Saturday, July 28, 2018

YouTube Theatre: The Over The Hill Gang (1969)

Howdy, pardnuhs!

Time to take a trip out to the old West with a 1969 ABC Movie of The Week that was meant to be a pilot for a proposed series.

"The Over The Hill Gang" tells the story of a retired Texas Ranger (Pat O'Brien) who recruits some of his former comrades to help his son-in-law (Ricky Nelson) become the mayor of his hometown. Executive Producers Aaron Spelling & Danny Thomas were able to corral Walter Brennan, fresh from a 2 year stint on The Guns of Will Sonnett, another Thomas-Spelling production, along with Edgar Buchanan (on loan from Petticoat Junction), Chill Wills, Andy Devine, Jack Elam, and Edward Andrews (ex-Broadside) to help fill out the ensemble.

However, O'Brien didn't return for the sequel the following year, and so a new character was created for Fred Astaire, who would also join the cast of It Takes a Thief after "The Over The Hill Gang Rides Again". Spelling & Thomas were hoping ABC would pick up the two pilots and turn it into a series, but Westerns were on the downturn, and the Rural Purge of 1971 would've certainly short-circuited a series based on these movies.

Right now, scope "The Over The Hill Gang".

Spelling, in particular, after ending his partnership with Thomas, would produce a good chunk of TV-movies for ABC. We'll see the sequel another time. Yee-haw!

Rating: A.

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