22 November 2016 | creativecabin
Standard Historical Drama That's Thoroughly Enjoyable!
Being in the 'standard' class of historical dramas these days is by no means a bad thing. It means you're going to get gritty sets, well-crafted period clothing, adult-oriented content, great cinematography and plenty of action.
If you're an armchair historian with a penchant for modern History Channel embellishment, and enjoy shows like 'The Musketeers', 'Da Vinci's Demons', 'Banished', 'Black Sails', 'TURN: Washington's Spies', etc., you're bound to enjoy 'Frontier'.
You certainly don't need to be Canadian to enjoy this show - it takes place roughly 100 years before Canadian Confederation, and follows the wars between upstart frontiersmen with a wavering corporate monopoly. It's the kind of cathartic scenario many around the world may enjoy as corporations continue to widen the gulf between 'us' and 'them'.
As with all of these 'standard' historical dramas, the acting is well done given their sometimes clunky modernized dialogue, and as these actors originate from several countries (production tax credits?) accents are often out of sync.
You might also expect to see gratuitousness for the sake of it, as it's not only a quicker writing choice to drive conflict, but when you have the option to be as graphic as you want FINALLY in mainstream fair, why not exercise the option? In a visceral sense it IS more realistic.
In my opinion, only two things separate truly 'world-class' historical dramas from the 'standard' ones like 'Frontier': Intricately interwoven story-lines that have wide arcs and flawless casting. Both I imagine require more time and money than these studios can supply given their budgets, and some weird alchemy that's unquantifiable.
Despite the flaws you and I might see in 'Frontier' and shows in its category, everyone involved has done an amazing job crafting and populating this world, and you very well might enjoy it.
While most of my criticisms have been on the writing, there's really no reason for criticism. 'Frontier' follows a tried-and-tested formula that works, and for what the writing aims to accomplish, it accomplishes. Yes there's little hope to grasp at yet in the story, but we may very well get there in Season 1. Bear in mind that the history we're given of these times is murky at best, so it must be very difficult to design the world in a truly authentic way. I'm hoping we're given enough time to see these characters, and the world develop.
With enough time, inspiration and creative leeway, I'm confident the writers could have taken us down a truly original path for this show. Perhaps more contemplative, akin to 'The Revenant'? As it stands, this was a great, safe choice for Discovery to launch its originally-scripted division, and I hope it performs well. I've always dreamed of a well-produced historical drama set in Canada before Confederation (as odd as that sounds), and I got one! Keep it up Discovery!