"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wynonna Earp (Seven24 Films/IDW Entertainment, 2016)


Doc's back




 
 
Supernatural present-day Westerns with gunslingers battling zombies are not really my thing, though I must admit I did quite enjoy Cowboys & Aliens. But Wynonna Earp features a descendant of Wyatt Earp fighting evil with the famous Colt Buntline Special alongside a reborn (or maybe he never died) Doc Holliday, so I thought I better watch it. It’s on Netflix.

In fact the opponents might not be zombies. They could be undead or revenants or ghosts or walking dead or something; I’m afraid I’m not very up on the difference. Anyway, they are people Wyatt killed when he was alive who come back to revenge themselves on his heir, and the current holder of that office is bad girl Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano, below).
 
Bad girl Wynonna
 
It’s a Canadian-American series based on the comic books by Beau Smith. I haven’t read those but Wikipedia tells us that “she's the top special agent for a special unit known within the US Marshals as The Monster Squad. She battles such supernatural threats as Bobo Del Rey and his redneck, trailer-trash vampires that are pushing a new killer designer drug called "Hemo", and the Egyptian Mafia's mummy hitman, Raduk, Eater of the Dead, who's out to do in all the other crime bosses. In her subsequent adventures she finished some outstanding Earp family business while dealing with Hillbilly Gremlins, and Zombie Mailmen alongside her fellow Marshalls [sic].” Sounds gripping.

The TV series, now two seasons in, is a bit different from that, though. At least so far we haven’t met Raduk or the Egyptian mafia. Maybe in Season 3, which is announced for 2018. Can’t wait.

It is improbable that Wyatt Earp ever had a Colt Buntline Special at all. The story came from the sensational, even lurid biography Frontier Marshal by journalist Stuart N Lake in 1931. However, no such gun has ever turned up. Lake later admitted that he had invented many of Wyatt’s verbatim ‘quotes’ because Earp was so taciturn. Furthermore, there are no company records chez Colt for orders for the Buntline Special, nor any record of any letters from or sent to dime novelist Ned Buntline, who is supposed to have presented Wyatt with the long-barreled gun. But the story was a good one, Lake pushed it, and when the hugely popular TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp came to TV in 1955, Hugh O’Brian as Earp was equipped with one. The legend passed into semi-fact.
 
 
That gun
 
In the hands of the heir Wynonna, however, it isn’t just a long gun, or even really much of a phallic symbol; it has magical powers and can send those zombies/revenants/etc. back whence they came, viz. hell. Handy. And no zombie/revenant/etc. can touch it, either.

Wynonna is recruited by US Marshal Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), himself, it will transpire, not exactly human, into the special Black Badge division of the Marshals, in order to track down and destroy the zombies/revenants/etc. (let’s just call them revenants from now on) which are confined to the Ghost River Triangle, centered on Wynonna’s home town of Purgatory. Between the two series Ms. Scrofano became pregnant and the writers incorporated that into the plot, as she gives birth to – apparently – Doc Holliday’s daughter.
 
Wyatt only appears briefly, in one episode
 
Doc is, for me, the best thing about the show. Played by Tim Rozon, he adapts very well to 21st-century life, especially in the driving seat of his red 1977 Camaro. For the last 150 years or so he has been confined to the bottom of a well, but he’s remarkably perky once out. No TB or coughing or anything.

The second-best character appeared very briefly in one episode when Bass Reeves (Adrian Holmes, looking remarkably like the photographs of Bass - it's that mustache) appears, serving an arrest warrant on Doc. Wyatt himself appeared fleetingly, in one episode, an historical flashback, played by Ryan Northcott, so that was good. Mr. Northcott can add his name to the long roster of those who have played Wyatt Earp on screen which started with Bert Lindley in the 1923 William S Hart silent Western Wild Bill Hickok - I tell you this on a need-to-know basis.
 
 Holmes as Bass, above; Bass as Bass, below.
 
There is a great number of revenants to be fought and eliminated, considering that Wyatt hardly killed anyone. In real life he much preferred to deal with bad guys by slugging them over the head with the barrel of his gun. Of course he participated in the Gunfight at the OK Corral and may have been responsible for the death of a Clanton or McLaury, and he also almost certainly killed some of his brother Morgan’s murders, such as Indian Charlie and Curly Bill. But in total he probably killed a maximum of half a dozen men, if that. The TV series has dozens and dozens of undead victims thirsting for revenge. Wyatt is described as the greatest gunslinger who ever lived. Oh well, since when have we let mere fact get in the way of a good show?
 
Rozon is Doc: very good
 
There’s quite a lot of gayness about, in the form of girl-on-girl snogging, as Wynonna’s sister Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is in love with policewoman Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell). In fact the whole thing has quite a female agenda. Producer/writer Emily Andras comes from Lost Girl, aboutthe gorgeous and charismatic Bo, a supernatural being called a succubus who feeds on the energy of humans, sometimes with fatal results”, IMDb tells us, and so has a track record of glam heroines with special powers.

It’s all a bit over-the-top, even camp, and it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the show is quite a lot of fun. I enjoyed it, and will watch Season 3, I guess.

Wyatt's heir renews the friendship


 

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