For those unfamiliar with the series, "Dallas" was a groundbreaking prime-time drama that looked into the lives of the wealthy Ewing family - mainly J.R. Ewing (Hagman), the ambitious CEO of the family oil company. There's also the nicer brother, Bobby (Patrick Duffy); J.R.'s wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Ewing matriarch Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes, although the ill Bel Geddes was replaced for this season by Donna Reed) and many other characters.
The series remains likable, soapy drama more than twenty years afterwards, as while it looks a little dated, the performances are still first rate and the writing offers enough twists and surprises (most famous being the "Who Shot J.R." plotline of the fourth season, which was sharply spoofed by "The Simpsons" years later) to stay engaging.
"Dallas" rebounded with flair and energy in this enjoyable 12th season, which saw the series reach the 300 episode benchmark (after a late start due to the writer's strike that occurred.) The season opens with JR trying to recover from the attack by Sue Ellen in the prior season. Shortly after recovering, it's not long until JR is back to his old games, seducing Cally Harper (new addition to the cast Cathy Podewell.)
Despite the new romance with Cally - who turns out to be rather devious, herself - Sue Ellen isn't out of the picture, either. While she initially has trouble getting back at JR, she soon figures out an epic way to push back at him: make a "tell-all" film based upon his life. Meanwhile, the war between the Ewings and McKays gets more dramatic and JR and Bobby even head overseas to Russia to learn about the foreign oil trade.
Overall, the 12th season of the series may not be the best of "Dallas", but the show is still going along surprisingly well at this point, with fun plots and solid performances.
• Season 12
282 12-01 28/Oct/88 Carousel
- Is it adios, J.R., or is he too ornery to die? And there's another big man in Big D: Carter McCay comes to town.
283 12-02 04/Nov/88 No Greater Love
- JR Returns home, while Sue Ellen and John Ross leave Southfork. Meanwhile, Cliff quits the oil business.
284 12-03 11/Nov/88 The Call of the Wild
- On a hunting trip in the deep piney woods, JR stalks his prey: a backwoods belle named Cally.
285 12-04 18/Nov/88 Out of the Frying Pan
- Even JR's promise to marry the gal he seduced won't save him from pen years working the chain gang.
286 12-05 02/Dec/88 Road Work
- Cliff mulls Bobby's unexpected offer, a Southfork river runs dry and JR prefers bribery to busting his back on the road.
287 12-06 09/Dec/88 War and Love and the Whole Damned Thing
- While JR caves to Cally, Miss Ellie stands her ground: she blows McKay's dam to kingdom come.
288 12-07 16/Dec/88 Showdown at the Ewing Corral
- JR promises his new bride just about anything if she'll help him get home to Southfork.
289 12-08 06/Jan/89 Deception
- As the Ewing-McKay standoff heights, Bobby learns some surprising facts about Tracy's past.
290 12-09 13/Jan/89 Counter Attack
- The range wars hits close to home when Christopher falls victim to gunplay.
291 12-10 20/Jan/89 The Sting
- Here comes Texas-sized trouble: Cally, the sheriff and McKay's son.
292 12-11 27/Jan/89 The Two Mrs. Ewings
- While JR tried to get rid of Sue Ellen, now it's Cally's turn.
293 12-12 03/Feb/89 The Switch
- Sue Ellen gives Cally advice on the care and handling of snakes - like ones named JR.
294 12-13 10/Feb/89 He-e-ere's Papa!
- Cally wants a wedding at Southfork: Nicholas Pearce's mob-connected dad wants to know how his son died.
295 12-14 17/Feb/89 Comings and Goings
- Sue Ellen's tell-all movie will expose JR's wheeling and dealing.
296 12-15 24/Feb/89 Country Girl
- Cally makes peace with John Ross just before she announces that he'll soon be a big brother.
297 12-16 24/Feb/89 Wedding Bell Blues
- A real tornado is no match for Ewing emotional storms: a wedding, a confession and a passel of dark warnings.
298 12-17 03/Mar/89 The Way We Were
- After learning how Cally tricked him, JR decides his devious down-home bridge may be the helpmeet he's always wanted.
299 12-18 10/Mar/89 The Serpent's Tooth
- In deep with drug lords, Tommy McKay sells info on his father's business to a scheming JR.
300 12-19 17/Mar/89 Three Hundred
- A stalled elevator is JR's ride back into Ewing oil, and April regrets datng a guy who really needs $100 grand.
301 12-20 31/Mar/89 April Showers
- Cliff fusses and fumes about JR's return until he learns his rival is bringing a major deal with him.
302 12-21 07/Apr/89 And Away We Go!
- JR and Cally pull off a flawless sting on Helstrom, then head off to Europe with Bobby.
303 12-22 14/Apr/89 Yellow Brick Road
- The Ewings plot in Salzburg, while Cliff cuddles up with Afton in Dallas - meanwhile, Sue Ellen's movie is set to film.
304 12-23 28/Apr/89 The Sound of Money
- All roads lead to Salzburg: JR's old flame visits the Austrian city just as the brothers' new deal heats up.
305 12-24 05/May/89 The Great Texas Waltz
- Recruits in the war between men and women.
306 12-25 12/May/89 Mission to Moscow
- JR and Bobby learn a thing or two about the international oil business from Russian counterparts.
307 12-26 19/May/89 Reel Life
- Sue Ellen's movie carries a threat to JR.
VIDEO: "Dallas" is presented by Warner Brothers in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentation quality isn't without some issues, but the episodes seem as if they've mostly held up pretty respectably. Sharpness and detail are alright, as while a good chunk of the episodes look fairly crisp, some scenes can look on the soft side.
Some dirt and wear (light specks, marks and other debris) are occasionally seen, but I didn't think that there was enough to ruin the viewing experience by any means. Some slight shimmering was also noticed on a few occasions, as were some minor artifacts, but none of the problems were major, considering the age of the series. The show's natural color palette didn't appear faded or otherwise problematic.
SOUND: The mono soundtrack sounds perfectly fine, considering the age of the series. Dialogue remains clear and easily understood, and music sounds fine enough. Audio quality is a little thin, but not bad.
EXTRAS: While prior season sets have offered supplemental features, this season set provides no extras.
Final Thoughts: The 12th season of the series may not be the best of "Dallas", but the show is still going along surprisingly well at this point, with fun plots and solid performances. The DVD offers no extras, but fine audio/video quality.