Hell On Wheels One Of TVs Elite Dramas In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

AMC’s hit Western drama, Hell on Wheels is one of the best dramas on television today.  Yes, that’s rather cliché to say, since so many networks try to claim their dramas to be the best this and that.  But the fact of the matter is that few if any of those other shows live up to their hype.  Hell on Wheels on the other hand more than lives up to the hype.  If its first season was its A-game, then its second season was (and is now that it has been released to DVD and Blu-ray) its A Plus-game.  The show’s writers have taken the story started in Season One and stepped it up all the way around the second time out.  Whether one is new to the show or not, all ten of Season Two’s episodes are sure to keep audiences gripped from start to finish.  And yes, there is a slight soap opera aspect mixed in to the primary story line.  But that soap opera element was there in the show’s first season as with all of the other story lines that are present here.  What’s most impressive is that the show’s writers were able to keep all of the story lines separate from one another throughout the season, thus making it all the more enjoyable.  Add in top notch acting on the part of the cast and more equally expert cinematography, and audiences get more proof that drama on cable is just as good as anything on the “Big Four.”

The writers behind Hell on Wheels surprised a lot of people when the show debuted two seasons ago on AMC.  But two seasons in (and a third season preparing to premiere this Saturday night), it has more than proven itself, as have its writers.  The show’s second season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  And with Season Two’s home release, Hell on Wheels’ writers have proven yet again why it does in fact live up to the hype of being one of the best dramas on television today.  The show’s writers have taken what they started with in its debut season and stepped it up in big fashion in Season Two.  Audiences find out what became of Cullen Bohannon after he left Hell on Wheels at the end of Season One.  They also see everything that has transpired in the town, too.  The brothers Mcginnes have gone from being two young naïve Irish immigrants to being relatively successful businessmen with their own personal drama.  The relationship between Joseph Black Moon and his “father”, Reverend Nathaniel Cole has become very strained, to say the least.  And the on again/off again romance between Elam Ferguson and his love interest Eva has reached quite the interesting point, even though Eva is married to another man.  Let us also not forget Thor Gundersen (A.K.A. The Swede).  He reaches perhaps the lowest point possible in the show’s climactic final episodes that are sure to have major implications in Season Three.

One would assume just by seeing everything here, that there was an awful lot going on in Season Two.  That would be right.  It would be just as easy to assume that with so many storylines going on, they would end up stepping all over one another.  That assumption is wrong.  Somehow, the show’s writers were able to take each one of the storylines in Season Two, and keep them entirely separate of one another.  At the same time, they also managed to keep each story line tied into the other smoothly.  The connections were so smooth that audiences that have yet to see Season Two will have no trouble following them or how they tie into one another.  This solid writing is the crux of the continued success of Hell on Wheels.  There is much more that continued to make it successful in its second season, though.  Audiences will also find that the acting on the part of the main cast does its own part in making the show believable.        

The writers behind Hell on Wheels Season Two took the success of the show’s first season and amped things up this time out, developing each storyline clearly and at a pace that doesn’t leave viewers scratching their heads.  This is a major positive to Season Two.  It’s not the only positive.  Just as the writing was executed so well, so was the ability of the cast to interpret the scripts.  The cast’s acting was just as believable this season as it was in its debut season.  This is something rare in television’s current era.  Far too often, viewers know that they are watching a show on the screen.  But in the case of Hell on Wheels, the cast’s chemistry and its ability to interpret each episode’s script is at such a level that it makes suspension of disbelief so easy for audiences.  It’s so easy to be pulled in that audiences won’t want to stop watching from one episode to the next, even with this drama being so much less like other serials on TV today.  It’s one more sign of just how impressive Hell on Wheels remains in its second season.

