Friday, November 18, 2011

TV Review: Hell On Wheels (2011-????)

I hate predicting how a series will turn out after only two episodes. But only two episodes into AMC’s new show Hell on Wheels, I’m having serious problems with the show and I think it’s only going to get worse because the problems lie within the writer’s liberal worldview and dishonest motives.

Hell on Wheels is the story of Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), an ex-confederate soldier seeking revenge for the killing of his wife. He takes a job working for Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney), who is building the transcontinental railroad through Nebraska in 1865. Bohannon takes this job because the man he wants to kill works for the railroad as a foreman. Bohannon gets the job and then goes to kill the foreman. But the foreman throws him for a loop when he mentions another murderer Bohannon knows nothing about. But just as the foreman is about to reveal the man’s identity, the foreman is killed by Elam Ferguson (racist rapper turned actor Common). Hilarity ensues.

My problems with Hell on Wheels actually started from the first word. For weeks before the show premiered, AMC ran ads implying this would be more than just a Western. Specifically, they used a line of dialog which implied something supernatural was taking place. But in the opening twenty seconds, we discover that "line" was in reality two separate lines spliced together to create a misleading impression. Rather than referencing some supernatural force they unleashed, the character was only whining about how evil he and the rest of the Union Army were in the Civil War. Boo fricken hoo.

And it doesn’t stop there. Soon we get blasted by characters whining about how evilly the South treated Union prisoners of war. . . how evilly the Union treated the South’s soldiers. . . how evilly the Southerners treated the slaves. . . how evilly whitey treated the Indians. . . how evilly the Irish were treated. . . how evilly whitey treated the Chinese. . . how evilly corporate America treated its workers. . . etc. etc. etc. Every racial, ethnic, religious, political or economic grievance you can conjure up about the era gets crammed into the first two episodes. That’s whiny liberalism at its worst.

Even worse, the characters accept the modern liberal worldview. Hence, they all lament how evil they are and almost every scene involves characters whining about some group-based grievance. And even worse, standard liberal hypocrisies apply. Thus, they are all hopelessly conflicted and dearly apologetic about all the evils done by their own people and they reject evils like racism and violence. . . unless you're black or an Indian, then it’s hunky dory. This is ridiculous. This show seems to be written from the worst end of the racial identity politics regime. If we swapped the characters’ races, you’d swear this was written by the Klan.

And it doesn't stop there. Our hero Bohannon is a cliché, being a cold-blooded killer in the tradition of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns. But he's also noble because he freed his own slaves before the war because he knew slavery was wrong. Really? This is ex post facto liberal false courage masturbatory disease. This is all those liberals who tell you proudly how THEY would have stood up to Hitler if THEY’d lived in Germany, or THEY would have led the Civil Rights Movement, or THEY would have ended slavery, or THEY would have been the first to [fill in the blank]. . . when the reality is they are abject cowards with a complete blindspot for the intersection of personal responsibility and morality. The Bohannon character is an attempt by liberal writers to feel morally superior by criticizing a long gone era using modern sensibilities knowing that they risk nothing by being so "brave."

The villain, Thomas Durant, is the ultimate liberal boogeyman, by the way. Not only is he entirely corrupt, as we’re told all businessmen apparently were at that time, but he’s murderous, gratuitously racist, he beats his underlings and needlessly humiliates people he bribes. He openly bribes and threatens Senators, tells the press his evil plans because he knows they would never go against him, and he laughs maniacally at all of his own evil doings. He actually sees himself as evil and revels in it. Indeed, Colm Meaney plays Durant so rottenly that Ebenezer Scrooge would cry foul.

But even beyond the politics, this story is full of inexplicable actions and plot conveniences. Why does Bohannon bother joining the railroad when he could have just rode up and shot his nemesis? Why stick around after the murder except to get caught -- he wasn’t told until later that Elam knows who the other killer might be. Why would Durant not hang Bohannon (he framed him for the foreman’s murder) just because Bohannon says he knows how to handle blacks? And what are the chances Elam would kill the foreman just as he was about to spill the beans, and then actually know the foreman’s secret when the foreman clearly never confided in blacks and when Elam wouldn’t even have any way to connect the dots? Or are we to believe the foreman liked to brag about the same murder that supposedly haunted him?

