Dallas: The Complete Thirteenth Season – DVD Review

Dallas was the brightest star in the TV world sky during the 1980s. But bright stars can quickly fade out and flame away. The series had been on a sharp downward decline for years. By the time the thirteenth season aired, there was hardly anyone around to watch it. But it being the second-to-last season of the series, there were still hardcore fans watching. Those hardcore fans might be interested in what they get with season 13’s arrival on DVD.

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 (Jim Davis), who started Ewing Oil, the family’s corporation; Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes), his wife who managed Southfork Ranch, the family home; and their three sons: J.R. (Larry Hagman), the oldest and ruthless CEO of Ewing Oil, married to former Miss Texas Sue Ellen Shepard (Linda Gray); Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the youngest and the nice guy, who married Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal), daughter of the Ewing’s chief business rival; and Gary (David Ackroyd), 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 prime time.

In season 13, Ewing Oil is on the verge of collapse with J.R. Ewing busy as usual devising underhanded plans to bring down his enemies. But all of J.R.’s lying and cheating eventually leads him to be dragged to a psychiatric hospital. Before that, though, J.R. looks to be tired of his new young wife, Cally (Cathy Podewell), already. He also doesn’t like the fact that Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) is rising in power, and of course some things from his past resurface as well. Meanwhile, Clayton (Howard Keel) and Miss Ellie investigate a multiple-murder mystery. Finally, Bobby is busy chasing after a woman who looks like his dead wife, Pam, who could end up being his new wife.

For most of this season, the storylines seemed to focus more on the business side of Dallas. Love affairs and personal relationships took a back seat to the money-driven business relationships. Of course, eventually all of the backstabbing became personal, but everything seemed to be less over-the-top this season. Some might even call this season boring when compared to the other memorable melodramatic moments and storylines from recent past seasons. Unlike last season, though, there is a fairly good over-the-top cliffhanger that likely kept hardcore fans around for the final season. The acting this season is still solid and is the only reason this show lasted as long as it did. This included the new additions of Cathy Podewell, Sheree J. Wilson, and Kimberly Foster this season. You can also look forward to see some familiar faces pop back up to stir up trouble in this season as well.

The horrible ending of season 12 of Dallas pretty much put the nail in the coffin for casual fans of this show. Although, they probably stopped watching a few years back. Season 13 of Dallas pretty much picks up on the anti-climatic ending of season 12 and continues with that same vibe. That means season 13 is fairly boring, unless you love only the business side of the series. Fans of cheesy Dallas will certainly love the ending of this season, and it leads to likely a very interesting start to the final season. But again by that point, only the most extreme hardcore fans are still watching, so they are going to stick around until the very end regardless. Casual fans, there still is nothing for you to see here, except maybe for the final two episodes of this season, if you are curious.


Disc One (Side A):

Episode 1 – Phantom of the Oil Rig
Ewing Oil and Weststar battle anew following the showdown in Europe; dealing with Afton has left Cliff preoccupied at work; April’s sister, Michelle, comes to town; Tommy McKay returns, and tries to make amends; Miss Ellie begins a search to find what the key in Jock’s card opens.

Episode 2 – The Leopard’s Spots
Tommy claims he’s changed, while plotting revenge against Bobby; a gallery owner likes Cally’s paintings; J.R. makes a risky deal behind Bobby’s back; Cliff finally finds Afton; the mysterious key sends Miss Ellie and Clayton to New England; J.R. and Michelle meet.

Episode 3 – Cry Me a River of Oil
Needing oil badly, J.R. considers a shaky deal on a tanker; Cally has trouble getting past the fact that April once slept with her husband; behind April’s back, Michelle secretly meets Cliff; Miss Ellie and Clayton’s treasure hunt leads to the town where Jock first struck oil; Tommy McKay’s violence again gets out of control.

Episode 4 – Ka-Booooom!
Tommy McKay plants a bomb in Bobby’s briefcase, desperate to protect his father against perceived threats; J.R. decides on the sketchy tanker deal; Cally’s art sparks further interest; Cliff feels left out of the loop at Ewing Oil, and Michelle takes advantage; Miss Ellie and Clayton decide to travel to Pride, Texas.

