Monday, February 18, 2013

'Dallas' Review - 2.05 Trial and Error

        On the newest episode of TNT's Dallas, Harris and Judith continue to expose secrets from Ann's past; John Ross' plan to take over Ewing Energies solidifies; Christopher changes tactics with Pamela; and a past enemy resurfaces.

        As the second season of Dallas has progressed, it has become more and more clear that the ongoing battle of Ann and Boddy vs. Ryland and Judith over Emma is the emotional through-line of - at least - these first few episodes. It has put forth some great soap moments like Ann shooting Harris and Harris pointing the finger at Bobby. Additionally, it's a great serial storyline - in comparison to the rest of the show - in that it outlines every detail very clear and has pitted these four characters against each other in a way that is easy to follow. One of the series biggest issue is continually throwing convoluted twists multiple times in every story and every character during every episode so it's almost impossible to fully understand character beliefs, bonds and motivations. This story is a character study of Ann Ewing and who she was in her past and who she is now. During her marriage to Harris, she was a mess and continually felt controlled by him and his mother. Now, she is stable and grounded thanks to Bobby and will do anything to fight for her daughter. The one down side being that she has devolved into an often-times crying, blubbering mess instead of the strong, confidant woman who confronts house burglars with a shotgun to their heads. Her strongest moment was her discovery of the blood on her shoes and conversely turning them in to the police. In that sequence, she was suddenly motivated to act in a strong fashion. Unfortunately in the eyes of the Justice System and her daughter's, her actions are illegal and thusly she is sentenced to jail. That sentencing was the highlight of the episode because everything built up to that moment - and realistically it had to fall that way seeing as how it didn't seem as if her defense was a strong case in comparison. The pieces of this story are falling exactly the way they are suppose to and if they didn't the show would have badly strained its credibility factor as a serious and real soap opera.
        Vicente was such a one-note villain last season that I am absolutely confounded as to why the show decided to bring him back. Foreshadowing would suggest he's here - yet again as a simple plot device and not an actual character - to threaten Ann's safety in jail. And yet, that entire threat is mostly empty except for those darn dramatic music cues. The show needed a justifiable way to realistically get Ann out of prison and it's looking more and more likely that this will probably be it. But I am not looking forward to it. Why can't it be J.R. who finds the magical loophole to set her free?
        The rest of the season's plots took a back seat to the main trial action but were still mostly percolating out there in the show's universe. But by hour's end, I found myself asking to I really care what happens to the other characters on the show? Not really. J.R needs more screentime because of how great Hagman is in every scene he's in - and to a much lesser degree so does Sue Ellen. But elsewhere, I don't care about Elena's brother and his illegal actions, Christopher and Pamela's divorce or John Ross' plans to get control of Ewing Energies. None of these stories have a palpable or watchable quality to them. Ann's story and Larry Hagman command that you pay attention to them because soon something visibly dramatic will happen that will make your jaw drop. The rest of the show is simply lacking in that department and - with Hagman exiting - will need to learn how to do so and fast.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Disappointed by the return of Vicente? Shouldn't Pamela be more pregnant by now? Do you care about any of the show's superfluous plots? Share your thoughts in the comments.