35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Watching the 5th season takes some getting used to. Major cast changes alter the comfort zone that wore like a nice warm coat in previous years. The biggest change ( and not a good one ) is the departure of Lee J Cobb as Shiloh Ranch owner Judge Henry Garth. Cobb (who hated the gig) didn't even make it all the way through Season 4 having bailed out about two thirds of the way thru the season. His immediate replacement "Morgan Starr" played by John Dehner was a disaster. His over-the-top gruffness and lack of chemistry with fellow cast led to his abrupt departure at the end of Season 4. (no loss, he) Also gone are Randy Boone's "Randy" (right when we were beginning to know and like him) and Garth's niece "Jennifer" played by Diane Roker. Another big change: the sudden and unexplained departure of Sheriff Ryker (Clu Gulager) and the strange reappearance of Ross Elliot's Sheriff Abbott to the big chair. (Gulager would return to the show a year later)
As Season 5 gets underway we are introduced to 3 new major players, none of which measure up to the previous standard. 76 year old Charles Bickford, who looks way too old for the part, takes over as the new owner of the Shiloh. His rather stoic and stilted performance is an acquired taste. His Grandson and Granddaughter are played by Don Quine and Sara Lane. They're okay but not exceptional.
The loss of the aforementioned along with the previous departure of well liked Steve (Gary Clarke) and Betsy (Roberta Shore) make the new season a little less appealing. Only James Drury and Doug McClure remain from the glory days. Oh and bit player Beldon (LQ Jones) if you want to include him.
But it's still The Virginian and as long as the man with no name and Trampas are on board, the heart of the show remains intact although one does get the inescapable feeling that the best days of this series are behind it at this point.
What saves the day: the top drawer writing and production. And the stellar rotation of A list guest stars. Also Timeless Media has done an outstanding job with the picture quality. All five seasons are a visual treat for the eye. Restorative remastering doesn't get any better than this!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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This is my all-time favourite show and my favourite Western.I have quite a few favourite westerns but if I could only have one series to keep this would be it.I don't really know why.Certainly nostalgia plays a part.I was just a child when this was on TV.But even then it seemed to me that this show was something special.It seemed to be more like a movie than a series.It did run for 74 minutes without commercials and it had a stirring musical score by Percy Faith.Maybe it was the actor's.I have seen both movie versions of "The Virginian" with Gary Cooper and Joel McCrea,both great actors.But it will always be James Drury who was,is and will always be the Virginian.Just as Doug McClure will always be Trampas.As a kid,Trampas was my favourite character on the show.The first four seasons Lee J Cobb played the owner of the Shiloh Ranch with his adopted daughter Betsy played by Roberta Shore.Mr Cobb was an actor's actor.Highly respected and watchable in everything he did.It's a shame that he hated the show and couldn't wait for his contract to be up.This, the fifth season, would see a new owner played by Charles Bickford join the show with his two grandchildren.Unfortunately he would pass away half way through the sixth season and would be replaced by John McIntire playing his brother and then by Stewart Granger playing the English owner in the final season when the show would be re-titled "The Men from Shiloh".The show had great production values right throughout it's nine year run and is the third longest running western of all time.Thanks to Timeless Media Group for releasing this series on DVD.Now I can relive all these adventures I saw as a child and relish in it.Also for including interviews with some of the cast in previous DVD releases.I really enjoyed hearing about what it was like to work on this series.
There is so much more I would like to say about this series,but,it would be too long.It is only left for me to say that Mr Drury should be proud of his achievement in his performance in this show.I hope everyone who watches this show enjoys it as much as I do.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Here are capsule impressions of selected episodes from season five of "The Virginian."
RIDE TO DELPHI -- Guest stars, Angie Dickenson, Warren Oates, Harold J. Stone, Ron Russell.
While tracking stolen cattle, The Virginian encounters an old friend desperate to conceal her saloon girl past. Middling yarn doesn't inspire Drury or rest of stellar cast except for pioneering black actor Bernie Hamilton, who's rock-solid as a proudly self-sufficient homesteader. Hamilton's presence signified the belated beginning of some racial diversity in the series' casting.
THE CAPTIVE -- Guest star, Susan Strasberg.
John Grainger shelters a white girl raised by Indians while her birth parents are sought. Director Don Weis taps the magical sensitivity of former Broadway Anne Frank Strasberg in absorbing drama. Her defiance at being forced to live under a white man's roof sparks a stormy confrontation with Charles Bickford over dining rooom etiquette. In his early episodes as the new owner of Shiloh, Bickford emerged as a stern but benevolent, kingly figure that viewers could easily warm to.
AN ECHO OF THUNDER -- Guest stars, Linden Chiles, John Anderson, Jason Evers.