Episode 5 – Sunset, Sunrise
The tanker J.R. bought is threatened by a Gulf storm; Michelle continues attaching herself to Cliff; Cally’s patron help her out further; Carter and Tommy have a fatal encounter; J.R. gets a surprise visitor at Ewing Oil.

Disc One (Side B):

Episode 6 – Pride and Prejudice
J.R. introduces James to the Dallas social scene; Miss Ellie and Clayton investigate Pride, Texas for clues about the key; Christopher goes on his first date; April looks for a commitment from Bobby; Vanessa comes to town.

Episode 7 – Fathers and Other Strangers
J.R. and Cally welcome Vanessa into Southfork; Miss Ellie and Clayton meet Sarah Ewing and learn about Jock’s past in World War II helping others; Cliff feels shut out at Ewing Oil; Carter gets bad news about an oil tanker; James makes a stunning claim about his parentage to the Ewings at the Oil Baron’s Club.

Episode 8 – Black Tide
The Ewing family reels from the news that James is J.R.’s son, especially Cally; a tanker crash creates a P.R. nightmare for both Ewing Oil and Weststar, and Cliff investigates; Michelle tries to squeeze Carter and J.R.; Vanessa tries again to get her son to come back to Europe.

Episode 9 – Daddy’s Dearest
J.R. begins his tutelage of James, who seems to already have seduction down just fine; Cliff wants to be part of the official investigation into the tanker accident; John Ross is taken aback by his new half-brother; Bobby wants to commit to April; Miss Ellie gives J.R. the letter Jock wrote years ago.

Episode 10 – Hell’s Fury
Carter hopes to use the tanker accident to bring down Ewing Oil once and for all; Jock’s letter inspires J.R.; Kay pays Bobby a surprise visit; Cally thinks J.R.’s sleeping with Michelle, which is fine with Michelle; Christopher and John Ross clash over James.

Disc Two (Side A):

Episode 11 – Cally on a Hot Tin Roof
Cally believes Michelle’s lie about her affair with J.R., which prompts Cally to confess an affair of her own; Kay helps Bobby’s deal with the tanker situation, which upsets April; J.R. seduces an investigative committee member and deals with Alex Barton; James displays impressive business acumen.

Episode 12 – Sex, Lies and Videotape
J.R. and Cally mend their relationship, while Carter traps Cliff in a sexual blackmail scheme; James disapproves of his father’s business tactics; Kay wants to know Bobby’s intentions towards April; Bobby sells Ewing Oil assets to pay for the oil clean-up; Lucy encourages Cally to continue her art career.

Episode 13 – A Tale of Two Cities
J.R.’s cavalier attitude about his affairs makes James realize sex is a much bigger part of the oil business than he imagined; Cally is excited about her art show at Lucy’s gallery; word of who may really be at fault in the tanker collision gets out; Michelle uncovers Carter’s treachery against Cliff; Bobby and April start wedding plans.

Episode 14 – Judgment Day
J.R. is wracked with guilt, believing the end of Ewing Oil is near; Cliff is torn between doing what’s right and his hatred of the Ewings; Carter’s wife is tired of his continued mistreatment; Michelle tires of spying on people; the investigative committee makes its decision.

Episode 15 – Unchain My Heart
Cliff meets P.R. guru Stephanie Rogers, who says she’ll make his political dreams come true; J.R., Cally, and John Ross go to Pride to help Miss Ellie, though Clayton has his doubts; Bobby gives April an engagement ring, but they immediately have a huge fight; James and Michelle come to terms.

Disc Two (Side B):

Episode 16 – I Dream of Jeannie
Bobby sets after a woman who he thinks may be Pam; J.R. visits Blackie Callahan, an old friend of Jock’s; April is depressed over her and Bobby’s falling out; Cliff is suspicious of Stephanie.

