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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell On Wheels is outstanding
Since Dish Network cannot provide me with my weekly fix of Hell On Wheels, I really appreciate the ability to get it on Amazon. This series is one of the best written series about the western migration and the people who made it possible with the building of the transcontinental railroad. It also shows how government corruption has existed for a LONG time.
Published on September 7, 2012 by David R. Savage

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lost its way
The second season is nothing like the first. I stopped watching. There is no character on the entire stage with a moral compass. Seems the show has degenerated into a soap opera with extreme brutality as a sub plot.
Published on September 9, 2012 by Mark Kennedy


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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell On Wheels is outstanding, September 7, 2012
By 
David R. Savage (Fairfield, Illinois) - See all my reviews
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Since Dish Network cannot provide me with my weekly fix of Hell On Wheels, I really appreciate the ability to get it on Amazon. This series is one of the best written series about the western migration and the people who made it possible with the building of the transcontinental railroad. It also shows how government corruption has existed for a LONG time.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HELL ON WHEELS: An Oater Gone South?, July 16, 2013
This review is from: Hell on Wheels: Season 2 (DVD)
As I hope I was clear when I reviewed HELL ON WHEELS first season, I enjoy the classic Western and even these new-fangled ones wherein the heroes aren't always as heroic as old Hollywood types would have you believe. Based on circumstances (some of their own creation), these characters don't always do what's right, but they inevitably do what's just for the situations they face. That might mean picking up a gun and putting it to good use. It may mean shooting a man dead in order to stop some greater misdeed from occurring. Whatever the case, HELL ON WHEELS makes great hay in exploring character who, while flawed, have shreds of common decency buried somewhere beneath their dusty exteriors, and they're all willing to ignore them if it gets them what they need.

(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few modest hints at `things to come,' then read on ...)

When we last saw Cullen Bohannon (played to subtle perfection by Anson Mount), he was on-the-outs with the forces of justice, and he was no longer calling the shots in the rail town of the show's name. Elam (Common) had been elevated into a more prominent role by Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney), while he and Lily Bell (the lovely Dominique McElligott) pursued their own `union' to see the railroad built. Of course, that doesn't last long, and Cullen's eventually reinstated into Durant's ranks, but Elam doesn't go quietly into the night.

It's difficult to review Season 2 without spoiling some of it, and perhaps the best way to do so would be to explain that - as was often the case in the hard times of the Old West - not everyone makes it out alive. Forging a nation is risky business; forging a railroad to help build (and re-build) a nation after the Civil War is an even deadlier undertaking. As such, Season 2 dealt with stories of a more personal nature - Elam trying to find a measure of happiness with the woman in his life, Bohannon and Lily eventually having to take a stand against Durant and his wife (Virginia Madsen, in an underused appearance), the townspeople dealing with more and more racism and bigotry than you can shake a stick at - and the audience is forced to say its goodbye to some of the more noble creations.

Methinks the show was quite probably plagued a bit behind-the-scenes with network suggestions and studio tinkering as creators Joe and Tony Gayton were asked to step down as showrunners for Season 3. (That's rarely a good thing in the land of TV executives.) Last I'd heard John Shiban was elevated from writer to showrunner, but I believe even he's left the stage for greener pastures as media reports now that John Wirth has been brought in to manage the property for Season 3.

I mention this because I tend to believe this tinkering was probably causing these stories to feel "less connected" to one another than the Gaytons brought to the small screen in the first season. Who knows? Maybe the show was running over budget, and the easiest way to get it back under control is to eliminate some of the headcount ... and there are an amazing number of cast deaths in Season 2. (Don't forget: I warned you above that there would be some spoilers, but I won't mention any one specifically.) In the scope of ten short episodes, it's amazing how the program changed from its central emphasis on Bohannon seeking out the men who destroyed his homestead and killed his wife to essentially being "bottle episodes of the week" about characters facing the deepest, darkest personal crises.

Still, HELL served up some fine moments. It may've felt more than a bit uneven at times, but the production and performance quality remained high throughout. I'll tune in for Season 3, if for no other reason than to see what Cullen's up to these days.

HELL ON WHEELS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is produced by Entertainment One Television, Nomadic Pictures, (gayton)2, Endemol, American Movie Classics (AMC), Endemol Entertainment UK, and H.O.W. Productions. DVD distribution is being handled by Entertainment One. As for the technical specifications, the show looks and sounds remarkable. And, unlike the first season set, Season 2's comes saddled up with a fair amount of special features: there's a "Back with a Vengeance: The Making of Season 2" short, some materials reviewing where Season 1 left off, cast interviews, a set tour with star Anson Mount, and ten short "Inside the Episode" mini-documentaries that profile the show's production.

