• Dallas - The Complete Second Season

    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: February 11th, 2014.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes, Jim Davis, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman
    Year: 2013
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Series:

    Following on from its initial reboot last year the "new" DALLAS was given a second full season. The real life death of series icon Larry Hagman threw a huge wrench in the plotting works however and the writers had to come up with a way to accommodate this devastating loss into their storyline.

    For those uninitiated, a quick primer by reading about season 1 should suffice.

    All of the main players from season 1 have returned but the main change in this season is the highly visible presence of Ken Kercheval as Cliff Barnes. Literally the oldest enemy of the Ewing clan the driving narrative of season 2 is his unholy alliance with trucking magnate Harris Ryland (a deliciously vicious Mitch Pileggi of X-FILES fame) in their attempt to both sabotage the clean energy program of Bobby Ewing's (Patrick Duffy) adopted son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) and their overall plan to bankrupt Ewing Oil.

    DALLAS season 2 suffers from some unnecessarily convoluted plotting that does not bear up under any real scrutiny. There are also occasional problems with poorly written characters and tepid acting. Metcalfe as Bobby's son is particularly bland and Jordana Brewster as his daughter-of-the-longstanding family's Mexican maid (can we bury this insulting stereotype already?) love interest is especially irksome. Bobby always had some steel with his sanctimoniousness. His son should try for a little himself.

    Thankfully there are enough old pros on hand and some more promising newcomers to make this season an overwhelmingly satisfying one. Hagman lived long enough to appear in almost half the season and he's terrific. Machinating and plotting to the very end, JR is as much fun as he ever was. After his sudden disappearance from the show he gets the season's true highlight. A funeral with a stunning guest list of virtually every key character from the original series still alive. Ted Shackelford as Gary Ewing, Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing, and Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs are just a few of the attendees.

    Other great and pleasant surprises this season are Steven Webber as the crooked governor of Texas, Judith Light in a supremely creepy turn as Harris Ryland's mantis-like mother and Lee Majors as a decent but compromised energy official with a thing for JR's ex-wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Speaking of Sue Ellen this a great season for her with her showing some real flair for Machiavellian tactics. Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III remains the brightest spark in the younger ensemble. A handsome young man but with a distinctive look that makes him stand out from all of the boring male models populating prime time tv these days he's a great find. And he's mastered the art of the arched eyebrow. Julie Gonzalo as Cliff Barnes daughter and Henderson's love interest is also strong. Given a difficult pregnancy story arc the actress handles the material skillfully and brings some real pathos to the show. Emma Stone as Ryland's pill-popping daughter is another recent standout addition. And Patrick Duffy remains the lynchpin of the new show.

    As tightly plotted drama DALLAS redux season 2 has some glaring flaws. But as entertainment it works splendidly due to the overall quality of the acting and dialog. Anyone as disillusioned with politicians as most of us are today can't help but chuckle watching these scorpions threaten and cajole each other in sweetheart deals and bribes. It's enough to make a cynic grin like a fool. Long live the prime time soap (even if it's only on cable!) - it may be a dying breed but it is worth putting under the care of the wildlife protection agency.


    Though it would have been nice to have this on Blu Ray, as far as DVD transfers go there are no complaints here. Shown in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, color and detail are strong with very little grain visible (though aggressive DNR seems absent). Edge enhancement pops up occasionally but it's not a serious problem.

    The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is well mixed and nicely immersive whether you are hearing cattle in the distance or ambient conversation in a restaurant. The set also has English subtitles.

    Extras include an extended cut of the final episode, a lovely video tribute to Larry Hagman featuring many of his costars and friends from his lengthy career, a final one on one interview with Hagman and a featurette on the Ewing Energies methane production plot line. "Dallas at PaleyFest 2013" showcases an industry event with members of the cast and creative team. Finally you get some short "fashion file" pieces and a healthy sampling of deleted scenes. A nice buffet of extras correctly emphasizing Hagman's contribution to the DALLAS phenomenon.

    The Final Word:

    Recommended to those who enjoyed season 1 DALLAS redux is actually a stronger program in its second season despite the death of Larry Hagman. For those considering dipping in for the first time start with season 1 of the reboot.