The television landscape has been populated with Westerns for decades. While the genre has been a staple on film since the silent era, TV brought the Western into peoples’ living rooms and created an even larger fan base. Over the decades, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and dozens of others have come and gone, but interest has always been strong.
With its familiar archetypes and iconic images, the Western has had a seemingly constant presence on the small screen even if it appears to no longer have a strong hold at the box office. The 90s brought audiences The Young Riders, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (yes, it counts), and Walker, Texas Ranger; while the 21st century has delivered Deadwood, Justified, and Longmire.
It’s clear that audiences still have a strong interest in the Wild West, and the success of Hell on Wheels is proof. The series is a violent and gritty look at the American West following the Civil War. It’s a show about revenge, bloodlust, and greed; where anti-heroes thrive, and where the ambiguity of morality makes its home.
And it’s freakin’ awesome! Hell on Wheels is one of my favorite series because of the reasons mentioned above. Much like Breaking Bad – another amazing AMC series – Hell on Wheels doesn’t force you to root for one particular person, or even really despise another.
The characters are much more dimensional with flaws, imperfections, and despicable traits that make them easier to identify with and connect with. These aren’t cookie-cutter types from the Western genre playbook. These men and women live in the hardcore American West. And it’s an ugly place to inhabit.
While it may be ugly it’s also very enticing and intriguing to watch relationships evolve and devolve. To watch alliances form and be obliterated. And to watch this group of people find some semblance of humanity and purpose in the middle of a makeshift town that moves as the railroad construction moves. From the first kill to the final moments of the season finale, Hell on Wheels will have taken you for a great Western ride!
The Blu-ray contains a number of great special features, which include:
Recreating the Past: The Making of Hell on Wheels
The production team discusses how modern technology and even some old fashioned methods have enabled them to create a realistic world for the series.
Crashing the Train: From Concept to Camera
Seven Making-of Featurettes
Ten “Inside the Episode” Featurettes
Cast and crew discuss each episode in-depth.
Seven Character Featurettes
Interviews with cast members about the characters they play. Find which actors have accents in real life!
B-roll that shows Hell on Wheels production in-progress.
For an excellent Western that delivers, I highly recommend Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season!
Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season is available NOW on DVD and Blu-ray!
What’s your favorite Western movie of TV series? Leave a comment and let us know!