Episode 17 – After Midnight
Bobby’s continued obsession over the Pam look-a-like damages his relationship with April, who is planning a co-venture with Michelle; Blackie assists in drilling for oil in Pride; James is introduced to Duke and Melinda Carlisle.

Episode 18 – The Crucible
Carter solves Michelle’s problem with Eugene Inagaki; Bobby is unable stop thinking of Jeanne; Cally and Michelle face off; J.R. gives James a harsh business lesson; Stephanie has Cliff ready to run for office; Miss Ellie and Clayton attend the reading of Atticus Ward’s will.

Episode 19 – Dear Hearts and Gentle People
April leaves town to get over Bobby; J.R. reconnects with Serena, while Cally turns to James for support; Clayton’s friend, “Rabbit” Hutch, is arrested for murder; Cliff gets a major political appointment.

Episode 20 – Paradise Lost
James and Michelle face delays in getting their club up and running, and turn to Carter for assistance; J.R. digs into Stephanie’s past and promises Cally he’ll be a better husband; another friend of Clayton and Miss Ellie investigate his friends’ deaths and becomes suspicious of Arlen; Bobby tries to get April to come back to Dallas.

Disc Three (Side A):

Episode 21 – Will Power
Cally promises to make her marriage work; April’s mother helps her decide what to do about Bobby; Miss Ellie and Clayton look into their friends’ murders; J.R. gets information on Stephanie; James and Michelle quarrel; Bobby plans a trip with Christopher.

Episode 22 – The Smiling Cobra
April bows out of business to focus on wedding preparations; Clayton learns he’s next in line to inherit Atticus’ estate; J.R. pushes Cally to the breaking point in their marriage, while James is tired of J.R.’s interference in his life.

Episode 23 – Jessica Redux
Warned by Cally to be good in their marriage, J.R. stays evil at business, launching plans to ruin Cliff and drive Michelle out of town; Miss Ellie and Clayton learn Jessica Montfort may be involved in the dealings surrounding Atticus Ward’s will; Michelle and James continue to fight; Bobby looks for a best man.

Episode 24 – Family Plot
Jessica makes a stunning confession; irate over J.R.’s continued mistreatment and disrespect, Cally and James plot to kill J.R. with kindness; a falling out with Stephanie ends Cliff’s political career aspirations.

Disc Three (Side B):

Episode 25 – The Southfork Wedding Jinx
Bobby and April’s wedding day arrives; Cally is conflicted about her plan for revenge against J.R. after she learns she’s pregnant; J.R. plots to get control of Jessica’s voting rights in Weststar; Cliff meets Liz Adams; Miss Ellie and Clayton leave for an Asian vacation.

Episode 26 – Three, Three, Three (Part 1)
J.R. discovers getting to Jessica Montfort inside the sanitarium isn’t as simple as he thought; Liz Adams recognizes Carter McKay from her past; James and Cally meet with a divorce lawyer to further their plot against J.R.

Episode 27 – Three, Three, Three (Part 2)
In the sanitarium, J.R. finally gets Jessica to sign over her Weststar voting rights; Cliff tries to convince Liz to stay in Dallas; Liz and McKay reach a mutual understanding about keeping quiet about their shared past; Cally and James obtain their long-awaited revenge against J.R.

The video is given in fullscreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is decent and a slight improvement from last season. Dallas is an old show, and the video quality shows most of that age. But nothing major that will not prevent you from watching the show without annoyance.

The audio included is in English 1.0 Mono sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. The audio is basic, but still no major problems here.

There are no extras for this season’s DVD set, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched or bought the previous four or five DVD sets.

Only extreme hardcore fans should be buying this season. The ending is great, though, so casual fans may want to rent the last disc, if you are curious. Of course, Warner will probably release the entire season on DVD later this year, so if you have held off this long, you might want to wait for that to be released. Then again, these past four seasons haven’t been that good, so you might want to stop after season 9.

Warner Home Video presents Dallas: Season 13. 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: 1431 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: April 13, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.