At last a complete season release for Rawhide. Eric Fleming continues to deliver a great performance as tough Trail Boss - Gil Favor. Most certainly as the seasons progress all the characters develop, Rowdy becomes far more argumentative and no longer the kid that worships his boss. But it is in Gil Favor we see the greatest character development. In the first couple of seasons Favor was more the straight forward western hero, but gradually the writers and Fleming himself have evolved Gil into a tough almost anti hero. He is usually right, though not always, this is good, he is not infalliable or invincible.We see how tough the job is for a trailboss and at times his crew really do dislike him, however I find the Gil Favor character believable and far more convincing than Rowdy, the ramrod. However Fleming and Eastwood play off each other well and the tension between the characters add another dimension to this wonderful series. All the drovers have finely developed characters and each episode provides us with super, generally gritty entertainment. Sheb Wooley as Pete Nolan is missed but I rather liked Charles Gray as Clay Forrester, whilst he was never up there with Pete he did provide a sharp contrast to Gil and Rowdy. Some of the great episodes this season are Incident of the Four Horsemen, The Reluctant Bridegroom,Spider Rock, Married Widow ( a sublime performance from Fleming in an episode co scripted by Charles Gray), The Hostages ( surprisingly touching), White Eyes,Pale Rider ( a hauntingly scripted ep by Dean Reisner and featuring a fine performance from Eastwood ), and of course many more. So saddle up and ride 'em cowboy, Rawhide continues to roll on!
Footnote, the dvd picture and sound quality from my viewing so far is a vast improvement on Season 4's release. Also great to see some episode previews introduced by Fleming or Eastwood.