Dallas: Season 3, Episode 25

A House Divided (21 Mar. 1980)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
8.4
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J.R.'s friends, family, and business associates have had enough of his dirty dealings, and many of them vow revenge. Bobby is especially angry as he and Pam leave Southfork.

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Title: A House Divided (21 Mar 1980)

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Cast

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Ray Krebbs (credit only)
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Randy Powell ...
Alan Beam (as Randolph Powell)
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Ron Hayes ...
Hank Johnson
Jeff Cooper ...
Christopher Coffey ...
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Storyline

J.R.'s friends, family, and business associates have had enough of his dirty dealings, and many of them vow revenge. Bobby is especially angry as he and Pam leave Southfork.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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cliffhanger | See All (1) »

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Drama

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21 March 1980 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title comes from the gospel of Mark and was used by Abraham Lincoln describing a country that is half free and half slave. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." See more »

Goofs

When Alan pulls away from Harry in J.R.'s office, the camera visibly shakes. See more »

Quotes

Sue Ellen Ewing: [talking to Dr. Ellby about J.R] Don't you see? He's gotta be stopped. He's gonna teach my son to be just like he is and it's gonna go on and on and on!
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Connections

Edited into Bring Back... Dallas (2007) See more »

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"Take A Number. There Are A Few Of Us Ahead Of You. "
28 February 2015 | by (Fredericksburg, VA) – See all my reviews

So answers political fixer Alan Beam (Randolph Powell) to Kristen Shepard (Mary Crosby) regarding exacting revenge on the greedy, egocentric oil businessman J.R. Ewing (a clean-cut Larry Hagman, amidst other actor's 80's hairstyles of the day) that William K. Stevens of The New York Times described as "the nastiest man on television, the Iago of Texas oilmen, the smiling snake of a star of Friday night TV's Dallas, a man so venal, so low, so mean, so diabolical that he has become an absolute delight to an estimated quarter of a billion viewers around the globe." With a heart the color of the Texas tea he holds dear, he had become to be known, despite a neat appearance, as greasy and watery as they come for an American TV drama set in Texas...just a rich man's son spoiled rotten.

Directed by Irving J. Moore and written by Rena Down, the twenty- fifth and final episode of the third season of 'Dallas' aired on March 21, 1980, spawning an eight-month whodunnit hysteria of "Who Shot J.R.?" due to its POV shot of the assassin in the last scene in which the fictional Texan miser is fatally gunned down upon working late in his office, only emerging upon hearing the off-screen killer outside. And, of course, the assailant would not be revealed or the murder mystery resolved until the fourth episode of the next season, entitled "Who Done It", which continues to be the second most-watched episode in television history. The eponymous episode, named after the biblical passage of Mark 3:25, and cited by President Lincoln describing a half free and half slave America at the time, reveals that the nationalization of Asian fields has caused financial ruin, affecting the cartel members of J.R. Ewing's banker, leading to the suicide of one cartel member in particular named Seth Stone (Buck Young). J.R. plans to run Kristen, also his ex-mistress and sister of his wife, and Alan out of town as they both plot their revenge against him due to his dirty dealings. He also plans to move his spouse Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) back into a sanitarium, threatening to re-institutionalize her for alcoholism. J.R., breaking his promise to marry Kristen and giving her twenty-four hours to leave town, had also framed her for prostitution in response to some business pressure she had put upon him. Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), after realizing Jock Ewing (Jim Davis) and Digger Barnes (Keenan Wynn) had sought revenge on J.R. based on an agreement, J.R. has the fields stopped up of their flow to keep Cliff from earning any royalties. J.R.'s rival and mild-mannered brother Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and wife Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal) are fed up and disgusted with J.R.'s poor life choices and plan to move out of Southfork altogether. In the end, J.R. gets his comeuppance, and it was not until the summer of that year was over until the murderer was finally revealed on November 21, due to all of his enemies of whom could of been responsible and all the suspense and anticipation of whom it could possibly be.

"A House Divided" served as both an introduction to the now common practice of season-ending cliffhangers and also the beginning of an eight-month international media frenzy, as oddsmakers created a set of odds for possible and plausible suspects. Even Jimmy the Greek posted odds of various suspects. Tony Schwartz, also of The New York Times, described the episode as "the most promotable television suspense since David Janssen was vindicated after a four-year run on The Fugitive in the mid-1960s". Schwartz also estimated the episode had been seen in fifty-seven countries. In 2011, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly named the episode number one of the seven most "Unforgettable Cliff-Hangers" of prime time dramatic television. The episode deservedly earned Fred W. Berger an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Edited Episode from a Television Series and earned Irving J. Moore a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series nomination. With that, Lominar Productions had indeed drilled into the recesses of the creative fields that were their minds and, upon discovering/creating this episode, shot upwards like an oil spring, providing the American nighttime drama we needed just so we could tune in again for more, allowing the legends of J.R and 'Dallas' itself to gush forth into television history after this memorable episode with a maddening murder mystery tagged on to the end.


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