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Review: Discovery Channel's 'Klondike'

Discovery Channel looks to make a splash with its first original scripted series Klondike.

The six-part series takes place during the 1890’s Gold Rush period and focuses on two college students Bill Haskell (Richard Madden) and Byron Epstein (Augustus Prew) who trade in their college degrees for a chance to determine their own futures as entrepreneurs.

Their idealistic credo – no money in my pockets but a head full of dreams – along with a chance meeting with a miner who struck it rich mining for gold leads the two men to Canada’s Yukon Territory with hopes of finding gold themselves.

The two adventurers buy mining supplies with the little money they have and begin their trek to what they hope is a life of riches and dreams, but they soon encounter more than they expected, both from the elements and from other miners looking for a financial windfall.

Haskell and Epstein eventually end up in the town of Dawson City. There they meet other characters that will eventually shape Klondike’s storyline in Belinda Mulrooney (Abbie Cornish), a no-nonsense entrepreneur looking to capitalize on business opportunities within the town; The Count (Tim Roth), who is trying to control the real-estate fortunes of the town, and Father Judge (Sam Shepard), a priest seeking to establish a church and to serve as the soul of the outlaw town.

The two friends purchase a claim for land in the hopes of finding gold, but instead their actions put in place a series of events that will determine their destinies forever.

Klondike’s pace, dialogue and storyline are terrific, but just as impressive are the majestic images of the landscapes and nature that surround the characters’ quest for success. Klondike makes viewers feel like their travelling through the cold, snowy mountain caps, roaring river rapids and muddy, stream banks that Haskell and Epstein have to navigate to reach their ultimate goals.

Discovery’s exploration of the scripted series genre in Klondike will strike favor with viewers willing to mine through the mini-series.   

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.