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Yes, I liked it; yes, I too was very young. THE ALASKANS was yet another
thing I was doing instead of homework.
It was probably the time and locale -- as opposed to just another western -- which captivated, but to be honest I cannot recall with any clarity more than a couple of episodes. A good one to my early adolescent mind was about the con man who made everyone believe Britain had entered the War with Spain. . . so he could rob a bank over in the Yukon.
The show started with period or period-looking stills, which then went into movement as if the story was coming right out of history. To this day I can still recall the theme music. Even though a commercial debacle, I consider THE ALASKANS one of the beginning of the real "golden age of television," the 1959-60 season.
Final question: Was James Coburn a regular, or am I confusing it with a contemporaneous programme?
"The Alaskans" was one of the Warner Bros. series that flooded TV in the late '50s, such as Maverick, Cheyenne, Bronco Lane, Sugarfoot, Lawman. Except for the earlier poster, I have never come across anyone who has seen this series. The chemistry amongst Dorothy Provine, Roger Moore and Jeff York was excellant. For unknown reasons, Jeff York (most famous as Mike Fink, king of the river, in Davy Crockett episodes) disappeared from the show about halfway through its first and only year. It was never as good thereafter. I saw it in New York at 10 pm on Sunday nights.
I remember "The Alaskans" as not just another western but a celebration that Alaska had just been made a state back then in 1959. The show took place during the Gold Rush of the 1890's. Roger Moore played Silky as a guy who was tough enough to take everything rugged Alaska could throw at him and still be calm, cheerful, smooth, and charming. Dorothy Provine played Rocky as a woman smart enough and tough enough to run a saloon and enticing enough to attract every man in town as a customer. Hence, her saloon became a kind of focal point for both the openings and the conclusions of the episodes. By 1960 Hawaii was the new state, so the novelty of Alaska had kind of worn off. So Dorothy Provine moved her saloon to "The Roaring Twenties" TV series.
Always remember seeing this series when I was very young. Remember it as being very entertaining and probably informative. It was my first memory of Roger Moore whom I loved and Dorothy Provine. If the subject of old t.v. shows comes up in conversation I always mention this one, yet no one is familiar with it. I wish someone would bring it back in syndication so I can enjoy it, hopefully, as an adult. I recall finding it very different and exciting because it had such an unusual location.Feel certain it took place in the early days of Alaskan history.
When I saw the obit for Dorothy Provine in my local paper I immediately thought of "The Alaskans", Dorothy with fur collars, and that theme song. The lengthy obit had no mention of it! So, I go to IMDb to verify my memories. I would have been ten years old and it certainly made an impression on me. It really "stood out" from all the cowboy and Indian shows and family sitcoms of that era. Funny how I didn't remember Roger Moore in it...his careen certainly eclipsed Dorothy Provine's. I read that she was married for 42 years and that, in it's self, is a triumph for Hollywood. Now, I have a renewed interest a half century later and will attempt to rent some of her movies.
"The Alaskans" was sort of a less successful companion piece to "Hawaii Five O," Alaska being admitted to the Union in 1959 and Hawaii in 1960. I wish "The Alaskans" had survived for years and years and not "Five O"! I loved the theme song (and can still sing it, only not in public). Dorothy Provine was just so... gorgeous and perky and HOT. (Every thing I wanted to be at age 11 and was NOT!) Roger Moore was even hotter. I learned many useful and interesting things from the show. Things like... dynamite can freeze if it gets cold enough, but alcohol will freeze first so you need to take a bottle of whiskey with you on your dog sled if you are hauling dynamite!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DEPARTING FROM THE usual run of the mill 1950's TV Western, THE
ALASKANS (Warner Brothers, 1959-60), looked northward towards "Seward's
Folly" for its locale and historical context. It was a good move by the
Warners' TV unit; as well as a most opportunistic example of the
exploitation of then current events. Alaska's status was upgraded from
that of Territory to the 49th Stare of the Union in that year of 1959.
AS FAR AS the mood of the show's episodes, we recall that it favoured the comic situations over those heavily steeped in action, adventure and melodramatic situations. To be sure, all of these points were hit and covered in each installment, but in the end, it was the light note that usually prevailed. In that respect, it was more akin to MAVERICK than to CHEYENNE, LAWMAN or COLT .45; all contemporary series being turned out by WB at their Burbank movie mill.
THE SERIES WAS stocked with faces quite familiar to us in those "Paleolithic" days of '50's TV. Warners contractees Roger Moore and Dorothy Provine were joined by Jeff York (popular in both Disney TV and Features)and Ray Danton (whose credits included the title Character in THE GEORGE RAFT STORY).
WE WERE AMUSED during the show's brief run, but we apparently weren't joined by enough inhabitants of "the Vast Wasteland" of television as the series failed to make the cut at the end of the 1959-60 season. Undaunted, the folks at Warner Brothers TV stepped back and retooled; bringing us contemporary Private Detective show in HAWAIIAN EYE. It was a clone of their highly successful 77 SUNSET STRIP. Its main claim to fame was capitalizing on the admission of Hawaii to the Union in that following year of 1960.
WELL SCHULTZ, AS they say; "When one door closes, another opens!"
Perhaps now with the passing of Sir Roger Moore, Warner Brothers may consider at long last, releasing the 37 episodes of 'The Alaskans' onto DVD, as it has done with most of it's other 'westerns' of the era? I fondly remember this show from when I was young, and it was probably what made me a life long fan of Roger Moore, who I thought Warners was grooming as a likely successor to Errol Flynn in the handsome hero category! I remember the show for mainly it's humour and tongue in cheek adventure, thought Jeff York and Dorothy Provine were perfect foils for Roger Moore in a great little show that should have survived longer than it did, but it would be nice to be able to collect it to enjoy over again!
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