Sci-fi TV rekindled in the wild west

Westworld’s season 1 concludes as most-viewed first season of all time

More stories from Benson Gathany


I like to think of myself as picky when it comes to television. Few shows can draw me into their story, and fewer still can keep me there. One such show is HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” but since it won’t be back for a good while, GoT junkies have been left without their TV fix for the next 6 months or so. What are we to do?

The answer: Westworld.

I have to congratulate HBO. Their timing was perfect, and cannot have been a coincidence. Within a few short months of Thrones wrapping up its sixth season, they introduced the latest in their series of explosive TV shows. I’ll admit, I was more than a little skeptical when I heard it would be based off of a Michael Crichton movie from the 70s, but I cast aside my doubt and dove into the first episode.

The plot is, at first glance, fairly simple. In the not-too-distant future, a team of scientists (led by Anthony Hopkins) have developed unnervingly humanoid androids and, seeing as they live in an apparent capitalist utopia, decided the best move to make with such a revolutionary breakthrough in technology was to turn a profit. Thus, the show’s title theme park “Westworld,” a place without limits, where the park’s human guests can indulge their desires, whether they be noble or cruel.

Veteran actor Ed Harris stars as Westworld’s archetypal villain, the appropriately attired Man in Black. “I was very concerned about finding the right hat,” Harris said. “It felt crucial.” Photo courtesy of Hollywood Reporter.

Although there were exemplary performances all around, Hopkins stole the show as the park’s creator, Robert Ford. Other standouts were Ed Harris, playing the enigmatic Man in Black, and Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores, one of the park’s android “hosts.”

The show’s soundtrack also defied all expectations. With masterful old-west renditions of classic hits like the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” from Ramin Djawadi of Game of Thrones fame, the show’s producers nailed Westworld’s epic atmosphere.

I can’t recommend “Westworld” highly enough. The only warning I would give to new viewers is to pay very careful attention from minute one, as it’s easy to get lost in Westworld’s twists and turns. That, and make sure you don’t have any other plans for the next week, because I can guarantee you’ll find it agonizing to tear yourself away from HBO’s latest home run of a show.