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TNT unveils the first of Hagman's last hurrahs in Episodes 1 & 2 of Dallas' second season

Like father, like son. J.R. and John Ross in Season 2. TNT photo
Boy, they're gonna miss him. The show. The cast. The crew. The viewers.

Courtesy of TNT, the first two episodes of Dallas' Season 2 arrived Wednesday evening. A brief cover letter from co-executive producers Cynthia Cidre and Michael Robin acknowledged the "mixed emotions" in play.

"Larry Hagman was a giant in television history," they said. "He was an exuberant personality who loved portraying the globally recognized character of J.R. Ewing. Larry leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. We are forever grateful to have worked with this legendary man."

The 15-episode second season launches with back-to-back hours on Monday, Jan. 28th. Hagman, who passed away on Nov. 23rd, reportedly appears in the first six. A funeral for his indelible J.R. is planned for the March 11th episode.

We're not going to give away any of the plot machinations from the first two hours. But be assured that Hagman is very much a presence, particularly in Episode 2.

In Season 2's opening hour, J.R. is first seen as an uninvited guest in the posh offices of his nefarious son, John Ross (Josh Henderson). He's got his feet up on the kid's desk. You know, like he owns the place.

"Don't worry about it. You know how slippery snakes can be," John Ross tells an apologetic secretary.

"Now that ain't a way to talk about your father," J.R. replies congenially.

Hagman is relatively light in Episode 1, with just two scenes of limited duration. But he's very much a part of the second hour, subtitled "Venomous Creatures."

In what's sure to resonate as a classic and perfectly played J.R. moment. he moves in behind his son while the two of them watch Bobby Ewing's (Patrick Duffy) adopted son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) kiss John Ross's ex-girlfriend, Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster).

"Makes you wanna punch somethin', doesn't it?" J.R. says.

"I don't feel anything," John Ross retorts before Hagman hammers home the essence of J.R. in a mini-sermon for the ages.

"It's OK if you do," he counsels. "You're young. Use it. Love. Hate. Jealousy. Mix 'em up and they make a mean martini. And when we take over Ewing Energies, you'll slake your thirst -- with a twist."

He then pats his boy on the back and flexes that inimitable J.R. smile before the opening credits kick in. The guy's got it down.

J.R. also has a soft-hearted scene with ex-wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) after helping to bail her out of some serious trouble. She's grateful and he's philosophical: "Darlin', if I can still throw my weight around this town after all the crap I've pulled, then you'll bounce back just fine."

This prompts her to bestow a little peck on the cheek with the playful proviso, "That's all you're getting." But she does invite him for "some tea," and J.R. is mighty pleased to do so.

Dallas has always been primarily about double-dealing and doubling down. And there's plenty of that in these first two episodes. But the cast and producers would be the first to admit that this is all basically just window-dressing.

We all know that Hagman is taking his curtain calls in the name of one of television's all-time classic characters. And so every scene he's in is both a treat and something of a heartbreak. The show will go on -- or at least try to -- without him. But as these first two episodes again show, that will be a very tall order.

NOTED IN PASSING -- John Ross gives a little shout-out to the local daily in an early Episode 1 scene that finds him blackmailing a trucking company owner after a bedroom romp with his soon-to-married kiddo.

"I have breakfast with the society writer of The Dallas Morning News," John Ross informs him the next morning. "Told him I'd have a scoop on your daughter."

Hmm, longtime rich-and-famous chronicler Alan Peppard wouldn't be party to such a scheme. Or would he? We'll never know, because daddy of course caves in.