Wherein every episode of DALLAS is recapped and reviewed in chronological order. Updates Fridays.

Friday, February 28, 2014

1.1 - DIGGER'S DAUGHTER


It has long been a dream of mine to live at the Ewing compound, the sprawling Texas ranch called Southfork. I know it's a real place where I could go and stand around and steal things or whatever, but honestly I'd rather get my prostate examined ten times than live in a Ewingless Texas...and I don't even have a prostate. Or do I? Dun dun dunnnn...

Wait, why am I trying to make a mystery out of this? There's no riddle to be solved, I don't have a prostate. I will admit, however, that science is not my strong suit. Do I really know for sure what's going on inside my skinbag, what's in there and what's not? Do any of us?

Anyway, as I said, if the Ewings are not in residence, there's simply no point in going. Without them there, Southfork is but a big-ass house. With them there, it is a big-ass home. A big-ass hotbed! A big-ass hotbed of shit talk and repression and whispers and secrets and sexnanigans and cocktails and barbecued meats.

Now make no mistake- while this dream involves my living at Southfork, it certainly does not involve my becoming an actual member of the Ewing clan, oh dear no, they're dreadful people. Rather, I would just sort of be there all the time, lurking, hovering, watching all of their hijinks whilst I maintain the steady thrum of a mint julep buzz. Eventually someone (probably Miss Ellie) would start asking about the sweaty, drunken slug who's always loafing in a chaise lounge by the pool...then some "good ol' boys" would round me up and run me out of town or murder me and bury me in a shallow grave somewhere on the estate. But it would be worth it.

At any rate, I've come to terms with the fact that this dream is probably never going to come true. But because I'm a human doing as well as a human being, I'm not gonna sit around all day and cry over my unrealized weirdo fantasies. Instead, I'm gonna sit around all day and start this Dallas blog, which is obviously the next best thing and not at all also weird! There will be updates every Friday, the night Dallas aired for the majority of its 14-season original run. Yup, 14 seasons, from 1978-1991. 357 episodes. I'll be shackled to this task forever, even from beyond the grave. Also worth it.

To kick things off right, you need to take a moment to watch the jaunty Season 1 opening credits, dear reader. It'll get you in the mood for this endeavor like the finest of white wine spritzers!


The first characters we meet are Pam and Bobby, who were married not even 24 hours ago. As they cruise toward Southfork in Bobby's sweet Mercedes convertible, Pam, ever resplendent even in an unflattering puffy coat, voices some concern over the reception she's likely to receive from the family, for she is a Barnes, and apparently that's not a good thing. Bobby, looking like the cutest big brown Q-Tip you ever did see, assures her everything will be great. She may have been a Barnes before, but she's a Ewing now. She's been assimilated, hooray!

"One of us! One of us!"

Now we're introduced to the most famous (and infamous) Ewing of all: J.R., who's at the Ewing Oil headquarters watching some senator grill an ex-employee on TV. Some senator is just looking for some way to take the family down. The some senator's name is...Cliff Barnes. I know you're probably wondering, so let me set your mind at ease: no, this is not a coincidence; yes, he's one of those Barnseses. What are the odds?

What's pretty great about this scene is that we learn that J.R. is a scumbag and he doesn't even have to say a word: as he watches the testimony, we hear all about his duplicitous dealings...then he nonchalantly grabs and squeezes his secretary's thigh. Granted, his secretary (Julie) is played by Tina fucking Louise, but still! The sleaze is strong in this one.

J.R. gives a casual squeeze whilst Julie enjoys a snack

The newlyweds are still on the road and Pam has found something new to complain be concerned about: Bobby's position in the Ewing Oil Empire. More to the point: the fact that his position is nothing but taking road trips and plying oil industry buddies with hookers PR.

"I thought you had a hand in running the family business."
"I've got a hand in keeping the business running. It's the same thing."
"No, it's not."

