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Re-watching the Ewingverse ... alphabetically!

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by James from London, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    I've always had this silly idea about watching all the episodes in a timey-wimey non-chronological order, zipping through time and space, zigzagging from era to era and back again, just because -- well, just because, really. I'm not sure how far I'll get before I'm overwhelmed by the sheer utter pointlessness of it all but until then ...

    Abby's Choice (KNOTS, 16 Dec 82) v. Acceptance (DALLAS, 02 Apr 82)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The whole of Abby's Choice is focused on one question and there's a real sense of urgency to it: will Abby agree to donate her kidney to Diana? As Lilimae points out, Abby "has never done an unselfish thing in her life", which makes her response all the more interesting. She is angry, resentful and defiant, but mostly scared -- we've never really seen her like this before. She and Gary haven't been together very long at this point, and neither have Karen and Mack (nor Chip and Diana, come to that). Likewise, the wounds between Gary and Val, and Abby and Karen are still very raw. So the interactions between all of these characters are full of fascinating little nuances. (The instant friendship between Laura and Ciji feels a bit forced in comparison, but the actors make it work.) The shadow of Sid’s death hangs over the whole ep so when the Fairgates get their happy ending, you feel like they've earned it. And Claudia Lonow's great as Diana -- understated and vulnerable and lovely.

    On Acceptance, the characters are mostly divided into different storylines. While Bobby does his action hero thing to help bring Jeff Faraday’s killers to justice, Rebecca disowns Cliff (great scene), JR courts Sue Ellen and Miss Ellie tries touchingly to keep the reality of Jock’s death at bay. Compared to Abby's Choice, it's quite a calm episode even though it's the penultimate one of the season. The Ewings finally come together at the end for an old-fashioned family dinner, but trying to turn the clock back proves too much for Miss Ellie and she finally loses it in the kitchen over Jock. This is the dramatic climax we've been building towards, but despite the emotion, the domestic surroundings mean there’s still something very comforting about it (compared to the cold hospital environment on KNOTS). Like KNOTS, it ends on an optimistic note, as Miss Ellie tells Donna she’s accepted Jock’s death.

    And the winner is ... Abby's Choice.

    Bonus Beats (i.e. the song title in my music collection that bears the closest resemblance to the name of one of these episodes):

     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  2. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle' EXP: 11 Years

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    What an interesting concept. At least these two episodes are from the same year.

    Is Act Of Love, (1978) next?

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    It is!
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator EXP: 11 Years Staff Member

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    Oh excellent concept. This is going to be fun.


    I love how it's at once both rebellious and orderly. And as far as I know it hasn't been done before, so it's pioneering, too.



    But what will it be up against, I wonder?
     
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  5. Jimmy Todd

    Jimmy Todd Soap Chat Addict EXP: 1 Year

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    Yay! I'm so excited your re-watching threads are back. I love reading them!
     
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Act of Love (DALLAS, 19 Nov 78) v. Acts of Love (KNOTS, 22 Apr 82)

    It’s harder to say which is the bigger betrayal — Sue Ellen sleeping with JR’s worst enemy or Gary sleeping with one of Val’s best friends. Gary volunteering Val to babysit Abby's kid while they’re off doing the deed probably gives him the edge.

    DALLAS has been building up to Cliff and Sue Ellen’s affair for weeks; KNOTS to Gary and Abby’s for over a year. We join Sue Ellen and Cliff six weeks into their romance. Abby and Gary spend much of this ep standing on the will-they-won’t-they precipice. When they finally jump off, it feels hugely momentous. And it is. Indeed, on both shows Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again.

    Sue Ellen and Cliff play their dalliance cool and sophisticated. “I’ve always known that however you felt about me, it would never come down to really changing your life,” says Cliff. In contrast, it’s Abby declaring how serious she is about Gary that tips the balance in their relationship from flirtation to something more: “I’ve got feelings invested in this, Gary. I’ve got feelings invested in you and I’m sick and tired of being the wicked woman and the home wrecker … It takes two people to feel like this and I’m real tired of being the only one who admits it.”