Almost every moment in this show feels manufactured. It is manufactured in the sense that the characters’ actions make no sense, they espouse beliefs that are anachronistic and inconsistent, and each scene feels set up just to let them espouse those beliefs. The actions binding the character together are nonsense and the characters themselves are laughably cardboard and seem drawn to act as liberal archetypes.

Even beyond that, there are problems. Is the show fast paced? Sure. But the acting is weak and the accents are horrid. The costumes are good, except Common looks too clean and modern to be a railroad worker from 1865. . . he looks more like a model. Does the plot twist and turn? Sure. But it’s not surprising.

But in the end, the real problem is that I keep feeling in scene after scene that I’m being fed propaganda. I keep being told revisionist history. I keep seeing extreme liberal boogeymen and I can’t help but see a sad liberal writer proudly telling himself, "that would have been me!" Yeah, sure. This show is dishonest and that’s the problem.


Tennessee Jed said...

A pity, Andrew and I hope you are wrong. I didn't see all the promotions, and actually cued it up free of expectations. I have the 2nd episoded tivoed but haven't seen it yet. I guess the typical liberal bitch slaps associated with most shows today didn't hit me in the face quite as hard, at least in the pilot. Thus, as you lay them out, it will probably have me looking more for them. Then again, I'm a sucker for westerns, so I'd like for this one to settle into good stories. Based on most television, I shan't hold my breath.

ArmChairGeneral said...

Liberal worldview? So it really WILL be hell on wheels.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, That's where it's headed all right!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I like westerns a lot too and I wanted to like this a lot. But it's just repeatedly struck me as wrong. Almost every single scene I find myself saying "gee, so everyone was evil back then?"

I actually saw an article recently about how this show was supposed to bring "balance" to westerns which have been "idealized" and "whitewashed" with shows that show all those evil racist honkeys who settled the west as good people who wanted to help each other. I suspect that article actually had captured the intent of this show quite well.

I am also bothered by the fake feel of the show. None of the characters really make a lot of sense. They are like stereotypes doing what stereotypes do while searching for a plot. And they are presented as ultra-cool to hide the fact there's no substance. In scene after scene I find myself asking, "why didn't he just do ___" or "why would he bother doing that?"

It feels fake to me.

I'm going to give it a couple more episodes, but it's losing me fast.

DUQ said...

Andrew, Excellent review. I wanted to like this show as well, but it feels too modern to me. I don't feel like I'm watching a western so much as some modern movie in western costumes. Common in particular reminds me of a modern Hollywood crime boss.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, A "crime boss" is a good way to explain it. He's definitely too modern.

Individualist said...

Funny Andrew

but liberals made a western about people who abhored slavery and they concentrated on ex southerners it seems. I say ex southerners because in 1870 any southerner who lamented the nations racist tendencies would have been drummed out of the south.

If I am not mistaken if one wanted a story set after the civil war about the people that tried to stop slavery wouldn't one not want to concentrate on the people that helped found the GOP.

I believe they were called Abolitionists. A lot of them were *gasp* Christians too.

Maybe I am not so well versed in Civil War Era history.

Ed said...

Andrew, You make some really great points. The show isn't overtly "liberal/political" but everything it says accepts that. For example, they don't come out and say things like "we're destroying the environment." But they say things like "this will all be ruined when people get here." (the surveyor). They don't say "we need affirmative action" but they do say things like "whites won't ever let you into their club" (the one Indian said that to the other guy). And there are constantly statements telling us how whites will happily kill black. Meaney says something racist about the Chinese for no reason whatsoever at one point. They act like Meaney hurt farmers by buying up land for the railroad. And so on. It's crawling with liberal statements like.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's the contradictions and anachronisms I'm talking about.

There are no abolitionists, just racist whites -- except our hero, who is a reformed slave holder.

And why is he reformed? Because he decided racism was evil -- though he advocates it to the blacks and he apparently had no qualms about killing people left and right. So what we have is a vicious killer who lies, cheats and steals his way through life but draws the line at a belief commonly held throughout the country. Huh?

You also mention Christians, he's anti-Christian. In fact, we had a very nice scene confirming to us that we don't need to worry that he might harbor religious sentiment. Heck, he even shot a man in a confessional.

