Dallas Episode 3: The Old Mare Starts to Gallop

Dallas S01E03: "The Price You Pay"

Dallas is as venerable a franchise as was ever created, lasting fourteen seasons (1978-1991) and spinning off another long-running night-time soap, Knots Landing. The premiere of TNT’s "continuation" of the original series garnered some good reviews (mine included) and a lot of lookie-loos, ranking it among the most-watched shows of last week. But was that just nostalgia, or will this new iteration build its own fan base? I have a vision of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters all tuning in for their own reasons, but sharing the fun of watching an old mare find its footing and begin to gallop again.

I will admit, I sank happily into the couch and got comfortable when I heard the words, “...previously on Dallas.” Being a big soap means having lots of things for viewers to remember from week to week. Already we've got Bobby’s cancer; Christopher trying to find clean energy; and the questions of who sent the marriage-breaking email, will J.R. confront John Ross about the real Marta, will Rebecca really go through with her scam on Christopher... and many more. This is the sign of a good soap. Don’t let us get bored. Don’t give us a reason to ever try and make sense of it all. Just put up a few more plates and spin, spin, spin.

When I watched the two-hour, two-episode premiere, I was a bit put off by the lack of “camp” in the show. It was straight-up drama, but in Episode 3, "The Price You Pay," the show began to find its finds its footing in family psycho-drama territory. I love me a good melodrama, and Dallas is serving it up hot. J.R. (Larry Hagman) and son John Ross (Josh Henderson) are still the most fun to watch on screen. J.R. is as devious as ever, and once you throw in a dash of senior-center curmudgeon, you have a TV character who's aged to perfection. The episode opened with J.R. literally holding a razor to his son’s neck and threatening, “Fear your daddy.” YES!!! The writers seem to be saving their best lines for the old buck, including, “My friends are in the statehouse. My enemies... are gonna be harder to find.” And now that he's played the feeble age card with Bobby and Ann, getting a fake doctor to convince them that he should move back into South Fork, ostensibly putting the weasel in the hen house, the stage is set for all kinds of delightful back-stabbing. "The Price You Pay" culminated with J.R. and John Ross acting out some face-slapping arch-villain tomfoolery in front of Bobby. Good fun. Spin that plate.

And what is a good family pyscho-drama without some meddling outside forces? The Hatfields are interesting enough, yes, but you need the McCoys to really make them sing. Enter Cliff Barnes, the Ewings' age-old nemesis, and as J.R. puts it, he brings with him the “smell of brimstone and crazy.” Cliff is the head of the Barnes family, which has always wanted South Fork; he has carried the torch that his family was swindled out of the land, and he just happens to be Christopher Ewing’s uncle. You see, Bobby Ewing married Pam Barnes back in the day, bringing the warring families ever closer, then they adopted little Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), who is all grown up now. So Christopher is a little bit Ewing and little bit Barnes, but also neither, since he is adopted, at least in his cousin John Ross’s eyes. When Cliff returned, attempting to sway his nephew with a briefcase full of cash, the show really started to stride. Now Cliff is old with a capital O-L-D, so the show had better introduce his younger counterpart before the dude breaks a hip.

Dallas is the perfect summer show. Hot and crazy, ridiculous and fun, and a little forgettable, like a trashy book you would read on the beach. So pour some vodka in that lemonade, sit back, relax and watch this summer soap do its thing.

And here are a few things to kick around at the watering tank:

