TITLE: DALLAS - THE COMPLETE TWELFTH SEASON
DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010 (Warner Bros. Home Video)
Number of Discs: 3 (Dual Layer)
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 1227 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Mono
Special Features: None
As you change and grow as a person, sometimes your opinions on certain things evolve. For quite some time, I preferred Knots Landing to Dallas, and I preferred the early years of Dallas to the later years. I just, well, did. But somewhere in the last 9 months or so, Iíve had a change in mindset and have really grown to love Dallas. Watching this season for the review...Iíve grown to like this season, a stark departure from my previous review when I said approximately that the last three seasons werenít worth the stock they were recorded on. As Iíll explain later on they probably should have recorded these episodes on better stock, but the episodes themselves, well, really theyíre not that bad.
Anyway, the 12th season of Dallas is now on DVD from Warner Home Video! Just two more seasons left and the series is complete on DVD.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Something happened as Dallas entered its 12th season (using the modern numbering). The show realized it had gone through much of the traditional interpersonal stuff and that that well was fairly dry. So the showís writers tried a couple of new tactics. First, the show began to take itself a bit less seriously. Entire scenes, when clearly ridiculous, would be taken for laughs rather than as serious drama. Sitcoms were enjoying resurgence in the late 1980s -- most of the top rated shows were sitcoms -- and so someone on the writing staff decided to interject a little light-heartedness into the show. It still had serious plot arcs and JR was as terrible as ever, but the show was a bit less...soapy. Also this season they increased the location shooting immensely -- an entire plot arc towards the end of the season involved trips to Austria and Russia. The episode would also feature the end of Linda Grayís tenure on the show as Sue Ellen -- the season finale ďThe Reel LifeĒ would be her last prior to the reunion movies in the 90s.
With regards to guest stars, Iím going to omit George Kennedy -- credited as a guest star for the duration of the season -- as he was essentially a full-blown cast member in all but name only, and would be added to the cast in full beyond this season. Remember the short-lived series Kings? Actor Ian McShane (also was in ďDeadwoodĒ) appears as a recurring character, that would pretty much do it for guest stars.
As is common with many TV-DVD sets now, packaging is a white translucent case with a plastic hub attached to the spine. The 26 episodes are featured on three DVD-18s. I should be used to them after a decadeís worth of episodes but Iíve seen the problems they can cause and Iíll never grow to love them. Still, 3 discs is certainly a better option for the space-conscious than 6, and itís got to be cheaper to manufacture, so I can see the rationale. Plus thinner packaging allows more units to be stocked at a given time so if you can cut down on discs you can thin out the packaging. I donít like it from a practicality standpoint but business-wise it makes sense. You can see the front cover perfectly well on the top of this page so I wonít describe what you already know. Rear cover is more of the same. As these are dual-sided discs thereís naturally no artwork.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Maybe itís just me, I donít know, but I wish the theme used in the main menus would be the same one used that season. When the theme has been re-recorded ten times itís going to sound noticeably different than its original version. The menus still use the late 1970s theme tune while the showís theme music has changed fairly noticeably by this point. Itís still the same song, but all the instrumentation has changed. It would take very little effort and itís one of those small little details that would improve the construction of the set in my eyes. Menus are brown in keeping with the box art, with the episodes being selectable from the main menu. The light colors of the font work well with the darker background.
Video and Audio Quality:
Language options for this DVD are limited: You have only one audio track, a Dolby Digital mono English track. The audio isnít particularly earth-shattering, and considering weíre in the era where Stereo was becoming common itís disheartening to see a Mono presentation. Chapter stops are placed after each act. There are three main acts per show, in addition to the separate opening titles and episode-opening ďPreviously on DallasĒ reminder.
I wanted to get that stuff out of the way to talk about the video. I donít understand how itís possible for the video of a show produced within my lifetime to look like this. Depending on which scene of which episode you watch, you could be in for anything from fuzzy video to interlacing issues to compression artifacts to noise to dirt to oversaturated colors to...really, if you can name a realistic video problem youíre likely to find at least one scene with that problem somewhere in these 26 episodes. Clearly Warnerís goal is to knock out the full series as cheaply as possible -- and Iím happy for the releases at all -- but my word does the video get bad at times. One episode will be fine and then the next will look as though the camera crew left their cameras slightly out of focus for an entire show. The interlacing issues seem to be the most visibly present on the most consistent basis. Itís unreal. The episodes themselves are enjoyable but the video gets painful at times.
No Greater Love: 47:20
The Call of the Wild: 47:27
Out of the Frying Pan: 47:14
Road Work: 47:16
War and Love and the Whole Damned Thing: 47:21
Showdown at the Ewing Corral: 47:27
Counter Attack: 46:57
The Sting: 47:25
The Two Mrs. Ewings: 47:16
The Switch: 47:14
He-e-ereís Papa!: 46:55
Comings and Goings: 47:20
Country Girl: 47:27
Wedding Bell Blues: 47:25
the Way We Were: 44:47**
The Serpentís Tooth: 47:24
Three Hundred: 47:09
April Showers: 47:23
And Away We Go! 47:16
Yellow Brick Road: 47:24
The Sound of Money: 47:29
The Great Texas Waltz: 47:23
Mission to Moscow: 47:17
The Reel Life: 46:42
**This episode features an abnormally short run time and may well be edited.
None. At this point is anyone really surprised? New interviews would be nice.
For whatever reason, this season managed to make me a strong fan of the show again. It may not have the drama of the previous seasons but itís a remarkably enjoyable group of 26 episodes. Thereís enough of a dramatic element to satisfy those who like drama; enough comedy to satisfy those who enjoy a laugh a bit more. I was wrong, and I admit it. I like Dallas Season 12, and I think if you give it a fair chance you will too. Since Season 13 is on its way to DVD this April and Season 14 represents the end of the row for single season releases, thereís really not much I can say to encourage Warner in terms of greater effort since it would do little good at this point. Special features -- even if theyíre just promos for the show from original broadcast or even just a blooper reel. Anything whatsoever would be appreciated. And please fix the video. Recommended for the episodes, not for the presentation.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 2/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 01/16/10
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