• Warning: Spoilers
    "Lawman" had a pretty good four season run on the ABC television network, notching one hundred fifty six episodes between October 1958 and June 1962. There was something about actor John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop that always got to me, those spooky white eyes of his and the streak of white in his otherwise dark hair. They served him well in the premier episode of the series titled 'The Deputy', when he first arrived in Laramie, Wyoming as the new town marshal. There was an arrogant air about him back then, hiring on Peter Brown as deputy Johnny McKay and going after the Hawk Brothers, portrayed by Jack Elam and Lee Van Cleef. It was established in that first episode that a marshal's salary in the 1870's was fifty dollars a month and the life expectancy of a sheriff was less than forty years! That's one time when the good old days weren't.

    Actress Peggie Castle came aboard the series in the episode that kicked off the second season. She ran the Birdcage Saloon which afterwards became a somewhat regular hangout for the Laramie crowd, but prior to that, the first season had competitors like the Blue Bonnet and the Nugget Saloon. The Birdcage was billed as having the most beautiful girls west of Kansas City, and subsequent shows would do well to prove it. Castle's character was Lilly Merrill, and to add some resonance to her name, she sang Lily of the Valley in her first appearance. She didn't get off on the right foot with the Marshal, as Troop thought she was aiding an outlaw, the estranged father of a son she had. Over time though, their relationship picked up when Lilly started coming on to the Marshal, eventually dropping a wedding ring hint in Episode #2.52, 'Last Stop'. Nothing ever came of that suggestion.

    Along with character actors like Elam and Van Cleef, there were a host of guest stars who appeared in 'Lawman' more than once over the course of the series, guys like John Anderson, John Doucette, Robert Wilke and Edgar Buchanan. What's kind of interesting is that some of the actors portraying villains were killed multiple times. Jack Elam for example, was shot and killed by Marshal Troop in that first episode, and again in episode #1.33, 'The Senator'. Deputy McKay had the unique distinction of killing Lee Van Cleef a couple of times, in the opening show and also in episode #1.37, 'Conclave'.

    In a series with as many shows as this one had, it would be hard for most to pick a favorite, but the first time I saw the third season episode 'Yawkey', I knew it would be mine. In that one, Ray Danton portrays a noted gunslinger who arrives in Laramie and takes a seat at The Birdcage, summoning bartender Jake (Dan Sheridan) to deliver a message to Marshal Troop to meet him in the street in a half hour. Yawkey tells both Lilly and Deputy McKay that he intends to kill Troop at 3:30 in the afternoon. Both unsuccessfully try to talk him out of it, and with the gunslinger's reputation having killed twenty seven men in gunfights, there's a feeling that Troop might not come out of this encounter alive. Using a countdown clock reminiscent of the technique used in "High Noon", three thirty arrives and Marshal Troop ventures into the street. During the inevitable showdown Yawkey draws first, but Marshal Troop's slower draw finds it's mark. The dying man had no bullets in his firearm, telling Troop that he 'couldn't take it any more', referring to the countless challenges that came his way as the fastest gun in the territory. Though the citizens of Laramie clamored around Troop for taking out his opponent, the marshal would have none of it, instead respectfully carrying the dead gunslinger to his office. I guess the reason the episode grabbed me the way it did was because of it's psychological angle in the way Yawkey planned the manner of his own death. And to top it all off, this was the second time Ray Danton was shot and killed by Dan Troop; it happened the first time in episode #2.40, Lilly Merrill's first appearance!