Friday, January 13, 2012

On DVD: Sgt. Preston of the Yukon (1955)

Sgt. Preston of the Yukon made the transition from radio, where it had begun under the title, Challenge of the Yukon, to television in 1955, shortly after the radio series had ended its run. Preston was one of a trio of radio series created and produced at Detroit's WXYZ radio that all made the transition to television. However, while Preston came from the same creator as The Lone Ranger, George Trendle, and had Ranger scripter Fran Striker as one of its writers, it wasn't directly linked with either the Ranger or The Green Hornet.

The plots, however, could've been interchangeable with those of Lone Ranger, save for a change in setting and time, as Preston was set a few years after Ranger, closer to the beginning of the 20th century.

Actor Richard Simmons, not to be confused with the fitness guru of the same name, played Preston. Research tells us that Vic Perrin, who would later serve as the "Control Voice" on The Outer Limits, was the announcer-narrator.

One downside to the 2-disc DVD that Timeless released in 2006 is that the show open only appears, albeit in edited form, at the start of each disc, not each episode.

Following is the episode, "Luck of the Trail":

I had a chance to see Preston in syndication in the 80's when the local cable system picked up a channel in Worcester, Ma., but passed. Since then, I've developed more of an appreciation for older television programs, perhaps disenchanted by the glut of so-called "reality" TV. What is clear, however, is that Preston isn't as much in demand as his Detroit radio contemporaries. I think that might be because animator Jay Ward created the bumbling Dudley Do-Right and changed some people's perceptions of the Mounties. It didn't help, either that Vince McMahon created an evil Mountie (Jacques Rougeau) in the early 90's in the then-WWF. Could Sgt. Preston make a comeback? Based on how badly Green Hornet and the Lone Ranger have been treated by Hollywood the last few years, I doubt that very seriously.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I've never seen the show but I had heard of Sgt. Preston based on my parents' memories of listening to the radio and watching early TV shows.

If there was one thing any American ever knew about Mounties, it was their legendary motto: "Mounties always get their man." That dogged attitude probably lended to the Mountie mystique. The red uniforms helped too I guess.

I think the Mounties got a bit of a lift thanks to the 90s TV series, "Due South". Paul Gross really bridged the gap between Dudley Do - Right and the evil wrestler.

hobbyfan said...

That was the closest, I think, we'll ever get to a modern-day Preston, though, if someone like Gross were to get the rights to Preston to bring him back to TV, and do it right, he'd bring in a new generation of fans.