Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Might've Been: The Deputy (1959)

Movie icon Henry Fonda landed his first TV gig in 1959, but you'd hardly notice him in The Deputy, which lasted two seasons. Fonda wasn't around much of the time due to movie commitments, and the title role was given to an up & coming star, Allen Case. If Case was getting by on just being a matinee idol type, well, that didn't work, either.

Deputy was created by two men who'd later go on to better things. Roland Kibbee, for example, returned a decade later with the spy adventure, It Takes A Thief, which cemented Robert Wagner's icon status. Norman Lear followed soon after by turning to sitcoms, especially converting British fare into American classics (i.e. All In The Family). So what caused Deputy to ultimately fail? Well, that's easy. Too many Westerns on the air at the time made this seem a little too generic, and Revue (Universal) was throwing them out there, trying to make them as different as possible. However, the studio managed just 2 tentpole Westerns during the 50's & 60's. The Virginian & Wagon Train. Everything else seemed to bottom out after a year or two.

Westernmania.com uploaded the episode, "The Return of Widow Brown", which has the Revue logo attached. The copy I have on a DVD compilation from Platinum edits out the closing logo, for those of you who care about such things.

Fonda would have one more series gig, The Smith Family, for ABC in the 70's, and that lasted just one year. Allen Case would land one more starring role, as ABC & 20th Century Fox took a chance on him in The Legend of Jesse James in the mid-60's, and that too was a 1 year wonder.

Rating: C.

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