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I began watching The Big Valley back when I was seven years old. That was thirty years ago. Little did I know then that the show would become something that would help me. I went through years of abuse through two different family members. If it weren't for the show The Big Valley I probably would have committed suicide at an early age. Instead of turning to drug or alcohol abuse, or other forms of hurting myself, I focused instead on the cast of this amazing show. The affection and love they had for each other made a big impression on me. I longed to be part of a family that cared for each other like the Barkley's did. They became so real to me at times that it blocked out how bad I was feeling about what I was going through and it gave me something positive to focus on instead of the pain and shame of living with what was happening to me. I am grateful to the entire cast of the show for giving me a way out of a bad situation and focusing on something good, something that wouldn't hurt me or anyone else. They mean a great deal to me and always will. I hope that sometime I will get to see one of them with my own eyes. I don't have to meet them personally. Just to see them will be enough. The show gave me a feeling of peace just to watch. It always made me laugh at times when I really needed it, and thrilled me at other times. The men on the show were the best looking men I have seen on any show (then or since) and I've yet to see a television show that shows a family that cares the way that they did on The Big Valley. It gave me such joy to be able to come home and watch the show. Certain episodes stayed with me from the time I first started watching it. One in particular showed what a caring man Nick was. In the episode "The Prize" where Heath brings home little Joey. The scene where Nick is trying to get to sleep but can't because Joey is teething and very fussy I still remember to this day, even though I haven't seen the episode in over twenty-five years. When he referred to himself as "Uncle Nick" and Audra was watching from the doorway I thought was one of the best scenes in that series. Another episode was "The Iron Box" where Nick and Heath were arrested for cattle theft and put in a chain gang I thought was incredible acting by Peter and Lee. I have hoped for years that someday a Big Valley reunion will be filmed. I know that Barbara and Richard are gone, but I think it would be great to see Peter, Lee and Linda reunited in a Big Valley reunion. This series will always hold a special place to me. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember and will always remain a big part of me.
It's hard to believe that a mid-1960's western could be the favorite TV show of a preteen boy in the 1970's but it's true. This was in reruns at 4:00pm daily and I could not WAIT to get home and see it. My sister felt the same way. I know, based on www pages out there, that I am not alone in my love for "The Big Valley", but I have to admit that it's a strange thing to be addicted to. There's something about the camera-ready cast, the quality of the stories and guest stars, the majestic opening theme and background music in the episodes and the overall aura of "The Barkleys" that is just irresistible to me. The series was just one of many, many TV westerns, but what sets this apart is the female slant and the striking use of color. Was there ever a bluer shirt than Victoria Barkley's? Hair more golden than Audra's? Leather more black than Nick's? Watching reruns of "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza", they really look like dusty, brown, more authentic (especially with "Gunsmoke") presentations. "BV" started out that way, but soon progressed into an almost surreal blend of authentic locales mixed with '60's styles and colors. How else to describe Lee Majors' sideburns, the clean lines of the womens' riding gear or the ladies' false eyelashes? But I wouldn't change any of it for the world. The Barkleys' world is a world I'd want to live in. Everything is beautiful and they stand for truth, justice and the American way! They are defenders of right and will suffer to preserve integrity. (Kinda like The Super Friends, but with less wacky costumes...) The blend of types in the show is expert. You have scholarly, level-headed Jarrod, tough, explosive Nick, sensitive, handsome Heath, thoughtful, gloriously beautiful Audra and stern, fair, in charge Victoria (...oh, and then some poor kid who was let go right off the bat and never heard from again. That's the breaks, Eugene!) Together, in any combination, or separate, they are a captivating lot. Certain images burn the memory......Victoria cocking her rifle and ordering outlaws away, her croaking Audra's name when the girl has stumbled into trouble, Heath anytime he removed his shirt, Nick raging through the front door, Audra's black riding hat with chin string sitting atop her mane of the most beautiful hair in Hollywood...... Some of the stories were rehashes of other previous works (including Stanwyck's own movies! See "Jeopardy" some time!), but most of the time they were compelling and always they were filmed with skill and class. This is one of the best TV shows ever made.
