Riding the Video Range

The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television


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About the Book

In June 1949, Hopalong Cassidy. Then Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Davy Crockett, the Cisco Kid, Matt Dillon, Bat Masterson, the Cartwrights, Hec Ramsey, Paladin (“Have Gun Will Travel”)—no television genre has generated as many enduring characters as the Western. Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, Bonanza, Maverick, and Wagon Train are just a few of the small-screen oaters that became instant classics. Then shows such as Lonesome Dove and The Young Riders updated and redefined the genre.
The shows tended to fall into categories, such as “juvenile” Westerns, marshals and sheriffs, wagon trains and cattle drives, ranchers, antiheroes (bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns), memorable pairs, Indians, single parent families (e.g., The Big Valley, The Rifleman and Bonanza), women, blacks, Asians and even spoofs. There are 85 television Westerns analyzed here—the characters, the stories and why the shows succeeded or failed. Many photographs, a bibliography and index complete the book.

About the Author(s)

Award-winning author Gary A. Yoggy is professor emeritus of history at Corning Community College in New York. He is the editor of Back in the Saddle: Essays on Western Film and Television Actors (McFarland 1998).

Bibliographic Details

Gary A. Yoggy
Format: softcover (7 x 10 in 2 vols.)
Pages: 710
Bibliographic Info: 118 photos, appendix, references, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [1995]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3896-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2224-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Volume      1

Introduction      1

I. Hoppy, The Ranger, Gene and Roy Ride In: The Arrival of Juvenile Westerns on the Home Screen      5

II. Walt Disney Rides West; or, How Davy Crockett Found Zorro on the Video Frontier      52

III. Television Westerns Grow Up: The Rise of “Gunsmoke” and the Adult Western      77

IV. Law and Order Arrive in the Video West: Here Come the Lawmen, Sheriffs, Marshals, Deputies and Texas Rangers      132

V. Alone Against the Wild West; or, How Cheyenne Bodie, Jim Hardie and Johnny Yuma Left Their Mark on the Television Western      186

VI. Bounty Hunters, Gamblers and Hired Guns: The Antihero in the Television Western      233

VII. Wagon Trains and Cattle Drives: Trekking Westward Television Style      263

VIII. Single Parent Families on the Video Frontier; or, How “The Rifleman” Found a “Bonanza” in “The Big Valley”      285

Volume      2

IX. Meanwhile Back on the Reservation: “Good” and “Bad” Indians in Television Westerns      345

X. The Video Range Gets Bigger: “The Virginian” Initiates the Western Movie Series      395

XI. Spoofing the Television Western; or, How the “F Troop” Found “Pistols ’n’ Petticoats” on “Dusty’s Trail”      425

XII. James Bond Goes West: A Visit to “The Wild Wild West”      441

XIII Two by Two into the West: Memorable Pairs of Adult Western Heroes      457

XIV. When East Met West: Walking the Video Range with Kwai Chang Caine      500

XV. The Saga of “Little House on the Prairie”: Western Soap Opera or Farming on the Frontier?      526

XVI. Which Way Did They Go? or, Has the Television Western Ridden Off into the Sunset for the Last Time?      545

Appendix: Individual Episodes Discussed in the Text      639

Chapter Notes      653

Bibliography      673

Index      681

Book Reviews & Awards

“should appeal to scholars and fans alike as a reference guide…. Recommended for public and academic libraries”—Choice; “likely the only book most TV Western buffs will ever need”—Big Reel; “a narrative history of the Western…a good introduction to the genre”—Classic Images.