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Not many television shows last nine seasons. But for the few that do hardly any of them can say that their ninth season might be as memorable as the first couple of seasons, except if the ninth season is also the last season and it included the series finale. However, for a groundbreaking and hugely popular series like Dallas, that is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Dallas perfected the primetime soap opera back in the late 1970s and 1980s.
If you don’t know, Dallas centers on the Ewing family, who live on the Southfork Ranch, just outside of Dallas, Texas. The Ewing family consisted of patriarch Jock Ewing, who started Ewing Oil, the family’s corporation; Miss Ellie, his wife who managed Southfork Ranch, the family home; and their three sons: J.R., the oldest and ruthless CEO of Ewing Oil, married to former Miss Texas Sue Ellen Shepard; Bobby, the youngest and the nice guy, who married Pamela Barnes, daughter of the Ewing’s chief business rival; and Gary, the middle son who was considered an outcast by his father and eventually moved to California with his wife Valene. The basic premise of the show was like a cross between Romeo and Juliet and Bonanza. Never before had Americans seen so much drama, or “melodrama” depending on how you look at it, at night in primetime.
The ninth season had new writers and new producers, which meant they wanted to come up with new and innovative ideas to keep the show interesting and last for several more years. At the start of season 9, the Ewings and friends are still reeling from the shock of Bobby Ewing’s death. Middle brother, Gary Ewing returns to Southfork for the funeral, opening up some old family wounds. Sue Ellen turns again to alcohol, and J.R. has her institutionalized. Pam tries to move on with her life, and abandons the oil business for emerald mines in South America. But her love life couldn’t get any more confusing as Mark Graison returns from the dead. Jenna decides that maybe she should leave Southfork and take Charlie. Cliff thinks he finally has the deal that will wipe out J.R. Southfork hosts a rodeo with some drastic results for some of the family. Mandy is jealous of newcomer Angelica Nero, and Jamie needs a compatible blood donor so the search is on to find her nearest relative. Finally, Emotions run high as Donna and Ray go through a crisis due to Donna’s abnormal pregnancy. Other than all of that, not much is going on during this season.
But the most memorable moment of the season, and arguably the entire series, occurs near the end of the season and it involves a shower and a dream. To spoil it would be wrong, but it’s safe to say this season features the moment that everyone remembers about the show, second to maybe only the “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger episode. However, most people believe this is the moment the show “jumped the shark” and worn out its welcome. So if you know what happens at the end it might totally taint this entire season for you looking back at it. Therefore, it’s best to view this season as it airs with no knowledge of what happens later.
The acting this season is still top-notch. Larry Hagman continues his charismatic portrayal of the world’s most-loved TV villain, J.R. Ewing. He is still as evil as ever, but he also shows signs that he actually does have a heart. Barbara Bel Geddes returns to the show this season and displays why she was missed in season eight during many touching scenes. In addition, Linda Gray, Victoria Principal and Susan Howard are on top of their game as well and each of them has strong storylines. There are also some good additions to the cast this season including Barbara Carrera, who plays Angelica Nero a great feuding villain with J.R. A lesser cast and this show might have gone nowhere, but that is definitely not the case this season.
It’s hard to believe, but the ninth season of Dallas is one of the most memorable of the entire series. There is one moment during this season that still gets talked about, good or bad, to this day. The acting is still the best and eventhough some of the writing and storylines seem a little far-fetched this season, it still provided great drama and had everyone wanting more every week. Dallas would go on for four more seasons, but this season was the last great season. After this season it was nothing but a sharp downhill slide until the end thanks solely to what happens at the end of this season.
Disc One (Side A):
Episode 1 – The Family Ewing – Bobby’s funeral brings Gary to Southfork, Sue Ellen to the nearest bar and J.R. to a profound realization.
Episode 2 – Rock Bottom – Down and out in Dallas. Sue Ellen’s two new friends are a bag lady and her bottle of wine. Bobby’s will may benefit Cliff.
Episode 3 – Those Eyes – J.R. wants Sue Ellen institutionalized. And he wants Pam’s Ewing Oil stock. One out of two ain’t bad, J.R..
Episode 4 – Resurrection – New starts: Sue Ellen finds the strength to turn down a drink, Pam finds another chance for love.
Disc One (Side B):
Episode 5 – Saving Grace – J.R.’s sins come back to haunt him when Mark vows revenge just as the Westar honchos close in on Ewing Oil.
Episode 6 – Mothers – What’s a mother to do? Not much. Miss Ellie tells Sue Ellen’s mother that their children have to solve their own problems.
Episode 7 – The Wind of Change – Pam holds the future of Ewing Oil in her hands – and doesn’t that put a burr under J.R.’s saddle?
Episode 8 – Quandry – Wealthy new-hottie-in-town Angelica Nero is fascinated by oilmen, including J.R..
