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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All in all probably the last vintage season on Dallas before it started
to lose ratings. The major story lines were of a high standard which
produced some entertaining scenarios as well as new characters being
brought in. The only clanger dropped was the introduction of a new Miss
Elie earlier in the season and Sue Ellen later returning to the bottle
which had all become tiresome. Yet it was the season finale "Swan Song"
that was to create a defining moment in Dallas where Bobby Ewing one of
the original cast was killed off.
Another interesting feature of this episode is that unlike most of the other end of season cliff-hangers when some story lines overhang to the next season, pretty much most of this seasons primary plots had reached conclusions with the only exception being the ongoing Mark Grayson mystery which did leave something dangling. Firstly, Ewing oil stayed with the Dallas Ewings, (except 10%), Jenna was finally acquitted for manslaughter and released from jail and Lucy finally grew up and remarried Mitch. Cliff Barnes for all his trouble got Jamie Ewing as a wife rather than the two-thirds of Ewing oil that he hoped for and Pam and Bobby decided to get back together.
Watching this particular episode the viewer can sense an claustrophobic aura of foreboding, you were just waiting for the other shoe to drop! Well it did and Bobby Ewing was run down by Catherine Wentworth and later died in hospital. In doing this the Dallas creators seriously underestimated what his departure would do to the series. They rightly decided not to replace the actor but still failed to fill the void that had kept the right balance and chemistry between the characters.
Dallas was really all about JR and his desire for power and control of Ewing oil and the conflict he had with the three central characters. These included his neglected wife Sue Ellen, arch nemesis Cliff Barnes and his hot and cold relationship with his brother Bobby who was the family enforcer and from time to time was able to reign JR in! He was also in conflict with Pam, Clayton and Ray, but they were broadly of a secondary nature to the show.
It wasn't just the loss of this central character to the series and the relationship with JR that was missed, or even a pillar of the Ewing family that JR could always really when the family had to close ranks, it was also the loss of JR's alter ego in the show. Bobby in virtually all ways compensated for his brothers Machiavellian view of the oil business. In some ways Bobby came across as more of an elitist than JR, who tended to be more boorish. He was dismissive of people that were not his equal and also very impatient with others if he did not get his own way. He was short tempered and quite prepared to throw his weight about and step on people in the process. However, this was tempered by a greater sense of moral certitude and values in his business dealings. Although he had alpha male traits, he could still be gentle and kind and also give his lovers a level of passion that JR could neither offer or match. If they had tried to create a character to replace him they might have pulled it off but they didn't and as a consequence the show and Jr's character became out of sorts.
In season 10 they decide to get Bobby back and "swan song" became a false ending, because the ending and the entire next season was one of Pams' dreams. It's important to note that the dream start's in "swan song". They are getting intimate and then it flashes to the outside and you can see the inside lights go out! Then the next scene shows Ray and Donna at Southfork who seem to be reconciling followed by Bobby being hit by a car and then lastly the death bed scene were Bobby dies. Probably, the dream starts after the light go out in Pam place. Of course originally it wasn't meant to be dream, nobody could see that black-swan coming!
So for anybody who is a new fan and buying it on DVD rather than watching the series as it unfolds on TV, at the end of this episode jump to season 10 and follow from then on. Yes the production is different, the hair styles different and the actors have aged a bit, (they do show the shower scene at the beginning which was the ending of season 9), that's the best advice. Then get season 9 at a later date and follow the parallel universe and see what Dallas would be like without Bobby Ewing!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This true tear-jerker is the episode wherein Bobby Ewing (Patrick
Duffy) out of unbending love for Pam (Victoria Principal) makes the
ultimate sacrifice, pushing her out of the way of a speeding car,
driven by her crazed-with-jealousy sister, Katherine Wentworth (Morgan
Aired as a 90-minute "special" episode, the final minutes feature a bravura turn from Duffy as "Bobby" says his "good-byes" as he lays dying in his hospital bed. All of the main players of the year cast are present: Larry Hagman ("J.R."), Principal, Steve Kanaly ("Ray"), Susan Howard ("Donna Krebs"), Priscilla Presley ("Jenna"), Howard Keel ("Clayton"), and Donna Reed ("Miss Ellie").
As fans of the show know, Bobby would be "resurrected" at the end of the next season via the infamous "it-was-all-a-dream" episode. Sadly, "Swan Song" would mark the final appearance of Reed as the family matriarch. Hagman felt that the actress was just not right for the part and convinced original star Barbara Bel Geddes (who had left for health reasons) to return to the role.
And inasmuch as Hagman was one of the producers, he was able to have his way.
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