Hello, darlin’! It’s the second season of the new Dallas! Full disclosure: I almost missed tonight’s première because I had assumed that the show would keep its summer scheduling of Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Central, and I had asked my lovely wife Paula to set my DVR accordingly. Of course, she had forgotten (I should have told her that Clive Owen was gonna make a nude cameo) so I scrambled to get to catch what I could and see the rest online. I was relieved to discover that I was six days early. TNT had decided that J.R., Bobby and the rest of the Ewings were more than capable of filling The Closer’s old slot. Feel free to insert a Kevin Bacon joke at the end that last sentence.
In all due seriousness, I have been anticipating the season with a bit of trepidation. Now that Larry Hagman was successful in his takeover bid of Heaven (R.I.P., cowboy) how can this show possibly go on without the character who has arguably become not only the definition of Dallas- city and show- but probably of television villainy itself for billions across the world? Before tonight’s first episode, the main cast, with Linda Gray (Sue Ellen) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby) in the forefront, gathered together to film what is surely a deeply heartfelt tribute and I couldn’t help but feel misty.
But the show goes on, and in “Battle Lines” the season starts at a raucous bachelorette party that could be going on right now, as we speak, in some watering hole off Knox and Henderson. The happy bride-to-be Brandee is quite to’ up, as the kids say, on assorted Jell-O shots which makes her easy pickings for randy John Ross Ewing. Prodded by her homegirls and John Ross’ gee-aw-shucks! game, Brandee takes him home and gets her premarital freak on. The next morning, Junior goes downstairs and boldly puts the screws to her dad, who happens to be holding out on contracting his company out to ship product for Ewing Energies. When Daddy waffles, John Ross lets him know that his daughter’s sexcapade has been captured in all its glory for posterity on his phone and that his future son-in-law would get an exclusive screening.
While Junior’s out blackmailing, his cousin and business partner Christopher is once again out slanging meth. . . ane. He has a meet with Eddie Gossage out in Euless extolling the benefits of methane over boring old gasoline (in a nutshell: something, something. . .blah-blah-blah SCIENCE!!! Hulk head hurt). Chris wants a driver to race a methane car versus a gas-powered car in an exhibition race to prove that alternative fuels are the new way to go and get some contracts with the City of Dallas to fuel city vehicles with methane. Junior’s ex Elena is also there and we see that Chris and Elena have spent their summer vacation getting closer, that Sweet Valley High plot device of e-mail long behind them (though I’m still bitter), and they will be married soon. First though, Chris has to shake some dirt off his shoulder, namely the business with his wife “Rebecca”-who we now know from last season is really Cliff Barnes’ daughter and has been. . .oh, just get the first season DVD and catch up. Seriously, we’ll wait.
Okay. So Chris meets up with the real Rebecca Sutter, who has been dredged up from some corn silo in Des Moines to testify that fake-Rebecca and her brother Tommy were in cahoots to defraud Chris’ family as part of the age-old Barnes feud against the Ewings. Becky Sutter’s testimony will be more than enough for Chris to get an annulment and keep her mitts off Ewing Energies, which she can take half if they divorce. “Rebecca” flies back to Dallas, accompanied by her father’s cleanheaded major-domo Frank, and reveals to Chris and Bobby that her real name is Pamela Rebecca Barnes and that she is the daughter of Cliff Barnes and Afton Cooper (high five, old-school fans!) and that she wants full custody of she and Chris’ unborn twins. If you don’t get the mountain of squickiness that’s inherent here, let me lay it out. Not only is your wife not who she says she is, but she’s your first cousin (you’re adopted, but still) and her first name is the same as your sainted mom. Wow.
We leave Divorce Court and check in on Bobby’s wife Annie, who is minding her own in an art gallery when her slimy ex-husband Harris Ryland turns up. It seems that Harris has found their missing daughter Emma, who was abducted many years ago from the State Fair while Annie went to go buy a fried Push-Up or something. He’s willing to share this info with Annie if she’s willing to get rid of the damning tapes that she used to blackmail him with last season, which kept him from blackmailing Sue Ellen when…I thought you watched those DVDs!!! Annie begs Sue Ellen, who’s almost inches away from joining Ma Ferguson and Ann Richards as a female Governor of Texas, to relinquish the tapes because absolutely nothing can go wrong, right?
