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Warner / 1990-1991 / 1219 Minutes / Unrated / Street Date: January 18, 2011
When you come off a season of television - in Dallas' case, it was its ninth - in which it is revealed that the entire season was a dream (spoilers be damned), it's hard to recover. And even though this last complete season release brings about a certain degree of nostalgia, Dallas: The Complete Final Season nevertheless is still dogged by the downward spiral that the show's number-nine go-round began. Yeah, there are bigger-than-life plot developments that are engaging every once in a while, a handful of over-the-top cliffhangers and more than a little ridiculous melodrama, but none of it gels together to provide an appropriately enjoyable guilty-pleasure pastiche. All of these cheese-tastic elements are welcome once in a while on that grand boob tube of ours, but too much is too much, and Dallas: The Complete Final Season is waaaaaay too much.
Take, for example, the opening episodes here, where a major plot point is J.R. trying to figure out a way to escape from the asylum (yeah). Sure, any Dallas fan knows that our beloved patriarch was set up, but to watch Larry Hagman go through his Cuckoo's Nest travails is seriously over-the-top. And the business transactions that take place after J.R. gets loosed from the nervous hospital are so unbelievable in their double-, triple- and quadruple-crossings that you need a cheat sheet just to keep up with it.
But it's too little too late. This writer loves an outrageous, histrionic primetime soap as much as (if not more than) most folks, but while I leave this final Dallas set with a proud sense of completion, I'm still smarting from that whole 'It was all a dream' bit. I know there are some Dallas reunion movies that Warner is readying for DVD release, so I haven't quite reached the end of my Dallas adventure, but even with face transplants and the like fueling the show's narrative fire, I must admit to feeling betrayed by the 'Just kidding!' storyline switcheroo that spoiled the show.
Stay silly, TV melodramas - embrace your inane, unbelievable plot arcs. Because when you turn your back on your viewers who love that stuff, it's hard to win them back.