|Index||5 reviews in total|
Entertaining and interesting: revisionist in many ways as it shows what really happened as compared to what we have been told occurred through books and film. The hosts introduce various characters such as quick draw artists or bull whip masters and allow them to demonstrate their respective arts of the old west. Throughout are commentaries by a group of western historians and students who give their take on the 'technologies' and events of historical record. The series started off with Keith Carradine as the host, but he was superseded by his brother David. Both bring their own personality to the screen with Keith being more on the serious side, while David engages the viewer with a comedic style, occasionally making comments to someone off camera. Very informative series for anyone interested in America's past.
I really like this show. Right now I am recording every episode. They are showing some new shows and some of the old shows on the History Channel. I have not decided which host I like better. Keith Carradine did the old shows (12 in all, I think) and his brother David now does the hosting. I think he took over after the 12th show in 2004. Each show is on a specific subject about the old west and has titles like "Outlaw Tech", "Execution Tech", "Revenge Tech", "Brothel Tech" and "Freakshow Tech". They have "actors" doing little re-enactments and some are kind of bloody. I especially like the guests who give little insights and are dressed in full cowboy fare. The show is very informative and funny. The show is not only about cowboys in the old west but about many things like gold mining, trains, disasters, prostitution, and freak shows. The last show about freak shows showed how some freaks were "real" and some were out and out cons. One part on that show had me in stitches. They had a freak sideshow and in the back had a "Man Eating Chicken". Well guess what? After you paid your 2 bits to see it you went through a curtain and saw a man sitting at a table eating chicken. Get it? HA ha ha ha. The spectators wanted to beat the con artists up but they talked the spectators into telling their friends and getting them to come see the Man Eating Chicken. They were thrilled to feel like a part of the con. Another show about executions showed a man being hanged who was dropped too far and it snapped his head completely off. Ouch. Catch this when you can. It's great.
I am a late comer to this show, but I found it very informative. Hopefully, the History Channel will rerun the episodes narrated by Keith Carradine, I'm currently seeing the ones with David. I find it kind of ironic that David Carradine is on a show discussing guns and other weapons of the Old West considering that on "Kung Fu" he basically played a cowboy who didn't use any sort of firearms. This series lays bare the truth about some of the "heroes" and "villains" of that time period. Like the lawman who allowed a prisoner to escape only to shoot him in the back just so that the sheriff could attend a dance! Or just how really overwhelmed the people at the Alamo were (1300 Mexicans vs. 200 Texans). Or just how bright (or maybe not) some desperadoes were when confronting the law and a Winchester rifle at 90 yards. Like I said, I hope that History Channel reruns the series in its entirety. Nothing like finding out how "wild" the Wild, Wild West really was.
The Old West of the United States is a place as shrouded in legend and
mystery as any time in history. Fortunately there seems to have been
enough reliable eyewitness accounts for historians to have pieced
together a more logical picture of life during those times.
There were numerous innovations during this period, both for destructive and constructive practices. From the obvious such as rapid fire weapons and smokeless powder, to railways and mine technology, this covers just about every advance one could imagine. The focus is, however, on the technology of warfare, which most probably find more fascinating than less exciting disciplines.
It is most interesting how the show weaves the tech into tales of the myriad colorful characters of the west, from lawmen to prostitutes and outlaws. Many figures stand out in Western lore, such as Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and others. But there were many lesser known, but equally interesting, figures with fantastic stories to tell, and the show does an outstanding job of making these tales known through well shot re-creations. Several apparently expert historians, character actors, cowboys, and old west exhibition shooters contribute to and add much via interviews and demonstrations over the course of the show.
Although there is no specific time period for the "Wild West," I had always thought of it as a relatively narrow span around the mid to latter part of the 19th century. The show provides tales from the early 19th to the early 20th century, however, which I found to be surprising and intriguing.
Be forewarned that this is a show for adults, even though it is typically shown early in the morning. Extreme violence is often shown and graphically depicted. Then there are the prostitutes, outlaws, and other unsavory characters representing the more colorful aspects of the time.
This is without a doubt one of the finest TV shows depicting the Old West, and one of the best shows on today. Fans of this time period and history would be loathe to miss out, and even those not crazy about such things would find much to enjoy.
If this show were a more-or-less "straight" presentation of the
material, I'd give it a 9 or 10. The problem isn't with the content,
it's with the tone and treatment of the material.
The first season is the best, with Keith Carradine (the white sheep of his family) hosting. Though bad jokes abound, he delivers them in a sufficiently sober manner to keep them from being unduly annoying.
WWT went precipitously downhill when David took over the hosting. His snarky/smarmy tone is annoying, and sometimes in quite bad taste. The producers also seem to be running out of ideas. And many of the explanations of 19th-century technology are incomplete, misleading, or even incorrect.
Here are two bits of technology the show missed: Cowboys often put silver dollars in their canteens to keep the water fresh. (Silver is a bactericide.) And canned tomatoes were used not only for food, but for water. Carrying a can or two provided fresh water when needed.
As other reviewers have noted, WWT would never receive an E|I badge. The subject matter is sometimes adult, and there's a lot of violence. Nevertheless, WWT is worth seeing, if only because it shows how "primitive" technology worked.
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