Lancer: Season 1, Episode 1

The High Riders (24 Sep. 1968)

TV Episode  -   -  Western
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 12 users  
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Faced with continual raids by the Pardee gang, California rancher Murdoch Lancer seeks the help of his estranged sons: dapper Bostonian Scott Lancer and border-town gunslinger Johnny Madrid.

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Title: The High Riders (24 Sep 1968)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
James Stacy ...
Wayne Maunder ...
...
Elizabeth Baur ...
Teresa O'Brien
...
Day Pardee
...
Toledano
Robert Adler ...
Stage Driver
Gil Barreto
Paul Fierro ...
Cipriano
Lisa Jak ...
Barbara
...
Pinkerton Agent in Mexico
John Leuger
Sean McClory ...
Coley McHugh
Ruben Moreno ...
Firing Squad Leader
Alberto Morin ...
Don Valmero
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Storyline

In an effort to save his ranch from land marauders, Murdoch Lancer hires Pinkerton agents to find his two estranged sons, Scott and Johnny, offering each of them one-third share of his vast holdings if they help him fight off the gang. Previously unaware of each other's existence, and having grown up on opposite sides of the country under divergent circumstances, the sons experience personality and culture clashes exacerbated by Johnny's anger and resentment at the belief that he was abandoned by his father. Issues come to a head when it appears that Johnny may be working for Day Pardee, the leader of the marauders. Written by TexanPenny

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Western

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Release Date:

24 September 1968 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Exhilarating Origins Story About "Lancer's" Heroes
24 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The pilot for the CBS-TV western "Lancer" with James Stacy, Wayne Maunder, and Andrew Duggan is an exciting horse opera that takes place on a sprawling ranch owned by an old man who struggles to save his ranch from land pirates. They steal his horses, burn his crops and torch the homes of his Mexican vaqueros. Murdoch Lancer (Andrew Duggan of "The Bravados") refuses to let these depredations affect him, especially after his second-in-command dies in a gunfight. Lancer himself receives several wounds but survives to make it back to his ranch to recuperate. The patriarch dispatches Pinkerton detectives to find his two sons, Johnny Madrid (James Stacy of "Flare-Up") and Scott Lancer (Wayne Maunder of "The Legion of Custer"), and they barely get to Johnny in time. Johnny is in Mexico, and he is about to be executed with other revolutionaries when the Pinkerton man locates him and pays off the Mexican soldiers about to shoot him. Although the Mexican soldiers seem pleased with the bribe, they change their minds and open fire on the detective and Johnny Madrid. Our heroes survive by the skin of their teeth, and Johnny displays incredible marksmanship as he blasts one Mexican soldier out of the saddle after another one. Meanwhile, the Pinkerton stumbles onto Scott as he escapes from a lady's bedroom moments before her father barges in the room. In each case, the Pinkertons inform Johnny and Scott that their estranged father wants them to visit him at his ranch and he will pay them the sum of $1000 if they consent to show up. Naturally, these two guys, sons of the same father but different mothers, accept Lancer's offer. While Johnny is a borderline gunman, Scott is a former Union cavalry officers and demonstrates his skills as an equestrian to everybody's amazement.

The man who leads the so-called 'land pirates' and steals as well as burns Lancer's property is Day Pardee (Joe Don Baker of "Walking Tall") and he carries out carefully orchestrated raids against Lancer. After Johnny and Scott show up, they give Pardee something to worry about. Johnny has a showdown in the street with Pardee's gunslingers, but he intervenes before they can kill Johnny. Curiously, Pardee asks where Johnny stakes on the Lancer question. He wants Johnny to join his brigands, but Johnny eludes Pardee until he has to shoot it out with him. Meantime, Scott encounters several of Pardee's rugged henchmen. They converge on Scott in the general store when he is trying on appropriate ranch apparel. Although this dastards rough up Scott, he doesn't let them leave without smacking them around. Johnny and Scott don't start out as bosom buddies. Johnny refuses to help Scott when he slugs it out with three of Pardee's men. Pardee wants to finish off Lancer and he tries to lure Lancer's men away from the ranch so he can slip in and claim it. Things don't work out for Pardee and Johnny gets around to plugging him.

This is an exciting, entertaining western with slam-bang great orchestral score from Mr. "Big Country" composer Jerome Moross. This opening episode serves as an origins story. Everything is rosy between Johnny and Murdock because he believes that Murdock left his mother in the lurch when in fact she left him and took her son with her. When the chips begin to fall, Johnny and Scott work closely together and they are able to thwart Pardee. For the record, Johnny guns down Pardee. In fact, Johnny guns down several enemies in his horse opera. The finale is an all-open attack on the Lancer ranch buildings. Predictably, the our heroes triumph over Joe Don Baker's hombres, but it is an entertaining episode with strong performances, and good scenery. If you enjoy television shows about families on a ranch, "Lancer" should please you. Director Sam Wanamaker never lets the action bog down in exposition. The circumstances under which Scott and Johnny meet are reminiscent of John Wayne's introduction in "Stagecoach." After Johnny has escaped death at the hands of Mexican soldiers with the aid of a hired detective, he flags down a stagecoach from the side of a trail. The driver allows Johnny to climb aboard and he falls on Scott while trying to get situated in the stagecoach. "The High Riders" set a high standard that I don't think the show lived up to during its brief two-year network run.


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