Non-Spoiler Review: Netflix's 'Godless' serves as a quick-hitter reprieve to lengthy alternatives

Non-Spoiler Review: Netflix's 'Godless' serves as a quick-hitter reprieve to lengthy alternatives

(image via Netflix)

We're deep in the era of prerequisite programming.

The price of entry is steep. Whether you're stuck watching a bunch of previous seasons or - in the case of Marvel - entire prequel series, it's overwhelming.

Netflix's Godless serves as a quick-hitter reprieve from these lengthy alternatives. A straight-forward, seven-episode mini-series. A fun, easy watch.

Now, this wasn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff. The familiar Western tropes were all present. You had the sheriff vs. the outlaw, the misunderstood bad-guy, the horse ranch and the brothel. It felt like we'd been there before.

But its simplicity should not be confused with poor quality. Subtle diversions from the typical Western painted the genre in a new light.

After a terrible mining accident killed the able-bodied men of La Belle, the women began running the town. This provided amble opportunity for strong female performances; an opportunity best-seized by Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey).

Wever, who plays Mary Agnes in the show, is particularly brilliant. She strikes a perfect balance between dramatic command and a comedic touch. More importantly, she is a believable leader. Between a visually-impaired sheriff and a boy deputy, it makes sense that Mary Agnes would run things.

And if I was a resident as La Belle, I'd happily let her.

Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) would be an equally-qualified candidate, if only she wanted the job. Living in a ranch on the outskirts of town, Fletcher seemed happy in her isolation. It may have been tragedy that made her this way, but she wasn't a tragic character.

In fact, despite misfortune in nearly every character's background, nobody felt particularly helpless. Given the slew of sob stories in my Netflix queue, it was nice to break the mold a bit.

There were so many likable characters in this one, I was legitimately concerned about who would survive the series. Jack O'Connell as the runaway Roy Goode and Scott McNairy as Sheriff Bill McNue. Tantoo Cardinal as the Paiute mother-in-law and Sam Waterston as Marshal John Cook. I was invested in everyone.

And let's talk about Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin. Damn this guy has range. How can you be convincing as a complete moron in Dumb and Dumber and a feared outlaw in Godless? Acting chops, plain and simple. He was a perfect foil for the lovable Goode and McNue.

Again, Godless was a lot of fun. It won't be a life-changing experience, but it's worth checking out when you've got a day or two to binge, especially considering its short runtime. Throw it on your list.


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