DALLAS: COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS
Review by Michael Jacobson
Barbara Bel Geddes, Jim Davis, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman,
Steve Kanaly, Ken Kercheval, Victoria Principal, Charlene Tilton
Creator: David Jacobs
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: Commentaries, Cast Reunion
Length: 1397 Minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2004
Digger Barnes' DAUGHTER!!”
of my fondest memories of growing up was the fact that on Friday nights, I was
allowed to stay up and watch Dallas with my parents.
In fact, I can still remember as plain as yesterday the night that
changed television history…the night that left a television season hanging in
the balance and an entire country asking the question, “Who shot J.R.?”
you're one of those rare few who doesn't know the answer to that
question…well, you'll have to wait a little bit longer, because that was the
climax of Season Three. But in the
meantime, you should bring yourself up to speed with the new five disc DVD set
of Dallas: The Complete First and Second Seasons.
You won't see J.R. Ewing (Hagman) shot, but you'll start to learn
why so many people were wanting to pull the trigger on the bastard!
inconspicuously in April of 1978 as a mid-season replacement series for CBS.
Conceived as a Romeo and Juliet type story using Texas oil
millionaire families, it started with Bobby Ewing (Duffy) bringing home his new
bride, Pamela (Principal), much to the shock and dismay of the rest of the Ewing
clan. He had married the daughter of Digger Barnes, the patriarch
of the family entrenched in a bitter feud against the Ewings and his one-time
partner Jock (the legendary Davis)!
shockwaves allowed us to meet the rest of the family…the kindly mother Miss
Ellie (Bel Geddes), the charming but villainous J.R., his longsuffering bride
Sue Ellen (Gray), the niece Lucy (Tilton), and the faithful ranch hand Ray
Krebbs (Kanaly). They lived on a
beautiful ranch called Southfork paid for by Jock's company Ewing Oil,
currently helmed by the ambitious and ruthless J.R. Bobby was the reckless son who didn't want to follow in the
family business, and his new nuptial arrangement did little to settle that!
airing, the critics were immediately as merciless as J.R. himself.
Hurling every synonym for “sleaze” in the thesaurus was just one of
the show's obstacles. Another was the reaction of the real citizens of Dallas, who
felt their fair city had never quite recovered from the Kennedy assassination
tragedy, and believe their good name was about to be dragged through the mud
original five episodes might have been the beginning and the end for the show,
but something happened…word of mouth heated up and more and more fans started
tuning in. By the finale of the
first ‘season' “The Barbecue”, CBS recognized it might have something
good on its hands. They would
cautiously call for more episodes, eventually leading to a full second season,
and, after bouncing it around a couple of weekend time slots, it finally settled
into its faithful home on Friday nights.
show would also begin to swing from a self contained episode format to that of a
prime time soap opera, where the storylines would continue from week to week.
It was a great move, because it got more and more people hooked as the
scripts got better and the characters got more well defined.
By the third season, Dallas had become something of a national
pastime, and when J.R. finally got shot, the episode set a new all time ratings
record that would remain unchallenged until the final season of M*A*S*H.
didn't care about the critical panning…imagine that. They liked the show's running themes of revenge, decadent
living, and handsome young men and lovely young women living in all kinds of
sin. Larry Hagman, who had achieved
fame years earlier on I Dream of Jeanie, became an even bigger star by
becoming the bad guy America loved to hate.
Patrick Duffy went from The Man From Atlantis into the role of the
brother everybody loved. Victoria
Principal…well, she re-defined prime time beauty for me when my beloved Wonder
Woman was no more.
the turbulent 70s gave way to the prosperous 80s, Dallas became the first
weekly foray into the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Who knows how many young entrepreneurs were born in those years wanting
to be just like the Ewings? Heck,
Larry Hagman even once partly attributed the fall of the Soviet Union to the far
reaching popularity of the show. Former
Soviets told him they used to watch smuggled tapes of Dallas and marvel
that people in America actually lived like that!
first two seasons laid a lot of groundwork that would anchor the show for its
amazing 14 year run: J.R.'s
infidelities, Sue Ellen's alcoholism, the continual bitter conflict between
J.R. and Cliff Barnes (Kercheval), who would keep the family feud alive, and
even the wayward OTHER Ewing son, Gary, who would of course later be a primary
character in the one Dallas spin-off show, Knots Landing.
show would continue to grow throughout the 80s, getting better and more
popular…until, at last, like all good things, the time came to ring the
curtain down. By the time that
happened, Dallas has secured a place in television history.
Reunion movies would follow, reruns would continue to attract new
audiences on cable, and now, a new generation of fans can discover the decadent
fun that ruled television prime time for a decade. Dated? A
bit…but it still works. I only
wish I still had my “I Shot J.R.” T-shirt.
TRIVIA: Take note of the snow in
“Winds of Vengeance”…it was the last time viewers ever saw it at Southfork
all classic TV shows have held up well, but Dallas seems fairly well
cared for in its old age. These
episodes showcase mostly good coloring and detail with only a bit of grain
evident here and there to belie how long ago these shows were made…that and
the youthful appearance of most of the cast members!
mono soundtracks from a late 70s run of TV shows, the audio is perfectly
adequate…neither more nor less than what you would expect.
big “Ewing Extras” are included, starting with some episode commentaries
with creator David Jacobs and stars Larry Hagman and Charlene Tilton.
Also featured is Soapnet's November 23, 2003 cast reunion special with
Patrick Duffy, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Charlene Tilton.