Thursday, May 31, 2012
History Channel Knocks One Out Of The Park
Parts one and two of the star-filled drama drew 13.9 million and 13.1 million viewers, respectively. Wednesday's finale of Hatfields & McCoys was the most-watched of the three nights, with 14.3 million viewers. According to History Channel, that makes it the No. 1 non-sports and non-news program ever on ad-supported cable.
The president of the History Channel, Nancy Dubuc was quoted in a New York Times article as saying "she would have been happy with three million viewers". This was the basic cable original programming equivalent of The Hunger Games.
This was also a huge feather in the hat of Director Kevin Reynolds. The native Texan is best known for One Eight Seven, The Count of Monte Cristo and worked with Costner on Waterworld, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and one of my all time favorite films, Fandango.
I'm pretty sure having a quality cast made a difference, too. Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Tom Berenger. That's an expensive payroll. The production vales were first rate and the writing was excellent. It was graphically violent, gritty and cold blooded at times. You could feel the hatred between the families first hand.
But it's not all bloodshed, hate and gunsmoke. There's also a bittersweet love story between the clans. Roseanna McCoy (Lindsay Pulsipher) and Johnse Hatfield (Matt Barr) start out innocently enough as young lovers hoping to marry and bring an end to the feud, but their families will have none of it and wind up tearing them apart. A lot of Romeo & Juliet going on there and that could have been a movie all it's own, but the story is more complicated than that.
This was a deeply researched and well written script from Bill Kerby (The Rose, Dead Men Can't Dance) and Ted Mann (Wiseguy, NYPD Blue, Deadwood) full of important and well cast supporting characters with various subplots. This looked more like a long theatrical film that got chopped into a mini series. Hopefully, we'll see more of that in the future and less "reality" productions.
If you don't have cable, there's good news. Hatfields & McCoys is slated for BluRay and DVD release July 31st.