Rerun Junkie Show-Tales of the Gold Monkey

As I like to say, the only men I fall in love with are either dead or fictional, and unfortunately Lt. “Mac” MacReynolds on Magnum PI ended up being both.

As the story goes, Jeff MacKay, who portrayed the recurring role of Mac, got a regular gig on a new Donald Bellasario show, Tales of the Gold Monkey, and so his character ended up being killed off at the beginning of the third season (much to the chagrin of me who has had a crush on Mac for years). When the new show was cancelled after one season, Jeff MacKay asked to come back and ended up returning to Magnum PI as Mac’s doppelganger, con artist Jim “Mac” Bonnick.

Obviously, I had to watch this one season show that caused Mac’s death and rebirth. And as luck would have it, my library carries this 1982 show. Which is wild when you consider that we don’t even have Magnum PI.

Anyway.

Before I even begin going into this show, I’m going to acknowledge it’s problematic nature upfront.

First of all, it’s a 1982 show set in 1938, apparently inspired by the 1939 movie Only Angels Have Wings. So there ends up being a lot of this show that did not age well. And while I believe in viewing these reruns in their appropriate context as well in current context, there’s some shit that’s just plain cringe-worthy.

Secondly, and more importantly, the lead in this show is portrayed by Stephen Collins, who admitted to “inappropriate sexual conduct with three female minors” in an interview he did with People magazine in December of 2014. So, yeah, knowing that the lead is a creeper definitely casts a shadow over the series, especially since he’s actually really good in the role and almost makes you forget that he’s a shitty person. Almost.

Now on to our feature presentation.

Tales of the Gold Monkey follows the exploits of former Flying Tiger Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins), his mechanic bestie Corky (Jeff MacKay), and his dog Jack (Leo the dog) as he makes a living flying his plane The Goose around the Marivella Islands from his home port of Boragora, which is under the jurisdiction of Bon Louie Chance (Roddy McDowell; Ron Moody in the pilot), who also owns and runs the Monkey Bar with the aid of his right-hand man Gushie (Les Jankey) where newcomer Sarah Stickney White (Caitlin O’Heaney) finds a job as a singer. However, only Jake knows that she’s also a spy. Princess Koji (Marta DuBois) rules a nearby island and has something of a fascination with Jake, much to the annoyance of her bodyguard Todo (John Fujioka). The princess and Todo are the only ones who know that the Reverend Willie Tenboom actually isn’t a Dutch man of God, but is really a Nazi soldier in disguise.

And if that sounds like a lot, you should watch the pilot. I said “WTF” at least 12 times starting with the killer monkeys. They aren’t bad WTFs, just genuine ones. I admit that it took several episodes for me to actually get the hang of this show and even then it still found ways to trip me up.

For example, in the episode “Shanghaied”, while Jake is delusional with fever from malaria, Corky gets kidnapped by Guy Stockwell the good ol’ fashioned way that captains acquired crew for their boats -got them loaded and they woke up at sea. So you think, “Ah yes. A sea romp in which Corky is captive and Jake eventually saves him”, which is accurate. Except there’s also a hard left into slavery that’s not exactly anticipated. Guy Stockwell’s slightly-campy captain veers directly into vile with no warning and it’s a bit jarring. Also the depiction of indigenous people in this series isn’t the greatest, so that really brings the ep down from “Oh, this is fun” to “Okay, WTF, I didn’t agree to any of this.”

There are other episodes that balance the tone between serious and fun better. And some that don’t, but end up on the sillier side rather than the uncomfortable side. “Trunk From the Past” tries to give Sarah a tragic backstory with a murdered archaeologist father and a fiance that she never mentioned to anyone, but the visions, mummy, and pyramid in the middle of the jungle send it a little bit over into ridiculous and caps it with a brutal end for someone in the guest cast. It’s not bad, just not hitting the notes it was going for.

Some episodes just go for the serious. “Last Chance Louie” has Bon Louie Chance going to the guillotine for murder and the whole story is rather tragic and heartbreaking (spoiler alert: he keeps his head). Speaking of tugging at the emotions, the fight between Jake and Corky which results in Corky trying to leave Boragora in “Cooked Goose” is incredibly upsetting. The scene between Jake and Corky involving the baseball just hurts.

“Naka Jima Kill” is a straight fun episode that has Jake looking for an assassin while Sarah and her bestie from college who’s now a famous journalist end up getting into a bit of a battle of egos as Sarah can’t reveal to her that she’s a spy and her friend thinks that she’s being generous by letting her tag along to find this Japanese defense minister to interview. It’s a little bit serious, but it’s mostly just fun.

It’s also remarkably like the season 2 Magnum PI episode “The Jororo Kill”. Both feature an assassin that dons women’s clothing, a journalist that’s an old friend, and a plot to murder a high ranking official from another country. And they both also feature Jeff MacKay.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Donald Bellasario ended up utilizing bits of one of his other shows for this one. The plot of “High Stakes Lady” was first used for the season 2 Magnum PI episode “Texas Lightning”. Jeff MacKay wasn’t in that one.

It’s not just plots. Aside from Jeff MacKay (Mac/Jim Bonnick), Marta DuBois (Michelle Hue), John Calvin (3 episodes as various characters), John Fujioka (Nishimoto in “The Taking of Dick McWilliams”), several of the guest stars on Tales of the Gold Monkey showed up on Magnum PI including: Guy Stockwell (in the same ep as John Fujioka), William Lucking, Lance LeGault, Anne Lockhart, Richard Narita, Soon-Tek Oh, Sondra Currie, Henry Darrow, Shelley Smith, John DiSanti, Ray Dotrice, Pamela Susan Shoop, W.K. Stratton, Branscombe Richmond, John McLiam, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and John Hillerman. Yes, Higgins himself showed up in the pilot being a Nazi and wearing a monocle. It was weird.

Other guest stars include: Ken Foree, Nicholas Pryor, James Avery, Reid Shelton, James T. Callahan, Kim Cattrall, Alex Colon, Faye Grant, Michael Ensign, Alexa Hamilton, James Hampton, Charles Napier, Nia Peeples, Sandy Ward, Charles Macaulay, Curt Lowens, and John Reilly.

Of everything questionable about this show, it does manage to pull off one spectacular trick: you end up liking a Nazi.

