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I really loved The Big Valley when I was growing up. I admired Victoria
Barkley's spunk and strength, and over the years I had crushes on each
of the Barkley brothers, finally settling on Nick (Peter Breck). Some
of the plot lines were formulaic and laughable - you always knew that
anyone that any of the "kids" fell in love with was either going to die
tragically or end up being a con artist.
Probably the best ever episode, in my opinion, was the one where Victoria was declared insane and placed in an asylum - getting her out of the way so that some nefarious plot line could advance. Barbara Stanwyck did an excellent job of playing a frantic, hysterical woman who is sane - but who is so frantic and hysterical that even someone well-intended might wonder about her sanity.
Lee Majors as Heath Barkley really grew in the role - starting out as the bastard son of Victoria's deceased husband, but becoming an accepted member of the Barkley clan.
But Peter Breck was the best of the actors portraying Victoria's younger son, Nick. Linda Evans as Audra was colossally annoying and whiny, and a perennial victim. Although Richard Long was OK as Jarrod, I always felt like someone else with a little more charisma might have done a lot more with that role.
I Watch It Every Saturday At 5&6 O'Clock On The Hallmark Channel I Sort
Of Had A Crush On Heath When I Was Younger I'm Sure A Lot Of Young
Girls Did. But My All time Favorite Part Of The Shows Was When Nick
Showed Love Toward Heath. Like On The Episode Called "The Night Of The
Wolf" Where Nick Got Bitten By A Rapid Wolf And When Heath Went To Find
him Nick Gave Him A Big Hug. But I Also Loved The Way Heath Was So
Sensitive If Someone Said The Tinyest Wrong Thing To Him He Would Be
All Hurt Inside But Nick Was Always There To Hold Him And Make It
Better. Although I Only Seem To Recall Hearing Nick Tell Heath That He
Loved Him Once. But I Remember That It Was The Most adorable Thing You
Ever Wanted To See. Because They Ended Up Cuddling In Heath's Room.
Well I Really Have Nothing More To Say About Big Valley Except That
It's A Really Great Show And Will Continue To Watch It As Long As They
Keep Airing It
Well So Long Big Valley Fans. From Anonymous in Amarillo TX.
One of the great western series of all time. With her husbands passing mrs.Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) is the glue that holds the family together with love,compassion Richard Long plays lawyer and oldest son Jarrod. Peter Breck plays quick to fight Nick Barkley, Lee Maijors plays Heath Barkley tough and rugged.Linda Evans plays Audra Barkley beautiful and pure. Youngest son Eugene isn't in but first 8 episodes and is off to college. What separates Big Valley is the strong cast also Heath Barkley was recently passed Tom Barkleys son . Twist is he didn't know he existed. Heath enters the Barkleys lives and becomes part of what he has wanted his whole life a real family. Some very good episodes very entertaining truly classic television. They show a toughness and family bond that cannot be broken.
This Western TV series was much like "Bonanza", and in fact seems to be
an answer to the drawback of the Lorne Greene series.
We have a matriarch instead of a patriarch here, but that isn't the real difference. We have three sons in both, with THE BIG VALLEY adding a daughter.
The daughter was one thing that was lacking in BONANZA. The young girl and the mother provided women viewers people to identify with, and they were very reasonable characters, as most TV action series leads should be.
The daughter was a "woman's woman" too, the sort that women think of themselves as being like. She was pale and blond, an average girl, maybe a bit more attractive in the face than most. She could easily get lost in a crowd, though. But so could the mother, played by classic actress Barbara Stanwyck.
The biggest improvement over the Lorne Greene series was the second son. Both series had a handsome oldest son with intellect, and a handsome youngest son who usually wound up being the one to shoot a man dead in self defense. However, lets be honest. Blocker as Hoss, the second son, was not someone a kid wanted to be like. Families across America would watch this, but the second sons would always be alienated. Very few wanted to watch themselves be portrayed as fat clowns.
That's where this series made itself better. The second son here was the tough one, like Hoss, but he wasn't the eyesore. He was just as romantic looking as the other sons.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Barbara Stynwick must had been shown a lot of money. In order to get to
TV. As her movie career was winding down. She plays the headstrong but
sympathetic head of the owner of the ranch. Which was controversial at
She played a mom that had her hands full, raising her children as a single mother who's husband died six years prior to where the show began.
There was even tempered and calmer attorney Jarrod, hot tempered but sympathetic Nick, illegitimate son Heath who had to prove his worth to the family, and only daughter Audra who was stubborn but yet, one action gal.
They do not make westerns like they used to like "Bonanza" or the "Big Valley!"
Barbara Stanwyck, a great actress and a true Star, was the matriarch of
the Barkeley family in this series. While Ms. Stanwyck's peers Bette
Davis, Joan Crawford, Ann Sothern, Olivia De Havilland, etc kept busy
in movie horror films to stay in the public eye,Barbara Stanwyck wisely
went the route of hit TV show.
The Big Valley was produced at Four Star which was an independent firm that produced among other shows The Rogues, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Rifleman, Burke's Law, etc was was co- owned by David Niven, Charles Boyer and Dick Powell who ran the studio and brought it to great success. During Powell's tenure stars such as Steve McQueen, Irene Dunne, Paul Muni, etc either top lined or guest star in Four Star TV series. Four Star and its competitor across town Desilu were independent studios creating some of the more iconic TV shows of the era.
