There isn’t exactly a glut of Western-inspired webseries. Which is a shame but understandable; period accuracy is hardly cheap, nor is it as easy as shooting a few webisodes of your friends trying to “make it” in Brooklyn.
And if there is one thing that can be said about Red Bird—a revenge tale following Kitty Mae (Alexandra Goodman) as she seeks those who killed her son—it is that you can feel the effort. From costumes to locations to an original soundtrack that has presence and bite, it looks and sounds just as you’d imagine the creators—husband and wife Jeremy Osbern and Misti Boland—desired it.
That includes the bloodiness of the thing. Harboring an impressive body count, there is little by way of restraint when it comes to handing an actor their pink slip; they’re shot, stabbed, and clubbed as Kitty Mae continues on her path. Allegations as to gratuitousness don’t even come into it. The enjoyment watching a baddie being pushed off a cliff or taking a knife in the eye is reason enough.
But if the act of killing is treated in a casual manner, the structure of the series itself is profoundly disciplined. Which sounds like a good thing, but in the case of Red Bird is actually a drawback. Episodes are centered around single set pieces or scenes that although well-scripted and shot, are short, mostly coming in at around three minutes. You can well understand the thinking for this, and I certainly appreciate anything and everything that knows to not outstay its welcome. But in the case of a series that is beholden to a linear narrative, the choppiness that this editing causes to the flow is distracting.
It is a case where we don’t get to see a good series in its best light. But the problem is unfortunate rather than terminal. There is certainly still fun to be had, as Kitty Mae cuts a swath through her adversaries aided by veteran character actor Michael McShane. And with the possibility of future episodes, there is good reason to believe that will continue.