Friday, August 29, 2014


This month the TV Western showcase is dedicated to the movie version of "Maverick" and how it belongs in the TV Universe.  However, for the following blog post, I needed to take a moment and look at the timeline for 'The Virginian'......

'The Virginian' was the third longest-running TV Western in broadcast history with nine seasons, following 'Gunsmoke' at twenty seasons and 'Bonanza' with fourteen.  It was based on a novel by Owen Wister which was published in 1902.

'The Virginian' (later to be called "The Men From Shiloh") told about the cowboys who worked the Shiloh Ranch just outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming.  Shiloh went through several owners - Judge Garth, the Grainger Brothers, and Colonel MacKenzie.  But the main focus of the series was on the eponymous ranch foreman (whose real name was never revealed on the series) and on Trampas, good ol' boy with a winning smile for the ladies.

The Virginian was played by James Drury and Trampas by Doug McClure.  And both are supposed to be in the movie "Maverick".

I say they're supposed to be, because even though McClure is plain to see during the Big Game on the Lauren Belle riverboat - and is listed in the credits - Drury (as far as I can see) can't be found.  I wouldn't even have bothered to look for him if it hadn't been for the "ever reliable" IMDb claiming that he was in the movie but uncredited.

Of the poker players listed as being in that scene, there are two others whom I only know are in it by their names; I don't know what they look like.  And then there's Don Stark of 'That '70s Show' and the TV version of "Robocop" - him, I should recognize, but I can't find him either.

We'll get back to James Drury in another post today (Two For Tuesday!), but now I want to focus on Doug McClure's presence as a poker player.  And because it ties in with James Drury, I'll begin by discussing the timeline for 'The Virginian'.

There are several web sites out there claiming that 'The Virginian' takes place in the 1880s, with one even getting more specific:

"The series setting was the year 1886, based on the 1902 novel by Owen Wister. Wister’s story."

But none of them offers any proof to this claim.  Meanwhile, Wikipedia places the story in 1898 and can back that claim up:

The series was set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Various references in the first season indicate that setting is about 1898 - in episode 5, "The Brazen Bell," guest star George C. Scott quotes from Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which was first published in 1898, in episode 7, "Riff Raff," several of the main characters join Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry unit formed in 1898 and in episode 11, "The Devil's Children," the grave marker for one of the characters that dies in the episode states 1898 as the year of death.

Those are pretty strong indicators and so I'm siding with 1898 as the year in which we first start following the adventures of "The Men From Shiloh".

With nine seasons to account for on the Toobworld timeline, 'The Virginian' probably was still active in the timeline by at least 1907.  This means that when we saw Trampas and the Virginian during Brady Hawkes' journey to San Francisco to take place in the "Big Game" of 1906 (actually held on April 17, 1906), they were still working for the Shiloh Ranch.  (This is despite the fact that the credits would have us believe that they were two other cowboys by the names of "Doug" and "Jim".  If the names were actually used during the TV movie "Gambler IV: The Luck Of The Draw", then it could have been that they were using aliases for some reason.)

Just something to consider before we look at James Drury and whom he might have played in the movie - if he was actually in it........

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