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The 165 one-hour episodes (45 in B&W, 120 in color) of the frontier
western "Daniel Boone" originally aired on NBC from 1964-1970. This was
an extremely popular baby boomer show that may seem a little odd today
due to an uncharacteristic emphasis on racial/ethnic diversity (insert
Ed Ames as Mingo and NFL lineman Rosey Grier as Gabe Cooper). But the
times were a-changing as the country tried to turn itself into LBJ's
"Great Society" and network executives smelled an opportunity to cash
in on the baby boomer's budding social awareness.
The series moved between a domestic focus on Boone's family (Patricia Blair as wife Rebecca, Veronica Cartwright as daughter Jemima, and Darby Hinton as his son Israel) to "one-with-the-wilderness"/"the British are evil" themes. The series focused on Boone after he had moved to Kentucky.
Daniel was played by Fess Parker who already had an established coonskin cap franchise from his mid-1950's Disney TV portrayal of Davy Crockett. Boone is played as an even tempered peaceful man who likes to chum around in the woods with Oxford educated Indians and runaway black slaves (see above), your basic 1770's flower child. Other than his confrontations with "the man" (represented by those nasty Redcoats) there is very little messy violence and lots of "Little House on the Prairie" moments.
Cartwright, the most talented of the ensemble, is frustratingly underutilized. Particularly given that the most celebrated event in the real Daniel Boone's life was the rescue of his daughter and her two friends from Indian kidnappers.
Cartwright bailed out after season two, Ames after season four, and Blair after season five. Budding sausage king Jimmy Dean was added as Josh Clements, a character in the tradition Chester and Festus from "Gunsmoke".
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most memorable television series ever has not lost any of
its charm over the years. That series is "DANIEL BOONE". It ran from
September 24, 1964 until it was cancelled on September 10, 1970 for a
total of six seasons and 165 episodes. Fess Parker starred as Daniel
Boone, (which could be considered a recreation of his role as Davy
Crockett) explorer, adventurer, and all-around family man. The
beautiful Patricia Blair was Daniel's wife Rebecca, Ed Ames was the
civilized, Oxford educated Cherokee named Mingo, Albert Salmi was
Yadkin (first season only), Daniel's loyal sidekick, Veronica
Cartwright was Daniel's young daughter Jemima, Darby Hinton was Israel
Boone, and Dal McKennon was the hilarious Cincinnatus. The show was set
in and around the small settlement of Boonesborough, Kentucky, and was
basically about Boone's always exciting adventures. "DANIEL BOONE"
always sported high production values in its casting, action pieces,
stunts, special effects, and sets. But I guess that's not too
surprising, since the producer was Aaron Rosenberg, who was also the
producer for such great movies as "WINCHESTER '73". Both elements of
the show - its action pieces and stunts, and its more family friendly
values, are complimentary to each other. Without the action and stunts
(particular examples would be in "CAIN'S BIRTHDAY" and "MY BROTHER'S
KEEPER", two of the best episodes), the show would be boring and
lifeless, but without the human element (such as one of the criminals
wanting to be a teacher in "THE DEVIL'S FOUR"), the show would have no
meaning to the families that have loved the show for the past forty-odd
years. The show featured many guest stars in its first season alone,
such as Brock Peters, Pat Hingle, Michael Rennie, Leslie Nielsen, Kelly
Thordsen, Peter Whitney, and Walter Pidgeon. So join Daniel Boone as he
battles hostile Indians, evil British, dishonest settlers and many
other disreputable inhabitants of the land in and around Boonesborough.
An absolutely great television show which is definitely one of the
THIS REVIEW IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD, INVOLVED WITH THE MAKING OF "DANIEL BOONE".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WE'VE HEARD THAT the procurers wanted to do a DAVY CROCKETT Series.
Plans called for using former Walt Disney contract player and star of
DISNEYLAND TV's DAVY CROCKETT Saga. There were, we believe, 5 hour long
episodes telecast in 1955-56.
LEGAL PROCEDURES AND "the Suits" intervened on behalf of Disney and the law prevailed against the proposed new CROCKETT Series. So, would the production company's misfortunes would now number an unwanted Surplus of Buckskin Coats & Pants, Coonskin Caps and Flintlock Rifles?
ALAS, THEY WERE saved by a simple but effective change of venue and moving back a few decades in American History. Instead of Tennessee in the years circa 1820-36, we were now in Kentucky during the 1770's and the American Revolutionary War!
TO THEIR CREDIT, other than the Frontier setting and the plethora of deer hide and furry headpieces, the series is far different from the DAVY CROCKETT Saga on the DISNEYLAND Show.
THE EPISODES WHICH we have seen are more family oriented, widely constituted in subject matter and still action-full.
THIS SERIES GIVES us a more diverse cast of characters in the credits. In addition to Fess Parker (Daniel) and Patricia Blair (Rebecca Boone, wife) we have Darby Hinton (Israel Boone, son), there is great support from several top performers. In recurring roles we have Dal McKinnon (Cincinatius), Abel Fernandez (Little Turtle), Veronica Cartwright (Jemmima Boone), Roosevelt Grier (Gabe Cooper, Black Free Man) and Albert Salmi (Yadkin).
AMONG OTHERS WHO had multiple appearances as the same character were: country singer, Jimmy Dean and a young Curt Russell.
BUT FOR OUR money the most unique and scene stealing character was that of Ed Ames. In a sort of reversal of the Civilized Man's returning 'back to nature', as suggested by Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli (JUNGLE BOOK) or Edgar Rice Burroughs' TARZAN, Ed Ames' Mingo is a Native American Indian, who has been given a college education in England, before returning to the North American wilderness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DANIEL BOONE was star Fess Parker's production company's project to
recapture the success and popularity of the DAVY CROCKETT episodes he
did for the Disney anthology series of the 1950's. However, the Davy
Crockett franchise was owned by Disney, and Disney was unwilling to
sell their rights, so they had to come up with something else along the
same lines, and thus DANIEL BOONE was born. Basically they recast the
earlier character and much of the light-hearted, folk-tale-inspired
stories and feel of the earlier show, and even appropriated the
coon-skin cap he had made so popular in DAVY CROCKETT (I suppose Disney
didn't have a monopoly on that mode of headgear). Then they updated the
story concepts and themes to mid-1960's. Once you realize this (and
assuming you've seen DAVY CROCKETT, OLD YELLER, or any of the standard
Disney weekly television fare of the era) you'll understand where this
series was coming from. In terms of story themes, it was mid-60's
morality play TV, where good always ultimately triumphed over evil, the
ending was generally a happy one, and traditional American idealistic
values as well as some newer ones, like opposing racism, were upheld.
Thus, it was no different than anything else of that era -- BONANZA,
THE RIFLEMAN, THE BIG VALLEY, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, you name it, and it
was just as popular, with a rendition of the theme song expanded and
sung by Fess Parker himself being played on Top 40 radio.
What was uniquely fun about this show, though, was the 1950's Disneyesque TV humor, some of which revolved not the least around Fess Parker's sidekicks, in particular, the inimitable Mingo, played by baritone singer Ed Ames. Styled as a Cherokee (and therefore, "friendly") Indian, Mingo was actually half-English and educated at no less an institution than Oxford, after which he returned to resume his Cherokee lifestyle while communicating with whites in the King's English. This became a running joke in the show, for when the pair met up with any of the vast population of guest stars portraying various strangers from week to week, Daniel or the other white frontiersman would say something like, "downright happy t' know ya", while Mingo, looking from head to toe like any Indian from James Fenimore Cooper, would in crisp, perfect English and a deep sonorous voice, intone something like, "the pleasure and honor are all mine, sir," often to the stunned amazement of the stranger. Moreover, he was not only an expert Cherokee tracker with a store of knowledge of other tribes, but a true classically-educated intellectual aware even of much of the latest scientific knowledge. Don't be surprised to see Mingo respond to some down-home philosophical question with a Latin metaphor, in Latin. He's practically the original Mister Spock (a whole year before Star Trek debuted).
