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‘1923’ Review: A Promising Start for ‘Yellowstone’ Spin-Off

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Where to stream it? Paramount+

Starring: Helen Mirren, Harrison Ford

Created by: Taylor Sheridan

The premiere episode was screened for this review.

When Paramount first announced that they had cast Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren in their latest Yellowstone spinoff, it was clear that they were bringing out the big guns for this project. And based on the pilot episode, there’s going to be much to look forward to in this eight-episode series.

The Western drama, like it’s predecessor 1883, follows previous generations of the Dutton family from Yellowstone as they manage their Montana ranch.

The 1920s setting is ripe for some great storytelling and the show transports you into a world that’s just at the cusp of modernity while still maintaining the feel of the Wild West.

Catching Up with the Duttons

In the premiere episode, we are introduced to several new characters in the Dutton family and are caught up where we left off with those from 1883. We meet Cara (Mirren), an Irish immigrant who is married to Jacob (Ford).

Narration from 1883‘s Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) tells us early on in the episode that Jacob is the brother of James Dutton (who was played by Tim McGraw). After the passing of both James and his wife Margaret (who was played by Faith Hill), Jacob and Cara raised their nephews, Spencer and John (played by Brandon Sklenar and James Badge Dale in this series) as their own.

John Dutton's son Jack (Darren Mann) is set to be married, but much to his fiance's (Michelle Randolph) dismay, must postpone the wedding to take care of the cattle on the ranch.

We discover that the Yellowstone Ranch is experiencing hardship. Their cattle are dying and they're faced with a dispute over the land from nearby sheep herders.

Meanwhile a subplot shows the disturbing events that took place at a nearby Catholic boarding school for indigenous girls.

As for Spencer, he has traveled to Africa where he tracks wild game whilst dealing with the lingering effects of PTSD from serving in World War I.

Setting the Stage for More

There's a lot of exposition to get through in the first episode. Viewers that haven't watched 1883 in particular might be confused by the Dutton family tree.

Still, there's many promising elements to see here. Helen Mirren plays a tough rancher woman that takes no shit. From the opening moments of the show we are promised a compelling story from her character that the Oscar-winning Mirren is sure to deliver with gusto.

As for Harrison Ford, there isn't anything too exciting to come from his character just yet. The role of a rugged, Clint Eastwood-esque cowboy, however, fits Ford like a glove.

We are given just enough of a tease into it's setting, characters, and conflict to inspire curiosity. What role will the Great Depression play? What about Prohibition? And how dark will this conflict with the sheep herders go?

Final Thoughts: 1923 Review

Showrunner Taylor Sheridan has demonstrated that his fruitful partnership with Paramount (Tulsa King anyone?) is still just getting started. Yellowstone is not just a show, it’s a franchise, and 1923 is sure to be another hit. 

I’m excited to see where the series takes us and I know I’ll be tuning in for the rest of series.

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Matt Davis
Matt Davis
Matt Davis is a writer, entertainment critic, and content creator that hails from the Kanas City area. He has been featured in various publications, including TODAY.com and CNET. As the founder of Shall I Stream It? he has helped it grow into a multi-platform media outlet that reaches over 100,000 viewers each month.
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