Dallas: The Price You Pay

Posted on June 21, 2012

We originally read the title of this episode as “The Prince You Pay,” which actually works better. Send all your Dallas scripts to us, TNT, and we’ll come up with witty titles for you, free of charge.

Now, there’s something we need to admit right upfront: We already can’t keep track of what’s going on. But we honestly don’t think that’s a failure of the scripting. It’s just that it’s been so long since we’ve been immersed in ’80s-style nighttime soaps that we may need a minute to catch our breath and try to catch up to all the plotting, wheeling, dealing, and backstabbing going on at a stunning pace. The people of South Fork make the Hamptons crew of Revenge seem like a nice bunch of amateurs. For these recaps, we’ll probably wind up doing what we always do with shows like these, where the plotting is so twisty and turny and the motivations of characters rather difficult to suss out: treat them like Shakespeare.

No, really.

Remember in high school, when you were forced to read the Bard, found the language almost incomprehensible and simply went along with it until you got to the end, where things started making sense, in the hopes you could pull it all together for a 1500-word book report? Dallas is kinda like that. We’ll eventually figure out what the hell everybody’s all het up about, but for now, it’s enough for us to see J.R. slap family members, hold razors up to the throats of family members, and tell family members that “Bullets don’t seem to have much of an effect on me, darlin’.” Classic. The only thing missing from last night’s episode was Sue Ellen arching one eyebrow over a vodka and whispering “J.R….” with enough vinegar to curdle Cool Whip.

Not that we can complain about the show not referencing its past. On the contrary, it’s doing a masterful job of referencing the show’s long history without bogging down the current story with a lot of confusing continuity. The ghosts of Jock and Miss Ellie loom large over South Fork, as well they should, and all the current story action is coming out of decisions and actions those two people took decades before. In that sense, it’s very much like the early seasons of Dallas, when the then-younger generation had to deal with things like the Barnes/Ewing feud or the fallout from Jock’s or Ellie’s various romantic exploits from decades earlier. The story of Dallas has always been an epic generational one and it’s to the current show creators’ credit that they understand that so well.

And speaking of the Barnes/Ewing feud, it’s still going strong in the 21st Century. “Time has not been kind to that face.” Another classic! In his crotchety old age, J.R. can sling the bitchslaps like a drunk 26-year-old drag queen in a parking lot at 3 a.m. “I’ll be there when they put you in the ground, Barnes! Listen close! I’ll be the one dancing on the dirt overhead!” You don’t even have to know the ridiculous twists and turns of the decades-long Cliff vs. J.R war. It’s enough to watch Larry Hagman work those insane eyebrows and tear up the scenery with some truly funny lines.

But here’s something: Is it us, or did Pam get a lot of foreshadow-y mentions last night? If this show manages to get Victoria Principal to show up without anyone knowing ahead of time, it will have pulled off quite the coup in an age where spoilers are revealed months before a show even starts. The cast and creators claim that V.P. turned them down, but that could just be some sleight of hand on their parts. With the way her name keeps coming up and the various ties she has to pretty much the entire existing cast, it seems almost impossible for Pam not to show her face (whatever that face is at the moment). They could easily recast the part if they wanted to, but that would seem odd considering the show seems to have been structured around those actors from the original cast who wanted to return. There are no jarringly recast parts. If an original Dallas character appears on this show, then the original cast member is playing them. Another wise choice on the part of the creators.

We don’t want to sound like we’re championing the return of Pam, who spent countless seasons cycling through ’80s hairstyles like she was looking for something in one of them and barely emoting at all until someone got hit by a car or something. It’s just that the weakest part of the story right now is Christopher and his sleep-inducing methane. The only time we perk up is when he hauls out the Ewing tits for a scene, just like his daddy did 25 years ago. We don’t even care that he kissed Elena like a week after his marriage. That’s just a fine Ewing tradition. Nor do we care about his new bride and her creepy-but-cute brother pulling some sort of long con on the increasingly dim Christopher. Throw some Uncle Cliff and Mommy Pam in to the mix, we say. Although we’re a bit surprised that while everyone keeps mentioning that Christopher”s not a true Ewing, no one seems to remember that he’s Sue-Ellen’s biological nephew. Then again, the family trees among the South Fork set are virtually impossible to keep track of. His parentage was dealt with thirty years ago (Sue Ellen’s sister Kristen, who shot J.R., only to be found face-down in the South Fork swimming pool a year later, is Christopher’s mother), but we wonder if the show is going to pull a slight retcon and reveal that J.R. is Christopher’s bio father, making him John Ross’ true brother.

