The Block Party (KNOTS, 30 Dec 82) v Blocked (DALLAS, 20 Nov 81) In these two episodes, Karen and JR are, in very different ways, each attempting to turn the clock back to a more rose-tinted, harmonious time. “Kind of hard to recognise the neighbourhood,” Karen remarks on KNOTS. “That’s why I wanted to give this block party … for us to all get together as a community, a neighbourhood.” “When you get home, John Ross’ll be here and we’ll all be one big happy family again,” JR assures Jock when he calls from South America, as he explains his scheme for pressuring the Farlows into evicting Sue Ellen and John Ross from the Southern Cross. Block Party has a similar vibe to the first Barbecue on DALLAS, with all the cul-de-sac residents involved in setting up the party and the arrival of a significant character’s father. Then it was Digger Barnes, now it’s Pete Mackenzie. He and Mack are so utterly convincing as father and son you don’t even notice how good they are. Theirs is a fascinatingly uneasy relationship — for all the joshing and backslapping, there’s an underlying tension which means you’re just waiting for it all to turn sour. “I used to knock you around,” Pete admits after a few drinks. “Big deal, didn’t hurt that much,” shrugs Mack. There’s a direct line between Mack's reply and the moment eight years later where he tells Jason Lochner, “It’s hard for me to say out loud that he abused me and it was wrong, and he was wrong.” Mack is touched that his father wants to make up for the past, but it turns out he has an ulterior motive. Like Miss Ellie’s long lost brother Garrison in Home Again (DALLAS Season 1), Pete is terminally ill. More pertinently, he wants Mack to help him die. Mack is hurt and reacts angrily. It’s only been three weeks since The Best Kept Secret (aka The One Where Karen Finds Out Mack’s Been Sleeping With The Woman Down The Hall) and this ep seems partially designed to show Mack (who is, of course, being groomed as St Sid’s replacement) in a more sympathetic, vulnerable light. Just as the focus in The Block Party is on the future Sid, it becomes apparent during Blocked that JR’s real adversary at the Southern Cross isn’t Sue Ellen or even Dusty, but the future Jock. It’s still early days for Clayton — he and Ellie won’t be on first name terms for another year — but when he and JR come face to face at the end of the episode, he cuts an impressive figure. He remains calm and unruffled by JR’s threats and ultimatums, and he gets the last word: “By the time your Daddy gets back from South America, there just might not be a Ewing Oil.” Cool and collected Clayton is everything in the final scene of Blocked that Mack isn’t during the final scene of The Block Party where he and Pete have a messy, emotional reconciliation and end up doing a jig together. We don’t hear what happens to Pete after this ep, just as we didn’t Garrison after Home Again, and KNOTS won’t return to the subject of euthanasia until Alex Barth shows up to blackmail Claudia Whittaker in Season 12. The Ewingverse’s two songbirds, Cathy and Afton, sing two songs apiece in these eps. While Chip urges Ciji to sign 25% of her earnings over to him, JR tries to strong-arm Afton into sleeping with Vaughn Leland, and both seem powerless to resist. Elsewhere on DALLAS, Bobby is worried that Pam is headed for “a full-blown psychotic depression” and tells Miss Ellie that adoption might be the only solution. Mama is a lot more circumspect about the subject here than she was in Black Market Baby. “If a child can help your marriage, you do what you have to,” she recklessly advised Sue Ellen back then. “Do you think that Pam’s well enough to care for a baby?” she asks Bobby more warily now. And the winner is ... The Block Party BONUS BEATS: This is the first time I've watched New DALLAS since it ended so it's almost like watching a brand new show.