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"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.
When land pirates kill his foreman and seriously wound him he sends for his two sons whom he has not seen in many years.
Scott,portrayed by Wayne Maunder,is somewhere around 25, and living in Boston where he was raised by his maternal grandfather after the older man took him east when his mother died either from a fever or from childbirth. Scott served in a cavalry unit during the war and rose to the rank of Lieutenant while serving under General Phil Sheridan.
Johnny, portrayed by James Stacy, is a few years younger. Known as Johnny Madrid in certain parts of the country, 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 "some sort of gambler" according to Murdoch's ward, Teresa O'Brien. Johnny is saved from a firing squad by the Pinkerton agent hired to find him.
The brothers know 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 - a usually sleepy little village near the ranch.
After a rough start the boys, Murdoch and Teresa eventually become a close-knit family and share the trials and tribulations of cattle ranching and the occasional visitor from the past - be it Johnny's past as a gunfighter, Scott's past as a soldier or scion of Boston society or, occasionally, Murdoch's own past.
It is similar to, but definitely not a clone of, Bonanza. For one thing we have no idea if Murdoch is still married to Maria or if she is dead. Johnny doesn't talk about his mother much outside of the pilot episode and Cut The Wolf Loose.
Johnny, the son of a Mexican serving-wench, was my favorite.
My friends and I were so crazy about 'Lancer' it was a frequent subject of our conversations for most of the week, and the ONLY topic of conversation on Tuesdays (anticipation of that night's episode) and Wednesdays (the aftermath.) Fancying myself a writer even back then, I would write stories about 'Lancer,' the first of which introduced my pals and I as new 'wards' of the Lancer family. My friend Penny, the artist, illustrated the stories. We made probably the first and only 'Lancer' graphic novel. I'd give anything to have those stories back..... It's nice to visit this page and discover that 'The Lancer-ettes' and I were not the show's only fans.