Dallas: Family Business

Posted on August 02, 2012

Oh, did we ever clap and cheer last night, as Dallas ran headlong and joyfully into the land of soap opera excess. Tears! Slaps! Plot-convenient brain seizures (inadvertently rendered HILARIOUS by Patrick Duffy’s hyper-blinking performance)! Threats! Hugs! Another brain seizure! A GUN GOES OFF!

Kittens, it was delicious. As we tweeted last night after it was all over, “Shit just got real and monkeys just got bloodied.”

We had a hard time figuring out exactly where this episode was going and decided at the halfway point that the theme was “Oh, right. Everyone in this family HATES J.R.” Which seemed to us a bit redundant. Don’t we have 35 years of history to point out that J.R.’s a weaselly little shit and no one who gets near him stays there for long? But it was a bit more poignant than that. Yes, the family rallied around their shared enmity towards its former Favored Son, but the combination of all that slapping, yelling, and defiance actually had an effect on the wily old bastard. At any other time in the character’s history, we would have found his actions here (signing South Fork back over to Bobby voluntarily) virtually impossible to believe. But there’s no denying that J.R. is a very old man and, as is so often the case, it’s only when the grave looms over every day do certain people examine their life and their motivations. In other words, a combination of Sue Ellen’s slap (which we CHEERED), John Ross’ thawing and realization that he’s not ever going to be his father (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), Not-Pam’s threat to shoot him (to which we shouted, “She’ll do it, J.R.! And she’s probably a better shot than Kristen EVER was!”), and Bobby making deathbed speeches about scorpions, combined with his own frailty, effectively and realistically brought J.R. to that moment. And hats off (Stetsons, of course) to the writing team, because they injected one line into that scene that prevented it from being too treacly; a line that perfectly illustrates J.R. Ewing, even when he’s trying to do the right thing:

“If you die, I get that back.” Brilliant.

We would have never predicted this going into it, but this reboot has real heart to it, hearkening back to the earliest days of the series, when it was less of a soap opera and more of a family melodrama. “I love you; do you know that?” Bobby asks his brother. “Well, you just have to keep telling me that to remind me.” These writers really get these characters and have managed to bring them into the 21st Century by shading them with gray and playing on their decades of established history. This show might be a textbook example of How to Relaunch a Beloved Franchise. It’s devious, twisty, addictive soap opera fun, with real heart and emotion behind all the plotting.

And now, with Bobby collapsing to the floor in his depressingly poorly appointed bedroom (SERIOUSLY. Those sad little tin STARS.) and Rebecca possibly lying in a pool of her own blood (or charged with murder) we think it’s time, isn’t it, darlings? It’s time for Pamela Barnes Ewing to disembark and shake this family up even further. But she better watch out for Not-Pam’s shotgun. That bitch CRAZY.

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  • Judy_J

    I loved your tweets last night, and your recap today.  The new Dallas is getting better and better.  I do believe the writers totally get what made the first series so enjoyable, and are using that to best advantage with the second.  John Ross is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters.  The kid shows real promise.  I’m looking forward to the season finale next week.  Anything can happen in Dallas!

    • It’s J.R.’s way of saying he knows/hopes that Bobby pulls through this. It’s about as close to I love you too as he’s ever gonna come...DiscoverMoreWays.blogspot.com

  • Lilithcat

    This episode was so over the top, and I mean that in a good way.   Loved the blood spatters on the stuffed monkeys.

    Bobby collapsing to the floor in his depressingly poorly appointed bedroom

    That entire family needs a good gay decorator.

    • jblaked

      Seriously – where is the glamour?  The interior decor of that house is so middle-class suburbia.  Not that there’s anything wrong with middle-class suburbia, but the Ewings are RICH!

    • TheOriginalLulu

      True! Cowboys aren’t necessarily known for their fabulous taste in interior decor.

  • If I didn’t know better I would have thought last night was the finale.  Shit was hitting the fan.  Loved it!

  • gabbilevy

    As SOON as J.R. said “When you die, I get that back” (and I’m pretty certain he said when, not ‘if’, because he’s J.R.) I knew we were getting a burst aneurysm. Damn if I don’t love that soapy predictability.

    I’m thinking Rebecca shot Tommy, but also will suffer a miscarriage (he was throwing her around pretty hard). Things were starting to recover a little too well for her and Chris. Those babies are doomed, methinks.

