31 March 2008 | rooster_davis
Lots of fun to watch, a Western for the ages
This show predated me by quite some years. I hadn't seen it until I bought a cheapo DVD at WalMart with a bunch of old Westerns on it, and it included seven Range Rider episodes - what a revelation. The stories aren't extremely deep, someone occasionally might get killed but more often they don't. The closest I can parallel it to another show would be Batman and Robin; Range Rider and Dick West kind of freelance about, solving problems and crimes. What I enjoy the most is the comic aspect they give to Dick West, the Range Rider's sidekick and 'the All American Boy'. (Wonder what the Jack Armstrong people thought of that one?) On one hand, Dick is right there beside the Range Rider, using his gun, getting into the fights, a character a kid back-when could really dream of being like. On the other hand Dick is also given some really funny lines; he's kind of a dopey overanxious young guy who really keeps the stories animated. I like the way they occasionally throw in a line about a blonde or a brunette, like when Dick West has to go down into a well to look for something - Range Rider tells him to see if he can see any brunettes or redheads at the bottom of the well. Actually, that brings up one of the funnier aspects of this show - in most episodes, there turns out to be a pretty young lady and Dickie falls head over heels for her. When he tells Range Rider how much he likes the girl, Range Rider brings up a few of Dickie's other past 'loves' and Dickie always insists - indignantly - "This one's DIFFERENT!" They're ALL different. It's a running gag and always funny.
Quite a few of the episodes are more funny than anything - like one where Dickie has to pretend to belong to a traveling acting troupe. He is dressed up as Juliet (from the Shakespeare play) and keeps looking down at his chest in the woman's dress he is wearing. In another episode he has to pass himself off as a cook at a roadhouse and that does not go well either. However there are also a fair number of episodes that have a more serious storyline to them - but there's always at least a little bit of fun going on too.
One of my very favorite scenes (with Dick West again!) has him fighting with some bad guy who has punched him in the mouth. The things they'd let you do to kids not even old enough to drink back then! Well anyhow Dick retaliates with a roundhouse that knocks the bad guy backwards and down into a well. Dick scurries over to the well and stands on tiptoe and looks down into the well as the bad guy splashes into the water. Then he steps back and gets this intense look on his face; he shakes his head this way and that, and then reaches in and pulls out a tooth that the bad guy's punch knocked out. Fortunately it was a tooth he needed pulled anyhow. There's some great comedy in among the Western action.
Dick West and Range Rider do nearly all their own stunts. One scene has them sliding down some large rock formations in the desert and Dick lands on his rear end on a rock after coming down a lot farther than I think he planned. It HAD to have hurt!
Range Rider himself is a real tough guy, no doubt, and there are appearances by some very well-known character actors, i.e. Lee Van Cleef in one episode I watched. Denver Pyle is in quite a few of the episodes as well as some others you might recognize, a couple of which you've seen in many 3 Stooges shorts. This is a fun show to watch - well worth keeping in mind if it should ever cross your path. I hope to find more episodes of it.