Dallas drives in circles as it prepares for J.R. Ewing's inevitable demise
The Texas Motor Speedway was the main location for episode 7 of Dallas, titled “The Furious and the Fast.” Retired drag racer Ricky “The Rooster” Rudd took the wheel of the methane-fueled stock car that methane-fueled Ewing heir Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) sent around the track to show off against gas-powered vehicles.
Still awake? Yeah. This was an hour of going in circles, with too much empty footage shot from Rudd’s POV inside the car, and the Ewing clan standing around trying to look worried that the thing would crap out. For some reason, 150 laps around the track meant the difference between the Ewings staying oil-and-methane rich or joining the 47 percenters.
The script by Julia Cohen, directed by Rodney Charters, was as dull as an oil change. Dialogue like “Get the regulator out of the prototype!” (uttered by Christopher) ain’t gonna win any Emmys. Or keep many fingers off the clicker button.
The script was as dull as an oil change. Dialogue like “Get the regulator out of the prototype!” ain’t gonna win any Emmys.
This week’s installment accomplished only two important plot points: getting Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford) back into the cast and setting up the demise of J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), which they did in a clunky way, to get to the March 11 episode’s funeral gathering at Southfork.
Other pit stops:
Hide and seek with J.R.: Patching together whatever footage they had of Larry Hagman (he died November 23, after completing five episodes this season) meant recycling some snatches of phone conversations his character had previously with oily son John Ross (Josh Henderson). First they had J.R. making phone calls from Abu Dhabi. Then, in the final scene this week, John Ross was on the horn with his dad when he heard two gunshots. Anyone checked to see if Kristin Shepard lives in Abu Dhabi now? (She’s the character who shot J.R. in the 1980 cliffhanger.)
Direct from Knots Landing: Welcome back, Ted Shackelford, playing the black sheep Ewing brother, Gary. “Who the hell let you off the cul de sac?” cracked John Ross, seeing his uncle stride into the office of Ewing Energies. Nice reference there to Dallas spin-off Knots Landing, which put Gary, wife Valene, and other soap opera hysterics and hotties in side-by-side mini-mansions on a sunny Southern California suburb. That show, by the way, ran 14 years on CBS and continued for two years beyond the end of the original Dallas.
Gary and Sue Ellen bond over java: Both recovering alcoholics, Gary Ewing and J.R.’s ex, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray, rocking another great hair clip this week), flirted over coffee. “The beverage of choice for alcoholics everywhere,” said Sue Ellen. In that scene, we learned that Valene dumped Gary because he went back on the booze, but he’s sober again and will side with Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) in the family’s fight over oil drilling rights on Southfork.
Dallas is like The Truman Show:Clocks meant nothing, the sun rose and set several times a day, and continuity was crazy. Annie (Brenda Strong) and her long-lost daughter Emma (Emma Bell) went horseback riding by dawn’s early light. In the next scene, the guys were locking up the race car for the night. At the same time, Emma was being tucked into bed by her creepy dad (Mitch Pileggi) with daylight streaming in through the windows. And then the car race began in the noonday sun but finished in darkness a few laps later.
Judith Light gets heavy: Some delightfully creepy moves by the actress in the role of Judith Ryland, sworn enemy of all Ewings. When she tried to ship granddaughter Emma back to England, the girl foiled the plan by running off to Southfork and begging for sanctuary, telling Annie that granny treated her like a dressage horse. Well, if the horseshoe fits ...
Methane of Cawdor: Christopher is a walking infomercial about the stuff. Drag racers and funny cars are already running on “nitromethane” fuel in the real world. But every time characters talk about it on Dallas, the show’s energy disappears. Ironic.
Prescription for madness: Harris chides daughter Emma for not taking her “meds,” alluding to panic attacks, anxiety and “chaos” that ensues when she doesn’t stay on the pills. That’s setting up something cocoa puffy later on for sure.
Best tweet from J.R. during the show: “Of course, once we’re done fightin’ the enemy, we’ll always start fightin’ each other again. Some traditions never die.”
Best line this week: “When they figure out how to run a car on bullshit ... ” Hey, it’s cable! Where they run weekly drama series on the stuff!
Coming up: J.R.’s funeral next week brings more familiar faces back to Southfork, including Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs.
New episodes of Dallas air at 8 pm Mondays on cable’s TNT, with frequent reruns.