Look at us! Making Dallas predictions! Hello, 1983! It’s been a while!

Final thoughts:

  • J.R.’s a complicated character, so we believe him when he expresses regrets about how he’s lived his life, but we also know that those regrets won’t stop him from continuing to be a son of a bitch. Now he’s got an interesting reason to do so: to secure his son’s future and ensure he won’t pay for his daddy’s sins. That’s pretty epic.
  • Not-Pam really does ONLY ride horses, haul out shotguns, and sip coffee, doesn’t she? When she’s not flirting with her step-son’s brother-in-law, that is.
  • Not-Pam and Bobby’s bedroom was hilariously spartan. Of course he’d live in that giant house and insist on living like a monk. Bobby, you always were such a sap.


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  • If Larry Hagman isn’t earning extra money for the yeoman’s work those eyebrows are doing, he’s getting ripped off.

    • She’d probably have hired the drillers as ranch hands until they could find work, at least...DemoforFrank.blogspot.com

  • Judy_J

    I was thrilled to see Ken Kercheval back in his Cliff Barnes suit!  For some strange reason, he was my favorite character, and I was really rooting for him when he and Sue Ellen had their affair.  I was really hoping John Ross was Cliff’s biological son, but alas, it was not to be.  The writers of this incarnation of Dallas are doing a great job of respecting the original series, and I’m already re-hooked on this go-round.

  • BuffaloBarbara

    I smacked myself for forgetting last night, when I was expecting JR to go on a fully JR tear about the attempted backstabbing by John Ross, that of course, John Ross was always the exception to the Rule of Bastard for JR.  I like the way they’re writing that relationship, and that Bobby wasn’t fooled for a second by the playacting (though he seems like he’ll be blindsided by what it’s actually for).  Not-Pam’s “It might be fun to have JR back at Southfork” is her best line, not that there’s much competition.

    I caught the Pam references, too.  Maybe not a return of VP, though I admit, I was expecting her to show up in the shower or something.  It could be that there will be a plot around her disappearance, and they’ll finally give Christopher something interesting to do by finding out what really happened to her.  The methane thing is  a non-starter, largely because the “conflict” is fairly easily solved.  John Ross and Christopher aren’t actually competing for scant resources; they both seem to be going after totally separate money streams.  So just start “Ewing Energies” with John Ross on the oil end of things and Christopher in R&D looking for new products to sell, and it’s solved.  No great conflict there.  The bit about Miss Ellie’s will and drilling on Southfork is a decent conflict, but I remember  Miss Ellie.  She’d have been appalled at Bobby’s cavalier, “I know the economy sucks, sorry about those jobs, boys” from last week.  She’d probably have hired the drillers as ranch hands until they could find work, at least.

  • MissMariRose

    Not that it matters in a show like Dallas, but I thought Pam died of some illness at the end of the first series. 

    • TheOriginalLulu

      Nah, she was sick and then kind of ran off. They never made it clear what happened to her or if she died. Knowing Dallas, they probably decided to leave her story open-ended so they could bring her back if they/she wanted to. 

  • MilaXX

    I’m just happy that despite only signing 3 of the original players as full time cast members, the other original cast members like Ken Kercheval have agreed to guess star/cameo roles.

    I laughed when I saw Bobby’s bedroom because I thought those stars over the bed were so pitiful looking.

  • Didn’t Pam die in a car crash at the end of Season 9? 

  • I never saw the original Dallas, but boy do I love the reboot. It is such a delicious soap and, as you say, they are doing a wonderful job of not bogging new viewers down with historical “facts”.  One thing I cannot place, Not-Pam/ Ann is Bobby’s new wife that was never in the original, right?   

    Christopher seems to be a sap just like Bobby. 

    Do we know if Pam died or not? For my wiki-fu, she was apparently in an accident and didn’t want anyone to see her disfigured and was dying of some disease no one knew about. Am I confusing the characters?

  • Solfish

     “In his crotchety old age, J.R. can sling the bitchslaps like a drunk 26-year-old drag queen in a parking lot at 3 a.m.” It’s  your wit and insight, in sentences like this, that has made me a loyal reader for 3 years now. You guys are brilliant!

    • Kthrow

      AMEN … was beyond thrilled that TLo was covering Dallas … deee-lish!

  • D W

    I think Rebecca or her “brother” will end up being one of Pam’s children seeking revenge.