Damn! Ain't been married a day and they're already having issues. They both need to cut their losses and run, of course, but they won't because they're "in" "love", whatever that means.

The action shifts to Southfork and we meet a few more of our key characters. Clan patriarch Jock pulls up to a barn in his enormous Cadillac (compensating, Jock?) and engages rancho honcho Ray in some conversation. Did Ray take Jock's granddaughter Lucy to school? Has he seen Lucy? Hey, when is Ray gonna bring "that fine-lookin' Barnes woman" around again? Ray needs to tell her to tell her brother to get off the family's back. YES THAT SENTENCE HAS DUBIOUS SYNTAX BUT THE POINT IS RAY WAS ALSO DATING PAM. I'll give you a moment to recover, as I'm sure you're in shock.

Ray offers a bunch of mumbles that he hasn't seen Lucy anywhere and sure he'll tell Pam, but guess what? The second Jock's gas-guzzler disappears, it's revealed that Lucy has been hiding in the hayloft! The hayloft of sin, where she and Ray have been making sexytimes and ooohhhhh, I don't want to think about them making sexytimes, why is the show making me think about it.

If it's not creepy enough that Ray is spreading his ranch dressing all over a high schooler's hidden valley- oh man, that's a very gross thing to say and I do apologize- well, Lucy takes it to an even creepier circle of hell when she wraps herself around Ray like a tiny sex goblin and demands that he call her "Pam". The entire scene makes me want to forgo mint juleps in favor of bleach juleps. It's so great!

For fuck's sake, Ray, my keychain is bigger and older than her. Are you going to sex that, too?

Pam and Bobby finally arrive at the homestead and Pam's fears prove eerily prescient as she is not welcomed into the family with open arms, but rather with a cold snub from clan matriarch Miss Ellie. Listen, if you're a big Miss Ellie fan, you're gonna find yourself a lot of grief around these parts. Also, why in the world are you a big Miss Ellie fan? She's the worst, the absolute worst, a USDA-certified Grade A twat. She's condescending, stuck-up, pushy, nosy...ugh, I could go on all day. But I won't, because despite everything that's happened so far (wait, has anything actually happened yet?) we're not even halfway through the episode. I'm just warning you, Miss Ellie is on my list. Yes, so is your kiss, but we can talk about that later.

the long-lost fourth Stygian Witch, I swear

Miss Ellie calls the office and tells Jock and J.R. to come home immediately because clearly this Pam business is an emergency. We're then hurtled forward in time to the magic of the Ewing Family Cocktail Hour, which happens every day without fail. It's never a wonderful family fun time, despite the ban on business talk imposed by Miss Ellie. Rather, it's all boredom or flaring tempers. Today we hear the scintillating tale of The Courtship of Pam and Bobby, which provides no information other than the fact that they were in New Orleans, they swapped "I love you"s and then wedding vows. How did they get to this point? Why were they both in New Orleans? Eh, who cares? The only thing we need to know is that Ray brought Pam around the house a few times and now she's married to Bobby.

Wait, there's one more thing we need to know: J.R.'s put-upon wife Sue Ellen is here, flawless as usual, with her best friend Booze.

Pictured: Sue Ellen, perfection (R), Miss Ellie, the worst (L)

Sue Ellen is the best, and if this premiere episode is lacking in any way, it's that it needs more of her in it. She has, like, two lines! Come on, Dallas, we don't want a pinch of Sue Ellen, we want a liberal seasoning.

J.R. wastes no time before whisking Pam outside and trying to buy her off. He raises a good point: she's going to be driven out of the family regardless, and it's better to split now with some cash than later with some nothing. Pam gets all insulted and indignant, but before much comes of it Bobby appears and whisks her back inside. Whisked everywhere, our Pam.

