Garry really wanted to watch Yellowstone. He was being his own special kind of nag. Every time we watched something else, after it ended he would say: “NOW can we watch Yellowstone?” Subtle. Very subtle. I had wanted to watch a couple of movies, “Black Beauty” among them. “Black Beauty” (Disney+) was nothing like the book. Even though I adore horses, it was super treacly. Maybe someone thought the original story, set in London in the late 1800s, would not “speak” to the current generations. Or as Hollywood frequently does, felt they wanted the name of the book, but not story. I find that very annoying. If you’re going to write something entirely different, call it something else. Also, if you decide to watch it, bring hankies.
By then I was ready to watch “FUCKING YELLOWSTONE!” This series was produced by none-other than Kevin Costner, He has made a couple of great movies, a lot of mediocre movies, and some really awful movies including his version of “Wyatt Earp.” I’ve tried to watch it, but haven’t gotten through the first 10 minutes. It was released at the same time as “Tombstone.” Costner did his best to try to prevent Tombstone’s release. Costner was a top dog in Hollywood those years and thought he could do anything. He couldn’t, but he tried hard.
He was unsuccessful. Over the years, “Tombstone” has become many people’s favorite or nearly favorite western. It’s definitely my favorite. I can do dialogue with it. On the positive side of giving the show a try, he made “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup,” both of which I like a lot, especially “Bull Durham” which has a great script, cast, and they can all act. Even Costner acts and currently, he has become just a bit wooden. He’s good at “small, personal” roles. Not as great at “big” movies. Think “Water World,” (1995) for heroic movies where he wasn’t.
Thus going into this series made me twitch. It might be okay. We had just finished the last two seasons of “Longmire.” I love the original books by Craig Johnson, a writer from Wyoming. The series is smart and intelligent. The series has wandered far from the books in terms of script, but the characters are more like the characters in the book. A bit more “roughed up” to make them more violent (of course) and more energetic. In the books, there’s a lot of sitting around with witty dialogue. The series is more shoot’em up and tense. I like the show anyway. You get to see nuanced characters who learn something from previous episodes and don’t always do the same thing every show. Sometimes, top-quality scriptwriting.
“Yellowstone,” or as we have come to call it “Fucking Yellowstone,” is like Longmire on steroids, meth, and cocaine. “Yellowstone” may be the show which uses the “fuck” most often. Garry looked up the reviews and there were a handful of people who objected to the obscene language, often because it is gratuitous and seems to be used to replace commas. We start counting “fucks” as soon as opening credits are finished and are disappointed if they don’t hit a full dozen three or four minutes into the show, we are disappointed. Sometimes the fucking use of fuck in every paragraph is like a magic act. Where can I fit the word fuck? Oh, how about here?
It’s a violent show which fortunately does not show actual blood and gore. It was shot in Montana, possibly on Costner’s land. I’d have to check this out because I could be wrong. It’s about a particularly brutal rancher and his equally violent, dysfunctional family. They are trying to hold on to their enormous ranch and cattle and horses in the face of mobsters and corporate degenerates (who also say fuck every third word). All these “city folk” want to destroy the land by building casinos, hotels, and power plants while drilling for oil or are they already drilling? The opening credits suggest it, but so far, I haven’t seen the oil rigs. They did dig up a dinosaur, though. That was cool. I know a lot about the dinosaurs up in Montana and Wyoming. I think Wyoming gets the big prize for the best ever set of Tyrannosaurus bones. You’d have to research this, but that was the last I heard.
So every night, the show goes on. Lots of murders and shoot-outs. All the cowboys look alike. It’s a bit weird because I watch the show and I’m not sure who is who. They all have the same kind of beard, 10-gallon (or however many gallon) hats and they swear constantly. These days, when Garry’s had enough of the previous night’s Colbert and Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, and John Oliver, he turns to me and says: “You want to watch “Fucking Yellowstone”?
“Fuck yes,” I reply.
Then we watch the fucking show. It’s a good time for me to catch up on email being as the plot is pretty much the same as every “big ranch” movie you’ve ever seen, albeit the language is a lot more raw. Do you think they talk that way the do so they will seem “tough?” I’d like to sum it up by saying it’s a lot like Dallas with family intrigues, mob money, corporate angst, and a lot of people with significant attitudinal issues. Their family dinners are about as bad as you might imagine. They are just a fucking tragedy.
If you’ve seen “Rustler’s Rhapsody,” this is a similar story without the wit, humor, or sweetness. With the word “fuck” used relentlessly for any and all occasions with considerable imagination. Also, I’ve begun to think of it as perhaps the real backstory to the Ponderosa. This is what happened behind the sweetly g-rated show. Forget all that nice, friendly family fun on the giant ranch. This is the way it really was. No one is nice. No one is kind. There’s no “soft side” to “dad” or ranching. Or even any hope that things will get better because just running the ranch means everyone is deeply in debt.
I think maybe last night was the end of a season. Not sure. We haven’t been keeping track and I’ve missed a lot of parts of each episode because this is also the time of night when I realize I’ve got nothing ready for tomorrow’s post, so I start putting posts together. This is a show for people who want violence, horses, the new old west, with more violence, thuggery, and guns, Native Americans are behaving only half as badly as the White People around them, but I have a feeling they will catch up. Just give the show one more season. The mob is moving in. Uh oh!
Also, I should mention that in terms of style, especially the way visuals are used, the design of the credits, and the brilliant way they are using music. The music really IS excellent and might be the highlight of the series along with its cinematography. It reminds me (a lot) of the HBO series “Tombstone.” Whoever is directing it worked for or was heavily influenced by that earlier show. It certainly has the cinematography and pacing down perfectly.
For Western fans, if you can cope with the violence and foul language, go for it. Just don’t take it too seriously. Fucking right!