It’s the TV funeral of the year.
In fact, it may be the only TV funeral of the year, since the deaths of legendary TV characters don’t happen all that often during the production of a TV show. And then, even rarer is the opportunity to actually stage a funeral for the character.
But that’s what happens Monday night on “Dallas” (9/8c on TNT), which lays to rest its most notorious figure — John Ross “J.R.” Ewing Jr., played by the late Larry Hagman.
Hagman died of complications from cancer on Nov. 23 at age 81, midway into the shooting of the sixth episode of the current, second season of the new “Dallas” on TNT.
Ever since then, “Dallas” fans have wondered how the show would deal with Hagman’s death.
On Monday night, they’ll get their answer — with a wake, a funeral and a handful of twists and turns seemingly engineered and initiated by J.R. from beyond the grave in a sign that the spirit of J.R. will continue to be felt on “Dallas” long after his death.
The title of the episode — “J.R.’s Masterpiece” — alludes to a scheme J.R. was in the midst of carrying out when he died, though we don’t learn fully what this “Masterpiece” is exactly in Monday’s episode.
How do I know this? Because TNT made the episode available to TV scribes before its airdate. And since I just watched it, I can tell you it’s well-worth watching. For one thing, the episode represents a “who’s who” of real-life Dallas luminaries, plus a number of “Dallas” stalwarts who all gather to bury J.R., and even to praise him in some cases.
Among those to watch out for: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
And from the fictional world of “Dallas” — particularly the old one — look for: Ted Shackelford, 66 (Gary Ewing), Ken Kercheval, 77 (Cliff Barnes), Steve Kanaly, 66 (Ray Krebbs), Charlene Tilton, 54 (Lucy Ewing) and Cathy Podewell, 49 (Cally Harper Ewing).
We won’t spoil the experience by revealing anything else about what happens in the episode. But, as you can imagine, the death and subsequent funeral of J.R. brings some family members together, and drives others even farther apart.
We didn’t know Larry Hagman, but we like to think he’d be proud of the way “Dallas” is sending off J.R. — with a considerable amount of mourning, heartfelt eulogies and a whole lot o’ mystery.
“Dallas” — featuring the funeral of J.R. Ewing — airs Monday night at 9/8c on TNT.