Majors as Minor Character

Bombshell Audrey Landers returns and Linda Gray gets a major romance on Dallas

Linda Gray gets a major romance on TNT's Dallas

This season of Dallas on TNT keeps jumping into the Wayback Machine. Destination: late 1980s Dallas, with a side trip this week to 1970s Six Million Dollar Man.

We’ve already seen brief returns to Southfork by J.R. and Bobby’s alcoholic brother, Gary Ewing; Gary’s wife, Valene; and J.R.’s long-ago squeeze Mandy Winger. This week we got Cliff Barnes’ old girlfriend Afton Cooper, played again by the golden-haired 1970s bombshell Audrey Landers.

And, by golly, there was Lee Majors as new character Ken Richards, who’s canoodling with Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) for the five remaining episodes this season.

 By golly, there was Lee Majors as new character Ken Richards, who’s canoodling with Sue Ellen for the five remaining episodes.

Last week’s installment ended with most of the Ewings, plus pregnant-with-twins Pamela Rebecca Barnes (Julie Gonzalo), standing atop a Ewing Energies oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico just as it exploded into flames from a bomb set on the orders of Pamela's daddy, Cliff (Ken Kercheval). This week’s “Guilt & Innocence” episode, written by Robert Rovner and directed by Jesse Bochco, jumped directly to the hospital, where everyone but Pamela was in good shape after being rescued.

Pamela and her fetuses were in cardiac distress. The episode ended with the babies’ heart rates flat-lining as their genetic father, Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalf), and Pamela’s fiancé, J.R.’s adopted son Christopher (Josh Henderson), looked on in horror.

More dirt and deets in episode 10:

Getting a leg up: Judith Ryland, the scary harridan played by Judith Light, didn’t die in last week’s cliffhanger tumble down the staircase in her spooky mansion. She ended up with a broken leg and scraggly hair, which gave her twisted son Harris (Mitch Pileggi, who looks the same age as Light, which is so wrong it’s right) a chance to boost her morphine dose just enough to shut her up.

He then dispatched her to a mysterious “rehab facility” so he can take over her money. Hope this isn’t the end of Light’s tenure on Dallas. Her Gothic performance makes great contrast to so much of the whispery, weepy simpering by the other actors. (We’re talking to you, Brenda Strong.)

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Victoria Principal: The actress has said she won’t return to Dallas. Ever. But the writers this season keep bringing her character, Pamela Barnes Ewing (she was Cliff’s sister and Bobby’s first wife in the original series), into the storyline.

This week Bobby (Patrick Duffy) got a report from investigators who had tracked Pam’s whereabouts to Abu Dhabi, where her trail went cold after 1989 (much like Ms. Principal’s acting career). Why are they looking for Pam at all? Son Christopher wants to find her.

Tech talk: Lots of palaver about “over-pressured methane in the flow pipes” this week. That’s what Christopher worried could have caused the oil rig catastrophe. He doesn’t yet know it was an explosive device planted by his fiancée’s brother, Drew Ramos (Kuno Becker), working for Cliff Barnes.

Smooch-fu: Harris Ryland’s daughter Emma (Emma Bell) has hopped into bed with three guys in the Ewing/Barnes universe. Now she’s mackin’ on a fourth, handsome demolitionist Drew Ramos. That kind of behavior is a ticking time bomb.

Who’s related to whom: Always confusing in this crowd. Family tree-wise, it seems that John Ross and Pamela Rebecca Barnes were almost brother and sister. Now they’re engaged to be married. She’s pregnant (or was until the explosion) with his cousin Christopher’s twins.

Castinig backstory: Lee Majors told Access Hollywood that he was offered a recurring role on Dallas this season because of his friendship with his longtime Malibu neighbor Larry Hagman. Majors last heard from Hagman just a week before the actor died last Thanksgiving, letting Majors know he’d urged the producers to hire him.

Two lives, one soap: Both Judith Light and Audrey Landers are former stars of the long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live.

Best Sue Ellen moment this week: All of them. If Linda Gray doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for her consistently brilliant work as Sue Ellen this season, it’ll feel like over-pressured methane in the flow pipes for a lot of her fans.

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

Linda Gray, Dallas TV series, coat
Linda Gray as Sue Ellen on TNT's Dallas. Photo courtesy of TNT
Dallas on TNT
The Ewing clan waits for news about the oil rig explosion on TNT's Dallas. Photo courtesy of TNT