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Widower Lucas McCain can fire a round with his specially modified Winchester in three-tenths of a second. Added to his high moral code and resolve enable him to help Marshal Micah Torrance maintain order in town while raising his son, Mark, on a ranch near North Fork, New Mexico.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
A tall man, his adoring son, and his co-star...The Rifle! (man...)
I first saw this show as a 6-year-old kid and didn't think too much of it at first but once I got a few years older, I really started to appreciate it and now I consider it one of my all-time favorites...not so much as a replication of authentic Western living (I recall Chuck Connors' quote during the show's run: "We offer relaxing entertainment. If you want period realism, go read a book")as it was an interesting show with GREAT background music by Herschel Burke Gilbert, one of my all-time favorite TV composers. I've noticed that people usually have pretty strong opinions about the show....they either really like it or they hate it...usually those who hate the show focus on the violence (they claim Lucas would kill over nothing, which certainly never happened in any episode)...and those who love the show tend to focus on...well, the violence! I've heard comments like, "If there were N number of Rifleman episodes, the body count during the show's run would be >N"...a funny quote, to be sure, but simply not true. In fact, there were episodes where a bad guy would draw on Lucas, he'd sense it, and fire near him to show that "I've got enough firepower to cut you in half"..there'd be other episodes when somebody would draw a gun and Lucas would "sting their hand" to keep from having to shoot them. (hokey, yeah, but that's TV for ya). You have to remember that the TV audience and the ABC network in particular expected action in its Westerns and crime dramas. The ABC network wanted a lot of action in its shows at that time because they were trying hard to get established as a network and compete with NBC and CBS. Some claim "The Rifleman" was something of a gimmick show. It slipped close to becoming one from time to time but the warm interaction between Connors and Johnny Crawford as his son Mark were part of what kept the show from becoming a "Colt .45" or "Hotel de Paree" period parody. Fans of the show often mention the cinematography. Yes, it was good, indeed. In fact, until I started seeing episodes on DVD, I didn't know just how good the film work was. Was it a grim show? No. Those who really don't care for dramatic, near-baroque background music probably get that "grim" idea. Was Micah the sheriff near-useless? Yes, I admit that. Lucas usually ended up being a one-man North Fork SWAT team, to be sure. But man oh man, could a viewer get revved up! They got great character actors like Jack Elam, Martin Landau, James Coburn, and John Anderson to play bad guys...and they'd just work you to this crescendo, just get you where you couldn't wait for Lucas to get out that gun and wail on' em! I'd recommend by-passing most of the last-season (1962-63) episodes of the show. By then, Johnny's Mark was now into puberty, Chuck looks bored and tired of the show (he, in fact, WAS tired of doing it and afraid of being typecast by the Lucas character by then)and although Patricia Blair looks great, the shows are pretty uneventful and stale and they tried too much to play to the Ricky Nelson angle and give Crawford an excuse to sing. "The Rifleman" has really aged well, from the dramatic opening sequence right down to the Four Star Banner logo at the end. It's a TV classic near and dear to my heart, regardless of the body count, heh heh...
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