TNT’s Dallas is gunning for more watercooler moments in its third season, and scene-stealer Judith Light, who recurs as sharp-tongued matriarch Judith Ryland, certainly provided one in Monday’s episode (read the full recap).
The backstory for those who haven’t been tuning in: Judith Ryland made her triumphant return in the hour after her son, Harris (Mitch Pileggi) — the bastard ex-husband of Bobby Ewing’s wife Ann, with whom Harris shares a conniving daughter — pushed her down the stairs and locked her away in a “rehab” facility in season 2. She insisted upon taking back control of the family transport company, which she’d just learned was muling cocaine for a Mexican cartel. She also wanted to renegotiate the terms of that arrangement: ”I made my bones dealing with psychopaths and criminals while you were still playing with your Easy Bake Oven,” she hissed to Harris. Together they went to Nuevo Laredo, where mama not only liked the idea of the cartel honcho frisking her for a wire but also the concept of product-testing.
We now understand why Dallas exec producer Cynthia Cidre told EW that Judith Ryland would be “better, badder, and more delicious than ever” this season, why the crew referred to Light as J.R. on the set (it’s more than just her character’s initials), and why Light asked to stick around longer than originally planned: “She called me, and she said, ‘Oh darling, I love your show. Can I have more episodes?’” Cidre explained. “I’m like, ‘We don’t have the budget, but let me work on it,’ and then we found the money.”