“Harley and the Davidsons” (a review)

fullscreen-capture-982016-91050-pm-bmpFor each of the three nights of September 5th, 6th, and 7th, 2016, the Discovery Channel presented two-hour installments based on fact of the early days of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and company.  The story of the union of Milwaukee’s Bill Harley (Robert Aramayo) and brothers Arthur (Bug Hall) and Walter (Michiel Huisman) Davidson, all childhood neighbors and friends, transformed bicycles with engines into a legend and the company that survives today.

fullscreen-capture-982016-90928-pm-bmpThe trilogy traces Harley-Davidson’s progress from their first shed-built bike until their first motorcycle that is basically still their standard today, covering roughly 30 years.  The series also covers the company’s publicity, both good and bad from racing and fighting (sometimes at the same time) and the origin of the term “Hog” (Now called the Harley Owner’s Group).

The story notes William B. Johnson (Stephen Rider), the first licensed African-American to compete in national motorcycle races and the first black Harley-Davidson dealership owner.  Also well enacted were the team’s bumpy experiences with Indian Motorcycles, the Ford Motor Company, and certain Japanese interests.

h-and-the-ds-racingFor a made-for-TV movie, I have to give Harley and the Davidsons very high marks.  The bikes appeared to be vintage, costumes and sets were authentic, and the balance between the personal and professional lives of all involved were well handled.  Though the one studio street used got lots of mileage, the only complaint I have would be the occasional and forced foul language.  Other than that, this mini series was so good that it would work as classroom material, except that the “colorful metaphors” would not be allowed on most high school and certainly not junior high campuses.

h-and-the-ds-2If you missed the premiere presentation(s), never fear… reruns are here.  Being cable TV, I’m sure that Discovery will rebroadcast the series very soon.  I hope to catch it again, as this production warrants more than one viewing to catch it all.

Chuck Lynch

Image Credits: The “Harley and the Davidsons” logo image was found at Discovery.com. The first bike picture came from  MotorbikeWriter.com. The racing photo is from FanSided.com. The three main character image came from WordPress.com.

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