As I said, only Princess Koji and Todo know that Reverend Tenboom is really a Nazi spy. And Todo seems to delight in torturing him, which I find amusing. But our heroes -Jake, Sarah, Corky, Louie- don’t know that. I can’t imagine it would go over well if they did. Instead, they think of him as a reverend and a good guy. The fact that his “blessing” of the female congregation is just a euphemism seems to miss them (another example of how poorly indigenous folks were portrayed -they were so “uneducated” the women didn’t know the difference between sex and religious practice). As a result of Willie’s disguise -despite his skeeviness- the audience sometimes is lulled into forgetting that the dude is a Nazi. Especially when he does things like helps them look for Sarah when she’s kidnapped or takes care of Corky when he’s banging his head on a pole because he can’t remember something or fights a pimp taking advantage of the young indigenous girls (even though that’s what he does -I guess prostitution is the line in the sand he doesn’t cross). He’s just bizarrely likeable even though he’s a literal Nazi. It makes me wonder how that would have played out had the show lasted several seasons.

If the show had lasted, then I think it would have emerged that Jack was the real star of the show. A dog with an eye patch because Jake gambled away his false eye, an opal with a sapphire star in the middle, and who would bark once for no and twice for yes. Many of the times I laughed out loud were because of that dog. He was brilliant.

As questionable and sometimes cringe-worthy as this show can be, and despite my initial reservations early in the series, I do enjoy it for the most part. Not everyone is going to be able to get past some of the more problematic elements of the series (in particular Stephen Collins) and that’s fine. But it is entertaining overall. For a show set in 1938, it still manages to hit some ’80s tropes, including one of Jake’s old girlfriends coming back as a nun (I do not know why that was a thing) and Jake falling for a single mother, but they just weren’t meant to be. And of course, he’s romancing the leading lady throughout. But there’s also some really on point 1938 elements, such as the fashion and the music, that makes it feel more like an old school adventure.

Also, the pilot is basically one long brass monkey joke. Can’t get better than that.

corky and jack

Rerun Junkie Shows–Stargate: Atlantis

Back in the long long ago of the 2000s, SyFy (then called Sci-Fi) would often marathon shows during the week. Some were older shows like Tales from the Darkside, the ’90s Outer Limits, and Friday the 13th: The Series and some were current (at the time) productions like Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate: SG-1.

This is how I discovered the latter’s spin-off, Stargate: Atlantis.

In this series, Stargate Command sends a team through the gate on a potentially one-way trip to the Pegasus Galaxy and the mythical lost city of Atlantis. The expedition is lead by Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Tori Higginson) and includes scientists Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett), Dr. Radek Zelenka (David Nykl), medical man Dr. Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion), and Chuck the Technician (Chuck Campbell). Their military attachment is initially led by Col. Marshall Sumner (Robert Patrick), who unfortunately doesn’t last long, forcing Lt. Col John Shepherd (Joe Flanigan) to assume charge, and whose men include Major Evan Lorne (Kavan Smith), and Lt. Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks). They’re aided in their exploration of the new galaxy by local Athosian Teyla Emmagan (Rachel Luttrell).

However, this new galaxy has no shortage of dangers and enemies, most notably Wraiths, humanoid creatures that literally suck the life out of humans.

In the course of five seasons, Dr. Elizabeth Weir is replaced by first Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) from SG-1 and then later IOA official Richard Woosley (Robert Picardo). After a tragic encounter with a Wraith, Lt. Ford becomes addicted to Wraith enzyme and goes rogue. His place on Shepherd’s team is filled by Satedan and former runner Specialist Ronan Dex (Jason Momoa). And after a devastating incident, Dr. Beckett is replaced by Dr. Jennifer Keller (Jewel Stait). The expedition is also reconnected with Stargate Command and the Milky Way, sometimes by stargate, but usually by an Asgard ship called the Daedalus that’s commanded by Col. Steven Caldwell (Mitch Pileggi).

Much like SG-1, the point of the expedition is to explore the Pegasus Galaxy, make friends, and fight enemies. Unfortunately, the expedition itself is the reason their biggest enemy, the Wraith, is even around. During one of their first trips looking for friends, they accidentally wake them up. They also find plenty of human enemies as well, most notably the Genii, who covet their technology.

Some folks passing through the Pegasus Galaxy include: SG-1 alums Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Bill Dow, Gary Jones, Beau Bridges, Don S. Davis, and Dan Shea; in recurring roles Sharon Taylor (Amelia Banks), Connor Trineer (Michael Kenmore), Dean Marshall (Sgt. Bates), Craig Veroni (Dr. Peter Grodin), Ben Cotton (Dr. Kavanaugh), Linda Ko (Marie), Patrick Sabongui (Kanaan), David Ogden Stiers (Oberoth), Andree Frizzell (Wraith Queen), Claire Rankin (Dr. Kate Heightmeyer), Michael Beach (Col. Abe Ellis), Kate Hewlett (David Hewlett’s sister playing his sister Jeannie Miller), and Christopher Heyerdahl (as both Athosian Halling and Todd the Wraith because he’s just that damn good); Genii Robert Davi, Ryan Robbins, and Colm Meaney; Mark Dacascos, Richard Kind, Jaime Ray Newman, Jill Wagner, Jodelle Ferland; Mike Dopud and Patrick Gilmore, who hold the distinction of being in episodes of all three Stargate shows as different characters; Kari Wuher, Dominic Zampronga, Laura Harris, Dave Foley, Nicole de Boer, Alan Ruck, Leela Savasta, Janina Gavankar, Christina Cox, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Patrick Gallagher, Steve Schirripa, Frank Vincent, and Danny Trejo.

It’s a fun sci-fi adventure show with plenty of action, a certain measure of wit and one-liners, and just enough emotional weight. The heart of the show lies in the characters and their relationships. Tight bonds are formed in high-pressure situations, especially when cut off from home. The episodes that highlight those relationships are the ones that I tend to like best.

“Tao of Rodney” is a perfect example of this. Rodney is hit with a beam from a piece of Ancient technology that increases his brilliance and gives him telepathy and telekinesis. It also supersizes his already supersized ego, which nearly costs Zelenka is his life. After it’s revealed that the purpose of this machine is to accelerate evolution to the point of ascension (all of this makes perfect sense if you watch the show) and Rodney is going to die, he ends up making very sincere gestures towards the people he cares about as he reconciles his fate.

