The Magnificent Seven: The Complete Series

The Magnificent Seven: The Complete Series
I never thought I’d actually prefer John Sturges’s overrated 1960 western to anything but that tedious Seven Samurai redux is a masterpiece compared to this cheaply produced TV version, which limped through two seasons starting in 1998. Michael Biehn, Ron Perlman and five other barely differentiated dullards reprise the roles of Yul Brynner and friends, and the bulk of the episodes have them protecting a frontier town from various baddies and nogoodniks. The problems begin with the pilot, which makes such hash of the original’s story that it is to laugh — shorn of decent craft or thematic resonance, the tale is now a pale shadow of Kurosawa’s masterpiece and the at-least-professional remake. The rest of the series is hell-bent on causing no harm and making no impact. The boys are either stoic and severe in ways they can’t pull off or lovable doofuses who pull it off all too well. Meanwhile, "female interest” is provided in the form of upstanding citizen Laurie Holden, who stands around being pretty and worrisome without really influencing the plot. Villains show up who aren’t threatening and jokes are told that aren’t funny. The show practically apologises for itself at every turn, as if it didn’t feel worthy of entertaining you — there are passing attempts at liberalism (such as when they have to defend a bunch of prostitutes from a brutal pimp) but everything is rendered with such a goody-two-shoes vibe that it’s well-night intolerable. This goes on for 22 episodes. The second season seems to have more money than the first but the threadbare scripting is the same and so are the slapped together visuals. Those put off by the profane subversion of Deadwood have found their pale substitute, but ultimately the show is interesting solely as an example of the TV laziness that The Sopranos made obsolete. (MGM)