J.R. may be gone, but his masterpiece is underway. Sue Ellen can’t get Gary off her back, and Bobby and Christopher united might be a little too much for Elena. Some great character interactions and revelations officially put Dallas back on the map, and Cliff Barnes does something worse than J.R. would ever do. All this plus the mean old wench that looks like Angela Bower falls down some stairs.
I hope I don’t offend anyone involved with the production of Dallas when I say that the last two episodes have been a marked improvement over the start of the season. I didn’t need to see Vicente again; I didn’t like the notion of Ann shooting Harris; and I thought some of the new characters were kind of pointless, though I’m happy to be proven wrong. As unfortunate as the passing of Larry Hagman is, it almost feels like the death of J.R. might push the show forward into something truly amazing, and it’s a good thing, since there are surely some extra viewers watching again.
Now, the edge-of-your-seat Dallas is back, and all that’s missing is the split-screen titles and the freeze frame at the end of the show.
In the end, though, I guess some so-so episodes were necessary to bring out what we’re getting now. As an example: I could not stand Emma when we first saw her. The character seemed to have no personality and seemed to be just a chess piece between Harris and Ann. Now? I kind of love her, and I am seeing her as almost a kind of modern-day Lucy Ewing. On the same kind of note, Kuno Becker’s character Drew suddenly is playing a larger role, and I’m starting to feel for him and his situations… especially in this Emma storyline. Their characters taking time to develop may have been intentional, but either way, I’m happy.
“Ewings Unite!” had moments to enjoy throughout. I loved the reading of J.R.’s will, and actually got some laughs by some of the things he left behind to stick it to people. It’s almost as though Larry Hagman is still around, offering J.R. zingers for everyone. I’m a little surprised by Miss Ellie’s retroactive revision to the will, but I know it’ll lead to more drama later on. As far as the Ewing family goes in general, I LOVED the interaction and teamwork between the two cousins. Even on the original Dallas, J.R. and Bobby did work together at times, and those moments created some great scenes. That also happened here at Alison Jones’ expense, but she kind of deserved it. As for Elena? She needs to get over it, because a slightly naughty Chris is so much more interesting than the usual Chris who is often a stick in the ocean mud.
I have had some issues with Sue Ellen being evil and sneaky earlier in the season, but in this episode, when she calls in Valene in order to get Gary off her back, it was a moment of greatness that J.R. would have been proud of. I enjoyed the mini-Knots Landing reunion when Val came back, and I’m happy that even though it took decades to happen, Lucy is finally side-by-side with her parents. I’ve got to say, though, I really did start to get the impression that Gary was starting to develop feelings for his former sister-in-law here.
The Harris/Judith storyline still makes me uncomfortable and I am so hopeful that Judith’s fall down the stairs is fatal. With my luck, it probably isn’t. Judith Light is a fantastic actress but Judith Ryland is just way too much for me. I can’t deal. I also would love to see how Harris might change without his mother pulling strings.
And then there was the ending. Cliff Barnes is willing to even put his own daughter’s life in danger to achieve his goals? It kind of shows how weasely Cliff really is almost like a J.R. unfiltered. I don’t think J.R. would have ever purposely let John Ross or Sue Ellen be in danger. Cliff doesn’t have that filter — as we saw in the original series, even those he loved often ended up being treated badly. (Remember Jamie?) I think now that he pretty much has no family, Cliff’s filter has gotten even smaller. It might take the return of Pam just to get him back to reality, because she was always one of the only people who seemed to knock him into shape. On a similar note, I loved the reference to Katherine Wentworth, which surely had millions of classic Dallas geeks grinning. Of course, it’s true that Katherine did not die on the original series, but I think that, again, is intentional, to show how isolated Cliff has become. No one loves him right now…. yes, there is his daughter but she’s also carrying the child of an Ewing. Let’s just hope all of these threads really do lead to the return of Pam, and if Victoria Principal really doesn’t want to do it, I hope that they have Jaclyn Smith’s number in the casting office.
All in all, some great stuff. I don’t even have an “Odds & Ends” list for this one. Now, bring on next week and the return of Afton!