Later that evening, Jock sits outside in his Sherpa coat, enjoying a smoke, as you do. J.R. joins him and lets on that he tried to bribe Pam to leave. Jock calls his son a jackass, then further stirs things up by telling him that Bobby is no longer doing PR, but is now an executive at the Ewing Oil home office. Oh, and that he'd better get busy- and Jock does mean biz-zay- lest Bobby and Pam beat J.R. and Sue Ellen in the race to make a grandkid. Excuse me...to make a grandson. How else could the Ewing dynasty continue but with a new penis in the family? His fatherly duties complete, Jock heads inside. Ray appears, and he and J.R. conspire to break up the newlyweds but good.

EVERYONE ON THIS SHOW IS TERRIBLE AND I LOVE IT.

asshole

It's the next day and poor Pam doesn't receive a nice congratulations or a warm reception from her side of the family either. Her brother Cliff finds the marriage completely disgusting ("Bobby Ewing is not a man...he's a Ewing."). As for her father, Digger ("Digger", can you believe that shit, this show has the best character names)...the Barnes siblings find their dear ol' dad all drunk at a bar that's perfectly populated with old daytime boozers, a woman sitting alone in a booth, and two floozies. As they walk in, Digger is regaling everyone with the story of the genesis of the Ewing/Barnes feud: Digger and Jock were partners, Digger found oil, Jock cheated him out of it. There's been bad blood ever since. Why, Digger even tried to kill Jock three times! But alas, he says, he flubbed every attempt: "I can drill...but I can't kill!"

dad tells the best stories

Finally they get Digger's attention and tell him about Pam's marriage. I gotta say...man, I'm a big aficionado of pretend inebriation done well and David Wayne plays a great drunk, just slow and slurry and unfocused enough to be totally convincing. Because he's sloshed, it takes a bit for the identity of Pam's new husband to sink in. When it finally does, Digger goes from this:


to this:


Such is the power of his hatred of the Ewings! Rather than endure another minute of her father's icy, sloppy stare, Pam runs outside. She's been pushed to the very brink by all of this drama, and a single tear slowly rolls down her cheek. The tear, you see, symbolizes her sadness.

la tristesse

Things don't get any easier for her back at Southfork. Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen all but ignore her. Lucy tells her, "You ain't got a chance, lady!" and goes on to relate the story of her father, Gary, the curiously missing 3rd Ewing brother. He was a drunk ("Just like your daddy!") (damn, Lucy, that's cold) and he knocked up 15-year-old Valene. After Lucy was born, Gary got violent, so Valene took Lucy and fled to Virginia. J.R. sent a posse after her, nabbed the baby, and threatened Valene's life should she ever return to Texas. If the family don't want you, Lucy explains, the family'll get rid of you. She might be a creepy tiny sex goblin, but Lucy knows what's up!

a creepy tiny sex goblin in high-waisted jeans, that is

Pam feels like she has not a friend in the world (SHOULDA TAKEN THAT MONEY, GURL), and to make matters worse, J.R. is dragging Bobby all the way to Austin for some business something-or-other. As Bobby packs for the trip, J.R. suggests that Ray and Pam take a spin around the property in the family helicopter. GASP could this out of town trip and helicopter extravanganza be a part of the nefarious scheme to bust up the newlyweds? Why, yes...yes they could. We know this but Pam doesn't, and that, my friends, is an example of dramatic irony. Clueless Pam gets to da choppa, because she obviously doesn't want to miss a bird's eye view of the breathtaking beauty of Southfork.

that was an example of verbal irony

The nefarious scheme really kicks into high gear when Ray lands the copter by a little pond. He makes some small talk about how unhappy Pam must be, and how "like should stick with like". Then he checks his watch, picks Pam up, and...


...he fucking jumps in the filthy, freezing pond! Pam's smart outfit is totally ruined, they're both soaking wet, and what does Pam do? She laughs. She laughs! She thinks this was a funny, charming thing for him to do! I tell you what, if I were Pamela Barnes Ewing, I would kick that Ray Krebbs right in his Ray Krebbs, Jr and then I'd- aw heck, who am I kidding? If I were Pamela Barnes Ewing, I would spend my days making out with my reflection because I'd be so super gorgeous. Right?

