Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Into the West

I'm actually glad that the fourth episode of Into the West won't be airing this weekend. It'll give me the chance to completely catch up before the miniseries completely resumes the week after next. Into the West is a multi-generational miniseries following two families in the mid 1800's as America begins to grow and settle the West. The first family is the Wheeler family. The Wheelers are Virginia wheelmakers and the youngest son, Jacob, has dreams of seeing what "no white man has seen before" and sets off to join Jedidiah Smith and other mountain men. The other family is of the Lakota tribe as they have to deal with the white men coming onto their land and beginning to change their way of life.

Thus far I've only watched the first two episodes with the third on my DVR. These are each 2 hour episodes, so Into the West is a time commitment, but I think the level of quality is there so its worth it. While it seems at times that the Wheelers are getting a little bit more air time than the Lakota, there are serious storylines going on with the Lakota tribe with Dog Star and Loved by Buffaloes.

I think this show really shows some of the hardships that life contained back then and how difficult American expansion was for all. On episode two there was a wagon train to the West and lives were lost fording a river, during a bad storm when they were out on the plains, and by cholera...which on one hand seems like a lot for one wagon train to endure, but from what I remember from history class and the focus on the West it really isn't far from reality for many who tried to go West. Many lives were lost. The show also shows the struggle of the Natives to accept white ways or hold on to their own and the struggle includes how rifles changed everything.

Very interesting show. If you mix this with Ken Burn's documentary The West, you get a very large portrait of the era. Education through entertainment.

But the bottom line is that I do find Into the West to be an interesting program and that the stories are compelling. This is a well made show and I hope there are more like it.

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