He's live a 100% Liberal Certified action hero -- he hates the right people and loves the right people.

By the way, it's already obvious the priest will turn out to be a pervert -- they've hinted at that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I agree. The first episode was interesting and somewhat engrossing, because you couldn't tell for sure where it was going. By the second episode I gave up. It's not only liberal, it's contrived and unbelievable.

Thomas Durant, though very much a real historical personage, is in this series a bad caricature of the ever-popular liberal shibboleth, the robber baron. He was indeed one tough character, but he was a practical man in different times. As you say, we can't judge him by today's standards. In addition, he was a major philanthropist. He was one of the major contributors to the founding and funding of the University of California, and for those Berkeley leftists, he gave them both a hall and a street named Durant to protest in and on. In fact, just last year the lefties rioted and occupied Durant Hall on the Berkeley campus during one of their temper tantrums, then moved to the intersection of Telegraph and Durant to set fires.

tryanmax said...

I used to think I hated westerns, but then I realized that horses and hats were just too-often excuses for bad writing.* It turns out that I love good westerns. Too bad this doesn't look to be one of them.

(*Didn't we just have this conversation about sci-fi and fantasy?)

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Good points, I forgot about the surveyor and his feminist girlfriend(?).

The Indian scene was particularly egregious. You have a group of Indians who come in and in cold blood kill unarmed men and women. Somehow (plot convenience) another Indian tracks them down in the wild. He lives with whitey now. He lectures them that they will bring the revenge of the white man if they keep doing this. They tell him to shove off because they won't be oppressed. Then they tell him how whitey will never let him into their club. He seems to accept this, but decides to go back to his white friends/masters(?) nevertheless. Huh? It has the feel of a race-hate scene.

Also, then Meaney comes along and take what is a legitimate massacre and tries to make it look worse so he can trick the public into hating Indians. So we're supposed to see Meaney's actions as evil and as framing the Indians -- even though it's something they actually did! And the reporter with him goes all queasy but then falls into line for no apparent reason.

It's the same thing with the scens Common. So we're supposed to believe that whites are just killing blacks for fun -- yet he can talk back and try to attack white bosses with no problems? What's wrong with this picture? You can't have it both ways.

I'm not saying there weren't evil people, but this is way over the top liberal fantasy evil combined with liberal fantasy "I would have stood up to these people" garbage. This stuff could be written by liberation theologists everywhere.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree. It's not that there wasn't evil or that these people were saints -- they weren't. And I'm not saying that by our standards, that era didn't have a lot of bad things.

BUT what bothers me is the mixture of (1) way overstating the evil these people did to the point of caricature, but then (2) having the heroes run around judging everyone using modern liberal sensibilities. I am also troubled by the unrelenting liberal messages, which appear in each scene.

Will the show continue in this direction? I don't know, but it is definitely trending in that direction really fast.

Interesting tidbit, by the way, I never knew Durant had a Berkeley connection?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. Westerns like everything else can be done well or done poorly. And because it is an easy and obvious genre to understand (and develop cliches), you do get a lot of bad. But good westerns are great stories.

This isn't a good western. In fact, this is only a western in terms of the settings. You could just as easily make Common and Durant into crime bosses, Bohannon a corrupt cop with a heart of good, and then set this in modern Detroit without missing a beat.

Which scifi/fantasy discussion?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I haven't seen much of this--maybe half of the first episode and a small chunk of the second--but I agree with your criticisms. My biggest issue is, to put it as concisely as I can, the characters seem to be historically self-conscious. That is, Durant, Bohannon, and Elam, but especially Durant, seem to be all about "we're making a revolution here" in their actions. For example, Durant talked at the end of the pilot how "remember, I built this nation" and so on. That bothers me, because I don't think people think that way in the moment. Maybe in moments of extreme crisis they do, but not in the midst of a lengthy construction project. This just goes along with your point about writing history from the wrong end and so on. Anyway, I haven't cared for it so far.

Related question: Between this and the crap season "The Walking Dead" is having thus far, is this the end of people raving over AMC's "original" TV programming?

