Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TV EYE: Western Eclipse

Larry McMurty’s 1989 Lonesome Dove was not only one of the finest TV mini-series of all time, it was also a wonderfully told and neatly spun Western, the sort that has mostly faded from the big screen. It’s follow-up, Streets of Laredo (1995) was a strong, elegiac dose of more of the same, although the third installment Dead Man’s Walk (1996) sadly came up short in just about every category. The fourth, and final, installment of McMurty’ television saga, Comanche Moon (televised last week on CBS over three nights), doesn’t do the original justice either, although original director Simon Wincer is back and McMurty does his best to spin another tale of male bonding, Texas pride, put-upon women, and horse-eating, all set during the ongoing battle between the Texans and the Comanches between 1858-65. The mini-series meanders, loses focus, lacks pacing, and Karl Urban, in the Tommy Lee Jones role, leaves a big black void in the middle of it all. Steve Zahn does a nice job channeling Robert Duvall and while both Val Kilmer and Rachel Griffiths go full-scale hambone, only the former succeeds.

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