Posts Tagged ‘aleccuccia’

alec cuccia – episode 3

November 22, 2011

The narrative of Hell On Wheels continues to be overtly simplistic and rather boring, even into its third episode. The show continually tries to tap into its era’s ingrained bigotry and racism, yet it all constantly falls flat. Aren’t we, as a society, past the level of story telling of Native Americans = bad, white people = good? They are so many ways Hell On Wheels can portray its era’s racism without being racist itself. Where are the perspectives of the Native Americans? They are simply trying to protect their home from genocide. Wouldn’t that be an interesting take on Hell On Wheel’s railroad? Why is the only “good” Native American an unabashed simpleton? And moving on from the show’s poor treatment of Native Americans, the protagonist of the show seems to be magic. When he looks through the dead man’s belongings he happens to find a picture of everyone who killed his wife and their names? Who would write their friends’ names on a picture? That makes no sense. And why would the dead man be carrying around so many mementos of that time he raped and brutally murdered a woman? You can’t even make the claim that it was so evil he couldn’t let himself part with any of these things because he himself says in the pilot that he did so many many bad things and is kinda over them all already. Opps. And how come the main protagonist can just get on a horse and ride and fall right into a plot point? If the blonde girl was that easy to find, how come no one else found her before the protagonist did? Why did he shoot those three guys who came to find her after he did if he had no intentions of picking up the bounty? Why did she trust the protagonist and not the three guys? Ughhhh my head hurts now.

Visually, the show is very striking. A lot of money has obviously been thrown its way to make sure of this fact. The show’s reliance on visceral imagery, like blood, gore, death, disease, and dirt all help to paint a picture of a bleak, depressing place. Obviously, some of these visual characteristics come part and parcel with the nature of what the show’s trying to depict. The mud and dirt of the town Hell on Wheels makes sense, as it’s a hell hole pop-up town with no actual amenities what so ever. The blood is not a necessity of a rail road town, however, and thus it is the blood that is the most visually striking component of this visually striking show. For whatever reason the show’s colors are dulled. I think this is supposed to make it feel “old timey”? But even so, the red of blood stills manages to stand out. Blood is the most color that gets added to this show. When you see it you immediately know something’s wrong.

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Alec Cuccia – Hell on Wheels 1.2

November 16, 2011

The narrative of the second episode of Hell on Wheels was much better than the first. It was more cohesive, though that partially could be just because all the characters were in closer proximity to each other than in the first episode where they had to physically come together in the town Hell on Wheels. Even still, I don’t particularly care about any of these characters. Their motivations are opaque at most and bland at the least. The protagonist is on a simple revenge mission. I’ve seen this before! He doesn’t pull me in in the way a main character should. O’Brien from Star Trek is greedy. Again, that’s almost all he is. Common is angry, and for good reason, but so what? What else is there? The only character that I felt was really well flesh out was the Swede. He was scary and funny and obviously very smart. All of the tension in this episode came from him when it should have come from his interactions with the main character.

I also want to comment on a few plot holes. How did the good Native American know where the white girl was? How did he know where the bad Native Americans were? How did he know about the killings at all? He was at the killing site at the end of the pilot, and yet by that time the only person who could have known about the killings was O’Brien from Star Trek, as O’Brien from Star Trek hadn’t reached Hell on Wheels yet to tell anyone else. Also, how did the protagonist know about O’Brien from Star Trek’s need to lay a certain amount of track before the federal government pays him? The protagonist says “Everybody knows…” but that doesn’t sound like common knowledge to me. Hell, if the federal government knew the practices that O’Brien from Star Trek was doing to get the amount of track he needs (at a cost to the government), wouldn’t the government step in and put a stop to everything? I don’t know. It’s silly. And what, exactly, is the importance of the white girl lost in the wilderness? She has maps or something, OK, but so what?  Oh and how silly is it that at the end of the episode the protagonist finds his wife’s stitching in the pocket of the man he killed last episode? OK yeah, that’s believeable…

When it comes down to it, Hell on Wheels is an show that desperately wants to be interesting and taken seriously but isn’t quite there yet. The characters are bland and uninteresting (I can’t even remember their names!), the plot is vague and full of small holes, and the dialogue is painfully bad. And yet, it is interesting enough to make me want to watch it again. Maybe to just see if they can salvage what they have.

Pilot – Alec Cuccia

November 8, 2011

I made the disastrous decision to read a few reviews of the Hell on Wheels pilot before I went and actually watched the show. Mostly all the reviews told me the same things: the plot was derivative, the acting was spotty, and the whole thing was just generally boring. Well, now that I’ve seen the show, I agree with all of it. The Hell on Wheels pilot bored me. If I didn’t have to watch it for class I wouldn’t have watched it all. I love Westerns, but I have a very low threshold for bad Westerns. That’s not to say that Hell on Wheels was Bad (with a capitol B), it just wasn’t good. It was muddled. It tried to weave together many different plot lines that seem wholly independent. The best shows can pull this off in a way that makes the viewer care about how and why the plot lines need to be entertwined, but I found myself asking, again and again throughout the pilot, why? Why should I care? Why does any of this matter? It was a question I couldn’t answer.

This isn’t to say the production values on the show were any short of amazing. Hell on Wheels did an excellent job in drawing me into the period in which it’s set. Maybe It’s just because 1860’s America wasn’t that long ago, but it all seemed very real to me. The set pieces, the characters all seemed like they could be quite possible. I’m unsure as to why AMC decided to mute the colors on the show so heavily though. It adds very little. The show isn’t a flashback… Were colors simply less bright 150 years ago? It’s a silly decision that screams to me that the show is trying to take itself too seriously in ways that add nothing but superficiality.

A comment on the last scene of the pilot. I don’t remember his name (not a good thing), but when O’Brien from Star Trek started pontificating about zebras to no one in particular, I felt that Hell on Wheels had jumped the shark. Which is an awful feeling to have about a show’s first episode. This is not a crazy man we’re talking about here, just a greedy one. He didn’t have a crazy soliloquy into nothingness, he had a one sided argument with two empty chairs. He was trying to convince the chairs of what he was saying. Why would he do this? What was the point of this soliloquy other than allowing O’Brien from Star Trek to rave on and on for five minutes? And what was the point of inter cutting random scenes of the other characters into the raving? What O’Brien from Star Trek was saying had nothing to do with the other characters. It was just… weird. I honestly don’t understand the point of it all beyond the show jumping up and down screaming “look at me! I have interesting things to say! Look look!” No thank you.