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, that's a good point about Durant and his later philanthropic work. I didn't know about him specifically, but it fits in well with the "evil capitalist robber barons" irony in this period. John D. Rockefeller was no better than Durant seems to have been, yet he left plenty of endowments behind, and is honored with, among other things, the plaza from which left-wing NBC broadcasts. Same goes for Andrew Carnegie, the Vanderbilt family, and so on. History is full of ironies.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Good catch. I thought the speech you are talking about was horrible. Not only does he talk as if his life has already happened, but he ends up judging himself as a monster except he's fine with that. Huh?

That shows not only a lack of perspective as a writer about how the characters would view the world, i.e. you're right they are too historically conscious, but NO ONE thinks they're a monster. Even serial killers think they're justified in their actions. It simply goes against human nature to think "gee, I'm a rotten person, but so be it."

And the others act the same way. The heroes act like they know that in 150 years some television show will vindicate them and the rest of the cast acts like they know history will judge them poorly. It just doesn't work.

On your second point, I do think this will be trouble for AMC. TWD has turned into a dud and I suspect it won't get renewed. The Killing didn't seem to go over that well. Hell on Wheels has not attracted large numbers and I suspect it will fall apart. So their recent record is one of failure. That makes it sound like Mad Men and Breaking Bad were just flukes. And it wouldn't surprise me if you start to see articles to that effect -- fair or not.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's the thing about the left -- they only ever bother looking at one side of the equation. If you are rich, then you are evil... forget that business provides people with their wants and needs, forget that rich people provide jobs, forget that most rich people are the only reason leftist charities can exist.

All of leftism is premised on only looking at the parts of the equation they want to look at... Stalin = good ("what gulags?"), Hitler = right winger ("national socialist what?"), Democrats = for the poor ("what do you mean they do the bidding of rich lobbyists?"), etc.

Life is easy when you only have to look at the facts you like.

Ed said...

T-Rav and Andrew, I think it will hurt AMC's reputation if this gets cancelled after one season. I think HBO went through the same thing as one point when the only hit they had was Sopranos, and Showtime definitely went through this when they couldn't generate a hit like Sopranos. Both have since recovered nicely, but there were lots of articles about the "failure" of both networks. Our media world requires instant, constant success or they savage you.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, Now I can't remember what conversation that was, and I can't find it. But I am certain that we recently talked about sci-fi as an excuse for bad writing or something similar.

I'm particularly disappointed to hear about Hell On Wheels because Nebraska doesn't play as big a part in western films as it actually did in that era of history. (Aside from a good one-liner from in Unforgiven.)

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: The "Big Four" of California railroading were Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford. Three of the four endowed Berkeley and San Francisco heavily (their names are all over town). When Stanford went rogue and founded his own university (boo!), the Central Pacific barons got Union Pacific Durant to chip in the fourth part.

tryanmax said...

I found it! Oddly we were talking about the sci-fi thing in the thread for The Duellists.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think that's right, our media culture requires constant success or you are judged a horrific failure for all time. It's really kind of sick.

And in truth, look at what AMC has done. Two shows out of five (Mad Men/Bad) have been mega hits. One show looked like it would become a mega hit (TWD), only to stumble at the moment -- it could still recover. And the jury is out on The Killing. None of them were out and out flops. Other networks would kill for that kind of track record.

One problem I think they will have with the ratings on Hell on Wheels is that liberals don't like westerns -- they see them as "too American" and "too old." So you don't tend to get a lot of liberals watching. That means you need conservatives to sustain the ratings. But Hell's formula seems destined to turn off conservatives. That's a horrible plan -- they've basically alienated the one audience they needed.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, What's Nebraska? ;)

I'm disappointed just from the perspective that I love good westerns and I was hoping this would be a good western. It's the same disappointed I get when I turn on some new science fiction show and discover it's just a bland nothing.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, "Went rogue!" LOL! It's a good thing he did!

It's interesting that you don't hear nearly as much about these West Coast guys as you do about the eastern Robber Barons. In school we studied Rockefeller, Du Pont, Carnegie, etc., but we never really studied the guys out west. I guess that just shows the East Coast bias in our history?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's it! You never know where the conversations will take you around here.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, don't believe him. Nebraska doesn't actually exist; he's making it up.

I hope TWD recovers, but it will require a major shift in the writing, which I suspect is much harder to do than it seems. Depending on how many episodes "Hell on Wheels" has in the can, and judging by the two on air so far, I'm not holding out hope for the rest of the season.

