The best of the best drama and still underatedRating: 2 likes, 0 dislikes
Wagon Train was one of the shows that set the style and the standard for hundreds of shows that followed, including, as all devoted Star Trek fans know, Gene Roddenberry's own 'Star Trek to the Stars'
And that might be considered enough of a contribution to TV history, by some. But Wagon Train brought the most stellar guest star list to the small screen of any western and just possibly any other series of a time when it was the guest stars who brought in viewers to network tv shows. The list is amazing and I will only say go and look at that list on imdb or other sources, because you will find there a good half of the reason for WT's long running success. The other half was made up of the wonderful production values Howard Christie maintained for this show, and the terrific dynamic created by the regular cast, in all seasons, in this reviewers opinion at least. The only thing I don't understand as regards this superb classic tv show is why it's not yet on dvd. But then, neither is another classic of pretty much the same era, 'Laramie'... which should be talked about elsewhere.
About that regular WT cast then, Terry Wilson and Frank McGrath alone were always 'worth the admission price and a lot more' [ tv was free back then] They were also the only two who stayed with the train throughout 8 seasons, as the ever dependable and strong and calm Bill Hawks and the ever irascible Charlie Wooster. And the show would never have been the same without them. Ward Bond as Seth Adams was the powerhouse of the first seasons of WT and it was his own stellar status that likely prompted so many of the great guest stars to make in some cases their first tv appearance. Robert Horton as Flint McCullough matched Bond's strength and fire on screen beat for beat and never blinked. That display of acting stamina alone should probably have won RH an Emmy or two :)
But sadly Ward Bond died in '61 and happily John McIntire as Chris Hale came to WT and brought a very different dynamic with him, one that steadied and stayed the course through still more changes of cast. Horton left to pursue his own wide reaching career, and we saw first Denny Miller as Duke Shannon, then Michael Burns as Barnaby West, and finally Robert Fuller as Cooper Smith come onboard and with McIntire, Wilson and McGrath, they made the last seasons of WT immensely watchable, exciting, warm and even fun!
Wagon Train, imho, could have run another four or five years with this new cast, but it had moved from NBC tro ABC and in those days the alphabet network was known to actually stand for 'already been cancelled'. I can't think of any other reason for WT's cancellation in that eighth year. I really can't. BRING IT BACK! LOL! Well, could you at least get Encore Western to run the eps for old and potential WT fans? Pls?
Just think what all those Trek-fans are missing by not seeing the show that launched their passion! LOL thanks much for giving me this space to talk about my favorite classic tv show.
Review posted on Sunday, July 22nd 2007 at 3:30 pm