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DALLAS: SEASON ONE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Brenda Strong
Creator: David Jacobs
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 440 Minutes
Release Date: January 8, 2013

Never in my wildest imagination did I think you could stoop so low.”

Well, darlin’, we’re just gonna have to work on your imagination.”

Show ***1/2

I had been looking forward to the chance to write this review for a few months now…sadly, I must now do so with a heavy heart. The great and irreplaceable Larry Hagman has passed, and with him, one of television’s most memorable villains.

It was quite a bright stroke to return viewers to Southfork Ranch, where the Ewing clan lived, loved and fought for many seasons during the 80s to the delight of viewers around the world. One of my fondest childhood memories was that I was allowed to stay up late on Friday night and watch Dallas with my parents. It was a prime time soap opera with many imitators but no equals.

Now, the Ewings are at it again, but for the most part, it’s the next generation’s turn to squabble over oil, money and the family lands. When last we saw John Ross Ewing (Henderson), he was a kid. Now, he’s grown, and following in his old man’s footsteps, discovering oil literally right in his own backyard at Southfork Ranch.

Christopher Ewing (Metcalfe) is back as well. The adopted son of Bobby (Duffy) and Pam (long gone from the series) has taken a different route. He hopes to reveal a new alternative fuel: namely, methane gas. But the stuff of late is proving to be much more dangerous than thought.

Christopher is engaged to Rebecca (Gonzalo), while John Ross has taken up with Elena (Brewster), the daughter of the Ewings’ long-time housekeeper. But lest you think this is all out with the old, Bobby is still around, as is J. R. (Hagman, of course) and J. R.’s longsuffering ex Sue Ellen (Gray).

J. R. has been out of the game for a while and sits in a nursing home, not speaking, even to his brother Bobby, who may be the only one left that visits him. Alienated from the rest of his family, you know he won’t stay silent for long.

The original series was known for surprises and twists, and all of that drama has returned with the new version. So much so that I don’t want to delve into the plot of the first season. Suffice to say, not everyone is straightforward about their motivations…in fact, not everyone is even who they say they are.

I had wondered if the show’s writers planned to phase out the original characters and let the younger clan have their full day in the sun…now, with the passing of Larry Hagman, the upcoming season will no doubt have to be re-imagined.

Still, part of the fun was definitely seeing the old characters back and as vibrant as ever. Original series regulars Ken Kercheval, Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton even pop up for brief appearances.

I’m looking very forward to the upcoming season, though I will definitely miss Mr. Hagman’s presence. However, the young cast is remarkable, the story lines are satisfying, and I feel confident there is much more on the table for this new chapter in the classic series.

Video ***1/2

I think it was a mistake for the studio NOT to release this on Blu-ray. The show looks terrific in high definition, with the many outdoor scenes and large gatherings. The DVD does a decent job with colors and clarity, but the difference without HD is noticeable.

Audio ***

It’s always a pleasure to hear the strains of the classic theme music emanating from my speakers. This 5.1 mix does a good job of blending the dialogue against the bigger scenes, keeping everything clean and clear.

Features ***

The extras include six featurettes on the show, plus some deleted scenes and a commentary for the season's pilot episode.

Summary:

Blood is thicker than water, and oil is thicker than blood. This return to Dallas is both fresh and nostalgic, and a welcome trip back to the land of the Ewings.

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