Friday Night: Three hours to DALLAS!

For no real reason other than I need a blog post (and I’m waiting for The Wife to get ready so we can go out to dinner), here’s a memorable clip from the finale of the sixth season of Dallas.

When I was a kid, I loved Dallas. That show was golden–at least for several seasons; later on it started getting a bit cornier and even slapsticky (there was even an episode where JR got hit with a pie!). Early on, though, it was a blast, even if I think the delightful portrayal of someone as awful as JR on a huge hit show helped pave the way for where we are today.

Anyway, in this clip, JR’s plan to get even with Cliff Barnes has almost come to fruition. What happened was this: Cliff was blackmailing JR’s secretary for inside info that allowed him to beat JR to the punch on several deals. JR found out and rather than firing the secretary, used her to feed him information that he wanted. JR manipulated Cliff into overextending his company to purchase offshore drilling leases, and then JR continued to manipulate things so Cliff’s company, Barnes-Wentworth, was nearly beankrupt*. Cliff went to a shady banker for last-minute capital, a guy named Vaughn Leland, but guess what! JR was behind that, too! Adding to injury, JR paid off Cliff’s drilling crew in the Gulf of Mexico to pretend to drill but never actually strike oil, so now Cliff’s time is running out.

That’s where this scene happens, and it’s really a well-done scene, with Larry Hagman delivering some of his best work as the sociopathic oil millionaire. Hagman and Ken Kercheval, who played Cliff, always bounced off each other so very well! Anyway, this scene is a perfect illustration of 80s soap-opera villainy.

Oh, what happened after this? Well, in this episode a whole lot of people are established as having reason to hate hate HATE JR, and in the end an unseen person with a gun goes to Ewing Oil and fires three bullets into JR’s chair…but it’s Bobby who falls to the floor, fate unknown. Oh NO! (It would turn out to be Bobby’s spurned would-be lover, Katherine Wentworth, who shot Bobby, and she meant to kill him all along; JR was never her target. As for Cliff’s company, a scene a few minutes after this one has Vaughn Leland returning to Barnes-Wentworth to foreclose, but not before the new foreman Cliff hired, in a Hail-Mary attempt to strike oil in the Gulf earlier in the episode, calls with the news that he has indeed struck oil. When the next season started, Cliff was rolling in money.

* Obviously a typo that should be “bankrupt”, but I’m leaving it in because “beankrupt” amuses me. It’s like a fictional German word.

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