Dallas: The Complete Thirteenth Season
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (8th May 2010).
The Show

Some shows are considered visionary for their talent, sheer writing potential that pushes the medium of television and inspires future generations of writers or network executives to think outside the lines. In some respects, “Dallas” (1978-1991) helped popularize the use of ongoing cliffhangers to pull in an audience from season to season, it happened before with radio and older shows, but “Dallas” managed to go for the gusto with a long continuing story that seemed to find a new cliff every episode and a bigger cliff at the end of the season. But in most other ways “Dallas” is completely trapped in it’s time period. Not just in styles or hairdos, but nothing is quite as symbolic of the 80’s as the texas oil yuppies who are so filled with greed that they’re in everyone’s business. Insert Bush jokes here. Politics, what’s the deal?

After getting shot so many years past, this 13th season (1989-1990) J.R. (Larry Hagman) gets himself into a whole new heap of trouble, running the Ewing oil company as best he knows buying and moving oil like the baron he is while making enemies of friends and family in the process. He’s got marital problems with his young wife, business problems with his brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy), father-son issues with his rediscovered, illegitimate, son James (Sasha Mitchell), other son, legitimate?, business rival Carter McKay (George Kennedy) and new, 25 year old wife Cally (Cathy Podwell). Plus his hat is really big, and he winds up stuck in an insane asylum at the end of the season. Tarnation.

“Dallas” is the sort of symbol of 80’s Texas wealth that I'd imagine it really was, a southern gentleman’s grin as a thin veneer for a cutthroat business yuppie attitude in an oil industry that saw more to establishing a sprawling oil-rich family dynasty that saw no end to wealth. J.R. lives for money, Bobby lives to love whatever love interest tests well that season, but most importantly they all live for the oil industry, even though oil is the sort of thing that just fuels the interpersonal drama. All these characters just move around between relationships and dramatic situations to fuel the sort of weird plot twists that soaps are known for.

Acting in this show is really secondary to the amount of interweaving storylines, if a character tests well, they’re in. If not they’re out. And if they leave by choice? They’ll be back, and it will all be a dream. Sadly nothing that ridiculous happens throughout this season, just tons of affairs, accusations of affairs, new relationships, old enemys. It’s really all old hat. Old Ten Gallon hat. Even as the season begins, the cliff hanger from last season is mentioned, unresolved, and left behind as it becomes apparent no one really cared about the cliff hanger. They just like these rich and shallow and rich and pretty (for the 80’s) people run around Dallas.

But unfortunately it’s all for nothing, and the season ends abruptly (though that doesn’t change much in Dallas, not since the Mavericks choked in the finals. Zing.) with a cliff hanger off a plotline set up just a couple episodes before. Semblance of continuity is nothing when you have such a sprawling set of characters to fake drama with. Really this show holds no interest for me, but if you catch an episode it’s kind of funny to watch in that weird haha 80’s TV show way. With 27 episodes it’s really too much to handle, unless you really want to see Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) from “X-Files” (1993-2002) in an insane asylum in part one of the season finale.

Episodes in the season are:

- “Phantom of the Oil Rig”
- “The Leopard’s Spots”
- “Cry Me A River of Oil”
- “Ka-Booooooom!”
- “Sunries, Sunset”
- “Pride and Prejudice”
- “Fathers and Other Strangers”
- “Black Tide”
- “Daddy Dearest”
- “Hell’s Fury”
- “Cally on a Hot Tin Roof”
- “Sex, Lies and Videotape”
- “Tale of Two cities”
- “Judgement Day”
- “Unchain My Heart”
- “I Dream of Jeannie”
- “After Midnight”
- “The Crucible”
- “Dear Hearts and Gentle People”
- “Paradise Lost”
- “Will Power”
- “The Smiling Cobra”
- “Jessica Redux”
- “Family Plot”
- “The Southfork Wedding Jinx”
- “Three, Three, Three: Part One”
- “Three, Three, Three: Part Two”

Video

“Dallas” is presented in it’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, but the emphasis on this transfer must really have been authenticity since it looks about the same as a high quality VCR recording of the show when it originally aired. The visual quality makes it look like the image is projected onto some really coarse watercolor paper, filled with all kinds of artifacts and dirty images that really give that early 90’s feel. Sure it may not have felt like visual quality was that poor at the time, but it just doesn’t hold up in the least and it feels like no restoration effort was put in. Yet with how trashy the show itself is it feels about right.

Audio

For some reason though I’m less of a stickler for the restoration of the audio track, keeping it to it’s original English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track, it keeps all the pops and weird editing glitches as it would have aired on television. Unless they’re rebuilding from some original sound masters that were created in a higher quality, I would think that there could have been a solid restoration, but with the visual quality as low as it is the audio fits in just right. The transfer pops around and has the sort of old static feel that VHS has, reminding you that for some strange reason you’re reliving a prime time soap opera from the 80’s and 90’s.
There are also English subtitles. That’s it.

Extras

There is nothing but the episodes on these discs.

Packaging

The set comes with three double-sided DVDs packaged in a 3 disc amray case, all inside a cardboard housing.

Overall

The Show: D- Video: D+ Audio: C- Extras: F Overall: D-

 


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