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DVD Review: Dallas: The Complete Twelfth Season

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Sue Anne Ewing (Linda Gray) indignantly blurts out, “You mean that bastard is still alive?!" after she discovers that she failed to kill J.R. (Larry Hagman) at the end of Season 11. As I recall, I was thinking the same thing about Dallas in general by the time the 12th season rolled around.

 Not only are there explosions on the Southfork Ranch in season 12, but on the show as well. With Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing) having left the series in season 11, Priscilla Presley (Jenna Wade) and Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) would soon follow in this one, taking a lot of their fans with them. Additionally, Linda Gray wanders off at the end of this season following a lame, and failed, plot to make a movie of J.R.’s life which would have exposed all of his backstabbing schemes to the world.

In the midst of all the departures, the show overcompensates with humorous and overblown plot twists.  There are exploding dams and oil wells, hired mercenary ranch hands toting machine guns and/or side arms, and field trips to Europe. One of my favorite scenes this year is when J.R. hilariously pretends to be dying in the hospital to try to make Bobby feel sorry for him.

One great result of all the behind-the-scenes shakeups is that we get to see Miss Ellie stop being a weak and timid damsel in distress — when her beloved Southfork is threatened, she stands her ground and becomes a “mama bear protecting her cubs” force to be reckoned with to whom J.R. pales in comparison.

The great George Kennedy joins the cast in season 12 as the Ewing's affable but secretly evil neighbor, Carter McKay.  McKay is possibly the most worthy adversary that not only J.R. has faced, but Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) as well. Fans of the show will like the return of Afton Cooper (Audrey Landers) into Cliff’s life, bringing along a daughter that may or may not be his.

As one would expect, this year J.R.’s lust-obsessed brain has dropped back into his groin and he can’t resist the temptation of a pretty young thing while on a camping trip with Bobby and their sons. His intended target takes the form of Cally Harper (Cathy Podewell) and before J.R. knows what hit him, he’s cut off from his powerful connections, convicted of rape, and sentenced to jail with no way of getting word out for help.

Of course, the season doesn't end there.  There is a wedding, a tornado, a range war, and possibly the ultimate sign of the apocalypse — Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) becoming a partner in Ewing Oil… with Miss Ellie’s blessing!  It is almost needless to say that J.R. doesn't take that particularly well.

For a refreshing change, the season leaves the confines of the studio and spends a lot of time on the actual Southfork Ranch in Texas. The cameras also take the aforementioned field trip to Europe, which seemed to be the studio’s excuse to reward the cast members that were willing to remain on the show with excursions to Vienna, Salzburg and Moscow.

This collection comes in the form of the usual (and annoying) three double-sided discs that make watching the season straight through with a multi-disc player impossible — one will have to get up and flip the discs.  Due to their double-sided nature, these discs are unlabeled with only fine print at the center hole indicating the series' name and the disc's number and side. DVD extras are limited to English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

All things considered, I liked this season and if you’re a fan of the show this volume makes a great addition to any collection.

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About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • From crazyabouttv:

    Dallas Trivia:
    Dallas was the top-rated series on the air for three seasons! When it aired, the “Who Shot J.R.” episode became the most watched episode in television history! The final episode of “M*A*S*H (1972)” beat that record in February of 1983. Larry Hagman was threatening to leave the series due to a contract dispute. The producers got prepared, just in case. If he would have left, the ambulance carrying J.R. to the hospital after his shooting would have crashed and caught fire in an accident. J.R. would have required extensive plastic surgery and Robert Culp (Star of the 1965 series, “I Spy”) would have taken over the role.

    “Knot’s Landing (1979)” was the only Dallas “spin-off” but there’s no doubt that it inspired the productions of several others such as “Falcon Crest (1981)”, “Dynasty (1981)”, and “The Colbys (1985)”. In fact, Robert Foxworth who was offered the role of J.R. Ewing and turned it down, agreed to do a very similar role later on “Falcon Crest”. After Foxworth turned down the role of J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman refused the starring role in the series, “The Waverly Wonders” to become J.R. That was a good move as “The Waverly Wonders” didn’t last very long.

    Larry Hagman owns a ranch in Ojai, California named, “Odd Ball”. Larry has some traits that may relate to that name. He has a ring made from his gallstones that were removed during a liver transplant. One day each week he doesn’t speak at all to test his self-discipline. He makes autograph seekers either tell him a joke or sing him a song before he will give them an autograph. He’s a vegetarian and his nickname is “Mad Monk of Malibu”.

    Larry is the son of Mary Martin, best known for her role on broadway as Peter Pan. Larry also is the godfather to Bridget Fonda.

    Patrick Duffy’s son Conor played the role of “Little J.R.”on the final episode of Dallas. His son Padraic played Mark Harris on the show. On the series, “The Man from Atlantis (1977)”, Patrick also played a character named Mark Harris.

    Dallas would often make the audience believe that someone had died and then find ways to keep them alive. Several characters died in someone’s dream and then they’d wake up. Sometimes there would be a report that someone had died and then they’d show up alive and the report turned out to be false.

    The dream death that had the most impact on the series was Bobby Ewing’s death. Originally, he died because Patrick Duffy left the series in the seventh season. Then he decided that he wanted to return for the ninth season. Patrick’s wife told him that the only way that could happen is if his death had really been someone’s dream. Duffy relayed this idea to the producers and even though that meant that they entire eighth season would become Pam Ewing’s dream, they went along with the idea and Patrick Duffy returned.

    When Jim Davis passed away, his character was reported as missing in the Amazon jungle. After a while, he was declared legally deceased. A picture of Jim was placed over the fireplace at Southfork Ranch after his death.

    Both J.R. and Bobby married and divorced their first wives twice on Dallas. Then they each got married to a new wife. J.R. divorced his second wife too and Bobby became a widower when his second wife died.

  • Hey Jet!

    You’re alive! That’s fantastic! “Dallas” is a show best forgotten, a pile of trivial garbage. But you’re at least alive to remember it! That is fantastic.

  • Good showing, Jet. Never mind the article, will read it later, but your quick recovery. Tell us about it later when you’re up to it.

  • Annie Person

    Linda Gray’s character was not named Sue-ANNE Ewing. It was Sue-ELLEN Ewing. Must have forgotten after all these years. Or not been watching that close way back then. 🙂