‘Dallas’: J.R.’s Guide To Life, Love and Oil — Chapter Two

Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing in Dallas (Zade Rosenthal/TNT)

When life hands you a challenge, just ask yourself WWJRD? — What Would J.R. Do? The octogenarian oil baron with the ten foot long eyebrows has the answer. He can torpedo a business deal, manipulate four different family members four different ways and smite an old enemy before breakfast. In the second week of “Dallas“, J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) surpassed “Mad Men’s” Roger Sterling as the most quotable character on television. Roger might disagree, but if he did, J.R. would just buy Sterling-Cooper-Draper out from under him. Study and memorize the top five pieces of wisdom that the Oracle of “Dallas” dropped this week.

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“I loved my Daddy. I respected my Daddy. But most important, I feared my Daddy.”J.R. to John Ross

J.R. shared this tender memory with John Ross (Josh Henderson) while shaving his neck with a straight razor blade, because he knows that it’s always best to let your son know that you have the power to slit his throat when you inform him that you are aware he is double crossing you. Last week, you will recall, J.R. learned that the woman he thought worked for a nature conservancy that wanted to buy Southfork was an imposter who was working with John Ross. Fortunately, because J.R. values ruthlessness, he follows up his implied threat with an offer to make up for years of absentee parenting by teaching him everything he knows. Then father and son hugged it out Ewing style.

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“The best way to understand a man is to talk to his friends and his enemies. My friends are in the statehouse. My enemies are going to be harder to find.”J.R. to Vicente Cano

About thirty seconds after John Ross introduced his father to Vicente (Carlos Bernard,24“) the Venezuelan oil executive that is actually going to purchase Southfork, J.R. told him that he would be getting a smaller portion of the profits from Southfork’s future oil wells than had previously been negotiated. When Vicente initially balked, claiming that he did not know J.R., J.R. encouraged him to do a little research, pointing out that he always destroys people who get on his bad side. Vicente promptly agreed to J.R.’s terms.

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“Time has not been kind to that face. But I do recall the smell of brimstone and crazy… I’ll be there when they put you in the ground, Barnes. Listen close. I’ll be the one dancing on the dirt overhead.” – J.R to Cliff Barnes

What do you do when you run into your mortal enemy that you have not seen in decades? Do you attempt to hash out old grievances and declare a ceasefire? Or simply  agree to let bygones be bygones? No, only wimps get over grudges. Instead, follow this simple two step plan as demonstrated by J.R. in his encounter with Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval). First, insult his appearance and grooming habits. Then promise him that you will celebrate his eventual death. This system works equally well with former coworkers who got that promotion that you deserved and the people who bullied you in high school.

“Bullets don’t seem to have much of an effect on me darlin’.” – J.R. to Ann

This may be the best callback in the history of television. Thirty two years after the world spent the summer wondering, “Who shot J.R.?” the man slyly references the incident. It also demonstrates a fundamental principle of The Art of War: Ewing Edition: when you’re caught redhanded, never let your opponent see you sweat. Ann (Brenda Strong) heard a noise in the storeroom near the barn, and marched in, with her rifle cocked. She found J.R. looking at family mementos. He showed her some old photos of Bobby and Miss Ellie, even though he was plotting to give information about Miss Ellie’s deep, dark secrets to John Ross so the chip off the old block could blackmail Bobbie into selling Southfork. That’s chutzpah.

“I’m going to tell you the truest thing my Daddy ever told me. Nobody ever gives you power. Real power is something you take.” – J.R. to John Ross 

This is the Dallas” equivalent of those heartwarming scenes on “Modern Family” when Phil tells his kids how much he loves them. J.R. hands John Ross the files on Miss Ellie, and tells him that threatening to destroy his saintly dead grandmother’s reputation will prove that he is truly J.R.’s son. John Ross happily takes his advice to heart, and puts the screws to Bobby. It works, and the good Ewing brother agrees to sell Southfork. Then John Ross really takes his Daddy’s advice to heart, photographing Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) kissing Elena (Jordanna Brewster) and learning from a private investigator that Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) wrote the forged email that made it look like Christopher dumped Elena.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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