Dallas Says Goodbye to a Legend in “J.R.’s Masterpiece”

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! 

18 Replies to “Dallas Says Goodbye to a Legend in “J.R.’s Masterpiece””

  1. Mr Hagman was truly a gentleman, a Texan, and not only a great actor but a generous and humble actor. A friend of mine frequently appeared in the original DALLAS as a local actor–in the acting community, the “stars” and crew eat first and separately during breaks (rightly so, they must get back to work timely). The others eat later.
    Mr Hagman always made a point of eating with the “others” and considered himself one of the gang–and even made suggestions to directors about giving this “extra” or that “featured background actor” a line or two, more camera time, etc.
    They don’t make ’em like him anymore. RIP

    1. I didn’t have the honor of knowing Mr. Hagman, but from what I’ve seen and heard, you are absolutely right–he was truly a gentleman, a Texan. I say he “was” J.R. Ewing, but how could he be when J.R. was just a character? But he really was… maybe not the dirty business man… but when I always saw him, not as the character, but as he was… as Mr. Hagman, he was wearing his J.R. belt buckle, his J.R. watch, and his big cowboy hat. He always made me smile and laugh when I’d see him do press tours. What a man.

      Thanks for stopping by Amy and for sharing!

  2. Fantastic summary of DALLAS–I couldn’t agree more–I can’t wait tl next week-the writers are doing a top notch job !!!!!!

    1. I hope you do, Kassandra! The continuation of the J.R. and Bobby brotherly feud, and the next generation of Ewing boys picking up where their daddies left off has really been fun! And the writers have really outdone themselves with the “J.R.’s Masterpiece” storyline. I really think the remainder of season two is going to be epic; maybe not as big as “Who shot J.R.?” from the ’80s, but close.

  3. I never saw a single episode of Dallas (despite growing up during that time), but I think I’ve seen every episode of I Dream of Jeannie (at least twice). To my mind, Hagman is and always will be Major Anthony Nelson. I’m glad, however, to know that his co-stars honored him this way.

    1. Julie… Julie… How long have you lived in Texas? And you’ve never seen Dallas? Not even during the “Who Shot J.R.?” era? I’m not arguing that Larry Hagman wasn’t great as Major Nelson, but he IS J.R. Ewing. I hope you can check out some of the old and the new one day…

    1. I really think the writers have done a great job with the reboot, Lauralynn. Obviously, the casting is great… but as far as continuing the Ewing Feud with not only Bobby and J.R., but also John Ross and Christopher… it’s far more entertaining that I thought it would be when I first heard about the series. I knew I’d watch it, but I had no idea it would attract me the way that it has. I hope that you can check it out!

    1. You are not alone. I think Sue Ellen’s funeral scene was the worst for me. I’m choking up again just thinking about it. What a performance. I know some of the emotion had to be real…

      Thanks for stopping by, J.R.!

      1. Yes, I’m sure that for both her and Patrick Duffy, who was also fantastic, there was a fine line between mourning “J.R. Ewing” and mourning their real-life best friend, Larry Hagman.

        But I also have to give kudos to Josh Henderson, I thought his entire performance was fantastic.

  4. Oh, how I love Dallas! I think I saw some of the original series in re-runs, but I didn’t recognize anyone at the funeral, so I must not have seen very many episodes. But I have been watching this Dallas since it started. And, I’m with you. I want to see them all working together to take down Ryland and whoever the other bad guys are. Thanks for letting me know that I wasn’t the only one in tears during the funeral scene. I had to watch something happy after that show to get over it. I can’t wait for the next episode. It actually makes Monday better.

    1. It’s weird, Emma. I don’t remember watching all that much of the original series, but I must have. I recognize almost everyone from the old show. Even those who haven’t aged that much… LOL. I guess it had to be my grandma who watched because I really don’t remember my mom and dad watching. Regardless, I love that the new series is working with the original’s stars (main and recurring) and bringing them back one by one. I’m looking forward to Joan Van Ark later in the season, and hopefully they get Victoria Principle to agree to come back too.

      And I agree, Monday night is much better now… with Dallas, Bones, Deception, and The Following, I’m a happy girl. Thanks for stopping by!

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