John Ross has a late-night strategy session with his evil pappy J.R. Their plan: undermining Christopher’s alt-fuels campaign just enough to cause Bobby to lose faith and plunge the family dough back into dead dinosaurs, where it belongs. When Ewing Energies’ top brass meets the next day and Junior is reminded that his stake will always pale in comparison to Bobby/Chris/Elena’s voting bloc and that he would do well to break it up. With his own PI (who reminds me of Micky Dolenz from The Monkees, for some reason) staking out Chris, he discovers his cousin has been hiding Becky Sutter.
In the final minutes, Annie gives up the tapes and Harris gives up their daughter and goes with Bobby to meet her. Happy reunion dreams are dashed when Emma wants nothing to do with Annie. Sue Ellen’s gubernatorial dreams are dashed on Election Day when the coroner Rasmussen (ha!) reveals that Sue Ellen tried to bribe him to falsify Veronica’s autopsy to exonerate her son. And lastly, John Ross hopes to turn a family enemy into a new ally when he brings a present of goodwill to Pamela Rebecca Barnes (the Anti-Pam): Becky Sutter!
Whew! Lots of stuff going on, but that ain’t all because it’s a two-hour season opener! Episode Two to come but first, it’s time to break out your Mapscos!
*Chris’ meeting with Eddie Gossage was, of course, at the Texas Motor Speedway. My father-in-law is a big NASCAR fan and comes down from Oklahoma for races. Hey Paul- give me your ticket money and we can hang out at the High Five at LBJ and Coit and watch cars go ‘round and ‘round for free.
**That horrible greenscreen where Chris and Bobby met the Anti-Pam and Mr. Clean? Totally the Trammell Crow Building off Pacific. When I was a kid at Alex W. Spence Talented and Gifted Academy, we had a contest where we divided into little boiler rooms and had a contest to see who could make the most money playing the market. It was The Eighties, man. My team won (with absolutely no input from me) and we got to go the annual Shareholder’s Meeting at Trammell Crow, which was held in that cool gazebo-rotunda thing. That nice old guy who went around offering candies from a tray to us snotnosed Patrick Bateman wannabes? Old Man Crow himself. Cool story, bros.
What did y’all see?
“Venomous Creatures” begins with Christopher and Elena polishing up Chris’ old baby crib at Southfork, in anticipation of the birth of his twins with Pamela. John Ross shows up and says something douchey and proceeds to mean-mug them from a window inside the ranch. In spite of his cousin’s spitefulness, Chris is in good spirits because his annulment hearing is today and his star witness, Becky Sutter is gonna lay it down that Chris’ wife-cousin-yuck! Pamela colluded with Becky’s brother Tommy to screw the Ewings over. In the courtroom it’s a different story as Becky recants her testimony. Claiming because that the Anti-Pam told Chris about her transgressions and that they continued their relationship despite its fraudulent origins, the judge denies annulment, leaving divorce as the only option and since this is a community-property state, Pamela can receive half of Chris’ stake in Ewing Energies. Aw, hell no! Chris sorta-kinda proclaims. The seemingly-triumphant Anti-Pam is met by John Ross, who demands that since he offered up Becky to her, she should relinquish her half of Ewing Energies ownership that she stands to receive (for those not keeping score that would give him a shot-callin’ 45%, Bobby 30%, Chris 15% and Elena 10%). Apparently, Fredo’s been taking math courses at J.R.’s Summer Camp of Evil.
