Dallas: The Complete First Four Seasons

"Weak"

Dallas: The Complete First Four Seasons Review


If you really have the time and inclination to go back and watch 77 episodes of Dallas, well God love ya, but is there really nothing better you could be doing with your time? True, in J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman created one of television's most durable and memorable bad guys, always keeping that sinister smile on his face as stuffed himself into his three-piece suit, donned his Stetson, and headed off for another lunch of drinks and scheming at the Oil Baron's Club. TV will probably never come up with another character who people loved to hate with such ardor.

And true, in Dallas's early seasons J.R. is in full flower, doing enough shady dealing and backstabbing to keep his large family in a constant case of chaos and to keep the entire oil industry unstable. His lovely wife, the former beauty queen Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), deals with him by drinking and by matching his affairs tit for tat.

But what you'll notice as you go back to Dallas is how stunningly slow-paced and downright boring it is by today's short-attention-span standards. With the exception of the wildly popular and admittedly entertaining "Who Shot J.R.?" story arc that had the entire nation in a tizzy in 1980 (remember, there were only three networks and almost no cable; tens of millions of people basically had no choice but to watch), the series is an endless slog through G-rated adulterous interludes with leggy secretaries who wear disco-era satin sheaths; boardroom battles for controlling interests in oil cartels; and sibling rivalry that, while mildly entertaining, is hardly psychologically profound.

The sibling, of course, is J.R.'s younger brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the "good" son who would just as soon live an easy life with his newlywed wife Pam (Victoria Principal) than get involved in the ugliness of Ewing Oil. But just when he thinks he's out, they pull him back in, and soon he's in a decade-long battle with J.R. for control of the family fortune, a battle that only intensifies when patriarch Jock Ewing (Jim Davis) kicks the bucket. Now it's up to his widow, the soft-spoken (and suspiciously soft-focused) Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) to voice her disapproval of the family shenanigans every night as the clan gathers for cocktails before dinner. Why they don't all get separate homes is one of those only-on-TV mysteries that will never be solved.

J.R.'s biggest enemy happens to be Pam's brother Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), a ferret-faced striver who adds comic relief with his withering putdowns of J.R. and his many manic business plots. Throw in a bastard son (Steve Kanaly) and a horny younger cousin (Charlene Tilton), and there's fodder not just for four seasons but for a total of 13 seasons that bookend the Reagan years and all their cowboy trappings with fearful symmetry.

Dallas is supposed to be campy fun, but you have to sit through a lot of phone calls, dictation, board meetings, and family conferences to get to the good stuff. Writers of blatant Dallas ripoff Dynasty saw this and upped their camp factor from the get-go. With Joan Collins and her shoulder pads under contract, how could they go wrong?

Dallas's historical legacy is as one of the last TV dramas that could inspire water-cooler conversations that cut across all demographics, and the early episodes in this collection are the best. As the years wore on, characters got fat, got divorced, got old, or died, and the storylines didn't maintain the same buzz. Only when Bobby/Duffy "died," skipped a season, and then came back to declare that the entire previous season had been a dream did Dallas ever generate headlines again, and those headlines weren't kind. Imagine investing your time in 22 episodes that never actually happened. Sheesh!

So if you have to watch Dallas reruns, these 77 episodes are the ones to watch, but consider watching them on fast-forward with the subtitles turned on. You'll save lots of time.

Who shot me?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Barry Crane, Linda Day, Robert Day, Lawrence Dobkin, Dennis Donnelly, , Victor French, , , Harry Harris, Nick Havinga, Gunnar Hellström, Michael A. Hoey, Jerry Jameson, , Leonard Katzman, Alex March, Leslie H. Martinson, Russ Mayberry, Don McDougall, Vincent McEveety, Irving J. Moore, Michael Preece, Alexander Singer, , Dwight Adair

Producer: Leonard Katzman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.