Spoiler alert: he doesn’t actually die. But it’s still meaningful just the same.

Also, it is no secret that Zelenka is my favorite, so many of my favorite episodes have him in them. I’m biased and I don’t care.

One interesting aspect of the show is how often accountability comes up. Obviously, you have the unending accountability of accidentally waking up the Wraith, but there’s also the ramifications of them trying to battle them as well. They attempted to engineer a deterrent to prevent Wraiths from feeding on humans and it caused a plague. They attempted to genetically change the Wraiths into humans and ended up with incredibly bitter Wraith-Human hybrid Michael who causes a whole shitload of problems. They attempted to genetically alter the Wraith so they no longer had to feed and it caused severe issues for their frenemy Todd the Wraith.

We see it again with the Genii and again with the Replicators. Hell, at one point they’re put on trial for it all. Granted, their harm wasn’t intentional, but it was widespread. And in some cases catastrophic.

I feel like that elevates the show. Sure, they’re the heroes. But they’re our heroes, not everyone’s. We know they’re only doing what they think is right, but those decisions have consequences. And we get to see those consequences spread out in the ripple effect that these sorts of decisions tend to create. They’re human, but fallible and we love them.

The show only lasted five seasons, which is a drag.

So much of the Pegasus Galaxy was left to explore.

Rerun Junkie Show–Magnum PI

During one magical, syndicated summer I was fortunate to have one channel spending a couple of hours every afternoon playing Magnum PI and Simon & Simon back-to-back. Talk about a lucky kid.

One day I’ll revisit latter, but for now, let’s talk about the former.

As the story goes, the 1980 series partially got the green light because they wanted to capitalize on the Hawaii production that Hawaii Five-O was leaving behind after ending a successful twelve year run in April of that year. And capitalize they did with a successful eight year run of Magnum PI (as another story goes, Jake and the Fatman was saved from cancellation by relocating the show to Hawaii in order to save CBS from leasing an empty studio; when the lease was up, the show moved back to LA). It was hinted that the shows shared a universe, as there were a few McGarrett references in the early seasons, though Jack Lord declined to cameo as he’d retired. From a slick, be-suited state police task force to an aloha shirt wearing private dick.

Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) is a former Navy special ops and NIA intelligence officer making his living as a private investigator and living at the estate of Robin Masters, much to the annoyance of major domo Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman) and his lads, dobermans Zeus and Apollo. Magnum is aided in his cases (and in his life) by his besties and fellow Vietnam vets, chopper pilot Theodore “TC” Calvin (Roger E. Mosley) and gunner-turned-club-manager Orville “Rick” Wright (Larry Manetti). Magnum also cons favors from NIA computer expert Lt. “Mac” MacReynolds (Jeff MacKay, who later returns as Mac’s doppleganger Jim Bonnick in later seasons); assistant district attorney Carol Baldwin (Kathleen Lloyd), though she cons him just as often; Lt. Maggie Poole (Jean Bruce Scott), Mac’s replacement; Francis “Ice Pick” Hofstetler (Elisha Cook Jr.), though those favors were usually asked for by Rick; Doc Ibold (Glenn Cannon); and on rare occasion, Higgins’s fellow Brit Agatha Chumley (Gillian Dobb). Magnum is frequently bedeviled/assisted by HPD Lt. Yoshi Tanaka (Kwan Hi Lim) and he has a major hate hardon for Col. Buck Greene (Lance LeGault), who he holds responsible for keeping him apart from the love of his life, Michelle Hue (Marta DuBois).

Other recurring characters include: Gwen Verdon as Magnum’s mom Katherine Peterson; Eugene Roche as St. Louis PI Luther Gillis (probably my least favorite character because he is so damned annoying, but Eugene Roche is fantastic in the role; he can’t help it that my personality clashes with his character); Clyde Kusatsu as the John Wayne-obsessed HPD Detective Lt. Gordon Katsumoto (he also played a few other characters throughout the show’s run, but I love him unconditionally); Joe Santos as HPD Police Lt. Nolan Page; in later seasons, TC suddenly acquired two mainland children, Martina Stringer as Melody, and Shavar Ross as Bryant, the latter staying with TC for multiple episodes; Fay Hauser as TC’s ex-wife Tina; Deborah Pratt as TC’s girlfriend Gloria; Patrick Bishop as Keoki and Remi Abellira as Moki, two King Kamehameha Club employees; and Phyllis Davis as Rick’s eventual fiancée Cleo Mitchell.

Very much an ’80s action show in most respects, what with the crime-solving and fighting and shootouts and fast cars and witty banter and bedding babes and women characters written by men who didn’t actually know any women, but were just regurgitating the caricatures of women already established by men who’d never met a woman in their lives (yes, this is a sticking point with me because the women tend to be either helpless, annoying, or duplicitous and it’s grating), however, the show was also not afraid to stray from the mundane and into the supernatural (with ghosts, psychics, past lives, and trips to the other side) and didn’t shy away from landing emotional punches.

When it comes to the latter, most people are going to cite “Did You See the Sun Rise?” which saw Magnum and TC revisited by an old friend, Nuzo, who was imprisoned with them in Vietnam by an evil Russian named Ivan (Bo Svenson). The episode put Magnum through the ringer, killing off a friend, putting another one in jeopardy, and forcing both him and TC to relive an incredibly traumatic experience in their lives. The episode ends with Magnum doing something considered morally questionable, but honestly, I was fine with it and on the contrary, thought he could have gone even farther. But that’s just me and my preference for vengeance talking.

This wouldn’t be the only episode to reflect on their Vietnam service and their traumas of war, a daring thing at the time given that the actual war had only ended a few years before the show began, the pain and controversy of it hardly a forgotten thing. Higgins would also recall his times of service in many, many, many stories, however even he gets to face some experiences he’d rather have forgotten.

Personally, “Home from the Sea” kicks my ass the most as Magnum fights for survival while stranded in the ocean during the Fourth of July. He flashes back and forth between the present and his childhood leading up to his father’s death in Korea while TC, Rick, and Higgins have persistent feelings that Magnum is in trouble. The way everything weaves together is so well done and Magnum’s narration of “I made it, Dad. Why didn’t you?” never fails to punch me in the chest and bring tears to my eyes.

