Monday, April 17, 2017

Pilot Review: The Son

The Son (AMC)
Premiered April 8 at 9pm

I’d consider myself to be a fan of westerns occasionally. I took a course at NYU titled “Myth of the Last Western” in which we watched classic genre films from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, some of which really blew me away. Most seemed very dated, but I think that there’s a quality that they all have which feels that way no matter when they’re released or set. “Westworld” was more sci-fi but definitely had a western focus, and “Hell on Wheels” and “Deadwood” are two recent shows that have served as functional westerns. I also enjoyed the film “In a Valley of Violence” from this past year, and I think that the wild “Django Unchained” counts too even though it’s an incredibly recognizable Tarantino product. Now this show, which for some odd reason AMC has decided to air on Saturday nights, probably because that’s when “Hell on Wheels” used to air and do well with the ratings, is a western of decidedly more epic proportions. Unfortunately, it’s also one that lacks severely in the engagement of its viewers, telling a story that’s objectively interesting but hardly at a pace that’s tolerable. Pierce Brosnan used to be James Bond, and this is a much deeper role in many ways but far less enticing. I like Jess Weixler from “The Good Wife” and I’m happy to see her in a decent part, and it’s great that Jacob Lofland, who I saw in his feature film debut in “Mud” at Sundance a few years ago, was cast in a solid role as well. Zach McClarnon has proven himself to be a reliable player on “Longmire,” and he’ll surely be that here too. While I can recognize that this show has a compelling narrative, I found myself bored to death for the entirety of these two opening hours, with absolutely no desire to check back in for more of this saga.

How will it work as a series? Narratively, this show benefits from filling in the gaps of its backstory while showing its current events, with two different eras playing out at the same time. Unfortunately, neither is all that interesting as portrayed on screen, and it’s easy to drift off with all this period storytelling.
How long will it last? Though the reviews haven’t been excellent across the board, the ratings seem to be pretty positive, and AMC is gung-ho about having another successful western series to anchor Saturday nights, so I’d expect this one to be brought back for another season.

Pilot grade: C+

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