Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Welcome to August!  The month in which we celebrate the TV Western.....  

I'm writing this back in February of this year and I'm thinking my overall theme will be a look at 'Death Valley Days'.  Here is the first part.

'Death Valley Days' was like a wild, wild West version of 'The Twilight Zone'.  Not that there were any three-eyed aliens nor little boys who could wish you into the cornfield.  But it was an anthology series with a series of serlinguists to introduce each tale... and not all of these tales took place in the same TV dimension.

If an episode of 'Death Valley Days' does not have any historical figures, then I have no problem in keeping it in the world of Earth Prime-Time.  Even those episodes which have historical characters who never had any other portrayals on television can stay as well.  A good example of that is the episode "A Gun Is Not A Gentleman" in which Carroll O'Connor played California state senator Dave Broderick.  As far as I can tell, this participant in the last well-known duel to the death who was an ardent opponent to slavery, only has this one portrayal to his credit.

My standard splainin for the historical Recastaways in TV shows that featured regular characters (for example - and in keeping with this being the month in which we showcase TV Westerns - Calamity Jane as seen in 'Bonanza', 'Deadwood' or 'The Overland Trail'), the different actors hired for the historical role would be portrayed as seen through the perspective of the regular characters.  So with our example of Calamity Jane, her appearance from show to show changed because that was how she was perceived by Little Joe Cartwright ('Bonanza'), Flip Flippen ('Overland Trail'), and by the citizens of 'Deadwood'.  Any other portrayals of Calamity Jane on television in TV movies, stand-alone mini-series, TV commercials, etc. can be considered as part of some other TV dimension.


For this TV show, Martha Jane Canary was played by Fay Spain (described in the IMDb as "your typical B-movie drive-in bad girl - sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette, always bodacious; a tease, a taunter and a temptress.")  And she played the role in a fashion that followed the look established by Doris Day in the movie musical biography of "Calamity Jane".

The plot focused on her relationship with Wild Bill Hickok although it collapsed that particular timeline down to a week at best.  As there were no previously established TV characters in that episode, nor any who continued on from that point to other episodes or shows, then we have nobody from the main Toobworld to consider as the perspective for this portrayal of Calamity.

So there's no reason to tie this episode down to Earth Prime-Time, so that meanswe can use it in some alternate TV dimension.  Which is just as well since this version of Wild Bill Hickok is so different from the look of not only the real Hickok but also the now official portrayal of Wild Bill in 'Deadwood', as played by Keith Carradine.  (As for Guy Madison's version, we've got a whole nutha story!)

There were three historical figures in this episode - besides Calamity and Bill, there was also Charlie Utter, whose name is pronounced "Otter" by Jane here.)  So on the whole, it's probably best to keep this version of their lives separate in a new dimension, especially since there was no new material really, just a retread of their "official" timeline.  (It's not like when Abraham Lincoln met time travelers.)

Happy trails to you!

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