Klondike, TV review: It might be new to drama, but you can't fault Discovery on its casting


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The Independent Culture

There was a dubious credit for a star director on Klondike, Discovery's Channel's new five-part mini-series about the late-1890s gold-rush in Yukon. It's exec-produced by Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, but far more telling is that this is the first original drama commission from a channel best known for technology, nature and history documentaries.

It might be new to drama, but you can't fault Discovery on its casting choices. Klondike stars Richard Madden aka Robb Stark from Game of Thrones as Bill Haskell, a young man seeking his fortune by heading north (which is probably what he should've done back in Westeros – am I right, GoT fans?).

The support cast includes everyone's favourite craggy-faced wise man, Sam Shepard, as a craggy-faced, wise preacher man; actress-on-the-up, Abbie Cornish as entrepreneur-on-the-up Belinda Mulrooney (based on a real-life Klondike resident); and Tim Roth, (long time no see, Tim?) as "The Count", a dangerous rival businessman who will stop at nothing to get his gold.

The people of this island nation are not as steeped in frontier spirit as our North American cousins. We think of any car journey longer than two hours as a trepidatious voyage requiring substantial M&S provisions. But even the most parochial Brit couldn't help but be awed by Klondike's many spectacular landscapes. There were snow-covered mountains, lush green valleys, and even a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Not so impressive was the wide-eyed Walden-lite voiceover that went with it: "Two men with nothing in their pocket, but a headful of hope." They wouldn't say that in Deadwood, would they?