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"The Virginian" was without a doubt one grand amazing ambitious series
which made use of its first class actors and some of the most
magnificent piece of location Technicolor photography ever assembled
for a brilliant television series which kept its viewers tuned in for
90 minutes during the impressive nine seasons that it stayed on the
NBC-TV network from its premiere in 1962 until its final episode in
Based on the classic novel by Owen Winsler,the series is set on the Shiloh Ranch in the Wyoming Territory of the 1800's and the goings on within the town of Medicine Bow. In its early years,and within the first five seasons,the series had five main characters:Judge Henry Garth(Lee J. Cobb),the owner of the Shiloh Ranch,which was a great big cattle ranch in Wyoming who was also the not only the town Judge but the District Attorney as well;his innocent young teenage daughter Betsy (Roberta Shore);the Virginian(James Drury),his heroic foreman Trampas (Doug McClure),and the assistant ranch hand Steve(Gary Clarke). The relationship between these five individuals,as they were developed and testing were providing the most affecting and amusing moments,and later on during this series new characters would be added on to provide support. It was also during the early years of the show that "The Virginian" was rise to the top of the Nielsen ratings,and to anyone's surprise rack up several Emmy nominations for actors Lee J. Cobb and James Drudy not to mention the show's theme song for musical composer Percy Faith. During its initial run,the show was always in the top ten and it stood shoulder to shoulder among the television Western giants like "Gunsmoke","Bonanza",not to mention "Rawhide",and the courtroom drama "Perry Mason".
The series gave us strong,intelligent stories,which could be either tragic or light-hearted,and most often the direction was either imaginative,and sometimes even poetic,but still this series was one action-packed show full of unexpected excitement and breathtaking suspense along with some comedical support in some of the episodes which were directed with excellent timing by some of the best in the business. However,throughout its entire run,only actors James Drudy and Doug McClure stayed on the series until the final episode in 1971. As for the special guest stars on this series,this show had them,and some of them appear in either one or two episodes within the 90 minute time frame. In some of the episodes you got to see Hollywood greats like Bette Davis and Lee Marvin and in some episodes you get Charles Bronson, James Coburn,Richard Anderson,Telly Savalas,Arthur Hunnicutt,John Dehner,David Hartman,Lee Majors,Pippa Scott,Stewart Granger,Diane Baker, Inger Stevens,Harry Morgan,Brian Keith,George C. Scott,Pete Duel,Hari Rhodes,Harrison Ford,and the list of the guest star roster goes on and on with very familiar actors doing the "Stagecoach" routine each week.
As the series went on the issues of the day were very informal subjects ranging from injustice,racial prejudice,individual responsibility and the necessary for compromise were explored,and during the final years of the series the name of "Shiloh" came to stand for something for the virtues of tolerance,compassion,and courage and optimism as well the respect of mankind were the objectives of the day,and this show delivered the goods. Compared to other Western shows of that era,"The Virginian" was well acted and for one,it had a lot of heart and like other shows it knew exactly when to call it quits beforehand. Most recently,this series is now on The Hallmark Channel,and for those who never seen this series,it is a worth seeing every weekend where Hallmark shows back to back episodes of this series. Not to missed!
NOTE:"The Virginian" was produced by Revue Studios/Universal Television and it produced an astounding 249 episodes,all in color during its impressive nine year run on the NBC Network.
Good series, it's sad it's been kinda forgotten. It's easy to write it
as another 'Bonanza' knockoff-Big Valley, High Chapperell, for example,
it wasn't that, not at all. In one episode, you get to see Lee J Cobb,
Richard Anderson, Harry Morgan, Arthur Hunnicutt and a host of other Very
familiar character actors doing the 'Stagecoach' routine-while McClure,
Drury and co weren't exactly chopped liver either.
It had heart, it was well acted and was on forever. I would watch this over Bonanza any day.
*** outta ****
This was an ambitious series, which made use of first class actors and
magnificent location photography.
In its early years the series had five main characters: Judge Garth, owner of Shiloh, a great cattle ranch in Wyoming; his innocent young daughter Betsy; the Virginian, his heroic foreman; and two likeable ranch hands, Trampas and Steve. The relationships between these five, as they were developed and tested, provided the most affecting and amusing moments.
The series gave us strong, intelligent stories, which could be tragic or light-hearted, and often the direction was imaginative, sometimes even poetic. Issues such as injustice through prejudice, individual responsibility and the necessity for compromise were explored, and 'Shiloh' came to stand for the virtues of tolerance, compassion, courage and optimism. Compared with earlier Western series, The Virginian was amazingly deep yet subtle.
As the series ran on over the years it created a hopeful vision of a society slowly progressing towards order and peace.
This was my favourite TV western when I was a child, and I believe it was much more superior than the other TV westerns of the 70s. The casting and acting was first rate, so to was the cinematography. The story lines were realistic, gritty and strong. The character of the Virginian and Trampas worked well together and the chemistry between the actors was evident. While the Virginian was the strong silent type, Trampas was the wild and reckless one. Each episode had a wide array of character actors who began their acting careers on this show. I find it strange that of all the TV westerns this seems to be the only one that is not available on either VHS and/or DVD. I only wish the entire series plus The Men from Shiloh were available on DVD.
