As Dallas enters its 13th season on the air, only actors Larry Hagman and Ken Kercheval, cast respectively as ruthless oil tycoon J.R. Ewing and his lifelong enemy, attorney-executive Cliff Barnes, have been seen in every season. Though rumors occasionally spread that Hagman was poised to leave the show, the fact that he had been appointed one of the executive producers pretty much put the kibosh on such talk. The season opens as a Ewing Oil tanker collides with a tanker from rival Westar Oil, thereby laying the groundwork for a full-scale government investigation of the Ewing empire, spearheaded by the vengeful Cliff Barnes. With the assistance of high-pressure PR agent Stephanie Rogers (Lesley-Anne Down), Barnes is elected United States energy czar -- all the more reason for J.R. to spite Cliff and step up his efforts to bring about his enemy's downfall. Meanwhile, J.R.'s brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy), reconciled to the fact that his wife Pamela is dead (Victoria Principal had long since exited the series), proposes to April Stevens (Sheree J. Wilson). This turn of events permits the writers to introduce a new character, April's younger sister Michelle, played by Kimberly Foster. Also making their first appearances this season are Gayle Hunnicutt as J.R.'s former lover Vanessa Beaumont, and Sasha Mitchell as James Richard Beaumont, J.R. and Vanessa's illegitimate son. A true chip off the old block, 20-year-old James bids fair to be even more conniving, underhanded and untrustworthy than his father. But even as "new blood" is pumped into Dallas, we lose an old favorite: namely, J.R.'s mom, Miss Ellie, played by Barbara Bel Geddes. As the season rushes to a close, James conspires with J.R.'s new wife, Cally (Cathy Podewell), to gain full control of Ewing oil -- while J.R., having fraudulently committed himself to a mental institution in order to get a controlling interest in Westar Oil from Jessica Montford (Alexis Smith), the insane sister of J.R.'s stepfather, Clayton Barlow (Howard Keel), finds that he is unable to leave the institution, and may spend the rest of his life in a padded cell!
by Hal Erickson synopsis