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Gavin Breeden

Hell on Wheels

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Speaking of new AMC's shows, Hell on Wheels is the second of their two new shows debuting in 2011.

This one is about

a former soldier in the Confederate Army who, in searching for the Union soldiers who killed his wife, finds his way to a lawless town called Hell on Wheels, and to the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The release said the series would explore “the railroad’s institutionalized greed and corruption, the immigrant experience and the plight of the newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction.”

So, 1960s ad men, a chemistry teacher cooking meth, conspiracy theories, a homicide investigation, and now a revenge/reconstruction tale set in post-Civil War America? I've got to hand it to AMC for not only have some of the highest quality shows on TV, but some of the most original and diverse.

No release date announced yet, but will probably air in the Summer/Fall 2011.

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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Premieres on November 6 with The Walking Dead as its lead-in.

A trailer for the show can be found here.

Looks pretty good.

Also, I can't help but notice that it mentions Meridian, MS a couple times, which, as of two days ago, is where I live.

Meridian was one of several Southern cities that Sherman all but destroyed in the Civil War. So looks like the show is about a man who loses family in Meridian and goes out west to work on the Transcontinental railroad whilst seeking revenge.

Count me in.

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I was never much interested in the old Clint Eastwood/John Wayne Westerns, but with the remake of True Grit, Deadwood, Red Dead Redemption and now Hell On Wheels, among other films/TV shows, Westerns seem to be making a bit of a come back.

The trailer for Hell On Wheels looks great. It has a good chance of sliding up to number two for my favourite AMC shows (right after Breaking Bad).

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AV Club gives the premiere (airing tonight) a B+.

That seems generous, considering the general negative buzz the show has gathered over the past few months. I'm wondering if they tweaked the first few episodes before airing them?

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AV Club gives the premiere (airing tonight) a B+.

That seems generous, considering the general negative buzz the show has gathered over the past few months. I'm wondering if they tweaked the first few episodes before airing them?

I haven't watched it yet, but plan to soon. I hadn't heard about negative buzz surrounding this show. What kind of stuff? Link?

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I haven't watched it yet, but plan to soon. I hadn't heard about negative buzz surrounding this show. What kind of stuff? Link?

Most of the criticisms I've read were based on how jumbled the pilot was (with some mixed comments about the subsequent episodes). I guess AMC sent four or five episodes out as screeners?

I probably should have said "mixed" buzz, and most of what I heard came from various people on Twitter was we're so-so on it all after the screeners came. I'm having a hard time finding links. But here's where it stands on Metacritic (with the bulk of reviews in the mixed area). Personally, I'm really interested in it, but I'll probably just catch it when the DVDs come out.

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I've tried watching both episodes, and have fallen asleep before the last twenty minutes each time (although I did go back and catch up on what I missed in the pilot). Great looking, but so far not very intriguing. About the most interesting thing I came away with from the pilot was that this was the second time that I've seen both Tom Noonan and Ted Levine cast together, but still not have any scenes together. First time was in Michael Mann's Heat. For those who may be scratching their heads, Noonan portrayed The Tooth Fairy in Mann's Manhunter, and Levine was Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.

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Is Noonan involved as more than an actor? I love the film he wrote, What Happened Was....

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Is Noonan involved as more than an actor? I love the film he wrote, What Happened Was....

So far he's just the tall, scary looking preacher.

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Soooo, the more AMC shows I watch, the less I want to watch AMC shows. There. I said it.

Let's review the shows introduced after Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Rubicon - good and interesting, but flawed, then "not renewed."

The Walking Dead - interesting and occasionally very good, but also occasionally not good. Plagued by bad dialogue, a meandering plot, and the worst suspense fake-out I've ever seen (the bad guys in season 1 who were taking care of the old people). The zombies are more interesting than the people in this show.

The Killing - started strong and then quickly went downhill before utterly crashing and burning in the finale. Coming back for a second season which NO ONE is looking forward to.

Hell on Wheels - so far, it's boring and filled to the brim with Western cliches. There's just nothing really interesting here for me.