    Cliff and Sue Ellen seem like grown-ups here. They are self-aware, have a sense of perspective and can even laugh at themselves a little. It’s not like when they get back together later on and storylines dictate that if they have an impulse, they must immediately act on it.

    While the lovebirds play, the mice are away. JR is partying in Washington with a nameless blonde and Val is stranded in a roadhouse with a loveable ex-prize fighter. She gently declines his advances and ends up waiting tables. Val in full hash-slinging mode is truly impressive.

    Having just watched ‘Acceptance’ (DALLAS Season 4) where the Ewings reminisce about the good old days (“I remember Jock saying how much he loved to have his family together at dinnertime. He always insisted that we be right on time,” recalled Sue Ellen), it’s kind of ironic that four years earlier, a mere fifteen episodes after the series began, Jock was already doing the same thing. “You know, there was a time when we all sat down and enjoyed dinner as a family,” he sighs. “This family’s falling apart!”

    From a visual point of view, DALLAS has yet to settle on its house style, so the camera has greater freedom to roam around (I’m not sure how often we see the living room ceiling at Southfork after this ep) and there’s more space for the characters express themselves too. It’s hard to imagine Sue Ellen delivering a bitchy line like, “You Barneses are disgustingly poor,” as playfully as she does to Cliff here at any other point of the series.

    While Cliff and Sue Ellen quote Lewis Carroll (“Talk to me of other things” “Like cabbages and kings”), Abby goes more nursery-rhymey (“I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight”). And there’s something wistfully romantic about both relationships. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that, as much as they might want to, neither Sue Ellen nor Gary are equipped to deal with the consequences of their actions in these eps.

    Both episodes have a subplot. On DALLAS, there’s an endearingly dated work/marriage conflict for Pam to sort through. On KNOTS, Laura visits her estranged husband Richard for the first time since his breakdown — a consequence of her own work/marriage conflict.

    KNOTS ends with Lilimae letting Gary know she knows, while DALLAS concludes with a breathtaking confrontation between JR and Sue Ellen in the Southfork den. With the entire family gazing down at her from their portrait on the wall, Sue Ellen casually suggests to JR that he may not be the father of her unborn child. “I’ve been just as faithful to our marriage vows as you have, darlin’,” she assures him with mock-innocence before adding with a shrug, “Chances are it’s yours.” He strikes her hard across the face before realising just how powerless he is. Even after all these years, it’s still absolutely thrilling.

    And the winner is … Act of Love.

    BONUS BEATS

     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Adoption (DALLAS 19 Feb 82) v. After Midnight (DALLAS 09 Feb 90)

    In both episodes, Bobby is doing his best to turn fantasy into reality. In 1982, he’s trying to make Pam’s illusion that Christopher is their son (as opposed to JR and Kristin’s) come true by adopting him in secret. His main obstacle is Sue Ellen. As Kristin’s sister, he needs her legal cooperation, but she’s fallen back under JR’s spell. Therefore, the only way to make Pam’s dream come true is to shatter Sue Ellen’s by reminding her of JR’s affair with her sister. This he does and the episode ends with Sue Ellen flinging the gift of a necklace back in JR’s face. The ep is punctuated by similarly dramatic gestures: Donna punching Ray’s girlfriend Bonnie, Bonnie hurling a glass of white wine at Donna, Roger the photographer hurling a glass of red wine at Lucy's portrait — only for the camera to pull back to reveal an entire wall of photos of Lucy on his bedroom wall as “Something’s Very Wrong” music plays on the soundtrack. Adding to the brooding, menacing atmosphere is Jeff Farraday lurking in the background even as Bobby succeeds in gaining temporary custody of Christopher. Best of all is the scene where JR visits Ray, still grieving for Jock, in jail and shames him into signing over his voting shares in Ewing Oil. “You never loved him,” Ray snarls, “not the way I did. You’re a taker. You don’t have any love to give.”

