Dallas: Season 4
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Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
Power, wealth, sex ... and glorious extravagance. They all find a home in the sprawling saga of the Ewing clan in Dallas. Revel in the saga that held the world in thrall for more than a decade: Led by the man everyone loves to hate, J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), there is no limit to what members of this family will do in the pursuit of power, wealth and revenge in a feud that started 40 years ago over an empire in oil and the love of a woman.]]>
Following a tumultuous third season that culminated in the shooting of likeable villain J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) by an unknown assailant, Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season is relatively tame by comparison. Still, it begins with no fewer than four episodes stretching out the mystery of who (from a wide field of candidates) actually shot J.R., with the victim's alcoholic wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), looking like the chief suspect. Meanwhile, with J.R. out of commission and possibly paralyzed by a bullet pressing against his spine, brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) reluctantly takes the reins of Ewing Oil at the insistence of his father, Jock (Jim Davis). Prepared to buy a refinery at a bargain pricesomething Jock always wanted but J.R. could never deliverBobby is set to take Ewing Oil to a new level of success, but finds his authority undercut by J.R., who is pulling strings from his hospital bed.
Another suspect in the shooting, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), brother of Bobby's wife, Pam (Victoria Principal), tries to jumpstart his return to Texas politics by making trouble for the Ewings in the Texas legislature. Bobby himself, burned out on the family business, tries his own hand at the state senate, a useful place to be once Jock and Ewing matriarch Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), mired in a personal conflict that heads toward divorce, find themselves on opposite sides in a land dispute. Other story threads include a rocky marriage between granddaughter Lucy (Charlene Tilton) and a medical student (Leigh McCloskey), and extramarital distraction for lonely Pam and Sue Ellen. Perhaps the biggest scandal of the season is J.R.'s manipulation of a counterrevolution in the Southeast Asian country where Ewing Oil fields were disastrously nationalized--a crime that could come back to haunt him. --Tom Keogh
- 23 episodes on four double-sided discs: No More Mr. Nice Guy parts 1 and 2, Nightmare, Who Done It?, Taste of Success, The Venezuelan Connection, The Fourth Son, Trouble at Ewing 23, The Prodigal Mother, Executive Wife, End of the Road parts 1 and 2, Making of a President, Start the Revolution with Me, The Quest, Lover Come Back, The New Mrs. Ewing, Mark of Cain, The Gathering Storm, Ewing vs. Ewing, New Beginnings, Full Circle, Ewing-Gate
- Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork
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The Mitch and Lucy story seems repetitious as Lucy, again, gets engaged and in this case married. Mitch is little more mature than Lucy's other men, but he actually seems more like a big brother than husband. The quote from J.R. regarding her luck with men is classic: "Lose another one Sugar? Got to hand it to you you sure can pick them. A pansy, a crook and a pauper."
Mitch appears to be deadly serious about himself while Lucy giggles like a lovesick teenager. The slowness of the storylines beomes apparent as Mitch and Lucy remain married (seperated) until next season when both finally decide mutually to call it quits. Possibly this gave a more dramatic side to Lucy.
The Takapa storyline is best summarized by one of the brothers (I forget which) - "Don't tell me momma and daddy are fighting over some swamp land?" Unfortunately yes and it's every bit as interesting as that.
The senator Ewing story is boring as Senator Ewing does absolutely nothing once elected.
The Leslie Stewart storyline is a really a bad joke as though anyone would believe that JR Ewing has changed his ways all because of a lame advertising campaign.
The ridiculous story line about the Asian oil wells and the revolution which is basically just JR trying to undo everything he did last year because the cartel won't do any business with him. As Cliff says, "Nobody's that lucky - not even you, JR."
The return of Kristen is also not a big deal either. She got away with attempted murder last year so it's kind of pushing things a little to think she would return to extort more money.
On the positive side I like the addition of Rebecca Wentworth and Dusty's return was welcome if not a little far fetched. Also, the addition of Donna Culver was welcome as woman who actually did something besides sleep around. Take notes, Lucy!
The addition of Afton Cooper is tolerable if you can get past Audrey Landers' singing. She can carry a tune but the story of JR bankroling her career recalls the "Triangle" episode and JR's contract with Garnett MdGee which incuded fringe benefits. Publicist Leslie Stewart reccomends to JR that he not waste his time on "second rate lounge singers." How about second rate PR women?
The cliffhanger seems as if it were just tacked on at the end of the season. Kristen is now an outcast and therefore expendable and make everybody wait until next year to find out the pay off. Her return seems unrealted to everything else that's happened since she ws sent packing to California.