Pam can get it

Now that Ray and Pam are water-logged, it's time for Phase Two of Operation: Nefarious Scheme to begin! Ray takes Pam back to his sad little man-shack for a warm fire and some hot coffee and...maybe something else, right? Something like...you know. You know..."you know"..."you"..."know" WINK. SEX.

JfC, Pam, look where you are

Just as Ray is about to really put the moves on, a car barrels across the Fields of Southfork toward the sad little man-shack. Why, it's J.R. and Bobby! But...but...weren't they headed to Austin? What could they be doing here at this most inopportune time, with all this flesh exposed? Pam realizes that she's the victim of a truly half-assed setup and tells Ray that if he doesn't back up her innocence, then she'll spill all about his and Lucy's exploits in the barn. Which...I guess she saw? Okay, sure.

J.R. busts in the door and is immediately disappointed that he doesn't find Pam and Ray in flagrante. Ray makes up the lame excuse that Pam fell in the pond and he had to fish her out or some shit. J.R. starts to question it, but Pam promptly tells him to shut up, that she knows it was all his idea. Bobby flips out and threatens violence, which is par for the course for him and also completely thrilling. Cliff Barnes is right, the Ewings are all total a-holes!

there's a lot of brown going on here

After all the admonishments and warnings have been doled out, Pam and Bobby head back to the house. As J.R. watches them drive off, he says oh so very ominously:

"I underestimated the new Mrs. Ewing. I surely won't do that again."

evil in a woolly collar

And with that, the first episode of Dallas comes to a close. It's pretty tame, for sure, but it does a terrific job of establishing the personality of virtually everyone (not to mention all the Ewing-Barnes animosity) through action rather than exposition. Oh, we have learned many things! We've learned that although he's a jerk, Jock has a great head of hair.

it just looks so soft

We've learned more than we wanted to about Ray and Lucy and their mixin'-n-matchin' genitalia (wait, I don't think anything matches? if it does, I don't want to know, thank you). We've learned that J.R. can never be trusted. We've learned that Pam had a very small dating pool. We've learned that everyone on the show is awful. Most importantly, we've learned that Miss Ellie is the worst of them all.

Tune in next week for Episode 2: Lessons. Things are just startin' to heat up!

6 comments:

  1. The fashions!
    The faces!
    The emotions!

    I am super excited for another fabulous Stacie Ponder blog! Now I totally want to watch Dallas. I can't wait until the characters REALLY start boozing it up.

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  2. Thanks very much, Anonymous! I'm super excited to watch and write these things. It's a magical time for us all!

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  3. I cannot wait to find out who shot JR.

    Eventually.

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  4. It'll happen sooner than you'd think! It doesn't take long before everyone wants to murder J.R.

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    1. See, by Season 5, I had more animosity toward Jock than J.R. Sure, J.R. is an amoral sleazebag, but it becomes clear after a while that he's the son Jock and Miss Ellie wanted. It's not just that they only really try to rein him in when he turns his scheming on the family in a way they don't like -- although that certainly doesn't help -- it's that they WANT him to be strong and ruthless and Eh-vil because they think that means he's a proper strong Ewing man. (As much as the show tries to present Miss Ellie as saintly, you start noticing that she and Jock are always sort of prodding Bobby to prove he's strong like J.R.)

      Every so often, J.R. seems a little baffled that everyone around him thinks he's so evil, and I think that reaction is pretty genuine. J.R. expects that he's going to have enemies and that people aren't necessarily going to like him or what he does, but he was brought up to believe that being a man means doing whatever you have to do to win. Bad upbringing + massive power and privilege.

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  5. Tiny Sex Goblin is the name of my new girl band! Looking forward to more of these. Oh, those Ewings!

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