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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Lonesome Dove (1989)

Lonesome Dove (1989) (NTSC)

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Released 5-Dec-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Miniseries Featurette-On Location with Director Simon Wincer (15:15)
Gallery-Blueprints of a Masterpiece (3:37)
Featurette-Remembering Lonesome Dove (13:38)
Featurette-Lonesome Dove Montage (3:13)
Interviews-Crew-Interview with Author Larry McMurtry (6:51)
Featurette-The Making of An Epic (49:27)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 372:22
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Simon Wincer
ViaVision Starring Robert Duvall
Tommy Lee Jones
Danny Glover
Diane Lane
Robert Urich
Frederic Forrest
D.B. Sweeney
Rick Schroder
Anjelica Huston
Chris Cooper
Timothy Scott
Glenne Headly
Barry Corbin
Case ?
RPI ? Music Basil Poledouris

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Lonesome Dove is a tiny, dust blown village in South Texas on the border with Mexico where two aging ex-Texas Rangers, Gus McCrae (Robert Duval) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones), eke out a living, really going nowhere. Things change when an old friend, Jake (Robert Urich), another ex-Texas Ranger and a loose cannon they have not seen for 10 years, arrives at Lonesome Dove, fleeing Fort Smith Arkansas where he accidently killed the town mayor. Jake persuades Gus and Woodrow that they can make their fortune driving a herd of cattle from Texas north all the way across America to Montana. Jake also takes up with the town prostitute Lorena (Diane Lane) as Gus and Woodrow gather their crew, including black scout Deets (Danny Glover), Dish (D. B. Sweeney), who loves Lorena, young boy Newt (Ricky Schroder), Pea Eye (Timothy Scott) and Jasper (Barry Tubb) and set out with a herd of cattle and horses, plus two piglets, for the drive.

     In Fort Smith Sheriff July Johnson (Chris Cooper) is goaded by the dead mayor’s wife into leaving town to catch Jake; after he leaves with his young son, his wife Elmira (Glenne Headly) flees town on a whiskey barge and meets up with Zwey (Frederick Coffin) and the slimy Luke (Steve Buscemi) with the intention of travelling to Ogallala, Nebraska.

     Along the drive the herd and the cowboys face the elements including dust storms, blizzards, electrical storms and badlands, death from snakes, Indians and outlaws, Lorena is adducted by renegade Blue Duck (Frederick Forest), the paths of Gus and July cross as July abandons his search for Jake and instead tracks Elmira, Jake falls in with a psychopathic killer with resulting tragic consequences and in Nebraska Gus looks up the only woman he ever loved but lost 16 years previously, Clara Anjelica Huston, now a mother with a dying husband. And at the end of the trail there is a new life in Montana for some, and disappointment for others.

     The Emmy winning Lonesome Dove is based on the Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel by Larry McMurtry and is one of the most critically acclaimed and popular TV mini-series ever produced. It is directed by Australian Simon Wincer whose feature credits include Phar Lap (1983) and The Lighthorsemen (1987). The mini-series format of four feature length episodes allows time for the characters to be developed into genuine, interesting personalities which is a boon for this fabulous cast that is more feature film than TV including Oscar winners Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston, Chris Cooper and Steve Buscemi. Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones are fabulous as the old bickering friends, like an old married couple, one as garrulous as the other is taciturn with some delicious deadpan dialogue, while Robert Urich as the charismatic and dangerous Jake and Ricky Schroder as the young boy who grows into a man are also standouts in an excellent cast.

     Lonesome Dove also looks like a feature film. The detail in the grimy, sweaty costumes and the dilapidated buildings is exceptional and the series, filmed on location in New Mexico and Texas by DP Douglas Milsome, looks great. Of interest is the fact that the 2nd unit DP is Australian cinematographer Dean Semler who shortly after this won an Oscar for his work on Dances with Wolves (1990). The sweeping vistas of cattle moving through desert, plains, rivers and snow are supported by the epic score of Basil Poledouris, whose wonderful scores for Conan the Barbarian (1982) and RoboCop (1987) are criminally underrated.

     Lonesome Dove is not really about action, or the cattle drive, although there are action sequences and the images of the herd being driven across the varied landscapes is stirring. But at its core Lonesome Dove is about friendship, adversity and lost loves. It is the well-rounded and interesting characters, well-acted by the impressive cast, that makes Lonesome Dove the compelling, Emmy winning and still very watchable mini-series that it is.

