Last night television laid to rest probably thee best “bad guy” in history. With the death of Larry Hagman late last year, while still shooting this season of Dallas, the writers, actors and producers were faced with the challenge of writing the last chapter of one of the most iconic TV characters of all time. I used to watch the original incarnation of this show every Friday night for as long as I could remember. And the stand out on that show was and will always be Larry Hagman’s superb portrayal of the downright despicable yet lovable J.R.
J.R. Ewing was the man everyone loved to hate and women just wanted to be with. Money, power and the air of bad boy about him was a natural aphrodisiac. The man was intoxicating. If you noticed J.R. almost always wore a grey cowboy hat. If you subscribe to the theory good guys always wear white hats and bad guys always wear black, it really was fitting J.R.’s hat of choice was grey. He always rode that line between good and evil. Love him or hate him, J.R. always found a way to get the job done. And the folks who are now working on Dallas got the job done last night. It all started with this beautiful alternate opening sequence for the show.
From there the writing was good but the performances were better. The first moment that caught me was by Josh Henderson who plays John Ross Ewing, J.R.’s son. When everyone went to see the body to make sure that it truly was J.R. who had died, because let’s face it, it wouldn’t be past that character to fake his own death. When they revealed the body they did cutaways to everyone there, and the pure look of sadness that came across Josh Henderson’s face was fantastic. It was like someone really punched him in the stomach.
Of course a J.R. Ewing wake/funeral wouldn’t be complete without some controversy. In the back of my head the whole episode I kept thinking “It would only be fitting if a fist fight broke out at J.R.’s wake. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.’ Ask and ye shall receive. Between the fist fight and the classic Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings music playing in the background, it was a perfect memorial. Even the real life Dallas billionaires showed up; Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. Can’t forget his honor, the actual Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, paid his respects as well.
The graveside memorial was every bit as touching as to be expected when dealing with the death of an icon like Mr. Ewing. Yet people still didn’t pull any punches when describing their interaction with him; J.R. wouldn’t want it any other way. It was heartfelt and respectful of this icon.
The title of the episode was ‘J.R.’s Masterpiece’. Only a man like J.R. Ewing could still control the outcome of life after his death. Bum (Played very well by the talented Kevin Page) long time snoop for J.R., shows up to reveal what the man had in the works and why he was found dead in Mexico. Not all has been revealed but I believe the Ewing boys will get a chance to exact revenge on the person who killed J.R. They will avenge his death.
And I believe John Ross is going to step up and fill his father’s hat. I can see it now; John Ross puts on his daddy’s cowboy hat after Christopher has just been talking to him, Christopher says “John Ross, you have…”
John Ross cuts him off mid-sentence and says coolly “Call me J.R.” then walks out the door.
Rest well Larry Hagman. For now your legacy has been taken care of here on this mortal coil.