Django Season 1 Review – A meandering Western that fails to stand out

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5

Westerns have seen a resurgence on TV lately, mostly spearheaded by the excellence of Taylor Sheridan’s “Sheridan-verse.”. Between 1883 and Yellowstone, we’ve been treated to other gems like Godless, That Dirty Black Bag and Billy the Kid. Django though, unfortunately doesn’t stack up.

With a very moody and dark visual palette, Django is a slow-paced and methodical Western, set deep in the Wild West in 1872. We’re 7 years after the end of the Civil War when slavery was abolished. Despite this, the situation in the South is dire as black people continue to suffer discrimination and violence.

Deep in the heart of Texas, a former slave and an orphaned young woman create a city called New Babylon, where every human is free and equal.

Haunted by the murder of his family 8 years earlier, a mysterious stranger called Django sets out to find his daughter, believing she could be alive and residing within New Babylon. However, the town is about to face its greatest test yet as religious fanatic Elizabeth and the townsfolk of Elmsdale look set to launch an attack against them.

Across the 8 episodes, the story slowly creeps forward, taking one step forward and two back at times, with pockets of action around our lead characters confronting the antagonists (or vice versa) and not pulling the trigger when it matters most. Once or twice is fine but the show constantly repeats these fake-out moments and it grows tiresome after a while.

As far as stories go, Django’s not bad and the production design is pretty good too. The medley of different cultures and accents residing within New Babylon is a little disconcerting, but then at the same time we’re told early on that this is a hodge-podge of various people from different backgrounds coming together so one could loosely make an excuse for that.

Less excusable though is the visual design and the lighting (or lack thereof). The sets and costuming for this show is great but it’s unfortunately slathered in a dark, moody hue of black that makes it difficult to work out what’s happening. This is the perfect example of why sometimes you need artificial light for interiors to illuminate scenes. Django opts for sunlight and light from outside, and it doesn’t work particularly well. This is especially egregious during the night time scenes where a flicker of a fire is all you’ll get to see the characters.

But even beyond all that and looking at the narrative itself, Django just doesn’t stack up as particularly memorable next to so many other Westerns that have been released lately. This is a definitive taste of vanilla next to delicious and vibrant flavours aplenty. As a result, Django feels like a long forgotten remnant dug up at the wrong time, branding itself as a mediocre at best offering.

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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