TCM aired the first episode of Hell on Wheels last Sunday.
The Western tells the story of the grand plan to connect East and West America by rail.
The men and women involved in this enterprise are there for different reasons. Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount) wants revenge for the murder and violation of his wife.
Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) is building the railroad for greed but selling the idea as American's 'manifest destiny'. In a drunken monologue, we discover that he knows he is laying the foundations for Empire. His self-awarness means he realises he is no visionary.
The picture this promising drama paints is one where business and government work hand-in-glove to secure favours and wealth. It punches a hole in the myth that America is the land of free enterprise. In Hell on Wheels we see the client state in all its murky glory.
The programme also challenges the conventional view of the American civil war. Bohannan is a Southerner who owned slaves and freed them before the Civil War began. Yet he still fought for succession. His boss on the railroad fought for the side that emancipated the slaves but is a racist.
If the following episodes can keep up the momentum and intensity, Hell On Wheels could turn out to be a great piece of television.