Pros: Answers questions from season 1, gritty and darker, many returning main characters, simply wonderful
Cons: Deviates from the story written by Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years is originally what my sister and I became hooked on quite a few years ago. My sister stumbled across this wonderful series late one night and we both became hooked. At the time we didn't know that The Outlaw Years was actually the second season but once we became acquainted with the first season and watched it all, so many of our questions were answered! The difference between the 2 seasons is quite shocking actually but the reason why is all in the story.
Now comes the disclaimer... my review of Lonesome Dove: The Series was pretty thorough but I made sure and left out key information so that I wouldn't give away any surprises. In order for me to properly review Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years, I'm going to have to reveal some of those surprises so if you intend to watch or purchase these series you may want to wait and read this review after you have watched season one.
Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years DVD Box Set Info
Just like season one, Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years DVD Box Set is pretty bare bones. You will find no extra features, no subtitles, no close captioning, and no commentary. All there is to this box set is just the episodes and a limited scene selection.
This box set is a tad bit longer than the first season because there are 22 episodes versus the 21 episodes in season one. This puts the total time of this box set at almost 17 hours. There are 5 discs in all and unlike season one's discs, these DVDs are actually numbered so that you don't ever have to worry about them becoming mixed up and out of order.
Cast of Characters
There are some new faces in Curtis Wells in season 2 plus many of our beloved characters return as well. Also, you will find that you may recognize the names of many of the guest stars that make an appearance in each episode.
Newt Call -Scott Bairstow resumes his role as Newt Call (now known mostly by his surname) and really shows his acting ability in this season due to the overall change in Newt's character. Newt is a changed man in many ways yet you will find that some things about him have remained the same.
Austin Peale -Paul Johannsen has returned as Austin Peale, who is now the sheriff in Curtis Wells and one of Mosby's henchmen. He too has changed dramatically from the shy naive man we met in season one to someone who has become cynical and jaded.
Clay Mosby -Eric McCormack reprises his role as Clay Mosby and now runs the town of Curtis Wells. He owns most (but not all) of the businesses and has turned Curtis Wells into a much more rougher town than the one we saw in season one.
Josiah Peale -Paul Le Mat has come back for a second season as Josiah Peale. Like many of the other characters, he too has changed quite a bit. The loss of his daughter has made him into something of a hermit and he spends most of his time in his boarded up, now defunct, newspaper shop. He's been appointed the job of Mayor, a position that is really in name only as Mosby is truly the one who runs Curtis Wells.
Mattie Shaw - Kelly Rowan takes on the character of Mattie Shaw, a new character that moved into Curtis Wells to run a gunsmith shop. Circumstances also force her to become the town's coroner and she becomes a good friend and possible romantic interest to Newt later on.
Amanda Carpenter - Tracy Scoggins plays the character of Amanda Carpenter, a women who takes Curtis Wells by storm when she first arrives. She tries to play the nice genteel lady but is really out for herself and is not above breaking the law to get what she wants. Living in Curtis Wells after a while does seems to settle her down a little bit but she will never let an opportunity pass her by should it benefit her in some capacity.
Luther Root - Bret Hart comes back to resume his roll of Luther Root. In season one, Luther was quite wild and lived mostly in the mountains. During the 2 years that Newt Call was gone Luther has become somewhat civilized. He now lives in town, rides shotgun for the stagecoach and is a friend of Call's.
Unbob Finch - Unbob Finch is a new character played by Frank C. Turner. Unbob got his name because his brother's name is Bob and since he couldn't be Bob, he was named Unbob (un-bob). Unbob is a little slow but is loved by everyone, including Call, because of his gentle nature. He works in the livery and helps Mattie out in the coroner's office, becoming one of her best friends in the process.
Dr. Ephraim Cleese -Sam Khouth returns for a second season to play the role of Dr. Cleese. He hasn't changed much from the first season and is only seen in a few episodes.
Ike - Bruce McFee plays the role of Ike, who at first works in the Lonesome Dove hotel and later gets the job of sheriff. He's quite lazy, which gets him in trouble with Mosby on several occasions.
So that you understand what is going on, I'm going to give some back story as to what went on after season one ended.
For those of us who have watched season one, we all know that Hannah Peale died in an explosion in the last episode. Her death had severe repercussions on almost everyone living in Curtis Wells at the time. Newt, unable to deal with his wife's death, fled town the next day and was gone from Curtis Wells for 2 years. Josiah became mentally unbalanced and closed down his newspaper press, never to write or print another edition again. Austin, instead of shutting down, lost all his boyish naivety and began to work for Mosby.
