Well my friends, I did not think it possible, but something incredible has happened. Gods and Generals has been surpassed as the dumbest Civil War drama in the history of entertainment. And the Conspirator – a picture so horrible that it nearly (nearly) defies words – has moved to a close third, though it closes ranks with Gods from time to time depending on my mood.
Of course, I am speaking of the recent Amazon television pilot, Point of Honor. To be fair, judging by the iPhone quality cinematography, the show was made on the cheap, and so I will not criticize Point for its lack of sweeping epicness. And…I will give the writers due props for noting that slavery was the central issue of secession and ultimately, what the Confederacy was fighting to maintain. And…there are actually black people in the show, with lines and everything. But my praise ends there.
Point of Honor is absolutely ridiculous in every other respect. For one, the show’s protagonist, one John Rhodes, is a Lynchburg, Virginia slave-owning abolitionist (that’s right, friends) West Point cadet who inexplicably frees all his slaves after news of Fort Sumter and then proceeds to join the Confederacy to defend…something (we are not told what). I suppose he is defending honor (hey….).
Confused? Don’t worry…there’s more. Rhodes’s best friend and West Point compatriot, Robert Sumner – who, not incidentally, is married to Rhodes’s sister, Lorelei (not kidding), hatches a brilliant plan to proceed to Lynchburg – deep, deep in the heart of Virginia – with a contingent of twelve (12!) cavalrymen and his sadistic West Point commandant, where they will proceed to attempt to capture a railroad. How Union cavalry, all twelve of them, managed to get to Lynchburg undetected in 1861 is beyond me.
But they do, which means…John, his drunk (though charming) brother, the Rhodes family patriarch, and a couple of dashing neighbors mount up and ride out to meet the foe to defend – Point of Honor (get it?). In the melee, papa Rhodes, in a daring one-man charge (you can’t make this up), is shot dead by the sadistic commandant who is teaching a US cavalryman how to fire a musket – I guess that particular cavalryman was out sick on musket training day.
Bummer for the Rhodes family. With all this whoop-dee-do going on: friends and in-laws, neighbors, emancipated slaves, distraught family members – all fighting each other, Christmas dinner will be pretty awkward at the plantation big house. I can only imagine where the plot will go next, should the show be picked up.
Naturally, there is more to this show than Blue-Gray hijinks. The women of Point of Honor offer a compelling counter to the swashbuckling machismo of their men-folk, especially if you are a fan of bodice-ripping Harlequin Romance novels. I suppose the writers were trying to conjure strength-in-the-face-of-adversity steel magnolia types for a twenty-first century audience, but what we get are nineteenth-century “ladies” who say and wear things that would make Belle Watling blush.
There’s more to talk about. But why bother? I think you get where I am coming from on this one. And, in case you are wondering, I absolutely recommend watching Point of Honor (HERE – it’s free). In fact, I think it should become a cult classic – like Showgirls or something. Maybe we should come up with a drinking game and throw Point of Honor themed parties.