As you all know, I used to write for the unofficial fan blog of To Appomattox, and still wish them the best of luck in production and plan on covering it from a far on here once filming begins, but I just have to say that I am not too crazy about the name change, the mini-series now shifting over to Grant Vs. Lee. I can see why the title was changed, because the majority of television viewers in this country can probably barely pronounce the word “Appomattox” correctly, let alone know what it refers to, however, I think that the new title they have come up with is a bit too gimmicky and hokey for my liking, sounding like something the History Channel would have produced, and you all know how I feel about them and their Civil War productions. Grant Vs. Lee is definitely better for marketing, because most people (or at least I certainly hope so) know who Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are. Even the casual reader of history and anyone who paid attention in school knows them, so I can obviously see the marketing angle they are coming from. The rumor is that ongoing network negotiations have forced the title change, and that comes as no surprise, since respectful titles and historical authenticity must go out the window for the almighty dollar. Thankfully, it is being reported that the script has gone unchanged, which, unless you want to really be fanatical, is all the matters.
I am not disgusted by the name change like others are, just mildly disappointed. While everyone’s patience is fading due to how long it has taken for this production to get off the ground, as filming was supposed to begin months ago to reach their summer of 2013 promised deadline, the entire scenario is giving fans and observers some insight into how something like this works, and how miraculous it truly is for any history related production to get off the ground, unless the story is carried by gratuitous violence, and not the characters. But in getting back to the title, the change just reeks of having to please the American consumer culture. I do not know if the change was made happily or begrudgingly, but it really does not matter. Fact is, we now have Grant Vs. Lee, which sounds like the preview for a UFC match or a video game more than it does a dramatic, historically accurate Civil War production. Even though a majority of the basis for this series is Grant’s memoirs, what about all of the other generals? The cast list is massive, and the story spans the entire Civil War, in both Eastern and Western Theaters, and includes battles not fought by either general, or on occasions where they were not both there at the same time.
Had the miniseries only been about the events of 1864 and on, like the Overland Campaign and the cat-and-mouse chase between Grant and Lee that ensued and ended the war, I would have absolutely no problem with it—in fact, I would probably think the change would be for the better. However, the series is about the entire war, stretching so far back as to when Grant and Lee were allies, not enemies, as soldiers fighting in the American Army down in Mexico in the 1840’s. I do not buy the argument that there was always a rivalry between them both. No, not until the very end, and it was less about ego and personal competition, which the title makes it seem like, and more about achieving victory for their country. I also do not buy into the idea that all the episodes will now serve as buildup to when they did meet—that would be a farce and incorrect, as the two men never could have dreamed they would be meeting each other on the field of battle over and over again to cap off the Civil War.
Now that there are these two names present in the title, it will only go to feed the appearance to people who do not know any better and who are not as learned (the very audience which this series will target, in an attempt to enlighten them) that Grant and Lee were the only two people who mattered, a great mistake. Maybe there will be another name change, but who knows. People are busy on Facebook and other blogs expressing their disappointment and offering most likely fruitless suggestions. I probably cannot do any better, so the only thing I would suggest is something with the actual phrase “Civil War” in the title. There, that’s simple enough. As always, just my proverbial two cents.