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This is how you really drive a great prime time soap into the ground, kids.

DVD Review: Dallas – The Complete Eleventh Season

It’s safe to say that by the time the writers of Dallas started work on season 11, they were probably all high. Now, whether they were high on whatever the “in” drug was at the time or just high on the strange exciting scent of dollars they had made on the last ten seasons is debatable. But nevertheless, high they were — and season 11 is proof.

Hell, they were already high when they made season 9 (that infamous moment in television history wherein the writers successfully backed themselves into a corner so tight that they had to pass the whole season off as a dream). With season 10, they started coming back down to earth, and a lot of good storylines came out of it.

And then came season 11.

Okay, so this season starts out with our ol’ buddy J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) — the most cunning and ruthless man in the world — down and out (although only slightly — he‘s still super-rich) after the fall of Ewing Oil in the finale of season 10. Naturally, a guy like J.R. will soon rise back to the top, determined to squash everyone who put him down along the way. Meanwhile, poor Bobby Ewing (TV’s Patrick Duffy) is feeling a bit down, too: his beloved wife Pam crashed headfirst into a tanker truck at the end of the last season and now she’s a mummified heap of burnt flesh in the ICU ward (actress Victoria Principal wanted out of the show, so this is how they did it).

Bobby’s bad relationship is only the beginning, though. And things are about to either heat up, burn up, or burn out with Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) and Clayton (Howard Keel); J.R. and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray); Cliff (Ken Kercheval) and a homeless guy (er, don’t ask) named Dandy (Bert Remsen); and, best of all, the relationship between Ray (Steve Kanaly) and Jenna (Priscilla Presley).

How will it all end? Poorly, of course, since the writers were all high. There were a lot of moments in this season that could have had great potential.  Alas, nothing really comes out of them. Instead, we get a lot of lousy subplots ripped right from other, more popular movies and shows of the time. This is how you really drive a once great prime time show into the ground, kids: start stealing subplots from other projects.  Boo.  On the plus side, this is the season in which a young Brad Pitt appears as Jenna’s daughter’s boyfriend, Randy (episodes 13, 14, 16, and 20).

Warner Home Video unleashes all 30 episodes of Dallas – The Complete Eleventh Season onto three double-sided discs (with five eps per side). The quality of these episodes weren’t the best to begin with, but are an even bigger disappointment here since so many of them have been crammed into each disc. At times, the source material looks like it could have been taken from a video master (clearly no restoration has been made), and the prints contain a lot of dirt and whatnot as well. Sound-wise, get ready to crank up that stereo, since the only option is the original English mono track. English (SDH) subtitles and closed captioning are available.

No special features adorn this release. It’s probably just as well because, had they interviewed the cast or crew, they more than likely would have said, “I think the writers were high when they wrote these episodes.”

Recommended for diehard fans, completionists, and terminally bored housewives who can’t get SOAPnet or who like to fantasize about a young Brad Pitt.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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