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First Look At Common And Company In 'Hell On Wheels' Season 2 (Who's Been Watching?)

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 20, 2012 9:57 AM
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Hell On Wheels

One of those shows that hasn't been talked about very much around here it seems - AMC's post-Civil War drama series titled Hell On Wheels, one of several Civil War-themed projects (TV and film) either in development at various studios, or already on the air, which co-stars rapper-turned-actor Common, who plays a character named Elam - a freed, bi-racial slave who heads west to find work, while also hoping to find his place in society, as he doesn’t feel that he fits squarely into either the “black world” or the “white world.”

Gearing up to begin its second season, I'm curious as to how many of you kept up with the series during season 1, and what your general thoughts are? I watched the first 3 episodes, but never finished the rest of the season. I guess I just wasn't reeled into it; and with so much else fighting for my attention, ultimately I suppose I just wasn't impressed enough to continue - that and I'm still not sold on Common as an actor, as much as I'm a fan of his music.

But as I sit here typing this, I'm watching episode 4, so I'll work on catching up before season 2 begins on Sunday, August 12 at 9 pm ET on AMC.

Here's a look at some Hell on Wheels season 2 artwork, which gives a glimpse into what main characters are returning, including Common, as you can see; you'll find a short promo as well:

Hell On Wheels
Hell On Wheels

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  • Micki | July 23, 2012 1:46 AMReply

    Common's acting has gotten a lot better I noticed. He was a bit wooden in part of "Just Wright" but I was surprised at how well I enjoyed him on "Hell on Wheels". I also enjoyed him in "Smokin Aces".

    I am thinking Common is more of a natural actor in drama & action, as opposed to comedy or lighter roles. He's not as relaxed with lighter material.

    I saw clips of Common in "LUV" and he looks fantastic in that and I read he surprises in that. Can't wait to see it.

  • lauren | July 23, 2012 1:27 PM

    @Micki- Common might be better than he was in Just Wright...(brutal!) and I personally think that his wooden performance was more about his inability to pull off hetero-chemistry with his co-star (who could?) so not entirely his fault there...But really, he can't act and aren't there more deserving brothers out there who can?

  • Lauren | July 21, 2012 9:45 AMReply

    Common cannot act. How does he keep getting work?

  • Flo | July 20, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    It took me a moment, but I stuck with it and found the writing, storyline and acting gripping and compelling. I agree with Lorraine that Common's acting evolved as the season progressed. His pacing fits that era and the character he plays. Hesitant at times. Self assured at moments, but also frustrated by the situations and the times as a freed slave. He has great chemistry with the other top performers in the show. It's a show I hope AMC sticks with simply for its unique approach to some tough issues. It clearly embraces their concept that "stories matter" because they are telling the Wild West story from a different, much diverse perspective.

  • Lorraine | July 20, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    I wasn't sold at first, but by the middle of the season, I found myself hooked. Now I am eagerly waiting for season two! Common's acting seemed to progress through the season. He's had some great moments on this show.

    I think the premise itself is interesting--this diverse group of people who were once enemies having to work together to build the Transcontinental railroad. And Common's character as a freed slave is a bit different than usual depictions of Black people around that time period. I am curious as to why there were no Black women on the show yet. Common had a White prostitute as a girlfriend briefly last season and no one had a problem with it? In 1860s? Yeah, right lol

    I also hope to see some representation of the Chinese workers as the Union Pacific workers eventually take on the Central Pacific workers.

    Overall, I really enjoy the show! It's pretty juicy and has the potential to touch on a lot of issues still relevant today (diversity being a strength and not a point of division).

  • Anton | July 20, 2012 10:49 AMReply

    I think it's a great show. Perhaps not in the same league as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, but I think it has potential to join the same rank. I wasn't impressed with the show watching the first episodes, but it got better once Anson Mount and Common's characters formed an alliance/semi-friendship. A lot of people are saying it's Deadwood-lite (I never watched Deadwood so I can't say if that charge is accurate), but like so many AMC shows, it feels like a mini movie rather than a series. It's very cinematic.

    Common's acting has definitely improved if you compare his performance on this show to Just Wright and other movies he appeared in over the years. Watching him here, it's the first time I felt that his acting wasn't "acting." Maybe it's because the character he's playing has a lot more depth than any of the past characters he played in films, but he really stands out on Hells on Wheels. I guess it doesn't help that he's acting with veterans Mount, Meaney and others.

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