Dallas: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
Dallas: The Complete Third Season
, originally broadcast in the fall of 1979 through early 1980, surely represents one of the most raucous and tantalizing years in the life of any television series in history. Murder, banking fraud, kidnapping, adultery, alcoholism, cancer, vengeance, a miscarriage, extortion, bribery, and astounding levels of betrayal both in business and private lives are just part of the catalogue of sins that make season 3 particularly juicy. Actually, what makes the 25 episodes in this box set so much fun to watch is a viewer's gradual awareness that every crime committed, every ethical breach or personal tragedy is part of an overall design, reverberating in dozens of directions and affecting multiple relationships and numerous schemes. As enjoyable as each program is on its own terms, it's quite clear that by the 25th episode, "A House Divided," in which a major character receives a surprise-ending comeuppance, that all chickens were intended to come home to roost in the last show's very clever script.
A remarkable number of story threads found their way into season 3. Starting with a two-parter concerning the kidnapping of a newborn baby belonging to J.R. (Larry Hagman) and Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray), problems just keep on sprouting like weeds. First, there's Sue Ellen's emotional deep-freeze and refusal to nurture her child as a healthy mom should, which in turn prompts the childless Pamela Ewing (Victoria Principal) to free her maternal instincts toward J.R.'s son, much to the chagrin of J.R.'s brother, Bobby (Patrick Duffy). Meanwhile, teenager Lucy (Charlene Tilton), abandoned daughter of missing Ewing son Gary (David Ackroyd), threatens to teach J.R.'s son, one day, to turn against the Ewing clan, inspiring J.R. to escalate plans to get rid of Lucy any way possible. (Gary, by the way, kicks into gear a famous Dallas spin-off by moving to Knots Landing, California.) Matriarch Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) faces a mastectomy, making her worry that husband Jock (Jim Davis) will stop loving her, though he faces problems of his own when a skeleton found buried on Ewing property turns up near Jock's missing handgun. (Whoops.) Finally, J.R.'s almost Shakespearean manipulation of the sale of Asian oil fields to old family friends, just before those fields are nationalized, is brilliantly wicked stuff. His actions have enormous, grievous ramifications--not least of all for J.R. --Tom Keogh