12 July 2005 | rsoonsa
The Performers Enjoy Themselves More Than Will Viewers.
Roughnecks is a word describing southwestern U.S. oil field drillers, the focus of this television miniseries that follows a crew of them digging a geothermal well in southern Oklahoma, with emphasis upon their raucous behaviour and footloose lifestyle while depicting romantic activities of a quartet of drillers and their women. The crew is operating on a large ranch whose owner (Vera Miles), weary of a large tax burden, is hopeful of gaining substantial income from the well, although her longtime hands, including her son, are vigorously opposed to what they perceive as violation of the land, and conflict between cowboys and drillers becomes a troublous issue. This is a highly episodic piece, its three hour length flagrantly padded in boresome fashion by an excessive amount of footage involving the digging process, only vaguely interesting on its own terms to non-drillers and here impairing narrative flow that is simply halted with montage employment of stills accompanied by maudlin "country" music as background, reflective of the film's pedestrian direction. The picture belongs to no genre, proffering metronomically alternating scenes of soap opera romance with the drilling procedure, along with occasional essays into male bonding, silly fight scenes, and enthusiastic carousing of the randy crew with prostitutes. It is a very predictable affair, its television pedigree plain to see through its editing and freeze framing with the general production lacking invention; however, Stephen McHattie, as one of a featured duo of roughneck brothers, turns in an interesting performance to gain the acting laurels for a tedious film.