2021 Viewing (Q1)

As a follow-up to this post, let’s look at the viewing from the first quarter of this esteemed, classic year we’re currently honoured to be enduring experiencing…

The Loner season 1 (DVD)
The Rebel (Johnny Yuma) season 1 (DVD)
Stoney Burke season 1 (DVD)
Alfred Hitchcock Hour seasons 1-2 (DVD)
Naked City season 1 (DVD)

A bit of commentary…

Stoney Burke (1962-53) is notable as being the other series headlined by the great Jack Lord (just after playing Felix Leiter in the first Bond movie, Dr No). Lord plays the titular rodeo star, and there are some interesting pre-echoes of his performance as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O (especially his largely abstemious stance on alcohol)—but the show is often more-or-less stolen by the always-entertaining Warren Oates, playing Stoney’s sleazy-but-kinda-okay childhood friend, Ves Painter. Overall a strong series, but marred by an apparent string of backdoor pilots towards the end, and a couple of closing episodes which appear to be alternate/variant season endings (the finale itself, “The Journey”, is actually quite surreal). Very pleased to have finally seen it, anyhow.

Jack Lord and Warren Oates in Stoney Burke
Jack Lord and Warren Oates in STONEY BURKE.

Trivia #1: Producer Leslie Stevens would go straight from Stoney Burke to the classic SF show The Outer Limits, which was a part of the 2020 viewing schedule!

Trivia #2: In the possible backdoor pilot episode “Point of Entry”, you get William Smith playing a cop and sharing scenes with Lord some 16 years before he joined McGarrett’s final season Five-O team as James “Kimo” Carew.

Jack Lord and William Smith in Stoney Burke, "Point of Entry"
Jack Lord and William Smith in “Point of Entry”.

On a similar note, The Loner (1965-66) is notable as being the series legendary genius Rod Serling created directly following the cancellation of The Twilight Zone, filling the gap between that and his TV movies and work on the original Planet of the Apes film (1968). It stars Lloyd Bridges, who is excellent as William Colton, a former Union captain trying to find himself after the end of the Civil War. There is an interesting link between this show and the earlier The Rebel (more below). Interestingly—though not surprisingly, because at this time he was in damn near everything—the aforementioned Mr Lord appears in episode 2, “The Vespers”.

Jack Lord in "The Vespers", episode 2 of The Loner
Jack Lord in "The Vespers", episode 2 of THE LONER.

Onto The Rebel (1959-61). This stars Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma, a Confederate soldier… trying to find himself after the end of the Civil War. Although he’s a young man and on the other side of the fence, as opposed to Bridges’ grizzled veteran on The Loner, the similarities are striking in a number of ways. Not least, their conciliatory approach in the aftermath of the bitter struggle, not always shared by various characters they encounter. Yuma is an aspiring writer and keeps a constant journal of his travels and adventures, which is an interesting (perhaps intentional) parallel to Adams himself, who apparently was an avid journal-keeper. One of his (few) surviving manuscripts, dealing with his friendship with Elvis Presley, was published in 2012 as The Rebel and the King. This series is really good; it’s a pity Adams’s career didn’t pan out so well. His life ended tragically in 1968, aged only 36, from a prescription drug overdose which may or may not have been accidental.

Trivia 1: Country God Johnny Cash, who sings the show’s theme song, “The Rebel – Johnny Yuma”, also appears in the season 1 episode “The Death of Gray”, as Pratt, a somewhat dimwitted criminal.

Johnny Cash in The Rebel, "The Death of Gray"
Johnny Cash in “The Death of Gray”.

Trivia 2: The season 1 episode “Fair Game” sees Yuma encounter a group of people at a stage depot, including Patricia Medina as an alleged murderer being taken to justice by a bounty hunter. Said bounty hunter is poisoned—but by who? The basic plot for this inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight (2015).

The Hateful Five in The Rebel, "Fair Game"
The Hateful Five in “Fair Game”.

Meanwhile… currently working through Alfred Hitchcock Presents season 5, The Rebel season 2, Have Gun, Will Travel season 1, Orson Welles Great Mysteries series 1, Naked City season 2 and Department S series 1, amongst other stuff. Look for the Q2 update whenever.

