Wednesday, May 30, 2012
HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS
THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS
A 6 HOUR MINISERIES
ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL
The Hatfields and McCoys on the History Channel has been compelling television, and it continues tonight with the third and final two hour episode.
The show is (mostly) well written, well acted and well art-directed. It gives a (mostly) gritty, realistic picture of two families -- on the West Virginia / Kentucky border in the years following the Civil war -- at odds over small issues that escalate into a murderous cycle of killings followed by more killings.
It presents a (mostly) convincing picture of the nature of the feud between the families.
The "(mostly)" stems from the fact that the show can not escape from its highly professional construction: William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield does not seem like a "devil" (he is Kevin Costner, after all, and neither the writing nor the acting allow him to be truly devilish); the settings and costumes suggest authenticity, but seem just a bit cleaner and nicer than the originals probably were; and, of course, the terrain is pretty, but it comes from another country entirely: the show was not filmed in the US.
Perhaps the weakest moment in the show is the cliff-hanger at the end of Episode 1, leading into the beginning of Episode 2. The story of the young Hatfield (Johnse Hatfield ), kidnapped and held overnight to be executed in the morning is dramatically implausible, unconvincing as history, and badly written.
At its best, this show does what the History Channel does best, revealing the stories and details and personalities and facts behind history's legends (in contrast to some "reality" shows that are not what the History Channel does best, but sometimes beef up its ratings). In fact, this show has had a record breaking audience for Basic Cable television, proving that doing what you do best often works!
As portrayed in this show... The Hatfields are more affluent and calculating; the McCoys are more impulsive. The feud began with bad blood after William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (Costner) left (deserted)the Confederate Army to return home after he saw a lost cause, while Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy (Bill Paxton) stayed and was later imprisoned by the Union Army. Then there were several confrontations where one or the other family took -- or tried to take -- advantage of the other, including the question of whether a pig was stolen. Then there was a Romeo and Juliet type romance between a young Hatfield man and a young McCoy woman. Then, with fevers running high, there were some killings, then more killing, then...
Many of the episodes in the historical record are dramatized seamlessly in the show. The final episode tonight is likely to be very very interesting, as it recounts the major and final conflicts in the feud.
Indeed, this 6 hour show again supports the thesis that important historical stories are more effectively dramatized on a serialized, multi-hour TV show, than in a compressed 2 hour theatrical film.
Kevin Costner ... 'Devil' Anse Hatfield
Bill Paxton ... Randall McCoy
Tom Berenger ... Jim Vance (Uncle)
Matt Barr ... Johnse Hatfield (Lover)
Lindsay Pulsipher ... Roseanna McCoy (Lover)
Ronan Vibert ... Perry Cline
Jena Malone ... Nancy McCoy (Marries Johnse)
Andrew Howard ... 'Bad' Frank Phillips (Posse leader)
Sarah Parish ... Levicy Hatfield
Powers Boothe ... Judge Valentine 'Wall' Hatfield
Boyd Holbrook ... William 'Cap' Hatfield
Noel Fisher ... Ellison 'Cotton Top' Mounts
Mare Winningham ... Sally McCoy
THE HATFIELD AND MCCOYS -- A HISTORY ON WIKIPEDIA
THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS ON IMDB
THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS OFFICIAL SITE (With LOTS of extra info!)
THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS -- LINKS TO BOOKS AND MORE