January 17, 2014

KLONDIKE, with Soapy Smith, begins 1/20/2014

Discovery Channel miniseries
(Click image to enlarge)

londike, the 3-part, 3-night epic miniseries on Discovery Channel begins January 20, 2014, 9/8c. DON'T MISS IT, IT'S GOOD! How do I know? Because I've already seen part 1. When the series was "in the can," they sent out a press-kit, complete with a nice book about the miniseries, as well as two DVDs containing the entire 3 episodes. Someone put one of them up for sale on eBay and I was the lucky winning bidder!

Based on Charlotte Gray's novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike, the miniseries stars, Sam Shephard, Richard Madden, Augustus Prew, Abbie Cornish, Ian Hart, Johnny Simmons, Conor Leslie, Tim Roth and Tim Blake Nelson. It was written by Paul Scheuring, Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz, and directed by Simon Cellan Jones. It tells the story of six strangers fighting for survival (and riches) during the 1890s gold rush. One of those characters is Soapy Smith, played by actor Ian Hart. Although based on true events and historical characters, this is historical fiction. Fro example, the bulk of the story takes place in Dawson, Canada (the Klondike) and Soapy is there in the story, however, historical research indicates Soapy never went to Dawson. Artifact #44 in my personal collection is a letter Soapy wrote to his wife. In it he writes about possibly going to Dawson, if he doesn't go off to war with his all-voluntary militia, the Skaguay Military Company, during the Spanish-American war. You can see the letter and read the story on the Soapy Smith soap box blog.

Artifact #44
April 4, 1898
Jeff Smith collection

Although the story is historical fiction, it beautifully tells the history of the Klondike gold rush through the sets and costuming. Yes, there are a few gaffs in costuming, and except for the obvious country-western "cowboy" boots worn by one character, most of the mistakes are hard to notice unless you go looking for them. Normally, programs of historical fiction are historically correct on the background people, and then go overboard with the costumes worn by the stars. This does not seem to be the case with Klondike, which is such a pleasant difference.

Ian Hart as Soapy Smith

The City of Dawson set

The official website for Klondike is filled with photos and information on the miniseries, as well as the history of the actual event.

Dawson: page 432, 441, 449, 451, 456, 466, 472-73, 479, 483, 493, 495, 498, 508, 512-13, 524, 552, 583-84, 586-87, 590-91.

"The greater the hero needs to be, the worse the villain becomes."
— unknown


1806: James Madison Randolph, grandson of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, is the first child born in the White House.
1836: Sam Houston, commander of the revolutionary troops, sends Colonel Jim Bowie and 25 men to San Antonio, Texas with orders to destroy the Alamo fortifications and retire eastward with the artillery. Bowie believes that it would be impossible to remove the 24 cannons without oxen, mules or horses, and deems it foolhardy to abandon that much firepower concentrated at one location during the Texas Revolution. Instead, Bowie sets about reinforcing the Alamo.
1867: The Northwestern Railroad is the first to reach Council Bluffs, Iowa.
1871: Andrew S. Hallidie receives a patent for a cable car system.
1872: Russian Grand Duke Alexis arrives in Denver, Colorado Territory.
1873: Fifty Modoc Indians under Captain Jack repel more than 300 soldiers in the Lost River Oregon area. President Ulysses S. Grant orders a truce and a peace settlement.
1874: Armed Democrats seize the Texas government ending Reconstruction.
1877: Nez Perce Indians battle the 1st Cavalry at White Bird Canyon, Idaho Territory. Lieutenant Theller and 33 enlisted men are killed.
1882: Thomas Edison's exhibit opens the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London.
1885: William F. Cody's business partner, Dr. W. F. Carver, begins a six-day exhibition in New Haven, Connecticut where he will shoot 60,016 out of 64,881 wooden blocks tossed into the air.
1887: Eighteen-year-old outlaw Seaborn Kalijah murders 3 deputy marshals, Henry Smith, Mark Kuykendall, and William Kelly, with a camp axe, after being arrested for selling whiskey to Creek Indians in defiance of the law. He put the bodies of Smith and Kuykendall in the campfire to burn. Kelly had been shot in the back. Marshals tracked down and captured Kalijah and he was convicted and hung on October 7, 1887.
1893: Hawaii's monarchy is overthrown when a group of businessmen and sugar planters force Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate.
1900: The U.S. takes Wake Island as a possession due to there being important cable links between Hawaii and Manila.
1900: Yaqui Indians in Texas proclaimed their independence from Mexico.
1900: Mormon Brigham Roberts is denied a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for his practice of polygamy.
1905: Gambling punchboards are patented by a manufacturing firm in Chicago, Illinois.

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