Dallas review – 1×08: ‘No Good Deed’

Courtesy of TNT

In the wake of last week’s arrest of John Ross (Josh Henderson), the Ewings scramble to work their respective magic and get him out. Except of course Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo)…because they’re useless.

Let’s bitch it out…As speculated last week, all it takes is a videotape to make John Ross’ “Marta Del Sol” woes disappear, but – of course – that’s the one thing missing from the dead woman’s crime scene. Where would the drama be if we didn’t send a Ewing to jail and beat the crap out of him? Ah yes…rich white boys sent to prison and ending up on the receiving end of a smackdown. Didn’t we already see this once this year? Oh, right, this would be an identical plotline to Revenge 1×17 ‘Doubt’. Ah well. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So how does the prison drama fare? Overall it’s acceptable considering that it’s little more than a formality. The bigger issue is that there are no stakes involved: it’s clear that John Ross isn’t going to spend the rest of the series languishing in jail, but even for Dallas the effect of his short-term prison sentence is insane. That Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) would have a change of heart about the importance of family and decide to sell away the South American rights to his blah blah hydrates project is ludicrous. I’m sure we’re meant to associate his attitudinal shift to the recent news that Rebecca is expecting twins, but this is unearned. There’s no emotional depth to support that idea and Metcalfe’s performance remains so wooden that any kind of reading into Christopher’s psyche remain speculative.

On the plus side, the entire sordid affair with Vicente (Carlos Bernard) is now out in the open. The exposure gives Bobby (Patrick Duffy) a few threatening / angry scenes and provides the series with an easy scapegoat to use in the upcoming fraud case against JR (Larry Hagman). On the whole, though, a lot of these developments feel as though they’re meant to be shocking and instead they merely feel half-baked. Dallas remains a silly guilty pleasure, but it could a greater soap if they simply allow the characters some legitimate development instead of sacrificing them to the gods of oil and hydrates.

Courtesy of TNT

Other Observations:

  • Why does everyone continue to refer to Veronica (Leonor Varela) as Marta Del Sol, including the arresting police officer?! Admittedly the false name is significantly more memorable, but that doesn’t mean everyone would continue to use it
  • One other minor positive element of the John Ross storyline: Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) wades into murky political waters when things get dire by bribing a coroner to get her son out of a murder conviction. Unfortunately this is executed in the most laughable manner. Are we really meant to believe Sue Ellen actually knows every Tom, Dick and Harry city coroner?
  • My favorite part of these interactions? When John Ross naively tells his mother that he wants to keep her out his problems because it could harm her political career. Ha! If this were anywhere near reality, this story would be splashed over every headline and Sue Ellen would be raked over hot coals by her opponents in all kinds of attack ads. But it’s sweet that Dallas‘ dumbest molest-ache wants to protect his powerful mommy
  • Easily the worst parts of all of this are the scenes in which Ann (Brenda Strong) comforts Sue Ellen by reassuring her that ‘crossing dangerous lines’ simply means that she’s a “mother.” Ugh. Not only is this meant to remind us of the secret baby pictures that Bobby burned last week, but we’re meant to accept that being a mother condones blackmailing and dirty promises. Sorry – not buying it
  • During all of this prison drama, Elena breaks down and finally eats a grape and a cube of cheese. Nah, I’m just kidding – she still looks like she’s about to keel over and die of starvation, but considering they don’t give her anything to do on the show, I figured the least I could do is give her a shout-out.
  • JR shows up for a quickie visit in the middle of the night after John Ross’ beating, but no one witnesses it except for the bloodied inmate. Apparently in addition to having magnificently glorious eyebrows, JR is like Keyser Soze: just like that and – puff – he’s gone. No, but seriously, stop stalling and show us the juicy showdown between JR and Cliff!
  • Last week we talked about the show’s ‘women problem’ so can we begin to discuss its ‘race problems’? Not only is everyone except useless Elena white, but the show positions all minorities in the role of criminals and convicts. Oh sure, it may just be Sue Ellen – the potential Governor – who’s racist with lines about ‘Latino gangs’ but when are we going to see a positive depiction of people of colour? And no, Elena’s servant mother doesn’t count
  • Finally, there’s the ‘cliffhanger’ (I’m using this term very lightly) that Rebecca and Tommy (Callard Harris) are not brother and sister and instead are – *gasp* clutches pearls – lovers??? Booooring. It’d have been much more interesting if they actually were brother and sister, and intimate. That would have been daring.

Best Lines:

  • JR (plucking fruit from his drink): “What the hell is that?”

So that’s the very brief “prison episode” of Dallas. What did you think? Were you surprised to see things resolved so quickly? Do you care at all about any of Ann’s baby-mama drama (or Rebecca’s for that matter)? And what will come out first: the not-incest affair, the Ann-baby story or the JR-Cliff showdown? Sound off below

Dallas airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on TNT

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

3 thoughts on “Dallas review – 1×08: ‘No Good Deed’

  1. Interesting take. What would be a total strain is if Rebecca turned out to be Ann’s daughter. Ugh! The main reason I’m thinking she’s Cliff’s kid is because I don’t see any other reason to name her Rebecca, Cliff’s mother’s name and daughter’s middle name. Anyhow, even when Christopher finds out she does have more secrets, she’ll still be the mom of Christopher’s babies — reason enough to keep her on the show even when Christopher can’t get over Elena and John Ross inevitably loses her trust — so hopefully they won’t go there with the Ann angle.

    Thanks for comment on our review on Fikkle Fame

  2. yeah, well, if she is Ann’s daughter, she’s probably still Cliff’s kid by reason of the one-night stand back in the day. But it is Afton’s daughter by Cliff whose middle name is Rebecca. Unless they are gonna come up with some b.s. about Afton losing her daughter and taking Ann’s (like Christopher’s real mother lost J.R.’s baby and got pregnant soon enough to be able to make J.R. think Christopher was his) Ay yi yi!

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