First things first: The Motion Picture Academy left Larry Hagman out of the In Memoriam segment on Sunday night’s Oscar telecast. Hagman deserved a nod, as he was in some good films over his 55-year career, including the excellent 1964 Sidney Lumet-directed Cold War thriller Fail-Safe, in which he played a tense young translator listening to the Russians tell Henry Fonda’s U.S. president they’re launching nukes. (Here’s a clip from a key moment in that picture.)
Hagman portrayed a rakish, alcoholic playwright in 1966’s The Group, the screen adaptation of the sudsy Mary McCarthy novel. And he appeared in Superman (1978), Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. (1981) and had a beautiful cameo as a disgraced politician in 1998’s Primary Colors.
Now to this week’s episode 6 of Dallas, titled “Blame Game,” written by Gail Gilchriest and directed by Jesse Bochco.
J.R.’s nurse showed him the game Angry Birds on his new iPad. “I don’t need any more angry birds,” said J.R., who then started IMing Bobby.
They had to tie up lots of loose ends in this hour and also set up the imminent demise of J.R. Ewing. (His funeral’s scheduled for the March 11 episode.) Hagman, who died in Dallas on November 23, was barely seen onscreen this week, getting just one short scene.
It was a beaut, however, as J.R.’s nurse showed him the game Angry Birds on his new iPad. “I don’t need any more angry birds,” said J.R., who then started IMing Bobby (Patrick Duffy).
“J.R., stop messaging me from your room!” Bobby yelled at his big brother. J.R. then sent him this video of Mr. Cream Cheese, a French bulldog playing basketball, with the message, “Doesn’t that beat all?” The computer conversation was a clever way to cover Hagman’s absence.
Later in the hour, that video turned out to be more of J.R. mischief: It contained a virus that wiped out a bunch of important stuff on Bobby’s laptop. (Always back up, Bobby. Always.)
Big plot points: Bobby’s wife, Annie, played by copious weeper Brenda Strong, was found guilty of shooting her evil ex, Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), but the jury sentenced her to probation. The ongoing scheme by J.R.’s kid, John Ross (Josh Henderson), to take control of Ewing Energies, started falling into place. Sue Ellen (the ever-glorious Linda Gray) joined the board of Ewing Energies, putting her in the thick of things.
Best office tchotchke spotted in background: The shiny horseshoe sculpture in Sue Ellen’s office.
Best ear tchotchkes: The oval gold hoops in Sue Ellen’s lobes.
Salt dome vs. salt lick: The former is something in the ground keeping Ewing Energies from striking oil. The latter is John Ross’ current hairstyle (also known as “The Seacrest”).
Big eyelash action: Sue Ellen’s monster-fur lid awnings fluttering at Elena (Jordana Brewster).
Avian theme: First J.R.’s playing of Angry Birds, then John Ross telling Sue Ellen, “We’ve got a bird’s nest on the ground, Mother. Let’s pick it up. Together.” Then Bobby announcing, “Looks like J.R. flew the coop just in time” when he discovered his brother has disappeared from his bedroom at Southfork. If only someone had hummed “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles.
Cut all the chatter about: Morals clauses (Sue Ellen’s tactic for trying to fire Christopher’s squeeze, Elena, from Ewing Energies). And “extraction control system prototypes.” Just call it all the “awl bidness” and be done with it.
Character out of nowhere: Vicente Cano (guest star Carlos Bernard) popped up as a bad-guy Venezuelan who barged into Southfork at the end of this episode and briefly held Pamela, Elena, Sue Ellen, Bobby, Christopher and John Ross hostage
Awesome Ewing-fu: A secret eye signal between the Ewing men suddenly set off a fight sequence against Cano and his goons. Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) slo-mo threw the Plexiglas box holding the “extractor prototype,” and everybody hit the floor. Punches! Hair pulling! Body blows! John Ross scampered off to his bedroom to retrieve a high-powered rifle from under his bed, and before you could think, “Shouldn’t that be in a locked-up safety cabinet?” he’d shot Cano. Lotta shootin’ happens at that ranch. If you drive by, duck.
Olive branches extended: Bobby visited Annie’s long-lost daughter Emma (pouty Emma Bell) to tell her, “You have another family at Southfork, if you ever need anything.” You know, like conference facilities or a catered barbecue dinner.
Best line this week: Sue Ellen to Bobby: “J.R. does bad. You do good. And repeat. It’s the Ewing way.”
Light on Light: Judith Light, a vision in beige as Harris Ryland’s same-age-as-her-son mother, got only two lines in the hour. Come on, give the woman some dialogue to chew on.
Coming up in episodes seven through 11: J.R. dies. And by episode 12, actor Steven Weber (Wings, Studio 60, Falling Skies) joins the cast as “Governor McConaughey” (love it!), conspiring with Cliff Barnes and Harris Ryland to go at the Ewings like Angry Birds on a pile of piglets.
New episodes of Dallas air at 8 pm Mondays on cable’s TNT, with frequent reruns.