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JR And Bobby's Rivalry

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, May 22, 2020.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    JR and Bobby had a very interesting rivalry because although neither wanted to admit it, they needed each other. Jock knew this when he wrote the letter explaining that he didn't care which one of them won the contest; his intent was to make each respect the other's abilities and to realize that working together they could take Ewing Oil to far greater heights than either of them ever could alone.

    This was a unique concept for a TV show because the conflict wasn't delineated into the typical good against bad scenario TV shows usually created. This becomes apparent when the show features so much conflict between Cliff and JR. There isn't much point in a story of a bad guy fighting a bad guy. That wouldn't get an audience! Also, with Bobby and JR the objective wasn't for one to conquer the other because for one thing they were brothers and also they would have been much worse off separately than together. They had to learn how to co-exist and work together so that they could utilize each one's unique abilities to their fullest.

    Each one thought he had what it took to run Ewing Oil by himself, like Jock had done, but neither of them were like Jock. JR didn't have Jock's understanding of the importance of integrity. Bobby liked the oil business but he didn't love it like Jock and JR did. There is a scene where Sue Ellen describes Bobby's weaknesses to him quite well. This was in early season four in what may be the greatest Dallas episode ever: Executive Wife. They have this conversation:

    Sue Ellen: Well, you're keeping banker's hours aren't you?

    Bobby: No, I just thought I'd get home before dinner one time this week.

    Sue Ellen: Well, it's difficult running a company like Ewing Oil. As JR knows, you can't really call your soul your own.

    Bobby: I think I can Sue Ellen. Besides, it's not my soul I'm worried about; it's the company.

    Sue Ellen: Really? Well what's the problem?

    Bobby: No problem. I just want to make sure Ewing Oil plays by the rules and nobody gets hurt.

    Sue Ellen: Rules...JR always says that when it comes to power, there are no rules.

    Bobby: Well, that's where my brother and I part company. I don't want power for power's sake.

    Sue Ellen: Don't worry about it Bobby. You'll never get it.

    Bobby: And what makes you so sure, Sue Ellen?

    Sue Ellen: (she smiles) It's all a game, Bobby. You have to love it to play it well.

    Bobby: Making a study of power, are you?

    Sue Ellen: Don't you forget who I've been married to for the last ten years. He understands power. He controls and manipulates. He makes people afraid. He's a natural born fighter. The best.

    Bobby: And me?

    Sue Ellen: (smiles again) You are JR's little brother.

    This was one of Linda Gray's finest performance in Dallas. Patrick Duffy does a fine job as well. This took place during the time when Bobby had decided to go back on his promise to just help run Ewing for a little while, only until JR recuperated. Miss Ellie was terrified that Bobby would leave Southfork and she told Jock to do whatever it took to keep Bobby from leaving. She told Jock if Bobby left, she'd never forgive Jock. Bobby used that to his advantage by threatening to move to California if Jock didn't let him get his way. This put Bobby in a position where whether he knew it or not, he was having to change the ideals he claimed to stand for in order to get power and keep it. He used his brother having been shot to get power. He used his threat to leave as emotional extortion to be able to keep running Ewing Oil. He was spending so much time working that he was neglecting Pamela and she resented Bobby for it. Their marriage was in trouble. Running Ewing Oil was coming at a high price for Bobby.

    Bobby didn't seem to understand that he was behaving in a way that bothered the people who loved him and as is evident in his conversation with Sue Ellen, he still has a very idealistic view of himself and of the world in general. He wants to "make sure Ewing Oil plays by the rules and nobody gets hurt" but his family is already hurting as a result of his actions.

    This idealistic view he has of the business world, that if he just acts like a nice guy and plays by the rules then everybody will be nice to him in return, Ewing Oil will prosper and nobody will get hurt is too naive. It's good that he wants to have integrity and establish a good reputation but he doesn't understand that there are situations where that approach doesn't work. It's best exemplified in his relationship with Cliff Barnes. In "Whatever Happened To Baby John? Part 1" Cliff and Bobby have this conversation in front of the hospital:

    Bobby: What are you doing here?

    Cliff: I'm going inside to see my son.

    Bobby: I told you to stay away from Sue Ellen and the baby.

    Cliff: Do you plan to start a brawl right here in front of the hospital?

    Bobby: If I have to, yeah.

    Cliff: Just butt out Bobby; it's none of your business. It's between Sue Ellen and me.

    Bobby: Maybe it used to be but not anymore, and I'm not gonna sit around and let you cause trouble.

    Cliff: How do you intend to stop it? That child in there is mine.

    Bobby: You really don't care how many lives you destroy, do ya, as long as you get what ya want?

    Cliff: How many Ewing lives? No. No, I really don't.

    This is the type of man Bobby doesn't know how to handle. Bobby's idealistic view the world doesn't allow him to see that being nice to Cliff so Cliff will be nice to him, since people are basically good, doesn't apply here.

    Bobby really needs JR to be able to deal with this type of person effectively because JR is willing to do what is necessary and Bobby is not. Bobby does threaten Cliff. He threatens him countless times but his word is no good: Bobby never follows through on his threats to Cliff and Cliff picks up on the fact that Bobby's words are just a bluff. Here is a man who wants more than anything in the world to hurt the Ewing family and Bobby can't deal effectively with that type of threat. JR can and will deal effectively with that type of threat and that's one of the main reasons Bobby needs JR.

