But…in the immortal words of Robert Frost: “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft a-gley.” (Who says this blog isn’t highbrow? Besides 98% of the blogosphere, I mean.)
|Laramie stars John Smith and Robert Fuller|
I eliminated Death Valley Days and Wagon Train right off the bat; I like both shows—but they’re not something I have to have. I leaned heavily toward Laramie, particularly due to the piss-poor quality of the Timeless Media Group DVDs…but I’ve got a 30-day window with these downloads, and I didn’t think I could get all EW had in that amount of time (particularly since they’re 50-minute shows). There’s DVR space to consider, too—I like to have enough of a “buffer” in case Mom (who learned how to work the DVR during her convalescence) wants to grab any Rambo movies or something with Jean-Claude God Damme. (I don’t know why she insists on recording stuff with commercials…particularly since she hasn’t learned to fast-forward yet.) So, it came down to either Wyatt Earp or Wells Fargo…and since all six seasons of Earp have been released to disc, I went with Fargo (its DVD release history is a little spotty).
The Classic TV Western Collection) but my father used to tease my mother unmercifully about this series, derisively referring to the star as “Dale Roberts” and saying…well, I won’t repeat exactly what he said (it’s a little insensitive) but he hinted that Mr. Robertson was a few horses shy of a remuda. I’ve watched 13 out of the 14 episodes in the first season (“The Silver Bullets” did not download properly, much to my dismay) and a couple from Season Two…and I don’t know why Dad kids Mom so. Granted, I do not possess the sophisticated television tastes as my old man (and by “sophisticated television tastes” I mean shows about UFOs and cops placing people under arrest) but I’m finding Tales of Wells Fargo to be a pretty entertaining series. It’s not a great show (there are superior western half-hours, like Gunsmoke and Have Gun – Will Travel) but it’s far and away better than The Cisco Kid or any other juvie oater you’d care to name. Robertson didn’t consider Wells Fargo an “adult western” or a “kids western”—but a “family western,” assuming your family conducted private investigations for the Wells Fargo company for a living. (That’s the premise in a nutshell: as Jim Hardie, Robertson chased down bad hombres who robbed the company’s stagecoaches or freight wagon in the 1860s/1870s/1880s, and brought the miscreants to justice. This was quite a few years before the Wells Fargo company started committing fraud on a major scale.)
|Hugh Beaumont as Jesse James|
|The moustache helps a lot. (From a 1965 TV pilot, Diamond Jim.)|
|William Demarest with star Robertson|
Tales of Wells Fargo’s first and second seasons are available on DVD (Tales of Wells Fargo: The Complete First and Second Seasons); in addition, there’s a collection containing “selected” episodes from Seasons 1-5, and Tales of Wells Fargo: The Best of the Final Season in Color. In looking at what I downloaded from Encore Westerns, neither seasons five or six seem to be in their package—perhaps they will air these in the future. Wells Fargo plays much, much better than I had hoped…and later, I will make a small sacrifice to the satellite gods for allowing me to grab these episodes for the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives.