This week on TNT’s Dallas, the late and very great J.R. Ewing was paid his final respects, as many tears flowed. But it was what happened in the closing minutes that roused longtime fans from their somber mood and raised a big ol’ question:
Is Pamela Barnes Ewing really alive?!
The hour opened in Mexico, where J.R.’s body, felled by bullets, had inexplicably been found in a hotel room. And though the local police were quick to pass it off as a random crime, nothing added up for Bobby, John Ross et al. Why would J.R. claim he was in Abu Dhabi? And if he was in Mexico, what would possibly bring him to a seedy flophouse? (And don’t tell us it was some comely local girl!)
While that shred of a murder mystery simmered, time was made for J.R. to be remembered by friends and family, from near and far, including several returning cast members from the original CBS series. At the funeral itself, moving eulogies were shared, but perhaps none more gut-punching that those delivered by Sue Ellen, who declared J.R. the love of her life, and his brother Bobby.
In fact, so devastated by the loss was Sue Ellen that prior to the service, she just barely — and then totally — tumbled off the wagon, sloshing back J.R.’s fine bourbon.
Just as J.R. was laid to rest, Bobby, John Ross and Christopher were paid a visit by his go-to snoop. Bum came bearing a box full of intel, pieces of what J.R. was calling his “masterpiece.” And first among them was a file showing that J.R. was in Mexico following the trail of… Christopher’s mother and Bobby’s ex, Pam.
Is Pam alive in the TNT series’ continuity? Exec producer Cynthia Cidre concedes that “the mythology is torn” when it comes to the character created by Victoria Principal.
“The last time she was seen, which I believe is Episode 282 of Dallas 1.0, she had hit an oil tanker and the car exploded, and she was burnt,” Cidre recalls. “The last time Bobby saw her she was wrapped head-to-toe in bandages, and then she ran away. Several months later, there was one scene where she asked Cliff, her brother, to come see her in a hotel room, and she was with a plastic surgeon who had made her presentable. Cliff says, ‘Don’t you want to come back to Dallas?’ She said, ‘No, I don’t.”
What that “new” Pam — played the one time only by Margaret Michaels — was hiding was that she only had months to live, and as such didn’t wish her loved ones to “lose her again.”
Bringing back Pam with a new face would certainly rock the worlds of both Christopher and Bobby and solve the issue of Victoria Principal’s steadfast refusal to reprise the role. In a statement issued this month to our sister site Deadline, the actress said:
Since the inception of Dallas, the creators and fans around the world have referred to Bobby and Pam as the Romeo and Juliet of Dallas. I could not agree more. And since the original author of this scenario, William Shakespeare, felt compelled to make theirs a tragic love story, of epic and unforgettable deathly loss, I think I shall respect that very successful example and leave the legacy of Bobby and Pam’s tragic love story undisturbed and intact. When I filmed Pam’s fatal car accident, for me that was the punctuation mark on my role as Pam. I cannot be held responsible for any choices made by producers, once I left Dallas, but I do take responsibility for my decision, not to risk tarnishing Bobby and Pam’s love story with a desperate reappearance.
Asked by TVLine about that proclamation, Cidre shrugs, “Well, we’re not in control of Victoria Principal’s statements, and let’s just say that we have had a plan for this character from the beginning, actually before Larry [Hagman]’s passing.
“We were always going to have Christopher go looking for his mother,” the EP continued, “and I can’t reveal to you how it turns out, but I think it’s pretty clever!”
Would you welcome Pam back, with a new face? If so, any casting suggestions?