I watched the Pilot with eagerness but was bored long before the credits rolled. I just don't really care about the characters or the story right now. As for cliches, so far we have:

-a quiet, lone gun slinger on a quest for revenge (but don't worry he's really a good guy, see, he freed his slaves before the Civil War and paid them wages), oh, and he kinda has a drinking problem,

-a creepy, fire-and-brimstone preacher (I'm almost willing to overlook this just because Tom Noonan is at his best playing creepy characters),

-an evil railroad tycoon as the villain,

-a bunch of sassy prostitutes.

Yawn. It's not that those characters can't be interesting, it's that we've seen them so many times you have to really do something different with them to make them interesting again. Take HBO's terrific Deadwood, for example. The first couple episodes bring up similarly cliche Western characters and then begin to deconstruct their roles. We learn the hero has a severe anger problem and becomes more disconnected from the audience as the show progresses, whereas the villain gets all the best dialogue, shows a strange compassion and humanity hidden beneath his ruthlessness, and becomes the fan favorite. Not to even mention Miltch's Shakespearean dialogue, which sets this show apart from every other show out there!

HoW so far lacks the finesse and depth of Mad Men, the acting, cinematography, and writing of Breaking Bad, and the occasional excitement of The Walking Dead. Instead we got: expositional dialogue, predictable plot points, uninteresting characters, and that's about it.

Anyway, despite my heavy criticism here, I'm not ready to write Hell on Wheels off yet. I've only seen the first episode and I'm probably being way too hard on the show. Perhaps, I'll have to come back here in a few weeks and repent because the show is so amazing, but I'm worried based on what I've seen so far. And honestly, I think most of my pessimism is based on the quality of the last several new AMC shows, I'm afraid I've just lost faith in the AMC brand.

I recently read that after Mad Men season 1, AMC wanted to completely change the show. They wanted it to be faster-paced and more exciting, and they thought Pete and Peggy were way too boring. Unfortunately for them, Weiner and company had already heard that it was renewed for season 2 before their meeting with AMC and so AMC lost all of its leverage and the show continued as we know it today.

It really makes you wonder if Mad Men and Breaking Bad-- two of the greatest TV shows in recent memory-- are great shows in spite of AMC, not because of AMC.

Hard to believe that it was just a matter of months ago that I started the threads for The Killing and Hell on Wheels filled with such hope and anticipation. Man, I was just a starry-eyed kid back then.

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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I agree that Hell On Wheels has been a bit lacklustre so far (though I like the Swede - I hope he returns) but I still am optimistic about the show. AMC can right the ship.

I suppose I'm the last person on Earth who has no problem with the first season of The Killing.

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Yeah, I'm also on Team Go-Hell-on-Wheels! Ali and I have enjoyed the first two episodes thus far, in spite of the significant similarities to Deadwood, which we both loved, and the one-dimensional character Colm Meany plays. It's an hour where, thus far, we're both willing to see where the show wants to go, which contrasts with the hour we spend mocking most of the dialogue and plot points in The Walking Dead.

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Just poking my head into this thread to see if people are still following this show. How are you diggin' it?

I tried, I honestly did. But just can't get into it. I've actually been struck at how dissimilar it is to Deadwood. The dialogue falls flat and is often awkwardly delivered. The story is uninteresting. And I'm not convinced of the acting abilities of anyone in the cast. Anson Mount and Common are both boring and unlikeable leads. Colm Meaney, who has proved he can act in the past, seems to just be mailing it in.

Each episode is dropping in statistical viewership for a reason.

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Just discovered this and am loving it. Sorry you guys weren't into it. Some of the faith elements are really interesting. Did anyone get as far as the scene where the preacher starts a pro-peace preach but is interrupted by Meaney's character?

Also one thing that this series has that Deadwood didn't is the portrayal of the ex-slaves and the native Americans.

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I just mainlined the entire series in the past week. I am LOVING it as well. 

 

The faith elements keep getting more intriguing. Mark Richard is a consulting producer and has written several episodes. I heard him read at Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing last year. Wish we could get him to write for IMAGE. ;)

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