Lonesome Dove Was Amazing, But Why?

Fancy Watching Lonesome Dove?

Lonesome Dove is a 4 part western mini-series. It was released February of 1989. You need to understand that at that time westerns were on the decline and so was the mini-series. But against all odds Lonesome Dove brought back the Genre and the format. How and why? Was it merely a fluke?


The Cast

The main characters were played by Robert Duvall, Tommie Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Angelica Houston, and Dianne Lane. Needless to say it was a powerhouse cast. Most of these actors and actresses could pick the projects they wanted, and yet they picked a wild card.


The Adaptation

The story is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Novel “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry. It was adapted for television by William D. Wittliff and Directed by Simon Wincer. If the author was a heavyweight in his profession well so were the writer and the director.


The Story

It is a story about retired Texas Rangers and their mismatched gang. This included Call’s illegitimate and unrecognized son, a black tracker, a prostitute, a renegade, etc. When I said Texas Ranger, yes the ones wearing cowboy boots. And yes they ride horses. Call and Gus et al. run a livery in Lonesome Dove. Another former Texas Ranger who is on the run convinces them to relocate to Montana.


Why the Title?

Lonesome Dove is where it all began and were it concludes. By the end of the series, only Call is left. And you start thinking….”Was the journey worth it?” “Shouldn’t they have just stayed?” Some say their departure allowed most of the characters to burn out rather than fade away. Some say it is the story of sacrifice by Gus and Call so a new generation can live prosperously which is the real ending you should remember.


Popular Reception

Lonesome Dove received numerous awards. It got 18 nominations, took 7 wins in the 1989 Emmy’s, as well as a slew of other awards. Needless to say the show revitalized the genre.


Why Should You Watch It?

To put it frankly, this show is in a class of its own. Nowadays, there is a lot of mini-series and there are a few westerns to booth. But trust me when I say the plot will have you watching in a marathon. In my opinion, Lonesome Dove is old enough that it is already considered a classic but recent enough to have a decent set, decent effects, and known actors who are still active today. Another plus point to Lonesome Dove is that it is now available in DVD and Blu-Ray.



  1. Reginia says:

    I agree. Lonesome is a classic with a capital C. How can you get any better than Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, not to mention Angelica Houston, Ricky Schroeder, Dianne Lane and all the other wonderful actors in it. If you do not absolutely fall in love with this series, you do not like movies.

  2. seabee says:

    When I first read Lonesome Dove (in two days), the miniseries was about to air. On the first day of reading, I saw a commercial that showed a key character being killed. I screamed “No, no, not (Name)!” The next day, with a few hundred pages left to go I read a New York Times interview with Larry McMurtry in which the reporter wrote, “How could you kill off (Another Name)?” I threw the newspaper across the room and cursed the big mouthed reporter! So I wish the author of this tribute dis not give away the whole freaking plot with his opening description.

    That said, miniseries was robbed of many well-deserved Emmys and did not win in one major category. Is there a huge fan base for My Name is Bill W. which swept the 1989 season? I think not.

  3. Ricki says:

    I read the book first. My father gave it to me because he knew Larry McMurtry — they were from the same hometown of Archer City, Texas. I loved, LOVED the book and when I heard they were making a mini-series of it, I really thought there was no way it could measure up. When I heard about the talented cast, I was excited — maybe it could work. Anyway, when the show finally aired, I had the hardest time with the casting of Gus and Call. Going strictly by the descriptions in the book, Tommy Lee Jones fit the character of Gus and Robert Duvall would have made a perfect Call and yet, they were cast in the opposite roles in the movie. That drove me crazy. I kept wondering why they cast the parts the way they did. However, after watching the series dozens of times (needless to say, I love, LOVE the mini-series too), I can’t even imagine anyone, but Duvall as Gus. Now, when I try to re-read the book, the descriptions of Gus and Call bother me because they don’t match up with the movie. Oh well, it is a wonderful book and a wonderful mini-series/movie.

  4. Nonnie says:

    I began reading Larry McMurtry’s books with Last Picture Show, followed by Tyler Rose, Leaving Cheyenne and Duane’s Depressed. All good books with complex and often humorous characters. I considered myself a fan. Then I read Lonesome Dove and now consider myself a fanatic! He really stretched his wings on that one and gave us all characters we loved and ones we loved to hate. Thanks to Mr. McMurtry.

  5. Shari says:

    Sometimes the cast of a movie or TV series just have a chemistry that can’t be explained. This is the case with Lonesome Dove, an outstandingly good story with actors who play their parts as if they were born for them. My very, very favorite western story of all time.

  6. Monte Knippling says:

    Never read the book but loved the series. All I can say is it did capture the spirit of the lawlessness and frontier justice of the old west. It was a time when decisions were made without the benefit of hindsight, sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but the best they could do with the tools they had. When Blue Dog killed the pregnant lady, it drove the point home, there was no political correctness back then, yet some survived and some did not. Hardship was the way it worked, there were messes and things that would be appauling by today’s standards, yet people did still exist and sometimes flourish. Heartwarming truth through it all, a great story and a great film, period.

  7. Linda Buckmaster says:

    I have loved Larry McMurty since I read Leaving Cheyenne. Lonesome Dove and Leaving Cheyenne are my all time favorites although I really like verything he has written. I was afraid the mini series would not measure up to the book, but I was mistaken. I was glued to the TV for the entire series. I watch it every year and I am just as engrossed as I was the first time. I grew up in West Texas, my dad was a cowboy and the book rings with truth. No matter what movie I see with Robert Duvall, he is always Gus.

  8. Skip says:

    I agree with all the statements about cast and story line, but I just wanted to also say kudos to the great music that was created for the movie. So much of the music fit the scenes so well…from the theme music to everything else.

  9. Ross says:

    One huge point made by Lonesome Dove was the fact that even the Retired Lawmen held up to what was right..even when it meant hanging their long time friend and companion. They lived a hard life, a tough life , but they also held to (at least some) major principles. Gus showed emotion and a real FEEL for life! He was a hard man with a tender heart! Call had a work ethic that was so important ( and still is) They respected ( or disrespected) each man for what HE was or how he was, not based on skin color. Gus treated Lorie with the same respect he gave all other women. Lots of lessons for those that want to be “what a man should be” in Lonesome Dove!!

  10. Becca Burrer says:

    @Monte Knippling the indian renegade is BLUE DUCK!! He never killed a pregnamt woman on screen nor in the book. My mother grew up in Wichita Falls and I spent time there as well as in a lonely ranch cabin in Electra. I am a big fan of Larry McMurty I have read all of his books! I still cry when Gus dies.

  11. Jimi Olson says:

    Lonesome Dove is based on the honesty and integity America used to represent and that’s what I enjoyed so much about it.

  12. Trent Tiemann says:

    I’ve always said there are two things you need to live your life by, the Bible and Lonesome Dove. In many situations they are both interchangeable!

  13. I Have A Trivia Question You Could Use. What Was The Name Of Roscoe Brown’S Horse?

Speak Your Mind