Fess Parker himself was perfect in this, doing a classic portrayal of an easygoing, exceptionally cool-headed, and slow-to-anger backwoodsman who also has no problem decking somebody with a crashing right or mowing them down with "Ticklicker", his Kentucky long rifle, once events escalated to that level. Thus, he is most often able to defuse a situation and prevail by disarming his opponent in a competition of wits, avoiding bloodshed with down-home wisdom, wilyness, and manly eyeball-to-eyeball negotiating, true to the DAVY CROCKETT tradition. (For the uninitiated, Crockett was also played by John Wayne in THE ALAMO where Crockett's death at that battle in real life is portrayed.) Here Parker is the living embodiment of Theodore Roosevelt's admonition, "speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far." In this sense, he might remind the 60's TV aficionado of Andy Griffith in his show of the same name (even if the latter character and the show were typically better written. In this regard, the reviewer who attacks Parker's masculinity so prominently in this string is difficult to comprehend in her remarks.
Probably the worst thing about this show were some fairly contrived, not entirely plausible plot devices and even whole story lines at times, as well as a pace that was sometimes a little slow even by the standards of the day. Also trying to the modern viewer are the 1960's production values, which while perfectly standard then still didn't convey the outdoor sequences that made up most of the scenes in this show as well as one would prefer today, being that they were mostly shot indoors on a sound stage.
That said, I have a season of this on DVD and it really takes me back to my childhood to watch it. In fact, I still remember the Saturday night I was in church (the show was still current right about the time the Catholic Church decided you could go to mass on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, your option) where the priest caught somebody looking at his watch and announced, "don't worry, everybody, I want to get home in time to watch DANIEL BOONE, too". Today I enjoy it very much as a classic example of mid-60's American action-drama TV.
This is a great TV show for all ages. The kind of show that 'should,'
and, most likely will, among other things, teach children to respect
their parents, and...elders, alike; and, how a functional family works
when they 'work together.'
I remember watching "Daniel Boone" when I was about three (around the forth season) and how much I enjoyed it. Now, the "Inspiration" (INSP) channel has brought it back. I watched two episodes yesterday (May 20, 2015), and, it's as good as I remember it being. It's the kind of 'family-friendly' television that parents can allow a small child to watch alone without the fear of them seeing or hearing something inappropriate, vulgar, overly violent, and/or something that may give them nightmares.
What else is great about this show is the scenery. Wonderful settings with open fields and thick forests; as well as beautiful streams and rivers. Serenity and peace in a wilderness that is absolutely breathtaking. Anyone who likes the outdoors is sure to like this; and, with any luck, this show, and, others like it, will get more children to get off of their computers and into the wild.
The characters are played by good actors who people remember - Fess Parker (Daniel Boone), of "Old Yeller" (1957); and, Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier (Gabe Cooper), the man who broke Sirhan Sirhan's hand while taking his pistol away after he shot Robert Kennedy, thus, saving others from being killed. (I guess that's what happens to your han(d) when you have a name like Sirhan Sirhan!?!?).
It was television shows like this, and..."Grizzly Adams;" "The Waltons;" "Bonanza;" "The Big Valley;" "The Virginian;" "Little House on the Prairie;" "The High Chaparral;" "Gunsmoke;" etc., that made me want to spend a lot of time exploring various forests and all they have to offer; and, made me want to become a Cub Scout and learn even more. Plus, all of these TV shows are 'child-friendly.'
Bottom line - "Daniel Boone" is great family-fare; and, it's great for children of all ages. :)
Beginning with one of the worst opening title sequences in TV history,
this show is really a mess. The catchy title song started out fine but
was needlessly revamped and ruined by the third iteration.
On the TV show, Boone starts out with two kids and after season 2, the daughter suddenly disappears and then he has just one son. The real Daniel Boone had 10 kids. Some of the scenes are very violent - especially for a show aimed at kids.
Although this series ran from 1964 through 1970, I didn't watch it much as a kid. Now, after seeing a dozen episodes on RTV, I know why. The writing is uneven and sometimes hard to follow.
The stories are often lousy and attempt to promote liberal social agendas of the 1960s rather than deal with historical facts of the era in which Boone lived.
Other issues: The Ed Ames and Rosey Grier characters are highly implausible and neither lasted through the run of the series.
Daniel Boone was 5'8" not 6'5". He never wore a coonskin cap (and certainly not purple pants) as he does in this show. Kids watching this series who think they're seeing a slice of American history are being sadly misled.
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