Its 1:01 am
Its been a while since I have ventured into Laramie,Wyoming to see how Marshal Dan Troop and his deputy Johnny McKay have handling the transition of the town from a frontier place full of gun play and outlawness and into a real city where one can walk down the street without worrying about bandits and thugs.
Also noting this was our deep cover man “MP” at Warner Brothers Archives and he moseyed on over and dropped off the third season at our doorstep and gave us till sundown to review it…..
The first two seasons of Lawman have been quite good and as the third season started,Laramie seems pretty quiet. Businesses are being added and the population is now over 1,800 folks. Of course this doesn’t mean Troop and McKay have gotten any help,its still just the marshal and his deputy.
Lily Merrill is still running The Birdcage and putting on a nightly show. She also still has eyes for Marshal Troop as well. While its implied that Dan and Lily are a couple,there is never any public acknowledgement or gestures seen.
There were a couple of noted changes for the third season,Lilly got a new bartender named Jake who made regular appearences throughout the season and co-star Peter Brown’s Johnny McKay was absent for many episodes. This was noted in the openning credits when his name was missing from them.
Supposedly Warner Brothers was asked to tone down the violence as well for the third season as the first two years did see quite few men and women get killed. Now whether they listened to that request or not …because the third season was quite heavy on the gunplay with Dan killing 22 bad guys while Johnny got credit for 5. Even Lily got in the act as she killed one of the Coley Gang in “The Juror”. Not only were kills still there but they were even more graphic as Marshal Troop is clearly shown shooting three bad guys in the head and bad guy reacting to it!! Nasty stuff for 1960…..
I’ll be honest,I wasn’t hooked on season three as I was the first two. I think the lack of supporting players hurt the show and the stories seemed to be stuck in a rut. Not to say there wasn’t outstanding stories because there were but most episodes seemed to blur together and I think adding more townspeople would have helped keep things much fresher. While it may have seemed hard to do with a 30 minute show,by limiting the screen time like the producers did with Brown could have been spent developing either a love interest for Johnny or adding a new deputy.
The six episodes that I thought were the strongest from season three were the following:
“The Man From New York” – A police detective,Lt. Foster (Mike Road) arrives from New York looking for a man who stole money in order to get his wife urgently needed medical care. He has been hunting the man for years and finally has figured out they are in Laramie. Despite the man having sent back payments to cover what he stole,Foster is determined to bring his quarry to justice.
But Laramie has grown fond of Fred and Winnie Stiles and Foster finds his methods are not welcome as he and Troop clash over how to adminster the law.
This was a nice take on “Les Miserables” with Foster playing Javert,only seeing Stiles as a wanted man. Road does a great job and his voice is instantly recognized as Zandor in the classic “Herculoids” (and many others) cartoon.
“Yawkey” – Ray Danton stars as Yawkey,a deadly fast gunslinger who arrives in Laramie to have a meeting with Dan Troop,whether he wants to or not.
In watching this episode,it occured to me that the term “suicide by cop” is not a new one as several different Western shows had this story line and wondered which show featured it first. This is a very somber and sad episode that leaves it mark on Dan.
“Cornered” – Johnny is forced into a gunfight when Jed Barker,whose son was just hung and is drinking heavily,draws on him. Barker,even drunk,outdraws Johnny and would have killed him except his gun misfires while Johnny’s doesn’t.
When word gets out,the town starts whispering that as fast as Jed was,Jim Barker,the last son,is even faster. Now everyone is waiting for Jim to come avenge his fallen father and despite Dan’s attempt to take his place,Johnny goes to to meeting Barker for a final showdown.
“Cold Fear” – Brad and Ann Turner are settling into Laramie quite nicely and have opened up a new business. Dan and Brad are have a chat when two strangers ride by and Brad suddenly quits talking and enters his home. He tells Ann that the Quade brothers have found them. The couple can’t run,they have invested all their money into the new store. When Lou Quade (Chris Alcaide) calls out Turner,the man drops his gunbelt in fear. Brad Turner has a secret and Dan has to find it before its too late.
“The Promise” – Ruthless killer Jed Barrister is going to be hanged and Johnny has brought him to a local fort where justice will be dealt. But Barrister has one ace left and he plays it…he yells that he wants Dan Troop dead!!
The trouble is that no one knows who the killer is or what he (or she) may look like!
With nerves on edge,Johnny is determined to find the killer and protect Dan. But will Johnny make a fatal mistake is in his quest to save his friend?
“The Break-In” – Walt Hudson comes into Laramie with a plan…he is going to surrender to Dan Troop and collect the 1,000.00 bounty on his head. Dan thinks he is being pranked but after Hudson shows him proof he really is Gard Washington and he is wanted,Dan jails him. Everyone has a hard time believing Walt is a outlaw,including Lily who says she owes Walt her life. Dan finds himself in a real pinch,he like Walt too but he knows he has to turn in. When a stranger rides into town looking for Gard,is he there to break him out or maybe make a play for the bounty?
The guest stars were a little lean in terms of the usual suspects one would see on a Warner Brothers show and that actually helped. Seeing James Coburn or Lee Van Cleef get gunned down 5 or 6 times a season sort of gets comical after a while.
We did see our share of “names” like John Anderson,DeForrest Kelley and Warren Oates through the season.
The regular cast of John Russell,Peter Brown and Peggie Castle all were strong again,the three main stars had a lot of chemistry. When Peggie Castle did her first screen test in Hollywood,the actor who worked with her was none other then John Russell himself. One thing about the shows back then,the seasons were very long as once again,”Lawman” had a 39 episode run. Its great for us fans but whew,I can’t imagine the long ass work days and saying “Drop your gun!!!” in just about every episode!!
Season Three of “Lawman” can be bought at the website of Warner Brothers Archive.
Its definitely worth collecting if you love Westerns and solid acting like we do.
While not quite as powerful as the first two seasons,Paladin and I both gave the third season a big thumbs/paw straight up.
You can read our first season of “Lawman” review here.
You can read our second season of “Lawman” review here.
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