Trampas is dissatisfied with a nervous sheriff's explanation of a friend's death and seeks his own answers. McClure rides high in traditional saga, put over with gusto by director Abner Biberman, that has the nostalgic tingle of a Randolph Scott oater from the fifties. Other rewards include Anderson's leathery magnitism, Franz Waxman's stirring score and McClure's agile maneuvering through a harrowing climactic gunbattle.
DEADEYE DICK -- Dreamy adolescent with a dime-novel sensibility idolizes The Virginian. Amusing episode puts Drury in unaccustomed light comedy situation that doesn't topple into silliness thanks to the steady hand of director Ida Lupino. Alice Rawlings is perky and endearing as the naive dreamer, and McClure is very funny in a comic relief stint.
BELOVED OUTLAW -- Elizabeth Grainger is determined to tame a wild white stallion with kindness and patience. Sara Lane's fresh, outdoorsy appeal and a remarkably expressive equine co-star breathe life into standard horse opera reminiscent of "My Friend Flicka." The sturdy Lane opened the door to more adventurous storylines than were feasible with the series' original ingenue, the rather dainty Roberta Shore. Lane lacked Shore's embracing warmth though.
LINDA -- Guest stars, Diane Baker, Frank McGrath.
During a stagecoach trek, The Virginian meets a mysterious woman linked to a criminal conspiracy and falls under suspicion himself. Sophisticated script by Frank Fenton provides blue-suited Drury with dapper vehicle, easily his best of the season. Baker lends her usual elegance to unusual role, and feisty former "Wagon Train" regular McGrath is still the life of the party in one of his last roles.
THE LONG WAY HOME -- Guest stars, Pernell Roberts, Michael Burns, Noah Beery Jr.
Roustabout struggles to settle down and reconnect with his estranged wife and son. Free at last after years of playing the colorless Adam Cartwright on "Bonanza," Roberts feasts on meaty role of charismatic born loser, and even gets to sing. Drury, McClure, Bickford and Beery back him with their customarily good work. Earnest, wide-eyed boy actor Burns is too sticky.
VENGEANCE TRAIL -- Guest stars, Ron Russell, Mary Ann Mobley.
Revenge-bent brother of robber Stacey Grainger killed in self-defense joins a Shiloh cattle drive. Director Thomas Carr, an old hand at churning out tightly budgeted oaters, makes patchwork epic, heavily reliant on stock inserts, fairly atmospheric. The forthright Drury and L.Q. Jones as the carefree wrangler Belden add flavor. But Russell and Don Quine do not, and sumptuous Mobley has a meager role. The brooding Quine didn't project enough personality to sink a very deep bootprint in the series.
THE MODOC KID -- Guest stars, John Saxon, Harrison Ford.
The Graingers are held captive by fugitive bank robbers. The "Introducing Harrison Ford" credit is too optimistic: Stardom was still a galaxy far, far away for the durable actor. He's fine here as a moody bandit, but suspenseful episode belongs to Saxon's swaggering Modoc Kid and the steely Bickford. Good to see amiable Clu Gulager back on board and ready to save the day as deputy sheriff Ryker after a half-season absence.
MELANIE -- Guest stars, Victor Jory, Susan Clark.
An eastern woman visiting Shiloh falls in love with Trampas, but a dark cloud hangs over their romance. McClure dutifully takes his turn at weepy story similar to the mawkish "Felicity's Spring" that Drury slogged through in season three. This episode is easier to take, thanks to a more polished production, a less sudsy script and tactful acting by McClure and sugar-free budding star Clark.
BITTER HARVEST -- Guest stars, Larry Pennell, Whitney Blake, John Lupton.
During a produce-buying trip, The Virginian gets unwittingly caught in the middle of an escalating dispute between ranchers and homesteaders. Agreeable episode written by Andy Lewis finds mature angle to ancient B-western plot and comes up with surprising resolution. Drury obligingly makes way for gritty turn by Lupton as a peaceful sodbuster who abides by his principles despite taunts and bullying. Supporting player Russ Conway is equally good as a stoic boss rancher who also wants to avoid gunplay.
A WELCOMING TOWN -- Guest stars, Robert Fuller, Frank Overton, Carole Wells.
Trampas suspects a traumatized girl knows more about a puzzling death than she's willing to say. McClure sifts clues like a sagebrush Perry Mason in modest mystery graced by the gifted, gorgeous young Lynda Day George, who steals spotlight from guest stars with a vibrant performance as the tormented keeper of secrets. Odd to see Fuller, the quick-draw star of "Laramie," without a gunbelt.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
It has been nice to see the shows I grew up with. With less and less good shows on t.v. it is great to be able to watch good, quality shows when nothing on t.v. Any age can watch these shows were produced when you could safely watch t.v. without swearing, nudity etc, can't do that very often now. Good morals were taught, real shows that make you think.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
A "must buy" for all Virginian fans. For me, season 5 is the best of a wonderful series, perhaps because it brings back such happy memories from my childhood! It's great to be able to watch the episodes again in such high-quality. I do hope they'll bring out seasons 6, 7 and 8 soon.