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'Dallas' Season 13 DVD [REVIEW],
This review is from: Dallas: Season 13 (DVD)
I love 'Dallas', but after viewing this season on DVD, I'm just on the fence about this particular season. This release of the show's 13th season, in my view, was something of a mixed bag. It was clear that the producers either knew the show was winding down or that they were trying to tweak and change the show so that it'd have another few seasons left in it. This was the first season with the exception of perhaps the post-dream season where things really felt a bit slow and tired. You had the typical plot: Ewing Oil is in trouble because of something J.R. did, Bobby and others think J.R. needs to get out of the business so that Jock's legacy and company can be preserved; J.R. concedes but still wins the day. After 13 seasons, this whole plot feels a bit worn out. There were however good plots and new characters introduced that kept things fresh and flowing, and kept this season from being a complete bore.
The Good: As for the quality of the transfer to DVD, I can't complain. If you were satisfied with the previous seasons on DVD, you'll be happy with this one for the most part. As for the plot and storylines for this season, the focus felt to be set more on J.R. than the last few seasons. Without having Sue Ellen to worry over and being back at Ewing Oil after a season or two of being knocked out and down, he's back and determined to do Jock proud. It was a bit like the early seasons, with J.R. really digging his heels into the oil business and scheming for the sake of coming out on top of it all. This season also changed the dynamic a bit by having more defined villain roles. Cliff Barnes, who last season seemed to go soft and join the good guys, goes back to being the thorn in the Ewings' side; Carter McKay, who was introduced in the previous season, goes from being on the fence to really becoming the new villain/big boss to beat. McKay, to me, was the most interesting character of the season because he has redeeming qualities and depth and you understand his motivations while wanting him to lose for the sake of Bobby and others coming out on top. Another great arc of the season was how Cally (J.R.'s new wife) comes to the same realizations and feelings that took Sue Ellen years to develop and how she teams up with a new character to finally out-maneuver J.R. Albeit a season or two too late, we also get to see Bobby come to terms with Pam's departure/death, even if the storyline is a bit contrived and too soap opera like. The cliffhanger of the season was definitely far better than the previous season's and has me anxiously awaiting the release of the final season.
The Bad: Back to the plot, it was clear that the writers really ran out of ideas for certain characters. Clayton and Miss Ellie spend the entire season trying to solve mysteries, puzzles and chase down murderers as if they were on 'Murder, She Wrote'. Another focus of the season was on April Stevens and her relationship with Bobby. I'm sorry, I never bought into their relationship in the past two seasons and still have a hard time figuring out why April would be Bobby's next great love after Pam and Jenna Wade. All April seems to do is whine, cry and steam the whole season over how Bobby doesn't love her and it becomes tiring to watch. Lucy Ewing is back as a regular but has absolutely nothing more to do than to play Cally Harper Ewing's hanging-out buddy. The first episode or two of the season starts with J.R. trying to deal with Sue Ellen's threat from last season, but by the end of the season J.R. is calling Sue Ellen and referring to her as 'darling' and asking her to take his son off his hands for a bit. Even if it was so that he could properly carry out a scheme, it just seemed unbelievable that J.R. would be so chummy with Sue Ellen considering how she schemed and threatened him last season. On a side note, I know some liked this season and didn't feel Linda Gray's absence didn't affect the show but to me her missing from the series really changed the dynamic and feel and definitely left J.R. a bit less interesting.
Another issue I had with this season was (and I'm being vague so not to spoil a big arc and plot) the emergence of yet another Ewing no one knew about. J.R. welcomes the new Ewing with open arms, without any bit of hesitance or suspicion. We've seen a new Ewing or family member emerge almost every season and J.R. is always the first to leap up and object to him or her being accepted without earning their dues. Suddenly, J.R. accepts this new Ewing into the fold, gives them a piece of Ewing Oil, helps them whenever they ask and even lets them into Southfork and it isn't until the final episodes of the season where he seems to get some sense and question their intentions. Perhaps it's old age or the fact that he had closer ties and more stake in the new Ewing than others but it just baffled me. J.R. continuing love and devotion to his new wife also confused me considering his years with Sue Ellen and how she seemed to do and express a lot of the same feelings that Cally did. Again, it isn't until late in the season when he comes around and treats Cally just as he did Sue Ellen. On a last note, again, no special features for the DVD? Not even a random cast interview or clip from the reunion show?
In all, a decent season but far from one of the best from the season. There are a lot of competing plots and arcs that either feel too drawn out or that were cut short or simply fumbled and dropped. There was definitely a feeling of change for the series with this season: even with another season on the horizon, it felt like certain plots or characters were given resolution (i.e. Bobby and his unresolved Pam issues, Lucy figuring out and getting employment, April getting what she wanted after her first appearance in the series). As a viewer and 'Dallas' fan, I wish this release would have come with an extra or two but am holding out hope that the final season will get a great send-off on DVD and that perhaps we'll get a TV-movie collection packed with special features as well. I'd really give this season and DVD release 3.5 stars but it was still enjoyable and had some great moments.