In to The Twain
Having been invited to be the guest speaker at his daughter's graduation Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, fears he will only embarrass his young daughter with his waffling but can't help himself as he tells them all about his formative years as a young man who headed West with his brother Orion. His adventures took him from a run in with bandits to working for a slave driver at a gold mine.
I have a very vague memory of watching "Huckleberry Finn and His Friends" as a boy, that would be the one which starred Ian Tracey and Sammy Snyders but I don't remember any detail. And yes that means I haven't read any of Twain's stories which I am sure were part of the school curriculum in the States but not here in Britain back in the 80s. It is why I have to say that whilst entertaining "Roughing It" didn't blow me away which I am sure for those who read the book it will be a much more rewarding experience.
Now I am not going to go into specifics other than to say "Roughing It" is little more than a series of episodes in the life of young Samuel Clemens from bandits to bullies and big spiders. We also get a bit of comical way of the west from a stage stop where a man is digging a grave just because someone always dies to getting talked in to a friendly game of poker. It is uneven with some of these episodes more entertaining than others but each has its moment and a lesson to tell.
Aside from that well James Garner is well chosen as the older Samuel Clemens and has the perfect voice for the frequent narration whilst Robin Dunne has a certain appeal as the young Clemens. But in truth one of my favourite pieces of casting was of Blu Mankuma as he was Jim in "Huckleberry Finn and His Friends" and so a nice touch that he appeared in this movie as Johnston.
What this all boils down to is that "Roughing It" is entertaining for the entire family. But I am sure those who have already read "Roughing It" or other Mark Twain books will probably appreciate this TV mini-series a lot more.