Dallas—Season 1

dallas season 1 poster dvd boxset review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good start to a classic series

Short, soap opera cliches

dallas season 1 title card review episode guide

Let the backstabbing begin!!!

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) has shocked his oil rich family by marrying Pamela Barnes (Victoria Principal) who is the daughter of Digger Barnes (David Wayne) who has a long standing feud with Jock Ewing (Jim Davis) and whose brother Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) is trying to expose corruption in the Ewing Oil.  Pamela finds herself an outsider and a target of Bobby’s brother J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), J.R.’s wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), and Bobby’s niece Lucy (Charlene Tilton) with Jock and his wife Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) question her loyalty.  Pamela’s past and upbringing isn’t that of a Ewing…and the Ewings could go to war!

Dallas—Season 1 is a soap opera drama.  The series was originally intended to be a mini-series, but also served as a backdoor pilot for the series.  It aired from April 2, 1978 to April 30, 1978 on CBS.

Dallas was already a legend from as far back as I can remember.  The series was at its peak when I was young and the “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger was something that even filtered down to kids.  I didn’t watch Dallas at any time during its run but it was always there.  It is fun to go back into the past and visit a TV show that was such a cultural touchstone.

dallas season 1 episode 4 winds of vengeance miss ellie lucy barbara bel geddes charlene tilton

Sweet, Lucy…who will sacrifice her aunt up to a man threatening to rape her

The first season is brief and though it was “planned” as mini-series, it is obviously not a mini-series.  With the first season, many of the big players are introduced and a lot of the central conflicts, but really nothing is resolved in this season (which indicates that it wasn’t meant to be a mini-series).  The conflict is typical of nighttime soap operas (now in particular), but at the time, the weekly checking in on the Ewings probably was an easy appointment television.

The thing that is amazing about the show in today’s standards is that almost everyone in the show is practically a supervillain.  Both Bobby Ewing (who is a little bit bad from default) and the perfect Pamela are the only truly likeable characters.  Everyone else has no moral compass.  It isn’t as rare in today’s TV environment to encounter that, but it feels pretty rare in these older shows (even the teenage Lucy is willing to accuse a teacher of attacking her to get out of school and almost gets Pamela raped in order to save herself).  It is truly a bunch of horrible people.

dallas season 1 episode 5 barbecue hayloft jr pamela baby victoria principal larry hagman

Did he mean to?

The cast does it well however.  Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal are pretty shiny and fresh faced in the season while Larry Hagman’s J.R. is bad…but not as bad as he’ll get.  Barbara Bel Geddes feels like she should be the kind one, but even she is rather untrusting of Pamela.  Jim Davis comes off as a blind jerk as the patriarch Jock, and Charlene Tilton is delightfully evil.  Steve Kanaly’s Ray Krebbs character feels like he fizzles a bit in the short season and much of Pamela’s family takes a back seat.  It is fun to see Gilligan’s Island star Tina Louise as J.R.’s secretary/mistress.

Unlike daytime soap operas, the nighttime soaps had a sense of grandness and quality to them.  The “everything’s bigger in Texas” slogan seems to fit Dallas with the show having a lot of money and power being thrown around.  From the Southfork Ranch to the city, Dallas feels like both a bit of a western and a modern thriller.

Dallas—Season 1 is the kickoff to a great series.  The cattiness of Dallas isn’t there yet, but you can feel it simmering with everyone willing to stab everyone in the back for money and honor.  It is the type of series that you wish you had all the time in the world to binge and watch, but with fourteen seasons, a spin-off series, and a relaunch, that just isn’t possible…but give the original a spin if you can (and you might find yourself sucked in).

Dallas—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

dallas season 1 episode 1 diggers daughter pamela bobby ewing victoria principal patrick duffy

“Digger’s Daughter”

1.1       Digger’s Daughter Airdate:  04/02/78

Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) is headed home to the Southfork Ranch from New Orleans with a surprise to the family…Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal).  The Barnes and the Ewings have feuded for years and marrying one of the “enemies” could mean trouble for Pamela and Bobby.  Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) has a secret affair with their ranch hand Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) who Bobby’s brother J.R. (Larry Hagman) hopes could break up Bobby and Pamela.  Jock Ewing (Jim Davis) worries that an investigation into the company by Pamela’s brother Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) could cause problem for the business.

dallas season 1 episode 2 the lesson lucy pamela charlene tilton victoria principal

“The Lesson”

1.2       The Lesson Airdate:  04/09/78

Lucy’s schooling isn’t going well since she’s skipping every day with Ray, but when Pamela gets involved with Lucy’s truancy to help Miss Ellie Ewing (Barbara Bel Geddes), Lucy might have to up her game.  J.R. worries that Bobby is getting too involved in the company and might uncover his actions.  Lucy’s attempt to keep out of school leads to a squeeze play by her classmate Roger Hurley (Jeffrey Byron).

dallas season 1 episode 3 spy in the house julie grey cliff barnes tina louise ken kercheval

“Spy in the House”

1.3       Spy in the House Airdate:  04/16/78

Cliff Barnes is going after the Ewings and using the Ewings’ ties to Senator Orloff (Norman Alden) as his means.  When J.R.’s affair with his secretary Julie Grey (Tina Louise) gets complicated…and Pamela could pay the price.  Jock’s friendship with Orloff is tested when business gets involved.

dallas season 1 episode 4 winds of vengeance brian dennehy linda gray

“Winds of Vengeance”

1.4       Winds of Vengeance Airdate:  04/23/78

A hurricane is bearing down on Dallas, and Jock and Bobby find themselves stranded in the city.  When Luther Frick (Brian Dennehy) and his friend Peyton Allen (Cooper Huckabee) seek out J.R. and Ray after they spend a night with their women…and they want revenge by taking J.R., Ray, Lucy, Pamela, Miss Ellie, and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) as their prisoners.

dallas season 1 episode 5 barbecue digger jock bobby pamela david wayne jim davis victoria principal patrick duffy

“Barbecue”

1.5       Barbecue Airdate:  04/30/78

The Ewings are throwing a party, and Pamela sees it as the perfect chance for her father Digger (David Wayne) and Jock to bury the hatchet.  When Pamela gets good news, it could change the whole family dynamic…and some of the Ewings aren’t happy about it.  When Digger and Jock face off, old family secrets will be exposed.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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