Dallas was to Americans what the Royal family is to Brits – a fly-on-the-wall insight into the dysfunctional lives of those who, on the surface at least, appear to have it all.
Their lives laden with in-fighting, double-crossing, tragedy, sensational infidelities and ultimate betrayal, Dallas was a Western drama that got even more captivating with repeated viewing.
Equally daring and absurd, this primetime soap opera began its life in the late 1970s and ran for a whopping 14 seasons. And despite being based on only a handful of primary relationships, and often stretching the boundaries of credulity to its limit, it never descended into self-parody.
With plenty of drama to revel in: kidnapping, marital affairs, shootings, plane crashes and misery, Dallas was, and still is, a tongue-in-cheek saga of magnificent proportions.
Dallas received lukewarm reviews when it aired in the UK, but the family’s exploits quickly became a recipe for compulsive viewing. With their palatial homes and sartorial elegance, Dallas was pure escapism for us Brits facing the ill-effects of Maggie Thatcher’s icy glare.
But as you’d expect, the Dallas glamour had a real sting in its tail – the Ewing family were all a bunch of misfits. But did we care? Not a lot.
And now the release of Dallas Season 5 on DVD helps revive memories of just exactly why this series remains an all-conquering masterpiece.
Dallas: The Complete Fifth Season provides another helping of fast-paced melodrama mixed with a dose of good old-fashioned nastiness.
With the omission of the show’s patriarchal granddaddy Jock Ewing (he died before the filming of the fifth season), the fifth installment is tainted with a sense of melancholy. And while poor Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) mourns the loss of her late husband, lovable scoundrel J.R. dreams up a host of new schemes to maintain his supremacy.
Poor Sue Ellen bares the brunt of J.R’s multiple evil ways when he tries his best to charm her back to Southfork; while brother Bobby is blackmailed into relinquishing his shares in Ewing Oil.
Elsewhere, aspiring model Lucy bids farewell to her lackluster marriage and endures the horror of being held hostage by a crazed photographer; Pamela suffers a mental breakdown when she learns she can’t adopt a baby; and it looks like curtains for Cliff Barnes when he tries to top himself when faced with financial ruin.
All in all, season 5 is as down and dirty and irresistible as ever before.
A guilty pleasure, but never a sin.
Dallas: Season 5 is out now to buy on DVD.