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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I grew up with the original Lassie TV program. A person's best friend
is a dog. The innocence and love is always heartfelt. The TV series
lasted 19 wonderful years. Inasmuch as The New Lassie is its sequel, I
need briefly review its predecessor.
We never met Lassie's original owner. However, there were at least four families we witnessed Lassie living with, more if you include change of actors for some characters, plus one season by herself. Viewers of the whole differ over which they preferred.
My favorite was the first: the Miller family with Jeff, his mother Ellen, and his gramps. Others were partial to little Timmy, who before being adopted by Ruth and Paul Martin, lived with Jeff's family. Some liked the various Forest Rangers. When on her own, Lassie felt a bit lonely as did we, but she was discovered by the caring Holden Ranch clan which she and we admired.
But looking at the whole, when it ended it was incomplete. You see, in life, we want to feel we've completed a process, sometimes returning to our roots. In the case of Lassie, that meant reuniting with Jeff Miller. (Lassie's character was portrayed by different collies over the course of the series, but was supposedly the same ageless dog throughout.)
The New Lassie premiered in 1989. The beginning of each episode reprises the famous whistle of the Martin saga, then updates to a truly haunting piece of music highlighting a cast including Jon Provost, the now adult Timmy staying with the McColloughs. It takes over two years to reach the finale, where both Timmy and Lassie reunite with their long lost friend, Jeff, replayed by Tommy Rettig. (In this program, Lassie is a descendant of the first series canine appearing to have similar memories.) I can only surmise that Tommy felt elated returning to his TV series roots. The actor passed away only a few years later, at least having experienced the chance to do so.
One hopes that the entire Lassie and The New Lassie series will be transferred to DVD, rather than searching channels to find an occasional episode. Comparing the beautiful music and stories of each segment of Lassie together with The New Lassie would constitute an inspirational journey.
I'm writing this on Thanksgiving Day 2014, thankful for the opportunity to express these thoughts and feelings.
This was an incredible show that I've long treasured. I first saw it back in the summer of 1995 when it was airing on the Family Channel (as it was known then. It later became Fox Family and then ABC Family) on weekday afternoons. In addition to warmly felt episode plots with humane meaning, and superb acting by each of the stars the opening introduction theme to (which remained the same throughout the show's one season) series was perhaps the most touching of any TV theme I've had the experience of observing or learning of to date! Hopefully the show will be released on DVD sometime and then you'll see exactly what I mean (or you could go to the website Youtube right now and search for it). I don't know if I saw the entire series that summer but since it only lasted for 1 season I can be sure I think that I saw MOST of the episodes which had been made 6 years prior. I guess if it ever airs again on television or it gets released on DVD or VHS then I will then have the chance to see any episodes I happened to miss. In regard to the storyline of the series I don't want to spoil anything for you but I remember at least 1 episode that was surreal enough that it transcended the limits of reality as we (or at least those of us grown-up) have come to know it!The following fall was apparently to be the time of the tragic death of Christopher Stone; one of the stars of The New Lassie. So anyway that is my fond memory of The New Lassie and let's try not to keep this phenomenal show away much longer from this moment forward!
I remember watching this version when it came on in syndication. At least it was in color, so you could see how beautiful the collie was. If my memory serves me correctly, I seem to recall Leonardo (he had to have been 12 or 13) guest starring as one of Will Nipper's friends.
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