June 1, 2011 — NPR is running a call-in show today asking listeners what TV show they would bring back if they were in charge of the universe. It’s a contest anyone old enough to be a baby boomer might enjoy. Through the miracle of Netflix your editor just spent a few happy sessions on the exercise bike watching the 1st 3 shows in the “Have Gun Will Travel” series, which first aired in 1957. The show, as you probably remember, features Paladin, a gun for hire. One of the beauties of having lost so many brain cells… since these shows were aired is that they appear all new. Except that we get to reexamine them from a slightly more experienced viewpoint than we had at the age of 9.
Paladin (one of Charlemagne’s warriors, or a traveling knight) is an unusual character in a surprisingly sophisticated show. The quality of writing was high in those days. Paladin is an educated polyglot who lives in a luxury San Francisco hotel when he’s not freelancing with his custom made revolver (trigger pull 1 oz.). The staff there loves him, and apparently so does a mysterious women who works there (occupation unknown) who exchanges hot-blooded stares with him.
The cast is a who’s who of American Westerns. Paladin is played by Richard Boone. In Episode 1 the bad guy looks familiar – yep, that’s Charles Bronson. Episode 2 features a bad guy sidekick who will look familiar to anyone our age, Claude Akins. What’s cool about this show is the Paladin character. He’s an idealized version of the often low-life hired guns we see in later shows and movies. He’s not only sophisticated with his Greek references, Shakespearean quotes, and scientific knowledge; he’s also infinitely good hearted, and always pulling for the little guy like the mission-educated Indian in Episode 3. The show had 225 episodes and ran from 1957 – 1963. Gene Roddenberry wrote several of them.
Which leads us to..
What TV show would you like to see brought back – any era? Attorney General Eric Holder is on the record as desperately wanting “The Wire” to come back. We’d vote for that one, plus “Deadwood”. Over at NPR there are having a write-in feature on what TV shows people would like to bring back. But how ’bout from shows from our baby boomer childhood era? Programs like “MY Friend Flicka”, “Sky King” (remember how many of us fell in love with Penny, not to mention her father’s plane, Songbird), “The Rifleman” …. the list goes on. Please use the Comments section below to share your list -and favorite characters and trivia too. A random Commenter will be chosen to receive our free ebook – “100 Best Retirement Towns”.