In December, I blogged about how excited I was for the return of TNT’s Dallas. If the entire first season’s reboot didn’t already leave us excited for more, the season finale sure did! The twists and turns of this series kept the original’s legacy intact, and I couldn’t wait to see what the writers had in store for us in season two.
But not only that… in November we lost one of the beloved cast members, a man who entertained television audiences for years with his portrayals of I Dream of Jeanie’s Major Tony Nelson and Dallas’ J.R. Ewing. I watched both programs, but to me, Mr. Hagman will always be J.R.
Larry Hagman didn’t just act out the role of the rich and conniving J.R. Ewing… he is and forever will be J.R. Ewing, just as his big ole Texas-sized belt buckle reads.
Shooting for season two had already commenced before he passed, and immediately the writers all returned to Dallas to get back to work, tasked with properly writing one of the greatest TV icons of all-time out of a series. They promised to make Mr. Hagman proud, as they should; he deserved nothing but the best.
I read a newspaper article just after the turn of the New Year where the Dallas writers shared their plans without giving too much away. They mentioned that before his passing, Mr. Hagman had already filmed seven episodes of the new season, but that the series might only use five because he looked worn down in the final two. Additionally, they hinted at “the how.”
Remember Dallas’ ever-so famous mystery back in 1980: Who shot J.R.? I read once that something like over eighty million people tuned in worldwide to watch this episode of the original series. Not only that, but it paved the way for two other franchises’ popular catch-questions too: Wendy’s slogan, Where’s the beef? And Twin Peak’s unique conversation starter, Who killed Laura Palmer?
So, here we are in 2013… and now we’re asking: Who killed J.R.?
Dallas and J.R.. Ewing. Forever the trendsetters…
Last night, the tearful episode finally arrived. I’ve been preparing myself for an emotional goodbye since November, especially after watching last week’s episode with John Ross (Josh Henderson) calling out to his father after hearing the gun shots ring out over the other end of the phone line. And again, later in the week, when I watched the clip of Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) speaking at J.R.’s funeral that the actor had brought with him to the Live with Kelly and Michael morning show while on his Dallas press tour.
I can’t remember the last time I was looking forward to a television series episode with the anticipation I had last night. Seriously, I love TV, and I can’t remember one single time off the top of my head. Everyone knows that I am crazy when it comes to all of the television that I watch, but I never watch “live” TV anymore… I set my DVR and fast forward through the commercials. But not last tonight. Not with “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”
What a tribute to J.R. Ewing and Larry Hagman. The performances had me in tears. Josh Henderson shined. Linda Grey had me sobbing. And Patrick Duffy? He got me too. As did everyone else, especially when Christopher stood up for his cousin against the belligerent drunk at J.R.’s wake.
And speaking of J.R.’s wake, the writers and creators brought so many familiar faces from the original Dallas back to pay their respects: Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton), Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), Gary Ewing (Ted Shackelford), Mandy Winger (Deborah Shelton), and Cally Harper (Cathy Podewell), as well as a few DFW area icons: Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The wake and the funeral were exquisitely handled, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also the creative way the writers have laid the groundwork for J.R.’s final masterpiece. The upcoming storyline has me on the edge of my seat. We all know J.R. as the cut-throat oil tycoon. And he was that. All of that, all of the time. But he was also a Ewing, and proud to be so. This is why I love what the future of season two has in store for us.
So, what is J.R.’s masterpiece? Before he passed, J.R. was working on three things. And well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers…
As far as the character of J.R. Ewing is concerned, the episode, as promised by the writers, couldn’t have been any better. It was handled beautifully. They masterfully pieced together recycled material in these last few weeks’ episodes and did so brilliantly. Honestly, one would never know Mr. Hagman wasn’t there to film these final scenes.
And as for J.R.’s final masterpiece? Well, as much as I love the Ewing Family Feud, I am really looking forward to Bobby, Christopher, and John Ross working together—it gives me goosebumps.
Bravo, Dallas writers and cast. Bravo.
And now we enter a new era, a Ewing era without the beloved J.R. But we do have a new mystery—Who Killed J.R.?
Are you a fan of Dallas? Did you watch “J.R.’s Masterpiece” last night? What did you think of J.R.’s final goodbye and his messages to his family? I’d love to hear from you!