Review

  • Of all the so-called adult westerns that hit the tube in the mid to late 50's, "Bat Masterson" was one of the best. Gene Barry played his historical character with just the right amount of seriousness and lightness to make what could have been a cardboard creation viable. "Adult westerns" back in those days when the TV west was young meant more talk and less action with stories that supposedly dealt with mature subject matter where characters were not just all good or all bad. In the "Bat Masterson" series, usually there would be a fair amount of action with Bat whipping the meanies with his cane and using his gun only when absolutely necessary.

    Another improvement in the TV western wrought by the "Bat Masterson" series was a weekly change of scenery (in reality, all the shows were shot on the same Hollywood lot), not just in Dodge City, Tombstone, or Abilene. "Incident in Leadville" is a good example. Leadville, now a Colorado tourist mecca, was then a silver mining town with its share of claim jumpers and bushwhackers.

    Bat rides into Leadville to clear his name. It seems that the lady who runs the local printing press, Jo Hart (Kathleen Crowley), has slandered Bat by lumping him together with notorious outlaws such as King Fisher, a cameo by the fine character actor, Jack Lambert. The local city boss, gambler Roy Evans, portrayed by future "Get Smart" chief, Edward Platt, also has an ax to grind with Jo Hart but wants to put her out of commission permanently. Evans decides to terminate Bat in the process, a notion not to the liking of the man with the cane and derby hat.

    The "Bat Masterson" theme song was an added treat, with catchy lyrics and a hummable tune.