I remember this show vividity as a child during the 1960's and part of the 1970's. Its amazing that this show that ran for an impressive nine seasons on NBC(from 1962-1971),was the first show ever to expand to a full ninety minutes and the only western that was second to "Bonanza"(which was on the same network)to be presented in "living color" during that time. Based on the novel by Owen Winsler,the show centers around the goings on of the Shiloh ranch and it characters(played by James Drudy and Doug McClure-who stay on during the show's entire run) who were always in a bland situation or two. Its rarely seen nowadays,but the last time this show was seen anywhere was on the Family Channel during the 1980's and most recently the movie version of the same name was made(which didn't go by the 1960's TV show)on TNT. Excellent Western!!!
Quite simply, I grew up watching 'The Virginian' and I have to thank it, for being very watchable, and mainly for keeping my attention span for 90 minutes. This was unheard of for a show in those days. It led me to becoming an avid cinema addict, for which I am eternally grateful. Probably my favourite western series, although 'Alias Smith and Jones' threatened to equal it until Pete Duell committed suicide. Great memories, from the early days of colour and BBC2, I believe...
This is yet another series that I remember being devoted to as a kid,
but some 40+ years later I of course didn't remember any real details
of the series, its guest stars, or episodes.
When in January 2010 Encore Westerns began showing it, I was amazed.
First, when it originally aired my family didn't have a color television. The cinematography in The Virginian is amazing for a series that started in 1962. Not only was filming a TV series in color unusual at that early time, but the quality of color is outstanding ... each episode looks virtually like a technicolor movie.
Second, most of the scripts are quite compelling. Unlike some Western films, where an complex adventure has to be squeezed into 90 to 120 minutes, the writers of The Virginian knew they had a series of shows to work with. Therefore they opted for somewhat more simple, yet strong, stories that they could explore at a more leisurely pace. It doesn't mean the shows are slow moving ... quite the opposite. It means they have more time for character study, and for the most part this is a real strength of the show.
Finally, the acting is very good. Each show has strong guest stars, a real Who's Who of television and movie actors. The cast also gives strong performances, including an amazing job by James Drury. Why he wasn't treated to more long term starring roles after this is a mystery to me. Even Doug McClure, who walked thru most of the rest of his career trading on his popularity as Trampus, gave strong and believable performances in this series.
Obviously, I highly recommend The Virginian to any fan of westerns. Whether you are a younger viewer discovering this show for the first time, or someone like me 'rediscovering it', you'll experience a true delight.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a new fan. A lot of the shows finally airing on Encore or TvLand
I've never seen. I'm glad I came home early one day & got the tail end
of an episode of the Virginian. The characters grab you quick. It's
hard not to be drawn in by James Drury's portrayal of The Virginian.
His good lucks, ultra polite manners & always doing the right thing is
wonderful. I really don't grow tired of watching this show. I bought
Season I & II & often times take them with me to work & listen to them
at my desk on a portable DVD player. Any time I bring the Virginian
DVD's I end up with a passel of coworkers who drag their lunches &
chairs into my office & offer to share lunch if they can watch with me
during lunch hour!! Even some of the youngsters get drawn in & say,
"Man, he's a cool dude" :) It's nice to be able to sit down & watch
something that there are no age limit to who can watch. My husband's
young grandson all the way up to my 88 yr old Grandma love it.
And how many modern shows can you let the kiddies & adults without worrying that anyone would be offended??? I don't know if this is a spoiler or not but the abrupt cast changes left our household a little upset but so long as James Drury's in there we hope they keep putting the whole show out on DVD because the show is much loved & will be watched & shared for many years to come!!!! It's highly recommended viewing. I love Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Loredo, Cheyenne, The Daniel Boone Series & now The Virginian is fast becoming my favorite! Every time I watch I fall a little more in love with The Virginian.
I first saw the Virginian in England in the 1960s. It became my
favorite Western series. The characters were honest, likable and
honorable. The acting was good and the stories were compelling and well
written. The show also seemed more subtle and complex than the average
western series. The stories usually had a moral message and the good
guys always came out on top.James Drury, Doug McClure and Lee J.Cobb
were all excellent.
The Virginian came from a time when American TV shows were very popular in the UK.During the 1960s and 1970s we tended to see a lot of American shows in prime-time in Britain, but that changed in the 1980s. This show is being shown on Encore and I'm enjoying watching it in color for the first time.
This series (The Virginian) is truly amazing. It ran for 9 long
seasons, a total of 249 episodes. The Virginian (James Drury) and
Trampas (Doug MaClure) stayed through the entire series. There were a
number of Owners of the 'Shiloh Ranch' located near Medicine Bow,
Wyoming in the late 1800's. The daughters and/or nieces of the owner
were a series of lovely actresses. Owners included Lee J. Cobb, Charles
Bickford, and John McIntyre (and his real-life wife, Jeanette Nolan).
John Dehner was also the owner for a (mercifully) short period.
Although there were many, many writers and a very long list of directors, the series was very fluid. Top name actors were guest stars week after week, and somehow the episodes were always very enjoyable. When you stop to think that they basically produced a 90 minute movie every week, 30 weeks a year, it is remarkable that each week was unique and entertaining. Various sensitive topics were handled in a real-to-life manner.
This series remains, in my opinion, one of if not the greatest series ever presented on TV. I would watch every episode again, and with great enjoyment!
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