Stream On: More big-screen stars on TV—‘1923’ and ‘Tulsa King’

By on February 23, 2023

Taylor Sheridan is on a roll—the co-creator of the game-changing horse opera Yellowstone is steadily building out its history, first with the prequel 1883, and now with 1883’s sequel (and second Yellowstone prequel), 1923. And just to stay busy, he’s adding to his stable of crime-not-necessarily-on-a-ranch series Mayor of Kingstown with Tulsa King.


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“Violence has always haunted this family. It followed us from the Scottish Highlands and the slums of Dublin. It ravaged us upon the coffin ships of Ireland. Stranded us on the beaches of New Jersey, devoured us upon the battlefields of Shiloh and Antietam. And it followed us here—lurking beneath the pines and in the rivers.”

Like 1883, 1923 begins with an out-of-context flash-forward involving a strong pioneer woman; this time, Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren) is chasing someone down on foot, finishing him off with a shotgun.

“And where it doesn’t follow, we hunt it down. We seek it.”

Then we’re taken to Kenya, where Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar), a WWI veteran, is a hunter for hire, currently working at finding a man-eating leopard which had killed a member of a party of tourists. He’s shell-shocked with what we now call PTSD and is resisting his Aunt Cara’s requests to come home to Montana and the Yellowstone ranch.

My father had three children. Only one would live to see their own children grown. Only one would carry the fate of this family through the depression and every other hell the 20th century hurled at them.” (Elsa Dutton, 1883)

Back at Yellowstone, Cara’s husband, Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford, in his first scripted TV role since 1977), is being drawn into a range war with sheep grazers who are encroaching on the Yellowstone. Jacob and Cara had taken over the ranch after the death of James and Margaret, the protagonists of 1883, raising their two surviving sons, John and Spencer.

And at a Catholic Indian Boarding school, Teonna Rainwater suffers at the hands of Sister Mary, beginning her own family saga. She is a descendent of Thomas Rainwater, who will become, in the 21st century, chief of the Broken Rock Reservation and the Grey Wolf Peak Casino, and John Dutton III’s friend and adversary.

Like 1883, 1923’s production values and cinematography are stunning, as is the writing and acting. Sheridan has created an intricate family saga and universe, the scope of which is beginning to resemble an American Old Testament. (The Dutton family tree can be seen in this graphic.)


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“Taylor Sheridan is the first to admit that the number of series he is fielding for various Paramount platforms is ‘excessive’” (Variety). He said, “But it’s an opportunity to tell stories the way I want to tell them with a creative freedom that just doesn’t exist in this space. And so I kind of have to take advantage of it.”

Holed up for a week due to COVID, it seems that Sheridan was bored and hatched the idea for Tulsa King on the phone with a producer. He said, “Look, all you need, in my opinion, to have an interesting TV show is take a really fascinating character and drop them in a world that we don’t know anything about.” And so was born Dwight “The General” Manfredi (Sylvester Stallone, in his first scripted TV performance), a New York mafia capo in exile in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after serving 25 years in prison.

Sly Stallone, in great shape at 76, has a lot of fun in this smart and droll fish-out-of-water exercise, and so does the audience. His Dwight Manfredi is an intelligent mafioso who is an adept problem solver. He’s a quick study: in prison for 25 years, he spent most of that time reading, and so can quote The Art of War while figuring out new uses for today’s tech, often schooling his juniors.

Despite staying quiet while in prison to protect his boss, gangster Pete Invernizzi (A.C. Peterson) and his son, “Chickie” Invernizzi (Vincent Piazza, The Wire), Dwight is told to go to Tulsa as the family doesn’t have anything for him in New York. There he obtains a car and a hotel room and hires taxi driver Tyson (Jay Will) as his associate. Learning that marijuana is legally sold at a local dispensary, Dwight offers “protection” to the owner, “Bodhi” Geigerman (Martin Starr, Drunk History). As Dwight continues making contacts in Tulsa and establishing his base of operations, the FBI learns of his presence and issues a bulletin to all federal agents in Tulsa. Dwight and his fledgling crew have to juggle threats from Chickie in New York, the investigating feds, and a local biker gang whose territory they’re infringing on. O pioneers!

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

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