|Index||3 reviews in total|
A very intriguing and unusual character study involving a rodeo clown
with a missing arm who ends up being constantly humiliated and harassed
by a couple of sadistic cowboys (Johnson and Pickens) and, much to the
consternation of Buzz who tries to defend him, seems to allow and even
encourage it. This is one episode were all the characters in the cast
are fascinating and multi-dimensional and the wrap-up is particularly
It is also interesting to see the part of the passive clown played by Salmi who in real life, many years later, went into a violent rage and killed both his wife and then himself. It is equally interesting to see the part of the bullying cowboy played by Johnson who usually always plays the nice, stoic type, but here is quite convincing as the bad guy.
There is the added element of actual rodeo footage, which is a bit tense since the rodeo clown is put into direct danger of a raging bronco. This is by far a superior episode of the series.
"A Long Piece of Mischief". Buzz and Todd find themselves working at a
rodeo in Mesquite Texas. They happen to see a cruel practical joke
perpetrated on the deformed rodeo clown, Albert Salmi, and Buzz does
all in his power to stop it. The clown still smiles after the cruel
joke and immediately forgives his transgressors. Buzz is disgusted by
the clown's reaction and respects no part of the clown's forgiving and
easy going ways. The jokes get crueler and the clown is going to leave
the rodeo and no longer forgive his tormentors, but realizes he needs
to stay true to his basic essence and remains appealing to his better
nature and forgives and turns the other "cheek" (using Buzz's word.
Buzz realizes that the clown's ways are worth emulating and tells him
how he will try to be more like him because when you no longer forgive
you only hurt yourself. Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens are the two actors
who play the clowns principal tormentors. Johnson's character hates the
clown because the joy the clown brings to others is more than enough to
bring him contentment for his own life, and cruelty of the others only
hurts the others and to help them best he wishes nothing but goodness
upon them. Dub Taylor is the rodeo owner and is disgusted by the
tormentors and tells them how the clown before his accident was one of
the finest cowboys the rodeo ever had and the tormentors were never
even half the man the clown was let alone is now.
There's a B story going on in tandem with the main story of the clown. A lady horse performer is suffering her own private hell and wants nothing more than to die to end her suffering. The clown and his forgiving nature go a long way towards healing her.
Zap! Suddenly we're in Texas, where the boys are working in a brick
factory conveniently next to a rodeo. (Why not give them jobs at the
rodeo?) Through much of it this episode just seems like a series of
shots of a rodeo in action stitched together with a threadbare plot.
Albert Salmi plays a former champion rodeo rider who lost a hand in an
accident and who is now rodeo clown. Two cowboys, played by the great
Ben Johnson, (Sam the Lion in "The Last Picture Show") and Slim
Pickens, who actually was a rodeo clown before he became an actor, seem
to dislike the easy-going Salmi and play mean tricks on him. T&B
intervene, earning the enmity of the two cowpokes. Meanwhile Salmi has
befriended the show's star female rider, who is grieving over her lost
husband, (Audrey Totter, possibly a bit hold for her profession at this
The show gains depth at the end. Firstly, Johnson and Pickens kidnap Buz, dress him up as Salmi's lady love in a darkened trailer and tell him that 'she' wants him to propose, which he does in a touching scene Buz hears but can't respond to because he's gagged. Then Johnson and Salmi get in a fight and Johnson confesses that he hated Salmi precisely because he was so good-natured, no matter what happened to him or what they did to him. He couldn't stand to be in the same world with someone so saintly so he had to destroy him. A complicated motivation for a TV bad guy.
Not long after this Pickens was asked to ride a "bronco" of a different sort- by Stanley Kubrick.
(Irrelevant factoid: this is the second straight episode where a character has something wrong with his right hand.)
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