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Johnson County War

Beware all western miniseries that claim relation to the classic Lonesome Dove; there is no result but disappointment. While Dove's author Larry McMurtry is credited as co-writer and executive producer on the epic bore The Johnson County War, who wants to wager his actual involvement was a marketing gimmick at best? Tom Berenger, looking like an unshaven sack of potatoes, stars as Cain Hammett, the oldest of three brothers homesteading in the open Wyoming territory. Such settlers are a thorn in the side of a poncy, effete, and condescending English cattle baron who sends out a mercenary Marshall (Burt Reynolds) to have them run off the land or killed, because, apparently, that's just what rich people do. Why it has to take 180 minutes to tell the simplest of nuance-free morality plays would be a riveting mystery if it hadn't already lulled one to sleep in the first ten minutes. Although the story finally picks up after an hour and a half of achingly wooden dialogue and cartoony characterizations, there's still no surviving Berenger's withdrawn and muffled lead performance or the simply stupid soulessness of the bad guys. Also with Luke Perry and Rachel Ward. Artisan's DVD release of Johnson County War offers a good full-frame transfer and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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