I’m not a big fan of western genres so watching the pilot for Hell On Wheels was a bit of a stretch for me. I am however a huge fan of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad and am extremely interested in watching Mad Men. I think perhaps my expectations for Hell On Wheels was just too high since I had all three of those previously very successful shows in mind. Though I found myself easily getting distracted by other things and gradually losing attention in the show. Small instances such as the action sequences between the Native American and Lily Bell momentarily grasped my attention and then I found myself lost all over again. The structure of the show follows a certain narrative cuing for future conflicts that seem very scripted and fairly predictable, i.e Lily potentially seeking revenge on the Native American’s, Cullen seeking revenge for his wife’s death etc. Additionally the color scheme that follows a dark and dreaded setting feels forceful and unnatural. I understand the cinematographer was perhaps trying to set a desert olden times like feeling, but it sort of just made me want to close my eyes and sleep.
Most reviews I read understandably compare Hell On Wheels to Deadwood (another western show I have not seen) and follow the general archetype of the western genre, only making me wonder how they might twist the narrative into a more original story line. Although, I did read that most Western genres do not generally follow the story of slaves and that seems to be one of the few unique aspects of the show, thus I’m eager to see how they emphasize that role. All-in-all I try not to judge shows by their first episode, especially since it took me 5-6 episodes in to The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad before I was fully hooked. Additionally, I’ve re-watched the first 2 episodes of Mad Men multiple times and have not yet found the drive to continue further. It is to my understanding that AMC shows tend to take a few episodes before fully enthralling its audience in all it’s glory. Therefore I’ll give Hell On Wheels the benefit of the doubt, at least for the next four episodes.