I am really greatly relieved to read the previous reviews, knowing that I am not alone in being a huge fan of this great series!! There was just something about this show as a whole which really appealed to me - in a big way. I loved all the Barkley characters. Victoria was played to perfection by Stanwyck. The widow Barkley was a curious but convincing mixture of gracious elegance and guts: her Victoria Barkley is practically a cult figure of female characters of the Western genre. Richard Long was genuinely likeable as the level-headed eldest son, Jarrod, who provided a nice balance between the tough, egotistical Nick and the more sensitive half-brother Heath. Linda Evans was astonishingly beautiful as Audra (she alone kept many male baby boomers tuned in!). But there was so much else "right" with this show - artificial though it may have looked to those critical of Stanwyck being "Ben Cartwright in a skirt". The storylines were well-written & original and the shows were well-directed and well-acted. Most every episode was colourful, tasteful, upright & moral - but rarely dull, somehow: there was a larger-than-life quality to the series which appealed to its particular fans: the colour is beautiful to look at, and the score by George Duning is beautiful to hear. The series boasted many interesting guest stars: Julie Harris, Cloris Leachman, Colleen Dewhurst among many others. An embarrassing confession: as a kid, Heath Barkley was my sole hero: I thought Lee Major's playing of the half-breed illegitimate son of Tom Barkley was really inspired. Majors made Heath a really likeable character. Although Majors did many more successful TV roles, it is for his playing of Heath Barkley that I most fondly identify him with to this day.
Having worked at ABC and "Saga of the Big Valley" was one of 'our shows' we coordinated between production companies, advertising agencies & network .. as I recall, Eugene's character was not brought back because the story lines worked well with the characters who were always in it .. Peter, Breck, Linda Evans, Richard Long, Barbara Stanwyck, etc. .. there was so much to do with their characters that 'Eugene' was not needed and perhaps there was a contract problem as well . I do not really remember .. it was so long ago . most enjoyable show .. Usually, when you have many 'stars' in a series .. each is set to do X# out of total shows for the year .. back then we were doing a lot more than 22 shows a year as they do now and took less time to make them as well.. sometimes it comes down to money too .. but it also cost a lot less to film shows back then and 'stars' did not get anywhere near the money they make today ... thus less episodes and more commercials today!
''The Big Valley''has been my favorite TV show for over thirty years. Although I had seen it from time to time when it was running in prime time, it was'nt until 1973, when it was shown locally, that I really got into it. Barbara Stanwyck was one of those rare golden age actresses who grew more beautiful with the passage of time. As Victoria Barkley, she was playing a woman close to her heart, and mine. Linda Evans, Richard Long, Peter Breck and Lee Majors were perfect support. And those guest stars! to name a few, Anne Baxter,Julie Adams, Coleen Dewhurst, Bradford Dillman,Susan Strasberg,James Whitmore, Julie Harris, Andrew Duggan, John Anderson, Jeanne Cooper, Diane Baker, James Gregory..... I want so much to have the complete series on DVD. I haven't even seen the episodes in their complete and original form, thanks to the butchering they endured for more commercials. In any form, however, this show is the BEST!
I was not a big fan of Westerns, but this one really stands out. I liked it
back in the 1970s, and then again lately with its run on the Hallmark
If this show was not an authentic Western, who cares? The show had enough chutzpah and special qualities to make it so likeable. One episode, "Miranda," which aired 15 January 1968, had one scene that made me take notice. The title character, a Mexican revolutionary played by Barbara Luna, asked Napoleon Whiting, who played the African-American servant Silas, if slavery had been outlawed. The exchange between those two characters was a sort of icebreak, because of the stereotypical roles African-Americans had played in the movies and television for so long. At last, this concept is being questioned! This is the same year that "Julia" (1968) debuted.
The cast is fun. I liked Barbara Stanwyck, and I remember seeing Richard Long in 1970's "Nanny and the Professor." He is definitely missed. Peter Breck is also great, and I also like seeing Lee Majors in this role instead of "The Six Million Dollar Man." It is too bad that the series lasted only four years. It was such a fascinating series!
I just read a biography of Barbara Stanwyck and one thing that was made
abundantly clear, the woman really liked westerns. She loved doing them
from the earliest time in her career right up to her stint with The Big
Valley. In fact one of the great disappointments in her life was not
doing a film with John Wayne. Who knows why that didn't happen because
the two of them were in sync politically.
