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 Post subject: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:57 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:31 pm
Posts: 288
Location: TEXAS
Its a sad commentary on the state of mainstream Hollywood that SciFi network's "Rage of the Yeti" (hacked off bigfoots-begfeet??) is much more grounded in reality than AMC's Historic epic "Hell on Wheels", which is supposedly about building the transcontinental railroad. Among other crimes against reason and nature, they had dudes standing in a ditch, using pickaxes to make little holes in the dirt pile beside the ditch. Its a helluva testimony that folks in the entertainment industry can make a mythical creature more realistic than a story out of American history that is well documented, both in print and picture.


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:56 am
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Location: Roanoke Va.
Actually, (although I'm suspending technical disbelief) I don't think "Hell on Wheels" is particularly bad by the modern standards of the entertainment industry. Look at what else is out there. "Jersey Shore", "Dancing with the Stars", "American Chopper" , "Ice Road Truckers" (really scraping the bottom of the barrel there), and anything to do with Cajuns and swamps. Cable & satellite TV has resulted in a huge quantity of available "entertainment", but with a corresponding lowering of quality. Most nights I don't even turn the TV on anymore except for the local news.

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:38 pm
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Even though I've never seen the show, I have seen some post on here about the behind the scenes building of the engine. Needless to say....I lost interest from the beginning.

Lately, the History Channel and most other networks have become a bust. What the hell do people who hunt gators have to do with history? Or truckers on ice? Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Sorry for the vent.

Perhaps one of these days, we'll get a Historically Accurate show about American Railroad History....

Martin


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:17 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Give specifics.

What items are inaccurate?

There are valid statements that the Union Pacific enriched certain persons through the Credit Mobiler enterprise. What statements are you disputing?

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:33 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:05 pm
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Location: Somewhere in NM...
It's a "docudrama", not a straight-up documentary. 'nuff said.

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:44 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:31 pm
Posts: 288
Location: TEXAS
softwerkslex wrote:
Give specifics.

What items are inaccurate?

There are valid statements that the Union Pacific enriched certain persons through the Credit Mobiler enterprise. What statements are you disputing?


I reckon the fact that no one builds an embankment by digging little holes in loose dirt on the side of a ditch. I know it may be picking nits, but everything, from the tools, the way they use them, even the stupid workman's chant (shuck dat cown befo' you eeet) shows a complete unfamiliarity with anything resembling construction procedures, the organization of the work camps, even the culture of recently freed slaves. The allusions to the Credit Mobilier scandals are about the only thing even close. Even its portrayal of the Hell on Wheels camps seems to make them some kind of perminant place, and not the temporary encampment they were. I am quite sure that no one ever telegraphed the Home Office that they were setting off to Hell on Wheels. I know there is a certain amount of license that must be taken, but the entire portrayal of the construction effort is inaccurate to the point of ridiculousness. If Hell on Wheels is an accurate portrayal of the very real drama that was the Transcontinental Railroad, then Jonah Hex is a spot on rendition of Reconstruction.


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:51 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:17 am
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Location: Wilmington DE
Sure, it is Hollywood and obviously lacking accuracy. My question is which steam engine (s) did they use? If some historic railroad got some dollars for use of their consist, then it can't all be bad, right?

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:23 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:31 am
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Location: South Carolina
Al Patterson wrote:
Sure, it is Hollywood and obviously lacking accuracy. My question is which steam engine (s) did they use? If some historic railroad got some dollars for use of their consist, then it can't all be bad, right?


None- the locomotive is a mockup. There was a thread about that a few weeks ago.

My wife and I watched the first episode last week and thought it was good entertainment. Hopefully if the show is successful they will have sufficient resources to be able to do better research and improve the historical accuracy as the show goes on.

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:59 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 6:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
It's not about building the railroad. It's about the personal quest of somebody who is in the setting of building the railroad. The railroad is just background, not the leading character or the story. Deadwood was good drama, but bad history......Rome, somewhat better history but more about the drama around the history than the reality.

I'm still waiting for a good film about the Andrews raid. Plenty of real action there, and real people acting heroically in their own way, and legitimate history. Buster Keaton's version is as good as any of the others, BTW.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:54 pm
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I find this amusing, that there would be any expectation of concern for accuracy, let alone evidence of it in the final product, when movie after movie show a separated airline resulting the two segments of the train going merrily along rather than dumping into emergency.

File it under "fool me once.."


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:15 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:08 pm
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Location: Amherst, Oh
Here's the previous thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32231

I've only watched the pilot episode, and while yes I noticed that they were digging little holes in the embankment, to me I still found the show entertaining. Just because a show is set in the past doesn't mean that EVERYTHING needs to be 100% accurate, especially since the show never billed itself as documentary. It's just an show situated in the old west.


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:51 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:05 pm
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Location: Somewhere in NM...
Emmo213 wrote:
Here's the previous thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32231

I've only watched the pilot episode, and while yes I noticed that they were digging little holes in the embankment, to me I still found the show entertaining. Just because a show is set in the past doesn't mean that EVERYTHING needs to be 100% accurate, especially since the show never billed itself as documentary. It's just an show situated in the old west.

Exactly. How many of those John Wayne movies that we enjoy(ed) watching (whether we admit it or not) are 100% historically accurate? None. How many of those Cecil B. Demille epics were 100% factually accurate? Not a one. "Hell on Wheels" is much the same way; as I mentioned earlier, it's not a documentary, and AMC certainly has not billed it as such. They're simply telling a story, and if there are a few liberties taken here and there, it's to be expected (especially since most viewers aren't likely to notice or really care one way or another).

Of course, some folks aren't satisfied unless they've got something to gripe about...

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:13 pm
Posts: 344
Location: Metropolis
Quote:
What the hell do people who hunt gators have to do with history? Or truckers on ice?

The very satirical hypothesis of last week's South Park episode.

I've concluded the best bet for intelligent (and not so intelligent—but quite amusing) programming nowadays is what's streaming on the interwebs. The amount of niche media propagating on YouTube alone, from vintage newsreels like this one to questionably obtained content from the "old" History Channel, is virtually endless, not to mention far more insightful than what pours through the tube targeted to the general—often sensationalist—masses. There's something for everyone and every interest, and it's there when you want it. In my next cost of living squeeze, cable TV is first on my chop list. For the little I watch, emerging technology has rendered it an unnecessary expense. (Plus, even with Hulu and DVR, following a show like Hell On Wheels is just way too much of a commitment!)

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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:41 am
Posts: 2124
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I have a bit of a personal interest in this thread.

Some years ago, perhaps almost 20, I attempted to put together a television series on the adventures of railroaders at work. The inspiration came from a combination of all those short stories and true tales that used to run in Railroad magazine years ago (how many here remember Eddie Sand?), books published years ago (among them Herbert Hamblen's "The General Manager's Story," Edward Custer's "No Royal Road," and Hollister Noble's "One Way to Eldorado"), and some first-hand research with some railroaders I knew at the time.

I should say I was also "inspired" by what seemed then (and now) as pretty lame entertainment. Same old doctors, lawyers, cops, and bad jokes in a living room with a couch. You want to know something? A show of bad jokes around a couch even then ran something like $1 million per episode! The original "Star Trek, The Next Generation" had that much per episode for special effects alone (we're talking mostly miniature shots of spaceships there).

I figured this could be at least as good as average, was in my opinion much better than average. Think about it--almost a whole new world, an older America, a classic America, one most people have never seen, an occupation most know little about, using really cool and big "tools" that make lots of noise, one with some really neat stories and colorful people who say some great things. An example of the latter--Robert Pitcairn (real PRR superintendent, from Custer's "No Royal Road"), who, running an accident inquest and listening to the (altered from reality) testimony of the crew involved, lights up a cigar and says to one of the men, "Young man, you have the makings of a first-class railroader. You can lie with the best of them. About two weeks [suspension] will fit your case."

I spent two years of almost all my free time researching this and learning to write for television (hint--in some ways it's like playwriting in style and format, though not quite the same).

I couldn't sell it to save my soul.

The really sad thing for me was that I found some really good stories to tell--and I would bet I have little or nothing compared with what some of us here know. All of it would have been pretty authentic, although not necessarily 100% so; one liberty I took was to have certain characters work in both directions out of a division point, which was a dividing place between a river and a mountain division, giving two styles of railroading for these guys to be in (the same characters also would work a branch line in at least one episode as well, which involved a run out of this same terminal to the branch).

Very, very disappointing. . .

What would it take to put on a really good rail-themed television program or movie? One that doesn't always feature either a runaway or a robbery or a hostage situation? One set in the steam era, ideally in the 1940s?

Would anybody at Disney be interested in this today?

Then again, the best shows that I remember--"I'll Fly Away," "Call To Glory," and "Remember WENN"--didn't stay around as long they should have, either. It's interesting to note that all of these were period pieces, set respectively in the 1950s, early 1960s, and late 1930s. In fact, it seems the last network period piece was "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (19th century, Western US). Maybe "period" material just doesn't have appeal anymore?

To quote Chester A. Riley, of the old "The Life of Riley" radio show, "What a revoltin' development this is!"


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 Post subject: Re: Hell on Wheels is Hell on Accuracy
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Posts: 744
Location: NJ
According to the show about the making of the series, there is only one historically accurate person in the show, the character played by Colm Meaney. But there is so very little historic items in any show. I was surprised that at the beginning of Tora Tora Tora, it did say that the movie is historically accurate.

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Mr. Ed


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