The lone surviving Texas Ranger who was nursed back to health by the Indian Tonto rides with him, on Silver and Scout, throughout the West, doing good while living off a silver mine which supplies him with income and bullets. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Premiered on ABC on 15 September 1949 (Thursdays 7:30-8:00). Last telecast: 12 September 1957. This was the only ABC program to rank in the top 15 when the A.C. Neilsen Co. began compiling national ratings for network programs. In 1950 it ranked #7 with a 41.2% share. The show was on ABC throughout its run. Reruns began on CBS on Saturday mornings in 1953 and continued to September 1960 and then on NBC for another four years. ABC showed reruns of it in late afternoons from 1958 to 1961. None of the network reruns featured John Hart as "The Lone Ranger", the other "Lone Ranger" from 1952-53. See more »
The 221 episodes of "The Lone Ranger" were originally broadcast on ABC from 1949 to 1957; and then for many years they played in local syndication. For most of the original broadcast years the series was ABC's most watched piece of programming.
The new DVD set from Pop Flix contains the first 16 episodes (15 Sept-29 Dec 1949) and for some reason unknown to me episode 22 from the fifth season, for a total of 17 episodes (the same 17 available on last year's Mill Creek Entertainment release so these are probably in the public domain). These sets pretty much render "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" movie superfluous as all three episodes that were combined in 1952 to form the movie are included in these releases.
The early episodes hark back to radio as there is considerably more voice-over narration used as an introduction and to introduce key plot moments.
The series itself was pure kiddie western with clear-cut good and evil distinctions and no romance. The title character (played by Clayton Moore) started out Texas Ranger John Reid. The first three episodes provide the background for his transformation to Lone Ranger status, his partnering with the Indian Tonto (Jay Silverheels), and the taming of his horse "Silver".
There is an unambiguous code of positive morality infusing each episode. The Lone Ranger is totally good but he adopts the guise of evil. While a masked man in the west was normally feared by the good citizens and an Indian was distrusted, the Lone Ranger is feared by those who would do evil. One persistent theme is that when the Lone Ranger and Tonto first encounter an average citizen they are greeted with suspicion, and by the end of the episode the citizen has been convinced of their value. The trademark ending was a secondary character asking the question: "who was that masked man?".
To really enjoy the series you must accept it for the simplistic morality tale it was intended to be. If you don't take it seriously and keep wishing for some self-reflexive campy parody elements you will only get frustrated.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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