Friday, March 28, 2014

What Might've Been: Best of the West (1981)

For some reason, comedies set in the Wild West don't have much staying power.  For example, F-Troop lasted just two seasons, and when ABC needed a similar show to replace it, they went to Tim Conway and Rango, which barely got through one season.

In 1981, ABC decided to try again, this time with Best of the West, which toplined Joel Higgins (ex-Salvage 1) as Marshal Sam Best, who moved West with his family, but often had to deal with a nefarious businessman, Parker Tillman (Leonard Frey). In some episodes, however, Tillman & Best worked together, with Best still perhaps suspicious of Tillman's motives.

Rex Allen performed the title song. The supporting cast included Meeno Peluce (ex-The Bad News Bears) as Best's son, Carlene Watkins as Best's wife, Elvira, and Tracey Walter as Frog, Tillman's good-hearted henchman. In that respect, Frog was meant to be Best's answer to Enos (Sonny Schroyer) on Dukes of Hazzard. Walter, though, would later resurface in the 1989 "Batman" movie as one of the henchmen of the Joker (Jack Nicholson), but didn't land too many TV roles otherwise.

Here's the intro:

This was fun, but not enough people were interested. Then again, it was on opposite Magnum, PI.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I remember watching this and it wasn't a bad show. Probably a bit ahead of its time.

IIRC Elvira was Best's 2nd wife, having been a Southern Belle whose father's plantation was burned to the ground in the Civil War. She fell in love with Best (a Yankee who was involved in the plantation burning!) and after marrying, they went west. Her father made a guest appearance - played by Andy Griffith!

I remember Tillman and Frog and they were actually a pretty good team - I guess they were forerunners of Dan Fielding and Phil!

Despite this show not making it, it wasn't long before Higgins turned up on Silver Spoons and Meeno Peluce was on Voyagers!.

hobbyfan said...

Don't ya mean Bull (Richard Moll)?

It's just too bad Leonard Frey didn't land another series gig after this. He'd have been perfect on Benson, but they already had Rene Alberjonis.

I don't remember where I was when Andy Griffith guest-starred. I think Dad gave up on the show by then....