Of course, there are lighter episodes, too, and quite a bit of humor in the show, which I love. Poor Rick catches a lot of the comic relief burden. I mean, he got punched by a nun once. Two of my favorite eps are “Operation: Silent Night” and “I, Witness”. Higgins is also blessed with a father who can’t keep it in his pants, which results in multiple half-siblings, three of which we get to meet: Elmo Ziller, Father Paddy McGuinness, and Don Luis Mongueo (all played by John Hillerman). Naturally, the siblings are nothing like the proper Higgins and hilarity tends to ensue. Father Paddy is my favorite.

The series wasn’t afraid to experiment, doing an episode set in 1936, a noir murder mystery episode, an episode that inter-cut Magnum’s investigation of insurance fraud with the novel of a struggling writer, and a send-up of Indiana Jones, a role that Tom Selleck couldn’t take due to the show. And while Selleck was splitting time with the show and movies during the fourth season, we were treated to Rick, TC, and Higgins-centric episodes, including one humorous, yet heartbreaking episode in which Higgins is obsessed with recounting in his memoir the story of his dear friend David Worth (Patrick Macnee) who thought he was Sherlock Holmes. The show also crossed over with two other popular CBS shows during its run: Murder, She Wrote and Simon & Simon.

The eight seasons were star studded when it came to guest stars. Here are a few, except not really : Robert Pine (as Magnum’s dad, further proving he’ll always be cooler than his son Chris), Carol Burnett, Frank Sinatra, Robert Loggia, Vera Miles, Celeste Holm, Ernest Borgnine, Darren McGavin; Hawaii Five-O regulars Zulu, Herman Wedemeyer, Harry Endo, Moe Keale, and Kam Fong, as well as Kam’s son Dennis Chun and frequent flyers Douglas Mossman, Tommy Fujiwara, and Josie Over; Robert Forster, Richard Narita, Gregory Sierra, Pat Hingle, Soon-Tek Oh, Nancy Lee Grahn; ’80s ladies Annie Potts, Dana Delany, Tyne Daly, and Erin Gray; Dustin Nguyen, Alfonso Ribeira, Sharon Stone, Morgan Fairchild, Dick Butkus, James Hong, Christine Belford; darlings Shannon Doherty and Kim Richards; Donnelly Rhodes, William Lucking, Keye Luke; Joe Santos’s fellow Rockford Files vets Gretchen Corbett, Stuart Margolin, and Noah Beery Jr.; William Schallert, Robert Ito, Denise Nichols, Sheree North, Leslie Uggams, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jenny Agutter; Return of the Living Dead duo Clu Gulager and James Karen; France Nuyen, Wings Hauser, Beulah Quo, Brock Peters; Cheers alums Ted Danson and John Ratzenberger; Jessica Walter, Dennis Weaver, Mako; Rerun Junkie faves Kenneth Tigar, Robert F. Lyons, Denny Miller, Nehemiah Persoff, and John Saxon; Cameron Mitchell, Scatman Crothers, Pat Morita, Burr DeBenning; ’60s icons James Doohan, Cesare Romero, Henry Gibson,and Alan Hale Jr.; and in my favorite bit of casting ever, Anne Lockhart and Miguel Ferrer playing younger versions of their parents June Lockhart and José Ferrer.

One controversial aspect of the series lies in one particular character: Robin Masters. In the early seasons, he was played (or at least voiced) by Orson Welles. However, in the later seasons, it was supposed that Higgins was actually the never-there owner of Robin’s Nest. Magnum’s reasoning was that Higgins was always working on his memoirs, but was never done, and some of his writing was similar to that of Masters. Plus he was really possessive of the estate. I don’t know what the reasoning was by the actual show writers, though, since it was established in early seasons that Robin Masters was Orson Welles. Yes, Orson Welles died during the series, but they could have worked around it. I mean, Robin was never there. But, in the end, it resulted in a debate among some fans about who Robin Masters really is. In my personal canon, it was Orson Welles. I like Higgins being the idiosyncratic human that he is.

At any rate, it was played like a dangling carrot for Magnum right up until the last episode of the show. Now, if I have the story straight, the show was supposed to end in the seventh season with the episode “Limbo”, but they ended up being renewed for a shorter eighth season which ended with “Resolutions”. My controversial opinion is that I like the idea of the show ending with “Limbo” better, even if it is kind of a downer. But I like “Resolutions” as well. It’s a good high note to go out on.

The show earned itself a reboot in 2018, diversifying the cast with Jay Hernandez taking over the role of Magnum and Perdita Weeks as Higgins (sadly, opposite sex leads mean that the show has taken the well-worn will-they-or-won’t-they path because heteronormativity is a helluva drug); Zachary Knighton as Rick and Stephen Hill as TC (this was the casting that stressed me the most because TC is my guy; they did a fab job, though); and rounding out the main cast is Tim Kang as Gordon Katsumoto (sans John Wayne obsession) and Amy Hill as Kumu, an original character for the series and my role model. I enjoy the reboot despite its flaws, the biggest one being that none of the guys ever wear short-shorts a la the ’80s series. If I’m going to be subjected to Moonlighting-redux, then I should at least get a huge side of guy thighs.

Obviously, though, the ’80 series captured my heart first and I’ve got some happy memories with it, watching it while hanging out in my grandma’s air conditioned den after lunch.

It’s a classic.

Like an aloha shirt, it never goes out of style.

Rerun Junkie Show–Automan

The world’s first automatic man.

Automan is not a show I knew about until recently, coming across the title while doing research on something else. In November of 2017, Red Giant put out a short based on Automan that was written and directed by Aharon Rabinowitz and starring David Hewlett as the title character, Hewlogram. Between this hilarious short (please go watch it and the making-0f video because it’s just as much fun) and watching the opening for the actual series, I put this one on my to-watch list.

And as luck would have it, I received the series on DVD for my birthday.

(I also received Hewlogram poster that I won that same week. My 38th birthday week was lit in a hologram sort of way.)

Automan aired in 1983 for just 13 episodes. Starring Chuck Wagner as Automan, Desi Arnaz Jr. as his creater Walter Nebicher, Heather McNair as Roxanne Caldwell, Gerald S. O’Laughlin as Captain Boyd, Robert Lansing as Lt. Jack Curtis, and Cursor as himself. No, really. The little cursor thing got a credit.

