Staggering is a good word to describe this mammoth, epic miniseries which traces the birth of a Colorado town from the first time a white man sets foot on in up to the present day (of the time it was filmed.) The story is multi-generational, beginning with French-Canadian trapper Conrad and continuing on with his descendants and those of people he knew. Conrad and best pal Chamberlain's story eventually gives way to Pennsylvania Dutch pioneer and trader Harrison's, which in turn passes the torch to Dalton and his 6,000,000 acre ranch and then to town sheriff Keith and so on, before landing in 1978 with Janssen's bid at a political career. Along the way, many vignettes depict the vast changes, conflicts and hurdles, which affected the birth and growth of the town and its inhabitants. The cast is nothing short of jaw dropping with a plethora of notable television series stars appearing for either long or short stretches of time. Conrad, Chamberlain, Everett, Harrison, Weaver, Karras and Keith all get strong roles that afford them the chance to shine. There are several women, however, who also get to play terrific parts. Carrera is unforgettably gentle and beautiful as an Indian maiden, Zimbalist is wondrous as Harrison's determined wife and Redgrave has one of the best parts of her career as an English girl who transforms over time to a powerful and important pillar of the community. Naturally, there are a few folks who don't measure up in the acting department as well. Some of the smaller roles are essayed by people with limited thespian ability and McHattie is outrageously bad and over the top as Conrad's rebel Indian son. Also, Carlson, as Conrad's white daughter, and Raines, as his Indian one, have flat, unenthusiastic voices and give bland performances. Mostly, though, the cast is strong, although several actors are forced, due to the longevity of their characters in the storyline, to endure some really obvious, even shoddy, age makeup. Sadly, some folks, such as former screen hunks Walker, Rivero and Williams, get short shrift and barely appear at all. Among the more memorable sequences are Harrison and Zimbalist's trouble-plagued trip west, Weaver's taxing and dangerous cattle drive, the scheming of actors Zerbe, Nettleton and McKeon and the love story between Redgrave and her ranch hand Atherton. In truth, the miniseries could have ended one night early, with the prophetic words of Redgrave to her grandson, but it did not and so a lengthy and somewhat dull finale included Griffith, Janssen and Gless chewing over environmental issues with shady Vaughn. Exciting and dramatic sequences of the earlier hours segue into watching a red Ford truck follow Griffith and Gless around a muddy construction site, as if the driver and his pal could hear anything anyway! This, paired with the needless and protracted flashbacks, leaves a mildly unpalatable taste in the mouth. However, the bulk of the series is terrific, capped off by some great musical scoring by John Addison. Somewhere in the mêlée of period St. Louis (actually a redressed Augusta, KY riverfront) is teenage George Clooney as an extra townsperson! And where else can one find Dr. Kildare, Dr. Joe Gannon, Dr. Gonzo Gates, Dr. Sam Loomis, Dr. Sam Quinn, Dr. Buck James, Dr. Richard Kimble and Dr. Bobby Caldwell all in the same program?!
5 out of 5 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.