Travis talks with us about her role as the matriarch of a rodeo family in the must-see Hallmark Channel TV series.
Call it the PG-rated version of Yellowstone, and you won’t be far off the mark. But really, there’s more to Ride than that. Based on the handful of episodes we’ve been given to preview, the well-crafted and perfectly cast new series premiering Sunday on Hallmark Channel (and available on Peacock the following day) qualifies as Must-See TV because of its own strengths as an instantly involving and skillfully compelling drama about a Colorado family of ranchers and rodeo competitors.
And for those of you who fret about the coarse language that is commonplace on Yellowstone, consider: So far, not a single F-bomb has been dropped.
Nancy Travis rides tall in the central role of Isabel McMurray, the widowed matriarch of a small-town ranching family that has loomed large on the rodeo circuit thanks to the accomplishments of her late husband and, more recently, her renowned champion son Austin (Marcus Rosner). Early in the premiere episode, however, Austin tries a little too hard during a stressful bull riding competition — while, apparently, under the influence of a controlled substance — and is killed. When we pick up the narrative one year later, we find Isabel and her extended family still mourning Austin’s death — and struggling to hold on to the McMurray Ranch as they sink ever deeper into debt.
Cash (Beau Mirchoff), Isabel’s ex-Marine son, attempts to overcome the traumas of his wartime experiences while establishing his own bona fides as a rodeo champ with a little help from his brother Tuff (Jake Foy), who’s noticeably most comfortable while singing country music in honky-tonks, and Missy (Tiera Skovbye), Austin’s widow, who agrees to serve as Cash’s coach, as she formerly did for her late husband.
Naturally, there is a romantic attraction between Cash and Missy that only intensifies as they continue working together. Just as naturally, neither of them is entirely comfortable with that.
Enter Valeria (Sara Garcia), a one-time runaway who was taken in by the McMurray family years earlier, but disappeared shortly after Cash’s demise. (Could that be because she’s the one who provided Cash with unprescribed medication?) Isabel welcomes Valeria’s return to the ranch, admitting that it’s nice to have two surrogate daughters around the premises. As she exclaims near the end of the premiere episode: “I need my girls!”
On the other hand: Isabel is reluctant to demand too much of Missy, a former trick rider who still has enough name-recognition to possibly qualify as a celebrity spokesperson for a popular blue jeans brand. “Nobody in this family expects you to give up your life for us,” she tells her daughter-in-law. But Missy is determined to have the best of both worlds, remaining loyal to the McMurrays even as she pursues her own career opportunities.
And as for Valeria: Well, her return doesn’t go undetected by people she would really, really rather not reconnect with.
Nancy Travis recently visited the C&I Studio to chat with us about Ride.