‘The Son’ brings the Old West back to television

Pierce Brosnan stars as Eli McCullough in “The Son” on AMC

By Harry Alexander / SoAzNewsX

Numerous “critics” aren’t too pleased with AMC’s new series, “The Son.” The critics also didn’t like “Texas Rising.” But, those of us who love to watch Westerns at the movies or on television offer up a different look at the series.

IF the rest of the series is like the two-hour premier last Saturday night, Festus is going to have to brew up a passel of coffee. That premier was damn good, in my opinion. Naturally, everyone will have an opinion about the program and that’s the beauty of critics–if they say the movie/tv show sucks, it’s bound to be good and memorable.

The show centers around the family of Eli McCullough, played by Pierce Brosnan, in the early 1900s. It’s a family saga that spans 150 years and three generations of the McCullough family. It takes place in south Texas where McCullough is faced with the prospect that his cattle empire is going to dissolve because of beef prices. So, according to the first episode, he mounts an effort to look for oil. It’s based on the Pulitzer prize-nominated novel by Philipp Meyer.

Brosnan is no stranger to the screen. He rose to popularity as a result of the television show “Remington Steele” back in the 1980s. He appeared in films such as the Cold War spy film The Fourth Protocol (1987) and the comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). He also did a stint as 007 in the early 1990s.

The program features flashbacks to when Eli was a boy struggling to stay alive. Those flashbacks are intertwined in the production as some memory prods Eli, as a man, to remember his life as a boy.

The show opens with McCullough as a boy in 1849 living with his mother, sister and a brother. A father is hinted to in the script, but we never see him. Following an attack by Comanches where his mother and sister are killed, Eli and his brother are taken prisoner by the Comanche. His brother ends up getting himself killed as Eli is taken under the wing of the Comanche leader.

Fast forward to 1915. Eli is the patriarch of the McCullough Ranch. He is forced to deal with cattle rustlers and the Mexican Revolution just south of him.

The Guardian‘s critic complains that Eli is ruthless, bloody-minded and probably thinks compassion is something found in steam engines. If this sounds similar to the anti-hero archetype – think Don Draper or Nucky Thompson – it’s because it is. It’s an interesting take from the Brits who generally enjoy watching American westerns. Other critics were just as harsh in their assessment of the program.

I can’t agree with the critics. The premise of the series is sound–it’s something that certainly could’ve happened then. The scenery is great. The IMDB page doesn’t indicate where the series was filmed, but I’m guessing around the Del Rio, Texas area. The costuming is appropriate for the time–including the flashback sequences. They’re actually using the correct weaponry of that time. And, when we’re shown 1915, the weaponry is also correct. The dialogue is written for the language of the time, too.

I’m thinking the critics don’t like the show because it’s not “politically correct” enough. The Comanches are brutal–they were. The guys of the west are brutal with their torture methods–they were. The women are treated as women of that time would’ve been treated.

“The Son” is authentic and it’s really good. Set your DVR or watch it live.

The show is set for 10 episodes and airs Saturday nights at 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central on AMC. Go there to learn more because I don’t want to throw out any spoilers.



Harry Alexander is the Managing Editor of the Southern Arizona News-Examiner.




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