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It's 'Hell' on AMC

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While it's not in the same class as "Breaking Bad," AMC has another Sunday show that's worth noting -- "Hell on Wheels," which enters season two this week at 9 p.m.

(A season one marathon begins at 11 a.m. or you can read a pretty detailed recap here.)

The Western is set during the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the traveling workers' camp that gives the show its name. Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former Confederate soldier, ends up at Hell on Wheels while seeking revenge on the men who killed his wife and son.

Among those he encounters there are freed slave-turned-rail worker Elam Ferguson (rapper/actor Common); railroad investor Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney); Lily Bell, the widowed wife of the railroad's surveyor; The Swede, Durant's security chief; Irish brothers Sean and Mickey McGinnes; the Rev. Nathaniel Cole; Eva, the "tattooed harlot" and former Indian captive; and Joseph Black Moon, a Cheyenne Indian Christian convert.

I was initially a bit resistant to the show, as I'm not all that interested in Westerns. I let all 10 episodes of season one pile up on my DVR before I watched them.

It's a good, although not great, show. While some episodes in the middle lost my attention a bit, there was enough that was interesting about each episode to make me curious as to where the next one would go.

And even if the action (which can get a bit violent at times) does lose your interest at points, the show is still beautiful to look at. Marvin Rush's cinematography is excellent and nicely fits the mood, and Paul Healy re-creates the era well as the set designer.

The music also is quite appealing. Mumford and Sons, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley and Jack White's The Dead Weather, have all been included, and back-to-back Oscar-winner Gustavo Santaolalla has created a fabulous title theme that captures the gritty feel of the show. It's nominated for an Emmy, and rightly so.

"Hell on Wheels" isn't on par with AMC juggernauts "Breaking Bad," "The Walking Dead" and "Mad Men," but it's still a very worthy entry into AMC's ever-expanding canon of quality television.

 

OLYMPICS SCHEDULE

 

THURSDAY

NBC primetime: track and field, diving, beach volleyball and BMX cycling, 8 p.m. to midnight.

NBC: volleyball, water polo, swimming, track and field, canoeing and beach volleyball, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; rhythmic gymnastics and javelin, 12:35 to 1:35 a.m.

NBC Sports: soccer, basketball, synchronized swimming, wrestling and field hockey, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

MSNBC: equestrian, field hockey, taekwondo, handball, volleyball and basketball, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CNBC: boxing, 3 to 4 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

 

FRIDAY

NBC primetime: track and field, BMX cycling, volleyball and diving, 8 p.m. to midnight.

NBC: canoeing, water polo, swimming, synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and wrestling, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dream Team (1992 men's basketball) special, 3:30 to 4 p.m.; track and field and water polo, 12:35 to 1:35 a.m.

NBC Sports: taekwondo, boxing, wrestling, basketball and field hockey, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

MSNBC: volleyball, handball, wrestling and soccer, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CNBC: boxing, 3 to 4 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

 

SATURDAY

NBC primetime: track and field, diving and volleyball, 8 p.m. to midnight.

NBC: volleyball, cycling, canoeing, rhythmic gymnastics and wrestling, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Olympic special, 3 to 4 p.m.; basketball, 4 to 6 p.m.; wrestling, 12:30 to 1:30 a.m.

NBC Sports: track and field, 4 to 8 a.m.; taekwondo, soccer, track and field and handball, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MSNBC: pentathlon, field hockey, basketball and taekwondo, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CNBC: boxing, 3 to 4 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m.

 

SUNDAY

NBC primetime: closing ceremony, 7 p.m.

NBC: marathon, 6 to 9 a.m.; basketball, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; water polo, wrestling and volleyball, 12:30 to 6 p.m.

NBC Sports: pentathlon, basketball, handball and volleyball, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MSNBC: Wrestling and cycling, 7 to 11 a.m.

CNBC: boxing, 3 to 4 a.m. and 8:30 to 11 a.m.

•••

Series premieres: "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," 11 p.m. Thursday, FX (comedy talk show); "Stars Earn Stripes," 8 p.m. Monday, NBC (military-inspired celebrity competition); "Hotel Hell," 8 p.m. Monday, Fox (Gordon Ramsay helps struggling inns); "United Bates of America," 9 p.m. Monday, TLC (19-kid family); "Gallery Girls," 10 p.m. Monday, Bravo (NYC art world); "Big Tiny," 10 p.m. Tuesday, TLC (dwarf siblings); "The Week the Women Went," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Lifetime (gender roles experiment); "The Burn with Jeff Ross," 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Comedy Central (pop culture talk show); "Oh Sit," 8 p.m. Wednesday, CW (musical chairs/obstacle course hybrid).

Season premieres: "Grimm," 10 p.m. Monday, NBC; "Intervention," 10 p.m. Monday, A&E;"Storage Wars Texas," 9 p.m. Wednesday, A&E.

Sneak preview: Vet sitcom "Animal Practice," 10:30 p.m. (approximate) Sunday, NBC.

Series finale: "The Closer," 9 p.m. Monday, TNT. Followed by premiere of spin-off, "Major Crimes."

Season finales: "Common Law," 10 p.m. Friday, USA; "The Glades," 9 p.m., and "Longmire," 10 p.m. Sunday, A&E; "Teen Wolf," 10 p.m. Monday, MTV; "Rizzoli & Isles" (midseason finale), 9 p.m., and "Franklin & Bash," 10 p.m. Tuesday, TNT; "Destination Truth," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Syfy; "The Glee Project," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Oxygen.

Specials: exhibition football (Steelers vs. Eagles), 7:30 p.m. Thursday, CW; "Martian Mega Rover," 10 p.m. Thursday, National Geographic (documenting Curiosity's development); "Roast of Roseanne," 10 p.m. Sunday, Comedy Central; "Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100," 10 p.m. Tuesday, PBS.

Of note: Discovery Channel's 25th annual Shark Week begins Sunday.

W.Va. alert: A crew investigates a possibly haunted dentist's office in Huntington on "The Dead Files" season premiere, 10 p.m. Friday, Travel Channel.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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