SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Hell on Wheels - Episode 1.01 - Pilot - Early Review

As we noted earlier today, AMC is suffering some growing pains: negotiations and behind-the-scenes maneuvering at its signature shows Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead have become very public, and The Killing practically caused an audience revolt with its season finale. The best cure for these kinds of problems is a new hit, and AMC will take its next shot at the brass ring with HELL ON WHEELS, in some ways its most ambitious to date, which launches (with Walking Dead as lead-in) on November 6.

AMC has become HBO's biggest competitor in recent years in the all-important category of Emmy glory, with multiple award winners Mad Men and Breaking Bad taking the honors that used to belong to The Sopranos. Hell On Wheels escalates the competition, aiming itself directly at HBO's wheelhouse of large-scale historical drama. Specifically, Hell is pretty clearly AMC's version of the late lamented Deadwood. We're once again in the Old West at that moment when the frontier was being pierced by railroads, a time where savage violence and the beginnings of modern American society were balefully co-existing. There's even a stand-in for Ian McShane's epic villain Al Swearengen: Colm Meany as Thomas Durant, a loquacious railway magnate who expounds on his theories about evil and good as he ruthlessly pushes his tracks forward. And our hero Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount), while not a sheriff like Timothy Olyphant's Seth Bullock, carries a similar don't-mess-with-me vibe.

But this, alas, isn't Deadwood. Which is to say, Hell On Wheels creators Joe and Tony Gayton are very far from being David Milch. (The Gaytons' previous credits include Uncommon Valor and the recent Dwayne Johnson flop Faster.) Instead of filthy, poetic eloquence, we get stretches of clunky expository dialogue; instead of gasp-inducing plot turns, there's a standard story of vengeance. A lot happens in the Hell On Wheels pilot--a couple of murders, a brutal Indian attack on a railroad scouting party--but there's very little in the way of a gripping storyline. The best scene in the entire pilot is the pre-credits teaser, which raises expectations the rest of the show can't match.

Hell On Wheels wants to have monumental sweep (director David Von Ancken, a cable TV vet, provides some lovely landscapes), but there's no narrative vision behind it. Characters are introduced who presumably will have much more to do as the series continues--Common as an ex-slave who won't brook ill treatment, Dominique McElligott as the wife of a railroad surveyor--and given little to make them interesting. The pilot kills off its most interesting figure, and although Mount is a likable lead, he has to work very hard to convince us he has any sort of dark edge. Worse, the show doesn't seem to have anything particularly on its mind regarding the west, or the events surrounding the railroad's arrival: it throws in elements one after another, with no organizing principle in view. The result is busy but uncompelling.

As the producers of Cowboys and Aliens could tell you, westerns are a tough sell. Deadwood itself, however acclaimed, was never one of HBO's most popular shows, and it was cancelled before its time. Hell On Wheels is launching into a very tough timeslot, against the new Homeland on Showtime, the Hung/How To Make It In America duo on HBO, and the new Pan Am on ABC. AMC is giving it their best lead-in, but that's no guarantee people will return after trying the premiere. The show is interesting, hardly a total loss... but the network should really close its deal for more Breaking Bad.

Source: ShowBuzzDaily

Get Email Alerts

About The SpoilerTV Daily Newsreel

Every day 100's of items are submitted to us and we don't always have the time to make separate posts for the news and/or there is so much that it would quickly push all other items off the homepage.

So a result we've come up with the idea of the Newsreel, which will feature smaller shows and news items as they happen.

There will be a new Newsreel each day, and as news is added we will update the post and and push it back to the top of the site so that you can see that new items have been added. A tweet of the item will also be sent to our @SpoilerTV account.

New Items will be listed at the top of the article.

This will allow us to provide more news on more shows in a much more timely fashion
About Movie News Roundup

Rather that creating lots of new posts as new info is released and fragmenting the commentary, we thought it would be a good idea for the upcoming major movies to create a single post for each major movies that will collate all the info as it's posted.

New items will be added to the top of the list as well as the post being re-posted back to the top of the homepage when a new item is added. We will additionally send out a fresh tweet alerting you of the new information.

This will allow you to bookmark this page so that you can return to it whenever you like. It will also help consolidate all the discussion on this movie in a central place and make it less likely that you'll miss some key information.

Here at SpoilerTV we allow you to personalize your experience by allowing you to customize various items on the site. Close the popup to save your changes

Background Colour Picker
Enter the HEX Code of the colour you would like to use as a background. To get a HEX code goto the colour picker and pick your color then paste in the # number including the # at the front. eg #000000 is black #ffffff is white

Thumbnail Type
Rounded Sharp Circle
Square None Grid3 Grid2 Card
Theme Color
Light (Default)
Unread Indicator
Unread Off (Default)
Unread On

Full or Minimal
Full (Default)
Banner Selector
All you need to do is to put a link to your banner in the box below and press the Click Button. (For best results your image should be 1090px wide and 200px high.). We have more banners in our Banner Gallery here.

Enter the URL of your Image or pick from one below