Entertainment

‘1883’ review: Sam Elliott stars in a Paramount TV series + marks milestone leading to ‘Yellowstone’ with thrilling Western prequel


One problem is the heavy narrative, which sounds a bit like those letters are read in “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. Here, the voice belongs to Elsa (Isabel May), daughter of James and Margaret Dutton (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, whose pairing brought a strong wave of country music while also allowing the married couple to work together).
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As a Civil War veteran (portrayed in flashbacks in a later episode), Dutton took to heart Horace Greeley’s “Go West” advice, seeking a better life by taking the trip. danger from Fort Worth, Texas to Montana, where the present-day Dutton of “Yellowstone” resided. (While this may seem like a prequel, it’s a pretty flimsy connection.)

James is a tough guy, but he lacks the guns needed to survive in the wilderness, making the trip with four women and a boy (his family, plus a mother and daughter). widow). Reluctantly, he meets Elliott’s mean-spirited Shea Brennan, who is leading a group of immigrants in search of a better life with his companion Thomas (LaMonica Garrett), who shares the same interests. enjoyed Brennan’s short answers and harsh solutions.

To its credit, the show doesn’t pull much punch in its portrayal of a near-lawless territory, with James getting plenty of warning when he arrives in Fort Worth before his family. It is emphasized, however, by interrupted dialogue that often seems drawn from ancient Westerners, such as James being told, “You drew your pistol in this town, sir. , you’d better know how to use it.”

Writing and directing the premiere, Sheridan staged a number of famous cameos, and Elliott was still born for these types of roles, providing the absolute best excuse to film “1883.” There are also casualties along the way, underscoring the high stakes involved in westward expansion while adding an element of unpredictability to the film.

Sheridan built on the popularity of “Yellowstone” to become a major supplier to Paramount, with “1883” nearing the success of the almost forgotten film. “Mayor of Kingstown.”

The early days of Western drama were plentiful and quite rare these days, so it’s always somewhat refreshing to see an ambitious show in that genre. But to paraphrase the advice Dutton received, when you have the opportunity to tie a series of this scale into the difficult and complex frontiers of streaming, you should know how to do it a little better.

“1883” premieres December 19 on Paramount +.

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