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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Dallas' S3 DVD: New J.R. (Somewhat) Same as the Old J.R.

Product Details

The Warner Home Entertainment January 13, 2015 DVD and Digital HD releases of S3 of the TNT "Dallas" reboot provide the proverbial chances to bring home all the action and drama in this wrap up of  one of the most successful franchises in television history.

S3 is notable as well for more fully shifting the action from the nefarious schemes of evil oil tycoon J.R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, and his power struggles with more ranching-oriented younger brother Bobby Ewing, played by Patrick Duffy, in the original '80s series (OS) to the nefarious schemes of J.R. offspring John Ross and John Ross' power struggles with his younger kinder and gentler cousin (and Bobby offspring) Christopher. 

As "Dallas" fans and virtually everyone else knows, the real-life death of Hagman during the filming of S2 is a major catalyst for the shifts in the second half of the run of the reboot. The latter half of S2 largely focuses of the impact of J.R. on the Ewing family and their effort to carry out his final malicious wishes.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a highly stylized trailer for "Dallas" S3 offers a good look at the intense drama and Western aspects of this season.

An observation in a recent review on the February 2014 DVD release of "Dallas" S2 that the lifestyle of the Ewings disappointingly lacks opulence makes a scene in the S3 season premiere exciting. John Ross announces grand plans to remodel the Ewing family homestead South Fork. His reasoning includes that it is about time that the family lives like the rich folks that they are.

The multiple storylines that keep the action at a pace comparable to a Texas rodeo includes the ongoing battle between the J.R. faction of the family and those on Team Bobby regarding drilling for oil on South Fork. The opening scene in the pilot for the reboot focuses on this issue; an S3 fight between oil rig workers and ranch hands reinforces the strong feelings regarding it.

The conflict relates to Team J.R. wanting to profit from the large quantity of oil under the ranch and those on the side of Bobby whose concerns include the impact on the land and the desire (which is well known to OS fans) of '80s-era matriarch Miss Ellie Ewing to never drill on the land.

John Ross further honors his father by engaging in dirty dealings in the boardroom, the bedroom, and the living room toward making family company Ewing Global obscenely profitable and to force Christopher and Bobby out of that enterprise.

This scheming brings an especially violent and ruthless drug cartel, a middle-eastern monarch, and  other nefarious types into the mix. Having the grandson of '80s era Ewing foe Carter McKay join the fray until provided enough rope to hang himself greatly contributes to the fun.

One handicap is that John Ross portrayor early thirties Dallas native Josh Henderson does not play gleeful ruthless and evil as well as Hagman. Henderson has some success filling Hagman's shoes but still somewhat comes across as the Scrappy-Doo of "Dallas."

The shortcomings of Henderson are most blatant regarding his efforts to undermine the much-older and wiser Bobby, who has roughly 30 years of experience of wrangling with the master under his belt. As John Ross' mother Sue Ellen (played by OS cast member Linda Gray) tells her son, Bobby beat J.R. more times that he should have.

One of the best scenes related (pun intended) to this nephew-uncle rivalry has Bobby hilariously informing John Ross about the presence of an endangered species in the drilling area. The reaction of Henderson offers further proof that he has a while to go before reaching the skill level of Hagman.

Long-time Ewing nemesis Cliff Barnes, played by OS member Ken Kercheval, spends the season trying to recover from the intense fall that he suffers at the hands of Bobby et al at  the end of S3. His own millennial addition to the series being against him because of severe harm that she suffers at his hands in S2 is not fatal; Barnes has his own foxy ally in the Ewing hen house.

The telenovella aspects of the reboot that the aforementioned review of S2 addresses are particularly strong regarding new Ewing enemies Harris Ryland, played by "The X Files" veteran Mitch Pileggi, and his creepily close mother Judith Ryland. The manner in which Judith Light portrays Judith removes any doubt regarding who is the boss in the Ryland home and company.

The involvement of the Rylands with a with the aforementioned drug cartel both plays a role in the dealings of that cartel affecting the Ewings and in an over-the-top scene in which the former Angela Bower partially strips down, requests coke, and then indulges in said elicit substance. This is on top of scenes with Harris that have disturbing elements of incest. Having this Judith further be the madam of the best little whorehouse in Texas is the marshmallow in the s'mores at the campfire that is S3.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, oil expert (and daughter of long-time South Fork cook Carmen Ramos), Elena Ramos is moving on from romantic involvements with the younger Ewing boys to hook up with dangerous Mexican Nicolas Trevino with whom she has a different type of past.

The Ramos family involvement with the Ewings further includes drama relates to fulfilling the desire of the father of Elena to drill for oil on land that he once owned that is now Ewing property. An aspect of this ties into the Barnes-Ewing feud.

The explosive on many levels season finale is typical of shows of this era; it wraps up numerous loose ends and creates new ones. The good news is that the viewing public is very desensitized to series being cancelled before tying up every storyline.

All this amped-up conflict truly makes "Dallas" a show for the 2010s. The sad micro and macro-level answers to the question "can't we all just get along" are "no." Like our fictional counterparts, virtually everyone feels both that his or her needs and desires supersede those of others to the extent that the ends always justify the means and that "resistance is futile" makes for a accurate commentary.

This ruthlessness provides a model for those who agree with the above sentiment and offers good entertainment for those of us who understand that things operate this way but hope for change.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding either the OS or the reboot is welcome to email   me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.