An anthology comedy series featuring a line up of different celebrity guest stars appearing in anywhere from one, two, three, and four short stories or vignettes within an hour about versions of love and romance.
Callahan's horse is named "Blarney". Dusty's horse is named "Freckles". See more »
In the show with the tornado coming towards the wagon train, it was quite obvious that someone superimposed a hand drawn, scribbled sketch of a tornado over the finished film. Possibly the worst replica of a tornado in television history. See more »
I love this show, and rank the "Almost Complete Series" box set I found with 17 episodes of the 26 made to be one of the DVD scores of 2006. I grew up in a household led by two intellectuals who forbade their children from watching television lacking substance, and amongst the most often switched off with an admonishment of "SPORTS, PBS OR NOTHING!" comment was Gilligan's Island. Naturally then when leaving the nest one of the first things I did was to get cable TV and catch up on all the decades of crap television I had been denied, and Gilligan's Island earned a special place in the daily schedule. I managed to tape it every day for about three years until my stupid girlfriend said enough was enough, never missed an episode and still managed to get my Master's degree just fine.
But somehow I never encountered Dusty's Trail until bringing home a dollar store DVD of it and was instantly hooked before the first episode was even over. Yes it's Gilligan all over again, with the twist being that it's set in the West with cowboys & injuns instead of island natives and holdout Japanese WW2 soldiers. And yes the creators pillaged their own series right down to the characterizations, but they had the foresight to cast two very interesting supporting player regulars in the ultra-cute Laurie Saunders (who would have given Mary Anne a run for the money on the sexiness scale even if cloaked in twice as much clothing) and one of my all-time favorite actors, the always cadaverous Ivor Francis who's bemused expressions of morbid disbelief made so many television shows so much more interesting than they would have been without his presence. Dusty's Trail might be Ivor Francis' finest hour, and the moment when I became hooked on the show was a scene where he sort of gazes off into the distance and begins relating an idea for a hair-brained scheme to keep Dusty and the Wagonmaster (odd name) from having to marry two redneck DELIVERANCE women shotgun-style.
It's too bad the series was not picked up by a network because it has some genuinely funny moments -- look for the episode where they park their wagon on top of a volcano that is about to erupt for a particularly potent belly-laughing fit -- and had a sort of odd "Hee-Haw on Acid" approach to it's production design, especially the costuming for the wealthy Brookhavens. Like Gilligan's Island, most of the shows were filmed entirely on soundstages: that's inside, and these are Western episodes set out in the middle of nowhere. There are a few forays onto location sets but for the most part the shows have this surreal, phony look to them that reminds me more than anything else of the more cartoonishly arty Spaghetti Westerns like the Sartana movies of Anthony Ascott, which were all the rage at the time the series would have aired. Art imitating life imitating art, if you will.
But I mean look, if you want seriously acted rational television you are wasting your time with stuff like Dusty's Trail, which makes F-Troop look deeply thoughtful by comparison. But it is an interesting cultural artifact, sort of half hip to the times and half wrapped up in the same kind of stupid innocence that made Gilligan so much fun. The depiction of Native Americans is also about as politically sensitive as the Three Stooges, or Gilligan's Island for that matter, and it is strange seeing people smoke on screen the way that they do in this show -- something you never saw on Gilligan's Island even if cigarette ad revenues were an important source of network income.
I like how stupid the show is, and how it doesn't require any kind of active thinking on the part of the viewer to enjoy it. There is nothing to figure out, silly laughs, pretty women and guys dressed up in gorilla suits. After five years of The War on Terror it's kind of relaxing to once again have the 11 year old idiot inside of me catered to with one hair-brained scheme after the other. It may not be original but it's still very funny for those in the right frame of mind, and when you come up with a good idea sometimes it pays to go back and milk it for a second run. I'm glad they made the show and will not rest until I have found the other nine episodes as well as the feature-length film version: The TV on DVD fad does have a few useful purposes after all.
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