Saturday, February 18, 2017

Classic TV: The Range Rider (1951)

In the early days of television, there were five distinct genres of shows in primetime. Game shows, sitcoms, variety shows, crime dramas, and Westerns. If some of these programs couldn't make a network schedule, producers didn't hesitate to offer to stations in a syndicated package.

One such series was The Range Rider, which ran for 2 seasons (1951-3), and while the show was credited as a Range Rider Production, it was actually from Gene Autry's Flying A Productions. Jock (Jack) Mahoney toplined as the Range Rider, who had no alter-ego, but traveled from town to town with his young aide, Dick West (Dick Jones).

The plots are basic cookie cutter, such as "Two-Fisted Justice", in which the Rider & Dick try to sort out who's the real villain when a vigilante group steps between some homesteaders and a railroad magnate......

Twelve years after the series ended, Range Rider landed on ABC as filler fare on Sunday afternoons, as it wasn't hip anymore to run Western repeats on Saturday mornings. In 1983, The A-Team paid homage through Murdock (Dwight Schultz) wearing a paper cut-out mask of the Rider's face on a mission after watching a rerun one day.

Jock Mahoney's other series, Yancy Derringer, wasn't quite so fortunate, lasting one season, as we previously documented.

Rating: B.

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