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Ewings Go Boom

Oil rigs blow up and people fall down in post-J.R. era of Dallas

Hard hats on Dallas
The Ewings in hard hats don't know they're standing on a ticking time bomb. Photo courtesy of TNT
Ted Shackelford and Linda Gray in Dallas
Gary (Ted Shackelford) talks to Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) about her renewed interest in booze. Photo courtesy of TNT

So begins the post-J.R. era of Dallas on TNT. This week’s episode, “Ewings United!,” written by Bruce Rasmussen and directed by Steve Robin, had plots and characters tripping all over each other. Watch those stairs! Get off that oil platform!

Too briefly we got a glimpse of Charlene Tilton as Lucy, delivering her mother, Valene “I’m only visiting from Knots Landing” Ewing, played by Joan Van Ark, to Southfork. We also got the reading of J.R.’s will. Seems Miss Ellie, the late Ewing matriarch (played way back when by the great Barbara Bel Geddes and then briefly by Donna Reed), left special instructions to grant half of Southfork to grandson John Ross (Josh Henderson) in the event of J.R.’s death.

With that, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) lost his control of the sub-Southfork oil well. “We can turn the oil back on,” Bobby announced wearily to his son and nephew. He made it sound so easy.

 Judith Ryland (Judith Light) fell or was pushed down the stairs. If they kill her off, the show will be short one potentially awesome villain.

Other highlights (watch your step):

Major smooch-fu: Turning the oil back on must have turned John Ross’ libido back on. J.R.’s son got busy on his daddy’s bed with young Emma, Bobby’s wife Annie’s long-lost daughter (played by Emma Bell). Then he got a second wind for a night of hot pash with flame-haired city official Allison Jones (Annie Wersching). But John Ross was only setting Allison up for blackmail so she’d award him a city methane contract. That’s how those things are done here, right?

J.R.’s bequests: The old scamp left his boot collection to brother Bobby; his prize bottle of Scotch to brother Gary (a recovering alcoholic); and a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince to nephew Christopher, with the note that “being smart and sneaky is an unbeatable combination.” His favorite dove-hunting gun went to Annie (Brenda Strong, who had so little to do this week, she didn’t have time to shed any tears).

On location: On an impromptu date, Emma and bad-boy Drew Ramos (Kuno Becker) ate food truck tacos in Klyde Warren Park.

On a bender: Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is back on the sauce, and brother-in-law Gary (Ted Shackelford) tried and failed to get her back on the program of recovery. She said she appreciated his concern and then turned around and called his estranged wife, Valene, to come get him, even though that marriage, unlike Sue Ellen’s favorite cocktail, is on the rocks.

Best dialogue this week: “Once a bitch, always a bitch,” snarled Valene to Sue Ellen. “Yes, it has been a long time,” answered Sue Ellen. That had better not be all we’re going to see of the deliciously simpering Valene. She’d be an excellent foil for Sue Ellen, whose cool nastiness is amplified by booze.

WTF moment No. 1: After barking at her son Harris that he had disappointed her yet again, monster-mom Judith Ryland (Judith Light) fell or was pushed down the stairs of the Ryland manse. If they kill her off, the show will be short one potentially awesome villain.

WTF moment No. 2: This reboot of the series has busted the mythology of the original a few times already, but this week really had Twitter tittering with the mention of the original Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal) being alive and her sister Katherine Wentworth being dead.

In the original series, Katherine, always alive, was played by the gorgeous Morgan Brittany. Now writing conservative political columns online, Brittany has expressed interest in returning to Dallas. Principal, whose character died in a fiery car crash back in the 1980s, has said she would not.

Now with the show hinting that Bobby’s son Christopher is searching for his birth mom, Pamela, could they slip Brittany into that role? Dallas likes to mess around with the living and dead. Remember the “dream season”?

WTF moment No. 3: With a bomb planted on the Ewing Energies oil rig at the behest of Ewing enemy Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), he was notified that his pregnant daughter (Julie Gonzalo) was on the platform along with Bobby, Christopher (Jesse Metcalf), Elena (Jordana Brewster) and other Ewings. Cliff gave the order to blow it up anyway, and the screen faded to black.

Coming up: Previews show that Bobby and Christopher survive the explosion. But who else did? Is this Ewing Energies’ BP oil spill disaster?

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New episodes of Dallas air at 8 pm Mondays on cable’s TNT, with frequent reruns.

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