If you bothered watching Hewlogram, then you’d have the basic premise of Automan. Walter Nebicher is a computer programmer and police officer whose captain prefers him in his little computer room and not out on the streets. He creates Automan, a hologram so powerful that it can hit a dude across a room. Only Walter’s co-worker and sort of love interest Roxanne knows that Automan is a hologram. Oh, and Cursor is a little firefly looking thing that can draw anything and make it real, like a suit over Automan’s Tron body or a super fast car. It’s also a bit of a perv. Because Automan requires a certain amount of power to exist, he sometimes has to disappear when he feels his battery getting low or find creative ways to recharge. All of this in the name of fighting crime.

The buddy cop duo we need and deserve.

The show only ran 13 episodes and that’s both criminal and totally understandable. In only 13 episodes, we had mobsters, tropical locations, corrupt cops, corrupt sheriffs, bikers, Laura Branigan, a male exotic dance club called Zippers, bombing threats, diamond smuggling, and I’m pretty sure every episode featured covers of popular songs of the time as well as the laughing freeze frame at the end. You can’t pack that much awesome into such a short run. The star that burns that brightly, burns out too soon.

It also suffers from the some questionable dialogue that boarders on painful, the obvious jokes and cheesiness that permeated the ’80s, and some less-than acting, though I blame the dialogue for a lot of it. Seriously, some of those lines are face-smackingly cringey.

But, it’s an incredibly fun show! Chuck Wagner is adorable as Automan. He embodies this hologram that is, in his own words, an eleven on a scale from one to ten while also being rather naive about the ways of humans. To help him learn about humans, Walter had Auto watch movies and TV shows. Auto inadvertently watching multiple episodes of a soap opera is a highlight.

Speaking of Walter, he’s not just an inept computer nerd. Yeah, in a few episodes things don’t go his way and he gets his ass handed to him, but he’s not incompetent. And he does get in his licks. He’s also not a total loser with the ladies. After all, Roxanne is one hot chick and he doesn’t seem to have any trouble with her.

Together, Walter and Auto are, well, maybe not unstoppable or unbeatable, but they get the job done and they’re entertaining.

Giving a new meaning to the boys in blue.

The plots are typical ’80s grand with titles like “Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever”,  “Murder MTV”, “Murder, Take One”,  “Death By Design”, and “Club Ten”. In one episode called “Renegade Run”, you have Richard Lynch as a corrupt sheriff that pits him against biker Billy Drago. I know, right? How great is that? Pretty great.

In addition to Richard Lynch, Billy Drago, and Laura Branigan, the show also featured guest stars Clu Gulager, Mary Crosby, Patrick Macnee, Ed Lauter, John Vernon, Anne Lockhart, France Nuyen, Robert F. Lyons, Delta Burke, William Windom, Terry Kiser, Don Galloway, Richard Anderson, Doug McClure, Walter Brooke, Sid Haig, Mickey Jones, and Ola Ray.

Check out that crop. Nothing but cream.

Okay, Automan is a little on the silly side. It’s the early ’80s turned up to eleven. It is glorious.

Just ask Cursor.

The little perv.

Rerun Junkie Show–Gunsmoke

It’s the longest running western. It’s tied for the longest running prime-time drama (thanks, Law & Order). Twenty years is a long time on the air and 635 episodes is a lot of episodes.

Twenty years also means different opening credits.

Twenty years also means different opening credits.

Set in Dodge City, Kansas, Gunsmoke is the story of Marshall Matthew Dillon (James Arness) as he tries to bring justice to the Wild West. Assisted over the years by friends Doc (Milburn Stone), Chester (Dennis Weaver), and Quint Asper (Burt Reynolds), deputies Festus (Ken Curtis), Thad (Roger Ewing), and Newly (Buck Taylor), and the saloon owner Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) and her bartender Sam (Glenn Strange), Matt faced off against a host of bad guys, troubles, injuries, moral quandries, and injustice.

And let me tell you, there was plenty of all of that. I haven’t seen every episode of this show. Probably haven’t even seen half of them (and it started out on the radio with William Conrad as the voice of Matt Dillon, so the saddle bag of history overflows). But I can tell you that they did not skimp on the drama, nor skirt some of the heavier issues. In addition to the usual robbery, revenge, and death you expect on a western, the show had episodes involving rape, white slavery, racism, bigotry, abuse of all kinds, greed of all kinds, murder of all kinds, and that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head. I think every one of the main cast was falsely accused at one point in time and a few even faced the rope, only to be saved at the last minute. I know Festus was nearly hung on several occasions, head in the noose and all before he was saved, and when he was saved NO ONE EVER APOLOGIZED. Really. Nobody ever bothered to be like, “Hey, sorry we nearly killed you. Our bad.” Nothing. I think if you nearly hang someone  and then find out he’s innocent just before you kick the horse out from under him, you should at least have the decency to say you’re sorry. But that’s just me.

This is the cast configuration I know best. See the smiles? The Wild West wasn't a total downer.

This is the cast configuration I know best. See the smiles? The Wild West wasn’t a total downer.

Not every episode was heavier than a blacksmith’s anvil. Many of them were light and quite funny. Typically, anytime Festus was heavily involved, especially if any member of his family showed up, it’s going to be a good time. Festus episodes tend to be my favorite. But no matter what the nature of the episode is, any conversation between Festus and Doc is going to be gold.

Gunsmoke is one of those shows that could have a post of it’s own on just the guest stars. That’s what happens when you’re on forever. Everyone ends up on your show. But here area  few I find worth mentioning: familiar names Nick Nolte, Gary Busey, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Richard Dreyfus, Jodie Foster, Diane Ladd, and Charles Bronson; Bruce Dern, Royal Dano, John Dehner, John Anderson, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Harry Carey Jr, and Claude Akins, who were required by federal law at the time to appear in every western TV show; my favorites Ross Martin and Joyce Jameson; J. Pat O’Malley, Nehemiah Persoff, Virginia Gregg, and Vitto Scotti, who were required by federal law at the time to be in every TV show; Kurt Russell and his daddy Bing; Buck Taylor’s daddy Dub; Brock Peters, Cicely Tyson, Yaphet Kotto, and Keye Luke; Ron Howard and his brother Clint; John Saxon, Sid Haig, and Richard Jaeckel; and leading ladies Bette Davis, Vera Miles, Margaret Hamilton, and Gloria DeHaven.

This isn’t even the tip of the ice berg. It’s a mere clump of snow on an ice planet.

