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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Complete Ninth Season


Starring: Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Victoria Principal
Warner Home Video
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 22 September 2008

It’s hard to believe today that Dallas stands as one of the most popular American soaps ever made. The show ran from 1978 to 1991 with a massive fourteen seasons, counting the original mini series. I say hard to believe because in retrospect the show is incredibly naff.

The general story is that of the Ewing family, whose oil and cattle interests are the playground for an endless series of back stabbing, murders and double dealings, especially from the villain of the piece J.R Ewing played by Larry Hagman. As the season progressed the storyline became increasingly implausible until the show was finally cancelled.

For those of an age, who remember the rabid fervour which the show's followers displayed, will recall that at various points the show was elevated out of tiny screen and into the real world, especially the story related to the shooting of J.R. which turned up on prime-time news as if it were a real and important story. The show also changed one of the major characters (J.R.'s mother, Miss Ellie, into Donna Reed) with some knowing irony. When she returns, this season, from Europe they tell her the trip has made her into a new woman.

The most controversial choice was to dump a whole season, this season, and put it down to a dream by Pam - god that woman can dream in some detail, which is just as well as she disappears from the last four series, just because of her scars from a car crash. This also meant that the inevitable cliff hanger at the end of this season is never resolved when the whole storyline was dumped.

But, to those that loved the show, Dallas was compulsive viewing and set the trend, which continues today in Eastenders, of mostly unpleasant people being unpleasant to each other. Part of the attraction of the show was watching rich people having a bad time, all angst and big shoulder pads. Throw in the usual season’s worth of love triangles and murders and the behemoth that was Dallas continued on its merry way.

That aside the show could boast some memorable actors, not least of which was Larry Hagman who played the villainous J.R. to the hilt. Patrick (Man from Atlantis) Duffy played his younger, nicer brother Bobby, with Linda Gray as Sue Ellen and Victoria Principal as Pamela, Bobby’s wife. Other memorable appearances include Howard Keel as Miss Ellie’s new squeeze and Marc Singer (the bloke from V).

The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and to be honest I found the picture to be pretty grainy with noticeable artefacts in places. There are German and English subtitles. There is an extra on the sixth disc - Seasons of Change (14 min, 48 sec) which looks at the show and the change of Miss Ellie in particular.

For die hard fans of the show the box set will be worth collecting, but I can see even those will feel cheated when they discover that the whole thirty-one episode storyline is suddenly dumped at the beginning of season ten.


Charles Packer

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