Blood on their boots
The verdict on this week's Dallas: Guilty of perplexing subplots and not enough Larry Hagman
There was blood on everybody’s boots in this week’s episode of Dallas on TNT. But the spatter that mattered was on the boots of the Second Mrs. Bobby Ewing, Ann (Brenda Strong). After Bobby (Patrick Duffy) tried to take the rap for the shooting of Ann’s evil ex, Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), Ann marched in her sock feet to the police department and offered up her bloodstained footwear as evidence that she was the real shooter.
Cut to a month later and Ann’s trial for attempted murder, with all the important Ewings and Rylands looking on (plus a guy on the jury who looked a lot like Louis C.K).
This was Larry Hagman’s penultimate episode as J.R. Ewing and also marked his last, all-too-brief scene (only a phone call) with Ken Kercheval’s character, Cliff Barnes. After next week, the show moves toward J.R.’s funeral on March 11. (Hagman died last Thanksgiving.)
This was Larry Hagman’s penultimate episode as J.R. Ewing and also marked his last, all-too-brief scene.
Here’s what we saw in this week’s installment, titled “Trial and Error,” written by John Whelpley and directed by Millicent Shelton.
Perplexing plot points: Scheming against Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), J.R.’s son John Ross (Josh Henderson) set up Elena’s truck driver brother, Drew (Kuno Becker), who was arrested and jailed in Waco for transporting stolen goods. Something about morals clauses will get Elena fired from Ewing Energies and clear the way for John Ross to drill on Henderson land. This makes Cliff Barnes happy. Snore.
Is there a Dr. House in the house? The hospital where Harris Ryland was recovering from his gunshot wound looked a lot like the set where Dr. House practiced medicine, all sliding glass doors-y.
Moments that make us miss Mr. Hagman: J.R. Ewing drinking coffee and scrolling through his iPad on the porch at SouthFork. J.R. counseling John Ross not to be so mean to people. J.R. barking at Cliff: “You go to hell, Barnes!” J.R. saying, “We dinosaurs are known to bite.”
Best line not uttered by J.R. this week: “John Ross is as ‘Mack-a-valian’ as his father,” said Cliff Barnes.
Best tweet from @RealJREwing during the show: “What's this garbage Cliff is feeding me? He says my son turned on me? That man's crazier than a bag of cats.” (Actor Kercheval live-tweets as @KenKercheval during every episode too.)
Hair report: Awesome use of a plastic hair clip on the up-do of Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) during the courthouse scenes.
Jesse Metcalf, playing Bobby’s son Christopher, kept his shirt on the whole hour. That’s gotta hurt ratings.
The unbearable lightness of Judith: Actress Judith Light, still playing Harris’ suffocating mom, Judith, as though she’s Violet Venable in Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, took the witness stand at Ann Ewing’s trial. She told how Ann, hopped up on pills and booze, abandoned baby daughter Emma (now the grown-up and very doe-eyed Emma Bell) at the State Fair one hot autumn day.
“Some people shouldn’t have goldfish, let alone children,” testified Judith, mouth pursed like she’d just sipped a vinegar cocktail. And why was this bitter harpy called as a character witness? Because she’s a character.
Local face onscreen: Dallas stage actor Rick Espaillat had a nice moment as a forensic doctor testifying about bullet wounds.
Smooch-fu this week: Not a pucker. And Jesse Metcalf, playing Bobby’s son Christopher, kept his shirt on the whole hour. That's gotta hurt ratings.
Verdict: For Ann Ewing, guilty. They carted her off to the hoosegow at the end of the hour as Bobby whispered, “Everything’s gonna work out.” Easy for him to say. The episode itself was guilty of vague subplots, some held over from last season. Shouldn’t Christopher’s ex, Pamela Barnes (Julie Gonzalo), have had those twins by now? She’s barely showing.
Still praying for: More original Dallas characters to return. Victoria Principal as Pam Ewing. Maybe holograms of Miss Ellie and Jock. J.R.’s funeral scene reportedly brings back black sheep Knots Landing spin-off brother Gary Ewing (Ted Schackelford) and J.R.’s child bride Cally (Cathy Podewell) for cameos.
Coming up: TV Guide says Deborah Shelton, who played “Mandy Winger” on Dallas for three seasons in the 1980s, might be due for a visit to Southfork soon. And Sue Ellen might be canoodling with Gary at J.R.’s funeral.
New episodes of Dallas air on Mondays at 8 pm on cable’s TNT, with frequent reruns. You can also play Rise to Power, a Dallas video game on the TNT web site.