In the meantime, the town of Sweetwater went up in flames by a prairie fire. All of the prostitutes and plain old bad men moved into Curtis Wells, changing the town dramatically. Mosby, always the capitalist, took this opportunity to change Curtis Wells into his vision. He opened up a wh*rehouse called Twyla's, he bought himself a posse of men to protect his interests and himself. He appointed Austin as the sheriff, he collects "taxes" from the few businesses he doesn't own and basically just took over the whole town. No longer is Curtis Wells the nice quaint little town that Newt Call use to live in. In it's place is a mudpit filled with prostitutes, drunks, gamblers, and all other manner of rifraff. Even with all that though, Mosby makes sure that, for the most part, Curtis Wells is still a somewhat law abiding town that most families can still settle down in.
Season two was actually shot 2 years after season one. Whether this was done on purpose or not is not known but Newt Call has been gone for 2 years and season two starts when he finds himself unexpectedly back in Curtis Wells.
2 years after Hannah's death and Newt's flight from Curtis Wells, Newt Call, who is now a bounty hunter, finds himself back when his friend Silas runs into trouble. Silas is accused of stealing Mosby's money and is hung before Call can clear his name. No one except Josiah is happy to see Call back, especially Austin, who feels that Call should have been there when Hannah was buried. Call goes out to his old ranch and comes across a woman named Mattie Shaw who ends up opening a gun shop in town. Call finds Silas' murderer and decides to stay in Curtis Wells.
Notable guest star - Silas is played by Dean Hagland, who is known for playing Richard "Ringo" Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files.
A gang of cattle rustlers has invaded Twyla's and Austin & his deputies try to capture them. The only one captured though is a 16 year old boy named Hank. Hank is due to be hanged and Sadie, a prostitute who has taken a liking to him, pays Call to found out if he is innocent or guilty. Meanwhile Huber, the town coroner who shares the building and rent with Mattie, takes off with a woman. Mattie becomes the town coroner so that she can pay her rent. She enlists the help of Unbob and they become friends.
Notable guest appearance - Hank is played by Devon Sawa, who was in the movie Wild America with Scott Bairstow.
Mattie meets a man named Earl while riding a stagecoach back to Curtis Wells. They seem to hit it off quite well, especially after he comes to the rescue when they are attacked on the road. Earl is a surveyor for the Anaconda Mining Company and is in town to make a report for the company. Meanwhile, someone is stalking Mosby and terrifying him. Could it be Mr. Creel, the shopowner who Mosby "collects taxes" from? Or perhaps Call, who hates Mosby, or someone else all together?
The Nature of the Beast
A prostitute named Fiona is killed after a night of drinking with Call. Call's knife is found at the scene of the crime covered in blood. Call doesn't remember a thing about that night but as he was the last seen with her he's the prime suspect. However, Fiona had a lot of friends in Curtis Wells, such as Josiah, Unbob and Dr. Cleece so the case isn't so cut & dry as one would think. During all of this, Josiah and Call share an angst filled evening remembering Hannah.
Call gets back in town only to find that Ike has rented his usual room out. A man named Mr. Logan and Mosby make a deal that will benefit the town greatly and benefit Mosby's pockets even more, although Mosby doesn't seem to really like the man. Mr. Logan's son, Deke, has set his eyes on Mattie. Mattie is forced to kill him when he attempts to rape her. Will Mosby choose between his friendship with Mattie or his partnership with Logan?
Note - This episode is out of order as it has Fiona and Della in it. As we know from episode 4 (The Nature of the Beast), Fiona was killed and Della skipped town.
Mosby is on his way back to Curtis Wells when his horse fall and goes lame. He hitches a ride with 3 prostitutes who are on their way to Twylas to work. As they travel they become friends after a fashion. When the axle on their wagon wheel breaks they are taken in by a seemingly friendly couple however, in the middle of the night Mosby and the girls learn that looks can be very deceiving. Meanwhile, back in Curtis Wells, Austin in left in charge and it goes to his head. He ends up getting shot when he gets on the wrong side of some would be bank robbers and is forced to accept Call's help.
Min Lee - "I heard the town is run by some dandified son of a b*tch, Mr...."
Mosby - "Clay Mosby, the dandified son of a b*tch himself."
A gold miner named Luke and his brother ordered a mail order bride named Holly who was kidnapped on her way to Curtis Wells. Luke and his brother hire Call to find her. Call does and feels sorry for her because he knows that she won't have a good life with Luke and his brother so he offers to buy him from Luke. Meanwhile, a preacher has come to Curtis Wells to rid the town of sin. When the preacher goes too far, Mosby finds a way to discredit him.
