I’ve tried. Really, I’ve tried, but I just don’t think I can watch any more Hell On Wheels. I have six unwatched episodes sitting on my DVR, and I am watching a seventh at the moment, thinking about all the other things I could be watching, reading, doing instead. I am close to giving up. Here’s why:
- There are no likeable characters. Not a one. In most dramas you find at least one character that you like, even the villains. Here I can’t find a one that I care about. I vaguely cared about Lily Bell for the first few episodes, but she has become as uninteresting as the rest.
- As I’ve said in many posts before I really look for westerns to explore a visual landscape, not just a point in time. Here 90% of the scenes look exactly the same. Sometimes the story moves into a place with trees, and boy that is nice, but otherwise it is one flat piece of land. Historically accurate? Sure, that is where you build a railroad, but it is boring as heck.
- I can’t find a three dimensional character in the bunch. Everyone is pulled out of the advanced stock characters barrel. Preacher- who used to be a killer! Grieving widow- with a secret! Angry black man- with a clever plan! Hooker- with a heart of gold! Better than having them all pulled out of the basic stock character barrel, but only just.
- The writing is slow and plodding. It never seems to go anywhere. There’s the plains. And some tracks. And some guys working. And the robber baron complaining. And our hero angry. Again. Just like last week.
- The show keeps setting itself up to be this big discussion on race in the west. It goes on and on about racism, but never really engages in it or adds anything meaningful to our thoughts on it. “Oh, I used to own slaves but I set them free and now my best buddy is that big black guy over there,” says the main character. Right, Johnny Reb, I’ll buy that.