Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
'Dallas' Season 12 [MINOR SPOILERS]
on January 31, 2010
Season 12 of 'Dallas' was by far a vast improvement over the past few seasons (at least the ones released on DVD). Ever since the notorious "dream" season, it felt like the show had lost its footing. There was too much time and energy devoted to trying to make-up for the wasted season, too much character development lost and simply jumbled and confused, too much attention given to a few weak characters (Jenna Wade and her daughter Charlie, to be exact). From the first episode of the season, it felt like the show and its producers had wiped the slate clean and gone back to the show's glory days. There was suspense and action from the first scenes of the show; returning faces like Afton Cooper; new ones like the complex character of Carter McKay. In all, up until perhaps the last episode of the season, this was by far the best paced, best written season since the pre-dream one.
The Good: Certain things worked well. There was the feeling that the producers knew some characters had run their course and finally they did their best to write out those characters, and plots, that really tended to bring the show down. Jenna Wade (played by Priscilla Presley) is out; so is her daughter Charlie and, for the most part, Ray Krebs. Yes, Ray appears in what can be called a guest appearance early on in the season; but then he's effectively given a send-off and we only hear of him by name. Lucy Ewing-Cooper, who returned at the end of last season, returns full-time to the cast. Her cynical quips and strong dislike for J.R. made the show feel like it did in its early days. There was also the departure of some lesser known characters like J.R.'s police department contact who moves on from helping J.R. and his illegal plotting to be replaced by someone new; the Ewing's lawyer, who seems to have a plot or role that requires him to be the surrogate father-protector of the Ewing's interest also makes an appearance. There was also some great character moments that finally brought about some much needed changes to the show; after seasons of fighting and threats, Sue Ellen finally sets out on her own and decides to give J.R. a dose of his own medicine. In many ways, the season served as a swan song and send-off for Linda Gray and the Sue Ellen character. It was nice to see her finally out on her own, not threatened by J.R. Cliff Barnes also moves on plot wise from always setting out to destroy Ewing Oil to actually working with Bobby and J.R.! He's also given a new love interest and a plot that will spill over into the next season involving a returning old character, Afton Cooper. The show's nemesis Jeremy Wendell is finally written out in an interesting plot that involves both J.R. and Sue Ellen and the entire Southfork clan. A new nemesis, Carter McKay, is introduced but unlike past 'Dallas' bad guys, this guy actually his complex, has a heart and isn't entirely bad nor without motive. In all, the characters were the best part of season 12; they all interact, mingle, have scenes with one another and the usual 'fight for Ewing Oil' plot is put on a back burner.
The Bad: There isn't much to complain about with season 12. Some may feel on the fence about the new character of Cally, J.R.'s new love interest. While it was refreshing that she wasn't one-sided or as greedy and power hungry as J.R.'s past love interests, she did feel a bit too 'different' and as if the producers tried a bit hard to make her a true outsider to the whole 'Dallas' cast and characters. I didn't buy into their relationship; it was hard for me to, within the span of a few episodes, understand why J.R. would take a liking to her and want to stay married to her when she, at times, did things or asked of him things that Sue Ellen would or has over the past few seasons. Is it old age, her young age? I don't know but I look forward to seeing how her character is fleshed out because right now it just seems as if she was made to be a more naive, younger, foolish version of Sue Ellen. Another thing that I didn't understand was Bobby's ongoing relationship issues with April Stevens. To me, the characters simply had no chemistry and their relationship seems forced. Her character, one that was introduced in the 'dream' season and then re-introduced in the next season, seems flawed and confused, as if the producers have forgotten how she started out with an agenda and mean streak and now she's supposed to be overly needy and pleasant? I don't get it. Bobby's character felt off for the first episodes of the season. I didn't get why all of the characters, including Bobby and Miss Ellie, also suddenly seemed so cold and mean-spirited toward Sue Ellen after seasons of showing they understood her issues and troubles with J.R. I won't even get started on the attempt to wrap the Pam Ewing plot - it should have just been left alone. The season seemed to lose a bit of steam during the final episodes that contain the annual 'let's get out of 'Dallas' and into a foreign country' set of episodes. There really was no threat, no urgency, no conflict that drove the trip and having scenes of the the cast sight seeing just wasn't compelling television. Also, the cliffhanger left much to be desired. For a show that basically created the cliffhanger and perfected it, this season ended with a whimper and also made Linda Gray's departure a bit of a let down. Again, there was little suspense or a moment that had you out of your seat screaming for more. Instead you're left with a rather neatly-wrapped season with the most suspense and mystery left with a new plot for Miss Ellie and Clayton to have to deal with in the next season.
In all, despite some flaws, this season was a vast improvement over the last few released on DVD. I wasn't as crazy about the DVD transfer; there were a few scenes that looked a bit out of focus or low quality. I also wasn't crazy about how yet again we're left with a season release with absolutely no special features. Why not some commentary from Linda Gray? An in-depth look at the Cally character? These seasons have so much potential for a special feature or two but are usually left with nothing. Here's hoping Warner will make up for it with something special in the last seasons and (hopefully) the t.v. movie release. This season is definitely worth buying and worth watching. As I usually say with 'Dallas', it's still better than a majority of the shows on television these days.