RECOMMENDED. As much as I was surprised and fascinated with HELL ON WHEELS first season, I thought most of the second was a bit of a mixed bag. Situations seemed to develop less organically (and with less feeling of authenticity), and the characters felt as if they were being tossed about deliberately by a writing crew instead of by the events and circumstances of the period. The season finale almost smacks of cancellation - fates of the principles were mightily handled out - and I know from following the news reports that AMC dragged their heels for quite some time on a third season renewal. In fact, I'd imagine Season 3 won't look all that much like the first two seasons given the developments, but perhaps that's a good thing these days.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Entertainment One provided me with a DVD copy of HELL ON WHEELS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hell on wheels, August 19, 2012
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i discovered this series recently and am thoroughly enjoying it. I look forward to seeing it each week and am quite sure there are many people who do not know about it but would love it as i do. Great casting for lead roles.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Western, September 12, 2012
By 
P. W. Rolston (Belmont, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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I am a true John Wayne western fan and have all of his westerns and many others.
But Hell On Wheels is probably much, much closer to the true west and the story
behind it's development. It is a gutsy, down-to-earth western saga at its best.
I bought Season One in its entirety and will do so with Season Two upon completion.
Great stuff!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OOOH Mr. Bohannon, May 18, 2013
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This review is from: Hell On Wheels, Season 2 (Amazon Instant Video)
I watched season one Netflixs and I was hooked, grabbed season two off amazon, and in Aug season 3 starts on AMC on Sat. nights , dont miss it this is a good one I have watched season 2 more than once :)
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, September 7, 2012
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This is series has met all my expectations!
I've enjoyed watching it since it first came on last year and look forward to every episode!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome...very enjoyable!, September 26, 2012
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A series, this story is absolutely wonderful. Set after the civil war, very authentic! If you enjoy period pieces, watch this one, and the music is great!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Show!, September 6, 2012
By 
Michael B. (Altha, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hell On Wheels, Season 2 (Amazon Instant Video)
Shame that DISH doesn't carry AMC anymore since I have to buy my episodes to watch them but I'm a big fan of this show. I don't buy the HD as the feed going to my Playstation 3 isn't strong enough to support it but it's still very good on a HD TV. The characters are just as good as the 1st season. Love watching the time period that's being used and there's no holding back on the way things are expressed from that time in the United States. Another show from that period of interst is the BBC America show "Copper".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So hooked on Hell On Wheels, December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Hell On Wheels, Season 2 (Amazon Instant Video)
If you have not seen this program then put on your seat belt and start from the pilot. Fantastic acting and amazing set design in this real life like, building of the railroad out west. Adult program with lots of blood but we love the development of the railroad and what it takes to get it done. Shows what a hard life it was during this time and how lucky we are they were before us. The enter action of the south meets the north plus the ex slaves is amazing and would be a good teaching tool for why we need human kindness. Cheers to our forefathers! Must See!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloody amazing...., August 29, 2012
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Well, it is official, Cullen is just a lucky 'so and so' and this episode bears witness. Loved this episode arc all though I had a few little prop/supporting script issues.

***SPOILERS***SPOILERS****

This episode is driven by The Swede character. The anger at his fall from grace and his resultant new position low in the town's pecking order sticks in his craw...so he plots. His well placed words of venom sting others and the results are bloody.

Durant has "rescued" (made him an offer he couldn't refuse) Cullen from the Army firing squad in the last episode and offered him a job with the railroad. Something tells me the terms of this employment contract will end up being changed as Cullen decides what will benefit him as time goes on.

Meanwhile, Lily is working for the railroad (read Durant) and also playing around in Durant's bed, thus feels she has power to make things happen. When Durant finds out what "thing" she took upon herself to do (by convincing Elam to do her dirty work), all hell breaks lose. Lily learns that power and money can be destructive in many, many insidious ways...with Durant/Cullen having to clean-up the mess. ***Side note: what is with Lily's crisp, clean hat and coat? Not even her sleeves have DUST or marks on them? Heck, I can't wear a light color jacket like that for a week in a clean environment and not get some dirt on it.***

Well, Mickey and Sean McGuinness are now running protection for the whores since Penny was murdered. When the German railway foreman, Schmidt, is strung up with the 'Woman Killer' sign around his neck, everyone is left to wonder who murdered him as he was put there in secret. While using one of the women in the whorehouse, Mickey intimates to her that he was the man who brought Penny's killer to justice. This statement comes back to haunt him when the Germans, the slaughterhouse butcher to be exact, decide to get retribution for their friend Schmidt, by killing Sean & Mickey.***Side Note: after his bed-sport with the whore Mickey exclaimed "I'm gobsmacked!"...REALLY? I don't think that expression was around in the post Civil War era.

This episode has many small jewels of conversations, but I find myself riveted by the last 20 minutes, similar to watching a train wreck. The Germans had Mickey and Sean strung up in the slaughterhouse so Durant sends in Cullen and Elam to rescue them (there is only 6 or seven to their two - even odds). Durant then incarcerates the pummeled Sean and Mickey and holds them for Schmidt's murder to appease the Germans. Meanwhile, Cullen is sent to "explain" (with a right upper cut) to the German butcher that he needs to leave town. The butcher says to Bohannan, "This is a free country, by God!" ...Cullen replys, "yeah, that's the funniest damn thing I ever heard",...golden.
Needless to say the McGuinness brothers are let out of jail, things get nasty and lots of blood is spilled.

***Side note: in the beginning of this episode the butcher makes the statement that "...we must use all.." in referring to the butchering of the hog that is taking place in the scene. I grew up on a hog farm and I'm very familiar with the process. I was truly surprised that this German butcher did not catch the blood, but instead let it pour out onto the ground. Any of my German farmer relation who butchered always made blood sausage and my Irish relations made blood pudding. In fact, an old German saying in my family was 'you used everything but the squeal' when butchering a hog..guess Hollywood just wanted the dramatic effect of spilling blood.
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