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Rockstar-5 Quad Cities, IL-IA
Mr. Lucky (1959)
...a decent television series attempting to cash in on "Peter Gunn"'s success.
"Mr. Lucky" was a half-hour television series attempting to cash in on "Peter Gunn"'s success. Based on an old '40's feature film that had starred Cary Grant, the t.v. "Mr. Lucky" starred John Vivyan as the title character, Ross Martin as his partner Andamo, Pippa Scott as Mr. Lucky's girlfriend, Maggie, and Tom Brown as Lt. Rovaks of the police department, Lucky's sometimes friend, sometimes adversary. Mr. Lucky was the owner of the ship Fortuna, a floating gambling casino moored off of the California coast's 12 mile limit. Each week Lucky and Andamo would become entangled with an assortment of con-men, gamblers, fugitives, even entertainers working for Lucky aboard the gambling casino. Inevitably it would appear that Lucky was either involved in some type of illegal activity or at the least aiding those involved with the activities. This was all done to a modern jazz musical score supplied by "Peter Gunn"'s Henry Mancini.
The series ran one season (during the '59-'60 season) and is probably best remembered for spawning two hit record albums from Henry Mancini, "Theme from Mr. Lucky" and "Mr Lucky Goes Latin".
Casey Jones (1957)
...a folksy, gentler family western series...
"Casey Jones" was a first-run syndicated half-hour western series that ran during the '58-'59 television season and was a folksy, gentler family western series as opposed to some of the more violent adult westerns on the air during the late '50's and early '60's. Alan Hale Jr. played the legendary railroad engineer of the Cannonball Express for the Midwest and Central Railroad. Mary Lawrence portrayed Casey's wife Alice, Bobby Clark portrayed their son Casey Jr., Dub Taylor portrayed Casey's fireman Wallie Sims and Eddie Waller portrayed conductor Red Rock.
The series featured some of the same types of plots as other westerns of the time such as train robbers, vandals, etc. but the plots also centered as much on Casey's interaction with his family, particularly his young son, giving the series a much more laid back sort of ambiance. Alan Hale Jr. would go on to bigger and better (and stupider!) series after "Casey Jones" ended its single season run but this series was a solid family entertainment without insulting the intelligence as "Gilligan's Island" would do six years later.
Monty Nash (1971)
...a very cheaply made, pedestrian action series
Harry Guardino, a popular, hard-working character actor, starred in this half-hour action series as Montgomery Nash, an undercover government investigator who was called in whenever the nation's security was in question or the economy was being compromised from the likes of counterfeiters, forgers, smugglers, illegal alien criminals and the like. This series was one of the first series produced for first-run syndication in 1971 when the FCC mandated a half hour of prime time be returned to local channels for original and educational programming. That "original" and "educational" programming turned out to be series such as this one, a very cheaply made, pedestrian action series that retread every crime show cliche. Other quickly and cheaply produced series of the same vintage were series such as "Primus", "Dr. Simon Locke", "Police Surgeon" and others. Although Harry Guardino was always game and gave it his best effort, the paltry production values and mundane stories quickly sank the series. A low point for a very well-liked actor.
Two Faces West (1960)
...another gimmick western of the late '50's/early '60's.
Set in Gunnison, Colorado, "Two Faces West" was a syndicated half-hour western series which ran during the 1960-1961 television season. Charles Bateman starred in the dual role of marshal Ben January and his identical twin brother Dr. Rick January. Although identical twins, both possessed very dissimilar personalities. Marshal January was a man capable of extreme violence and was very fast with his gun. Dr.January was a man of extreme peace and hated violence or so it seemed for as situations dictated, peaceable Dr. January would often masquarade as his marshal brother and prove to be as fast with a gun and as proficient with his fists.
Others in the case were Francis De Sales as Sheriff Maddox, Paul Comi as Deputy Sheriff Johnny Evans, and Joyce Meadows as Stacy. Although this series was certainly no worse than any of the other being telecast during this period of time it was actually just another gimmick western of the late '50's/early '60's. Remembered by many but not distinguished from any of the others.
