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Fri, Mar 24, 2017 11:14 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-08-08 tracking life & times section
Peacemakers brings modern technology to Old West
Cletus Turner

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Tom Berenger stars in Peacemakers (click for larger version)
It is interesting that many series feel they must make some revisions in history. Believe me, women don't want to forget the struggles they went through to get to where they are today anymore than minorities would want to forget. However, series like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman take those struggles and try to make it seem that career choices for women were always there for the taking.

Dr. Quinn was a series about a woman doctor in the old west. There are also many modern sensibilities that were shown on the show. Admitted this is supposed to be entertainment, but it doesn't hurt to have some realism.

The USA Network has decided that realism isn't all that important. They have unveiled a new series titled Peacemakers. This is where CSI meets the Westerns. Tom Berenger plays Marshal Jared Stone who comes to town to investigate the murder of town founder Arthur Wannamaker. A local miner, Vic Simmons is found standing over the body with a gun in his hand. Naturally, we know he didn't do it, but the town folk want a hanging. Pinkerton agent Larimer Finch, played by Peter O'Meara, is brought to town by the railroad to work on the case. Finch is a new breed of investigator, a forensic scientist. Stone doesn't trust Finch and doesn't share information with him. The marshal would rather rely on good, old-fashioned investigation than the new techniques Finch wants to use.

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Amy Carlson (click for larger version)
After the funeral of the victim, Jake, Wannamaker's right-hand man, and the widow of the victim, Debra, come to Jared and tell him that Vic and Arthur had had a fight two days before the murder and that Vic had threatened the victim. Jared, however, still isn't convinced that Vic is the murderer. He had found an imprint of a boot heel on the top of the railroad car and, when it was compared to Vic's boot, they don't match. Vic admits he was supposed to meet with Wannamaker, but that Wannamaker was dead when he arrived. Vic also says that he did have a fight with the victim over 10,000 acres of land that Wannamaker had promised the miners, but that the railroad says must come into their possession. Survey director Stewart Harrison tells Jared that Wannamaker had a deal with the railroad and so the land must go to either them or the victims widow.

When Jared visits Debra Wannamaker and asks her if she spent the night before the murder with her husband. Debra admits she didn't and that the lipstick that was on the deceased's cheek was not her's either.

The next day, Jared discovers that the victim's body has been stolen from the grave. He knows exactly where to go. He goes to the town mortician and discovers Katie, played by Amy Carlson, working with Finch. The two have discovered that Wannamaker had been drugged and a woman's hair was on the pillowcase where Wannamaker was found dead. Since Debra's hair is blond, Finch deduces he was not with his wife the night before he died. Jared tells Finch that he knows, her name is Tami Chang, and he didn't need fancy equipment to find it out. Finch was surprised and wanted to know how Jared knew that. Jared said he used an old investigation technique called listening to the town gossip.

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Peter O'meara (click for larger version)
The truth is finally out. Tami has a baby by Wannamaker and he has given the deed to the 10,000 acres in question to her. She tries to leave town but Harrison, who has been having an affair with Debra takes the deed from her. Finch, who has boarded the train trying to stop Tami from leaving, fights Harrison. It is only when Jared, who is riding beside the train, shoots Harrison that the fight ends. Jared and Finch take Tami back to town and charge Debra Wannamaker with murder. Finch is about to leave when another murder happens and he reconsiders leaving.

Peacemakers is put together well. However, the introduction of modern science in the old west was a little jarring. At one point, Finch takes fingerprints. At first I felt like the series was jumping light years at a time, but fingerprints were used for personal identification in the U.S. as early as 1882. The English were using fingerprints earlier than that. So, it is conceivable, although highly unlikely, that Finch would use that technique to prove who used a murder weapon. However, the fact that Katie was the town mortician was a stretch. Women were not usually in that profession because it, like being a doctor or a lawyer, was dominated by men.

I did find the series to be well written and carefully constructed. By having the character of Finch come from Pinkerton, the well-known detective agency, it was entirely possible that he would be up-to-date on the latest detective techniques. Carlson, Berenger and O'Meara were excellent in their roles and I really couldn't see anyone else in them. The writers and actors also were careful not to show any romantic interests at this time so that we can watch any "romance" grow from the start which is a smart move. The characters are fleshed out without completely painting them into a corner.

4 suns

Notes from the couch:

The death of Bob Hope was a great blow. I can't count the number of specials I watched as I grew up. He was an important part of my childhood as I'm sure he was for so many others. Thanks for the memories, Bob.

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