×

Hatfields & McCoys

The six-hour "Hatfields & McCoys" has a certain grungy intensity, a la "Deadwood," but also features arid stretches, and too many supporting characters who register so sparingly you barely get to know them before they start catching bullets.

With:
Devil Anse Hatfield - Kevin Costner
Randall McCoy - Bill Paxton
Johnse Hatfield - Matt Barr
Jim Vance - Tom Berenger
Wall Hatfield - Powers Boothe
Bad Frank Phillips - Andrew Howard
Nancy McCoy - Jena Malone
Levicy Hatfield - Sarah Parish
Roseanna McCoy - Lindsay Pulsipher
Perry Cline - Ronan Vibert
Selkirk McCoy - Joe Absolom
Cotton Top Mounts - Noel Fisher
William "Cap" Hatfield - Boyd Holbrook
Jim McCoy - Tom McKay
Tolbert McCoy - Sam Reid
Ransom Bray - Jilon Vanover
Sally McCoy - Mare Winningham

Fronted by all-star talent — with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton playing the scraggly patriarchs of the feuding clans — the six-hour “Hatfields & McCoys” has a certain grungy intensity, a la “Deadwood,” but also features arid stretches, and too many supporting characters who register so sparingly you barely get to know them before they start catching bullets. Interesting but not particularly stirring, this ambitious miniseries spans decades, and sometimes feels like it. Then again, after “The Kennedys” wound up being punted to ReelzChannel, History should celebrate merely getting it on at all (profiling long-dead characters, apparently, has its advantages).

Opening during the Civil War and airing over three successive nights, the production introduces Devil Anse Hatfield (Costner) and Randall McCoy (Paxton) fighting side by side for the Confederacy. Devil Anse deserts, however, and by the time Randall returns home, the Hatfields have a thriving business going, leading to ill feelings and a property dispute.

More viscerally, Devil Anse’s crusty uncle (Tom Berenger) winds up murdering Randall’s brother, who not only has the temerity to wear a Union jacket but accuses the old coot of “fornicating” with his dog.

From there, the feud is on, with a series of escalating provocations and acts of violence, spiraling upward. There’s even a Romeo-and-Juliet-like romance between Devil Anse’s ladies man son Johnse (Matt Barr) and Randall’s daughter Roseanna (Lindsay Pulsipher), which pretty obviously isn’t going to end well.

Directed by Kevin Reynolds (whose lengthy relationship with Costner includes “Waterworld” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”) from a script credited to Ted Mann and Ronald Parker, “Hatfields” has the courage to proceed at a slow-rolling pace, and feature battles as brutal as they are ugly, with a whole lot of shooting and often not many casualties. Such veracity, however, doesn’t always make for compelling drama, and at times it all feels like a long slog waiting to see who dies next.

None of this is a knock on the principals, who exhibit the gradual toll of the killing, even after McCoy’s side has begun to rely on a bounty hunter (Andrew Howard). Impressive cast includes British star Sarah Parish and Mare Winningham as Devil Anse and Randall’s spouses, respectively, and Powers Boothe as a judge in the Hatfield camp.

Producer-star Costner has done some of his best work in underappreciated Westerns like “Wyatt Earp” and “Open Range,” although this latest trip West doesn’t rise to that level. Nevertheless, it’s potent enough — more in subject matter than execution — to deliver for History, which, seemingly like every other basic cabler, is seeking to expand its profile, either through programs that have nothing to do with history or via scripted fare.

With both miniseries and true westerns in short supply, it’s unfortunate “Hatfields & McCoys” doesn’t provide a clearer verdict. Not that it’s bad, but the result’s just not worth all the shootin’ and hollerin’, much less fighting about.

Hatfields & McCoys

History, Mon. May 28, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Romania by Leslie Greif Prods. and Thinkfactory Media. Executive producers, Greif, Nancy Dubuc, Dirk Hoogstra; supervising producer, Barry Berg; producers, Kevin Costner, Darrell Fetty, Herb Nanas; director, Kevin Reynolds; writers, Ted Mann, Ronald Parker; story by Bill Kerby, Mann.

Crew: Camera, Arthur Reinhart; production designer, Derek Hill; editor, Don Cassidy; music, John Debney, Tony Morales; costume designer, Karri Hutchinson; casting, Fern Champion. 6 HOURS.

Cast: Devil Anse Hatfield - Kevin Costner
Randall McCoy - Bill Paxton
Johnse Hatfield - Matt Barr
Jim Vance - Tom Berenger
Wall Hatfield - Powers Boothe
Bad Frank Phillips - Andrew Howard
Nancy McCoy - Jena Malone
Levicy Hatfield - Sarah Parish
Roseanna McCoy - Lindsay Pulsipher
Perry Cline - Ronan Vibert
Selkirk McCoy - Joe Absolom
Cotton Top Mounts - Noel Fisher
William "Cap" Hatfield - Boyd Holbrook
Jim McCoy - Tom McKay
Tolbert McCoy - Sam Reid
Ransom Bray - Jilon Vanover
Sally McCoy - Mare Winningham

More TV

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring

    TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren

    For some, “Dame Helen Mirren playing the Catherine the Great” is all the convincing they’ll need to watch this new biographical limited series, which is perfectly understandable. The casting of Mirren in the role, which follows the Russian empress in the embattled latter years of her life, is a smart choice that proves its worth [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content