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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'Dallas' S2 DVD: Aptly Crude Blend of Old and New

Product Details
This belated review of the Warner Home Entertainment 4-disc 15-episode February 2014 DVD release of the second season of the TNT "Dallas" reboot is timely regarding the (soon to-be-reviewed) January 13, 2015 DVD release of the third and final season of this prime time soap. S2 is notable as the season in which legendary television villain J.R. Ewing, perfectly played by Larry Hagman in both series, truly breathes his last breath in a storyline worthy of the original series (OS). Stating that this plotline creates a "cliff" hanger is very apt.

The following frantically paced clip, courtesy of YouTube, of S2 of the new series provides a good sense of the modern kick-ass style of this update. These brief scenes also provide glimpses of the original cast members who appear in this reboot.

The reboot picks up roughly 25 years after the end of the OS that depicts the standard-establishing soapy drama in the lives of the oil-rich/ranching Ewing clan of the titular Texas community. Then youngster cousins John Ross and Christopher Ewing are at the center of much of the modern drama.

The Ewing clan still lives at the ginormous family homestead known as South Fork. Further younger brother Bobby's (played by Patrick Duffy) son Christopher and J.R.'s son John Ross are their fathers' offsprings and are continuing the same types of conflicts as those of their parents that made the OS "stay-home" Friday night television.

This aspect of the OS, as well as including even Audrey Landers and virtually every other living member of the primary original cast, is clearly designed to appeal to the fans from the '80s. Having a younger and hunkier cast portray the current Ewing generation and those in their universe compared to the original cast during the airing of the OS is an obvious effort to attract a more youthful demographic.

Old school fans will delight in seeing John Ross and Christopher (respectively coached by their fathers) fight for control of Ewing Energies. A nod to the 21st century has Energies involved in both the oil business and the alternative energy technology that is largely the brainchild of Christopher.

The involvement of long-time Ewing enemy Cliff Barnes, played by OS star Ken Kercheval further contributes to the nostalgic feel of the new series. Barnes bringing his own millennial into the fray is consistent with the updates in the series.

The unexpected real-life death of Hagman prompts a storyline that is manna to OS fans; the writers pen a wonderfully soapy death for J.R. and create an aftermath that is perfect for that character. This includes a funeral scene in which "mourners" openly (and hilariously) express their scorn for the not-so-dearly departed. One can imagine J.R. (and Hagman) looking up at all that with his trademark grin.

The new series does less well regarding shamefully adding an over-the-top telenovela feel to the "Dallas" lore to appeal to the new generation of fans. These include John Ross' mother Sue Ellen (played by OS star Linda Gray) being both the perpetrator and victim of dirty politics in her campaign to be elected Governor of Texas, an oil-rig explosion that subsequently requires a risky surgical procedure, and the involvement of secondary character in a drug-smuggling operation.

The new series further dilutes the fun by eliminating most of the grandeur of the original series; the South Fork decor is tremendously scaled-down, the Ewing bedrooms are no larger or more expensively furnished than those of a typical American middle-class home, and the fashions do not seem to even warrant consideration for the Mr. Blackwell Best-Dressed List.

The fact that we are living in much tougher times than existed in the '80s only means that seeing one-percenters live in the fashion to which they were once accustomed is that much more important; escapism is necessary more than ever.

It also is sad to not see the motel art portrait of family legend Jock Ewing anywhere in sight; even casual OS fans know of the importance of that "art" work.

Despite the influence of the 21st century on a 20th century classic, "Dallas" entertains nicely and provides plenty of male and female eye candy.

Many of special features that the abundance of riches regarding extras in the S2 DVD set include revolve around the deaths of Hagman and J.R. Other features include footage of a PaleyFest 2013 "Dallas" panel. Additional goodies include deleted scenes and an extended episode.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding either incarnation of "Dallas" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.