Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Brief DALLAS Interlude Part 5 of 12: NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY: PART ONE


Season 04, Episode 01

Directed by Leonard Katzman

Original Airdate: Friday, November 7th, 1980

The Plot (Courtesy of J.R. is rushed to the hospital, near death. As the police discover multiple people with motive, the family waits for him to awaken and hopefully identify the shooter.

                Welcome back to A Brief Dallas Interlude, our first one since the four episodes we watched before the Pilot of KL.  Before we get started with season two of KL, we have not one but two Dallas eps in a row featuring appearances by both Gary and Val (well, Gary is in both, but Val is only in one).  After these two Interludes, we will return to the superior show and our glorious friends over at Seaview Circle, although we will have one more Interlude during the 1980-1981 season (it is the episode End of the Road: Part Two, featuring Lucy’s wedding).  Okay, let’s get started, shall we?

                This exact moment in television history is very interesting and important for both Dallas and KL.  KL had finished its small first season ranking at #30 in the ratings while Dallas finished at #6, culminating in the infamous episode A House Divided, wherein J.R. Ewing was shot in his office by an unknown assailant.  There’s no debate that this is the most famous cliffhanger in television history, right?  We’d seen three seasons of J.R. screwing anyone and everyone who came into his path, so season three culminated with someone finally giving J.R. a couple of bullets in the belly, and then TV audiences had to wait eight long months to find out who did it.  Now, the answer to that question will not be revealed in this episode nor the next; the answer finally came in the fourth episode of season four, and that will not be included as part of A Brief Dallas Interlude because that episode features neither Gary nor Val. 

                These Interludes are a little bit tricky, honestly, because for the purposes of this blog, I’m not terribly interested in writing about Dallas plotlines, but mostly interested in seeing how the crossovers of Gary and/or Val serve to further enhance the storylines over on KL, and I must say, both this episode and the next one are actually quite rich with little details that maintain a fantastic continuity between the two series and lead me to encourage anyone watching KL to make an effort to squeeze in these Brief Dallas Interludes whenever they pop up (which will become scarcer and scarcer as we get deeper into the ‘80s). 

                Anyway, for the purposes of this discussion, all you need to know is that while Gary was getting drunk and going on an epic bender, J.R. was working to piss off absolutely everybody in Texas, and he finally got what was coming to him in the concluding moments of the season.  The reason this was such a fantastic cliffhanger is that literally anyone could have done it; J.R. made enemies everywhere he went and pretty much anyone had motive to shoot him.  As we begin this episode, we have a very dramatic cleaning woman entering the Ewing Oil offices and screaming in utterly extreme over-the-top terror as she finds poor J.R. lying on the floor, shot and bleeding.  J.R. is immediately rushed to the hospital and we spend most of the episode watching the rest of the family receiving phone calls and information about what has happened to John Ross Ewing II. 

                Again, I don’t particularly care about what’s going on with the Ewings here in Texas; I am really only interested in what Gary and Val do in their little crossover appearance.  So, what do they do?  The answer is, well, not a lot.  In this particular episode, their appearances are limited to one little scene, but I did enjoy the scene very much and it certainly gave me a bit of a KL boner.  See, all of the Ewings are gathered at the hospital (random note: It seemed like pretty much every season premiere of Dallas would involve the family hanging out at the hospital for one reason or another), and then Miss Ellie is alerted to a phone call from her beloved Gary over in California.  She and Lucy head over to the phone and then we cut to Gary and Val standing in their kitchen over in California.  See, it’s stuff like this that I really like; not only are we getting a little appearance from television’s greatest couple, but they’re even standing on a set from KL. 

                This prompted me to wonder something: Was this little snippet filmed by the Dallas crew or was it filmed by the KL crew at the request of the Dallas writers and producers?  The scene lasts maybe, oh, I dunno, two or three minutes at the most, so I imagine it wouldn’t take too long for the folks over at the KL set to film a quick little scene set in the kitchen between Gary and Val and then send it out to the folks at Dallas to splice into their episode.  I have pretty much no research to back any of this stuff up, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that this quick little scene was filmed by the cast and crew over at KL, probably while they were getting to work on the second season of the series.

                Even though this is a brief scene, I have plenty of talking points for it.  See, Miss Ellie tells Gary that his brother’s been shot and he’d probably better come out to Texas to see him.  Gary hangs up and tells Valene what’s up, and then she says something about how Gary probably shouldn’t go off on his own, and Gary says, “You mean after my big drunk?”  He explains to her how he “Can’t go through life without having to face a crisis.”  Boy, is this nice continuity or what?  The two of them are talking about the events of the very last KL eps we discussed!  Now, to a person who was watching just Dallas and had no interest in KL, they might see this scene and say, “Who are these people and why do I care about them and what are they talking about?”  However, as an ardent KL fan, I am loving the linkages between the two series at this point, and it’s kinda cool to see how comfortably this Gary/Val footage can be squeezed in as part of a Dallas episode.

                Also of note in this scene is that Val displays absolutely no sympathy for J.R.’s predicament.  Now, we rarely see Val get truly mad or say really hurtful things.  So far on KL, the only instance I can think of is when Lilimae came to visit and Val said, “Don’t mince words, Gary; hate, I hate her.”  That was pretty strong stuff, but what she says about J.R. is even harsher.  She says, “If J.R. died, I don’t think I could even mourn for him.”  At first I was like, “Damn, Valene!”  However, after chewing on it for a minute (as well as pausing for about twenty minutes to talk about this fantastic scene with My Beloved Grammy), I decided Val is just being brutally honest, and does she not have reason to feel this way?  After all, J.R. is responsible for running her off of Southfork and stealing baby Lucy away from her, essentially destroying their relationship as mother and daughter.  Has she no right to be angry and bitter with him?  I’d say she does.

                That’s all we get of Gary and Val in this episode, and since I don’t really care to go over all the details of the Dallas storyline, I vote we move on to our sixth Brief Dallas Interlude, which offers even more rich little details for us big-time KL fans.  Let us now move on to the Dallas episode that aired just two days after this one, entitled, naturally, No More Mister Nice Guy: Part Two.


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