Dallas begins its original five-week trial run as Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), youngest son of Texas oil millionaire Jock Ewing (James Davis), shows up at Southfork, his family's estate, with new bride Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal) in tow. "Your folks are gonna throw me off the ranch" worries Pam, and not without good reason: her father is former wildcatter "Digger" Barnes (David Wayne), once the partner of Jock Ewing, but now his bitterest enemy. It seems that years ago, Jock had bamboozled Digger out of his share of the valuable strike that would serve as foundation for the Ewing Oil empire -- and worse still, Jock had married Digger's girl, Ellen Southworth (aka "Miss Ellie," played by Barbara Bel Geddes). Carrying on the family vendetta is Pam's politically ambitious brother, lawyer Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), who has made it his mission in life to destroy the most ruthless and disreputable members of the Ewing clan: namely, the infamous J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), Jock and Miss Ellie's eldest son. Meanwhile, J.R. wheels and deals to force Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton), daughter of his seldom-seen brother Gary, out of Southfork, lest Gary return and claim his share of the Ewing millions. All the while, J.R.'s long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), seeks shelter from her husband's connivances and extramarital peccadillos by crawling deeper and deeper into a booze bottle. Lurking in the background like a man carrying a deep, dark secret is the Ewings' ranch foreman Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), with whom Lucy has one of her many sexual flings. Quite a lot happens in those first five Dallas episodes beyond the traditional maneuvering and backstabbing, including an unexpected hostage crisis and a season-ending family barbecue that abruptly culminates in tragedy.
by Hal Erickson synopsis