'Dallas' season 3 premiere postmortem: EP Cynthia Cidre on what's next

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Image Credit: Skip Bolen/TNT

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Dallas‘ season 3 premiere, stop reading now. Executive producer Cynthia Cidre breaks down the big twists and teases the sex drama to come.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: That John Ross-Emma morning sex scene sets the bar high.
CYNTHIA CIDRE: I think there’s more sexuality this season. We tasked ourselves to be as delicious as we could. If we’re not entertaining our audience and giving them a thrilling ride, we’re not doing our job.

John Ross getting JR’s belt buckle made me tear up.
He made me tear up, too. It was so important to him, and that’s the theme of the season: Who am I? Am I my father’s son? Am I my own man? Can I fill his shoes? Have I crossed the line and lost my soul in trying to fill my father’s shoes? How do I make amends for that? That’s what we’re trying to do with John Ross this season. In episode six, we have a John Ross/Sue Ellen scene that is so emotional. I just watched it again, and I literally just burst into tears.

We’ve talked before about how John Ross really does love Pamela. So how does he justify cheating on her with Emma — across the hall.
That becomes this big conflict with his mother because his mother finds out, and then he’s like, “You don’t understand. This is a business move. This is how I got the arctic ships. I love my wife, and she’s never going to find out.” And Sue Ellen says, “Well then, you’re callous and dumb.” Without my blowing anything, Pamela of course will find out, and then we’ll see what happens.

That’s what makes this interesting: We know what Pamela is capable of even though she’s technically the “nice girl” at the moment because Emma is enjoying being the other woman and Elena is backstabbing the Ewings. So which one of those ladies is going to be the most evil this season?
It’s not Pamela. That’s going to take a little while to get back up there, but she’ll get back up there. The truth about Emma is that she’s a young woman and doesn’t really know what she’s doing yet. She’s trying to figure out who she is, and so she gets hurt, too. There’s this scene with Judith and Emma in episode five, where Judith realizes that Emma’s in love with John Ross, and she just gives her this speech that is so painful and degrading. You can just see Emma’s eyes watering and she’s so hurt, but at the end of it, you realize that Judith did it out of love, and it was just, like, the toughest love scene you’ve ever seen.

Judith Light returns as Emma’s grandmother Judith Ryland in episode 2.
Oh yes. In fact, she’s back for more episodes than we originally planned because she called me, and she said, “Oh darling, I love your show. Can I have more episodes”? I’m like, “We don’t have the budget, but let me work on it,” and then we found the money.

When you had Elena go see Joaquin in the season 2 finale, did you know already this was the storyline: He’d be her childhood friend-turned-billionaire businessman Nicolas Trevino (who’ll serve as Cliff’s official proxy while Elena secretly pulls the strings as the Ewings’ helpful employee)?
Yes, I did. But I’ll tell you where that comes from. I knew that everybody would think he was a drug dealer, and I knew he wasn’t going to be. About 20 years ago, I was in Mexico, and I took a balloon ride with my husband, and we kind of crash-landed because the balloon was going off into the ocean, and the guy said, “I’m going to put it down because I don’t want to go in the water.” We crawled out of the basket, and when we got up, there were 20 guards with machine guns surrounding us. It was frightening, but also I laugh when I’m nervous. There was another couple with us, and they wouldn’t let us re-inflate the balloon. They just put us on the back of a truck, and they took us off the property. What we found out was that this was the property of Sir Jimmy Goldsmith, who was an English financier, one of the first billionaires, who had been knighted and retired to Mexico. He lived in this ginormous compound, and he had a force of 250 guards guarding him because he was afraid of being kidnapped. So, we did not land in a drug dealer’s place, we landed in Sir Jimmy Goldsmith’s compound, and that has been with me for 20 years, and I finally got to use it. Everything that happens to you, you use eventually.

You make a point of saying in the episode that Elena and Nicolas were raised like siblings, and yet, I’m thinking there’s going to be romance there.
Well, they’re not blood brother and sister. Everything I do now somehow has a Heathcliff motif to it. I was emptying my garage this summer, and I found scripts that I’d forgotten I had written. I reread a couple of them, and they all had that theme of the young boy outsider with a family that takes him in, and then he’s in love with the girl, and then something goes wrong, and I guess, you know, I read Wuthering Heights when I was in middle school or something and it stuck in my head. So, that’s the theme: [Elena] brought him home. He lived with them for a few years, and then he stayed behind with Elena’s uncle when they moved to Texas, and every summer, [Elena’s mother] would go back there to visit her sister and brother, and then they’d see him, and so they’ve kept in touch. Drew, Joaquin, and Elena swore that they would take care of each other. He’s in every episode and he’s awesome. And yes, you can expect sparks there, too.

Is the idea of a “super majority” being needed to sell off part of Ewing Global to get the cash needed for John Ross’ arctic ships a real thing?
It is real, and it really saved our butt. We keep doing pie charts, and we don’t really want to talk about them, but we want to be accurate. My husband’s a businessman, and so when we couldn’t figure out how to do it, because writers are not very good at business, I came home on a Friday night and I said, “David, you got to solve this for me. Here’s our problem. Okay?” And so I put it all out. He looked up the state laws in Texas, and he said, “It’s easy. You need a super majority for any major divesting in a big company. You can’t just be a small majority.” Thank you, David. By the way, he also did the letter from JR’s Masterpiece. Eventually, we had to do an insert, and he’s the one who wrote it out. I just framed it.

Since Nicolas won’t let them sell anything, John Ross wants to drill on Southfork. Did you see tons of outtakes of Josh Henderson laughing while saying, “I’m fracking.”
That was great. The big outtakes were on the first day of shooting, where he’s walking away from the conversation about remodeling Southfork, and he says, “I think I’ll put in an elevator.” It’s like seven in the morning, and he could not get “elevator” out. It was so funny. It just became, “I think I’ll get an emelater,” and Patrick [Duffy] kept saying, “Well, I don’t mind one of those.”

Let’s talk about Christopher’s entrance in the episode — chopping wood in a tight thermal with a beard. I approve. Does that look stick around?
It hangs around until an episode where something happens and he realizes he’s got to leave the past behind, and so it comes off. It’s not there for the whole season. It’s about half the season.

Is his flirtation with ranch hand Heather (90210‘s AnnaLynne McCord) a slow burn?
Let’s just say by episode two, she kisses him, and he’s shocked, and she’s like, “I’m direct. You don’t look ready right now, but if you are, I’m interested.” They have nice chemistry, those two actors.

Harris is now a free man. That was the cartel who got him out of jail?
The pitch in 301 is that the cartel has bought off a judge, and they dropped the charges. However, I could blow your mind by telling you the real truth, which you will find out at the end of 302. I was never the person who went to the end of the book and read the ending. Never.


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