“Yellowstone” by Kevin Costner is a good mix of old and new
âYellowstoneâ had an audience early on, but its viewers grew to bigger proportions than ever when Season 4 began a few seasons ago.
Thanks to the curiosity of Dom Giordano, on the radio show from noon to 3 p.m. I do a segment every two weeks (1:45 p.m. on Friday), I have gone through parts of the previous seasons and part of the season 4 to see what the sudden, late turmoil was about.
I found, in a way, the history of television.
Or at least a major genre of television, the western, which in the 1980s left horses and meadows behind and turned into a police, detective, or spy program.
âYellowstone,â on Paramount +, offers a scooch of all of the above while throwing in a few tracks from âDynastyâ and âSuccessionâ.
Set in Montana, the show, which stars Kevin Costner, also the executive producer, has strong western overtones. Horses and cowboys abound on the ranch which has belonged to Costner’s family since the 19th century and which he protects against several interests that would take this land from him. They include gangsters, family members, and Native Americans who grazed the land before the first Dutton claimed and began raising cattle.
“Yellowstone” is wise enough to include passages from the early years of the ranch, bringing classic western elements to the screen. It seems to be a trend these days, seen in the witty revenge drama, “The Harder They Fall,” and coming to the big screen in one of this year’s Oscar contenders, “The Power of the Dog.” .
It mixes the past with the present, so you have elements of the standard television western, such as “Bonanza” or “Gunsmoke” and the modern plot of a drama series in which a landowner or tycoon has to deal with a competition, often armed and determined competition, to keep what he or his family has built.
In the following scenes, you can see an 1800s Dutton negotiating with an Indigenous tribe or other landowner about a problem, then a 2000s Dutton doing the same, with trucks replacing horses and automatic weapons. replacing rifles and six-shooters.
âDynastyâ comes about because of infighting between the Duttons, with Costner’s John Dutton teaming up with his daughter, Beth, played with power by Kelly Reilly, to fight their son and brother, Jamie, a stage official from Montana played by Wes Bentley.
Writers Taylor Sheridan and John Linson easily juxtapose different moments, situations, and characters. They also have a keen sense of how to move the history of “Yellowstone” forward.
Season 4 begins the day after a general assault on the Duttons and their ranch which ended Season 3. Costner’s John Dutton is left bleeding from gunshot wounds as one of many in his family and on his property that were assaulted on a fateful day.
Of course, Costner survives. One of the first shots of the new season shows him opening his eyes as his foreman finds him at the side of a road where he writes a description of his attacker’s vehicle in the dusty dirt next to the place where it fell.
âYellowstoneâ is such an amalgamation of past TV hits, it has something for everyone, but most of all a cohesive and interesting story for you to watch.
Renner gets screen time
Jeremy Renner gets a lot of exposure at the end of 2021.
He is the star of two programs that have captured the attention of viewers and television news feeds.
One is Disney + ‘s “Hawkeye”, in which he reprizes the role he played in several films featuring heroes from Marvel comics. The other is Paramount + ‘”The Mayor of Kingstown”, in which he plays the person who keeps the factions separate and content as he tries to keep the peace in a corrupt town that is home to seven prisons and is populated by 20,000 convicts. of Michigan and 40,000 people who guard them or fill a civilian role at one of the facilities.
In general, I’m not a fan of TV series based on comic book characters. Stories tend to be stereotypical and so often used they have become trite. The drama diminishes a bit when someone has a super power that they can summon to solve any problem.
For the second time this year, a Marvel series seduced me by taking the time to build its action sequences. I enjoyed that “WandaVision,” also on Disney +, introduced its characters and created a parody of a ’60s sitcom before getting into the business of letting Wanda and Vision blurt out marauders that didn’t materialize. significantly than the fifth episode.
“Hawkeye” also seems to be content to slow down in the action sequences that are due to happen, especially after Renner’s main character teams up with Kate Bishop, an archer who models herself after Hawkeye and takes on the character of Ronin, as seen in “Avengers: Endgame” and played by Hailee Steinfeld. We see shots of Hawkeye or Clint Barton enjoying Christmas in New York City with her family, and of Kate reluctantly attending a charity event to please his mother (Vera Farmiga) before the second half of Episode 1 sends Hawkeye and Ronin / Kate into action following an attack by members of the Tracksuit Mafia.
Of course, become both willing and reluctant partners in a battle that is more Kate’s than Hawkeye’s, but requires his help, especially if he has to cede his role as the Avengers archer as he wishes. to Kate.