1. Is J.R. going to double cross John Ross in the South Fork deal?

2. Do you think Rebecca's brother is really her brother?

3. Is it just me or are they lighting Patrick Duffy all wrong? He looks crazy.

4. What character from the original series would you most like to see return?

Comments (15)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Whuh happen? We're now 8 episodes in, and Michael Svoboda hasn't written anything for over a month. What gives?
Reply
Flag
Old skin + matte makeup sucks light instead of reflecting it like young skin. Patrick's face has more makeup than all the women combined, so he's black holing the stage lights. Don't know who I'd enjoy seeing again, since I worked nightshift after JR was shot, so quit watching (because none of us could figure how to program the VCR haha).
Reply
Flag
Re: your comment about multiple generations of fans watching....I have to tell you, it's become appointment television for myself, my step-mother, and my step-grandmother. We're getting a pretty big kick out of that. I was a bit too young to watch the original run in the 70's/80's, though I (like probably 98% of the world) remember the "Who Shot J.R.?" thing vividly. However, I finally did manage to watch every single episode on SoapNet, though it took me about 2 years to do it....25 years after it's heyday, it still sucked me right in. All three of us are absolutely LOVING this new "continuation", and I'm just hoping for long life for all the senior actors...you can't replace these guys! I can't imagine continuing to watch the new Dallas without the "old" Dallas, y'all hear me over there at TNT ?!!!
Reply
Flag
You know who I would really love to come back? Pam, that a return I really want, I mean I always felt that after so many seasons invested with the character and she got such a terrible and it was never truly resolved. They could also bring back Jenna and Katherine Wentworth, one of my favorite tv bitches, she shot people and even "killed" Bobby!
Reply
Flag
guest appearances from Pam, Jenna, Kristin(she's dead but so's Bobby so who cares :) would be loads of fun
Reply
Flag
Heh! Cliff Barnes is not old at all.... I really hate age related jokes.
Reply
Flag
yes

no

yes

james "ewing"

Reply
Flag
Is Pam the one who was abducted by aliens?
Reply
Flag
Nope, that happened to Fallon in the Dynasty spinoff - The Colbys.
Reply
Flag
Hey, Cliff Barnes isn't that old! He is four years younger than JR (or Larry Hagman). I think that nowadays we just aren't used to seeing older folks with real faces acting on TV shows the likes of Dallas. I find it refreshing that they are mixing the wise generation with the younger one.

I found this episode even better than the ones before. The show is getting into its own space and the new characters start to develop nicely.

I'd love to see Pam, Jenna Wade and April Stevens from the old female cast and Ray Krebbs and James Beaumont (JR's illegitimate son) from the male cast. And there was once a kid named Randy but that's not gonna happen as he was played by Brad Pitt. ^^

But I'm happy with the current cast so far, I can't wait to see the next episode. Dallas is the perfect summer treat and helps me get over from my withdrawal symptoms having to wait for Revenge until it comes back in autumn.
Reply
Flag
Wasn't Ray Krebbs with Lucy in the 2nd episode at Christopher's wedding? And I agree....I'm equal parts stunned and elated that all the older original players don't look botoxed to within an inch of their lives. It's refreshing!
Reply
Flag
The actor may be younger than Hagman, but he looked FEEBLE. I was hoping they got all his scenes in early in the episode, because he looked as if he might not make it to the next commercial break. Unlike Hagman when he was pretending to be senile, Kercheval actually looked unstable whenever he moved. I'm not insulting him or hoping for tragedy, but I bet he doesn't buy green bananas.
Reply
Flag
Where was Sue Ellen this episode?? Wasn't she supposed to star in all of the season? The character I'd like to see most is of course Pam!!! Though I'm pretty sure she's not gonna do it.
Reply
Flag
1. If J.R. is alive and has the opportunity, of COURSE he's going to double cross _____ (doesn't really matter who you fill in the blank with). The only person J.R. won't cross is his eyebrows.

2. Yeah, because he says "Sis" without any sarcasm, and they haven't attempted any intimacy even when alone together.

3. They may have modified Duffy's makeup to hint at his illness, but I haven't noticed a lighting issue.

4. They've introduced all the old characters I'd like to see, but I'm hoping to see more of Sue Ellen vs. J.R.
Reply
Flag
I've gotten into the "Is Rebecca's brother really her brother" argument with my mom a few times. She's convinced they're lovers, I think she remembers the recent One Life to Live storyline a little too vividly. I think they're siblings. They still call each other "sis" and "bro" in private although they could be calling each other that ironically. I don't know, I don't really get the feeling they're in love or ever were.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook