Texas Rising Takes a Few Hits

The History Channel mini-series Texas Rising debuts this weekend.  Critical acclaim awaits.  The early reviews are not particularly promising.

The Seattle Times for one is unimpressed.

It’s only partially “history” in “Texas Rising,” however, which we’ve come to expect from the History Channel. Some of the events are accurately portrayed in the miniseries, but others are invented and, at least in the first two episodes, there is embarrassingly little effort to portray the Mexicans and Native Americans as anything other than cartoon villains and savages. In fact, if you squint just a little, you’ll think you’re watching a John Wayne film from, say, 1960, when he directed and starred in “The Alamo.”

Dominic Patten of Deadline is harsher still.

With a Memorial Day debut on History Channel, Texas Rising has ambitious aims. But sad to say, the 10-hour multi-week miniseries just doesn’t hit the target. Brought to the small screen by some of the team behind the blockbuster The Hatfields And McCoys series, the Roland Joffe-directed tale of Lone Star warfare and revolution ends up, as my video review above says, being shrill instead of strong.

Brian Lowry of Variety takes a pass.

Watching the first six hours of “Texas Rising,” a wonderfully cast and otherwise completely wooden miniseries, one has to wonder what inspired the History channel to expand the production from six hours to 10. Chronicling a chapter in the Lone Star state’s bloody ascent to U.S. statehood that begins in the ashes of the Alamo, the Roland Joffe-directed project juggles too many indifferently written, tough-talkin’ characters, as if “Lonesome Dove” had experienced a sharp blow to the head. Fans of Westerns will no doubt be eager to immerse themselves in this once-abundant, now-underutilized genre, but for those who tend to be discriminating about their TV watching, don’t mess with “Texas.”

Jeanne Jakle of the San Antonio Express News points out that there isn’t much “history” on the History Channel.

Texas Rising,” TV’s upcoming star-studded saga about the birth of the Lone Star State, may be on the History channel, but it’s no history lesson.

“It’s big, epic and sexy,” Bill Paxton, who plays Sam Houston, said in a recent interview. “It’s historical fiction like the movie ‘Titanic.’ There are characters who’ve been brought in to flesh it out, make it move better.

“You can do a lot of research,” Paxton added, “but that can be a very dry affair.”

“Texas Rising” kicks off with parts one and two at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday on History. The remaining three episodes will run at 8 p.m. Mondays from June 1 through 15.

The series’ Oscar-nominated director, Roland Joffé, also described the 10-hour miniseries as much more emotional than historical, a way to transport viewers to Texas in the aftermath of the Battle of the Alamo and convey how people were feeling.

“You can do history as archaeology, which I think is rather dull,” Joffé (”The Killing Fields”) told TV critics at a History press session.

Red will wait and form his own opinion, but generally thinks that history itself is plenty fascinating if done right.  At least Santa Anna isn’t played by some old ugly Mexican dude.

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