Warner Bros. // 1978 // 1283 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // November 17th, 2006
"When I fell in love with you, I thought it was romantic and wonderful because you were poor and you had to struggle." -- Lucy to her husband on why she's about to divorce him.
There was a time where people in foreign countries believed that life here in the US was like Dallas. People thought that all Americans were wearing cowboy hats to formal dinners and that all household driveways were four miles long. As a nation, we could live with that image, I think, but the idea that we were all scheming, greedy, money-mongers like J.R. Ewing? Well, that might be taking it a bit far. But to a communist dictator like Nicolae Ceausescu, Dallas was the perfect example of how capitalism corrupts and chose to air the series in Romania just to prove his point. Unfortunately for him, the people of his country were just as enamored with the show as American's were and they ousted him from power. To celebrate the fall of communism in Romania, a local businessman build a replica of the Southfork Ranch in the tiny city of Slobozia. SouthForkscu it's called.
Who says TV isn't educational. Need to write a paper on capitalism in America? Simply watch Dallas.
Dallas for Beginners:
The show is set on a ranch known as Southfork in Texas. Built with oil money, it is the home of the Ewing family: Papa Jock (Jim Davis) and Miss "Ellie" (Barbara Bel Geddes), sons J.R. (Larry Hagman, I Dream of Jeannie), Gary (Ted Shackelford), and Bobby (Patrick Duffy, Step by Step). J.R. married Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Bobby married Pam (Victoria Principal) after she slept with Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly), who turned out to be an illegitimate Ewing. Valene (Joan Van Ark) and daughter Lucy (Charlene Tilton) came looking for Gary, but Valene and Gary soon moved away to a town called Knots Landing, leaving Lucy behind.
Sue Ellen got pregnant after a fling with Cliff (Ken Kercheval), brother of Pam. Then Sue Ellen's sister, Kristin (Mary Crosby) arrived and had an affair with J.R. that ended in the gunshot heard round the world. Kristin had a baby with Jeff (Art Hindle), but claimed the child belonged to J.R.
Which brings us to the end of the fourth season, a cliffhanger (as always). Cliff spots a female body floating in the pool. He sees J.R. on the balcony above and assumes he committed the murder of...who? That's the question that gets answered when you fire up Dallas -- The Complete Fifth Season
Dallas may not have invented cliffhangers, but they sure perfected the art on TV. To this day, Dallas cliffhangers have been written about parodied and copied. (Fans of Grey's Anatomy hoped that the series would pull a "Bobby Ewing" at the start of the third season, but it was not to be.) This season's cliffhanger wasn't one of the best, but it was still an intriguing question, namely -- who is it that Cliff found floating dead in the pool?
The season begins just where it left off, with Cliff rolling over the body to reveal the answer to the question and we're off on another fast-paced ride. Murder or accidental death? Kidnapping or parental rights? Who's corrupt and who's not? There's plenty of trouble brewing for the folks of Southfork. You'll also find a romance blooming (Sue Ellen leaving J.R.? Can you imagine?) and a romance ending (Lucy deciding to marry a poor man isn't all that glamorous). Like any good soap, there are plenty of story recaps along the way (conveniently woven into the dialogue) so you can pick up this season without having seen the show up to that point.
One of the highlights of this season is the addition of Howard Keel (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) to the cast. The former movie musical star has a wonderful on-screen presence and it's a shame he doesn't have a larger part.
This series also marks the end of an era with the death of Jim Davis, who played papa Jock Ewing. Though he passed away much earlier in the year, the producers didn't immediately write his death into the series. They considered recasting him, but ultimately killed off his character in Season Five.
As with every season, this one ends with a cliffhanger -- someone commits suicide, or should I say attempts? I won't give it away. You'll have to buy Season Six to see.
For such a long running, well-loved (and well-covered) series, there is but one extra on this set and it's not all that great. Also, the picture quality varies from episode to episode with pops and crackles in the print.
Dallas is a staple of American television. A groundbreaking series in many ways, it brought the traditional daytime soap to prime time and was responsible for the generation of dozens of copycat series. Yes, it's melodramatic and yes, the women have '80s hair, but that's what makes the show so much fun to watch. The low score is due mostly to the bad transfer and the lack of extras. The series itself scores much higher. Dallas is popcorn TV at its best.
No sense in finding these guys guilty as J.R. has the whole court from judge to jury in his back pocket. They're free to go!
Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1283 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "A Living Landmark: A Tour of the Real Southfork Ranch" featurette
* The Complete First & Second Season Review
* The Complete Third Season Review
* Ultimate Dallas