    Before everything goes wrong for Sue Ellen and JR, she arrives on his arm for a family dinner at Southfork, just like "the good old days”. This is the third alphabetical episode in a row where characters have waxed nostalgic for a time when all the family used to sit down to dinner together. In 1990, the Ewing boys find different ways to turn the clock back to a simpler time. JR goes wildcatting with Blackie Callahan, an old buddy of Jock’s, while Bobby takes Jeanne, a Pam lookalike, on a hayride for an evening of square dancing. Whereas a stoical Donna stood by her cheating man in 1982, an overwrought April goes to pieces after seeing Bobby with Jeanne. Bobby too is uncharacteristically emotional. “I need to sort out my feelings … I feel like I’m losing control!” he weeps to April. “This is crazy!” he gasps before going to bed with Pam Not Pam in the final scene.

    And the winner is ... Adoption

    BONUS BEATS

     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
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  8. Michelle Stevens

    Michelle Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle' EXP: 11 Years

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    I liked Denver Pyle as Blackie Callahan in season 13. JR genuinely seems to be loyal to Blackie to the end, when he died in season 14.

    I do enjoy reading your episode summaries. :gotcha:
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Yeah, me too. It's an endearing, funny little friendship.

    Thanks!
     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Aftermath (KNOTS, 26 Nov 81) v. Aftermath (DALLAS, 05 Nov 82)

    aka 'The One After Sid Dies' versus 'The One After the Reading of Jock’s Will'

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Karen is not exactly in denial about Sid’s death, but there’s a parallel between her behaviour following his funeral and Miss Ellie’s following Jock’s helicopter crash, in that she does everything she can to avoid facing her grief. Whereas Ellie had the luxury of isolating herself out at Southfork, Karen is out in the world, trying to raise a family and run a business. There’s a rawness about the reaction to Sid’s death that wasn’t there with Jock’s — maybe that’s because they never found Jock’s body, or because DALLAS is just that bit glossier a show. But there’s a corresponding moment between this ep and Acceptance (DALLAS, Season 4) where Karen and Ellie each permit themselves a second to stroke the arm of their late husband’s jacket as it hangs in a closet before quickly bringing the emotional shutters down again.

    Every single beat of this episode of KNOTS rings emotionally true, but it’s the Fairgate kids’ fear and bewilderment as they try to adjust to their new circumstances that is the most heartbreaking. Their storyline is juxtaposed with the Wards’ excitement at the impending arrival of their new baby. Inevitably, the two stories collide as Karen picks up the baby and finally starts to sob. Instinctively, Kenny goes to take the kid from her, only ditzy-but-wise Ginger stops him. “It’s OK,” she whispers. Good for Ginger.

    The atmosphere on DALLAS is less emotional, more ominous. As the battle for control of Ewing Oil commences, metaphorical storm clouds gather, characters find themselves obliged to take sides and everyone predicts the worst: “That will’s gonna be a disaster for all Jock’s sons.” “I just don’t wanna be anywhere near this slugfest JR and Bobby are gonna have.” “I get the distinct impression there’s an army mobilising against me.” A lot of groundwork is done to make this nutty contest seem credible — the why’s and wherefores of dividing up company assets are discussed as is Jock’s reasoning behind setting up what Bobby describes as “a very peculiar situation.”

    Karen and Miss Ellie both admit to being angry at their dead husbands — Karen for the “admirable morality” that helped get Sid killed (“He had to go and do the right thing! Out of his way to help, to do his duty!”), Miss Ellie at Jock for the treatment of Gary in his will. While Karen takes her anger out on Gary when she finds him sitting behind Sid’s desk (Michele Lee doesn’t pull her punches in this scene - those are real blows she’s landing on him), Lucy is also pissed off with her father for disappearing back to his own show so quickly after the will-reading.

    And the winner is … Aftermath (KNOTS)

    BONUS BEATS

     
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  11. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 8 Years

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    This is really fun. It does remind me, I remember growing up I only watched Dallas abs Falcon Crest (saw KL commercial but couldn’t stay up that late on a school night and saw Dynasty for my grandmother when she was in the hospital, to write everything down and report back to her). So, I always wanted to see Falcon Crest join the Dallasverse. Maybe this would make a good thread on its own. Anyone else think that?

