DALLAS: MOVIE COLLECTION
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Now that all 14 seasons of the classic prime-time soap opera have been released on DVD, the only things left are the television movies related to the series. And now, those too have a home on your video shelf. “Dallas: Movie Collection” includes the prequel “Dallas: The Early Years,” which was released in the middle of the show’s run in 1986. It tells the story of J.R. and Bobby’s ancestors and how they struck oil in Texas.
Additional movies include 1996’s “J.R. Returns,” featuring the return of J.R. following the controversial and ambiguous ending to the series. Then, after J.R. and Bobby stand off in that installment, the final TV movie “War of the Ewings” (1998) bring the brothers back together as they fight for their company against long-time “Dallas” villain Carter McKay.
WHAT I LIKED
These TV movies are not for anyone who knows nothing about J.R. Ewing and the “Dallas” phenomenon. However, it is a great collection for fans of the series to see the final wrap-up of the drama. While “Dallas: The Early Years” is entirely forgettable, “J.R. Returns” and “War of the Ewings” serves as a fun denouement to the saga.
The latter films brought back J.R. in fighting shape and had a greater focus than any of the later season of the show. Rather than having to string a plot across more than 20 episodes a season, there’s a short 90-minute window in which J.R. can hatch his scheme. Plus, they serve as great reunion episodes in which characters like Sue Ellen get some more meat in the plot.
These final films are also an interesting look at the series two decades from when it began, effectively continuing the story for a different generation. Sure, Larry Hagman looks old as Methuselah, and it’s a bit unsettling watching him get it on with the sultry 90s-era Tracey Scoggins, but that’s manageable for how superior these stories are to some of the episodes in the last three or four seasons of the show were.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
For the most part, “Dallas: The Early Years” was a dud. While it came out half-way through the series, “Dallas” was already an institution and deserved better. More than any other film in this collection, this was for the die-hard fan who wants to see a period piece about how the Ewing name was made. But it’s long and drawn out, and none of the characters have the same pizzazz as those in the show itself.
The only real complaints I have with the other two films is the rehashing of a few plots, including J.R. getting shot and a faked death. Plus, as great of a long-time villain Carter McKay is, his scheming so late in the game just seems to be a bit of overkill.
Included in the set is 2004’s “Return to Southfork,” which features Larry Hagman and the other big hitters in the “Dallas” cast reunited to talk about the history of the show and reminisce on the memories. This is a neat little retrospective that knows its place and doesn’t get too cheesy. It’s made for the fans, especially those who have seen all 14 seasons, and it really shows how the series changed over the years.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE