With most of their men gone, and those who remain battling for control, the women struggle to survive, to find their independence, and to build a life in which to thrive and raise families. As the stories of Janestown's citizens unfold we see the clash between a power-hungry father and son and the deep prejudices among races, but also the start of something akin to community in this Wild West.
At first I was put off by the massacre but then I realized that was the way it was at that time. I enjoyed watching a western where the women are strong and can take care of themselves and not just cooking and cleaning. Definitely a must watch for the strong, pioneer women. Too bad there is no second season. Loved and identified with all the characters in the story.
I am obsessed with westerns and was excited to see this available on Amazon VOD. I made myself get through four full episodes before calling it quits. At times, it was painful to watch the actors act out weak storylines with massive cliché' factors. I wanted to love this series...
Says one reviewer, “If you can’t handle the reality of it...” Sadly, reality is in really short supply in this new western series.
Once upon a couple of times, the western was kiddie fantasy fare. The first time was during the era of quick, cheap B movie theatrical releases. Then, in 1939, John Ford made Stagecoach and, later, the Cavalry trilogy; the Ox Bow Incident was released and—while still steeped in mythology—the western, to a great extent, grew up. It grew up even more in the 1950s with Shane, The Searchers, High Noon, the Naked Spur and a host of other adult dramas. Kiddie fantasy westerns came back with a vengeance in the 1950s as producers filled TV airtime with quick-and-dirty “western hero” series: Hopalong Cassidy, the Roy Rogers Show, Wild Bill Hickok, the Cisco Kid and the most legendary of them all, The Lone Ranger.
Imagine my surprise—and disappointment—when I began to watch Strange Empire and found that the fantasy western was back. I watched 1.5 episodes. That’s all I could take, folks.
The name is wrong. First, it’s not original; it is borrowed. Strange Empire is the title of the finest non-fiction book about the REAL Canadian/US west, and tells the story of Louis Riel and his rebellion. Second, there is no discernible “empire” here at all. Quite the contrary... the settings don’t even pass for “towns.” The producers even get the name of the location wrong, calling it “Montana”, when the place was still Montana Territory (statehood not arriving until after the wild west was over.) The series is certainly “strange,” alright, but not in a good way. The most fitting title I can come up with: Wild West Women Fantasies.
The series is fantasy because the women think, speak and act like 20th century women. They are a “force to be reckoned with.” Very, very few women were a “force” in the frontier west. The very few who were (Bill Hickok tag-along, Calamity Jane, outlaw Belle Star and Annie “Little Sure Shot” Oakley), were all seen as oddballs. The first two were mostly ridiculed and/or reviled. If you’d like a “reality” glimpse of women in the west, put yourself in front of the movie, The Homesman, wherein a man (Tommy Lee Jones) and woman (Hillary Swank) are charged with transporting a number of women back to their families and homes in the East. Why? Because the stark Prairie, impoverished lifestyle and brutal men they lived with have driven them stark-raving mad.
Only in a politically-correct CBC drama would you have mid-19th century feminists (one of whom is obviously of Native parentage,) hobnobbing, in two back-to-back scenes, with an African-American (in Canada, no less) and a Chinese, who looks like no Chinese ever did in the 1860s-1870s. Well, there you go! The Canadian mosaic at work!
When the gun-totin' heroine comes to the rescue out of nowhere just when another woman (female doctor) is about to be raped, well, it's straight out of B-movie kiddie fare of yore.