    I look forward to more of these.
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    And Away We Go! aka The One In-Between The One Where Tommy Beats Up April and The One Where the Ewings Go to Salzburg (DALLAS, 7 Apr 89)

    JR tricks genial businessman Gustav Hellstrom into believing he’s killed a stuntman in a barroom brawl in order to persuade him to hand over the inside information on Carter Mackay’s European deal. There’s an enjoyable familiarity in seeing JR set him up the way he has countless others throughout the years.

    The nostalgia continues with the return of Afton after nearly five years. She’s presented as an internationally successful singer, yet seems to be at the same level of fame that she was in Season 4, i.e., singing for middle-aged rich people in supper clubs.

    This is also the episode where Bobby and April’s romance begins in earnest. Whereas Bobby’s previous love interests (Pam, Jenna, Tracey Lawton) came laden with all kinds of historical and/or familial baggage, the idea seems to be that April’s free spirit is what attracts him to her. “I like you outrageous. It’s part of your charm,” he tells her in one scene. “You’re so honest!” he marvels in another. But if April is outrageous, it’s in a very watered down, anodyne way. When confronted by something genuinely unusual - a piece of abstract art - April makes fun of it in a smugly conservative way, and Bobby joins in. That seems to be their USP as a couple: their idea of "outrageous" is trading weak sitcom wisecracks.

    ... And Never Brought to Mind aka The One After Lilimae Runs Over Chip Outside the Police Station (KNOTS, 3 Nov 83)

    This one is nonstop action: Abby walks out on Gary. Gary sires Val’s twins. Chip slips into a coma. Lilimae is arrested. Karen bitches about Gary to her new pal Greg Sumner (“He doesn’t mean any harm — it’s only that in his wake, people lose their jobs, their marriages and their lives and he always feels guilty, but it’s never his fault”) before abdicating from her role as cul-de-sac matriarch when Val asks for help with Lilimae's disappearance (“I just don’t have anything left”). Diana rejects Karen. Karen rejects Laura. There are no certainties, there is no terra firma. And it’s only the sixth episode of the season! There’s so much going on and yet the characters are given enough space in which to exist that it still feels like they are driving the plot rather than the other way around.

    And the winner is ... ... And Never Brought to Mind.

    BONUS BEATS:

     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    And the Winner Is ... (DALLAS, 02 Mar 84) v Anniversary (DALLAS, 19 Feb 82)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And the Winner Is ...
    includes one of my favourite ever scenes from the Krebbs marriage. It might also be the most KNOTSian scene in all of DALLAS. Ray and Donna return home from Maryland, having learned about Edgar Randolph’s past during the previous episode. While Ray is appalled by what they’ve found out and refuses to discuss it, Donna alternately pleads and argues with him to show some Edgar some compassion. (Donna: “Tell me somethin’. Have you ever done anything in your life that you were ashamed of?” Ray: “Sure.” Donna: “‘Sure, sure.’ Looky here, I don’t mean just ‘sure, sure, sure,’ I mean did you ever do anything that you were really ashamed of, that nobody ever found out? … Wouldn’t you hope that I would be understanding, that I would be forgiving?”) It’s a little surprising to hear such a morally intransigent character as Donna asking for tolerance, but that's part of what's so interesting about the scene.

    Of course, it’s all tied into the offshore oil lease auction storyline where JR suckers Cliff into overbidding for Gold Canyon 340. While Edgar Randolph totally convinces as a man tormented by his own dark past, Cliff makes for an amusingly jittery nervous wreck. The scene where JR goads him into going ahead with the high-risk deal by calling his daddy a loser at the Oil Baron’s Club feels almost cartoon-like, but it works.

    Two years earlier in Anniversary, Ray gives good self-loathing after JR arranges for Donna to walk in on him and Bonnie in bed together. “She has no choice but to leave me now,” he mutters, swigging from a bottle.

    Both episodes feature an older woman/younger man scenario. In And the Winner, Peter Richards resorts to modelling sunglasses with Lucy at Southfork just to be near Sue Ellen, but she coldly rejects him. In Anniversary, Mitch refuses to sleep with Evelyn Michaelson so she invites Lucy to lunch and pretends they’re having an affair. Lucy is so upset she winds up in bed with weirdo Roger.

