AMC scores another hit with Hell on Wheels

Courtesy: Entertainment One/AMC

Studies done in recent years allege that despite ticket sales numbers, more people watch television than do see movies in theaters.  Considering the rise in digital technology, it would be no surprise if there’s any truth to those numbers.  Keeping that in mind, it’s just as little surprise that television network, American Movie Classics (AMC), has joined the party and started running original series alongside its daily offering of classic movies.  The network has a bona fide hit in its shows, “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead.”  And now that its first season is complete and out on blu-ray, AMC has shown that it has another major hit in “Hell on Wheels.”

“Hell on Wheels” has so much going for it.  Even being a serial, it has a certain quality that makes it stand out from other serials and scripted shows in general.  First and foremost, the show’s writers are to thank for that.  The storylines keep audiences gripped from Cullen’s first shot to the end of the season finale.  That the episodes don’t begin with the standard “previously on” makes the show that much more appealing.  And of course, there are the sets, costumes, and general shooting.  All combined, they come together for a great first season now on blu-ray and standard def dvd.

The general shooting and planning are among the main factors that make “Hell on Wheels” the impressive show that it is.  And fans will get an even deeper look into those factors thanks to the bonus features included on the set’s third disc.  Those bonus features will appeal especially to students and enthusiasts of theater construction and production.  The “making of” featurette shows how the people behind the cameras made “Hell on Wheels” come to life, even with a wet Spring.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing moments in the “Making of” featurette comes when negotiations with the local Native American tribe are discussed.  It was obvious how real the crew wanted the show to look being that they wanted to talk to the local tribe first and get their okay.  Staying on the track of believability, one wouldn’t even have known that the story that was supposed to have taken place in the American midwest was actually taped in Canada.  That’s a positive mark for the work done by the crew. 

The work done by the crew to build Hell on Wheels and bring it to life is only part of what makes the show a hit.  The show’s scripting is another major bonus.  Just as the production crew did its part to make the show believeable, the show’s writing adds to that believeability.  As many interweaving storylines exist in each episode, the show’s writers have done an impressive job not allowing them to bog down each episode.  And now, thanks to being released on blu-ray, fans can even get a synopsis on each episode before watching them thanks to an episode-by episode featurette.  To sweeten the deal, the Spark Notes style featurettes are guided by the cast members themselves.  That tiny detail makes the featurettes that much more worth watching.  And watching them makes following the storylines that much easier to follow.  So Kudos to AMC and Entertainment One for including them in the new blu-ray presentation.

Whether for the storylines, the production or the cast itself, “Hell on Wheels” has so much going for it.  In an age when reality tv and game shows are dominating the Big Four, this show is even more proof of how much better cable programming is than that of the Big Four.  And now that it’s on blu-ray, fans who might have missed episodes during the first season can watch the show at their convenience.  By the time audiences get tot he final moments of the season finale, they will be hooked, waiting with baited breath, for Season Two later this year.

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