Entry 8: Lincoln Boldly Goes…

Star Trek, “The Savage Curtain,” Season 3, Episode 22. Directed by Herschel Daugherty. Written by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann.

Release Date: March 7, 1969.

I was originally going to write about this deeply strange Star Trek episode further down the road, but Leonard Nimoy died recently, so I’ll offer this post as my own little tribute. I was a huge “trekkie” growing up and still have a soft-spot for the show, but even at the height of my fandom, I knew this episode was a stinker. Just as “The South Rises Again” aired during the The Beverly Hillbillies‘s nadir, “The Savage Curtain” came near the end of Star Trek‘s run, when the wheels were clearly coming off. It’s a typical third season episode–the premise is weak and absurd, and any interesting questions raised by the script are never satisfactorily answered. However, it prominently features the Civil War’s most popular and significant historical figure, Abraham Lincoln, and is therefore worth this blog’s attention. Read More

What Does Point of Honor’s Failure Mean?

Point of Honor is dead! Long live Point of Honor!

By now, many of you know Amazon did not greenlight Point of Honor. Given that the pilot episode was almost universally panned–including by me (other examples are here, here, and here)–we can call this a win for good history and good TV, but I’m reluctant to declare total victory. Viewer votes determine which pilots Amazon greenlights, so Point of Honor‘s failure clearly indicates audiences weren’t impressed. But why weren’t they impressed and what does that mean for the current state of the Civil War in popular culture? Read More

On Women in Civil War Pop Culture

Before shifting away from historical fiction for a few weeks, I want to make a few observations about women in Civil War pop culture. After reviewing Point of Honor and Cold Mountain (heck, even after The Beverly Hillbillies), it occurred to me that stories about the Civil War much more prominently feature female characters than fiction about other American wars. Sure, the Civil War has more than its share of guys-only stories (I don’t think there’s a single woman in Gettysburg, for instance) but it seems to me women are central to the way the Civil War is popularly represented and perceived. Indeed, the most popular and significant fictional treatment of the war, Gone With the Wind, has a strong female protagonist. Read More

Entry 2: The Trials of a Confederate Abolitionist

Point of Honor, “Pilot.” Directed by Randall Wallace. Written by Carlton Cuse and Randall Wallace

Release Date: January 15, 2015.

Available: Amazon Pilots

I have a slight soft spot for Randall Wallace’s breakout film, Braveheart (I still remember seeing it at the old Gateway 6 in Brampton, Ontario, as a teenager), so I was determined to remain objective going into Point of Honor. One negative review had already appeared by the time I fired it up on Amazon last night, and both Kevin Levin and Keith Harris had justifiably slammed the trailer. Unfortunately, it only took about ten minutes for me to realize this thing is a train wreck, both historically and artistically. Read More

Entry 1: Granny vs. Grant

https://markosun.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/beverly-hillbillies.jpg

The Beverly Hillbillies, “The South Rises Again,” Season 6, Episode 13. Directed by Joseph Depew. Written by Paul Henning and Buddy Atkinson.

Release Date: November 29, 1967.

Some of you may think The Beverly Hillbillies is a strange choice for my first review, but it makes perfect sense to me. Watching this episode in afternoon syndication is one of my first memories of the Civil War in popular culture. Critics generally think Season 6 is when The Beverly Hillbillies “jumped the shark” because it began with a woeful multi-episode trip to England, but it does contain this gem. I call it a gem because most of the jokes are still funny. What’s more, they’re Civil War jokes—and Civil War jokes (at least good Civil War jokes) are not easy to find. Read More

On Point of Honor

Just wanted to note that I only recently became aware that Amazon is launching a new series, Point of Honor, on January 15. The narrative centers on a Virginia planter family who join the Confederacy but also free their slaves. Ta-Nehisi Coates has already voiced some fair criticisms of the premise on twitter but I’m going reserve judgment until I see it for myself. I’ll try to work in episode-by-episode reviews alongside the things I’ve already planned to cover over the blog’s first few months.