I was never a fan of TV westerns--but as with any genre in TV, movies and books, I've found exceptions. In this case, there are two: The Big Valley (1965-1969) and Bonanza (1959-1973). These two shows were more family dramas than formula westerns. Each of them featured a widowed parent with grown children. Both shows were set in roughly the same time period, the late 1800s, their locations not far from each other (The Big Valley was set in California's San Joaquin Valley, near Stockton, while Bonanza's Ponderosa Ranch was located in Nevada, near Lake Tahoe)....
Come to think of it, the Barkley and Cartwright clans could have merged to form a post-Civil War Brady Bunch.
Bonanza's Ben Cartwright was a widower with three sons by three wives: Adam, Eric (aka Hoss) and Little Joe. He was an overbearing sucker, and since all three of his wives died, The Big Valley's tough matriarch, Victoria Barkley, might have thought twice about marrying him. Victoria, after all, was a woman ahead of her time, able to ride and shoot as well as any man. (She once held off a pair of killers who were after her daughter, Audra, who had witnessed their crimes--after three men on their stagecoach ran away in fear.)
Victoria had five children. She and her late husband, Tom, had four--Jarrod, Nick, Eugene (who was "back east" attending medical school for all but a few episodes) and Audra. Heath was Tom Barkley's illegitimate son, but Victoria came to consider him as much her child as the others, and he called her Mother. (In one episode, she paid off a gunslinger sent to kill him, outbidding the man who'd originally hired the guy. Now that's a mother's love!)
If she married Ben and he got out of line, he'd have to sleep with one eye open, I think.
Not too long ago, The Big Valley was set to be a feature film--but it was cancelled when the producer was convicted of tax fraud. It's just as well. The film planned would not likely have lived up to the TV series. Anybody remember the big screen versions of Bewitched or The Beverly Hillbillies?
Do you have any favorite TV shows, past or present, that you'd like to see merged?