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The AMC series "Hell on Wheels" is a wonderful glimpse of life after the Civil War during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad -- a story line that has only been briefly touched-on in past westerns.
Being raised during the Civil War myself (my parents were re-enactors) ;) hee haw! I can confirm the scenes are spot-on with mud up to their shins, dirty canvas tents, era furnishings, period firearms, and mix and match uniforms remnants being the fashion statement of the time - very well done.
The Cast and Story Line: Interlaced within the 1865 details is the unlikely friendship between an ex-confederate soldier and a former slave (flawlessly portrayed by Anson Mount and Common respectively). Their bond grows with each episode as their commonality becomes apparent and they have each other's back in revolving dilemmas.
Lily Bell (wonderfully portrayed by Irish actress Dominique McElligott) is half lady / half wildcat and cute as a button - we all want her to find happiness - hopefully with bad boy Cullen Bohannon as their attraction is apparent.
Colm Meaney is perfect as the railroad tycoon, Thomas Durant, trying to control everything in a world of chaos.
And villain "The Swede" played by Christopher Heyerdahl is the man you will love to hate. He is just deliciously sadistic and self righteous - someone who really needs to be tarred and feathered!
The bumbling Irish brothers are always good for a laugh - love them and their 8-12 toes!
Robin McLeavy plays Eva "the hooker" and she has had a horrible existence too and is fighting for her chance for a better life as her love, Elam, is also. She is tough and adorable at the same time.Read more ›
With all the success that AMC has had recently turning out high quality adult programs such as "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," and "The Walking Dead," few new dramas in 2011 were as eagerly anticipated as their Western revival "Hell on Wheels." Despite a somewhat mixed reaction from the mainstream media, the show was an instant hit when its premiere episode became the network's second highest rated debut in history. And yet, despite these big numbers and impeccable production values, it is still very much a show that is finding its way creatively and dramatically. There are so many reasons to recommend "Hell on Wheels" and yet it takes a while to find its footing after a powerhouse beginning. For most of its ten episodes, I found myself admiring the show's technical construction as opposed to loving its storytelling arc.
The two strongest components of the show (evident from the very beginning) were its lavish depiction of the Old West with some spectacular battles and effects and a dynamic lead villain in Colm Meaney. The story opens in a post-Civil War America with an enigmatic soldier (Anson Mount) seeking revenge for the murder of his wife by Union officers. His journey puts him in the heart of a railroad construction project led by Meaney at an untamed post on the outskirts of civilization. There are working girls, disgraced clergy, thuggish bosses, newly emancipated slaves, a Native American presence and a myriad of other unscrupulous business types coexisting in this tempestuous microcosm and seeking to exploit the new possibilities on the road west. Meaney is absolutely terrific and other notable performances are turned in by Common (unexpectedly solid as a sometimes ally of Mount) and Tom Noonan (as a preacher trying to reform his life).Read more ›
I caught episode 6 while channel surfing last week and I was instantly hook. There were only a few episodes on demand through my satellite. I found the beginning of the series on Amazon and quickly caught up.
The show is about the construction of the Union Pacific railroad shortly after the end of the Civil War. The show is historically accurate and the locations transport you to that time.
Common is OUTSTANDING as Elam Ferguson! The characters are well developed and the acting is superb.
I usually watch the HBO series, The Wire, Oz, Trueblood etc. because the stories can be told with less editing and a realness. This series can can compare with any of those shows.
AMC has a great thing going and I hope that word gets out and people start tuning in. I am waiting on season 2 already.
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My wife and I recently had the delight of taking a guided tour through the streets of Tombstone, Arizona. We're both history nuts, and our guide - a retired doctor who's gone about researching the peoples and places of the famed city for his own purposes - peppered his 2 and ½ hour presentation with modern pop culture references in order to help bring the days of the Wild West back to life. In terms of authenticity at depicting the struggles of daily life for common folks, he rated two television programs very high. The first - we guessed right - was DEADWOOD; the second was a bit of a welcome surprise: AMC TV's HELL ON WHEELS.
HELL ON WHEELS appeared on AMC's schedule with relatively little pomp and circumstance ... at least, little by comparison to their competing programs MAD MEN and THE WALKING DEAD, which were given red carpet treatment. The small, comfy Western's first season came and went with little critical acclaim, though it currently garners a respectable score of 63 on Metacritic's tracking poll. Starring a practically unheard of Anson Mount in the lead, along with strong character actor Colm Meaney in a sizable secondary role, HELL ON WHEELS is `the story' of the old West, of pioneering a frontier and making it hospitable for the men, women, and children coming to populate it, all with a healthy bit of gunslinging vengeance thrown in for good measure.
Cullen Bohannen (played by Mount) harbors a mystery: he's on a personal vendetta to find and kill the men who raped and murdered his wife while he was away fighting the Civil War. In order to `fit in' inconspicuously amongst with the unruly types populating the expanding Western frontier, he takes a job as a crew chief for Thomas Durant (Meaney), rail baron.Read more ›