A woman by the name of Amanda Carpenter gets shot and almost robbed by a man she paid to scare off her partner Frank. Amands knocks him out cold with a rock but passes out while riding her buggy. Call comes upon her and brings her to Dr. Cleece, who patches her back up. Amanda tries to make like she's a nice Christian lady and all is well until her partner Frank comes to town. Call sells her the Lonesome Dove hotel so that Mosby can't get his hands on it.
Tracey Scroggins makes her debut as Amanda Carpenter starting with this episode.
Mosby owns a copper mine and pushes all the miners too far until an explosion occurs that kills a lot of men and injures a lot more, including Unbob. Call, who has no interest in Mosby's mine, decides to investigate when it looks like the explosion was actually done on purpose. The prime suspect is an immigrant named Dooley, who has a suspicious past. Even Amanda is affected when a miner who had a crush on her becomes injured.
Day of the Dead
Amanda's friend Joe and his group come to Curtis Wells. Joe and his group are like circus performers mostly doing sideshow type acts such as reading tarrot cards and selling miracle elixers. When one of his friends dies in a fire caused by Luther and his friends, Joe curses the town. Soon weird things begin to happen. Meanwhile, Mattie is plagued by nightmares of her father's suicide and Mosby takes matters into his own hands to help her out.
Thicker Than Water
A bounty hunter is after Call for a murder that happened before Call came back to Curtis Wells. Call remembers that day very clearly and is innocent. Bodine, a sheriff and brother of one of the people Call supposedly killed, comes to town to avenge their deaths. Meanwhile, a boy named Tobey, who fancies himself a gunfighter, comes to town to find his father.
Mattie and Mr. Andrews, the town's male school teacher, are having a relationship. Their relationship must remain secret because one of the rules of his job state that he must remain single. Meanwhile, an old friend of Amanda's by the name of James Quinn comes to town and hides a chest full of money that he stole from a mining outfit in Amanda's cellar. James tells Amanda some pretty interesting things about the town's new school teacher. When Quinn tries to escape and Mr. Andrews accidently gets shot instead, how will Mattie react?
Notable guest appearance - Mr. Andrews is played by Nicholas Lea, who is known for his role as Alex Krycek on the X-Files
Call gets bit by a rattlesnake while bringing in a wanted man named Zeb. Zeb takes off and as Call lays there unconscious, a mysterious woman comes along and gives him something from an Indian medicine bag. He awakes later and makes his way back to Curtis Wells however the Indian medicine has given him premonitions. During the night Josiah accidently kills a man and is wracked with guilt. The next day a female bounty hunter by the name of Enona comes to town with Zeb. Enona and Call instantly hit it off and she plans to hang out in town to meet her brother while waiting for her bounty money. When her brother fails to show up, how far will Enona go to find out the truth.
Notable guest appearance - Katherine Kelly Lang plays Enona
A man was found dead after the horses kept at the local livery stampede and run off. When it's discovered that the stampeding horses aren't what actually killed the man Call and another bounty hunter who is part Indian take up the challenge. Soon another man is killed and Florie, Mosby's favorite prostitute, is attacked, Mosby takes it personally. When Call figures out who the killer is will he be able to bring the man in when he learns of his special circumstances?
Mosby was suppose to buy a heard of cattle off a man named Stockard. Stockard changes his mind and intends to sell them to someone else for a higher price. Mosby has his men beat up Stockard's trail boss to send the message through to Stockard that he's not going to leave without selling him those cattle. The trail boss is a friend of Call's so to get back at Mosby, Call takes over the job of trail boss for Stockard. When Stockard decides to shoot up the town, whose side will Call take?
A prostitute named Rena witnesses Austin taking a pay off from a crook named Ned. Mattie asks Call to come with her to buy some guns from a new dealer. The new dealer happens to be Ned and when the deal goes sour, Ned tries to poison Austin's mind against Call. Add to that that Josiah still thinks of Call as a son and Austin's jealousy runneth over. When Ned wants Austin to bring Call out to a secluded area so that he can be killed, will Austin's jealousy go too far?
Call gets kicked out of the hotel and asks Mattie if she can sleep in her gunshop for the night. When she finally agrees, she and Call share a romantic moment. A man named Samuel Peters has come to town to collect $5,000 that Mosby owes someone who had invested in his now bust copper mine. Mosby tells him to go to hell but as Mattie and Amanda find out, Samuel Peters won't be swayed so easily.
Mosby comes back to his saloon only to be robbed, beaten, and utterly humiliated. The robbery has caused him to have flashbacks of the war. Mosby finds out that 2 of them were the McSween brothers but he's convinced that the 3rd one is someone from town. Mosby comes to believe that Austin is the 3rd man and decides to hang him. Call, who was spending the day in bed with Florie, tries to find out who really did it before Austin is hung.
