Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dallas Season 11, A Huge Dissapointment

There are a few things that are without question, while growing up during the Dallas television show’s heyday, I have to admit, I was never a fan. I just didn’t care for this prime time soap opera. While there were characters I liked, even liked the spin off Knott’s Landing, I just didn’t find any interest in Dallas. There is another thing without question that is the popular television show didn’t need my support to become one of the most successful television series of all time. Dallas contributed not only to the type of programming broadcasters showed for years, it also contributed to the folklore of American television. One of the strange things about the show is that it wasn’t just an American phenomena, Dallas did and still does some 30 years later, entertains people all over the world.

Warner Brothers just released the 11th Season of Dallas on DVD. This 30 episode season brings back some of the old and a few new characters. While it could be debated that the program was on its downward spiral, it still had multitudes of fans and was doing quite well in the ratings.

Technically; season 11 comes off as a television show in the DVD release. I would have hoped for some remastering work on the sound and picture, but unfortunately if those things were done, I couldn’t tell. There is a feel that came about from the 80’s television programs that today would resemble a b-grade television networks regular series. Between the heart tugging strings of the soundtrack and story, and what appears in many of the characters as giving just enough to get by, by their acting, I was reminded as to why I never really liked the show. What Dallas lacked in its later seasons though, it gained some with story and cliff hanger endings that have become popular in television programs today.

Season 11 of Dallas had some rather interesting story lines. We see a resurgence of JR, one of the primary reasons for the success of this program due largely to the ability of Larry Hagman. He never lost a step in the portrayal of one of the great television villains of all time. Bobby, played by the wonderful character actor, Patrick Duffy, loses his wife but finds new love, and Cliff Barnes played by Ken Kercheval continued his hatred of JR and his attempt to destroy JR after he resurrects his oil business. There are times each of the actors contributes greatly to their skill, but the lackluster supporting roles helped doom this for me.

Dallas Season 11 progresses with its typical soap opera story. For those who could follow all of the love affairs, divorces, and rekindling relationships, there was plenty to follow. Does Pamela Ewing, the wife of Bobby live or die? Of all the characters that still want JR dead, who will try to kill him? What will happen to the popular ranch South Park? It was no wonder this series required 30 episodes to complete a season, there is so many arcs to the story to keep you guessing from week to week, and the deception flows from episode one until the completion of episode 30.

Dallas had another lasting attribute as exhibited in season 11. We see the ultimate battle of good vs. evil and the ultimate impact of greed. Dallas displays a story similar to the story of Job in the Bible. We see who to trust, who not to trust, what happens when a good man looses everything, and how does greed play into the attitudes of those who are supposed to love? The directors and producers of Dallas understood the benefit of portraying greed in a deceptive way. We see it and in return can learn lessons for life.

Unfortunately, at least for this one street kid who never had much, I couldn’t then, and I still don’t relate well to the characters in Dallas. I don’t per say have an issue with people having money, but I have an issue with the greed that often surrounds money. Just as it states in the Bible, it is the “love” of money that is the root of all evil. It seemed as if the primary focus of Dallas is the exhibition of that greed. Thankfully, some three years later when the series came to an end, we would see portrayed on screen the struggles and battles JR in particular faced with his inner demons, not just in a metaphorical way, but in a hallucination where he sees himself being influenced by demons and the struggle he had with Satan.

While I can appreciate the attempt to draw these parallels, I still struggle with watching this show. Unfortunately there are no special features to help me understand the characters better, nor any input from the actors themselves. One of the things I personally appreciate about DVD’s is the special features, and this particular DVD is sadly void of anything in that category. I did enjoy seeing some of the characters of this series that become legendary. It was almost worth it to see the character played to excellence by Hagman, unfortunately there is enough wasted time between his scenes and the characters we care little about to make that journey worthwhile.

For those who are Dallas fans, this collection and season may be worthwhile, but with the advances in production quality, remastering, and the potential to offer special features to the viewing pleasure of those dedicated fans I can’t help but think most fans will be disappointed. With a $39.98 retail price I can’t help but think they will be disappointed unless the price is greatly reduced. I wish I could say better things about this DVD, but I have to say it the way it is. There are far better season compellations that respect the fans. I am not certain that the greed exhibited by JR Ewing hasn’t in some way been taken in here to shortchange the fans of the series with the lack of production and special features. Then again, that is a thought from someone who never really liked the series to begin with, I was wanting more, looked for more, but unfortunately, was only reminded of why I didn’t like the show the first time around.

To see the following just click on the video, if the video don't appear click on the link:

The following is from a semi controversial sequence that still has fans wondering from Season 11

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