    • I hope note. Tommy is my fav on the show. I think the actor would have made a better selection for John Ross.

  • TheOriginalLulu

    I also loved, “whatever you have to say to me, say it after they fix that thing in your head.”
    It’s J.R.’s way of saying he knows/hopes that Bobby pulls through this. It’s about as close to I love you too as he’s ever gonna come.

  • TheOriginalLulu

    Another thing that cracked me up…J.R. comes back and takes his bedroom back and tells John Ross, “I’m too old to have a roommate”, so John Ross packs it up and throws his stuff into the trunk, complaining that “J.R wants his room back.”

    Ummm…excuse me, you’re going to tell me that in that humoungous house there isn’t another spare bedroom for John Ross? But that’s Dallas for ya. Who cares about logic? It’s all about the drama. 🙂 

    • YolandaHawkins

      I thought, “When did Southfork morph into a 2-bedroom condo?!  John Ross, go down the hall to Lucy’s old room!”

  • MilaXX

    I think I cheered and laughed right along with you. The ony thing that could have made it better was when Hyland was threatening Sue Ellen, she  told him, “Pfftt, bitch please, have you met my family or read my history? Scandal, schmandal.”

    Bobbi’s attach, truy brought the lols, as did not twin brother’s bead down by the bald guy.

  • I would think that Rebecca could claim self defense in shooting Tommy (she’s pregnant, he was throwing her around, obvious signs of a struggle) but something I saw in the preview from next week makes me think she’s going to be stupid.

    • TheOriginalLulu

      Of course, because they NEVER do the obvious, logical thing on Dallas. Like, Christopher already found out that she and her “brother” were trying to bamboozle him, why couldn’t she tell him that “brother” is threatening her? Nope, she has to go to her safe deposit box (anyone else notice the foreign currency in there? Hmmm) and get out her gun.

      And of course she had a gun stashed away in a safe deposit box. This is Dallas. Everybody has secret files, safe deposit boxes and overseas accounts.  

  • Good ep. If only “Melrose Place” had taken notes on how to bring back an old soap well. Oh well. 

    Christopher remains a complete tool but I like that there was a lot more JR in the ep. Poor Bobby is a mess but I love his scenes with JR. As dastardly as he can be, JR does love his brother. Can’t wait for next week’s season finale. Maybe someone will shoot Christopher and give Elena a personality in it. 

    Anne gained more of a personality in the ep. Curious to see more secrets about her coming out. 

    • TheOriginalLulu

      I actually think Christopher’s character is starting to become a little bit more interesting.
      Elena, on the other hand, may be a lost cause. At this point, they could completely remove her from the show and it wouldn’t make much difference at all.

  • Pam’s husband could come in to perform surgery on someone, and Pam could accidentally walk into everyone, though the whole point of her marrying her plastic surgeon was to move.  California, wasn’t it?

    Too bad April–second wife–is dead.  Supposedly.

    I keep waiting for someone to bring up the fact that Bobby was elected to the Texas State Senate in the early 80s and might have political connections to help Sue Ellen or that they could partner over something political.

    • TheOriginalLulu

      Was he? I completely forgot about that.

      • It was very early in the series, and it was only one term, I think.

    • Judy_J

      I’d forgotten all about Senator Bobby!

  • Sue Ellen’s slap was a highpoint of my whole year. I thought Jr”s head was going to fall off. MORE SUE ELLEN NEXT SEASON PLEASE!
    For such a rich family, the sets sure need some help. Bobby’s bedroom was soooo sad. Bobby’s brain freeze was very funny.

  • I loved loved loved this episode!  Every time Larry Hagman is on screen I giggle with glee, and the interactions with him last night were most definitely the highlights of the whole season.  I think the Ewings are here to stay for awhile.  Yee haw!

  • butter nut

    i love this stupid show so much!

  • I think Dallas is borrowing a page from Mad Men — Making the penultimate episode as startling and exciting as a finale, and using a great piece of music (Johnny Cash here) for a closing montage.   Of course, Dallas is NOTHING like Mad Men, but this is a fine reboot. I actually got verklempt in the scene where Bobby told JR that he loved him, and I never expected to feel that watching this show!   (MM has given me many such moments)  Looking forward to the finale, but wasn’t this a short season? Only 8 episodes? I wonder if they kept it short in case it bombed?

  • Bridget Dierks

    Sweet Jesus, I LOVE this ridiculous show.  Thank you for the spot on recap!