Unlike other occasions with the Marvel shows, I expect to tune in to see the third installment of âHawkeyeâ when it airs Wednesday. The nuances of “WandaVision” begin again.
I will also continue to watch “The Mayor of Kingstown”.
The show didn’t fully engage me, although I thought it was produced and written well in its genre. It just seemed too dark and one-sided to support my interest. Plus, I had to fight the urge to throw up whenever the first episode switched to a scene from Renner’s character’s mother, played by Dianne Wiest, teaching history in a women’s prison.
Talk about Hollywood promoting a story and forcing it on the innocent viewer. Not to mention those poor prisoners. Professor de Wiest illustrates why in our time I could never give a gift to a university. It tells the story the way activists would have you believe it rather than as it isâ¦ even when it is factual. (Ugh!)
What will bring me back is a twist towards the end of episode one that makes Renner’s Michael McLusky the new “mayor” or arbiter of the prison town after the death of his brother, who was holding on and seemed to have a better time. temperament for the post.
I’m going to mute the segment in which Wiest teaches. Or keep a bucket nearby.
Hoping that ‘Annie’ will be a living wonder
I do not know why. Maybe it’s the cast, or maybe her audition of Celina Smith, portraying the main character singing a signature tune. Whatever it is, for once and for the first time, I’m confident that a live-action TV version of a Broadway musical could do the original scene justice.
This time around, the musical is “Annie,” a surprise phenomenon of the 1977 season when the show arrived in New York City from the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut and became a smash hit, cementing Dorothy Loudon’s fame and leading the way. to Andrea McArdle of Philadelphia for high lifetime billing rates.
McArdle was supposed to make an appearance in this TV production of “Annie”, which aired Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC (Channel 10), but she gave up to be with her sick father. She would have played the newly invented role of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The actors you see give me faith that this could be the show that turns the corner and proves that television can handle a live theater play. Called âAnnie Live!â, The production stars Taraji P. Henson as the wicked and scheming orphanage mother, Miss Hannigan; Harry Connick, Jr. as millionaire Daddy Warbucks; Tituss Burgess of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Miss Hannigan’s prisoner brother, Rooster; Megan Hilty as her doxie, Lily St. Regis (as the hotel); Nicole Scherzinger as Warbucks assistant, Grace and Celina Smith as Annie.
All but Henson and Scherzinger have major credits on Broadway, and Taraji P. Henson has proven time and time again that she can play any role, from Cookie on “Empire” to the woman who finds and raises a baby in ” The strange story of Benjamin Button “. to the senior mathematician in “Hidden Figures” and more.
This is not a first. Other live Broadway attempts featured Kristin Chenoweth, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Harvey Fierstein, Sean Hayes, and other notables, but Connick, Burgess, and Hilty have been on major shows and wore them or had a show number. .
NBC got closer to quality with “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hairspray”. Fox may have eclipsed the Peacock with his “Grease,” perhaps the best of a missing group, but no television rendition of a hit show has worked.
There are two reasons. âThe Wizâ on NBC being the shining example of the parody.
One is overkill. Television doesn’t know how to let a show happen. He doesn’t let a story unfold as it builds up towards bravery. It does not pace the action to create high and low levels of action. He’s begging you to love a product that’s barely tolerable by being fat and brassy every minute. It seems nobody on set, especially not the director, understands that the parts of a musical book should be as important as the musical numbers or that the book should function like a play, as if it there were no songs.
Bombast has ruined most of the musicals I’ve seen. NBC and the other presenters need to have faith in the whole show and strike the right balance, otherwise their production turns into a loud and over-the-top mess.
The other problem is television’s penchant for showing the technical mechanisms that go into a production.
I don’t want to see the sets moved or the actors moving towards the set to be used as a result of an advertisement. I’m looking for a clear flow that doesn’t draw attention to how the piece is set up and focuses on scenes that fit together and fit together as they would on stage.
Usually I either log out early, maybe coming back to catch a number that I like, or I watch in horror, as I did with “The Wiz”, how inept television is at presenting what is simply a live broadcast.
Henson and Connick are two of my favorites. Megan Hilty knows her stuff on stage. âAnnieâ, with a tight and well-crafted book by Thomas Meehan, which is a true story rather than a tale to weave songs into. His scene changes are simple. It lends itself to television.
And, of course, the score of Charles Strouse-Martin Charnin invites to the song.
I cross my fingers that my gut is right on this one.
Neal Zoren’s television column appears every Monday.