Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) (NTSC)

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Released 5-Dec-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Miniseries None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 345:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mike Robe
ViaVision Starring Jon Voight
Barbara Hershey
William Peterson
Ricky Schroder
Oliver Reed
Reese Witherspoon
Nia Peeples
Louis Gossett, Jr.
Timothy Scott
Barry Tubb
Dennis Haysbert
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ken Thorne

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     After the success of the critically acclaimed and popular TV mini-series Lonesome Dove it was inevitable that there would be a sequel. Return to Lonesome Dove, produced four years later, starts right where Lonesome Dove concluded with ex-Texas Ranger Woodrow Call (now played by Jon Voight) in Lonesome Dove, Texas, where he has just buried the body of his old friend Gus McCrae.

     Woodrow decides to take a bunch of wild mustangs from Texas to Montana via the ranch in Nebraska owned by Clara (now Barbara Hershey). To help in the drive Woodrow enlists another ex-Texas Ranger, Gideon Walker (William Peterson), horse wrangler Isom (Louis Gossett, Jr.) and, through Augostina (Nia Peeples), a Mexican woman with her own agenda, a group of Mexican horsemen. In Montana, Newt (Ricky Schroder) is range boss in Woodrow’s absence, building up the ranch with the support of Pea Eye (Timothy Scott) and dealing with Jasper (Barry Tubb) who remains resentful at being passed over. In a fight with rustlers, Newt saves the life of Ferris Dunnigan (Reese Witherspoon), the much younger wife of Gregor Dunnigan (Oliver Reed), the wealthiest rancher in the district and a man who has an ambition to unite the cattlemen across Montana and forge a new state.

     Woodrow sends Newt a telegram to meet him at Clara’s ranch in Nebraska and sets out himself, leaving the mustangs with Isom. On his way north he comes into deadly conflict with the renegade Cherokee Jack Jackson (Dennis Haysbert) and barely escapes with his life. Meanwhile Newt and Jasper, on their way to Nebraska, kill two men in a barroom gunfight. They are in gaol facing lynching when they are saved by Gregor Dunnigan; they are paroled to Gregor and start work at his ranch, where Newt becoming uncomfortably close to Mrs Dunnigan. Elsewhere Cherokee Jack comes across the mustangs, Augostina fights off attempted rapists and disaster hits Clara and her ranch while in Montana Call and Dunnigan find themselves in opposition with a range war looming.

     Lonesome Dove was based on the Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel by Larry McMurtry, and was a multi-layered and multi-character epic western with a fabulous cast including Oscar winners Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. It would be expecting too much for any sequel to live up to Lonesome Dove and Return to Lonesome Dove doesn’t, although taken on its own terms it gives it a good shot. Tommy Lee Jones did not return, preferring to star in The Fugitive. Nevertheless Return to Lonesome Dove still boasts a more than decent cast with Jon Voight, Oliver Reed, Barbara Hershey, Louis Gossett, Jr., Reese Witherspoon and Chris Cooper on board. Jon Voight takes on the role of Woodrow Call and does an excellent job, almost making us forget Tommy Lee Jones, almost. Anjelica Huston does not return as Clare and while Barbara Hershey is OK, Huston is certainly a loss. One of the most interesting characters is that of Pea Eye as played Timothy Scott in both series; he is a reasonable and sympathetic man and perhaps the conscience of this mini-series.

     Return to Lonesome Dove, filmed on location on the plains, desert, rivers and woods of Texas and Montana by cinematographer Kees Van Oostrum (who received an Emmy nomination for his work on episode 2), still looks spectacular, especially the snow clad mountains of Montana, although new director Mike Robe, who replaces Australian Simon Wincer, is rather too fond of tracking shots up hills leading to reveals. However, the visuals are well supported by the epic score of Ken Thorne which borrows heavily from Basil Poledouris’ themes from Lonesome Dove.

     Perhaps the main factor that lets Return to Lonesome Dove down is the script. Lonesome Dove was adapted by William D. Wittliff who had the Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel by Larry McMurtry to work with. Return to Lonesome Dove is not based on a McMurtry novel, nor is Wittliff involved; instead the writer is John Wilder and his script lacks the character building, or indeed the depth of characterisations, of the earlier mini-series. Instead Return to Lonesome Dove relies on a more episodic structure, contrivances, sick children, melodramatic moments, romance and clichéd characters with few character arcs and nothing matches the beautiful inter-relationship between Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in the earlier series.

     Return to Lonesome Dove is about family, parents and children and the key is Newt, who will be forced to make a choice between a father who will not even give him his name and a surrogate father who would give him everything. It is a decent epic western mini-series and well worth watching, although it lacks the well-rounded characters and the script that made Lonesome Dove so compelling.

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Transfer Quality


     Lonesome Dove is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

     The video is a mixed bag. Some exteriors are sharp and crisp with excellent detail, others are quite soft. Interiors also vary; some very glary with the source of light windows behind the character. Colours, especially in the desert scenes, are dull and dusty, which is reasonable enough although the greens of the tree leaves and blues of the sky and rivers of Montana are less than vibrant; in contrast, the red of the wildfire that destroys Clara’s ranch certainly is. There are also minor artefacts, motion blur, some flickering frames and shudder during the end titles of episode 3 but nothing too serious. Blacks are solid and shadow detail good, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     No subtitles are provided.

     The layer change on both discs was not noticeable.

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


     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192; it is surround encoded.

     The audio gets the job done. Dialogue is clean and the effects, such as gunshots, galloping horses, horses splashing through streams or Indian war cries, are loud and crisp enough. The surrounds featured mostly ambient sounds, such as bird calls, the herd sounds and especially the music. The subwoofer was not really used. The score by Ken Thorne, drawing on Basil Poledouris’ themes, supported the visuals well.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     No extras.

R4 vs R1

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

     This release of Return to Lonesome Dove is part of the 8 disc Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection (see details in the summary section below). Return to Lonesome Dove has been released elsewhere as a stand-alone DVD and as part of various Lonesome Dove DVD collections; some collections are similar to our release but are very pricey, others have the 4 series on single DVDs. The most complete set available, if you can get it, is the Australian Region Free 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 is reasonably priced for this collection of four mini-series.


     Return to Lonesome Dove fits the accepted wisdom that sequels are not as good as the originals. With the bar set so high by Lonesome Dove it is perhaps inevitable that Return to Lonesome Dove would not be as good as its predecessor but, nevertheless, in its own right Return to Lonesome Dove is a decent western mini-series and well worth watching.

    The video and audio have imperfections but are acceptable, the extras are non-existent.

     The four feature length episodes of Return to Lonesome Dove are split evenly between two DVDs. The series is included in the 8 DVD Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection from ViaVision together with Lonesome Dove (1989), Streets of Laredo (1995) and Dead Man’s Walk (1996).

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, January 29, 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

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