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 Dallas. Dallas: 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.