But she did a bunch of them with co-stars like Joel McCrea, Ronald Reagan, Walter Huston, Barry Sullivan, Ray Milland, etc. So when it came time to choose a television project, Barbara went west.
The Big Valley cast her as Victoria Barkley, matriarch of the Barkley ranch with three sons and a daughter to hold the fort against all comers. The pilot of the show introduced her husband's illegitimate son into the household played by young Lee Majors. Her children were Richard Long, Peter Breck, Linda Evans, and Charles Briles.
Briles got dropped after eight episodes as the youngest, Eugene. They just sent him off to college in the east and he wasn't heard from again. Reading the IMDb notes on him, I find he got himself drafted. All I can say is BUMMER.
Richard Long as Jarrod was also college educated, an attorney, which was a good plot device allowing the show to get off the ranch and into town. Peter Breck was Nick, who was a tough son of a gun. I met Peter Breck a few years before The Big Valley. His family lived in Rochester, New York across from my grandparents house and he was visiting while starring in another shortlived series Black Saddle. My siblings and cousins got to meet him then. A very gracious and nice man.
Of course Linda Evans and Lee Majors both had really great careers after the show. Linda as Audra was a sweet and innocent child, not anything like Crystal Carrington. And Lee Majors got to be The Fall Guy and The Six Million Dollar Man after he was Heath Barkley. I would love to have that man's residuals.
Richard Long did Nanny and the Professor and tragically died right after the run of that show. He was always a player of great class and I enjoyed seeing him in anything he did.
The Barkleys ran into all manner of people and were constantly helping them out of their various predicaments. They were pretty rich of course, as rich as Bonanza's Cartwrights. But I really think they outdid themselves even more than Ben and his sons. Every episode seemed to end with some financial assistance to help somebody get on their feet. I'm surprised Jarrod didn't run for office with all those potential voters available.
With Lee Majors, Linda Evans, and Peter Breck still with us and even Charles Briles, I'm not sure why a Big Valley reunion hasn't been attempted. I'd like to see the Barkleys ride the range into the 20th century.
I read all the comments and no one answered the question. I don't remember him doing anything. He just went off to college and never came back. Didn't the actor get drafted? I think someone mentioned that. The Big Valley was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. For me it was Barbara Stanwick, the strong woman and Lee Majors, the odd one out that brought me back. Heath and I had a lot in common and I wanted to grow up to be all that Barbara's character represented, strong, confident, admired and rich didn't hurt. I think I grew up with the characters on TV for my role models sense I found the adults in my world so sadly lacking. If she were alive today I would like to thank her for the strong woman she portrayed. In that time of of upheaval, when a woman's role was changing she showed me a woman could be strong and smart and still have a family to love and nurture. Thank you for Victoria, Jared, Nick and Heath. Thank you for the beautiful innocent Audra, and thank you for the forgotten Eugene. Thank you for Big Valley
I've been watching Bonanza recently and don't like it as much as The Big
Valley. It seems like Bonanza is shot in a small building. The
always seems to be painted on the walls and sound seems to echo. I'm
to see BV anymore (can't get Hallmark) but I remember most outdoor scenes
looking like they were indeed outdoors (probably because they were). I
loved their house and have often wondered where it's located, what it was
originally used for and if it's still standing today.
I liked the cast and the fact that most of them were in most episodes, although Audra seems to be missing from many episodes near the second half of the last season. I don't think Eugene was ever supposed to be part of the regular cast since he never appeared in the opening theme. Not sure why they had him in there to begin with.
I'd love to find this on VHS or DVD but have never seen it out there anyplace.
After reading the comments of others who love The Big Valley, I feel less unusual for enjoying the old show so much. It totally captured my interest when I was a teenager, and I miss watching it, since I cannot locate it. It should have run longer, but I can understand the actors were afraid of typecasting, or had other plans. I love everything about the show, from the opening music, to the stars, to the clothes, and I really loved that house, especially the staircase. I dream of a house like that one. I was pleased to have Linda Evans go on to Dynasty, and to see Lee Majors as The Bionic Man. I hoped to see more of Peter Breck and the others.
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