Film-wise, not so much, but amongst them some great films noir such as The Killers (1946) and Brute Force (1947)—Burt Lancaster’s debut movies, incidentally, and a terrific way to start a memorable screen career—and The Glass Key (1942) and The Blue Dahlia (1946), featuring the famous pairing of Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake.

There isn’t much “new” stuff amidst all this, but let’s be honest—new stuff is almost always completely rubbish.

More blogs forthcoming.

7 thoughts on “2021 Viewing (Q1)”

  1. I’ve seen several episodes of THE LONER on Youtube. Not only was it Lloyd Bridges (SEA HUNT) and Rod Serling (THE TWILIGHT ZONE), it’s what William Dozier did just before BATMAN. Isn’t that wild?

    I thought Jack Lord was okay as Felix in “DR. NO”, but apart from wishing they’d had the same actor playing Felix in every Bond film, the guy I wish had played Felix in every Bond film was David Hedison. He just had so much more personality onscreen than Lord, who always seems like a robot. I’m currently watching the 1st season of “VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA” for the first time since the late 60s. After that, the idiots in syndication yanked season 1 out of circulation, due to the STUPID idea that people “didn’t want to watch B&W TV shows anymore”. (The fact that “LOST IN SPACE” was cancelled after only 3 seasons is probably the only thing that kept its 1st season in circulation back then.)

    Quite a few of the 1st season “VOYAGE” eps. involve cold war espionage, and Hedison’s Lee Crane reminds me more of the Felix Leiter that Ian Fleming wrote in his novels than most of the actors who played the part in the movies. Of course, insanely, Hedison is the only actor to have played Leiter TWICE (until recently), but one of those was the annoyingly-stupid “LIVE AND LET DIE”, and the other went completely the other way, “LICENSE TO KILL” (which featured the infamous shark tank scene missing from the “LALD” movie).

    Irwin Allen, apparently, was such a hard-head with his not wanting any humor or romance on his shows (Jonathan Harris was responsible for turning “LIS” into a comedy), and Hedison is often the only ray of “humanity” on “VOYAGE”. It would have been interesting to see him teamed with Sean Connery… or George Lazenby (who damned well should have done more than just 1 film, considering how DAMNED good that 1 film was).

    1. Obviously we disagree about Jack Lord. 😀

      But we do agree about Hedison making an appealing regular Felix Leiter… it is a definite point of annoyance that Felix is played by someone different in almost every Bond movie.

      1. When the franchise was rebooted with Pierce Brosnan in the lead, Joe Don Baker appeared as ‘Jack Wade’ in both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies (a performance oddly close to his ‘Darius Jedburgh’ in the classic mini-series Edge of Darkness). Why he wasn’t called Felix is beyond me, especially as he’s really fun in the role.

    2. Knowing how much control Jack Lord demanded on his future projects (reportedly removing himself from consideration for both a reprise of Felix Leiter in Goldfinger and the role of James T Kirk in Star Trek as a result), one can only wonder how he felt when his character was sidelined in the Stoney Burke episodes ‘Point of Entry’, ‘The Weapons Man’ and ‘Kincaid’. As for the closing two, ‘The Test’ seems an unnecessarily meanspirited way to conclude Burke’s first run at the championship (and maybe a *fourth* backdoor pilot), whilst ‘The Journey’ makes no sense whatsoever in that context and would have worked far better as a mid-season dream sequence.

    3. Chrissie,

      Great reviews of some underrated programs. I’ve recently (in the past year or two) watched episodes of The Loner and Johnny Yuma. Both interesting, well-written and acted shows. I’ve not seen much Stoney Burke so I’ll have to take a look at that series. Some of the other shows you’ve mentioned, particularly Alfred Hitchcock and Naked City, are high up on my favorites. Such a fantastic array of character actors and upcoming stars in so many of these shows.

    4. As I pretty much lost interest in the Bond series after Connery left, and although I did see Live and Let Die, I can’t even remember David Hedison. I would definitely choose Lord over all others. Good to see Warren Oates in anything. Also, didn’t know till just now that Johnny Cash sang the Rebel theme. Is that William Smith of the amazing triceps? Sure looks like him. My favorite Western TV series as a kid was Wanted Dead or Alive.

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