Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Hell on Wheels

AMC is making quite the name for itself with hard-hitting drama. First Mad Men, then The Walking Dead, and now Hell on Wheels. But you know what? It might be nice if the channel explored something a little lighter or maybe even (gasp!) a comedy. Because honestly, their shows are all kind of a bummer.

Hell on Wheels looks good, I'll give it that. Set in 1885 in the post-Civil War midwest territories, it tells the tale of a man seeking vengeance on the Union soldiers who murdered his wide during the war. But this is also the tale of the railroad and how it connected the two sides of America in the era of Manifest Destiny. The people are all appropriately dirty (and mutton-chopped!) and in many cases stumpy--from the war.

The show is working for that Deadwood vibe, and comparisons are going to be inevitable--but I think the problem is that the show doesn't go far enough. Deadwood certainly didn't have that problem and that's why it was awesome. Sure, the main character of Hell on Wheels is clearly an anti-hero, he shoots a guy in the face in the first five minutes after all. But he has a reason. It's all for love, you see. And sure he was a confederate soldier and former slave-owner....but he set all his slaves free before the war and becomes besties with the black guys he oversees on the railroad. Maybe I'm spoiled by HBO, but I feel like this character needs to be more anti and less hero.

See, he's the good guy but he's also bad. Well, kinda bad. Well, occasionally he does something naughty. Like a shoot a dude in the FACE.

A lot of other reviewers have complained that the show is boring but I disagree. It might have been paced a little more slowly than some other shows, but those random acts of violence sure kept me interested. But I might be a little blood thirsty. You'll need to judge that for yourself.

For now I am going to keep watching. If nothing else, for the utterly enjoyable Colm Meaney who definitely goes all the way with his villainous railroad mongol persona. Get that man a mustache to twirl, stat! Although I have to admit, everytime I hear him talk without his Star Trek Irish accident I get a little confused. He's really Irish so let him talk like it, dammit!

Hell on Wheels airs Sundays at 10:00pm on AMC.

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