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Dallas Honors "JR's Masterpiece"

Dallas (2011) poster

Written by : published Thursday 14th March 2013

TNT's Dallas says goodbye to a legend this week, JR Ewing, in the special episode "JR's Masterpiece." In the installment, several people from JR's past, family, lovers, business partners, and crushes, come together with those who are still in his life every day for a funeral tribute. They talk of how he touched the city of Dallas, the goods things he did, and the type of man he was. Evil or not, he had his charms. Even if one did not watch the original Dallas, as I unfortunately have not yet done, this episode is very moving.

Even the theme song in "Face Off," redone with a sadder version of the melody and a focus on JR, is touching. It's soulful and heartfelt, and will bring tears to the eyes of many. It perfectly sets the tone right from the beginning, and is perfect for this moment.

There are lots of guest stars, but the main focus of the episode is on our main characters. For the most part, this is very welcome. I'm not sure Elena (Jordana Brewster) needs to be included quite so much, but by keeping the members of JR's family who remain closest to him the stars of the memorial, the show stages a fitting ceremony for the man and those most affected by his passing.

But as much as the hour is an honoring of the character, it is also a goodbye for the actor that played him on and off for thirty five years. JR Ewing is one of television's greatest villains, and Hagman is one of its most beloved performers. It's hard to separate the two while watching "Face Off." One may love to hate JR, but there's only affection for the kind-hearted guy behind the character, the one who manages to make an evildoer compelling. This comes through very nicely.

Those lines are blurred in "JR's Masterpiece" for fans and characters alike. The memorial service isn't a total love fest, with old foe Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) bursting in to rail against the deceased. But listening to Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) speak at the grave site, JR is loved dearly by those who he's hurt the most. If they can forgive him, anyone can.

I feel worst for Sue Ellen. She turns back to the drink, reading a letter where JR asks for another chance with her, romantically speaking. They have been drawn towards one another for a very long time, and for him to be ripped away before there can be resolution is very sad indeed. I wish there had been time to give them a more complete, fitting end, but with Hagman's unexpected passing, no more could be filmed, and from a story standpoint, it makes sense that death can come at any time.

Bobby also takes it rough, but has the extra challenge of keeping a secret from his family, not telling them that JR is murdered, not accidentally killed. Will Bobby begin to turn into JR a bit without his brother around to balance him out? Can he rely on those that trust him and stop keeping the truth from them? Only time will tell the direction that Bobby will go in, but I expect it to be at least a little bit darker than his recent plots.

One way to try to make up for JR's departure is to play up John Ross (Josh Henderson) as more of a villain, giving him a larger role in the series. He is obviously deeply affected by his father's death, unable to even speak at the memorial. Perhaps this will turn him a little, make him truly want to follow in his father's footsteps. He has already shown an inclination to that path. For Dallas to continue to succeed, John Ross can't be a clone, but must be somewhat of a replacement for his departed daddy. He is on his way, but he isn't there yet.

It's nice to see Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) offer John Ross some comfort. Whether it's getting in a fight by his side, or standing by the grave long after the others have left, John Ross and Christopher can have a similar type of bond that Bobby and JR do. Even as John Ross goes down the wrong path, I hope the show keeps taking time to let there be affectionate moments between the two young men. These are some of the best scenes of the series.

Hagman's JR is a weaselly snake who betrays his own family many times over. Yet, he also protects his relations from outsiders, and can be fiercely loyal when they are threatened by someone else. As the clan discovers post-funeral, JR is investigating a couple of things just before his untimely demise, and everything he's found is relayed to the others so that they can continue the search.

The big reveal in "JR's Masterpice" is that Pamela Barnes Ewing may still be alive. This will be far more surprising to those who know who Pamela is, but even new viewers will understand that finding Christopher's mother, the love of Bobby's life, would be a big shakeup for the series. The actress who originally played the part doesn't want to return, but I understand certain plot developments make it easy to recast without messing up the plot. Not that it would be easy to pick an actress to play such a pivotal role, but story-wise, there isn't the need for much explanation. With the right person in the part, this will be truly awesome.

One thing is certain, Dallas is gearing up for war, and whoever is in the picture is in the path of harm. It's hard to tell at this point just how the battle will shape up, and a few characters may even switch sides a time or two before its over. But as disappointing as it is that JR is gone, it's cool that his character kicks off a major story arc that should be more exciting and engrossing than anything else the new episodes of Dallas have done up to this point.

Dallas airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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