The writing and acting in Hell on Wheels’ are integral parts of the show’s success.  This is just as evident in the show’s second season as it was in its first season.  They can only do so much by themselves, though.  The people charged with capturing the cast on camera and setting the tone in each scene are just as much to thank for the show’s success in its second season.  The cinematography is just important in the success of Hell on Wheels as the writing and acting.  And suffice it to say that the cinematography was just as expert in Season Two as it was in Season One.  The wide shots of the railroad being built set against the backdrop of the plains under clear blue skies were stunning.  The lack of civilization served to make the colors of the plains and sky even lusher.  And the exterior shots, setting the scene within the town created their own emotions.  The contrast of the muddy ground against the buildings and tents does something just as special.  Not only does it illustrate the colors, but it serves as a stark contrast to the scenes showing the railroad being built.  The camera crews did a wonderful job capturing the set shots throughout each episode.  The camera work during each episode’s shootouts and the deeper, more emotional moments were just as powerful as the rest of the camerawork throughout Season Two.  It’s one more factor that along with the drama’s writing and the acting, will fully immerse viewers in the story.  Together, all of these factors make Hell on Wheels Season Two more proof that cable based dramas are as good as the programming that spans the “Big Four” if not better than those shows.  And whether one is new to Hell on Wheels or not, all of these factors make this another must see season.  Season Two is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0075FF5QM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=filmsiteorg-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0075FF5QM.  And fans can get up to speed up Hell on Wheels on the show’s official website, http://www.amctv.com/shows/hell-on-wheels.  Audiences can also keep up with the latest Hell on Wheels developments on the show’s official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HellonWheelsAMC

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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Seal Team Six An Underappreciated Military Thriller

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainmen

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainmen

Movies based on actual events make up one of the largest genres of movies in the modern movie industry.  From stories centered on legal cases to sports to everything else in between, movies based on actual events are more bountiful than the egos that fill the movie industry today.  That’s saying something.  Keeping this in mind, it’s easy to discount so many of those movies, whether they be big budget or independent.  And then there are those such as the recent megahit, Zero Dark Thirty that was anything but passable. It was a definite hit for a variety of reasons.  Ironically, as big of a hit as it was, it actually came after a far lesser known, but just as enjoyable story in Anchor Bay Entertainment’s, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden.  It leaves one wondering what prevented this surprisingly entertaining story from gaining the fame and success of its big blockbuster brother.

The most obvious of reasons why Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden didn’t gain the fame of Zero Dark Thirty is that the prior was an indie flick, while the other was backed by a major studio.  Despite the fact that it was backed by an independent studio, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden is surprisingly entertaining. Any viewer that was a fan of CBS’ short-lived military drama The Unit or Entertainment One’s more recent military action/thriller, Special Forces will enjoy this movie.  It may not have the deep drama-filled storyline of Zero Dark Thirty or the major special effects, etc.  But it still manages to hold its own against its big brother.  As was noted in the movie’s bonus “Making of” featurette, those behind the camera did not set out to make it another Zero Dark Thirty.  It’s obvious this statement was made after the movie in question had been released, considering that this movie was released before the other.  That aside, it’s good to know that it didn’t want to be about all the extra drama that surrounded the raid before and after.  That it focused mainly on the raid itself and the men that carried out the orders is perhaps another reason that it wasn’t as warmly welcomed as its big screen counterpart.

One of the most important factors pointed out in the “Making of” featurette that accompanies this movie is its tri-pointed story approach.  It’s noted that the story is told from the vantage point of not just the members of Seal Team Six, but also from the point of the CIA operatives in Washington, D.C., and from a pair of intelligence gatherers inside Pakistan.  The three points eventually intersect for the final action filled sequence that will have viewers on the edge of their seats.  What is most impressive of the three stories is that the melodrama between Cherry (Anson Mount – Hell on Wheels) and Stunner (Cam Gigandet—The O.C., Twilight, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Easy A) is kept to an extreme minimum.  This allows the story to progress much more smoothly and stay focused on the central story of the operation to take Bin Laden.  In turn, the story’s pacing never lets up, thus keeping viewers engaged throughout the story’s hour and a half run time. 

The script’s limited melodrama is the tip of the iceberg for Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden in keeping audiences engaged.  Keeping the melodrama to an extreme minimum allows for more time for action and focus on story development from all three perspectives.  Instead of wasting unnecessary amounts of time focusing on each member’s personal and family drama, it instead used that time to develop the characters themselves and build tension as preparations began for the operation to take Bin Laden.  Throughout the course of these developments, the script’s pacing never lets up.  This is the center of everything.  The pacing is never too fast or slow.  This combined with the minimalist drama and energy packed action scenes all come together to make this movie an underappreciated military action movie.  It proves, in the end, to be a movie that while it may be a TV movie, is still one that is worth at least one watch by fans of this genre now that it is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online direct from Anchor Bay’s official website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=78fae55b-2924-e211-a8d1-d4ae527c3b65.  Fans of this movie can keep up with even more from Anchor Bay on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBayEntertainmentCanada

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.