CHARLESTON, W.Va. — I'll be honest. If it weren't such a big-budget project, I wouldn't have watched the History Channel's "Hatfields & McCoys."
I'm familiar with the basics of the historic feud but not interested enough to delve into all the media that has been produced regarding it. However, because the cable network's miniseries — which airs at 9 p.m. nightly Monday through Wednesday — is drawing attention to the story and our state in such a high-profile way, I gave the screener copy they sent a go.
It did nothing to increase my interest in the story.
To put it simply, if you're a history buff who is interested in the feud itself or that era of American history, you may enjoy it, but if not, save yourself six hours and skip it. It was technically well done, but while I won't say it was a complete bore, I can think of plenty of better ways I could have spent that time.
Kevin Costner stars as Devil Anse Hatfield, and Bill Paxton is Randall McCoy. Also among the cast are Tom Berenger and Powers Boothe on the Hatfield side, and Jena Malone and Mare Winningham on team McCoy.
Though Costner and Paxton are the two biggest names, they weren't the standouts for me. Those were Matt Barr ("Hellcats") and Lindsay Pulsipher ("True Blood") as star-crossed lovers Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy.
Barr, a Texas native, pours on the Southern charm; his eyes are full of spark as he plays the fun-loving, big-hearted romantic — which makes him all the more effective when that spark dims as he is forced to participate in the bloody feud. Pulsipher's joy as a young woman in love for the first time in her life is palpable, as is the despair she sinks into as life and the feud force hardships upon her.
Also noteworthy is Ronan Vibert ("The Borgias") as McCoy's cousin, Perry Cline, a lawyer who incites the McCoys to take legal action against the Hatfields and stirs the pot as the feud goes on. The Brit is nicely smarmy, capturing the irritating nature of his character.
The actors employ Appalachian accents with varying degrees of success. More successful was the filming location of Romania, which provides a fine substitute for Appalachia.
I gave "Hatfields & McCoys" more than just a chance. I went back and watched part one a day after viewing the whole thing to see if some time away improved my view of it. I was even going to watch the whole thing over if it did, but alas, it was no more interesting to me the second time around.
For my money, I'd recommend checking out AMC's "Hell on Wheels" instead. Set in the same era, it's an action-drama that follows the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. Season one is on DVD, and it will probably be on Suddenlink On Demand prior to season two's Aug. 12 premiere.
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In advance of "Hatfields & McCoys," the stars are doing the talk show circuit to promote it. Kevin Costner is all over ABC today: "Good Morning America" at 7 a.m., "Anderson" at 9 a.m. and "Live! With Kelly" at 10 a.m. He's also on "FOX & Friends" at 6 a.m. Friday (Fox News) as well as on a two-part "Tavis Smiley" at midnight tonight and 12:30 a.m. Monday on PBS or 10 a.m. Friday and Monday on PBS2.
Bill Paxton is on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" at 12:35 a.m. today and "Live! With Kelly" on Friday.
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Memorial Day weekend marathons:
A&E: "Criminal Minds," noon Sunday (16 hours); "Storage Wars," 8 a.m. Monday (13 hours).
BBC America: "The Tudors," 6 a.m. Saturday (38 hours; complete series).