TV Review: The Hanging Gale

This is a depressing series set in Ireland during the 1846 potato blight. Now, I say it's depressing, which it is (terribly depressing at times!) but it is also a gripping story, not to mention well acted, well cast, and well done. It also made me think about my own Irish ancestors, and I wondered if any of this was happening to them back then.

The Hanging Gale boasts a cast featuring the four McGann brothers (Joe, Paul, Mark, and Stephen), and the story itself is based off of Joe and Stephen's original idea. There is also Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War). I'm already a fan of Michael Kitchen and Paul McGann, who I've seen in Our Mutual Friend, Collision, and an episode of Jonathan Creek. All of the McGanns are excellent in this, and it's a bit freaky because they look so much alike, especially Paul and Stephen, who could be twins. Just remember that Paul is the priest and Stephen is the insane school teacher.

Michael Kitchen is the new agent/ landlord, replacing the old one who was recently murdered by a group of disgruntled men. It starts off on that pleasant note, and we know from the start that this new guy is going to be a prime target, especially if he doesn't do what the peole want him to. Naturally, he's not much for helping all of the poor folks. You have to keep in mind that he's not the actual lord, though, he's just the messenger and the lord hasn't been in this poor land on decades. Unfortunately, messengers often get shot.

The McGann brothers all work on their family-owned farm along with their father. The oldest brother, Sean, is married to Maeve, and has three young children. His brother Connor is in love with Maeve, and Daniel, the school teacher, is engaged to Maeve's sister. Everyone is already poor enough as it is, and the demands of the landlord aren't helping. Most people can't afford to pay, and when they fail to fork it out, they are thrown out of their homes, which are then set on fire, because that makes sense...(no it doesn't). Then the potato blight comes along, making payment impossible. Not only that, but no one is allowed to take these homeless families in, forcing them to either go to the poorhouse or to rough it on foot in the wilderness.

But how long will people put up with this for? The whole situation escalates, and life for the our main family continues to worsen. Like I said, it's not a happy story, but it's worth watching. I found myself invested in the story and the characters.

It's shown in four parts, each around 50 minutes.

(From left) Joe, Stephen, Mark, and Paul McGann

My grade: A-