“Lonesome Dove – Four Mini-Series DVD Collection”
This month sees the release of the Lonesome Dove – Four Mini-Series DVD Collection on DVD a huge set that encompasses all that is best about this saga that tells the story of two Texas Rangers in the cauldron that was the 1800s wild west.
This set is over 10 hours long and is made up of 8 DVDs that in the best decision ever is ordered in the chronology of all the series and not the year that they were made. The best thing about this is that you meet the characters when they are very young and go through to old age, which may seem obvious but given the level of performance I defy you not to get lost in the stories that unfold over peoples lives. You meet characters that live and many die as was the case in the west – it is an amazing achievement that author Larry McMurtry was able to weave the fiction and non-fictional events and characters into excellent a characters driven narrative.
I have just finished watching the set and it was one of the easiest binge watching experiences I have had recently. Even though these have been produced over twenty years the production quality if not excellent in some is very good in others. There are high points in the series, that being the original “Lonesome Dove” (1989) where the talent is top notch and the behind the camera team are at the top pf their game. The low point is the direct follow up, “Return to Lonesome Dove” (1993) which is not good at all and the only one not based on a McMurtry novel.
You are in for a treat.
Below I will outline each series but will give no spoilers and this of course is the order in the set.
Dead Man’s Walk (1996) – set in the early 1840s
Directed: Yves Simoneau
Featuring: David Arquette, Johnny Lee Miller, Brian Dennedy, F. Murray Abraham, Keith Carradine, Edward James Olmos, Eric Schweig, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray McKinnon, Tim Blake Nelson
Running Time: 280 minutes
Long Bill Coleman: “I wish I still had my harmonica. Its dreary out here without no tunes.”
In this first chronological story we are introduced to Texas Rangers Woodrow F. Call and Augustus McCrae as well as a character that would become their nemesis, the Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump. Once they have had an initial conflict with him, they then proceed to Sante Fe to invade, which was inhabited by Mexicans. This is a failure and of the 200 that went only about 40 survive, falling to starvation, bears, and Indians only to be taken captive by the Mexican authorities. Those survivors are forced to march the Jornada del Muerto (“Dead Man’s Walk”) to El Paso.
Lonesome Dove (1989) – set in mid-to-late 1870s
Directed: Simon Wincer
Featuring: Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Ricky Schroder, Diane Lane, Robert Urich, Frederic Forrest, D.B. Sweeney
Running Time: 360 minutes
Gus McCrae: “A man who wouldn’t cheat for a poke don’t want one bad enough.”
“Gus” McCrae and Woodrow Call now run a livery in the small dusty Texas border town of Lonesome Dove. Gus loves women, but he’s twice a widower, and Call is somewhat of a workaholic. Working with them are Joshua Deets, a black tracker and scout from their Ranger days, Pea Eye Parker, another former Ranger who works hard but isn’t very bright, and Bolívar , a retired Mexican bandit who is their cook. Also living with them is Newt Dobbs, a 17-year-old whose mother was a prostitute named Maggie.
From there they decide to run cattle even though they really know nothing about this.
This is the great original production and is not equaled in the entire series. A must watch!
Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) – set in mid-to-late 1880s
Directed: Mike Robe
Featuring: Jon Voight, Barbara Hershey, Ricky Shroder, William Petersen, Oliver Reed, Dennis Haysbert, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Cooper, CCH Pounder
Running Time: 300 minutes
Woodrow F. Call: “Leave it to Augustus… first man I know who could get himself into a shootin’ scrape after he was dead.”
Woodrow F. Call, played by John Voight, is returning from his pilgrimage to bury McCrae and determines to take something back. He decides to drive a herd of Texas mustangs to Montana in order to continue his activities in the horse business.
This is the weakest of the bunch and while it is the official follow up to the original, it is the next series that is the true follow up.
Streets of Loredo (1995) – set in the early 1890s
Directed: Mike Robe
Featuring: James Garner, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shephard, Ned Beatty, Randy Quaid, Wes Studi, Charles Martin Smith, George Carlin, Kevin Conway, James Gammon
Running Time: 300 minutes
Woodrow F. Call: “I will not tolerate rude behavior.”
In the new sequel, a couple of decades have passed since “Lonesome Dove.” Woodrow Call has retired from the Texas Rangers, and is not too happy about age setting in. He has a touch of arthritis, his eyesight is fading and it’s something of a chore just to get on a horse. But he keeps on working. As a freelance bounty hunter, he sets out after some vicious train robbers, the worst of them a 17-year-old blond, blue-eyed Mexican boy named Joey Garza . As someone says, Joey is less interested in the robbing than in the killing.