Sometimes my wife leaves the house for the evening to go to a women’s function at the church, or to go to a scrapbooking party. I love it, because – see, we have cable TV and there are certain shows on the premium channels I just can’t watch with her in the house. NO – not those shows! Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about westerns. She feels about westerns the way I feel about her Food Network cook-offs.
Being a child of the 60s I was raised on horse operas. A ten gallon hat, a pair of blazing six shooters and the smell of horseflesh fueled my imaginations. Back when Pat Robertson’s TBN network owned The Family Channel they showed a lot of my cowboy shows, and it was named one of the most violent channels on TV– because of all the violence in the horse operas!
Give me a break! Gunsmoke and Bonanza – Maverick and Paladin – these old black and white westerns are the most violent shows on TV? Have these people not seen today’s cop-show fare, with blood spurting out of bullet holes and body parts strewn across the screen? If you happened to read my story about my cowboy lamp, you already knew I was raised on those westerns, and there’s nothing wrong with me - wrong with me! Seriously though, on those shows the good guy always won, the bad guy always lost, and women and God were always shown the utmost respect… at least by the good guys. On these shows beer was consumed only in moderation and poker games were always kept on the up and up… at least by the good guys. And oh yeah, bullets didn’t leave holes – not even in their shirts!
Of course, that channel sold to another network that was absorbed into yet another network, and my cowboy shows had to find a new home. Thank the TV Gods for Encore Westerns!
But in all fairness I can’t really dispute that report naming those old westerns as violent. Actually there was a pattern of violence that was consistent and inevitable. Death by smooching! Think about it. Did a woman ever fall in love with a Cartwright and survive the entire episode? I remember seeing Little Joe kiss a girl, and thinking…boy, she’s a goner! And sure enough, before the credits rolled, she rolled – right into the graveyard!
In his song Shoulda Been a Cowboy, Toby Keith sang about Matt Dillon “He never hung his hat at Kitty’s place”. There was a reason for that. Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty, had a contract with the network, so they couldn’t kill her off. And you thought Matt just loved his horse more than his woman. Oh man… they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.
So let me leave you with this piece of sage advice - sing it with me - ♫ Don’t fall in love with a Cartwright... ♫