2 Modern Westerns I’m Watching

For some reason, Hollywood seems to have forgotten Westerns. Growing up in the 50s, America had a plethora of Westerns. There were more TV series than I can count.

In 1959, NBC started a series that lasted 14 years. It was also one of the first shows that transitioned to color. I can remember, in the early 60s, going with my family to some friends who had a rare color TV every Sunday evening where we would all watch Bonanza.

There have been some low-budget Westerns lately – movies you probably hadn’t heard of but I saw one on Netflix some time ago. I thought Gone Are the Days was a great Western – ended up buying a DvD. A father who led a life of crime had one chance at redemption.

ColoComment recommends Old Henry.

In the 2000s the only big budget Western I can remember was Open Range.

But it had the most realistic gunfight since Shane.

There have been, at least on the small screen, some series like Longmire that I would call a neo-Western. It’s about a modern day Wyoming sheriff in a small town.

In the last few weeks, I kept hearing the buzz about the series Yellowstone, which started in 2018. So, I wanted to find someone who was streaming it. The Peacock Network – controlled by NBC, streams it and didn’t require a monthly fee. I downloaded it to my Roku device and they had 3 seasons. The 4th season is current.

Saw the pilot episode and became hooked. Immediately went to the 2nd episode and from then on required a subscription fee.

I suppose like the drug dealer who first gives away his samples to get you hooked! Well, they got me hooked.

Anyway, for the bottom tier, it is only $5 a month if you are willing to have commercials. Which is fine for me, that given my age I use them for bathroom breaks (you can also hit pause).

This series, starring Kevin Costner, is about a Montana ranch scion whose family has controlled what became the biggest ranch – the Dutton Yellowstone Ranch – in Montana. And like a good soap opera, are all of his children well adjusted?


One daughter, played by Kelly Reilly, wracked by guilt over a childhood incident, makes the term “toxic females” look like Girl Scouts. Wherever she goes she leaves a wide swath of desolation and destruction.

Then a son, back from Afghanistan as either a SEAL or Army Ranger/Green Beret (I got mixed signals as in one episode he is talking to his former CO with sailor-talk and in another episode is in a picture with an Army uniform). If he shoots you everyone will know by the tight group.

While I am omitting some other great characters (I have to leave you some mystery, don’t I?) I have to mention the ranch foreman, Rip.

Someone in a Facebook forum referred to his character as “The Wrath of Rip”

I’ve only watched the first 6 episodes, and could give you a dozen other scenes.

Since I became interested in Yellowstone, I learned that the series recently spawned another series. The writer, Taylor Sheridan, got the idea of the series from this 1893 Flashback scene in Yellowstone of the Ranch founder, James Dutton:

So I had to subscribe to yet another network, Paramount + to see 1883. This one, too, is only $5/month with commercials.

This series is still in production and at the time of this writing, has only 3 episodes. A new one will be introduced every Sunday.

This follows the journey of James Dutton with his family from Texas to Montana.

It stars Sam Elliot, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as James and Margaret Dutton and a relatively new actress, Isabel May, as the Dutton’s teenaged daughter, Elsa. They have come from Tennessee to Texas to join a wagon train.

As far as a Western TV miniseries, I have always viewed Lonesome Dove as the gold standard for its superb screenwriting and casting. Robert Duvall has said of all the movies he has done, his character of former Texas Ranger Gus McCrae is his favorite.

I think 1883 may just be at that level. And for me anyway, some of the success is due to the narration of Isabel May’s character Elsa throughout the episodes.

It is beautiful and poetic.

Looking back, there were two journeys.

One was filled with danger and death and despair.

The other, adventure and wonder.

I was on the latter and I loved it.

I didn’t know enough to know that they would collide.

I didn’t know enough to know how cruel and uncaring this world can be.

The world doesn’t care if you die.

It won’t listen to your screams.

If you bleed on the ground, the ground will drink it.

It doesn’t care that you’re cut.

I told myself when I meet God

It will be the first thing I ask Him.

Why make a world with such wonder and fill it with monsters?

Why make flowers and then snakes to hide beneath them?

What purpose does the tornado serve?

Then it hit me:

He didn’t make it for us.


Here’s a great write up on its origins. It deserves all of its high acclaim.

Great casting, beautiful music, and courtesy of Paramount, the first episode to get you hooked.

01/04/22Apparently Paramount took this off YouTube a few days later. Here are some previews:

01/04/22I might add, that I have from time to time mentioned how much I disdain screenplays that play fast and loose with history, making the audience believe whatever fiction they present was the truth. I’m glad to say that writer Taylor Sheridan went to great lengths keeping the historical background of 1883 true. From the German immigrants on the wagon train – Texas had a massive influx of German immigrants going back to the 1820s – to the Ft Worth Sheriff, Jim Courtright. Although I have read that Courtright’s time was a few years off from 1883. That, to me, is acceptable.

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One response to “2 Modern Westerns I’m Watching

  1. Pingback: 3 Gearheads Meet At A Bar | The Lexicans

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