TITLE: DALLAS - THE COMPLETE FINAL (FOURTEENTH) SEASON
DVD Release Date: January 18, 2011 (Warner Bros. Home Video)
Packaging: Clear plastic keep case-style with hub
Number of Discs: 5 (4 Dual Layer, 1 Single Layer)
Number of Episodes: 22 (One is feature length)
Running Time: 1098 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Stereo
Special Features: None
Here it is... the final season of TV’s most popular primetime serial. Season 14 of Dallas puts a nice bow on the entire series, wraps up some long standing plotlines, and introduces some new twists and characters.
However, the series was very much running out of steam. 14 seasons and over 350 episodes is a long time for any series and both the producers and the network realized this. Ratings were at an all time low (61st for the year) so it’s a good thing the show was finally put out of its misery.
The plots this season are far from the best of the run, but are still entertaining. The season starts with J.R.’s desperate attempt to get out of the mental institution. Bobby and his new bride get involved in a kidnapping plot, involving guest star Susan Lucci (All My Children,) that reaches a grisly climax. Larry Hagman and former I Dream of Jeannie co-star Barbara Eden are reunited when Eden plays temptress Lee Ann De La Vega who attempts to take over Ewing Oil. J.R. finally does lose the business, and anyone who ever cared even a shred about him (a short list), leading up to the surreal series finale -- an unusual take on “It’s a Wonderful Life” in which a being from beyond (played by Joel Grey) shows J.R. a world in which he never existed (along with returning Linda Gray and Mary Crosby). And everything doesn’t turn out quite as one would expect it to.
The plot lines were decent this season, but pale in comparison to Dallas’ glory years. The kidnapping plot gets a little ridiculous at times, and the series finale may leave some viewers alienated. It finishes with a cliffhanger in classic Dallas style (in fact, the “Last on Dallas” segment is a nice touch itself--a review of all of the previous cliffhangers) which was resolved in the reunion movies kind of disappointingly--but we’ll get to that in the next review. The producers still weren’t 100% sure if the show was coming back the next year, so they wrote a cliffhanger that could be resolved the next season, but would also be a fitting end if there wasn’t a next year.
The scenes with Eden and Hagman together again, however, are a treat. Both are playing characters completely opposite from their old “Jeannie” characters, but the two still have the same chemistry and romantic tension that they always have.
April in Paris: 47:47
One Last Kiss: 47:41
Tunnel of Love: 47:39
Heart and Soul: 47:41
The Fabulous Ewing Boys: 47:46
The Odessa File: 47:52
Sail On: 47:52
Lock, Stock, and Jock: 47:42
S is For Seduction: 47:53
Designing Women: 47:53
Smooth Operator: 47:42
Win Some, Lose Some: 47:37
Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Sons: 47:44
When the Wind Blows: 47:39
Those Darned Ewings: 47:46
Farewell, My Lovely: 47:44
Some Leave, Some Get Carried Out: 47:40
The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire: 47:44
Conundrum (Parts 1 & 2) 1:35:21
The discs come inside a clear plastic keep-case, with a hinged page on the spine holding additional discs, as has been common in recent releases of this season. One huge plus on this set is after many releases consisting of double-sided discs, noted for their many problems (easily scratched, some players freeze in the middle, etc.) is that we finally have single sided discs! The front of the discs features the Dallas logo on a purple background similar to the front cover. Speaking of the front cover, it’s very attractive, with J.R. taking front and center with many of the season’s stars and guest stars behind him. The back cover is similar, as is the informative booklet which contains a rundown of which episode is on which disc, along with descriptions, airdate info, and production credits.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is almost identical to those of previous season s of Dallas. The same image of J.R. as the front cover, along with a Play All option, and a selection of the episodes on the disc and a language option. The only complaint I have is the same one that my predecessor had – the music used for the main menu is the 1978 recording of the theme. The theme was re-recorded each year--it couldn’t be that hard to include the proper version of the main theme on the menus.
Chapter stops can be found after the "Last on Dallas" segment, after the main title, and between acts.
Video and Audio Quality:
FINALLY! We have stereo sound on this set. CBS began airing Dallas in stereo around 1985 or 1986, but the DVD releases have been in mono. Fortunately, the sound on this set is in its full stereo glory with great channel separation, especially during the main title and other scenes with music. The audio sounds absolutely great! Why did it take so long for Warner to fix this problem?
Video quality is decent for the era. In the late 1980s and 1990s, video editing had progressed to a point that the original film elements were dubbed to video tape and then edited in non-linear system. Unfortunately, this process causes a slight softening of the video. I can say, however, it looks every bit as good here as it did in 1990.
What a surprise... no special features whatsoever. With this being the final season of the show, surely there could have been some sort of feature on the end of the series or something, but I guess not.
We’ve finally reached the end of the regular Dallas series. We still have the reunion and prequel movies to go--those will be released in April. I, for one, liked the series finale and thought it was a nice touch, even if it was a little outlandish, as were some of the other plots this season. Casual fans may want to skip this season and stick to the early “Who Shot J.R.” seasons, but the set doesn’t fail to disappoint the true fans, especially since we finally have the proper audio format. I can also recommend it for at least a rental to “I Dream of Jeannie” fans to get to see the two stars together again after so many years. It took several years, but I applaud Warner for seeing the show through to the end.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Greg Brobeck on 01/11/11
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