    In the same ep, Bobby buys Pam an aerobics business solely to distract her from Christopher’s adoption hearing. This has always felt a bit random, but it does provide a stepping stone in Pam’s evolution from a mere employee of The Store to the quasi-business executive she is when Cliff begs her to come in on the offshore deal with him two years later.

    And the winner is ... And the Winner Is ...

    BONUS BEATS:

     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
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  14. JROG

    JROG Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 14 Years

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    This really happened? My God. I thought my rewatch was something I wanted, but I see now it's needed!

    There was an opportunity here... and you took it!
     
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  15. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 1 Year

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    I've always thought the 'Edgar Randolph as poor victim' angle was odd. I was watching the dream season recently and Ray gave Jack a impassioned speech, something along the lines of "once upon a time there was this poor man Edgar Randolph, and JR destroyed him!"

    Sure, someone who did something regrettable in the past can reform and grow and change for the better, but couldn't they have chosen something a little less horrible than child molestation for the past transgression of a sympathetic character?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
  16. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Yeah, that was really F'd up. Sometimes they get really carried away with the premise: This man was a victim of JR's tactics, so naturally, that makes the man a saint! Well, that's just not so. Ray conveniently forgot to mention that "poor victim" also tried to murder JR.
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    I thought it worked very well. It needed to be something truly terrible for the plot to work, but the subject wasn't dealt with in an exploitative or titillating way. At the same time, the suffering of any of the people involved wasn't negated or swept under the carpet.

    I felt the character was more nuanced than that.

    But that would have undermined the point he was trying to make, which was that Jack should be wary of JR if there were parts of his life he wished to remain secret.
     
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  18. stevew

    stevew Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 8 Years

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    On a related note, I always thought a missed opportunity that they didn’t to a crossover plot to bring Falcon Crest into the Dallas universe.
     
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  19. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 1 Year

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    I guess my issue with the character is that it seemed to be played over time like we as an audience were supposed to be unambiguously sympathetic, essentially going along with Ray's journey from repulsion and anger to acceptance and sympathy, but especially after seeing how traumatized the mother of the victim still was, and realizing the whole thing had been swept under the rug all those years ago, my reaction was often more along the lines of "f*ck that guy!"

    We're still talking about him today, so the character was definitely effective!
     
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  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Anniversary Waltz (DALLAS, 22 Jan 88) v Another Modest Proposal (KNOTS, 21 Jan 88)

    While Miss Ellie throws Clayton a surprise anniversary party at Southfork, Jill Bennett throws a surprise birthday party for Gary at Lotus Point. (These episodes originally aired on consecutive days, which means that Ellie married her second husband the day after her favourite son's birthday.) Both end badly, with Bobby attempting to drown JR in the pool and Gary missing a second party organised by Val and the twins. The latter leads to a fantastically bitter argument between Gary and Val over which of them is the flakiest. (“You’re the most undependable person that I’ve ever known!” “This is the uncleanest breakup in the history of marriage!”)

    This episode of KNOTS also includes the early stages of two storylines which will have ramifications for years to come: Greg and Paige’s relationship and the Mackenzies’ adoption of Meg. The two stories intersect as Paige is the only one who knows that Greg hasn’t really left town when he asks Karen and Mack to look after Meg.

    Less interesting is Abby playing the other woman in Charles and Judith Scott’s marriage. Michael York delivers his many declarations of love to Abby with a kind of “inverted commas” irony, as if he were warming up to his role in Austin Powers, whereas Donna Mills plays the whole relationship with total sincerity. The two performances don’t quite match up, making it hard to believe that, of all men, this is the one who got under Abby’s skin.

    Kimberly Cryder and JR’s affair on DALLAS is much more fun. There’s a fab scene where she marches his office and demands he leaves Sue Ellen immediately. He gets rough, grabbing her by her hair and telling her she can’t twist him around her finger the way she does her father and husband, before kissing her hard. This gets her all excited, but then he walks out abruptly, leaving her high and dry. Five screen minutes later, Bobby’s holding his head under the water, calling him a son of a bitch and telling him he doesn’t deserve to live.

    And the winner is … Anniversary Waltz

    BONUS BEATS:

     
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