Shotgun Slade (1959)
...a modern contemporary jazz score was used instead of normal western themed music.
"Shotgun Slade" was a first-run syndicated half-hour western series which ran for a single season during the '59-'60 television season. Character actor Scott Brady starred as Shotgun Slade, a detective who roamed the west taking on cases for stagecoach lines, railroads, banks, and other businesses, usually tracking down bank/train robbers, embezzelers, and the like. As westerns in general were beginning to fade in the ratings during the early '60's more and more of them began relying on "gimmicks" to try to lure viewers back. This series actually employed a couple of gimmicks. One was that Slade did not utilize the normal six-shooter as his weapon of choice. Slade relied instead on an over-and-under combination shotgun (the lower barrel fired a 12-gauge shotgun shell)rifle (the top barrel fired a.32 caliber rifle bullet) giving Slade both heavy stopping power at close range and distance when needed. The second gimmick was that a modern jazz score was used instead of normal western themed music. This was undoubtedly a result of the popularity of such current-day detective series of this period such as "Peter Gunn". Indeed, "Shotgun Slade" seemed in many ways to be patterned after "Peter Gunn" with the exception of the fact that "Shotgun Slade" was very pedestrian in virtually all respects. A fair time-killer at best.
...you could actually see their breath!
The first-run syndicated series "Last of the Mohicans" was based on the classic James Fenimore Cooper novel and was set along the New York-Canadian border during the French and Indian War. Veteran character actors John Hart starred as frontiersman Hawkeye and Lon Chaney Jr. as his Mohican blood-brother Chinachgook.The series followed Hawkeye and Chingachgook's adventures as they attempted to keep the settlers of the new frontier safe from the various warring parties.
The series was filmed in Canada so if a given episode was set in the winter, you could actually see their breath! The entire series was filmed on location so the series, though otherwise fairly routine, boasted actual outdoor locations and paid close attention to detail such the loading and use of muskets.
After its initial run the series was played endlessly in reruns for many years and is still a well remembered series.
Union Pacific (1958)
...I have always been intrigued by railroads and trains.
"Union Pacific" was a first-run syndicated half-hour western series following the exploits of Union Pacific Railroad district right-of-way supervisor Bart McClelland as he attempted to secure new right-of-way for the railroad and to maintain existing right-of-way from a multitude of problems such as outlaws, Indians, labor strife, lack of supplies, etc. Aided in his efforts by surveyor Billy Kinkaid, the series followed the railroad's construction, thus the setting changed week-to-week and was not confined to a western town such as Dodge or any number of other interchangeable western towns which served as settings for the many other western series of the late '50's.
As played by veteran character actors Jeff Morrow and Judson Pratt, Bart and Billy were well-cast and believable in their roles. The third main cast member was Georgia, who ran the Golden Nugget Saloon which was housed in a fancy railroad car and followed along with the rail crew on the newly laid tracks.
Although not necessarily distinguished from the many other western series of the late '50's, I found "Union Pacific" a very satisfying series because I was always intrigued by railroads and trains. One could have done much worse than watch this very decent western series.
Boots and Saddles (1956)
...an adult western told from a cavalryman's point of view
"Boots and Saddles" was a first.: an adult western told from a cavalryman's point of view. Unlike the earlier "Adventures of Rin Tin Tin", which targeted a more juvenile audience, "Boots and Saddles" followed in the lead of other "adult" westerns of the late '50's in that it targeted young adults who were tuned in each week to "Gunsmoke" and the like. Set at Fort Lowell, AZ Territory in the 1880's, this first run syndicated series followed the stories of the 5th U.S. Cavalry as they fought and tried to live with the Apaches. The main characters were all very believable and seemed perfectly cast for their roles. The lead, John Pickard (Capt. Shank Adams), was actually considered for the lead on "Gunsmoke" when John Wayne initially turned down the role and prior to James Arness being cast. This series was very entertaining and novel for its cavalry characters as opposed to sheriff's, gunslingers, ranchers, etc. A very worthwhile and fondly remembered series.