Lonesome Dove (TV Mini-Series 1989)

TV Mini-Series   |  TV-14   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Western

Episode Guide
Lonesome Dove (1989) Poster

Two former Texas Rangers renew their spirit of adventure as they and several other residents of a small Texas town join a cattle drive to the Montana Territory.

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  • Lonesome Dove (1989)
  • Lonesome Dove (1989)
  • Lonesome Dove (1989)
  • Robert Duvall and Brandon Smith in Lonesome Dove (1989)
  • Lonesome Dove (1989)
  • Tommy Lee Jones and Timothy Scott in Lonesome Dove (1989)

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User Reviews

30 January 2004 | TumnusFalls
Grand, sweeping, sad, joyful, alive
Lonesome Dove tells the story of friendship, love, tragedy, life, change, the frontier, the passing of generations.

Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call are retired Texan Rangers, holed up in the small, dusty south Texas town of Lonesome Dove, a town with less going on than the nearby Rio Grande. Some prodding by a former partner gets them off their front porch and up in the saddle again, guiding a herd of cattle and of horses, a passle of men, a boy, and a lady of the night. They off and go to Montana, along the way meeting death, life, former loves and new loves, and witnessing the closing of the American frontier.

This film is six hours long, if you think of things that way, but really, it's far too short. You want to stop the film and get on your own horse to ride along with Gus and Woodrow. Yeah, it would be tough, but you know that Gus and Woodrow would be faithful friend who'd have the gumption to tell you the truth, even if it hurt a bit or a lot.

You'd miss a lot if you think of this film as simply a `show' or even entertainment. It captures your imagination, and helps you see what life was like 120 years ago - in some cases nasty, brutish, and short, but in other cases full of love, wonder, tenderness, compassion, and hope. The film doesn't dwell on the gore, but it doesn't hide it. Life on the frontier was tough, wearing on the body and mind, and relentlessly unforgiving of the weak, mistaken, and mislead. You -died- on the frontier, and death wasn't always easy. But along the way you live in breathtaking beauty. You get to see the world your hands make - you build your life from the dirt on the ground and the trees on the hill.

Gus and Woodrow ARE Texas Rangers, two men as different from each other as can be. Gus enjoys life, and seeks to chase buffalo just for the fun of it. Woodrow sees life as something to fight, to prepare for its certain triumph, but still manages to be a loyal, faithful, and loving friend. They interact with each other and the grand sweep of people along the way to Montana.

As far as performances, Robert Duvall is an American treasure. I've seen him in many movies, but never knew he was Augustus McCrae until I watched this show. There are just some roles that are designed to fit a particular character. Tommy Lee Jones is cryptic, laconic, guarded, and yet completely tender. You believe he believes he's tough, and you know he knows he's not. Ricky Schroeder plays Newt, Woodrow's unacknowledged son. Diana Lane is Lorena, the 'lady of the night,' and does a good job with her limited role. Anjelica Huston is fine - but of the main players, she's the one I had the least empathy with, mostly because in her other roles she plays someone with a darker and richer voice - in this show she is a tight-voiced soprano with a twang. Had I not seen her in shows, I think I would have believed her better. Chris Cooper plays the dithering sheriff who grows up a bit through the film; his wife, played by Glenne Headley, is very guarded in whom she loves, and it's not Chris Cooper. Robert Urich is Jake, the former saddle-mate of Gus and Woodrow, and Danny Glover is Deets, another partner.

Sure, it's a sad film in some ways. Some major players die, and some other players do not rise to the level of their situation. You want to reach in and simply -shake- some of the characters. But they reflect more closely what real people are like, and not so much what people are like when forced to play along with a happy ending.

But even with its sadness, it's a film full of life. Gus McCrae simply enjoys- every bit of what he goes through.

Get the DVD so you can appreciate the backstory.

Critic Reviews

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Did You Know?


The "Buntline Special" Colt Peacemaker carried by Jim, one of the two outlaws who jump Roscoe in the woods, is, according to legend, a period firearm produced by Colt after Ned Buntline, popular dime-store novelist of the day, placed a request for five Peacemakers with twelve inch (standard length was 7.5-inch) barrels to give to the lawmen of Dodge City, Kansas (including Wyatt Earp and William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson) in recognition of their service to that town. Little, if any, evidence survives to support this story. However, Colt, as with other leading gun makers at the time, did produce both longer and shorter barreled models of its popular pistols. This includes known nineteenth century factory-model Peacemakers available in three inch, four inch, 5.5 inch, 7.5 inch, twelve inch, and sixteen inch barrel lengths. The popularity of both Buntline's novels, and the story of his infamous gift to Earp, Masterson, and others, led any long-barreled Peacemaker to be referred to as a "Buntline Special". However, the question of whether the accuracy of such a long barrel would be worth the slower draw time for a gunfighter or lawman is the subject of much speculation.


Gus McCrae: I'god, a man could get rich in the grave digging business around here. Pea, you ought to get a long shovel.
Pea Eye Parker: I don't think I'd want to do that.
Woodrow Call: This is a bad bunch we're after.
Newt: Gus, Jake wouldn't have nothin' to do with something like this!
Gus McCrae: Jake's ...


There is a bowl of red and golden delicious apples on Clara's dining room table, yet there isn't a tree, let alone an orchard anywhere near the ranch.

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are displayed over a series of black-and-white photographs taken from scenes in the movie. The very last on then turns to color and becomes the first scene of each episode. The end credits are displayed over a picture of a dove silhouette on a piece of wood.

Alternate Versions

The 2008 DVD/Blu-Ray release was cropped to a 16:9 aspect ratio, and enhanced for viewing on widescreen televisions. These versions were also remastered, and the picture quality is superior to the original DVD release.


Plot Summary


Adventure | Drama | Western

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