By the way, excellent point about the university mindset of superiority that fuels this. "We would have stood up to Nazi Germany if we'd been there!" Well, guess what, guys. The universities in Germany during the '20s and early '30s were full of Social Democrats and even some out-and-out Communists, lots of "free spirits" and enlightened thinkers and so on, and guess what? They all became good little Nazis, and gleefully got rid of all the Jews in their midst. Look up Heidegger's bio sometime and tell me different.

tryanmax said...

Nebraska does too exist! If it didn't there'd be nothing for the rest of you to fly over!

tryanmax said...

That superior "Well, I would have..." mindset always amuses me. I'll admit to pondering the question myself, but sometimes I have to honestly admit I would have been on the proverbial "wrong side of history." No such honesty exists among leftists.

I think that a lot of what drives the Occupy movement is a belief that they will one day be able to tell their grandchildren they were a part of a great movement that reshaped the world. That's why leftists are so desperate to impose their values: so much of their identity is dependent on being proven "right."

Conservatives, on the other hand, are content to be wrong so long as right prevails.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I am familiar with Kansas, having driven through it many times. But I've never seen a "Nebraska." ;)

On TWD, the problem is that the writing is already done for season 2 and they've probably filmed all the episodes too, so they won't be able to change anything until season 3... assuming there is one.

I doubt Hell will change because it would be rather odd for someone who has clearly shown how they see the world to suddenly have the complete change of mind it would take to fix these problems. The only thing we could hope would be that after having shot their entire load of liberalism, they now settle down to story telling... but I doubt it. This show appears to be more flash than substance, so I think it's unlikely they have a strong story to turn to.

On the "I would have stood up" stuff, I hear this all the time. If I had a ruble for every leftist who claimed they would have stood up to the Nazis or they would have smuggled slaves, etc., I'd be a very rich commissar.

The truth is these same people would have either happily gone along with the rest or they would have just looked the other way. Only a small portion of humanity is will to go against the herd and stand up for the right thing when everyone around them is hellbent on doing the wrong thing. And given how easily most college-types fall for political correctness and groupthink, I'm thinking I don't see a lot of genuine, courageous free thinkers in their midsts.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I've been there. It doesn't exist.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Or drive around! :)

On the "I would have" issue, I think the first thing people need to realize is that we are in many ways a product of our environments. So if you were raised at a time when people had slaves (see e.g. Ancient Rome to remove the race element), it would have been very radical thinking to decide that slavery should be abolished. Everyone agrees NOW that slavery is wrong on all levels... but at the time, it was just a fact of life without a great deal of right or wrong attached to it. So when people say "I would have fought slavery," they are assuming that they would have had their current values even though they lived in the past.

Now maybe they would have been a person who could see the right and wrong of it even before the rest of society caught on? There certainly were such people or things wouldn't have changed. But it is wrong to simply assume that just because you believe something now, you would have believed it back then.

Also, people greatly underestimate the strength of the herd instinct (peer pressure) and the fear of going against a violent regime. It is precisely because so few people have done that that we remember them. So for people who have never shown a willingness to even tell their friends when they are wrong to stand up and say from the safety of the modern world: "I would have faced down those tanks" is self-aggrandizing at best.

Don't get me wrong, there are people I know who would have recognized these things as evil AND would have stood up to them... but they also aren't the people who brag about what they claim they would have done.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Yep--East Coast bias. We had many instant millionaires in California. The Big Four at least did something other than find gold. Nob Hill became their "showplace." They built such elaborate homes that the Chronicle invented the expression "conspicious consumption" to describe their palaces. Three of the most famous hotels in San Francisco on top of Nob Hlll are named after them: The Mark Hopkins, the Huntington, and the Stanford Court. Only the Fairmont isn't connected to them.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think that's an especially important thing to keep in mind when discussing the Civil War, as this show obliquely does. Yes, the South had slaves, and the North's victory did get rid of slavery, so of course liberals say that they would have been totally pro-Union and fought slavery, even if brought up in the South, and I suppose that's possible. But slavery was not recognized by everyone (or even a majority, even in the Northern states) as a black-and-white issue. And despite what some people would have us believe, most Union soldiers were not interested in fighting for emancipation, just as most Confederate soldiers were not fighting to maintain slavery.

