What are Your Favorite Vintage Western Series?

Doug Wallen

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Gunsmoke - storytelling, characters, relationships, locations (first seasons especially so) - excellence all around
The Rifleman - the strong father-son relationship between Lucas and Mark mirrored by the father-son relationship between Micah and Lucas
Cheyenne - loner travelling from town to town with a strong moral code always acting appropriately
Wild Wild West - Spies in the old west investigating "X-Files" type mysteries; Honorable Mention to Brisco County, Jr.
The High Chaparral - Great cast and amazing locations make this a fine and enjoyable series
Zorro - Guy Williams as a masked superhero cowboy, first superhero I liked before Superman
Rawhide - a cattle drive was never more fun, Clint Eastwood and Eric Fleming lead the way

I enjoy most any western, but these are my favorites.
 

MartinP.

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I enjoy most any western, but these are my favorites.

I guess I'm the opposite, I never have gravitated toward western series.

(Did you ever wonder why a person likes what they like?)

If I watched any westerns it was usually because there wasn't anything else on at the same time that I was interested in.

I did enjoy watching BONANZA of any of them and that's the one I've seen most of.
I also remember a lot about the 1/2 hour BRANDED series starring Chuck Connors. It has a "Fugitive" like premise.
Also an occasional viewing of THE VIRGINIAN was in my viewing habits.
I occasionally watched THE IRON HORSE, too, because it starred a train.

Of ones that I tried, but just never did like at all: Gunsmoke and The High Chaparral.
 

Flashgear

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I can watch 'em all day...I'm a creature of those days...quite often, among the best drama of that era, and with great talent and guest stars...

Rawhide
Gunsmoke
Have Gun Will Travel
The Westerner
The Virginian
High Chaparral
Wagon Train
The Rebel
Wanted Dead or Alive
Cheyenne
Dakotas
The Loner
Tate
Bonanza
Rifleman
Branded
Daniel Boone


Comedic Westerns
Maverick
Yancy Derringer
Laredo
Sugarfoot
Wild Wild West
F Troop
Alias Smith and Jones

"Contemporary" Westerns
Stoney Burke
Wide Country
State Trooper
Sheriff of Cochise

And a lot of honorable mentions...I don't know if there's a truly bad western done in those days...just a lot of average ones...I, of course, much prefer those shot on location far afield of LA...Arizona, New Mexico, Mojave, Tahoe, Oregon, Utah, etc. Or at least, a lot of outdoor filming at Janess, Conejo, Thousand Oaks, etc.
 
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Bob Gu

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I'll put in a few words for the old favorites:

THE LONE RANGER- Love the horse opera serial music used in the show and was sorry to see it gone for the last season. Still irked that the DVD releases dropped the "with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto", opening. Still have my Rhino VHS tapes for that. A treat to finally see the color episodes.
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SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON- With his horse, Rex, and Yukon King, the fastest lead dog in the North West. Love the music in this too! The beautiful color outdoor photography, and the beautiful color coordinated interiors and interior exteriors. Seeing the episodes in color on the DVDs is still my most cherished DVD buy. (But maybe I just watch too much B&W, if that's possible.) I took in a relative's Malamute, after she died. The dog was old and only lasted 15 months with me. It was great fun to have him, even when he woke me up at 3:00 AM, to let him outside, so he could bury himself in the snow.
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ZORRO-The action, the characters, the humor, and again the music. Each character, including Tornado, had his own musical theme. A perfect Television show! The stunt coordinator was Yakima Canutt and sometimes Zorro performed some of the same stunts seen in Republic Studios westerns.

023-zorro-theredlist.jpg
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zor-137.jpg
 
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Jeff Flugel

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I'm with Doug and Randall...I enjoy most any western TV series (and especially movie westerns). Of the most famous ones, probably the one I'm the least fond of is Gunsmoke...just can't stand Amanda Blake, sorry. I'm trying to warm up to that show, but it's never been, and not likely to be, a favorite.

The Wild Wild West is one of my favorite series, period, so that would be up at the top of the list...but I don't really think of that show as a proper western, despite the time period and cowboy trappings. To me, it's more of a spy / adventure series. Nonetheless, I'm happy to have it classified as a western.

I have a soft spot for Bonanza having grown up with it, but I'm hit-and-miss with the series now, as some of the episodes veer too far into melodramatic soapy territory for me. Ditto The Big Valley and The Virginian. I'm growing to like Rawhide, and enjoy Maverick, Cheyenne, Bronco and similar series very much.

I particularly enjoy the half-hour westerns, which often boast tighter stories than the hour-long variety, shows like Have Gun - Will Travel, The Westerner, The Loner, Yancy Derringer, Lawman, Tate, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Bat Masterson, Zane Grey Theatre, etc.

Basically, if it's a western made between the 1950s and the 1970s, I'm willing to check it out.
 
