Little Mikes In The Big Country

Little Mikes In The Big CountryLittle Mikes In The Big Country

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 72 minutes and bonus

Time Period: 2012

Locations: Chama, Cumbres, Los Pinos, Lobato Trestle, Windy Point

Source: Kurt Jensen

MSRP: 20.00

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge line that is known worldwide. This operation had been covered for years by railfan photographers. The line was built by DRGW in 1880. Abandoned by Rio Grande in 1969. Cumbres and Toltec operation since 1970. Diverging Clear has their modern take on the road with this 2013 release.

487                    Cumbres and Toltec 487 has the shrillest whistle of the three.

Three K36 class 2-8-2 Mikados lead trains up and down the mainly southern portion of line. Baldwin built in 1925. These former Rio Grande locomotives were some of the last steam used in American revenue freight service. Much of the original equipment and many structures survive today. A few minutes of old film open the show. Watch for a black and white that turns to color scene. Our producer having fun!

1LovtrestleModern camera gear has sharp picture quality. Trains are the focus of this wide screen show.

windypoint                                                               Windy Point.

Basic narration seems to be the standard, on these tourist and museum visits by Diverging Clear. Location based information is delivered in a minimalist format. Kurt Jensen has credit for the cinematography and narration. He does a fine job with both, on the main feature.

summit488                       Engine 488 at the summit. Tall pines dwarf the diminutive train.

1aComposition and various viewpoints do capture the action nicely. Scenery is as much a part of the program as the trains. Good balance and the majority is very smooth to watch.

1cAudio has long stretches of hearing the locomotive work, as it traverses the terrain. Some of this is extended trainwatching is really quite charming.

488                                                     488 offers a closer view.

chama 1                     Chama is the home of C&T. Engine 484 passes the coaling tower.

488aK-36 class were some of the larger narrow gauge steamers on the Rio Grande.

cumbres                                                                         Cumbres

By the time we are following the third train, the format does get repetitive. This may have been a good time to ramp up the narrative. There is so much history on the line.

A bonus chapter of Riding the Cumbres and Toltec, is included as a second section. Producer Mary McPherson now likes to offer this type of footage for those who want the opportunity to see it. Mary is a real world Amtrak conductor. She loves trains and films them, as well. Although her intentions are well meaning, the results are not of compatible quality.

bonus2This screenshot is shown to convey the headache of travel to Antonito aboard this train…. The camera is shaking almost constantly. The rest isn’t this severe. Get the feeling?

Her desire to present everything, is also the downfall of shows like this one. The camera shakes so badly, this material is unwatchable. A painful, amateur 34 minutes. Spare me!

Extras such as: maps, timetables or interviews can also enhance the programs. None.

2In summary. The main program looks great overall. Overstays it’s welcome with repetition. Narrative could have used additional historical background. A well filmed and pretty solid show.  Viewers do get an excellent visual visit from 2012 season. Good.

The Second section is among the shakiest footage on a commercial release. This belongs on the cutting room floor. Fortunately, the menu gives the option to opt out . Rubbish.

Recommended for the main program only. That first section is worth your time.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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