In the 50s and 60s, Television Westerns reigned supreme. From Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger to The Rifleman and Bonanza, the cowboy was no stranger to the small screen. Sadly, throughout the 80s and 90s, gunslingers seemed to mostly disappear from sets across the country. Well, like many of you, I’m excited to say the Western has made its triumphant return to the small screen with a much-needed kick in the keester.
So hang onto them hats n glasses, cuz this here’s the 5 TV Westerns you really should be watching.
I first caught wind of HBO’s Deadwood long after the show ended in 2006. It was roughly two years ago, that I began to catch up on David Milch’s brilliant TV Western. Set in 1870s Deadwood, South Dakota, the story follows a collection of historical characters (Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Wyatt Earp to name a few) as they live their lives during the area’s annexation by the Dakota Territory. With a stellar cast, brilliant writing and gritty realism, Deadwood is damn well worth your time. Also, they say the word “cocksucker” a lot.
Hell On Wheels
AMC’s hit Western Hell On Wheels is now in it’s Second Season and it’s by far the closest thing on basic cable that I can get to reliving the glory that is Deadwood (aside from just rewatching reruns of Deadwood). Set in 1865, the show revolves around the settlement that convoyed the construction of America’s first transcontinental railroad, aka “Hell on Wheels“. The program stars Anson Mount, who is intense and riveting as former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon. Though the writing on the show can be wonky at times, overall it is delivered in a manner as brutal as it is beautiful. And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, Colm Meaney’s performance as Thomas “Doc” Durant is something to behold. Also, Common acts his damn ass of as recently freed slave Elam Ferguson. It’s almost unreal how good he is here.
The newest Western in this list, Longmire premiered on A&E this past June. While technically a crime drama, the series (based on the Walt Longmire novels) follows Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) as him and his team investigate crimes throughout the fictional city of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Beautifully shot, the show also stars Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff (frakkin right!).
Hatfields And McCoys
The only mini series to make this list, Halfields And McCoys provided some of the most amazing hours of television programming this year for me. Everything about History Channel’s three-part miniseries was a full on win for me. The cast featured top notch performances by Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Matt Barr, Jena Malone and Powers Boothe. Part One of the series brought in the largest ratings ever for The History Channel. Also, if that’s not enough, I suppose it’s also worth noting the 16 2012 Primetime Emmy nominations the show has received.
I don’t really have much to say here. Well, that’s not completely true. I’d like to thank FX Networks for making me fully realize the almost obscene man crush I have on Timothy Olyphant. Seriously, if I could pull it off, I’d be rocking a Stetson every damn day. But sadly, I cannot so I’ll need to leave that up to Raylan Givens. And, Walton Goggins is pretty neat too. Plus if you ask me, which you probably aren’t, Justified is hands down the best modern TV Western out there right now. Oh, and did I mention I like Timothy Olyphant? Just making sure…
Welp, it’s time for me to head on down that ol’ dusty trail. But before I go, make sure you keep an eye out for the upcoming CBS series Vegas marking Dennis Quaid’s first ever TV role as well as Michael Chiklis’ return to being an on screen badass. And if that’s not enough, Sunday September 2nd marks the return of the 2005 6 part miniseries Into The West to TV as it will air on AMC as the lead into Hell On Wheels.
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