Austin, while taking a bath at the public bath house, is interrupted by a couple who take him at gunpoint to show him something. The couple, Billie Jo (BJ)and Jake (Daddy) and their gang show Austin their Gatlin Gun and tell him that they are holding the town for ransom. They want $10,000 or they'll blown the town to pieces. With Mosby out of town, Austin can't come up with the money. Meanwhile, Call has his own run in with BJ and Jake. He kidnaps BJ and throws her in jail to lure Jake into town. Will the town be blown to bits when Jake comes to get BJ or will Austin and Call get their own revenge?
Note - This episode is out of order. As we know after watching episode 18 (The Robbery), Austin is no longer the sheriff of Curtis Wells.
Notable guest appearance - Jake (Daddy) is played by Barry Pepper
When She was Good
Francis Phillips, the daughter of a friend of Call's, comes into town to fetch Call at her father's request. When Call and Francis arrive back at Francis' house, Call walks into a gruesome scene when he finds Francis' parents murdered. Francis is in shock, to say the least, and confesses to the murder. However, things become confusing when Tate, the Phillips' former farm hand, sneaks in to see Francis and she changes her story. Will anyone be able to figure out who was responsible for the murder of Francis' parents?
Little Wolf, Call's Indian teacher is murdered while he was visiting with him. Call memory of the night is hazy at best and he couldn't recognize the killer. When Enona shows up in Curtis Wells with amnesia, she becomes the prime suspect in Little Wolf's death. Burns, the local Indian agent is in town trying to prevent a war with the Lakota. When it comes out that there is gold on the reservation, the lists of suspects change.
Love and War
Amanda loses her hotel in a card game with a man named Cooper. Mosby tries to get the hotel back for Amanda and as a result, Cooper dies. Meanwhile, Call catches a criminal by the name of Breen and Mattie is mad at the way Call treats him on the way back to Curtis Wells. When Ike lets Breen out of jail for 20.00, Josiah decides to go after him. Mattie has a gift for Call and asks him to stop by her shop but when he hears that Josiah set off after Breen, Call has to go after Josiah first. By the time Call gets back and stops at Mattie's, he finds her shop empty and Mattie gone.
Why I Recommend Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years
When Lonesome Dove the mini-series hit television back in 1989 it became an instant hit. One would then hope that it's sequel would garner the same reaction but unfortunately it did not. There were many conflicts surrounding Return to Lonesome Dove based on the fact that it was not written by Larry McMurtry. Apparently the producers of the original Lonesome Dove mini-series wanted a sequel and while Larry McMurtry was working on one they didn't feel it would be published in time to turn it into a mini-series. This prompted them to hire McMurtry as a consultant and then hire other authors to write a screenplay for Return to Lonesome Dove. However, McMurtry did indeed finish his sequel (Streets of Laredo) and he did so before Return to Lonesome Dove was aired on tv. This caused many conflicts as the 2 different sequels to Lonesome Dove differ in so many ways. Many fans of the Lonesome Dove series outright refuse to acknowledge Return to Lonesome Dove in any way, saying it's not a true sequel because it wasn't written by McMurtry. Other fans don't care and I admit to being one of them. I like Streets of Laredo and Return to Lonesome Dove equally. The more Lonesome Dove I can get, the better! That is why I enjoy both seasons of Lonesome Dove that were aired on television. No, they are not written by Larry McMurtry but the writers did capture the feel of the characters very well, making Newt's arrival to Curtis Wells seemless.
The Outlaw Years is a much darker season than Lonesome Dove: The Series. There is much more violence and the subject matter isn't suitable for children at all. It's change from season one is quite drastic yet at the same time the producers and writers make it believable. Hannah's death changed everyone so much and with Newt's 2 year absence, Mosby had no one watching and thus asserted his control over the town while he had the chance. This allowed the writers to come up with a season 2 that is more in keeping with what the real wild west was probably like.
Even with such a difference between the 2 seasons, I loved them both. What was a let down was the fact that they ended the series with such a cliffhanger. Did they intend to end the series after only 2 seasons? My guess is no but then I will never know for sure. The way the end of season 2 was written leaves so much up in the air. Will Call go after Mattie? His look of hurt and confusion indicates that he might. Or will he stay in Curtis Wells and just go on as he always has? His refusal of Mattie's final gift and the meaning behind it indicates that he might. The sad thing is that we'll never know and all any of us fans can do now is read fanfiction and finding well written fanfiction can be hard to come by.
Overall, I highly recommend Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years. If you are a fan of the Lonesome Dove world and particulary of Lonesome Dove: The Series then you will enjoy the Outlaw Years.
Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank Shannon for adding Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years to the database for me!
Lonesome Dove: The Series