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One of the best in the series
krorie20 August 2006
This is a superior Gene Autry entry in his TV series. Overall Gene's TV show was equal if not better than most of the films he was making at the time. Pat Buttram was his comical sidekick on both TV and in the movies. While not musically talented like Smiley Burnette, Pat was more adept at physical humor and looked and talked just as funny as Smiley. He seemed to go with Gene better than Smiley.

The TV show was compacted into a 30-minute time period minus commercials which enabled the scripts to be more succinct and less stretched out. Gene's music was usually limited to one song per show which prevented the action from slowing down; the song was mainly either at the beginning or end of the show which also prevented it from getting in the way of the action. The series actually improved with each episode, with a few exceptions, as those behind and in front of the camera became accustomed to the new medium of television.

"Cold Decked" begins with Gene warbling "The Yellow Rose of Texas," one of his best early songs. Just about all the songs for the TV series were adaptations of songs sung by Gene over a movie career that spanned two decades. "The Yellow Rose of Texas" was first recorded by Gene near the beginning of his singing career in 1933.

Gene rides into town to discover that the banker, Ben Tansey (Stanley Andrews, the Old Ranger on "Death Valley Days), is missing. The citizens are concerned about their money. The sheriff and Gene shoot open the lock to find the safe empty, even the ledgers are gone. Lee Strickland (Henry Rowland) seems overly concerned about the situation and acts in a suspicious manner. He is still able to convince others in the crowd to start a new cooperative bank for what money they have left. Gene and the sheriff, played by Al Bridge, decide to keep tabs on Strickland to learn more about his questionable activities.

In most of the shows, Pat had a gimmick to get the laughs. This time he has taken up fishing, continually ruffling Gene's feathers by practicing casting rather than getting down to business. There is one funny scene involving Pat and the game warden played by the great character actor William Fawcett. Pat catches a fish while sitting under a sign that reads, "No Fishing." After a short conversation between the game warden and Pat over the game laws of the state, the warden reveals himself, "Do you know who I am? I'm the game warden." Pat's retort, "Do you know who I am?" When the game warden replies in the negative, Pat gasps, "Thank goodness!" and runs away with the warden in hot pursuit

The action comes fast and furious as the story wraps up with a free for all fisticuffs in a small, one-room cabin where the banker has been held captive by the outlaws. Pat has the final play has he uses his fishing rod to reel in one of the bad guys.

The only unusual element for this Gene Autry Show is the absence of a female character, particularly since this episode was written by Elizabeth Beecher. Gene's show was noteworthy for featuring such talented cowgirls as Gail Davis, who eventually had her own successful series, "Annie Oakley." Also, Champion doesn't get to strut his stuff as he did in so many of the shows, being the talented trouper he was. Otherwise, this is a must for Gene Autry fans and exciting entertainment for western aficionados everywhere.
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