Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The Best Season of the Classic DALLAS
Dallas: The Fourth Season
The fourth year of Dallas roared to a start by slowly winding up the 'Who Shot JR' story arc then jumped along from one tawdry storyline to another until a body was found floating in the pool at the end of the season. Like a trashy novel you take on vacation, with plotlines like these TV's most popular drama was the first post-modern nighttime soap opera, the show transcended the seventies to become a genuine eighties sensation.
Dallas re-defined network drama in 1980-81 when this fourth season aired. The stuck-in-the-'70's fashions and idealized apartments decorated in brown toned furniture and foil wallpaper provide a lurid backdrop for the wanton, drunken behavior that was elevated to high art here; on Dallas infidelity was a valiant pursuit.
Besides JR's sneaky moves (Larry Hagman's performance is a joy to behold) season four follows a sodden Sue Ellen chasing after her 'dead' lover Dusty, trashy Afton sleeping her way to local nightclub stardom, Lucy's luckless marriage to an uptight med student who rejects her family's fortune (idiot), Pam's pathetic attempts to hold her sham of a marriage together, Cliff Barnes' clownish attempts to upstage JR, and other assorted mayhem.
Its comedia-del-art with laughs from start to finish, including episode four - Who Done It? - which became the most-watched TV program of all time when it aired.
For me family matriarch Miss Ellie, played by the marvelous actress Barbara Bel Geddes, gave Dallas its heart, along with the legendary Jim Davis, who was sadly dying of cancer while this season was shot. Davis grew more noticeably frail as the year progressed but he still retained that powerful presence that made him one of the motion picture western genre's finest actors. He passed away shortly before the end of this season.
Here are some highlights from later years:
If you only watch one season of Dallas on DVD I suggest this would be it. On the DVD set, as an extra, you get the 2-hour special 'Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork', which aired on CBS in November 2004 and included most of the original cast. This is one fantastic trashy trip back to the year 1980!
Lucy finds true love and eternal happiness in season 4 when she marries that twit Mitch. (Yeah, right!)