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JohnHopper

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LONG FORMAT
Rawhide
Cimarron Strip
The Big Valley
The Dakotas


Notes #1 (only the first show)
Rawhide has a wonderful cast, good characters chemistry, good production values, a mature and realistic story telling
and, above all, Clint Eastwood.

SHORT FORMAT
Wanted: Dead or Alive
Lawman
The Westerner
Tate
The Loner


Notes #2 (only the first show)
Wanted: Dead or Alive has a great star (Steve McQueen), an unusual weapon. Nuff said.

ESPIONAGE FORMAT
The Wild Wild West

Notes #3
The Wild Wild West has an original formula, two wonderful leading characters, unusual stories, great production values.

CONTEMPORARY FORMAT
Stoney Burke

Notes #4
Stoney Burke has a realistic tone, good leading man, good ensemble of supporting cast and guests, superb production values.

Additional Notes
There are shows I watched a selection of episodes that intrigue me: Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Branded, The Rebel.
As a kid, I watched Zorro, Davy Crockett and Rin Tin Tin.
The martial arts western series Kung Fu interest me during the first and second season.
I remember late seventies shows like The Quest (with Kurt Russell, Tim Matheson, Susan Dey) and Centennial (with Robert Conrad).
 

Vic Pardo

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So many good ones. I used to watch them all as a kid. And thanks to the Encore Western Channel I've been rediscovering tons of them. The only ones I've seen enough of so far to justify putting on a favorites list are "Tales of Wells Fargo" and "Death Valley Days." I need to see more eps. of "Lawman" to make a decision on that one, but I've liked the ones I've seen very much. "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" is excellent, too, judging from the couple dozen eps. or so that I've seen of it. I have box sets of the early eps. of "The Lone Ranger" and those hold up very well. "Cheyenne" is quite good, too.

I prize my box sets of the early color western shows like "The Cisco Kid," "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" and "My Friend Flicka." And the color eps. of "The Gene Autry Show."

There are plenty that I haven't seen in years, like "The Rifleman," that I remember quite fondly. I run hot and cold on other series, like Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wagon Train, Bat Masterson, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Bonanza, and The Virginian. Some great eps. mixed in with mediocre ones.
 

AndrewCrossett

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Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Rawhide. I never really saw much of The Wild Wild West but it sounds like something I'd probably like. For more modern westerns, Deadwood and Westworld. Oh, and The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, though I haven't seen it since it originally aired when I was a kid. I wonder if it would hold up?
 

Harry-N

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I've never been much of a fan of westerns. But in recent years, I've latched onto a few from the 60s that I haven't seen mentioned here:

THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT - It was about eight or so years ago, when the digital transition was happening in television, that I caught an episode of THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. It impressed me enough that I took a chance on the Timeless DVD set. They're unfortunately syndication episodes full of cuts and some nasty prints, but the show itself manages to shine through.

THE LONER - a show I'd totally forgotten about. It was the last new black & white series on CBS and had Rod Serling as its creator/writer. When it aired originally, I skipped over it - because I just wasn't into westerns. I'm slowly making my way through these, savoring each episode. The DVD set is quite watchable.

THE MONROES - This show aired opposite LOST IN SPACE on its original one-season run, so I wouldn't have been watching it at all. But after it ended, the following year it entered syndication and I tuned in on occasion. It was novel to see a color series on the channel that aired it, an upstart UHF that mostly ran ancient movies. During that run, I enjoyed the show. The DVD set is comparable to the GUNS OF WILL SONNETT set mentioned above, but here the show is complete, but the prints are truly horrible.

I can occasionally get into and enjoy GUNSMOKE, and I liked THE WILD WILD WEST.
 

Jeff Flugel

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THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT - It was about eight or so years ago, when the digital transition was happening in television, that I caught an episode of THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. It impressed me enough that I took a chance on the Timeless DVD set. They're unfortunately syndication episodes full of cuts and some nasty prints, but the show itself manages to shine through.
I really like what I've seen of The Guns of Will Sonnett, but the episodes have been so heavily butchered in their syndicated form that I rarely watch that set, sadly. Wish they looked better, too, but I could live with imperfect video; the edits are far more egregious.

Love seeing Walter Brennan play such a tough guy. "Not brag, just fact."
 

GMBurns

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There are many westerns I really enjoy, but three especially stand out.

Gunsmoke: the best western, and not just because it lasted 20 years. Matt Dillon is a tower of strength. He doesn't have to grimace or shout, but you know he always means what he says. The first six half-hour seasons are the absolute best because they are so Dillon-centric. I love the friendship between Matt and gruff old Doc Adams.

Cimarron Strip: the supporting cast is fun but not very vivid, but Marshall Crown is a tour de force, and commands your attention with his gravelly voice. One of the best openings of any western as Stuart Whitman rides alone and the camera slowly pulls farther and farther away from him.

Wild Wild West: it could get a little cartoonish, with villains a la Batman. But the banter and camaraderie between Jim and Artie made every episode great fun. And Ross Martin dominated every scene he was in when in costume.
 

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