Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mini-series to watch: Into the West

Recently, the cable channel TNT re-aired the 2005 mini-series Into the West. November being Native American Heritage Month, and since we're nearing Thanksgiving, I understand why TNT decided to re-run this enlightening series. A huge ensemble cast (Matthew Settle, Keith Carradine, Irene Bedard, Graham Greene, Skeet Ulrich, Keri Russell, the list goes on . . .) portrays the story that alternately follows a white family venturting out West, and the Native Americans already populating the region. Jacob Wheeler (played by Matthew Settle and John Terry) and Loved By The Buffalo (played by Simon Baker and Steve Reevis) seem to be the characters which all others basically revolve. Decades are spanned as characters experience struggle, betrayal, death and, occasionally, joy.

Unfortunately, some of the storylines do fall flat. The series tries to cover all angles: an African American family travels with the group of settlers out West and a Chinese immigrant helps to build the railroad. Of course, these things did happen, but they're a bit contrived and too insignificant in the plot to truly be representative of those particular expierences. The series' strong points lie in the portrayal of the conflict between white men and Native Americans. Ultimately, it is a fairly balanced look at the era in American history; not all white settlers were greedy opportunists and not all Native Americans were violent and opposed to outsider influence.

The miniseries is comprised of 6 episodes (approximately 90 mintues each) on 4 discs.
Find it in the catalog!