(1958-1962) on the Encore Western Channel starring John Russell and Peter Brown is one series I don't think we have specifically discussed much.
Maybe that's because the show almost
has the ingredients for a good series, but it seems to lack the strong writing and acting that still make shows like Have Gun Will Travel
and The Rifleman
watchable. I keep trying to give it a chance, but have given up on the story about half way through each time. The show's best moments seem to come in moments, such as the time that Johnny McKay (Brown) asked Marshal Troop (Russell) if he'd ever been in love.
Being the strong, silent type, Russell
gripped the rifle he was cleaning a little tighter, and said "...Yes" in the same way that you'd say "yes" through clenched teeth if your dentist asked you if you were comfortable after he'd done a root canal. That seemed to be it, though the Marshal later mentioned that if McKay loved a gal (the girl in question had once been as pure as the driven snow, until she drifted), he should not let her go. The best shows seem to feature some feisty gals who get involved with Russell in some manner. One featured an half-Indian young lovely who was trying to make a go of her ranch despite being saddled with a Mom who wanted her daughter to get hitched and a townful of bigots who wouldn't allow the woman to work her land or hire help....one of those land grab things, you know.
Another featured a very young, almost unrecognizable Louise Fletcher
as a member of a gang holding Russell captive...until Louise fell for--guess who? And what happened to her? Well, if you saw the fate of most gals who batted an eyelash at any of the Cartwright boys during Bonanza
's salad days, you know she was pushing up daisies by the time that the credits rolled. Other guest stars have included a very subdued Richard Arlen
who showed up on two epis I've seen and it's enjoyable seeing Emory Parnell
as a semi-regular bartender, and the great Whit Bissell
as a citizen--not to mention a pair of actors who prove that "there are no small parts, only small actors"--Ted de Corsia
and Robert Wilke
, both of whom are, as usual, blackguards and rapscallions who force Marshal Troop to open that can of whoop-a** he keeps in his desk drawer.
Btw, I like Peter Brown
, though I must admit, I find his character as dumb as a box of rocks. Without the show's need to maintain the sensei-grasshopper vibe between John Russell
, his character would have been killed in the first episode if there were any dramatic logic or justice. He does get smarter, doesn't he?
One other thing: Russell
is very easy to look at (you could cut yourself on his chiseled high cheekbones), I am fascinated by his hair, which seems strangely lifeless. Hat head? Too much Final Net? Or, could it be...?
I recently caught a few minutes of the Clint Eastwood doc on TCM. Unfortunately, I tuned in just in time to see John Russell's corrupt lawman get his just desserts from Clint in Pale Rider
(1985). Oh, jeez, I wish I hadn't seen that. How things changed.