Like many of my reruns, I started watching Gunsmoke because there was nothing else on. Having seen episodes from the last eight or nine seasons multiple times now, I can see why this show was on the air for so long. There was always a problem to be solved, a danger to overcome, a gunslinger to tame, a thirst for revenge to quench. This show had it all, right down to the romantic tension between Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty (how scandalous!).

Dodge City may have faced drought a time or two, the drama well never ran dry.

Bless Festus, his mule, and his abused hat.

Bless Festus, his mule, and his abused hat.

Rerun Junkie Show–Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Oh where would I be without my LSD nigh nigh show?

Where the weird shit lives

Where the weird shit lives

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a 1960’s Irwin Allen television show based on an Irwin Allen film of the same name. The show features the crew of a submarine called the Seaview which is headed by Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) and his right-hand man Captain Crane (David Hedison) and all of their wacky hijinx.

Okay, they only seem wacky because this was ’60s sci-fi and the first season (in black and white) was much more serious in tone, featuring mostly Cold War-inspired espionage and foreign baddies along with some sub-in-trouble episodes and only a few really weirdo episodes. Most of the sci-fi came from the submarine and the tech that everyone was using.

When the series went to color in the second season, that’s when things really started getting fantastic and stayed that way until the end of its four year run. In that time, the poor crew of the Seaview dealt with ghosts, werewolves, clowns, wax men, lobster men, a literal fire man, frost men, shadow men, a leprachaun, and my personal favorite, sentient seaweed, among other wild things. The crew, which included Chip (Robert Dowdell), Chief Sharkey (Terry Becker), my favorite crewman Kowalski (Del Monroe), Curley (Henry Kulky, who sadly passed away after the first season), Patterson (Paul Trinka), and Doctor (Richard Bull, aka Nels Oleson from Little House on the Prairie), always managed to come out victorious (though many nameless crew members often bit it in the course of victory, though no one ever seemed to mind) and probably could have used a pay raise, extra leave time, and maybe some PTSD therapy for the shit they’d seen.

"Sir, there's something on sonar."  "Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let's poke it with a stick."

“Sir, there’s something on sonar.”
“Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let’s poke it with a stick.”

And they saw a lot. They ended up inside whales and jelly fish. They disappeared. They went back in time. They transported murderous gorillas and mermaids with not much better temperaments. They diffused bombs and battled saboteurs. Everybody got kidnapped at least once and Chip ended up on Venus (sometimes I think he probably wishes they left him there).

They also saw a lot of people for a crew that spent most of their time on a submarine that always seemed to be on fire. Guest stars included: John Banner and Werner Klemperer before they went to work at Stalag 13; James Doohan and George Takei (this was probably great training for their Star Trek journey); Ed Asner; Tom Skerritt; James Brolin; Jill Ireland; Batman heroine Yvonne Craig and Batman villain Victor Buono; my horror movie love Vincent Price; Paul Fix, Jacques Aubuchon; June Lockhart, who didn’t have to do laundry for a change; John Fujioka; Brooke Bundy; Irene Tsu; John Dehner, John Hoyt, Nehemiah Persoff, John Anderson, Kevin Hagen, and Peter Mark Richman because I think it was required by law for those guys to be on your show in the ’60s and ’70s; Michael Constantine, who worked under the same law, but for more decades; Michael Ansara; George Lindsey; Leslie Nielsen; Robert Duvall as an alien (this is when I knew the series was going to really be something); James Frawley; Victor Mature; Nicholas Colasanto long before Cheers; Frances X. Bushman; James Darren; Patrick Wayne; John Cassevettes; Michael Dunn, whom I immediately recognized under his clown make-up the second he smiled; and if you pay attention to the crewmen in the background, you’ll see our old friend Marco Lopez (Emergency!) in about twenty episodes of the last two seasons.

This is one of those shows where it was probably absolutely amazing to the viewing audience at the time, especially after the show went to color, but now is pretty hokey looking with some really far out storylines. I mean, the lobster man was something to behold because it didn’t quite look like either. And I’m not joking when I say the Seaview was always on fire. It seems like something in that sub is always on fire. Even the Garvey’s barn didn’t burn this much.

But it’s a super fun show.

I couldn’t get to sleep on Saturday nights without it.

Really, what IS that?

Really, what IS that?

Rerun Junkie Show– The Big Valley

Though the TV Westerns were starting a downward trend, there was still a need for the adventures of a strong matriarch and her brood of grown kids.

Big Valley

The Barkley family included widowed mother Victoria (Miss Barbara Stanwyck), eldest son and lawyer Jarrod (Richard Long), rowdy son Nick (Peter Breck), only girl Audra (Linda Evans), bastard son Heath (Lee Majors), and youngest and rarely seen son Eugene (Charles Briles).

Over the run of the show, the Barkley clan dealt with murders, rustlers, bigots, prejudice, political scandal, PTSD (though it wasn’t called that), corruption, rabid wolves, mountain lions, dynamite, forest fires, and folks that just didn’t like rich families named Barkley.

But they're so delightful! And hardly snobby at all!

But they’re so delightful! And hardly snobby at all!

Friends and enemies of the Barkleys included: Western staples Royal Dano, Claude Akins, Dub Taylor and son Buck; Bing Russell; Richard Anderson; LQ Jones; James Gregory; in everything at the time Harold Gould, Virginia Gregg, Nehemiah Persoff, J. Pat O’Malley, John Hoyt, John Dehner, Dabbs Greer, and Kevin Hagen; Gavin MacLeod; Paul Fix and Johnny Crawford; Robert Fuller and Julie London, with a Bobby Troup cameo; Adam West, Yvonne Williams, and Van Williams (Batman, Batgirl, and Green Hornet); Sheree North; Jeanne Cooper; Eve Plumb; Pernell Roberts; Wayne Rogers; Mako; big names (either current or future) Dennis Hopper, Yaphet Kotto, Charles Bronson, William Shatner, Buddy Hackett, Diane Ladd, Ellen Burstyn, Milton Berle, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Baxter, Karen Black, Regis Philbin, Cloris Leachman, Ron Howard, Martin Landau, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Dreyfus; Keye Luke; Joe Don Baker; Judy Carne; Arlene Golonka; Russell Johnson; and Joyce Jameson.

