It's All Good Fun Until 20 or 30 Kinfolk Get Gut Shot

Like 17 million of my closest friends, I've been watching the History Channel's 'Hatfields & McCoys' mini-series.

The first episode, which opens during the American Civil War, raised the bar on casual, almost recreational murder. The second episode teetered on the verge of self-parody, as pretty much everyone turned on everyone in a hog-fueled free-for-all of unkempt facial hair and petty yet brutal violence.

I'm not sure what's in store for us tonight. I can only assume that some point an entire basket of warm and fuzzy puppies will be brutalized to the accompaniment of period-authentic fiddle music.

I'm not slamming the script or the production values. I'm not slamming the production values because they're unimpeachable. The actors all look like they've spent the last five years doing heavy manual labor in the same clothes they're wearing. The beards are lush and properly grizzled, even those on the women, the chickens, the trees, everything. The weapons and use thereof are correctly portrayed. I'm pretty sure I even smelled pig manure in a couple of scenes.

The script can't really be attacked because the producers did their research, and as far as I know their portrayal of all parties involved is accurate.

What's my problem, then?

The Hatfields and the McCoys all have one thing in common -- they're awful, awful people. All of them. Men and women, boys and girls, spoons and forks. There's not a hero in the bunch. Even the old granny women are lurking in their rockers, Bowie knives at the ready, just dying to draw some Hatfield or McCoy blood.

I did get a chuckle when I realized every barn-dance scene resulted in at least one disgusting, pointless murder. Not because I find disgusting pointless murder humorous, but I've always been suspicious of barn dances because putting that many hillbillies and that much high-octane corn whiskey in the same vicinity simply cannot end well.  Which makes 'Hatfields & McCoys' the natural antithesis of 'Hee-Haw.'

Will I watch the final episode tonight? Probably, because A) I have weak impulse control and B) if the whole thing culminates in a Tarantino-esque orgy of death and blood at a barn dance I'll have joke fodder for weeks.

Yes. I'll watch it and I'll shave immediately afterward and I'll go to bed stone cold sober, and if a barn dance breaks out anywhere near me I'll wrap myself in the Internet and turn up the volume on some Industrial Darkwave to drown out the sound of fiddles and musket fire.