Classic Movies · Television

Once upon a time in the West

deputy5

Several participants on the Home Theater Forum have reported receiving some “inside dope” from Timeless Media Group that the company is planning to release twelve half-hour episodes of The Deputy, a Western series that ran on NBC from 1959 to 1961 starring Allen Case as the titular lawman, Clay McCord. The street date for the release is set for October 14th. BobH points out that this collection will not contain the two public domain episodes from the series (“Hard Decision” and “The Return of Widow Brown”), something I think Timeless might have jumped on…so kudos to them.

deputylogoI had a passing familiarity with The Deputy from the oh-so-rare occasions when TVLand would run an installment or two, and I purchased some episodes of this series from…well, let’s not get into that right now. To be honest, it’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff (though certainly worth a flutter if you’re a fan of oaters). The series does have two things to recommend it; first, it was co-created by Norman Lear, a hard-working scribe (Lear once wrote for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis with partner Ed Simmons, and that had to be hard work) who would later be crowned the king of sitcoms in the 1970s (All in the FamilyMaudeGood TimesOne Day at a Time, etc.) The other unique quality about The Deputy was that the show also featured Henry Fonda…who played the town’s marshal, Simon Fry. Granted, Fonda wasn’t on the show all that much (and he filmed all of his scenes in one get-go at the beginning of each season in order to free up his schedule for other pursuits) but at a time when movie stars still treated appearing on the cathode ray tube as akin to smallpox it seemed like a big deal. (The Deputy, it has been said, was inspired by an Anthony Mann film Fonda starred in, The Tin Star [1957], with Anthony Perkins as a sheriff still wet behind the ears.) Fonda’s only other regular series role was that of Det. Sgt. Chad Smith on the 1971-72 ABC comedy-drama The Smith Family, a promising show that failed to catch fire on the network’s schedule.

In closing, I’d like to issue a big hip-hip-hooray to Timeless for the releases of some of these real rarities. They’ll be putting out another edition (Season 2, Part 1) of Laredo in September and a few other oaters mentioned as being in the works include LaramieThe Texan and The Restless Gun (of which some shows have already been released). Take a victory lap, Timeless!

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