Entertaining in places it but shows signs of weakening. The cast recalls in interviews on season 3 dvd that they already knew that they would never top "A House Divided" - I can't even stomach the sounds of anyone asking "Who Shot JR?" It shows here that it was going to be a hard season to follow. It was probably never to be topped atleast not in the ratings.
The reunion special is almost worth the price of admission, as the cast of Dallas seems to have fun lampooning their own show. A countdown of fan's top ten favorite cliffhangers is also noteworthy. Bet you can't guess whcih is number one? The cast reminicses about the show, pay tributes to Jim Davis and Barbara Bel Geddes (hospitlaized at the time) and recall the infamous cliffhanger and the hype surrounding it. Also includes a blooper segment and gag reel of practidal jokes. There is some comfort in knowing that the cast had a sense of humor about this.
This set, as most Dallas fans surely realize, has within it the episode that resolves the "Who Shot J.R.?" story arc. It's episode #4 of this season ("Who Done It?"), which first aired on Friday night, November 21st, 1980. And it looks just great on this DVD (as do all the other episodes as well). The video quality here, like the earlier DVD sets of "Dallas" put out by Warner Home Video, looks A-OK to me.
Prior to the much-anticipated airing of "Who Done It?" in late November of 1980 (which was delayed in getting aired by about two months due to an actors' strike in Hollywood that shut down production of all TV series), it had been exactly eight months since TV viewers had seen the season-ending cliffhanger where we see J.R. Ewing being filled with hot lead from the gun of an unseen and unknown would-be murderer.
That meant eight long months of guesswork engaged in by fans of the series, trying to figure out who plugged John Ross Ewing II. I can vividly recall the media build-up to the "Who Done It?" episode in 1980. It was something else. Everyone was talking "Dallas" and speculating as to who might have been the gunman (or gunwoman). And there wasn't a shortage of "suspects" either, right on up to Miss Ellie Ewing, J.R.'s own mother! Several people thought Ellie had had enough of her eldest son's backstabbing shenanigans and had decided to take matters (and a murder weapon) into her own hands.
Anyway, those months leading up to the big cliffhanger-resolution 4th show of the year were truly something to behold. So it's no wonder that the "Who Done It?" episode managed to break all kinds of television records. 41,470,000 homes ("households") were tuned to "Dallas" that Friday night in 1980 to see who it was that tried to kill Mr. Ewing, shattering the previous television ratings' record (held at that time by the last episode of "The Fugitive" in 1967) for the highest-rated and most-watched single TV program in history.*
* = Total number of actual "viewers" watching "Dallas" on 11/21/1980, however, was much higher than the 41-Million-plus figure previously mentioned. From data I've gathered on the Internet, there were approximately 83,000,000 people watching "Dallas" that night in the United States. (Although some sources list this "Total Number Of People Watching" stat as greater than 90-Million.)
Another interesting statistic that surrounds the airing of the "Who Done It?" episode is the fact that commercial advertisements that were seen on CBS-TV that night cost those sponsors $500,000 per minute. And, remember, that was many, many years ago, in 1980. Whew! J.R. would no doubt be very proud of those monetary stats!
Of course, that half-a-million-dollars-per-minute TV ad cost, circa 1980, is dwarfed by some similar 21st-century stats....e.g., the average cost for a 30-second TV spot during the annual Super Bowl telecast reached a staggering $2.4-Million (as of 2005).
This fourth year of "Dallas", which is considered by many loyal "Dallas" fans to really be just the third (full) season of the show, in addition to containing some of the most-memorable episodes from the whole series, also marks the sad departure of Jim Davis (who played "Jock Ewing", the always-gruff and no-nonsense head of the Ewing family and Ewing Oil empire).
Jim Davis died at the age of 71 on April 26, 1981, which was just days before this fourth-season's cliffhanging finale ("Ewing-Gate") was aired on CBS. Jim's/Jock's presence was indeed missed by this writer during the subsequent seasons of "Dallas". And while the character of "Clayton Farlow" (played by the late Howard Keel) was a pretty good character in his own right, there was just no replacing Jock Ewing. Couldn't be done.
As fate would have it, Keel passed away on the exact day that the "Dallas Reunion" special originally aired on network TV in early November 2004. He was 85 years old. That very Reunion special is also included in its entirety in this DVD set.
This DVD aggregation contains four double-sided discs, which are held in two overlapping disc trays within a smaller and more-compact Digipak case than was used for the two earlier DVD collections. The footprint (spine width) of this 4th-season pack is a mere 3/4 of an inch.
When all four discs are removed from the two DVD-holding compartments, an impressive-looking underlying image emerges beneath the plastic trays -- a picture of a "smoking gun". A nice packaging touch.
There is no booklet included here in the Season-Four set. And the slimmer packaging reduces the amount of room for episode info...so there are no detailed (or even non-detailed) episode descriptions to be found on the innards of the box. The episode titles and airdates are listed however.
The outer slipcase box features photos of three of the main cast members (J.R., Pam, and Bobby), with the Dallas city skyline in the background. And while these three pics on the front cover are cut-and-paste jobs, I think the cover looks very nice.
And I just love the humorous blurb on the back of the outer box here too. A portion of it reads -- "Who shot J.R.? One of the men he cheated in business? One of the women he cheated in love? Or is the culprit closer to home: a member of the big, unhappy Ewing family who figured to reduce the weasel population of Texas by one?"
Excellent! That packaging verbiage deserves a big ol' "LOL" too! :-)
There are no Audio Commentaries included here, but the folks at Warner Home Video have included a really nice extra bonus item on Side B of Disc #4 of this set -- "Dallas Reunion: The Return To Southfork".
First seen on CBS on November 7th, 2004, this 2-hour Reunion special (87 minutes on the DVD, without the original commercials) was watched by more than 9-Million people during its initial airing. It ranked an impressive #20 in the Nielsen ratings for that week.
The Reunion Special is a very fun program to watch, with many original "Dallas" cast members (including Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and Victoria Principal) getting together at the real "Southfork" Ranch in Texas to share their individual and collective remembrances of the TV series (which ended its remarkable 357-episode network run in 1991).
The "Reunion" is filled with cast-member anecdotes, bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage, and more good stuff too. A nifty little section of the Reunion program centers its attention on the "Best Dallas Cliffhangers". And there's some interesting unaired footage that was filmed during the "Who Shot J.R.?" frenzy, which includes scenes of various "suspects" firing the famous shot heard 'round the TV world.
Some of the outtake/blooper footage is hilarious. I especially like the outtake which has a frustrated Barbara Bel Geddes ("Miss Ellie") unleashing an unmentionable invective as she blows a line of dialogue. The curse word has been "bleeped out" by the CBS censors, but it's still funny anyhow, because you know Barbara uttered something naughty. :)
All-in-all, this Dallas Reunion is a very pleasant and enjoyable look back at one of TV's pioneering "nighttime soaps", a show that entered American living rooms for 14 consecutive years, spanning parts of three separate decades.
Some Season-Four DVD Specs:
VIDEO -- These 23 episodes are displayed in their native Full-Frame ratio (1.33:1), as first aired in 1980-1981. The 2004 Reunion special is also presented in 1.33:1 Full-Frame, as originally seen.
AUDIO -- Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono for all episodes (English only). The Retrospective Documentary includes a DD 2.0 Stereo soundtrack.
SUBTITLES -- In English, French, and Spanish. No subtitles are provided for the Reunion special though.
CHAPTERS? -- Yes. Each episode is divided into 6 chapters, and the originally-aired "previews" are intact prior to the main titles on all episodes. The "Next Week On Dallas" trailers at the end of each show are not included, however. (Note: The Reunion special is not broken up into individual chapters.)
MENUS -- The S.4 Menus are just like those from the earlier "Dallas" sets, featuring the main-title theme music playing on a continuous loop while the Main Menu is on screen. Sub-Menus can be accessed for "Episodes", "Languages", and "Special Features". Plus, there's a "Play" option on the Main Menu too. Selecting that item will "Play All" of the three episodes on that side of the disc without interruption. (There are just two episodes on the "B" side of the last disc, however -- plus the lengthy Reunion documentary.)
The Main Menu on each disc and side features a picture of the Ewing family....although Jock isn't in the picture. I can't figure out the reason for this blatant omission, because Jock was still in the cast during this season. Donna, Ray, and Cliff are shown on the Main Menu, but not Jock. That's a shame, too, because Jock should certainly be included in a "family" type portrait (circa Season 4; '80-'81).
This Season-Four DVD collection of "Dallas" is an essential purchase for those who already have Season #3. I cannot imagine having one without the other. Those two "Dallas" seasons go together like hand-and-glove.
To be able to own the forever-popular "Who Done It?" episode (and the eps. that lead up to it) in a beautiful, digitally-preserved format, as we see here, for a very reasonable price tag, is something that virtually all "Dallas" fans should be happy about.
And, on top of that, with a feature-length documentary program tacked on to this DVD set as a bonus, it makes "Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season" an even better 'steal of a deal'. I'm not too sure that even the scheming J.R. Ewing himself could have wangled a better deal for this DVD package. ;)
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is honoray as ever.