King of Texas (review)

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If you’d ever hoped to hear Patrick Stewart snarl “Get off ma land!” in a Texas drawl, then here’s your chance. Yup, the go-to man for Dickens, for the Bard, for your 11th-grade English lit classics, sports a Kenny Rogers beard and drunkenly shoots off rifles in this made-for-TV production from TNT (which, along with Showtime, gives us TV flicks actually worth watching). Juicy with familial betrayal, horse thievery, land grabbing, and illicit smooching, King of Texas has a savory secret of its own: It’s Shakespeare’s King Lear, done up with cows and a twang in the era when Texas was a sovereign nation. No wonder Stewart (X-Men) is on board. His John Lear, Texas cattle rancher, is more paranoid than senile, more vigorous than doddering (at least in the beginning), but otherwise the Bard’s tale is intact, as the old man’s daughters battle for their father’s land and affection. Marcia Gay Harden (Space Cowboys) is particularly delectable as the scheming Suzannah, and comic actor David Alan Grier (15 Minutes) takes a surprising and successful dramatic turn as Rip, Lear’s friend and confidante. Y’all might want to gather round closer to the fire for this tale, to keep warm around all these cold and bitter people.

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