Godless – Review

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+.


22 thoughts on “Godless – Review

  1. Your words perfectly describe in every sense my own reaction (or absence of) to this show. Such potential without a payoff. Like a horrid western trope tease.

    1. Who is this guy making absolutely stupid remarks about a thoroughly entertaining series. Everybody to their own opinion but to knock it like he does is just being nasty. I wonder what he does for a crust other than berating other people’s work. Idiot!

      1. I agree with you, he should not be doing reviews on Westerns, he should stick to reviewing stupid shows like The Office

    1. I loved it also and will watch it again the nudity was amusing and the tender moments were just that it wasn’t a shock that prejudice is alive and well and resentments abound but that good is still found in many plot lines, the acting was great all played their parts very well I guess that’s why they call it Entertainment

  2. Your absolutely wrong with your review, I think you have a reason not to like this ????
    I and my large family of friends brothers & sister ALL ranted and raved about this show….how you didn’t like it, is be unbelievable, Folks don’t let this lazy review put you off, this Is a good show, 10 out of 10 .

    1. Joe,

      I don’t want you to question my reason for not liking it. I can tell it to you: It’s that I just didn’t like it.
      Kudos to you and your large family, but the show failed to keep my interest. I thought my “review” helped explain why I didn’t care for it so you questioning my reason for not liking it actually causes me to question you.
      And I would counter that calling my review “lazy” is, in fact, lazy because I believe I watched the same amount of episodes as you did, therefore, putting in the same amount of effort. The only difference is that I was asked for my opinion (see article above).

      As for your comment, errors and all, I would score it a 3/10.

      1. Wow, arrogance personified, Mr. Flanagan. Have now watched this series twice. Better the second time. The incredible performances alone of Ms. Dockery and Mr. Daniels plus the best cinematography I can remember give this show an A plus. You are way off base!

  3. I am one hundred percent with you on this one Chris.
    The potential to the initial kick-off for this show was grand and virtually limitless.
    But in the end it did not deliver and live up to that potential.
    This truly could have been up there with the ‘small screen’s greatests of all time’.
    But the exceptionally stunning, badass and sometimes even touching moments
    sadly lose there effect to a total when everything in between those moments seems to be nothing but lazy and poorly created production discards…

    …that someone forgot to actually discard.

  4. 3 of 4 stars. Sure it was kinda predictable at times, a little slow to develop, and the dialogue had its moments – bad and good. But the story was compelling, the characters good (not great), and the cast was stellar.
    But we live in a new “Golden Age” of television – “Netflix” TV, if you will, one of some 250 or so scripted shows that will be produced and aired this year. Some will be home runs, some will strike out, and some will be somewhere in between. This was one of those shows.
    Will I watch it again? Prolly not. Regret watching it once? Not at all.

  5. I think you just don’t get it. Did you read western books as a kid? Did you see the classic westerns? The stereotypes and the (lack of) tempo are a part of any good western. On the other hand it breaks with stereotypes and the good die just as fast and unexpected as the bad. I think it’s a classic. I also see your points criticism, but giving this a C+ is like that guy that sent the beatles out. He just didn’t get it…

  6. The person writing this review wouldn’t know good television or filmmaking if it hit him square in the face. This is the way stories should be told. Every episode was more like a movie. These are how characters are developed. I am not a Western fan yet I enjoyed every minute of this series. Finally a group of people are producing excellent television once more. Mr Flanagan if you want quick to the point schlock filmmaking I suggest you go watch a Transformer movie because it sounds to me thats what you like…perhaps take a film history class so you know what to look for.

  7. Having grown up on Westerns, this mini series is done first rate!
    I get that this genre is not for everyone, but the acting, writing, directing, and scenery are excellent!
    I wish there were more, or a second series!

  8. I loved every second of this show. Every second. There is so much to love, so little of which was mentioned in this review or possibly didn’t appeal to the reviewer. The cinematography alone is worth your time, but the stories of a flawed outlaw hunting down an estranged gang member, a town full of widows trying to make a new life for themselves or a blind sheriff trying to find a use for himself are incredibly well told. This is a character piece, layered and compelling. A must watch.

  9. I feel that the review missed it’s Mark. It’s a Netflix original based off of a criminal gone straight with the western atmosphere. The show goes into detail about how hard life was in the West and not so much into the action, although it is there. I feel Chris was more focused on the action as are most viewers. I would give this show a solid 8.5-9 of 10.

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