Thursday, June 07, 2012

Holy Spit

The History Channel’s blockbuster mini-series THE HATFIELDS AND THE MCCOYS could have easily been retitled GREAT EXPECTORATIONS for the gratuitous amount of sputum I viewed over three nights. Not two minutes would go by before some country bumpkin would be a'hocking up another loogy. Kevin Costner seemed to be the only one to keep his phlegm to himself when damned if he didn’t come with pleurisy in Part 3 and commenced a spit-storm that lasted about a full half-hour like the grand finale in a fireworks show. This show could have been a two-parter if they cut out all that thar spewin’.

Other than the lung butter festivities, HATFIELDS/ MCCOYS turned out quite well, undoubtedly the best collaboration between star/producer Costner and director Kevin Reynolds. Their bull&buttheaded previous efforts turned out to be major boondoggles (WATERWORLD, ROBIN HOOD: KNAVE OF BAD ACCENTS) and now that they’ve matured for the better, it certainly was reflected in their work. It took a story about one of the greatest feuds for their decades long feud to be resolved and it showed. Costner, always a minimalist actor (to say the least), used his gifts to great perfection as the Hatfield head honcho. He seemed to be channeling Gary Cooper in his subtler moments and in general, remind us how good he can be when he puts a leash on his massive ego. Maybe THE POSTMAN really was a reality check. Reynolds, predominantly a second tier film director, emerges as a world class TV director. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but the work of many a big screen director has shined on television, particularly in the last few years. Check out the recent works of Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols, Neil Jordan and Frank Darabont for proof. Reynolds, whose movie output has been merely adequate, could finally find a home working in TV if HATFIELDS/ MCCOYS is any indication. What could have been a mere mash-up of ROMEO AND JULIET with THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES became a worthy All American epic (albeit filmed in Romania).

And can we finally cut Bill Paxton some dad-gummed slack? Poor galoot can't seem to live down his past sins as the go-to obnoxious asshole in 1980s cinema. His portrayal of Randall McCoy as the iron-willed leader of his clan who becomes a tragically slapstick drunken buffoon is one of the finest of the broadcast season. All of you nay-sayers can just shut the hell up 'afore spit in yer eye. And after HATFIELDS/MCCOYS, I seen how to git 'ir done.


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