Dec 132012
Hell on Wheels Season Two: Soap Opera on Rails

Most people turn up their noses at soap operas like General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, Dallas or Dynasty, but still want to become involved in the lives of people who are more attractive and lead more exciting lives. For those whose tastes run to Westerns, Hell on Wheels satisfies that desire. It certainly does not satisfy any desire to learn the history of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. To be fair, it is a very good soap opera.
Two competing railroads, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, raced to build the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. The producers made the logical decision to focus on the Union Pacific, but he railroad was not built by an ex-Confederate hunting the murderer of his wife, and the plucky widow of the original surveyor, who would be able to finish the railroad on schedule if they ever stop squabbling and accept their love for each other. Read More…

Mar 302012
Hell on Wheels

On the surface, Hell on Wheels is about a Confederate veteran who is hunting the Union soldiers who had killed his wife during the American Civil War. Yawn. However, the show uses the construction of the transcontinental railroad to examine the many problems facing a recently re-united nation: the challenge of making former enemies live together in peace; the expansion of the railroad into the lands of Native Americans, who rightly feared that it meant the end of their way of life; and the need to integrate newly freed slaves into a world that was still controlled by white men. Hell on Wheels clearly has ambition but does not always achieve its goals. Read More…