Disc Two (Side A):
Episode 9 – Close Encounters – Ridin’ ropin’ and romance. When Southfork hosts a rodeo, there’s plenty of action in and out of the arena.
Episode 10 – Suffer the Little Children – “We have to talk about what happens now.” Ray and Donna try to pick up the pieces of their lives after the rodeo accident.
Episode 11 – The Prize – Trouble at work: J.R. has Angelica investigated. Trouble at home: John Ross runs away before the judge determines custody.
Episode 12 – En Passant – What happened to the detective J.R. hired to snoop on Angelica? And where’s the letter he mailed before he disappeared?
Disc Two (Side B):
Episode 13 – Goodbye, Farewell and Amen – Come home, darlin’! J.R. has a change of heart about Sue Ellen. But wait – that would mean J.R. has a heart.
Episode 14 – Curiosity Killed the Cat – Surprise: a package meant for Bobby contains a huge emerald. Surprise: Mandy sees J.R. leave Angelica’s hotel in the wee small hours.
Episode 15 – The Missing Link – Women in charge. Pam goes into the emerald-mining business. Sue Ellen takes a job. Mandy plays J.R. for a sap.
Episode 16 – Twenty-Four Hours – With Jamie near death and in need of a compatible blood donor, folks start hunting for her missing brother.
Disc Three (Side A):
Episode 17 – The Deadly Game – Blood will out: when blood analysis confirms that Jack is Jamie’s sister, J.R. realizes Angelic lied to him. But why?
Episode 18 – Blame it on Bogata – You know, Pam, your emerald mine sounds like a great deal. Which means J.R. must have a plan to turn it into a disaster.
Episode 19 – Shadow Games – Pam treks into the Columbian wilds. Back home, J.R. finds the newly competent Sue Ellen alluring.
Episode 20 – Missing – It’s a jungle out there: Matt discovers the campsite in flames and Pam and her party missing.
Disc Three (Side B):
Episode 21 – Dire Straits – In Columbia, Mark and Cliff trust Matt with the money to ransom Pam. That may be a bad move, guys.
Episode 22 – Overture – J.R. woos Sue Ellen with the offer of an exotic trip. When she balks, J.R. sets his detective on Sue Ellen’s new beau.
Episode 23 – Sitting Ducks – J.R. and Angelica finally clue Jack in on the Marinos scam. But maybe it’s J.R. who needs the clues.
Episode 24 – Masquerade – A secret meeting at a costume ball, spies in the shadows, lovers at odds – then the real fireworks begin.
Disc Four (Side A):
Episode 25 – Just Desserts – Goodbye, girls: Angelica disappears after the shooting, and Jenna decides to leave Southfork with Charlie.
Episode 26 – Nothing’s Ever Perfect – J.R. sitting in the catbird seat as undisputed boss of Ewing Oil. Life’s perfect – except Sue Ellen’s dating another man.
Episode 27 – J.R. Rising – Back in the USA: Angelica, seeking vengeance. Back in business: Matt, with a fistful of emeralds.
Episode 28 – Serendipity – It’s feudin’ and fussin’ time for Mark, Cliff, Sue Ellen and J.R.. But here comes real trouble: Angelica.
Disc Four (Side B):
Episode 29 – Thrice in a Lifetime – J.R. and Sue Ellen snuggle up; Pam and Mark prepare to wed; Angelica buys a briefcase with a surprise inside.
Episode 30 – Hello, Goodbye, Hello – Is this the end? J.R. faces financial ruin – and the business end of a gun.
Episode 31 – Blast from the Past – On the morning after she marries Mark, Pam wakes up and walks into the shower scene that still gets TV fans in a lather.
The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is decent, but not great since there are some episodes that look just as good as the original broadcast, while there are others that have signicant graininess to them. Not the best quality for a show this popular.
The audio included is in English 1.0 Mono sound. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. The audio is basic, but it’s more consistent than the video quality.
“Seasons of Change” Featurette – This runs for 15 minutes and it examines the most famous sequences of this Season, and looks back to Season 8 to examine how the departure of Barbara Bel Geddes from the show for a year, and her return this season had an impact on the overall storylines. The most memorable moment at the end of this season is discussed in great detail by various cast and crew members. So this is an interesting documentary for that reason alone.
If you are a hardcore fan of the show and know what happens during this season, you might not consider this season a “must-buy” like the eight previous seasons. It’s worth a rental for everyone, especially if you haven’t seen this season. If you are new to the show, it probably won’t be best to start with this season. However, it is one of the most memorable, for better or for worse, seasons so there are worse seasons to watch for the first time than this one.
Warner Home Video presents Dallas – Season 9. Created by David Jacobs. Starring Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Barbara Bel Geddes, Linda Gray, Victoria Principal, Ken Kerchevel, Steve Kanaly, and Priscilla Beaulieu Presley. Running time: 1550 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: July 15, 2008.
Available at Amazon.com