8/10 With the upcoming “Those Who Wish Me Dead”, my 3rd most anticipated film of 2021 (2nd now that my #2 pick got delayed to next year) quickly approaching for release next month, I figured it was time to check out writer/director Taylor Sheridan’s TV work after having been blown away by his film work over the past six years. Before I get into specifics of what makes this a great show, I have to compare Sheridan’s approach to a director like J.J. Abrams. Both have made films and TV shows but Abrams has been known with his TV work to have great starts but not know where they will end up. So he makes it up along the way and the quality dips (he had this same problem with the most recent “Star Wars” trilogy). While this feels like speculation since I have yet to watch seasons two and three, Sheridan seems to have taken the opposite approach. He seems to have wisely outlined “Yellowstone” for the six or so planned seasons and has a firm ending in mind (interviews with him will back this up). So while season one didn’t blow me away, I could tell that Sheridan was planting seeds and establishing the world and his characters that inhabit it. Plenty of problems are left unresolved because their resolutions will come in later seasons. Sheridan doesn’t blow his creative load in the first season and then scramble for ideas on how to top it down the line, which is the exact problem that “Westworld” (executive produced by Abrams) has been having. Sheridan has the patience to let the series play out which shows great maturity for the writer/director. This show is perfectly cast and I enjoyed seeing Kevin Costner play against type. Wes Bentley made me really feel for his character and Kelly Reilly brilliantly conveys how the trauma from childhood brutally carries over into adulthood. I could list all of the other main actors but to get to the point, they are all phenomenal and feel so natural in their roles. There are minor shocks, twists and turns that kept me excited to watch and the pacing worked perfectly and made me wish there were more than nine episodes to binge. Minor problems existed but almost felt necessary. For example, as I watched particularly the subplots dealing with Kayce (Luke Grimes), his wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and their son Tate (Brecken Merrill), I had to roll my eyes a little bit at just how much crap kept happening to them. So many coincidences that were negative would befall them, one after another until I wondered just how many bad situations could plague one family within such a small amount of time. I understand that you have to create conflict to make the show interesting but it felt like a bit much at times. Other than mild issues like that, it is a blessing to have Sheridan in a longer format than a two-hour film as we get roughly eight or nine hours worth of his fleshed out plot lines, well developed characters and the beauty of Montana that we so rarely see in film and television. I have a couple weeks before I start season two but I’ve never been more tempted to skip the shows I’m reviewing beforehand and lasso straight to it. A promising start from one of America’s best writer/directors.

#TheCuriousCaseOfAllTheMenDutton / #CarteRanch / #FinancesWithWolves / #CowBoyhood / #AHeartOfYellowStone / #AmericanDuty

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