    Jock had what it takes to deal with that type of a threat and it's one of the reasons he was able to run Ewing Oil successfully. Jock had Bobby's ability to treat people well when they deserved it and he had JR's ability to treat people the way they deserved to be treated when they couldn't be reasoned with and presented a threat. Bobby wanted to be nice to everyone which doesn't work and JR had the opposite problem. Bobby and JR were at the opposite ends of a spectrum in which Jock is at the middle. Jock wasn't idealistic and naive like Bobby and he wasn't unnecessarily ruthless and without subtlety like JR. Jock tried to teach JR the importance of subtlety but JR wasn't teachable in that area. JR's lack of subtlety extends to his inability to accurately assess risk.

    JR needs Bobby because JR takes ridiculous risks and he needs someone more conservative to reign him in and say: "This deal is too big of a risk for us to take." Jock knew when a risk was too big to take which is another reason he could effectively run Ewing Oil alone.

    JR needs Bobby to be able to help him when sometimes his plans backfire. By the later years of the series when Bobby had already done this more times than he should have had to he said to JR: "I'm sick of having to pull your fat out of the fire"!

    Ideally JR and Bobby would have recognized each other's strengths and delegated to each other the tasks that best suited their own unique abilities. Ideally they would have learned from each other what they hadn't already learned from Jock, whether it was because he died before he could finish or because there were some things that each of them weren't able to learn.

    JR wasn't able to learn the importance of integrity and subtlety any more than Bobby was able to learn to love the business as much as Jock and JR did, or to learn how to deal with the type of person who could not be reasoned with: the enemy who is out to steal, to hurt, and to destroy.

    JR and Bobby's rivalry is the end result of two distinctly different personalities clashing with each other. Each brother takes what he has learned best from their father, with each of those sons having learned skill sets from opposite ends of the spectrum of their father's approach to business. Bobby and JR's rivalry pushed each of them to develop his own unique abilities to their fullest because that's the nature of competition: It provides the incentive to put forth a one hundred percent effort. Competition motivates people; it prevents complacency. Why run if nobody's chasing you?
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    If not the greatest episode title.
    Ha! Gleeful bitch.
     
  3. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    This scene perfectly explains the relationship between Bobby and J.R. If you ask the cartel or the bankers, "Who is Bobby Ewing?" they would probably respond, "He is J.R.'s little brother."

    This makes the battle for Ewing Oil interesting to watch. Bobby starts out believing that it IS good against bad. Honest, upfront dealing against underhanded scheming. It is interesting to watch Bobby as he realizes that the world isn't so black and white. If you're the only one playing by the rules then what do the rules really mean, anyway?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  4. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    Did any body else, when reading the conversation between Sue Ellen and Bobby, perfectly imagine Linda Gray delivering those lines?

    She was perfect for the role.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  5. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    That's an excellent observation. The oil industry is so cutthroat as depicted in Dallas that following the "rules" in the oil business would be like following boxing rules in a barroom brawl! Not that someone like Bobby couldn't ever follow the rules, like when dealing with ethical guys like the Canadians. He could and did then. But being unwilling to break any rules at all in the contest with JR would have assured Bobby of losing.

    I remember when the range war with McKay took place Bobby and Clayton were against bringing in armed men. Miss Ellie said she agreed with JR, who had suggested they bring them in, and so they went with bringing armed men to guard Southfork. That made it possible to deal with McKay's men effectively. When competing against a guy like Carter McKay they couldn't afford to be nice guys.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020 at 4:17 AM
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  6. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    It was great to see Bobby and J.R. working together during those episodes.

    The Carter McKay storyline was worth watching just for the sting at the end.

    We need to remember that George Kennedy was a highly skilled and highly paid actor who came out of retirement to play Carter McKay.

    You can see his acting chops on display in "The Sting". He gets a confused look on his face while looking at the contract, and then the confused look slowly and deliberately transforms into a proud smile as the audience realizes what he has pulled off.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  7. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I didn't know that George Kennedy had come out of retirement to play that role! I knew he was a well known actor and had some impressive movies on his resume. I think he was in Cool Hand Luke and in The Dirty Dozen to name a couple famous ones. He was in The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood. I have that on DVD. The Eiger is one of the most difficult and dangerous climbs in the Alps.

    The sting has one of my favorite scenes in the whole series! It's one of those scenes I remember loving the first time I ever saw it. It was such a great, fun surprise. I remember thinking "I can't believe they finally got him"!
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  8. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 11 Years

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    It was great during the original run! It was such a surprise.

    Even rewatching and knowing what will happen, it's fun to watch how they carefully did the build up, dropping little breadcrumbs along the way.

    If I remember right, George Kennedy retired from doing television. The schedule was too much work and his body was sore from getting beat up in his earlier roles.

    But this was a fun storyline and he decided to do it.

    He was retired from television but still did movies. You'll notice that around this time he specifically took on more comedic and fun roles, such as The Naked Gun.

    If you watch him in Dallas, you can tell he's enjoying the role.
     
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