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TV Review: AMC's 'Hell on Wheels'

AMC premieres its original Western series Hell on Wheels on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C.

“Never, in the episodes I watched, did I feel as if I were actually seeing how a railroad got built, and sometimes it took a bit of squinting not to see the characters as actors in a field, reading lines. Still, for all the unlikely things the [creators and producers Joe and Tony Gayton] make happen in order to get their characters into place, and the dogged refusal of a couple of those characters to become interesting at all, the show gathers steam as it goes on.” — Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“Most of these characters are by-the-numbers denizens of any Western. Thankfully most of the actors make them more interesting than the sometimes atrocious dialogue should allow.” — Curt Wagner, Chicago Tribune

“No one, of course, should expect a Western-revival series about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad to be all sunshine and lollipops. But you might hope for an approach that was bit more thoughtful and complex, instead of a hell-bent-for-leather, heavy-handed collection of Old West clichés that’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer driving home an iron spike.” — Robert Bianco, USA Today (opens in new tab)

“The writing, by the Gaytons, is one fundamental problem, but the direction, by David Van Ancken, only exacerbates things. The pace of the first three episodes has about as much momentum as waiting for your number to be called at the DMV.” — David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Mostly, Hell on Wheels seems to have learned everything it knows about the Old West from other Westerns. Everything and everyone is exactly what you expect, and the show tries to spell out anything that might be the least bit confusing.” — Alan Sepinwall, HitFix