First there was the 1940 film Boom Town.
Two buddies, down on their luck, rise from being fly-by-night, seat-of-their-pants wildcatters to oil tycoons over a twenty year period. Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy played Big John McMasters and Square John Sand. For Gable this was his second biggest grossing film after Gone With the Wind.
Flash forward to 1978. Now we get a TV series called Dallas, with Larry Hagman starring as J.R. Ewing, a Texas oil-tycoon and cattle rancher. This series was Texas oil at its back-stabbing worst. A soap of opera of enduring fascination. It seemed to run forever.
Following in the wake of Dallas, a few years later, in 1981 , we got the ABC TV Series called Dynasty. John Forsythe starred as the Denver oil tycoon Blake Carrington. This was Dallas all over again – only in Denver, and with better and fancier clothes on the cast. Linda Evans and Joan Collins were the pretty ladies involved.
Each of those series ran for multiple seasons and following them – there was kind of a dearth of family dramas surrounding oil tycoons. But that all ended this past Sunday night when ABC rolled out its new series called Blood and Oil. At the top of the cast is Don Johnson as Hap Briggs.
This series is set in North Dakota – and you can think of it this way – Miami Vice‘s Sonny Crockett has grown older and now, instead of driving Lamborghini’s while posing as a flashy drug buyer/dealer in Miami in order to take down other criminals, Crockett has become Hap Briggs. Now Briggs sits at the top of the oil heap in the Dakotas.
He’s got a wayward son called Wick, and a trophy wife called Darla. Briggs seems like a decent sort, but he’s not all that popular with the town’s working folk.
Then coming up to this Dakota setting is a young couple – the LeFevers – Billy and Cody. They’ve begged and borrowed from family and friends with the idea of starting a laundromat in this latter-day boom town. Can’t miss right, as everyone likes and needs clean clothes. Only they have nothing but bad luck. They get run off the road by a double dose of 18-wheelers heading straight at them.
They survive as their truck rolls over and over with only a minor scratch or two – but their truck is history as are their washing machines which Billy had neglected to insure.
As Cody will say as they are forced to walk towards the town – We’re not even there yet, and we’ve already lost everything…
Nearly at the end of their rope – they’re now living at the Patch Hotel which is basically a tent city in a parking lot, their luck will turn. Billy will pull rabbits out of hats, Cody will over hear of some interesting land deals, and before you can say – they’ve struck oil – Billy and Cody get the best of a deal with none other than Hap Briggs himself.
Yes, the nearly destitute LeFevers are now partners with Hap Briggs. They manage to walk away with a check for 1.1 million.
Delroy Lindo has a role as the town’s Sheriff but he only got a brief single appearance this time. There’s a lady who not only tends the bar at the local watering hole called The Tack Room, but she also owns the joint.
The character is called Jules Jackman, and the role is handled by one India de Beaufort, who hails from someplace east of North Dakota. Way east. Thames, Surrey England to be exact.
I’m thinking that the LeFever’s have way too much good luck to be taken seriously, that Hap Briggs’s wayward son Wick is going to spend the season tangling with his Dad, when not laying down some pipe with Jules Jackman, and that Hap’s trophy wife – Darla is trying to make her role similar to the one played by Robin Wright in House of Cards.
I don’t see this show as failing; a lot of folks like this kind of a series – yet I think I’ve seen enough to claim that this rig is a dud.