Catch up with the Ewings on DVD with Dallas: Season One

"Dallas" Season One on DVD

The second season of ‘Dallas’ is in full swing, so now is the perfect time for latecomers to catch up with ‘Dallas: The Complete First Season’ on DVD.

I think we were all taken by surprise by just how good the new Dallas turned out to be.

When it was announced that TNT was bringing the granddaddy of prime time soaps back to TV after more than twenty years, fans of the original Dallas wondered whether this new version — which was to focus more on the younger Ewings, cousins John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) — would live up to its legacy or just be a bad re-do. I think we were all taken by surprise by just how good the new Dallas turned out to be. While the new version does focus more on the younger Ewings trying to make their own names in the oil and alternative energy industries, the producers and writers have wisely let the original cast members — Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Ken Kercheval and the great Larry Hagman — be more than just supporting characters. Bobby and JR are still fighting over their beloved Southfork Ranch, and all of the double and triple-crosses in the first season really kept viewers on their toes.

With the second season now in full swing, it’s time to catch up with the first season on DVD if you missed it (although with the show shot in HD, a Blu-ray option would be welcome). The Warner Home Video release of Dallas: The Complete First Season contains all ten episodes on three DVDs, with a grab bag of bonus material that helps shed light on how the new series came to be. The pilot episode, “The Changing of the Guard,” comes with an alternate audio commentary track from the show’s executive producer Cynthia Cidre and director Michael M. Robin. I enjoyed hearing the two talk about how the project got off the ground, the casting process, working with the original cast members, and even more technical issues such as how certain shots were achieved. It’s clear that the two are passionate about Dallas, so much so that they insisted on shooting the show on location in the title city, and had written the pilot script before even approaching the original cast members.

All but two of the episode come with deleted scenes that you can watch after the episode, or all together. Most of the deleted scenes don’t have much bearing on the main plot, but there are a couple of very interesting cuts that were made. On episode two, there is a deleted scene showing Elena (Jordana Brewster) being turned down for a loan for her oil drilling concept before going to Sue Ellen for help. There is also a very interesting scene with Sue Ellen meeting with campaign strategists wanting her to run for governor, and at that meeting is Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi, now a regular on season two). With this scene cut, we never meet Ryland until the show’s fifth episode! Deleted scenes for episodes nine and ten have some plot exposition with JR vowing to take down Ryland after blackmailing Sue Ellen … something that never really happened until the second season premiere. There are other relationship moments between Christopher and Bobby, Bobby and Ann, John Ross and Elena, and some brief snippets that seem inconsequential … which is probably why they were cut … but they are interesting to watch.

The set’s third disk contains the bulk of the bonus material including:

  • Behind the Scenes: Southfork Legacy: Making Dallas Season One — Cynthia Cidre and the cast talk about bringing the classic show back to life (20 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes: Oil and Water: A Family Tradition — An overview of the Ewing family dynamics and dysfunction (10 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes: Back in Production — Josh Henderson hosts a short intro to the series on day one of production (1.5 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes: Dressing Dallas – Rachel Sage Kunin talks about designing the costumes for Dallas, giving it a timeless quality and putting the right clothes with the right character (3 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes: Who Shot JR? – The cast looks back at the phenomenon surrounding the third season cliffhanger (3 minutes)
  • Behind the Scenes: Ewing Family Love Oak – Patrick Duffy and Brenda Strong introduce the oak tree where the Ewings carve their names (1 minute)
Dallas has been a most welcome addition to the television landscape, but it’s also a bit bittersweet now with the passing of Larry Hagman.

While the new Dallas, has been a most welcome addition to the television landscape, it’s also a bit bittersweet now with the passing of Larry Hagman and the question of how the show will continue without its greatest villain. It was a bit shocking to skim through the first season episodes again in a single viewing and watch Hagman’s deterioration be so much more obvious than it was over the course of ten weeks. Seeing him looking so frail on the new season, and knowing he will be gone in just a few more weeks brings a lot of sadness with it. But Dallas has survived unfortunate death in the past (Jim Davis, who played patriarch Jock Ewing, died during the show’s third season), and I think with a strong first season behind them, the Ewings (and Barneses!) will thrive for many more seasons to come.

This review was based on a retail copy DVD of Dallas: The Complete First Season provided to CliqueClack by Warner Home Video.

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Photo Credit: TNT/Warner Brothers

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