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DVD Review: Dallas: The Complete Tenth Season

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From 1978 to 1991, Dallas managed to hypnotize an entire nation, transfixing television viewers with its weekly tales of corruption, greed, sex, and even murder.  Well, attempted murder, maybe — J.R. did live after all.  Some of the other characters died though, and although we all suspect manslaughter, this recent facsimile clearly states:

We really can’t rule out accidental death at this point.  We’re still investigating.
–signed, the Dallas P.D.

Even now, more than thirty years after the series first struck airwaves in 1978, we’re still entranced by DallasDallas: The Complete Tenth Season comes to DVD in a three double-sided disc set containing all 1,375 minutes of backstabbing and feudal fun from Texas’ notorious big oil big shots, the Ewing family.

Let me bring you up to speed real quick: the elder Ewing, Jock (helmed by Jim Davis until the actor’s demise in 1981), has been missing for years and declared legally dead.  His departure enabled his sons, the sensitively smart Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and the ruthlessly cold J.R. (Larry Hagman, in his meatiest role ever) as two of the major stockholders in Ewing Oil.  J.R. has managed to divorce and remarry his alcoholic wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) several times.  Jock’s widowed wife, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) has since remarried to Clayton Farlow (Howard Keel), who, in the beginning of Season 10, forms a partnership with his illegitimate stepson Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly).  Meanwhile, Bobby has forsaken his relationship with potential wife Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley) to rekindle his romance with his ex-wife Pam (Victoria Principal, whom we all loved to watch), the sister of J.R.’s (and Ewing Oil’s) arch nemesis, the devious-but-daft Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval, whom I’ve come to the conclusion would not be able to act at all if he could not flay his arms about when speaking).  Aside from being George W. Bush’s role model, Cliff is also married to another Ewing (albeit a lesser cousin of the Ewings), Jamie (Jenilee Harrison), who is the brother of Jack Ewing (Dack Rambo — a porn name if there ever was one).

Did I leave anybody out?  Well, tough.

So anyway, in the previous season(s), both Bobby and Jamie were killed.  But–and this became one of the greatest primetime soap opera cop-outs of all time–the entire Ninth Season was nothing but a dream of Pam’s.  Ha!

Waking up from her horrific thirty-some-odd episode nightmare, Pam finds that everything is A-OK.  Well, at least it is for five minutes or so — but after that, Season 10 takes more turns on the primetime soap highway than you can count.  Of course, at the center of most of these turns are J.R. and Cliff: big oil is in the slumps.  Oil is much cheaper from them “A-rab” fellers in the Middle East, which is threatening to make rich white Republicans less rich (at one point, J.R. sends chills up our spines as he ponders “You suppose there’s any chance in the world that that Iraq-Iran war will spread?”).  Cliff’s wife (a Ewing) gives him the bright idea to gather up all of the indie oil barons and lobby over to Washington to impose a tariff on imported oil (wait, did George W. confuse Dallas with a How-To-Be-A-Better-Baron guide?), to which J.R. worms Ray’s estranged wife Donna (Susan Howard) in as the official lobbyist. 

Speaking of estranged spouses, Sue Ellen hires a shady man to follow J.R. and his mistress (Deborah Shelton) around.  Bobby’s  impending re-union to Pam has J.R. furious…to the point where he might just do something drastic.  And, while on I’m on the subject of drastic, J.R. also consults with a disgraced militaristic right-wing nut job to cut off the world’s supply of Arab oil (I’m seeing too many parallels to real life here–it’s really creepin’ me out).  To make matters worse, a saboteur disables one of the Ewing’s fields, Cliff tries to buy Jack’s 10% of Ewing Oil, and Ray and Clayton hire a foreman (Steve Forrest) for their new ranch business who claims to be the elder Jock Ewing!

Confused?  Well just you wait, kids: this all happens during the first four episodes of an entire 29-episode season.  Wow!

Plot and plans, schemes and dreams: yes, of all the primetime soaps ever made, nothing has ever beat Dallas

And nothing ever will.

And you can quote me on that.

Dallas: The Complete Tenth Season comes to life once again via Warner Home Entertainment.  The 3-Disc set features a fuzzy transfer all-around.  Now, while these eps were from mid-'80s television, it’s still a bit of a letdown.  Sound and subtitle-wise, we get a fairly decent Monaural English soundtrack and English (SDH) Subs and Closed Captioning.  The music sometimes threatens to overtake the mind-blowing dialogue, but, for the most part, the audio remains pretty consistent.  Overall, the A/V department on Season Ten could’ve been a lot better.

With the exception of what is quite possibly the worst anti-piracy promo ever devised by a truly untalented hack on Disc One, there are no Special Features included with this release.

But it's still good guilty pleasure fun.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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