"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Western TV shows

Jude Harvey has contacted me from the UK and asked what boxed set of TV Western shows on DVD she should buy. She was hovering between The High Chaparral and Bonanza.
Now, Ms. Harvey is female and doubtless she and her sisters fought bitterly over who was the most handsome of the Ponderosa brothers. One of them may have even gone for Hoss, who knows. Hell, maybe they went for Lorne Greene. But we boys, well, we didn’t really go for Bonanza. Too much of a Western soap.
.Of course, the classiest and most seminal of the TV Westerns was undoubtedly Gunsmoke. That is clear. Excellent scripts, fine acting, quality directing. They were very good, certainly the best of the many, many series. They are definitely worth reviewing today and worth a purchase, Jude.
Jude is English and so probably didn’t get all the series on the jolly old BBC. But a good number did get over there. I am far too gallant to reveal to the millions of readers of this blog how old Jude is but let me just say that she, ahem, is not in the first flower of youth. I know this because she goes right back to the first screening of Kit Carson  (that’s too far back even for Jeff) and she used (I hope I am not giving away her innermost secrets here) to play with her brother and sister in the yard with their school 'macs' tied over their shoulders as Mystery Rider capes. Maybe she could relive happy times and buy a set of Kit Carson.
.Tales of Wells Fargo might be a good bet. Watch Dale giving that trademark flip of a wave. Cheyenne was good - Clint was so brave and silent - and Have Gun - Will Travel exciting as people wired to Paladin in San Francisco so that he could come and right wrongs. Wagon Train, ho hum. It moved along at the pace of a wagon with Ward Bond bossing everyone about. Rawhide (again, better for sisters) but that damn cattle drive never ended. Boots & Saddles was the opposite; maybe too boy-friendly.
.Which would you choose?
The greatest of them all, of course, was The Lone Ranger. But I fear that it was a bit juvenile for Jude and not quite in the Bonanza class.

Wanted Dead or Alive was pretty cool. And Jude would like Steve McQueen, I guess. I used to like his cut-down Winchester.

Maybe Laramie – see earlier posts and earnest discussion.

Even if we did have to put up with Hoagy sitting on the corral fence every episode and singing a damn song. Still, he only lasted one series.

Modern stuff like Alias Smith & Jones or The Magnificent Seven are, I think, not in the running. Certainly not Deadwood. You need HBO for that. (It would make a great DVD purchase).

All I can say, Jude, is go with your heart. Where were the happiest hours of your Western watching spent? On the couch in front of an old pre-color TV (telly, the Brits say) showing Bonanza? Swooning over Little Joe?
Or yes, go back to Arizona in those far 1870s. Rejoin the Cannon family building a cattle empire in the teeth of resistance from Mexicans and Apaches. Thrilling stuff. Have a look, Jude, at http://www.thehighchaparral.com/ Whichever you choose, amazon shareholders will be happy and so will you.

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