  • jmorino08

    It’s like you guys were in my head last night!! I thought the same thing about Pam foreshadowing and actually laughed put loud (to myself) when I saw what appeared to be star shaped cookie cutters hanging above Bobby and Not-Pam’s bed.

    Re: Pam, do we think she could be part of the elaborate two-year long hoax currently being played on Christopher (whose chest is significantly less man scaled than it was last week BTW)?

  • TheOriginalLulu

    Long live JR!! Hagman was born to play this role. He steals every scene he’s in. Nobody can smile in your face while stabbing you in the back like he can. Or while holding a razor to your throat, whichever the case may be. That shit with Cliff Barnes had me giggling with glee.
    Christopher is boring as hell. At least they had the good sense to cast a looker to play him.
    I’d be happy to see a Pam return, even though she wasn’t really one of the deliciously evil characters. I’m just loving seeing the veterans jump back into these roles and show the youngins how it’s done.
    Gotta say, I’m loving the John Ross character. This was a nice bit of casting; I think this kid shows promise. 

  • Rebecca was Pam and Cliff’s mother’s name.

    • TheOriginalLulu

      Was it really? Interesting…

    •  Excellent work! Hmmmm….

      They’re too young to be Pam’s kids, right? They’d both have to be under 25 for that to be true and we don’t think either of them are.

      • Haha, not so much research as good memory.  I loves me some Dallas (original).  Their mother’s name was Rebecca Wentworth, who married into Wentworth Tool and Dye which Cliff, Pam, and Pam’s evil sister who dream-killed Bobby inherited after Rebecca’s death. 

        Maybe they’re Pam’s children from another marriage after she ran away from Dallas.  One of them was old enough to marry Christopher…and I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  In the original series, Lucy and Ray have an affair before it’s revealed that Ray is Jock’s son, making Lucy and Ray related.  But it’s never mentioned again after the reveal.

        •  I remember Bobby being run over but don’t remember much else about Pam’s evil sister.  Could they be her kids?

        • I thought Pam/Bobby couldn’t have kids?

          If I’m remembering this correctly, Pam had an emotional breakdown as a result, and when Bobby later brought infant Christoper home to Southfork (maybe to confront J.R. with the “truth” about Christopher’s parentage?), Pam assumed Bobby had found a child for them to adopt.  He couldn’t bear to disillusion her, and she then threw herself into motherhood, magically letting all of her emotional problems evaporate overnight in true ’80s super soap tradition.

          • blondie65

            When Pam had the car crash that disfigured her she was on the phone telling Bobby that the doctor said there was a new treatment and it was possible for her to get pregnant.   Then boom, crash and she used Wentworth’s (her mother Rebecca Wentworth) resources to get her out of the hospital and VP left the show.  A few months later, Cliff found “Pam” (not played by VP) who explained she would not come back to Dallas and was in love with someone else.  That man was actually her doctor and they weren’t in love…rather she was dying and didn’t want to put Bobby or Cliff through it.  That was the last the show did with the Pam character so it is possible she is still alive, perhaps even had children.  I DVR’d last night’s episode and plan to watch today…so I don’t know if it was mentioned, but Cliff found out in one of the last seasons that Afton  (Lucy’s former sister in law) had his daughter & named her Pamela Rebecca (after Pam and her mother, Rebecca Wenthworth). She would be a little younger than the Christopher character.  
            Katherine Wentworth (played by Morgan Brittany) is Pam and Cliff’s half sister…Rebecca had her while married to her second husband (Mr. Wentworth who made all the money that Pam ended up with). She had an obsessive love for Bobby and even tried to kill him (twice)..she was driving the car that killed him and started the dream season.  Then later, she shot him and everyone thought someone was trying to shot JR again.  Anyway, after the shooting, she went on the run, was never seen again…so she is also probably still out there. 
            So there are a lot of possibilities about the real identity of Christopher’s new wife and her brother.  I love how the show is staying so true to its vast history.

          • Hermione_Granger

            I freaking loved Katherine Wentworth. Girl had the best hats ever.

  • Lilithcat

    I think the reason VP isn’t on the show is that her face is so tight from all the work she’s had done that she can’t move her mouth.

    • I think her plastic surgery would fit in nicely with the old storyline…badly burned and disfigured in a car fire.  Forced to leave the ones she loves because she can’t bear for them to see her disfigurement.

    • ThaliaMenninger

      With all the work she’s had done, Victoria Principal is a dead ringer for Lou Diamond Phillips. Maybe they should just get him to play Pam. SHOCKER! Pam was a MAN all along!

      • BuffaloBarbara

         It would explain why she had trouble getting pregnant.

