The limited series Godless premieres November 22nd on Netflix.
By Chris Flanagan
Godless is a show that only Netflix would produce. Its extremely slow storytelling would never allow it to succeed on network cable. This is not to say that it succeeds on Netflix either. In truth, there is nothing about its story that kept me interested as a viewer, and even the moments that began to intrigue quickly dissipated into less exciting storylines. This is a sad statement to make because the opening sequence is extremely well shot and creates a sense of dread, confusion, and fear that immediately causes the viewer to sit up and pay attention, however, that moment is fleeting.
Godless centers around two major storylines slowly working their way to together. First, due to a major mining accident that killed all of the men, the town of La Belle, New Mexico is comprised of only women and children with the exception of the town sheriff, Bill McNue (Scoot McNairy). The second storyline revolves around a former train robber, Roy Goode, who turned against his mentor and partner Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) who is now in search of him for revenge. Goode manages to find his way into La Belle and is hiding out there as the sheriff and several other members of the law realize that it is only a matter of time before Griffin and his gang descend on La Belle.
This might sound interesting in print, but the overall product features characters that are dangerously close to becoming stereotypical. The cinematography and production quality is great and does a wonderful job lifting an otherwise plain show to new heights, yet where Godless suffers most is through its slow delivery of conflict. After the amazing opening scene, it isn’t until another 45 minutes later that we are filled in on some of the very important details surrounding it. Granted, good stories can take time to develop properly, but in an age where the TV market is becoming quickly oversaturated with average television shows, something new needs to not only grab you but also maintain your interest through the course of the entire episode. The shows that have figured this out have a longer shelf life for viewers to be able to grow into the show, its characters, its conflict and its resolution. Godless is not that type of show, which is sad because there is noticeably true potential throughout its story and its actors, but both aspects are criminally underused for most of the season with the exception of several great moments peppered throughout its episodes.
Ultimately, Godless is a forgettable watch that will slowly fade into the back of Netflix’s Original catalog. It squanders its stellar cast and takes too long to develop its central plot which in turn does not reward viewer’s patience. It’s best just to skip this series and do what you always normally do when skimming Netflix: rewatch The Office.
I give Godless a C+.