It's the new "Fairyland"

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 09:49:08 06/26/18

In Reply to: YNP WebCams posted by NMac


I watched the series opener last Wednesday night. I was very curious to see if it lived up to my expectation of it being "Dallas Revisited", set in the Northern Rockies.

There are a few redeeming qualities, and they are the things that Costner and his team could not manipulate. As a Bozeman resident, I enjoyed seeing shots of places I am familiar with, like a short scene shot in downtown Bozeman. I also enjoyed a few of the landscape shots the same way I enjoy driving the roads in the Northern Rockies, and seeing the broad, sprawling, unsettled landscapes that gave rise to the name, "Big Sky" to describe Montana.

That's the good news. The bad news is much more plentiful. I won't go into fine detail, but one of the overarching irritants is the incredibly reality-stretching plot that depicts what I think of as "Cowboys and Indians" conflict updated and set in the 21st Century. What I have not figured out is whether this is someone (maybe even Costner) trying to tweak our noses with comedic irony, or whether it is the product of somebody suffering from some sort of nostalgia for the salad days of the 1950s when almost any western movie could make money. Maybe I am being a harsh critic, but seeing the invention of a job title that to my knowledge does not exist in Montana (Livestock Agents), who apparently work for the protagonist, just bothers me. I have met several Montana Department of Livestock employees in my work on the Yellowstone Bison Citizens Working Group, and never heard of this title. If they do exist, they sure as heck are not employed by one of the ranchers who they are supposed to regulate. Lots of made-up crapola in this drama! Having watched "Dance With Wolves" many times, and been struck by the empathic sensitive treatment of Native Americans in that movie, I was shocked at how a broad swath of the Native Americans in this show were depicted as money-grubbing nouveau capitalists willing to do ANYTHING, up to and including murder for a buck. There's always the chance that part of the long term plot will show the "Good Indians" rising up and delivering justice to the "Bad Indians", and the good guys rule. Fine, if that is what happens. I have spent time on a number of reservations, and know residents of those reservations. They have their issues, just like any assemblage of humans, but current issues are not depicted in this show. Instead, we get a kind of psychodrama loosely based on events of decades ago over in Sioux country. This show would benefit greatly if they had the writers spend a week on one or more of the Montana reservations.

The plot piece about a fictitious land development outfit "Paradise Valley" something or other is vaguely familiar to anyone who has watched much television or movies over the past 20 or 30 years. It is plot development "laziness" IMHO. It is a stale plot component that we have all seen dozens, no, scores, of times. There are very real, current, front and center, land development issues in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (where this plot allegedly unfolds), that could have been exploited for a dose of relevant reality, but producer laziness went to what Hollywood does 99% of the time. It's the bane of the entertainment industry's existence - the tendency to fall into the repetition trap.

Having delivered a fairly negative review, I will readily admit that I have a decided preference for non-fiction in my entertainment, and it is a rare piece of fiction that will excite me. I have a tendency to judge producers of fiction harshly. I take no prisoners when I see someone play fast and loose with distorting reality in the goal of taking shortcuts that weaken a plot. This show is cliche city as far as I am concerned, and it does no justice to its namesake, which is world famous for its tendency toward dynamic change. You never see the same Yellowstone twice. It is always different, which is why someone who is easily bored, like me, finds it so exciting.


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