The Good

Dallas is one of those shows that you can come in on at any time, at any place, in any episode and never feel lost. The featurette that accompanies these episodes is one of the best I have ever seen.

The Bad

There is am option on the discs that says “Special Features.” So I went through all 4 discs looking for more features than the extensive Return to Southfork featurette. There were none and as a result I opened and closed my DVD player 8 times for nothing.

Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season tries to answer many of the questions left by the third one. Who shot J.R.? What will be the fate of Ewing Oil? What’s that dead body doing in the pool? With a family like this, who needs enemies? Dallas is one of those shows that really defines the idea of a “slow burn.” As it is a TV show (and one that ran from the late 1970s to the early 1990s) it really had room to let the characters evolve. In a nutshell this is a show about a family that has a lot of problems and their shady business practices within the oil industry. There isn’t much more to it than that.

Yet, the characterizations by Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing and just about every other character on this show is played with such dramatization that it’s almost laughable today. Also, the fact that our current Presidential Administration has some questionable oil ties, also adds a bit to this shows current cache. However, amidst all the melodrama that is on display here, there is something about Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season that works on a level that few shows can.

Features

Dallas Reunion: The Return To Southfork

This is a really different, really well made featurette. If I was someone who had followed the show in the 1980s, I would love this. Taking place on the seminal Southfork ranch, it has all the things we have come to expect from these featurettes (interviews, clips from the show, bloopers, etc.), but it is shot like a movie. We see various actors placed in specific areas around the ranch, and they talk to each other about the show. We hear how certain actors

were cast, what it was like filming specific scenes and they also discuss what was going on when the cameras weren’t looking.

Video

Standard Version presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of it’s original television exhibition. There really isn’t anything that amazing about the presentation of this show. Other than documenting the look of the early 1980s, what is most striking is the almost lack of color employed here. Or, it could have been the film stock employed? Overall, I think these shows look really good. There weren’t any glaring marks on the footage and more importantly, I didn’t see any moments where the discs skipped.

Audio

Dolby Digital - English: Mono. It’s very hard not to hear the opening parts of the familiar Dallas theme song, and not immediately be transported back to the 1980s. I had to turn up my TV a decent amount to be able to hear everything, but once I got things leveled all the discs (including the featurettes) played at pretty much the same audio volume. On another positive note, I didn’t hear any sound dropouts.

Package

The Ewing Bros. stand together with Pamela Ewing (Victoria Principal) in front of them. The main color on this cover is purple and it seems to be laid out almost exactly how the Third Season was. On the back are two promo shots from the show and one shot of Bobby and J.R. getting into a fight. There is a description of what this Fourth season is about, a “Special Features” listing, a cast list and some technical specs. Inside, are more pictures from the show and an episode index. All the discs are laid out on top of one another in “dual trays.” My biggest complaint with this method of storage is that one could easily scratch the discs when they take them out of the box.

Final Word

How does a show like this manage to be on the air for 13 years? What is it that would keep an audience tuning on? When you are able to sustain a run for that period of time, I think you have crossed over and become an institution. You are something that viewers almost seem to count on and in some ways maybe even take for granted. This show played in 3 decades. I know that the majority of it’s run was in the 1980s but I just cannot get over how impressive that is.

Maybe people like seeing the problems in other families as opposed to their own? Perhaps fans of the show were able to vicariously live through these characters in ways that they never could in their own lives? Whatever the reason, Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season, is one of those shows that needs to be on DVD.

Dallas was released .