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The Kowboys (1970)

TV Movie  |   |  Comedy, Music, Western  |  13 July 1970 (USA)
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The Kowboys, a singing group roaming the West West in the late 19th Century, try to save a town from the evil rancher bent on destroying it. The pilot was made by the same production team that created "The Monkees".

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Cast

Cast overview:
Owens Boomer Castleman ...
Matthew (as Boomer Castleman)
Michael Martin Murphey ...
Zak (as Michael Martin Murphy)
Jamie Carr ...
Sweetwater
Joy Bang ...
Smitty
...
Captain Walker
...
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The Kowboys, a singing group roaming the West West in the late 19th Century, try to save a town from the evil rancher bent on destroying it. The pilot was made by the same production team that created "The Monkees".

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Comedy | Music | Western

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13 July 1970 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Joy Bang! Oh, Joy! Oh, Bang!
7 March 2006 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

'The Kowboys' was the unsold pilot for what was meant to be a weekly half-hour series. After the American networks failed to buy this pilot, I saw it at a screening in London, where the pilot's producers were hoping to cut their losses by getting 'The Kowboys' transmitted on British television.

The Kowboys are four young guys and a young gal, all of them musically inclined and all of them 'hip', which was part of the problem. This series was apparently meant to take place in the nineteenth century, apparently a few years after the American Civil War, but not for an instant could I accept these hippie-dippie flower children as 19th-century sourdoughs. Also, as usual for bad productions with period settings, everything is too clean and all the actors have modern dentistry and orthodontia.

In the pilot episode, they amble into a town called Walker, named for the local land baron who owns all the acreage. (Guest villain Captain Walker is played by Edward Andrews, who specialised in portraying cowardly villains.) Now get this: Walker (the town) is somewhere out west within the continental U.S.A., but it's in territory which hasn't yet formally acquired statehood ... a fact which raises serious questions about precisely when 'The Kowboys' takes place. Captain Walker has reason to believe that he'll be able to dictate the terms under which his town is absorbed into the Union. At one point, he stares off into space while he recites a list of the United States as he'd like them to be. The list ends: 'West Virginia, ... Wisconsin, ... Wyoming, ... Walker!' I guess he can't alphabetise.

The female Kowboy (Kowgirl?) is Smitty, played by an incredibly gorgeous young blonde with the improbable name Joy Bang. If this pilot episode indicates the producers' intentions, they don't seem to have made up their minds as to how to present this character. For most of the episode, Smitty is in tomboy mode, with her gorgeous long tresses tucked under her stetson, and her lissome figure concealed within mannish jeans. Then, after the Kowboys arrive in Walker and check into the local hotel, Smitty gets all glammed up and comes downstairs in a very fetching frock ... although this too didn't quite look right for the 19th century. She isn't wearing a corset, either, but Joy Bang's hourglass figure certainly doesn't need one.

The four male Kowboys weren't very well differentiated in this pilot episode, except for Frank Welker as Clem being nominally the comedy relief. I think the producers wanted to imply that Smitty had something going with each of her four male trail buddies, but that none of the relationships were especially serious.

There were attempts at musical interludes performed by the Kowboys, or (more likely) studio musicians dubbing for them. A couple of times in this pilot episode, we see one or another Kowboy whanging a guitar. However, the most elaborate number occurs when Smitty comes downstairs in her glam mode. We hear the male Kowboys performing a very weak ballad cried 'Smitty', but this has clearly been post-dubbed: the on-screen Kowboys aren't singing nor playing instruments. At the end, there's a weakly staged 'action' climax, and then it's time for the Kowboys to be moseyin' on to their next adventure.

Oh, aye: that dumb spelling. (No, not Aaron.) It turns out that 'The Kowboys' was created by the same production company that manufactured 'The Monkees', so they decided to continue the motif of a one-letter misspelling: no doubt in imitation of the Beatles, whose name actually referred to the Beat Generation (not beats of music).

Based solely on this pilot, 'The Kowboys' would have been no worse (and no stupider) than a lot of other series that did get on the air and which did run for a couple of years. I wish the pilot had been picked up, if only so that we'd have more footage of Joy Bang. Still, the fact that this series never got made is no great loss. I'll rate the pilot 6 out of 10.


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