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TV review: ‘Klondike’ has great production, but a cheesy story

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Richard Madden, left, and Augustus Prew co-star in the overlong revenge miniseries Klondike.

Two and a half stars

Klondike January 20-22, 9 p.m., Discovery.

Discovery has really gone all out for its first original scripted show: Three-part miniseries Klondike has top-notch production values, with beautiful scenery and impressive special effects, set design and costumes. Its supporting cast includes recognizable faces Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson and Abbie Cornish. And the story, crafted by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, is suitably epic. The result is a little underwhelming, however, especially in the way it uses the nuances of history to tell a crude (fictional) story of revenge.

Set in the Yukon during the gold rush of 1897, Klondike features a number of real historical figures (including author Jack London) among its characters, but the protagonist is a fictionalized prospector named Bill Haskell (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden), whose bland nobility leaves a void at the center of the narrative. Roth has a bit of fun as the main villain, and Cornish is amusingly terrible as a headstrong businesswoman, speaking with an inscrutable Southern-ish accent and dressed like a cowgirl dominatrix.

The florid dialogue, frontier setting and vengeance-seeking main character make Klondike reminiscent of AMC’s similarly cheesy Western Hell on Wheels. It’s entertaining at first, but after six hours, there’s very little gold left to mine.

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