The Way of the Word

26. December 2009

Go Western, Young Man

Filed under: general,TV,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 16:52
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m dating myself here when I admit that I grew up on TV westerns. It wasn’t so much that I had a particular fondness of the genre, but I was allowed to watch these shows. (Hey, I’m not that old.)

The most famous ones are, of course, Bonanza and Gunsmoke. I always liked Bonanza better than Gunsmoke, but I over the years I’ve come to wonder if that was perhaps because there were some aspects of Gunsmoke that went over my head at the time. These days, for example, I have a much better idea of what Miss Kitty really did for a living. Perhaps I should get the DVDs one of these days and see if my guess is right.

Considering that these two shows ran for a very long time (Bonanza from 1959 until 1973, with several attempts at revival since; Gunsmoke from 1955 – 1975, with some later TV movies), it’s anyone’s guess which of them was the more successful one. My vote goes for Bonanza, since I had the complete set of Bonanza toys (action figures etc.), but I never saw Gunsmoke toys.

(I picked the German Gunsmoke intro on purpose.)

Neither of them was my favorite. For example, I always liked High Chaparral (1967 – 1971) better than Bonanza.  There was something rough and dangerous about the world of High Chaparral that Bonanza lacked. Like everyone else at my school, I was a fan of Henry Darrow’s Manolito.

The Virginian was almost on the same level of enjoyment as High Chaparral. Amusingly, I wouldn’t have minded if the show had gotten rid of the title character and done more with Trampas. (Which is why I picked the German intro for this blog post.)

Another show that had me glued to the TV set was Big Valley (1965 – 1969). Unlike the other shows, it had a character with which I could identify: Lee Majors’ Heath Barclay and I had a lot in common.

In a way, I could also identify with Chuck Connors’ son on The Rifleman (1958 – 1963). All the kid wanted was a gun, he thought he was old enough. And each episode, his peace-loving father had to solve a problem by shooting with his rifle. The Rifleman has one particular distinction: in the US, the last episode was broadcast the day I was born. (Now you know the secret of why I watched all these shows while I was a kid: I watched them as they were broadcast in Germany, and that frequently happened years after the original broadcast.  The Rifleman, for example, was broadcast in Germany from 1969 – 1972.

The threethat I remember as my favorites from those years? That would be Laramie.

At the time, Robert Fuller was voted Germany’s most popular TV actor.

I was probably alone in my appreciation of Yancy Derringer, but how could I (at age six or seven) not like a show where the character shared my first name (at least phonetically) and had the name of a gun as his last name? (Sorry, the only intro video I found that I can post here is at the end of the compilation below.)

And, like for everyone else of my generation, the perhaps most original western series of all: Kung Fu.

And my god, did I love that anthology series that showed the three western series Johnny Ringo

I was particularly fond of that trick gun.

The Westerner

which I watched because I was a fan of Brian Keith’s Uncle Bill from Family Affair. And Broken Arrow, starring Michael Ansara as Cochise. Who, as I understood at the time, was something like the US version of Winnetou.

One show that came on later than the others was Wanted: Dead Or Alive, which made me a Steve McQueen fan.

And of course, although it doesn’t really count because it wasn’t on during my formative years, Alias Smith and Jones.

Gods, this post has made me nostalgic. Now I really wish I had the money to buy all the DVD boxes, and the time to watch them.


1 Comment »

  1. […] and a few years later as the title character on the TV series Trapper John MD. If you’ve read this blog, you know that I was an avid Bonanza watcher during my formative years. While those two roles were […]

    Pingback by RIP Pernell Roberts « The Way of the Word — 26. January 2010 @ 09:37

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