This is a great TV show shot at Repbublic Studios now known as CBS Studios with its great western Street a favorite location for Ms. Stanwyck.
Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and lovely Linda Evans free lancing after leaving MGM played Stanwyck's children, all Stars Four. Guest stars were Van Williams, and other stars comfortable as cowboys such as Brad Dillman, Bruce Dern, etc.
The Big Valley with its great music score is a classic TV show from a classic studio, Four Star
Not trying to review any particular episode, but the series:).
I saw most of "The Big Valley" during syndication in the early 1970s, and have lately been watching it again on Me TV. I still believe that it is one of the best Westerns produced by American television.
The initial plot is intriguing, because Heath (Lee Majors' character) is the illegitimate son of the late Tom Barkley. The wealthy yet hard- working Barkleys eventually concede the evidence and acknowledge Heath as one of their own. Thereafter, we see Jarrod, Nick and Audra Barkley gradually accepting Heath as their brother, as he begins to accept them as his close siblings.
Also interesting was Heath's evolving relationship with Victoria. She was not his biological mother, although her late husband was Heath's father. Even so, she promptly begins thinking of him as her son, even as he starts calling her "Mother." During the first season, there's an episode in which Heath and Victoria take a long trip that turns disastrous when he's virtually buried under the wagon. Victoria fights like hell to save him, enlisting an escaped convict (Bruce Dern) to help her. Throughout, she calls Heath "my son."
The last scene shows Heath -- exhausted but not seriously injured -- ensconced in Victoria's arms.
The late Richard Long portrayed Jarrod, the Barkleys' eldest and a licensed attorney, as strong and steady. Middle son Nick was big, strong and fearless, although emotional and impulsive as well; Peter Breck conveyed those qualities superbly.
Linda Evans was at the peak of her young and overwhelming beauty as Audra Barkley. Evans played Audra as an impetuous young woman -- perhaps gullible with potential lovers (like Robert Goulet's Brother Love), yet quite as fearless as the other Barkleys.
Then there's "Miss" Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley. I am such a Stanwyck fan that I should probably recuse myself here. Suffice it to say that this role required strength and force, balanced by charm, humor and at least some vulnerability (some characters -- usually played by Bruce Dern -- slapped or even punched Victoria; yet she kept fighting for the freedom that she eventually won:))
BS was also damn sexy, even in her late 50s and early 60s (she was born in 1907). Those splendid cheekbones and that laser-like gaze can still buckle a strong man's knees:).
I love the show! And, watching it on re-runs (Encore Westerns) as well as the 1st Season DVD has been a real treat. For all the times I watched the show I can't believe that I just noticed that in the opening credits all the family members are named in full ("Richard Long as Jarrod Barkley" "Peter Breck as Nick Barkley"). However, when it comes to Lee Majors it is "Lee Majors as Heath". He is never credited as being "Heath Barkley". The same is true in the instances when the stars are credited in the closing credits as well. At first I thought that this was only for the first season when Heath's character first entered the family. But, in watching the shows in the last season I saw that it remained the same. Somehow, these credits seems like a total repudiation of what the theme of the show was supposed to be about - accepting Heath in full.
When I first saw that THE BIG VALLEY was to be released on DVD, I just could not wait to get Season One. Now I have it - and was not disappointed. I used to watch this show faithfully when it was televised (was totally in love with Nick Barkley!!) and it is just as good, if not better than I remembered it. These stories - they have depth and meaning - some are heart-wrenching - all are great! The performances are way above average (I grew to love Barbara Stanwyck because of this series and have seen almost all of her films thru the years) Ms Stanwyck was so underrated as an actress - to me, she's in the top ten greatest. The others also: Richard Long, Peter Breck (pant-pant), Lee Majors and Linda Evans - all fantastic! I feel so bad that there are no more TV series of this caliber anymore. Thank goodness for whoever is responsible for releasing these old series' on DVD. My only question is.... When do we get Season Two????
I am a 40 something guy and can't believe the rut television has gotten into these days! It disgusts me so much the shows that are on today. One reality show after another and every network jumps on the band wagon. Why can't they be varied and come up with a variety? I jump at every opportunity when a beloved Western comes out on video, its a dying genre unfortunately. Besides Gunsmoke, Big Valley is right there with it as a great classic western. I watch the reruns on cable, but would love to have the complete sets to watch over and over. The story lines are fantastic and always seem to teach us something about values along the way! The characters are solid and the guest stars are faces that we recognize. To me the cinematography for those days was magnificent and very enjoyable to watch too. As a kid I remember watching Gunsmoke, Big Valley, and Bonanza..those were the biggies. I just wish Hollywood would give a western a try again. The last one I can remember was the short lived Magnificent Seven with some great cast members, shame on CBS for not giving it a fare shot. The fan base as I remember tried to encourage CBS to give it another life to no avail, it all fell on deaf ears. Maybe someone will realize there are enough of us baby booms out where who loved the Westerns and are disgusted with Television that they might give it a shot again someday. Heck we are such a big portion of the population that grew up with westerns, maybe they might realize they are onto something. Well I have wrote at different times I guess we all need to ban together and get some attention in Hollywood-till then there are few shows that I watch on TV. Well again I will be the first in line to buy this fantastic Western series when it comes out!
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