Pamela goes to her father Cliff’s board meeting at Barnes Global and successfully pleads the directors to turn away from casinos to diving into the wacky world of alternative fuels. This doesn’t sit well with her “brother” Frank, who was apparently being groomed to be Cliff’s successor and doesn’t take kindly to being sidelined. They are interrupted by J.R., who shows up to dispense some good, old-fashioned smackdown to Pam 2.0 if she dares cross the Ewings. Later she goes to Becky Sutter’s hotel room, to discover that though she has been well-paid for her testimony earlier Becky has no intention of leaving Dallas until she finds out what became of her brother Tommy (who Pamela killed last season when he tried to rape her).
Annie’s down in the dumps since being shown the hand by her long-lost daughter Emma, holed up in bed with steady shots of Lorazepam administered by the Ewing family Dr. Feelgood. Time for Bobby Ewing, Private Dick to swing into action: he discovers that Emma has been hidden by Harris Ryland in Hampshire, Merrie Olde England for at least eight years and kept this from Annie.
Sue Ellen’s down in the dumps, too, since being shown the hand by the voting public of the State of Texas. Facing possible indictment for extortion and her foundation donors dropping off like flies, she’s about to get reacquainted with an old friend- a bottle of white wine- when her ex-husband and son show up. Seeing his ex-wife about to return to her lowest, J.R. Ewing, Very Public Dick swings into action: meeting a State’s Attorney out on the green, he reminds the barrister that he has knowledge- and pictures- of a sex scandal down in Austin that the guy would like to keep under wraps. Indictment? What indictment? With good news, Sue Ellen pours the bottle of Jesus Juice down the drain.
Meanwhile, Elena’s been itching to show Chris that she can hang with Ewing big dogs, so she puts together a deal involving four dormant rigs in the Gulf. She buys them off their owner once they’re decommissioned, knowing that the rigs sit atop a huge reserve of methane and blah, blah. . .something something SCIENCE!!! Ewing Energies is gonna be flush with cash. Everyone high-fives homegirl on her big score, including Junior. He suggests that he, Bobby and Chris give up enough percentage to Elena to make her a full and equal partner in the firm. But here comes the boom: Junior knows that Elena is so deep in hock to Sue Ellen for loaning her the cash to buy the Henderson oil rights that if the loan were called then Elena would up a creek. Everything -including her Ewing Energies shares- would default, and Sue Ellen would totally give those shares to Junior ‘cause he’s all smart and knows math now, and stuff.
Fredo shows up at the Anti-Pam’s penthouse and, after trying to impress her with lines from The Great Gatsby (leave it to a rich douchebag to love novels about other rich douchebags) begins to negotiate terms. After much tossing of percentages, John Ross settles for 70 percent of the methane profits. As he descends in the elevator, he realizes all this math gets him all horny and returns to Pamela’s for some steamy angle bisection. Meanwhile, Christopher receives a package from Tommy Sutter who was, if anything, very good at long-term planning (and Hacky Sack). In case something happened to him, he left Chris his cell phone with instructions to play two voicemail messages. He then locates Becky, and plays the messages, which contained some very damning evidence for Pamela. . .and Becky herself. He then uses it to coerce Becky to come down to the police station.
Bobby confronts Harris’ mother Judith Light and finds out who’s the boss (ha!). It looks like years ago Harris and Angela Bower kidnapped Emma from the State Fair and spirited her away to Europe where she raised by her creepazoid dad and grandma raised her in secret. Bobby tries to break it to Emma that was kidnapped but she doesn’t want to hear it. . .
And that’s the end of episode two of season two! Glad to be back, y’all. Usually this is the time we break out the Mapscos, but I gotta say point out that if this season is Larry Hagman’s farewell tour then he was definitely rockin’ the Budokan tonight. My favorite lines:
(to John Ross):
“Love, hate, jealousy. Mix ‘em up, and they make a mean martini.”
“You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse. I’m one-for-one on flushin’ out Pamelas…and I plan on bein’ two-for-two.”
Then he dropped the mic onto the stage. Now it’s Mapsco time!
*Pamela dropped John Ross down the street from the old Mercantile Building, or the One With the Clock. Yeah, I know. . .my four-year-old godson could do that one. I sucked this episode. What did y’all see?