As I mentioned before, Heath was a genuine bastard son, the product of a romance between Tom Barkley (Victoria’s dead husband, but he wasn’t dead at the time of the affair because it was scandalous, but not THAT scandalous) and another woman when he was in a bad way.  In fact, a few episodes were devoted to this bit of scandal, including the pilot when Heath first shows up to claim the Barkley name and an episode in which Victoria travels to Heath’s hometown to found if Tom loved Heath’s mother and if he loved her. Pretty deep and saucy stuff for a Western.

Part of the afternoon Western line-up at the time, I got sucked into watching because there was nothing else on. I quickly noticed defining character elements: Jarrod frowns; Heath glares; Audra frets; and Nick (my favorite) punches people. And Victoria Barkley? Oh, she just kicks ass. Seriously, the woman could handle a gun and a whip and she went up against anyone without flinching. I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up.

Maybe with less blue eye shadow thought.

She owns it. And you will call her ma'am.

She owns it. And you will call her ma’am.

Rerun Junkie Show–The Addams Family

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky…and most likely more fun than your own family.

Snap along!

Snap along!

This fun ’60s show featured an oddball clan led by father Gomez (John Astin), mother Morticia (Carolyn Jones), children Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring), the witch-like Grandmama (Blossom Rock), light bulb enthusiast Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), the hairy-adorable Cousin Itt (Felix Silla), and the loyal and prompt butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy). The family was always frequently aided by a helpful hand-in-a-box named Thing.

Enlightening!

Enlightening!

The house was a museum (as stated by the theme song) filled with curious objects like a noose that rang a gong for the butler, a foghorn doorbell, a rack, an iron maiden, suits of armor, an elaborate train set with frequently crashing trains, and a bear rug that roared. Being a typical family, they had their pets: Morticia had an African Strangler plant named Cleopatra and a vulture named Zelda; Pugsley had Aristotle the octopus;  Wednesday had spiders like her black widow named Homer; and of course, there was their lion named Kitty Cat.

The family had a rather spooky view of life. They lived for Halloween, ate weird foods and even poisons, clipped the roses off of their thorny stems and kept the stems, practiced fencing in the living room, made potions, had a dungeon, camped in swamps, and were generally odd, much to the chagrin of neighbors and the fright and/or awe of folks that stopped by. The oddness didn’t affect the Addams family wealth, though, and Gomez (a lawyer) employed a stock broker who managed the weirdness in the name of money.

Among those that dropped in at the Addams’s residence: Vitto Scotti and Virginia Gregg, because they stopped in everywhere; Margaret Hamilton as Morticia’s mother (a fitting role for the Wicked Witch of the West); Don Rickles; Parley Baer; Ellen Corby down from Walton Mountain; Hal Smith, better known as Mayberry town drunk Otis; Meg Wylie; Marty Ingels; Jack LaLane; Peter Bonerz before he became a dentist in the same building as Bob Newhart; Madge Blake, Dick Grayson’s Aunt Harriet; and Richard Deacon.

While the family was pretty bizarre in a fun way, they still dealt with the usual family troubles and resolved them in their own way. When a neighbor told Wednesday that witches didn’t exist (like telling a kid there’s no Santa), they held a seance to conjure up a long dead (burned at the stake) witch relative named Aunt Singe. When Morticia thought Gomez had gone broke, she and the rest of the clan rallied around to make money on the sly so his ego wouldn’t be hurt (Lurch and Uncle Fester were escorts, Morticia taught fencing, Grandmama became a beautician, and the children set up a lemonade stand that sold something not quite like lemonade…even Thing sold pencils). When Gomez was insulted by the property tax bill (it was something like eight bucks and he thought they should have been charged much more for their beautiful palace), he ran for mayor with the family helping his campaign.

They helped each other, supported each other, and genuinely loved each other. Keep your Romeo and Juliet; I want a love like Morticia and Gomez!

This could be us, but you playin'.

This could be us, but you playin’.

This is one of those shows that I watched a lot as a kid, enjoying the randomness and wackiness of the family. I’ve since rediscovered it and am now enjoying all of the hilarious dialogue that I missed as a kid.

Fester: (talking about the neighbor that told Wednesday that witches didn’t exist) I still think he should be horsewhipped. I’m going to get a horse!

Morticia: (in response to Gomez asking if Aunt Singe likes children) All witches love children. Remember Hansel and Gretel?

Morticia: (explaining Cousin Itt’s dilemma) He hasn’t quite found himself.

Gomez: And with Cousin Itt that isn’t easy. He looks the same from every angel.

Not to mention the variety of meanings of Lurch’s groans and Cousin Itt’s gibberish.

It’s one of those shows that I wish would have lasted longer than two seasons, but I’m still happy that I found it again. So let’s sing the theme song one more time!

Thank you, Thing.

Thank you, Thing.

Rerun Junkie Show–Murder, She Wrote

One of the few reruns that I had the pleasure of watching first run before it became a rerun junkie delight, to me, it was never just for old ladies.

I told my niece that's taking piano lessons if she didn't learn this theme song, her lessons were a waste.

I told my niece that’s taking piano lessons if she didn’t learn this theme song, her lessons were a waste.

Murder, She Wrote follows the exploits of widowed former-teacher Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) who now writes mysteries under the name of J.B. Fletcher and solves a few in her spare time. In her quaint hamlet of Cabot Cove, she’s assisted by first Sheriff Amos Tupper (Tom Bosley) and then his successor Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) and local doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Window). Most, if not all of the mysteries, were murders, so a lot of people died in Cabot Cove. The guy adjusting the population number on the welcome sign was always busy.

But, it wasn’t just Cabot Cove that was filled with people offing their neighbors left and right. Wherever Jessica Fletcher went, people died (sort of an important component of the series, but it made the woman look like the Angel of Death). At a circus? Murder. On an airplane? Murder. Trapped in a cafe during a storm? Murder. Trapped in a ski lodge during a storm? Murder. At the stockbroker’s office? Murder. In a prison? Murder. At an archaeological dig? Murder. At a wedding? Murder. At a crazy friend’s house? Murder. On a ranch? Murder. At a local inn? Murder. In Sleepy Hollow? Murder.

Here a murder, there a murder, everywhere a murder murder.

They mysteries were pretty straight-forward. They introduced the principal characters, someone died, an investigation ensued, and Jessica would solve it before the credits rolled. A simple formula that could be used to in so many ways, the stories didn’t really get old.

