Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Texas Ranch House|
Actors: Robby Carbezuela, Bill Cooke, Hannah Cooke, Lacey Cooke, Lisa Cooke
Directors: Barnaby Coughlin, Bobby Birleffi, Christopher Ragazzo, Ilana Trachtman
Genres: Westerns, Television, Documentary
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Shame on PBS!
Laptantidel Latuda | USA | 05/09/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately PBS has made the decision to bend the "House" series more towards what they might perceive as the mainstream interest and has created a "Reality" show more reminiscent of "Survivor" or any soap opera than of the other "House" series. The result: you have to spend hours watching the working out of a pecking order to find the occasional gem of educational value.
None of the people involved show true will to experience life in 1867, but are following their own interest. The Rancher is a weakling wimp, caught up between his dominating wife and the cowboys. He never keeps his promises and he does not full-heartedly participate in the essential activities, such as the cattle drive or retrieving stolen horses from the (well casted, for change) comanche tribe. His wife rules the ranch, but never admits to it. She has some evil power-thing going and encourages her puppet husband to be offensive to pretty much everybody. The daughters make friends with the animals rather than using them for food while the cowboys are starving. The cowboys are jealously defending their territory (the horsebacks) when the maid dares to take a horse out for a ride. They are more fun-oriented than interested in doing a professional job, which is understandable, but should not be the point of this show.
The Ranch starts out in a very good position: a great piece of property and very motivated ranch hands, a very well maintained garden and good livestock are provided. When the ranchers lose part of their cowboy workforce and the boss shows unable and unwilling to jump in, a replacement magically appears. When they try to sell the cattle they've rounded up they get an unrealisticly good deal on the "less in demand" mother cow/calf pairs from a far too nice (but also well casted) cattle broker. However, personal bickering escalates over time and the ranch community breaks in half two days before the final assessment of the Ranch after 2.5 months. The assessment itself, while being far too rosy from my non-expert point of view, shows that bringing 21st century attitudes into an 1867 setting leads to a desastrous outcome.
Is this entertaining? Well, if you enjoy "Survivor" and other shows where people are very confrontational, then you might be entertained by this... I was not.
Is this educational? Hardly. There are some bits in here, mainly about the "Lords of the Plains" (the Comanche), the "Buffalo Soldiers" in the Army, and the layers of clothes that women were wearing. You'll also hear for about 238 times, how "dangerous" the world and especially the cowboy work was back then. So, if you are not aware of this, that point gets driven pretty well.
Of course, as with all the "Survivor" clones you can learn a lot about how people fight out their vain personal conflicts, but I'd personally rather watch something else.
On the up side, you learn a lot of things NOT to do, like:
1.) Break your word over and over again and nobody will respect you.
2.) Pile manure directly outside your front door and your house will be a heaven for swarms of flies.
3.) Try to attract more viewers by dumbing down the House series and you will most certainly offend your most loyal viewers.
This series is only useful for demonstrating that there was no room for the wimpy, self-absorbed attitudes dominating our modern world in 1867. Duh!!! Who would have thought?!
Shame on PBS: worst casting, worst cast-preparation, worst editing etc..."
Is This Truly "Living History"?
Denise J. Shearer | Frederick, MD USA | 05/07/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As with the earlier PBS "House" series of shows, "Texas Ranch House" takes a group of 20th century people and gives them the opportunity to live in an earlier era, in this case, on a Texas cattle ranch in 1867. The "cast" consists of a husband, wife, their 3 daughters, and a "girl of all work" as the ranch family; and a foreman, cook, and 7 cowboys as the crew who live in the bunkhouse. It is supposed to be an opportunity for the participants to "live history" for a few months. According to the narration, these folks were chosen out of 10,000 individuals who wanted to be chosen.
Very soon into the experience, however, it is clear that most of the "cast" forgot the purpose of the experience - to take on specific roles and try and live and think as people of 1867, living and working on a cattle ranch in Texas, and trying to turn a profit and make a living. The ranch owner and his wife, the maid, and the cook especially forgot this; by their words and actions, they showed that they rarely stepped out of their 2006 mind-sets. It was difficult to tell if they were taking the experience seriously. The daughters, the foreman, and most of the cowboys excepted, very little attempt is made by the others to fit themselves into the culture of 1867, especially regarding the REAL roles of men and women of that time and how they interacted. The ranch owner and his wife's attitudes, especially, are appalling; the owner in one episode showing that he holds no value for the life of one of his ranch hands. And there may have been a few ranch owners in 1867 who were ruled by their wives, but it was by no means the norm. The lack of respect shown for others and for the historical gender roles they agreed to play, leaves you asking by the end of the 2nd episode, "Why did these folks ever sign up for this?"