Sorry to get on kind of a tangent, and I don't wish to open up that can of worms. I only mention it because your point got me thinking of it, and the whole "honoring Confederate dead" thing is still so controversial, especially down here; the liberals claim they should not be honored or memorialized at all, because they were obviously fighting for an evil cause. It irks me, and this moral sanctimony in the show reeks of it.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have company this weekend so it has been hard to spend much time on line, but maybe, just maybe we'll luck out and this will start out as one of this "lib shows" where without realizing it, they become conservative, because it's almost a prerequisite to an actual good story. (Hey I can always hope.)

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I see the East Coast bias particularly in how they cover sports teams, but I suspect it's there in history classes as well. "The West" seems to be treated as a one week, single "episode" event, which isn't true in East Coast issues.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree entirely. There has been a push by liberals and race groups to turn the Civil War into purely a slavery v. not-slavery issue.

They ignore that (1) most Southerners did not own slaves and Southern soldiers did not fight to protect slavery, they fought to protect their homes, (2) most Northern soldiers fought for the same reason, not to free the slaves -- which wasn't even something Lincoln promised until the middle of the war, (3) blacks fought on both sides, (4) Northern cities were even more racist that the South.

But by turning this into a race-hate war, the left can cast perpetual blame on millions of people who weren't even alive at the time and use that to demand concessions and perpetuate racial identity politics.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, We can hope. I have my doubts, but you never know. Like I said, I'm going to give it a couple more shots, but it's not trending well.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. My Boardwalk Empire review will post at BH tomorrow if anyone wants to go chat about it. :)

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, The pace has been enough to keep me interested, but I also am annoyed the constant complaining. Also, I can't quite put my finger on it, but something in this show just doesn't work. It's like they are going through the motions.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I know what you mean. There is a sense that something doesn't fit in this story. I think it's the disconnect between the historical setting and the actions versus the modern liberal mindset which would not produce those actions.

What that leads to, in my opinion, is a sense that the story is disjointed and more a series of events rather than a story that flows and makes sense.

ScyFyterry said...

I agree with everything you said. This show turned me off and kept turning me off. I'm done with it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi guys!

Thanks for the review, Andrew!
I haven't watched an episode for two reasons:

1. None of the previews pic'd my interest, unlike, say Justified did.
I know that this ain't always an indicator of whether a show is good or not but it was a factor.

2. AMC mentioned it was from the same people that brought us TWD, and based on how that has been going this season I sensed a great disturbance in the quality this HOW would have.

I hoped my gut reaction would be wrong because I do love a good western, but now at least I don't hafta wonder.

Good points about lefty writers trying to impose their ideology and way of thinking (if you can call it that) on the past.

Lefties like to think they understand nuance and gray areas but in reality they haven't got a clue.
Which is why they need seeing irony dogs so badly.

Hey, maybe I can start a seeing eye dog foundation for the irony blind.
Please send your donations (tax deductable...I think) now! Together we can bring irony to these poor, blind victims of reality!

AndrewPrice said...


I'm not sold either way yet, but I'm discouraged by the start.

tryanmax said...

Fine. I guess I just be John Lennon sitting in my nowhere land.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Thanks! "a great disturbance in the quality"! LOL!

Whether it's fair or not, trailors are super important when it comes to bringing people in. If the tailor doesn't create a desire to see the film/show, then few people will watch -- and it's likely that "bad trailor also equals poor writing." I liked the trailors here enough to draw me in (they didn't blow me away), but like I said, they misled me.

A seeing eye dog for irony! LOL!

For me, there are two kinds of leftists when it comes to films. The first kind are leftist but don't intend to jam it into their stories. In those instances, their worldview is off-kilter but that doesn't really bother me. In other words, some of the assumptions they make are wrong, but they aren't so wrong that I feel like I'm being asked to believe things I oppose. I can overlook that.

The other group inserts all their leftist hate into their stories. They spout liberal propaganda and attack anyone who disagrees as hateful, stupid or evil. That I can't stand.

