‘Texas Rising’ Fails to Rise

Texas Rising (Courtesy of The History Channel)

Courtesy of The History Channel

“Texas Rising” is the History Channel’s dramatic interpretation of the Texas Revolution in 1835. As a disclaimer, I am not a history buff, nor am I knowledgeable about this part of history. I am reviewing this show simply by entertainment value and not by historical accuracy.

While only two episodes of this five-part miniseries have aired, that doesn’t subtract from just how vexed and confused I was watching them.

“Texas Rising” resembles an  old Cowboy and Indian movie, only worse. The show revolves around the conflict between Mexican General Santa Anna (portrayed by Olivier Martinez) and the Texan rebels, who are led by General Sam Houston (portrayed by Bill Paxton). Houston is trying to annex the land that he believe Texans deserve, whereas Santa Anna is trying to defend that land and keep it a part of Mexico.

While this historical conflict has a lot of potential to become something exciting and interesting what with the political and military battles that come into play, “Texas Rising” doesn’t portray any of that very well. The first episode throws the viewers into a loop of different characters and perspectives ranging from Santa Anna, to Houston, to the Texas Rangers, to the Native Americans, to Emily West (a woman famously known as “The Yellow Rose of Texas” for securing valuable information from Santa Anna for the rebels). For the first half of the 1 hour 30 minute episode I couldn’t tell what the heck was going on. Every part told a different story, but sometimes the meaning wasn’t clear.

The dialogue between characters isn’t very natural either. What are supposed to be passionate conversations and speeches turn into  weird, methodical ways of speaking that feel like the actors are just trying to push through the lines — hopefully with good timing and chemistry between the cast members. This isn’t so much an issue with the actors as it is with the script itself.

The next gripe I have is simply how clichéd everything is. I can try to understand and forgive this miniseries for the things it goes overboard with, such as the good vs. evil theme going on between the Rebels and the Mexicans. In doing that, however, the show becomes a frustrating monotony of one-dimensional characters. From what I could tell, each major figure was portrayed like this: Houston is good and so are the Texas Rangers, Emily West and whoever else wants to fight Santa Anna’s army. Santa Anna is bad, almost evil in fact, because he kills innocents and chickens (the chicken killing was actually a scene). The Indians are pretty evil too, but they’re not the main villains here.

Don’t get me wrong, pure good and evil stories are fine as long as they are thoughtfully told. But when you’re telling a history — especially one with a vast amount of information you could use — turning the characters into pure good and evil archetypes just doesn’t work well because they could be so much more.

“Texas Rising” is badly done. There really isn’t any other way around it between the conveyance of the scenes, dialogue and clichés that are played out as the story progresses. Hopefully it gets better with time, but with only three episodes left, that seems unlikely.

 

NOT RECOMMENDED: “Texas Rising” doesn’t know where it begins and where it ends. Poor storytelling and too many plots make it all too confusing to enjoy the actual story.