An extended preview has now been released for Season Two of A&E’s critically-acclaimed Western mystery series Longmire. The show, set in the present, is based upon the Craig Johnson novel series of the same name – Johnson himself is a former law enforcement officer. Starring Robert Taylor as the title character, the second season of Longmire will debut on Monday, May 27th at 10pm/9pm (EST/CST).
Walt Longmire is a widowed sheriff in the fictional Absaroka County of Wyoming. Lou Diamond Phillips plays Longmire’s closest friend, a Cheyenne named Henry Standing Bear. Longmire features a strong ensemble cast that includes Katee Sackhoff, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman, Zahn McClarnon and Adam Bartley. The series has been A&E’s highest original series premiere to date – 4.1 million viewers tuned in for the first episode in 2012.
In the first episode of Season Two, Walt Longmire must pursue escapees from a prison transfer into the Wyoming mountains. Here is the A&E-produced Season Two Preview:
As a lead-up to the Season 2 premiere on May 27th, A&E will air all 10 episodes of Season 1 back-to-back on Saturday, May 25th from 2pm to midnight (EST). The pay-service Netflix is also now carrying Season 1 of the series.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
This site now takes a second and final in-depth look at the upcoming Western video game, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (2013), prior to its release on May 22nd. In this article, westernsreboot.com further examines the approach toward the historical figures included in the game and provides more insight from lead storywriter and voice director Haris Orkin. To read Part One, please visit this link: CoJ-PT1
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a first-person game, developed by Techland and published by Ubisoft, in which players take on the role of bounty hunter Silas Greaves in the American West of the 19th century. The narrative framework is one of flashback – gamers play out the past deeds of Greaves while he recounts them to patrons and staff of a 1910 Kansas saloon. Those deeds include the tracking of real-life Old West outlaws such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Dalton Gang, and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid – these historical figures and others appear in the game. Here is one trailer for the game (Note: contains mature themes and images):
As previously shared, players discover that there can be differences between what the Greaves of 1910 or a dime novel describes and what the player experiences during that respective event. A major narrative thread for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is the mythic component of Western history, story-telling and the genre itself.
As part of the media outreach for the game, art cards were made to publicize how the artists created the character concepts. The game’s artists drew upon the history of a given figure to provide a stylized look – the cards share artist commentary as to why a figure wears certain items or colors. The following example relates to Butch Cassidy:
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is offering an interaction with subject material that potentially can lead a player – significantly, a younger player unfamiliar with the Western genre and Western history – to further research historical figures. Players can then consider a figure themselves, building upon what Haris Orkin states is integral to the game, a process he describes as “looking at the evidence and the facts, and deciding for yourself what you want to believe.”
The Western genre is singular, to this writer, for its ability to engage with the actual history of North America. There has been a noticeable increase in Westerns across various mediums in recent years – from film to television to videogames. westernsreboot.com asked Orkin to assess the Western genre in relation to (North) American and popular culture today. This was his response:
“There is a strong niche audience that loves Westerns, but the Western genre is a bit out of fashion and has been for a while. At least for the mainstream audience. Great Westerns do break through occasionally though and some are big mainstream successes. Like McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove saga or the Berrybender books. Hell on Wheels on AMC is the first successful Western TV show since Deadwood and for me was kind of seminal, a throwback to those revisionist Westerns of the late 60’s and 70’s which I loved, like Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales and even Little Big Man. All three of those were inspiration for Gunslinger.
More recently there have been some popular and critical successes in the genre. 3:10 to Yuma. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Tombstone. Open Range. The Missing. Unforgiven. True Grit. Django Unchained was a huge hit.
Westerns are the mythology of America and those themes run deep. They are popular all over the world. A lot of films and TV shows that aren’t superficially Westerns are Westerns in their bones. I’m talking about films like Firefly, No Country for Old Men and The Book of Eli. So I think the Western is actually alive and well. There’s something primal about the genre. A lone man standing up against the forces of nature or corruption or his own worse nature. Finding justice in a place where there is no justice. It’s the world stripped of all its modern distractions and there’s something very seductive about that.”
Finally, this site asked Orkin to appraise the Western genre in relation to video games:
“Westerns have been few and far between in video games, which is strange to me, because a Western seems to be the perfect genre for a shooter. Outlaws by LucasArts was fantastic in its day. Gun was good. Red Dead Revolver. Most recently, Red Dead Redemption was brilliant and introduced the Western genre to a whole new generation. And, of course, the Western games I worked on; Call of Juarez and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.
I think video games are a perfect fit with the Western genre. You aren’t just an observer, you’re a participant in the world. Sure it’s virtual, but experiencing something is a lot different than just watching. It’s the closest most people will ever get to living the fantasy.”
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger will be available for a downloadable release on Wednesday, May 22nd for Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation3 and PC platforms. westernsreboot.com will return again to the game for further review and commentary.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
Following up its re-broadcast of the American Experience documentary, Jesse James, PBS will re-air another episode from its Wild West series – Annie Oakley will air tonight (May 14th) at 8pm EST (7 CST).
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) emerged from a youth marked by poverty in Ohio to become a celebrated sharpshooter and a star in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It has been argued that Oakley was the first real female superstar in America. She presented a persona that fascinated the public – she dressed as a lady in mid-calf skirt while displaying uncommon skill with a gun. Here is a preview of the PBS documentary:
This episode was part of the PBS Wild West series that aired over 6 consecutive weeks in early 2012.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
Many Westerns, particularly those set in the historical Old West that feature westward expansion of a non-Indigenous population, have explored conflicting uses for the land. There is a long history in the Western genre for that study – from cattle barons and homesteaders squaring off in Shane (1953) to the current AMC series Hell on Wheels (2011 to Present) portraying Indigenous resistance to the railroad’s incursion into their pre-existing traditional lands.
An undercurrent to the growth of human population in the West has been the effect it has had upon wildlife. Conservative estimates claim the American bison – often called buffalo – to have had a population of approximately 25 million at the time of European arrival on the North American continent in the late 15th century. The North American origins for the modern American bison stretch back some 500,000 years. The bison has been central to Plains tribal cultures and sustenance.
By the 1870s, however, many US federal officials had begun to encourage white hunters to pursue the wholesale slaughter of bison. The US government approved of the slaughter as it knew that would weaken the resistance of the Plains tribes against moving onto reservations. Pushing the Indigenous peoples onto reservations would open up land for non-Indigenous settlement. In the mid-1870s more than 10 million buffalo were killed – just around 2000 wild bison were left by end of the century.
The decline of bison herds on the Plains created a vacuum that would be filled by an expanding cattle industry. Cattle would be joined by sheep in the West as a form of livelihood and a way to feed urban citizens who no longer provided their own food. Tied to the economic growth of these industries would be pressure upon the pre-existing wildlife – carnivores such as wolves would be killed off to the point of near extinction in order to protect livestock.
One documentary film currently being screened is examining such practices. Wild Things (2012), produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), looks at how many ranchers are now rejecting the previous method of simply killing off carnivores to instead use both new technology and older methods of animal management to create a situation in which livestock and carnivores can co-exist. One of the underlying arguments for such an approach is that the native-born carnivores bring a balance to the landscape and keep a local ecosystem healthy. Here is a trailer for the film:
For further information on the film and dates for upcoming US screenings, please visit this link: Wild Things
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
“I’ve always loved Westerns.” This statement was made by Haris Orkin, lead writer and voice director for the upcoming Western video game Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (2013), in a recent conversation he had with westernsreboot.com. Enjoyment of a genre typically leads to a deeper understanding of it. From the time Orkin gave to discuss his involvement with the soon-to-be-released Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, it appears that insight will be offered on a number of levels.
Haris Orkin grew up in Chicago, Illinois and has a background that includes a degree in English and Economics as well as studies in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. Orkin is now based in California.
Orkin has been involved with the Call of Juarez franchise since the first game in the series was released in 2006. Orkin worked in collaboration with artist and writer Pawel Selinger on the first three installments and is now lead writer for this fourth game in the series. In that lead role Orkin collaborated on the Gunslinger story and script with Techland writer Rafal Orkan (no relation).
Developed by Techland and published by Ubisoft, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a first-person game in which players take on the role of bounty hunter Silas Greaves in the 19th century American West. Gameplay occurs in what is in fact a narrative flashback – while Greaves recounts his past deeds to listeners in 1910, players live out the earlier events. Those experiences include the tracking of real-life Old West outlaws such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Butch Cassidy.
The collaboration of Orkin with Techland and Ubisoft has created a game that acknowledges the mythic component of Western history, story-telling and the genre itself. Players will discover in the gameplay that there are real differences between what the older Greaves initially describes and what the player experiences during the actual event. As Greaves narrates, his stories will be questioned and contradicted by those listening in 1910. The world of gameplay then changes as the story is adjusted – for example, in one segment, rain starts to fall as that detail is clarified in Greaves’ narration.
The following clip provides the opening 10 minutes to the game and demonstrates the mix of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger ‘s narration and gameplay. (Note: includes some mature images and language):
Orkin shared that gamers will be “playing a couple levels of reality”. There is the story as told by Greaves in 1910 and there is your experience as a player which includes the disconnect between Greaves’ story or a dime novel account and the actual events as experienced. Then there are the “Nuggets of Truth” that relate to the real-life historical figures players encounter – at different points in the game, players can find and read various collectible documents that provide the current historical consensus as to a given Old West figure.
In the estimation of this writer, what Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is attempting is both ambitious and exciting – the game is seeking to create an organic experience of Western myth. Players will live out how a Western story is told, embellished, corrected and then checked against the historical record. Has this process not been an undercurrent of the Western genre since its inception? This is a commendable goal and if interest is sparked to lead a player – especially those of a younger demographic – to take the time to further research historical figures and the 19th century American West, then Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is offering an interaction with subject material that moves the game to another level. Such is the power of the Western genre, in this writer’s view, to engage individuals with the actual history of the North American continent.
This writer asked Orkin what potential he saw for players to learn about the historical West and the Western genre with this game – his response follows:
“For most people, their image of the Old West is based on what they’ve seen in Hollywood Westerns. That mythology started fifty years before that with dime novels. That’s no accident. People have made a lot of money over the years mythologizing the history and heroes of the West. But that’s nothing new and it wasn’t only just about making money. People have always told grand stories about heroes and villains as a way to make us feel safe and shape our understanding of the world. The Greek myths. Beowulf. Robin Hood. It’s entertaining, but it’s also meant to be instructive.
That tradition continued with the creation of the American West. The dime novels and later Hollywood Westerns tended to reinforce the conventional values of the time like patriotism, bravery, and self-reliance. Of course, they also reinforced racism, sexism, and American nationalism. (All brilliantly pointed out in Bioshock Infinity.) The revisionist Westerns turned that upside down and confronted the hypocrisy and didn’t shy away from the racism of the time or the Native American genocide.
That’s pretty much the central theme of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. The collision between truth and myth. The famous quote from John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” applies perfectly. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of the characters in the saloon has read all the dime novels written about Silas Greaves and wants to know if those stories are true. Greaves goes about setting the record straight, but he embellishes as well and when he’s challenged, the stories change and so does the world in the game.”
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is slated for a downloadable release on May 22nd and will be available for Xbox 360, Sony PlayStaion3 and PC platforms. For Part Two of this article, please visit this link: CoJ-PT2
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
The acclaimed PBS series American Experience will re-broadcast its Jesse James documentary tonight (May 7th) at 8pm EST (7 CST). This episode was part of the PBS Wild West series that aired over 6 consecutive weeks in early 2012.
The 1-hour documentary draws upon such credible historical biographers as T.J. Stiles to provide commentary and context for an exploration of Jesse James the man and Jesse James the myth. Stiles authored the comprehensive Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War (2002) in which he situates the Missouri-born James as more a post-Civil War Confederate than any anti-corporate Robin Hood.
Jesse James was assassinated by a member of his own gang in 1882 at age 34. The PBS film examines how James has served as a projection for public needs both during his life and afterward. Over three dozen feature length films have been made about Jesse James. In the estimation of this writer, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), which starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, remains the seminal James film to date.
Further information about the PBS film Jesse James can be found at this link: Jesse James
To view the film’s first chapter, please visit this link: Jesse James – Ch.1
PBS will also re-air the Annie Oakley episode from its Wild West series next Tuesday, May 14th at 8pm EST (7 CST).
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, the upcoming collaboration between game-developer Techland and game-publisher Ubisoft, is now set for its 2013 release on Wednesday, May 22nd. In this downloadable Western video game, players will take on the character of Silas Greaves, an Old West bounty hunter, who recounts his exploits in narrative flashbacks that then frame the first-person game-play.
As Greaves shares his tales, players live out those events which include the tracking of real historical outlaws such as Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and Jesse James. A new trailer, “The Ballad of Silas Greaves”, has now been released. (Note: Trailer contains mature themes & images.)
Westernsreboot.com is pleased to announce that this site will be taking a further in-depth look at the upcoming Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Haris Orkin, lead story writer on the game, was gracious enough to recently take some time to speak to this site about his involvement with the game’s development. Visit this site on Thursday, May 9th to view some of the content that emerged from that conversation.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger will be available for Xbox360, Sony PlayStation3 and PC platforms.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)