This show is standing on the border between both and is leaning heavily into the second right now. If the writers lean back suddenly and stop whining about all this oppression theory, then it MIGHT turn into a decent show. But I doubt that because people like this don't lean back -- they only keep leaning further to the left because they get angry that their messages aren't being accepted. Also, I suspect they aren't very good writers and don't have much of a story beyond their oppression theories.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's the spirit! Go Huskers, right?!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Good point about the two types of leftist writers.

The one'sa that wanna simply sell their idiotology wrapped in a stupid story do indeed view conservatives as intentionally evil.

Of course, it's all projection because the vast majority of conservatives don't hate leftists, just their ideas that result in evil and destruction and chaos (ht-Tryanmax!).

Most leftists wouldn't have a problem putting conservatives in re-education camps or worse.

Whereas most conservatives don't wish any harm to leftists, we just wanna promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Okay, sometimes I do wanna round up all the worst leftists and send them to Cuba or North Korea but only so they can experience their idiotology taken to it's end reality.
The results that is, of it.

And mabe a trip to the woodshed for a good (not bad) spankin'.
Although some might actually enjoy it so maybe that's a bad idea?

That's about as evil as I think of them. Bwahahaha!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I think you're right that there an awful lot of leftists, especially toward the end of their spectrum who have no problems putting people into camps. And even those who won't go that far want things like speech codes and the firing of conservatives to squelch opinions they don't like.

Gotta run... be back with more later.

Anonymous said...

I had heard about this show a while ago (and I've always had a budding interest in trains, railroads, etc.) but it sort of fell off my radar. I'm sorry to hear it isn't as good as it could be. On top of the politics, it sounds like it just isn't well-written, period.

Re: But he's also noble because he freed his own slaves before the war because he knew slavery was wrong....

...This doesn't sound too objectionable (good intentions and all) but I guess it comes across as the writers saying, "See, our hero is good!" You mentioned something similar in your review of The Green Hornet where Seth Rogen acts like an ass for 95% of the film despite the fact that they show him doing one good thing in a flashback at the beginning.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's similar.

In Green Hornet, they use the one instance to "establish his character" and from there they basically forget about his character and just write him as an unfunny jerk. Basically, they used it to dump the responsibility for developing or maintaining the character.

Here, the slavery thing is similar in design, except it's more political. Think about it.

This is the trait they use to set him apart from everyone else. In other words, this is what makes the hero the good guy -- which is almost always something special that applies to the hero only. For example, in other stories, this would be seeing the hero volunteer at a homeless shelter or take in sick animals or give money to children of a dead cop/partner. The idea is to give the hero a trait which is unique and which sets them apart to make them seem better than everyone else around them.

Now translate what that means here. It means, we are basically told, "he is a hero because he opposed slavery and no one else did." And this gets reinforced throughout the show because we are constantly being beaten over the head with the idea as everyone around him (including Northerners) is looking to continue slavery by other means and only he is the guy with the "right" moral view on race relations.

First, that's simply slander at the millions of people who struggled against slavery and discrimination and against the millions more who fought to stop slavery. Secondly, his "right" moral view includes seeking violent revenge for racial injustice... just not against himself. Third, it's incongruous with his character. He's an evil, murdering bastard who kills people in cold blood in church and has no qualms about threatening and abusing others around him. Yet somehow, we're simultaneously supposed to believe he's a decent, moral character and he's the only guy at the time who understood the evil of slavery?

That's what's offensive about the idea.

But yeah, the biggest problem is really weak writing... though I think the two are related.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Let me put it this way.

1. I think a hero being opposed to slavery is a fine quality for the time. In fact, I would probably expect it.

2. It would not bother me at all if the writer was fair to the other characters. But setting him up as the only guy who seems to have had a moral opposition to slavery offends me because it is a slander on everyone else from the era. It's the same thing you feel when you hear someone politician come along and talk about how only his people are moral and decent and everyone else is just rotten.

3. It bothers me further that the writer is using this as the basis to say "see, my guy is decent" when all his other actions are distinctly not-decent. In that regard, it's exactly like the Green Hornet thing.

Anonymous said...

I too tried to watch this show, but could not get past the liberal socialist agenda and revisionist history. You have articulated perfectly the true intent of the writers. Nicely done. Thanks.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, you're welcome. That's how it seemed to me when it started and, apparently, that is how it continued.

Post a Comment