Dallas: Season 2, Episodes 9 – 16
Posted by therebelprince on July 15, 2009
Welcome back to the Dallas retrospective reviews.
This week, the show takes steps towards becoming a full-blown story-arc based drama.
The plot in a nutshell: Pam has found her place at Southfork now that she has work at The Store to occupy her days. As a result, she suffers the least during this run. The Ewing jet goes down with JR and Bobby on board, throwing the women of Southfork into worry. When the men return, bloodied but unbowed, Sue Ellen has a bigger surprise: she’s pregnant. JR is greatful that he will finally have the first male Ewing heir, but suspicious (and rightly so). Sue Ellen has been sleeping with Cliff Barnes, and she suspects he is the father.
Jock gives Ray some land on Southfork, but Ray’s attempts to settle down are shattered when J.R. removes his country music singer girlfriend Garnet McGee (Kate Mulgrew) from the scene. J.R., still in control of Ewing Oil, begins his secret plans to drill on a far part of Southfork, but keeps it hidden from his father. Ellie’s brother Garrison (Gene Evans) shows up to die on Southfork, but not before the family reveals just how greedy they are over the right to Southfork.
Sue Ellen’s mother Patricia (Martha Scott) and sister Kristin (Colleen Camp) show up in town to help Sue Ellen with the pregnancy. When she learns the extent of J.R’s infidelity, however, Sue Ellen moves in with her mother. Patricia is moderately sympathetic, but is a gold digegr and in the end wants the Ewing money. And Jock beginsf eeling like an invalid when his heart problem sees the family baby him, and JR keep running the company. When his former secretary Julie Grey (Tina Louise) returns to Dallas, Miss Ellie worries about Jock’s misplaced affection. But Julie has other reasons to be in town… a vendetta against J.R….
Behind the scenes:
After a brief pitstop on Sundays, Dallas finally made it to Friday nights at 10PM, the night it would occupy for the remainder of its run.
(Left: Kate Mulgrew as Garnet McGee, with Steve Kanaly)
These episodes overall feel a little weaker than the start of the season. Possibly because we have a few running storylines now – Sue Ellen’s pregnancy, Pam and Bobby’s relationship, Jock’s health – the episodic moments, like Ray’s relationship with Garnet, fall a bit short. (Although Kate Mulgrew is great).
Top performances this time around go to Steve Kanaly and Linda Gray, while Ken Kercheval does well in a sidelined role as Cliff.
It’s nice to see things continue to simmer. J.R. begins plotting devious schemes for Ewing Oil but doesn’t yet have the power to put them in place. Jock’s power over J.R is a wondrous thing and raelly gives us an insight into his psyche.
The strongest episodes of this lot are probably “Act of Love”, in which Sue Ellen’s pregnancy is revealed; and “Julie’s Return”, which is the step at which point episodic storylines were pretty much thrown out.
The weakest episode is undoubtedly “Kidnapped”. While the tension is worked well, the kidnapping of Bobby comes fast on the heels of Lucy’s kidnapping in “Runaway”. It seems like a cheap excuse to pit Cliff and J.R. against each other, and it is!
What works in these early episodes is a great willingness to play with character relationships, and with tone. Miss Ellie and Jock – although largely confined to quieter scenes in these early episodes – never feel like afterthoughts, even in comparison to the sex-and-violence routines affecting Cliff, Sue Ellen and J.R. The characters are still developing their dimensions – and JR’s snide nature still lacks an element without his relationship with John Ross, and Jock’s memory, which will permeate most of the show’s run.
Either way, people were beginning to take notice of Dallas. While the reviews had been lukewarm (but less cold than for the pilot season), it was the move to Fridays which helped the show find its audience. Friday has historically been the worst night of the week for TV viewership but – like The X-Files would do in the ’90s – Dallas found the waiting viewers and then managed to capture them.
(Below: The great man himself, Jim Davis as Jock)
* We see Ray’s tract of land and he begins to build his home, which he will live in for several seasons.
* John Zaremba takes over the role of Dr. Harlan Danvers. Nancy Bleier becomes the third of four Connies, firmly establishing that Connie and Louella are the two Ewing secretaries. In “Julie’s Return”, Jeanna Michaels takes over the role which she will play until Connie finally leaves Ewing Oil.