Go West, young mania!
You know, pardner, even the slightest stroll through our britches-busting banquet of Memorable Entertainment Television reveals that we are paying ample tribute to one of television’s most popular genres – the Western.
Just check out these sharp-shooting wranglers: full-on cowboy classics like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Rawhide; historically-themed fare like The Rebel, Branded, The Guns of Will Sonnett and more. These programs were set in the late 19th century, in the period of western expansion, in between the end of the Civil War and the influx of industry and entrepreneurs from the east (not to mention, you know, folks that just wanted to live and workout west) that defined the early 20th century.
The television cowboy craze had its roots in Hollywood. In the 1940s, it seemed that movie-wise, you couldn’t swing a lariat without hitting a singing cowboy. The Western was a genre that had eternal appeal, especially to the younger set, and it’s no surprise that the Western blossomed on the small screen. By the mid-‘50s, television was overflowing with Westerns, and by 1959 the genre hit its peak (along with another type of TV program the masses couldn’t get enough of: quiz shows), with no fewer than 26 western-themed programs airing in prime time.
But as the apex of 1959 came, so did the inevitable and almost immediate sense of oversaturation descend upon the Westerns (as well as the quiz shows, actually). Of course, there were a number of sturdy classics that took their time riding off into the sunset (Gunsmoke ran until 1975, for Pete’s sake! Bonanza until 1973!), but by the dawn of the ‘60s the emphasis began to shift towards zany situation comedies and variety or celebrity-hosted shows.
Don’t forget to look for our weekday “Western Block” starting with Gunsmoke at 1PM/Noon Central, followed by Bonanza and The Big Valley. We then take a break with a couple of hours of cop dramas, before returning to the old west with an hour of The Rifleman at 6P/5C. If you’re really in the mood to load up on Westerns, then set your sights on Saturdays, where the action starts at 9AM/8C and The Guns of Will Sonnett and continues straight through to back to back episodes of The Rifleman starting at 5PM/4C. For our full schedule, just mosey on over here.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got to giddy-up. Much obliged.
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