Monday, July 14, 2014

Here's the Story of a Frontier Lady....

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?


  1. That's funny, Norma. I could see her with a whip in her hands eyeing Ben when they have a disagreement--that would have been a very different show!

    My preferences have been "Have Gun Will Travel", "Gunsmoke" and "Matt Dillon". "Wild Wild West" only because of Jame's tight butt, and I liked to see him fighting 5 men at a go. It's all ridiculous, but entertaining. I've posted about Gunsmoke before.

  2. I've never seen either of them, though I have heard of Bonanza.

  3. Don't know Big Valley but I do remember my Mum loved Bonanza :) Little Joe was kinda cute, but Adam was darkly mysterious :)

  4. I know these shows and the ones Lorele mentioned.
    Can't think of any shows to merge but quite a few that need to be tossed out.
    Loved, Have Gun Will Travel.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. @ Lorelei: Ben was something of a dinosaur, and Victoria was a tough, independent dame. She would have taken a whip to him if necessary!

    My parents LOVED Gunsmoke!

    @ William: I'm surprised--the history buff in this group hasn't seen these shows?

    @ Michael Landon appeared at the Firemen's Rodeo here when I was a kid--he was in his Little Joe character the whole time! I remember him saying he'd planned to bring Hoss along--but it was only a twin-engine plane!

    @ Gayle: I agree. A lot of shows need to be given the boot! My mom was a fan of HGWT, too.

  6. Films of TV series never live up to expectations. How about The Big Bang with Mindy and Mork?

  7. Barbara Stanwyck was amazing in the Big Valley. I wouldn't want to mess with her. I'd love to see a SYFY channel flick combining several of their cheesiest movies. Can't wait for Sharknado 2 (because one was not enough).

    1. @ Karla: She was! She refused to portray Victoria as a fragile woman, and she was absolutely right. Yesterday, MeTV aired the first episode, where Heath arrived to claim his legacy. I loved her scene with Lee Majors at the end!

      A Syfy mashup? Now that could be fun!

  8. I vaguely recall Bewitched and the Beverly Hillbillies on the big screen but they must not have made a Big impression on the Big screen. Time for a Big Screen version of Gilligan's Island!


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