Thursday, November 16, 2017

When Prime Time Had Morality Tales

Image result for gunsmoke poster amazon

The TV westerns of the Fifties and Sixties were morality tales. They had clear distinctions between good and evil and the good usually if not always won. Here's a partial list:

Bat Masterson, Bonanza, Broken Arrow, Boots and Saddles, Cheyenne, The Cisco Kid, Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, High Chapparal, Wyatt Earp, Maverick, Rawhide, The Rebel, The Rifleman, Rin Tin Tin, Tales of Wells Fargo, Texas John Slaughter, Wagon Train, and Wanted Dead or Alive.

Were many of them hokey? Sure. Did they gloss over things? Absolutely. [Miss Kitty's occupation in Gunsmoke was left unexplored.] But I think we lost something valuable when many of those programs left the air.

As Michael Kelly, the late, great, editor of The Atlantic put it, at one point we went from being square to being cool.


Texas Leigh said...

It looks like you listed quite a few of these jewels. I also watched "The Lone Ranger," "Lawman," and "Tombstone Territory" which should be included for its theme song alone. Beside the lessons these shows taught, most of them had some wonderful music. My father and I loved to watch the Westerns. My favorite was Richard Boone in "Have Gun Will Travel." When "Gunsmoke" came on, even my mother joined us and we three would try to guess the number of killings before the show started...and the numbers we guessed were high!

Michael Wade said...

Texas Leigh,

Those are great additions.

As for the killings, my younger brother used to refer to Marshal Dillon as Marshal Killin.