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Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season

Release Year:    2013
Studio:    Entertainment One
Format:    Colour; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         3/10
Running Time:         413 minutes plus bonus
DVD Release Date:         July 16, 2013
Creators:         Joe Gayton, Tony Gayton
Screenwriters:         Joe Gayton, Tony Gayton, John Shiban, Jami O’Brien, Bruce Marshall Romans, Chris Mundy, Mark Richard
Directors:         David Von Ancken, Adam Davidson, Sergio Mimica-Ĝezzan, Catherine Hardwicke, Michael Nankin, Joe Gayton, Rod Lurie, Terry McDonough, John Shiban
Actors:         Anson Mount, Common, Colm Meaney, Dominique McElligott, Christopher Heyerdahl
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         9/10

Entertainment One Write-up:    
Hell on Wheels tells the epic story of post-Civil War America, focusing on a soldier who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife. His journey takes him west to Hell on Wheels, a dangerous, raucous, lawless melting pot of a town that travels with and services the construction of the railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time. The lavishly-produced series documents the railroad’s engineering and construction, as well as institutionalized corruption, the immigrant experience and the plight of newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction. Chronicling this potent turning point in our nation’s history, this fan favorite series shows just how uncivilized the business of civilization can be. In Season 2 Bohannon faces a new onslaught of turmoil and danger in a world where life is cheap and greed is the only law.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
Where in the world does one go these days to find a good Western? Especially one that understands how integral the land is to the story; that appreciates the poetry of a horse at full gallop; that acknowledges the attention to detail of period firearms is half the fun of watching for the Western fan?

Look no further than AMC’s HELL ON WHEELS. On the verge of broadcasting its third season at the time of this publication, season two of the hit show is now available on DVD, packed with extras, to be afforded a place of respect in any Western fan’s film collection.

While it deals with a lot of dirt and grime, HELL ON WHEELS is actually a very beautiful show. The majestic Alberta locations are well-utilized and the production and art departments complement the natural picturesque qualities of the locations with sensitivity and taste. This is one way the extra features stand out: they show a team of creative artists who share a common quest. A quest to achieve a greatness that compels the audience to watch and anticipate more to come.

What is equally impressive is the way the show continues to be character driven. The art direction therefore builds on the development of the characterizations. In other words, everyone is on the same page, creatively.

If there is the occasional anachronism in the writing, such as “You got a problem with that?” (a very contemporary-sounding expression akin to the infamous “no sweat,” uttered in the classic Western The Magnificent Seven!) they are few and far between.

Anson Mount, who plays the enigmatic central role of Cullen Bohannon, stated at the end of season one that he felt the show had legs to run for seven seasons. Season two confirms this assessment. And while we sometimes have to say goodbye to characters we’ve come to love, we know we will be compensated for our loss with good drama.

HELL ON WHEELS is a unique show—there’s nothing currently like it on TV. Long may it ride the range and entertain its loyal legion of fans.