  • I’m totally not watching this but I’m enjoying the hell out of your recaps!

    • TheOriginalLulu

      You should watch! You totally should! You know you wanna!

  • inprovo

    Oh, J.R., you irredeemable bastard who occasionally reveals the heart beneath the venom.  That scene way back when, when he picked up John Ross after finding out he was really his son.

  • Amy_R

    Larry Hagman is still The Man. JR Jr should be taking acting lessons from his Daddy. Junior’s “Angry Blue Steele” look is already getting on my nerves.

    I predict that Rebecca and her bro are some distant Barnes relatives. Pams Mom’s was named Rebecca. And we’ve had way too may Pam references for her not to come back.

  • YolandaHawkins

    I love how you call Bobby’s new wife, Not-Pam.  But I wouldn’t want to piss her off, because she seems to love her firearms.

  • TomBord

    I hear Rick Perry’ s up for the role of  stable ‘head’.  
    Just one more BIG reason to toss the tube. 

  • donkeygospel6

    So basically the reasons to watch this show are anatomical: Larry Hagman’s eyebrows and Jesse Metcalfe’s tits.

    • MikeW_PHX

       I can’t think of 4 better reasons!!

  • ThaliaMenninger

    Larry Hagman’s eyebrows are just fascinating. I bet they already have several Twitter accounts, don’t they? So Mary Martin, AKA Peter Pan and Nellie Forbush, gave birth to an astronaut, a wheeler-dealer Texas oilman who cannot die, and a set of the most faboo eyebrows this side of Leonid Brezhnev. Interesting.

  • The actress who plays not-Pam is probably just so happy to be seen on screen she doesn’t mind if they don’t give her much to do.  She spent the last few years being the voice-over for Desperate Housewives.

  • granddelusion

    Hagman can’t afford an eyebrow trim?

    • PaulaBerman

       You can’t put a price on eyebrows like that. Cutting them would be sacrilege.

  • LittleKarnak

    I want to know more about these allegedly salacious details in Miss Ellie’s journal……

    • BuffaloBarbara

       Flashback sequence!

  • bxbourgie

    I need to email TNT and tell them that the only reason I got into this is because you guys were recapping.  And it’s something my mom and I can share since she knows all the history.  That being said I am LOVING J.R. in all of his evilness.  He seems to have a soft spot for his son, but still ain’t taking NO MESS from anyone, including John Ross.  Christopher’s storyline is quite boring, I could care less about the white rocks or whatever he’s got going on there.  Womp womp.  We do know now that his new wife sent that email to the chef’s daughter, so yeah.  I am really enjoying how the writers are weaving everything together.  Like you guys, I’m rusty to the nighttime soap opera, I gotta pay more attention!  😛

  • FayeMac

    I decided to watch becasue you guys are recapping – it is a fun summer deversion.  Did anyone notice the speech JR gives to John Ross about “power is something you have to take” or something like that.  I think Don said the same thing to Peggy back in MM Season 4 – the dialogue was almost verbatim.  It that a famous quote?

    • BuffaloBarbara

       I think it is–I read it somewhere not long ago, but I’m darned if I can remember where.

  • ChaquitaPhilly

    I noticed the Pam mentions, too. If she’s showing up it just HAS to be “real Pam”.
    The crazy thing is I never watched Dallas back in the day, or at least not very much. Now I think it’s a blast.

  • I love Dallas, new and old. So glad Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray are back. I watched the entire series on DVD a few years ago.  And I am loving this new Dallas. What an awesome bonus to have TLo recapping!   I almost fell out of my chair when JohnRoss bad mouthed Miss Ellie wishes at the oil well in the first episode. 

  • I’m enjoying the silliness of this series, even though I only watched one, and only one episode of the original (when ‘Who shot J.R.? was answered).  This is a fun reboot. I haven’t heard Pam’s actual name mentioned or even what happened to her character. Did I miss something?  Was that ever explained?

  • I love that you guys are recapping this show.  As a native Texan with a daddy also named JR (and who spent my high school graduation party at Southfork, thank you very much), I’ve long been a fan of this show, and the new version is just as entertaining. I didn’t realize how much I missed JR and his quips until he started shooting off his mouth!  I also think it would be delicious if John Ross and Christopher were really brothers.  You guys should write for this show! Just call me lovemesomejr, at least for the summer.

  • BookishBren

    I squealed loudly when Cliff Barnes appeared. I was a young’un in the early 80s but I remember watching this with my grandmother every Friday night. I am LOVING the new Dallas.