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Not suitable for those who require quality productions
13 April 2011
Completely agree with the previous reviewer that this was not a compilation made with any enthusiasm and the narration in particular is without emphasis or the apparent interest of the narrator; it seems almost whispered for the most part. There is a serious doubt in my mind that Elvis actually said a lot of the supposed 'in his own words' dialogue which, as your previous reviewer said, was presented in a voice absolutely nothing like that of the man himself. The former co-stars appeared to have been interviewed ad hoc with no attempt at quality. On the plus side Elvis' story is interesting and this production did suggest substantial reasons - i.e. mother fixation, shame of his father, complete subjugation by Parker - for why he was in his private life such a dysfunctional man. The film clips were good to re-visit but this is sadly a lacklustre production dealing as it does with one of the most publicly charismatic men of modern times.
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The old TV Westerns return
23 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Brady Hawkes character doesn't tax Kenny Rogers but makes a likable western hero. On the subject of which, this movie introduces some of my heroes from favourite 1950s/60s TV series. At varying times along ride Lucas McCain, Cheyenne Bodie, Bart Maverick, The Westerner, Kwai Chang Caine, Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp all being played by the original actors. Not since the 1959 Bob Hope comedy Western, 'Alias Jesse James' has so many famous cowboy faces appeared as 'themselves'.

As to 'The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw' it is rambling, unsure whether its a comedy, a road movie or a drama and its moments of violence are somehow out of kilter with the lighter side of the bulk of this mini-series. For example when Cade, who almost ends up as a 'pantomime villain' in the San Francisco hotel towards the end of the movie, murders one of his men "for thinking". That said it is beautifully shot and mostly well played.

Reba McIntire and Rick Rossovich shine brighter than most of the others, and Kenny Rogers is always good to have on screen. Clint Walker seemed to actually be driving the Overland stagecoach which at age 64 wasn't a bad feat; and with Gene Barry – then 72 - as Bat Masterson, still looked pretty good! Unsurprisingly the other former Western characters from days gone by had not stood the test of time quite so well; this shouldn't be a shock I suppose as Chuck Connors for instance died the following year, as did Dub Taylor and Paul Brineger not too long after this film was made. With those and others reprising long-ago roles why was Doug McClure (who also sadly died early four years later) not billed as Trampas, and James Drury as The Virginian?

All in all this was a pleasant way to spend three hours but 'The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw' will not go down in Western TV miniseries history as a great one or even particularly memorable. Particularly so, as 'Lonesome Dove' had shown two years earlier, how to make a great Western mini-series.
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Will greatly miss all things 'Lonesome Dove'
24 September 2008
From the very first paragraph of McMurty's original Pulitzer Prizewinner I was hooked on all things 'Lonesome Dove'. At that stage obviously I had no idea of the wealth that was to come. So, through the original Duvall/Lee Jones, to Jim Garner as Call in 'The Streets of Laredo', then prequels 'Dead Mans Walk' and 'Comanche Moon', and even the McMurtry non-authorised 'Return to Lonesome Dove' with Jon Voight. The DVDs and the books which inspired them all now have pride of place at home.

Then came 'The Series' with Scott Bairstow, Eric McCormack and the fabulous Christianne Hart which took Newt Call as its lead. Yesterday I got very sadly to the end with the final episode of 'The Outlaw Years'. This was a much grittier outing for the characters than 'The Series' and there is no doubt certain characters underwent changes which were perhaps a little unrealistic, especially Josiah and Austin Peale. That said, they suffered greatly at Hannah's death as did Call who changed completely from 'The Series' but I guess with good cause.

Although the ending left much unsaid and undone (can anyone please tell me if a follow-up was originally planned but pulled?) this was a compelling part of the 'Lonesome Dove' saga, exceptionally well produced, atmospheric and beautifully played by all especially Eric McCormack and Scott Bairstow.

If you watch the episodes in the correct order (not as on the DVD but as listed on this website) and suspend a little disbelief you will find it satisfying and enormously enjoyable.

'Lonesome Dove ' The Outlaw Years' - as with all LD titles - has great merit and I cannot recommend too highly.
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Outstanding - contains spoilers
12 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Contains spoilers…………… The original Lonesome Dove was without doubt the finest western ever made whether for cinema or television, and thus having embraced the characters from the original all LD sequels became of interest to me. Even Return to Lonesome Dove, which was not sanctioned by Larry McMurtry was a spellbinding mini-series/movie if not as good as its predecessor. The Streets of Laredo was again a welcome addition to the story, as was Dead Man's Walk – though the denouement of that one I found unsatisfactory.

Having watched the three above, and read the books I awaited Lonesome Dove – The Series with eager anticipation and have not been at all disappointed. Although at times – possibly accentuated by the start/end 1920s narration by the elder Newt – it smacked of Little House on the Prairie, it avoided going too far in that direction by hardening up the character of Newt and the story lines as the series progressed. Scott Bairstow developed Newt in line with what was thrown at him, at Hannah and the town of Curtis Wells; and having not yet watched The Outlaw Years I don't know where Newt goes next. Christianne Hirt was simply wonderful as Hannah and although I knew roughly what would happen in the final episode, the impact and shock value of the explosion were undiminished – that and the abrupt narration free ending closed the series leaving me stunned. It was probably necessary dramatically to finish in that way but I will truly miss Hannah, and the beautiful Miss Hirt..

Given the quality of production, story lines and the actors who graced Lonesome Dove the Series it should be difficult to pick out a clear 'star' of these films but for me the one who stood out even above all the other excellent cast members was Eric McCormack. His portrayal of Colonel Francis Clay Mosby was outstanding. As soon as Mosby comes on the screen your eyes are drawn to him; his controlled anger, the longing for Hannah, the power and strength of what is basically a criminal character and in the third from last episode his losses in the war are revealed helping the viewer to a greater understanding. An incredible anti-hero without whose character this wonderful series would have been diminished.

With the excellent performances, fabulous scenery and production values, and Terry Frewer's music which builds upon the original beautiful Poledouris score, Lonesome Dove – The Series is truly outstanding.
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