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Susan Saint James,
Lancer is the story of a rancher who struggles to hang onto his vast holdings in California's San Joaquin Valley with the help of his two sons and his ward. Scott, whose mother died in childbirth, is Murdoch Lancer's older son. He was raised by his maternal grandfather in Boston. Younger son Johnny was taken from his father by his Mexican mother when he was only around two. He grew up around the Mexican border and went by the name "Johnny Madrid", under which he earned a reputation as a fast gun. Deservedly so apparently, as men from his past occasionally showed up to cause problems for Johnny and his newfound family. Teresa O'Brien, daughter of Murdoch's murdered ranch foreman is Murdoch's ward and a surrogate sister to the two boys.
Lancer: A Brilliant Western Drama from the late-1960's
"Lancer" was one of the most excellent western-adventure series to come out of the late 1960's. This was a great show that unfortunately wasn't provided the budget that it deserved to stay on the air,due to the powers to be over at CBS. This was a western that was compared to "Bonanza" and "The High Chapparral",but it offer a lot more. Produced by Alan A. Armer("The Fugitive","The Untouchables",and "The Invaders"),under the executive in charge of production William Self for 20th Century-Fox Television and Kent Productions,this was a series that ran for two seasons on CBS-TV,producing 51 episodes all in color that was on the air for September 24,1968 until May 19,1970.
"Lancer" was an impressive series with great writing and direction along with stunning photography not to mention exciting western action and adventure. "Lancer" was about a man Murdoch Lancer(played by Andrew Duggan,who was a less wholly admirable patriarch than Lorne Greene's Ben Cartwright of Bonanza),who emigrated from Scotland in the mid-1800's,owns and operates a 100,000 acre ranch where he raises cattle and horses. When land pirates kill his foreman and seriously wounded him,he sends for his two sons whom he hasn't seen in years. Scott Lancer(played by Wayne Maunder),was the educated older son and was a veteran of the Union Army(who served in a cavalry unit during the war and rose to the rank of Lieutenant while serving under General Phil Sheridan). The youngest son Johnny Lancer(James Stacy)was a half-hispanic gunslinger who was also known as Johnny Madrid. Johnny's mother was Murdoch's second wife-a Mexican woman named Maria. Johnny,unlike Scott,was born at Lancer and spent approximately the first two years of his life there. For reasons known only to herself Maria deserted her husband and left Lancer with Johnny in the company of strangers,according to Murdoch's ward,Teresa O'Brien(Elizabeth Baur). The brothers knew nothing about each other's existence until they are "introduced" to each other by Teresa when they arrive on the same stage in Morro Coyo. After a rough start the boys,along with their father Murdoch and Teresa eventually become a close-kint family and share the trials and tribulations of cattle ranching and the occasional visitor from the past-either Johnny's past as a gunfighter,or Scott's past as a soldier or scion of Boston society or Murdoch's own past.
This series was compared to "Bonanza",but was a lot more. It was more down to earth in its approach to solving each problem in some of the episodes. It was brilliant western drama at its finest. The father let his sons be themselves and treated them with dignity and respect. And it shows in some of the episodes,with some of the best writing in a western drama ever presented. Also on board this series was Paul Brinegar,formerly the cook Wishbone on another CBS-TV western series "Rawhide",also appeared as Jelly Hoskins,a series regular.
The guest star roster included on this series were Joe Don Baker,Ellen Corby,Dub Taylor,Jack Elam,Sam Elliott,Bruce Dern,along with actor/director Ron Howard(as Ronnie Howard from the Andy Griffith Show),Cloris Leachman,Scott Marlowe,Stefanie Powers(The Girl From U.N.C.L.E),Frank McHugh,along with Lloyd Haynes(Room 222),Vic Tayback(Griff and later on for Alice),and Manuel Padilla,Jr.(aka Jai from the TV-series Tarzan).
Don't miss the best episodes from this series from season one:(the 1968-69 season)"The Pilot Episode:The High Riders","Death Bait","Glory","Yesterday's Vendetta","The Measure of a Man",and "The Devil's Blessing".
Also the best episodes from its second and final season:(the 1969-70 season)"Blind Man's Buff","Legacy","Cut The Wolf Loose","Shadow of a Dead Man","Blue Skies for Willie Sharpe","The Lion and the Lamb","The Rivals",and the final episode of the series "Lifeline". After CBS canceled this series in the Spring of 1970,the network repeated all 51 episodes in the summer of 1971 as a replacement. The summer replacement was for the variety-series "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" which the western "Lancer" replaced.
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