Comanche Moon (miniseries)
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|Written by||Diana Ossana|
|Directed by||Simon Wincer|
with Karl Urban
and Rachel Griffiths
|Theme music composer||Lennie Niehaus|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Running time||360 minutes|
|Original release||January 13, 2008|
Comanche Moon is a television miniseries that is an adaptation of the novel of the same name where Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae are in their middle years, still serving as respected Texas Rangers. In terms of the Lonesome Dove series' storyline, it serves as a prequel to the original Lonesome Dove miniseries, and a sequel to Dead Man's Walk. It first aired on CBS beginning Sunday, January 13, and continuing Tuesday, January 15, and Wednesday, January 16, 2008.
The series starts in The Republic of Texas in the early 1800s with a massacre of Comanche chieftains, observed by a young Buffalo Hump. The opening coda then explains that The Texas Rangers "were formed as a volunteer troop to contain the Comanche" before indicating the locale as north-west Texas in 1858. Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae join a party of eight others, led by Captain Scull and supported by a Kickapoo scout (Famous Shoes), who are hoping to capture Kicking Wolf, who is hiding in the camp of Buffalo Hump. Meanwhile, in Austin Clara Forsythe runs her shop and is visited by Maggie Tilton - the two become closer while both waiting for the party to return. In the nearby mansion, Inez Scull briefly seduces a young ranger, Jake Spoon.
The tables turn on the Rangers as the Captain's horse is stolen by Kicking Wolf. Scull departs with Famous Shoes to retrieve it, deputizing Call and McCrae to take the party back to Austin. The party comes across a burnt out wagon and are able to rescue a traumatized mother and her young daughters from some Comanche before returning to Austin. Separating at a river crossing to the Sierra, Scull then tracks his horse alone towards Yellow Cliffs in northern Mexico, a known slavers den, and finds an injured Kicking Wolf but no horse. Buffalo Hump then plans a combined and perhaps final raid to the ocean for all Comanche. In Austin, having met the governor, McCrae and Forsythe reunite, as do Call and Tilton (who announces that she is carrying Call's child). Meanwhile, Scull is captured by Ahumado's men and put into a wooden cage. Call and McRae, now confirmed as Captains, are then tasked with retrieving Scull just as the Comanche army departs.
The show begins with a Comanche attack on Austin during which the town is ravaged. With the exception of a last stand at the Scull mansion, property losses are extensive, alongside most of the men being killed and the surviving women raped or kidnapped. News of the attacks filter back to the Rangers, who decide to return immediately, and learn of the extent of the devastation. Meanwhile, Scull, having survived the cage is moved to Ahumado's snake-pit while awaiting ransom. Blue Duck falls out with his father, Buffalo Hump, and is exiled, and the camp is devastated by cholera. Also, in Galveston, Forsythe is brought news of her parents' death in the raid and the loss of the store, and is proposed to by her other romantic interest, Bob Allen, a horse-trader from Nebraska.
In Austin, the governor re-issues the order to Call and McCrae to rescue Scull, on the proviso that they can convince cattle ranchers to provide them the 1000-head ransom on credit. After burying Bill Coleman, Call tries to come to terms with becoming a husband, while McCrae ponders why Forsythe chose Allen over him. En route to the ranchers, they have a run-in with some wild cattle before being directed to rancher Dick King and the "town" of Lonesome Dove. Unable to secure the ransom, Call and McCrae set off alone to rescue Scull. Meanwhile, in the snake-pit, Scull is still alive, although his sanity is weakening. Outside the pit, Ahumado is bitten by a spider and dies en route to the medicine tree, and the rest of the camp is abandoned. Scull is rescued and returned to Austin. McCrae loses the love of Forsythe when she learns of his affair, and Call remains restless since Tilton has had a son, named Newton.
Seven years later, in 1865, the American Civil War ends, Call is still single and McCrae is mourning the death of Nellie, his wife. Call remains listless, and is blind to Spoon moving in with Maggie (who now is a clerk at the store), and is equally unable to admit feelings for her or accept his son, even though he regularly has dinner with both of them. In Austin, Governor Pease is again in charge, but the pending arrival of Union cavalry represent a new phase in the struggle with the Comanche, with Rangers to be used as scouts. In Nebraska, Clara Allen, now a mother of two, hears of Nellie's death and mourns the loss of her own child too. In Boston, the Sculls are still married, although infidelity is still an ongoing source of tension.
On the plains, Blue Duck continues to attack and kill settlers, increasing the chances of "Blue coats" arriving in force to suppress the Comanche. Led by Charles Goodnight, the Rangers and cavalry locate a Comanche camp, and recapture "the Parker girl". Heading back to Austin, they meet Clara Allen who is visiting again in order to sell her family's property. Allen and McCrae rekindle their friendship, and she returns to her family in Nebraska, just as Maggie begins showing symptoms of TB. At the Comanche camp. Buffalo Hump realizes his time has come and leaves for good. His brother-in-law then relays the news to his nephew, Blue Duck at his hideaway in the forest. The Rangers and sheriffs soon raid the camp and hang most of the outlaws, but Blue Duck has already left seeking to kill his father, whose death represents the end of an era for the region.
- Val Kilmer as Inish Scull
- Steve Zahn as Augustus McCrae
- Karl Urban as Woodrow F. Call
- Linda Cardellini as Clara Forsythe Allen
- Elizabeth Banks as Maggie Tilton
- Ryan Merriman as Jake Spoon
- Ray McKinnon as Bill Coleman
- Keith Robinson as Joshua Deets
- Wes Studi as Buffalo Hump
- Adam Beach as Blue Duck
- James Rebhorn as Gov. Elisha Pease
- Jake Busey as Tudwal
- Melanie Lynskey as Pearl Coleman
- Sal Lopez as Ahumado
- Norbert Leo Butz as Capt. Richard King
- Indira Varma as Therese Wanz
- Floyd Westerman
- Kristine Sutherland as Elmira Forsythe
- Rachel Griffiths as Inez Scull
- David Midthunder as Famous Shoes
- Toby Metcalf as Ranger Lee Hitch
- Troy Baker as Pea Eye Parker
- Jeremy Ratchford as Charles Goodnight
- Brad Johnson as Col. Tom Soult
- Rod Rondeaux as SlowTree
Events such as the shooting of the chieftains (ahistorical, but based on the Council House Fight), the attack on Austin (ahistorical, but based on the Great Raid of 1840), and the rescue of the white woman (historical, based on Cynthia Ann Parker) were all included in the series, although actual timelines or events were altered.
The series received generally negative reviews from critics. Common complaints were the clownish portrayal of the Texas Rangers, who were continually drunk on duty and tumbling into bed with beautiful women under the slightest pretext, the negative stereotyping of the Mexican characters, who were largely portrayed as unwashed wild-eyed drooling killers superstitiously worshiping long-vanished Aztec gods, and the simplistic portrayal of frontier women, who were either weak-willed, simpering victims or cruel and manipulative Gorgons. Brian Lowry from Variety called it "tedious, at times cartoonishly bad".
It was released in Region 1 on DVD on February 26, 2008.