It is a very frustrating show to watch if you are expecting the "cast" to at least try and enmesh themselves in the historical experience they were trained on and selected to participate in. Since it is a "live" show, some slow starts and bumps are expected, but in "Texas Ranch House", at least half of the cast never "gets it", and the viewer's focus is quickly moved from the history to the fighting and slander that goes on between everyone (if you like that kind of thing in a show, you'll love this one). By the final episode, while the cowboys (including the maid who was "promoted" to cowboy by the owner) are off on the cattle drive, it is crystal clear that everyone living in the ranch house has lost their enthusiasm for the experience; the wife and her daughters do not dress "in costume", forget to tend the garden, leave dishes go for days, and refuse to clean up the area outside the house - and then complain about the horrible swarms of flies produced as a result. During the last hour, three trained historians (hired by the show to evaluate how the participants did living in 1867) accurately and fairly do so, and almost all of the "cast" fails. Sadly, most of them (Mr. & Mrs. Cooke, especially) chose to close their eyes and blame the producers, editing, etc., for how they "came off", rather than take responsibility for their own words and actions during their time on the ranch.
As a taste of living history, most of it in "Texas Ranch House" is received from the narration and the show's web site, NOT the participants. When compared to "The 1900 House", "The 1940 House", and other British productions in the "House" series, the Brits have it all over American's when it comes to the spirit and intent of these shows. If you want to watch a good example of "living history", watch one of these.
It's quite possible that my belief that the "House" series is intended to be living history is dead-wrong; it could be that the real intent is a kind of historical "Survivor" series, where showing conflict between people to attract viewers is the primary purpose. If so, then the U.S. series succeeds overwhelmingly and should not be viewed or taken as accurate history. But it just might be that the intent is to give people living now a chance to see what it was like to live in an other era. If this is so, then the producers need to do a better job of selecting the participants."
Actually sort of embarrassing
SereneNight | California, USA | 07/26/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I really loved Manor house and the other TV shows in this series. But this one was pretty awful. While it starts promisingly enough, it soon becomes evident to me that the Cooke family were a bad fit. The Cooke 'girls' (and to me they are adults not 'girls') just weren't into it. They didn't want to be there, weren't interested in the period or re-creating it...Why go? I really did not want to see them cavorting around in their undergarments towards the end. I was embarrassed for them. Ms. Cooke wanted to clearly run the ranch and did not apparently trust her husband enough to allow him to make decisions without her weighing in all the time. Mr. Cooke lacked a spine and let the hands, his wife, and the servants tell him what to do in a way I think no 19th century man would. (I must've missed the historical accuracy in allowing a maid to 1. dress like a man. 2. go on a cattle drive with a bunch of unmarried men. 3. still be accepted in polite society by the neighbors and said employer. Please.
The hands acted up a lot of time and lacked strong leadership. Nacho was just disgusting. I empathized the most with Jared (the cowboy who lost his horse and was kidnapped by Indians), as I felt Mr. Cooke was a jerk to him. It seemed unfair for Cooke to claim ownership of the horse when it was Jared's. Jared did not agree to sell it afterall. Mr. Cooke threatening to beat up Jared was just stooping to his level. Cooke should struck a deal or docked his pay, but not claimed ownership.
On the flipside I disliked the disrespect shown to the Cooke girls by the men. They acted like unruly teenagers rather than adults. Robbie as chief hand did not do anything to bridge the gap between the Cooke's and his men, but instead seemed to revel in the chaos. Bad leadership on both sides. The girls, however were not much better. I didn't see them do anything except complain and neglect their chores. Moria was an anachronism I could've done without. I don't watch the show to see a heroine for modern feminists (and the idea that she acted anachronistic to be a hero for *ME* is ridiculous, she did it for herself, plain and simple!) I watch the film to see what life was like in the 19th century.
My favorite participants were Shaun and Jared. Shaun because he volunteered to cook, and did a good job, and Jared, because I think he was funny and did well as a cowboy. My least favorite participants were Mr. & Ms. Cooke and Nacho.
I think the show would be better off if there were more social guidelines observed. Such as the manners men should display towards women, attending church, and women dressing properly. Likewise women should act more period and not try to be Xena warrior princess. Overall, this film embarrassed me. It was like being over at a friend's place when a squabble breaks out between your friend and her spouse. You'd rather be anywhere but there witnessing the tacky bickering and backbiting. 2 stars."
Frustrating to view
Yang | 08/09/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to see a weak man be pushed around by a wife who feels the need to dominate everything, then have at it. Everything in the show is tainted by the interplay between Mr. Cooke's spineless, incompetent self and Mrs. Cooke's need to assert herself by being an annoying pest for everyone. If you read her posts in the Washington Post transcripts, she sounds so fake. I guess she reminds so many of us of that nagging attitude that gives the true, strong women, mothers and wives who have made a difference in this world a bad name."