other “Dallas” characters, but Balasco is open to the idea of giving other Ewings the action figure treatment.

“If the fans want the line to continue, then please let us know by purchasing the J.R. Ewing figures,” Balasco said. “We would love to be able to offer Sue Ellen to go with J.R.”

You heard the man, “Dallas” fans. Place those orders today!

Preston Hagman Speaks

In case you missed it: Preston Hagman, Larry’s son, tells “Entertainment Tonight” he isn’t angry that his father was snubbed during the recent Primetime Emmy tributes: “I think my dad was a trailblazer in the industry to set the stage for other actors. So it’s not anger. It’s definitely disappointment.”

Bringing Up Baby

Dallas Decoder offers belated congratulations to Jordana Brewster and her husband Andrew Form, who recently welcomed their first child, a boy named Julian. Perhaps when he gets a little older, Julian will enjoy playing with a J.R. Ewing action figure?

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

Who Snubbed J.R.? Emmy, That’s Who

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

Give the devil his due

Emmy has always been one of the few gals capable of resisting J.R.’s charms, so it should come as no surprise to learn Larry Hagman won’t be honored with a special tribute during this year’s ceremony. And yet it does. I’m shocked, actually.

I figured if anyone would receive extra recognition during the Emmy broadcast’s traditional “In Memoriam” segment, it would be Hagman. His death last fall ended a five-decade television career that includes two of the medium’s most enduring franchises, “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie,” and one of pop culture’s defining moments: the “Who Shot J.R.?” phenomenon.

But I was wrong. Yesterday, the producers of this year’s Emmy show, which CBS will air Sunday, announced they’ll highlight four performers during the memorial segment — James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters — along with Gary David Goldberg, who created and produced “Family Ties.”

I have no problem with these five people receiving special treatment. I’ve enjoyed their work. But why couldn’t Hagman be honored too? Presumably, he’ll be included in a clip reel of other notable deaths from the past year — but that’s not enough. He deserves much more.

This wouldn’t be so galling if it wasn’t part of an unfortunate pattern with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which seems to go out of its way to ignore Hagman. He was nominated twice for his role as J.R. during the 1980s, losing both times. This year, Hagman was a contender for a supporting actor nomination for his work on TNT’s “Dallas” revival, but he failed to make the cut.

And now Emmy has snubbed him again.

I’ve written before about how much Hagman has meant to me, but that’s not what this is about. I don’t need to see him win a trophy or receive an awards show tribute to validate my affection for him.

No, this is about what Hagman has meant to television. When J.R. Ewing entered our living rooms in 1978, prime-time dramas were populated with characters like Kojak, Quincy and Pa Ingalls. J.R. was unlike anyone we had encountered before, and Hagman did a masterful job capturing all of the character’s complexities and contradictions. His performance taught the industry that the good guys needn’t always win, that audiences could find immense satisfaction in stories about humanity’s darker impulses.

So isn’t it a shame that on the night the industry comes together to celebrate its achievements, Hagman’s contributions will probably be reduced to a few seconds during a clip reel?

Earlier this week, as I watched the latest episode of “Breaking Bad” — as thrilling an hour of television as any I’ve witnessed — I thought: This is “Dallas’s” legacy. I’m not suggesting J.R. ever came close to being as monstrous as Walter White. J.R. was a scoundrel; Walt is a sociopath. But do you doubt for a minute that Walt would exist if J.R. hadn’t come first?

From what I’ve read, Hagman wasn’t much bothered by the fact that he never won an Emmy. But I am, and so I hope the academy’s bigwigs will change their minds and add a special tribute to him during the Emmy show. For that matter, I also hope they’ll induct Hagman into the academy’s Hall of Fame next year.

I mean, come on. Isn’t it time for Emmy to finally give J.R. a shot?

Do you feel Larry Hagman deserves Emmy recognition? Share your comments below and read more opinions from Dallas Decoder.