Hell On Wheels’ Fourth Season delivers more western shenanigans with Anson Mount once again proving that he’s a great leading man. This 13 episode season continues the story of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in a time when men where men and the west was wild.
Getting a western right isn’t easy but the makers of Hell On Wheels know how to deliver. The show has shades of Rawhide and Gunsmoke in its soap opera quality – but it doesn’t skimp on gritty action. This isn’t the blood free wild west of yore – blood is spilled and dying is painful. It’s not too gratuitous but this modern myth should be suitable for a fairly wide family audience.
Anson Mount is the anchor of Hell On Wheels and he has a masculinity that few leading men possess in a time when male actors have as much preening as their female counterparts. He holds the show together in the tradition of Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda. Colm Meaney is along for the ride as the evil Durant and he gives his character the same weasely snarl that Gene Hackman delivered when he was in bad guy mode. The show is filled out with other assorted characters, some genre stereotypes and others are modern variations – this is likely a good or bad thing depending on your affection for the ‘oater’.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with Hell On Wheels. It doesn’t totally reinvent the western genre, but it does adhere to past traditions and brings enough new material to the table. It’s a must for cowboy fans and it’s good to see that the western still has life left in it. Yee-ha.