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Transfer Quality


     Lonesome Dove is in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced in NTSC. The IMDb indicates that the series was shown on TV in 1.33:1 while a Blu-ray was in 1.78:1 widescreen. The series also did get a later theatrical release.

     Exteriors are crisp with fine detail. Interiors vary; some are quite soft and there are sections of obvious noise, especially on disc 2 such as the scene around the 47 minute mark in Episode 3 or 24:33 and 34:48 in Episode 4. Otherwise there are minor artefacts, some glare and motion blur against mottled backgrounds such as leaves and weatherboard walls. Colours are natural with magnificent blue skies, red sunsets, green leaves and dry brown prairie. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     There are no subtitles provided.

     The layer change on disc 1 at 17:17 during episode 2 resulted in a slight pause; disc 2 was more noticeable at 22:33 during episode 4 at the end of a scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and there are French and Spanish dubs in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps . The original series audio was mono.

     I found the remastered audio into 5.1 rather uneven. The surrounds and rears featured constant sound, the wind, bird cries, stampeding animals, banging doors, the storm, hooves over a wooden bridge, voices and wagon wheels in towns although the effects often came over as unnaturally loud swamping the dialogue, thus it was sometimes difficult to hear. Gunshots were crisp. The subwoofer added rumble to the hooves of stampeding animals, wagon wheels, the storm and the like. The sweeping, epic score by Basil Poledouris supported the visuals well.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Disc 1

On Location with Director Simon Wincer (15:15)

     An extended interview with Simon Wincer interspersed with film footage. He talks about being an Australian in Texas directing a quintessential American story, reconstructing the real west, his favourite scene and the actors.

Blueprints of a Masterpiece (3:37)

     Director Simon Wincer shows original sketches and concept drawings, the film script and storyboards with extracts from the film.

Remembering Lonesome Dove (13:38)

     An EPK style featurette with film footage and comments by Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, DB Sweeney, Diane Lane and Anjelica Huston. They cover the script, talk about their characters, working with Robert Duval, making a different kind of western and the portrayal of the women characters.

Lonesome Dove Montage (3:13)

     The film in 3 minutes, with music.

Interview with Author Larry McMurtry (6:51)

     With rather noisy audio the Pulitzer Prize-Winning author talks about the evolution of the Lonesome Dove novel, revisiting his characters in subsequent books, his working methods and the relationship between Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call.

Disc 2

The Making of an Epic (49:27)

     Produced in 1991, this featurette has a breathless narration by Charles Riley, on-set and film footage and comments by director Simon Wincer, screenwriter Bill Wittliff, cast Robert Duval, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Rick Schroder, Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston, the wrangler, costume designer, assistant costumer, production designer and stunt coordinator. Parts of some of the interviews are also in the “Remembering Lonesome Dove” featurette on the other disc. Things covered include the source novel, the characters, selecting and working with the horses, cows and pigs, the costumes, town and building sets and the stunts.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This release from of Lonesome Dove is part of the 8 disc Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection (see details in the summary section below). Lonesome Dove has been released previously as a stand-alone film or as part of various Lonesome Dove collections; some collections are similar to our release but seem very pricey, others have the 4 miniseries’ on single DVDs. The most complete release is the 16 disc Lonesome Dove: Ultimate Collection which includes the same 4 films we have plus the 2008 prequel Comanche Moon and the 21 episodes of the TV series. Our 8 disc release from ViaVision includes all the extra features available elsewhere and is reasonably priced.


     Lonesome Dove is a wonderful portrayal of the old west, its beauty, dangers and idiosyncrasies. As a late 1980s TV series, the sex and rape are only implied, the violence is moderate as is any bad language but with a literate script in which the outcomes are seldom obvious or expected, wonderful characters and a stellar cast in top form, Lonesome Dove retains its power after 30 years.

    The video and audio have imperfections but are acceptable, the extras are genuine and worthwhile.

     Lonesome Dove with the four episodes on two DVDs is included in the 8 DVD Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection from ViaVision together with Return to Lonesome Dove (1993), Streets of Laredo (1995) and Dead Man’s Walk (1996).

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE