AMC’s Hell On Wheels: First Thoughts

There are two periods of history that really fascinate me; the US Civil War and the period right after – including expansion into the West and construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.  Just my luck!  AMC has kindly created a show that caters to both of those interests.

Hell on Wheels tells the story of Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former Confederate soldier.  Cullen wants to avenge the death of his wife, which came at the hands of Union soldiers that were part of General Sherman’s March to the sea.  We’re first introduced to Cullen as he pretends to be a preacher, and summarily executes a Federal soldier who just gave confession to Cullen. Intense, right? From there Cullen journeys West to join up with the teams building the Transcontinental Railroad where some people responsible for his wife’s death are working the rail lines.

Colm Meany plays Thomas Durant, one of the builders of the Westward route of the railroad.  Then there’s Christopher Heyerdhal who plays The Swede, the head of security for Mr. Durant.  The Swede is an interesting character.  I’m not sure what his deal is, but he’s creepy. I like creepy. There’s Elam Ferguson (Common).  Elam is a former slave put under the leadership of Cullen.  *awkward* It’ll be interesting watching how their relationship plays out and if the show, and the actors, can make it interesting without relying on tired cliches.

To summarize: I’m really digging this show.  Its dark and edgy enough to not be allowed on regular broadcast television, but not too over the top with language and violence that it would need to be on premium cable.  Its a show set in my favorite period of American History, a period that’s not always given the attention it deserves.  If historical dramas are your thing, then check this out.  Sundays on AMC, following The Walking Dead.

Editor’s note: This is late. It’s my fault, not the author’s. Have you seen the show? Let us know what you think!

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