I admit that most of my favorite episodes take place in or near Cabot Cove, or at least with one of the sheriffs or doctor. The chemistry Dame Lansbury has with Mr. Tom Bosley and Mr. William Windom, and later Mr. Ron Masak (who is one of my favorites), is fabulous. You’d never get tired of having lunch with that group.

So, do want to investigate a murder before or after lunch?

So, do want to investigate a murder before or after lunch?

 

The show ran for twelve years with over 200 episodes, so I’m not exactly exaggerating when I say EVERYONE was on this show. It took me hours over days to sort through everyone before I realized that I could do a whole blog post on the guest stars alone, which I’ll probably end up doing at some point. In the meantime, I decided to do a very short list featuring the names I wanted to feature. Neener.

Other recurring characters on the show included:Michael Horton as Jessica’s often-in-trouble nephew Grady; private investigators Jerry Orbach as Harry McGraw (who got his own, short-lived spin-off) and Wayne Rogers as Charlie Garrett; Keith Mitchell as jewel thief Dennis Stanton; Len Cariou as British agent Michael Hagarty; Herb Edleman as Lt. Artie Gelber and Ken Swafford as Lt. Catalano, the law enforcement Jessica often collaborated with when she was in New York (not my favorite episodes, sorry, guys); Cabot Cove folks Claude Akins as Captain Ethan Cragg, Julie Adams as Eve Simpson, Richard Paul as Mayor Samm Booth, John Astin as Harry Pierce, and Will Nye as Deputy Floyd and Louis Hearthom as Deputy Andy Broom.

Familiar faces from the reruns I’ve blogged about here include: Kevin Tighe, Randolph Mantooth, Robert Fuller, Marco Lopez, Vince Howard, James McEachin, Harry Morgan, Martin Milner, Kent McCord, Adam West, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriweather, James MacArthur, Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Dirk Benedict, Melinda Culea, Eddie Velez, Robert Vaughn, William Lucking, Lance LeGault, Rue McClanahan, George Grizzard, Monte Markham, Melissa Sue Anderson, Karen Grassle, Bonnie Bartlet, Dean Butler, Max Gail, Gregory Sierra, Ron Glass, Abe Vigoda, David Soul, Alan Hale, James Hampton, Forrest Tucker, Joe Santos Noah Beery Jr, Gretchen Corbett, William Conrad, and David Hedison (okay, I haven’t done Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea yet, but I’m going to!).

And just think…that’s the only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to familiar faces.

This is one of those shows that never fails to entertain me, no matter how many times I’ve seen an episode. I catch new things each time I watch it. And Jessica Fletcher is a delightful woman to spend an hour with.

Mostly because you know that you’re the one that won’t end up dead.

Whoops! Another body!

Whoops! Another body!

Rerun Junkie Show–The Rifleman

Though there was a huge boon of Westerns on TV during the fifties and sixties and therefore plenty of reruns of said Westerns, I am rather ambivalent to most of them, using most of them as background noise on the afternoons I’m not working a day job. However, a couple of them have captured my heart and one of them is The Rifleman.

The Rifleman

The Rifleman features Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) building a life in the town of Northfork in the New Mexico territory back before New Mexico was a state and the 20th century was a thing. Lucas’s expertise with a rifle proves to be a valuable asset to Marshall Micah Torrence (Paul Fix) as they both try to keep some law and order in the Wild West.

"C'mon, Micah. We got some lawin' to do."

“C’mon, Micah. We got some lawin’ to do.”

The town had it’s share of familiar faces over the years. Hope Summers, Billy Quinn, Patricia Blair, Joe Higgins, Joan Taylor, and Harlan Warde all played recurring characters during the run of the show. Guest stars included: frequent TV guest stars John Anderson, Richard Anderson, Dabbs Greer (who played a different character in back-to-back episodes; I had to look it up when I first saw it to make sure Me-TV wasn’t airing them in a funny order or it was a season finale/season premier and it wasn’t), Kevin Hagen, William Schallert, Vito Scotti, John Dehner, and John Hoyt; lovely ladies June Allison, Agnes Moorehead (as a really fun character), Grace Lee Whitney, and Patricia Berry; Michael Landon and Dan Blocker before they were on the Ponderosa;  Robert Culp, Martin Landau, and Robert Vaughn before they were spies; James Drury before he was the Virginian; Ellen Corby before she was a grandma;  Frank DeKova before he was a chief of the Hekawi; Adam West before he was Batman; Lee Van Cleef, Royal Dano, Jack Elam, and Denver Pyle (because I think it was a law that they had to be on every Western TV show);  some nobodies like Dennis Hopper, Sammy Davis Jr., James Coburn, Buddy Hackett, and Lon Chaney Jr; and Robert Crawford Jr (Johnny’s brother) and Jeff Connors (Chuck’s son).

(You have no idea how many people I left out. Watch the show to see a whole lot of familiar faces, many of them very young.)

North Fork, like many old west towns in these shows, is a magnet for some real jerks. Bank robbers, kidnappers, gunfighters, murderers, thieves, cattle rustlers, bullies. Naturally, this sort of thing leads to trouble and many times that trouble was solved with Lucas’s rifle. But! That wasn’t the lesson Lucas taught his son. He taught the boy that the rifle was the last resort and it was never something he wanted to use.

This sort of thinking, however, did not apply to anyone messing with Mark. Over the course of the series, Mark got kidnapped or taken hostage, I don’t know, more times than any normal boy is kidnapped/taken hostage during their years between 10 and 15. A few times a season, at least. Anyway, whenever someone threatened/kidnapped/hostaged Lucas’s boy, the shit hit the fan and then Lucas hit the bad guy. Repeatedly. Maybe choked him. Stomped him. Kicked him. Hit him some more.

The backbone of the series really wasn’t Lucas shooting bad guys; it was his relationship with his son Mark. As a widower, he did his best to raise his son right. And he loved his son, that was very clear. He protected him (when he wasn’t getting kidnapped and such) and educated him in the ways of morals and values. For a man that used his gun every episode, he wasn’t keen on his son picking up one of his own too soon. And just as the show didn’t shy away from morals, it didn’t shy away from father-son affection, either. There’s never any doubt that Lucas loves his son and he’s not afraid to show it.

Try getting away with that today. Folks would be hollering “sissy”.

I don’t think it would be smart to take that attitude with the rifleman.

Father and son. They can't be beat.

Father and son. They can’t be beat.