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  • Wanted: Dead or Alive has always been my favourite TV western. I first watched it as a seven year old in the mid '60s, even then it was in reruns.

    Right from the start the show had the coolest lead-in ever with the camera focused squarely on Josh Randall's 'hogleg' as he slowly walks up to a wanted poster and rips it away from the board. There was something 'mighty' intriguing about the lone bounty hunter who brought in many more bad guys alive than dead. And then there was that sawed-off Winchester '86 and those large 45-70 caliber cartridges. I never did figure out how Josh could load so fast. It couldn't have taken more than three rounds in its magazine, but Josh could easily get off four or five rounds in rapid succession. What about Josh's horse? He/she seemed to prefer to walk sideways but could back up as well as Trigger. Great memories, no doubt. I've viewed countless westerns over the years and I am firmly convinced that absolutely no one but Steve McQueen could have played TV's purest bounty hunter. Todays version is colourized and I think that's fantastic. Even my kids will sit and watch from time to time.
  • rusher-320 December 2013
    This show has been a favorite of mine from the time it first aired in the late fifties. As another reviewer astutely pointed out, TV westerns of the day were rife with 'gimmick' weapons such as "The Rifleman"'s "rifle", or maybe "Yancy Derringer's", umm, "Derringer". In "Wanted Dead Or Alive", the gimmick weapon-du-jour was Josh Randall's sawed-off Winchester. These "weapons" were never meant to portray reality (well, "Yancy Derringer's" Derringer may be an exception). Rather, they were meant to catch the attention of those rabid "baby boomer" kids whose parents were fortunate enough to own a television. Realistic or not, these weapons were "cool" to every "boomer" kid, and the networks were keenly aware of that fact. As such, the networks may have felt compelled to "out-weapon" one another from time to time. Few who were born after, including most all of the reviewers here who have focused on the technical inaccuracies, ambiguities, and anachronisms of Josh Randall's weapon, have meaningful first-hand insight into what any of this was about.

    "MeTV" has been airing re-runs of "Wanted Dead Or Alive" for several months now. I watch it every day. To me, it has been like renewing the acquaintance of a long-lost friend. Steve McQueen's portrayal of the "benevolent bounty hunter" is so convincing, and the story lines so compelling, that you come away believing that bounty hunters were the ultimate "good guys". And as those of us "boomer kids" fondly remember, the "good guys" always won.

    Steve McQueen's first big exposure in either film or television was, of course, "The Blob", the filming of which was completed long before WDOA went into production. According to IMDb, it was McQueen's performance in "The Blob" that caught the attention of Four-Star executive Dick Powell. This, in turn, resulted in McQueen's casting as Josh Randall. As I recall, it was some time after "Wanted Dead Or Alive" first aired on television that "The Blob" finally went into theatrical release. By that time, McQueen was already a "star" (at least to us "boomer" kids), and we went to the theater, not just to see "The Blob", but also to see "Josh Randall" as a "teenager". Talk about an anachronism!!
  • Many viewers have panned this series. It was hockey and implausible at times. However, I recently watched the series again on the Westerns Channel and offer these observations:

    When "Wanted" first came out in 1958, network TV was flooded with formulaic Warner Brothers westerns. With few exceptions they were all mostly repetitive and forgettable. My picks for exceptions are, obviously, Gunsmoke, which stood above the others, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick and Josh Randall's Wanted Dead or Alive.

    For the mid 1950s McQueen's character was ground breaking. He was the first anti-hero in a horse opera. Even when grouped with the line up of special gimmicks westerns (the rapid fire Winchester of The Rifleman; the weird Colt of The Rebel; Wyatt Earp's Buntline Special), Randall and his hog leg stood out. Never mind that he didn't reload and the mechanics of the weapon were implausible, the series worked. It was unique. McQueen was unique.

    I was 11 years old when the series started and it hooked me. Sure, it is difficult to watch it today without a laugh or question about its relation to reality. But back then it was cool and so was McQueen. And as someone else commented, only McQueen could have played the character of Josh Randall. For that matter, look at all his motion pictures. I don't believe any other actor could have made those films what they were.

    Even 25 years after his death, McQueen is as popular as he ever was. As far as I can see, only John Wayne still has that kind of appeal.
  • Long before he became a "superstar",Steve McQueen broke ground in this rarely seen TV western from the 1950's. Here,he plays the cool as nails and reliable Josh Randall,a bounty hunter who goes after the bad guys and gets his reward for bringing them in. Coolest western I've ever seen!!! Catch McQueen at his best! Its worth seeing!
  • I'm just old enough to remember when Wanted Dead or Alive was first run, when I first went to the show to see The Magnificent Seven, and when I first realized Steve McQueen was on his way to being a "star".

    I received the boxed set of the first season of this groundbreaking show this past Christmas and have been having great fun with it ever since. McQueen is the real star of the show, honing his craft for later career moves, with the truly offbeat story lines and resolutions coming in a close second.

    Forget that it's 1877, he was in the Union Army in 1864, which would make him 8-10 years older than his real age at the time. Forget that his sawed off Winchester 1892 didn't exist in this time frame, that it fired short pistol ammunition like .44-40 and possibly .45 Colt, that it couldn't possibly accept the long .30-30 cartridges on his belt that weren't developed until the Winchester 1894 came along. In the first episode he has to bury a murdered doctor and he pulls a U.S. military shovel circa 1944 from under his saddle. While he puts 19th century cuffs on some prisoners, ties some with rope, on one occasion he puts old fashioned leg irons on a prisoner's hands, way too dangerous and way too stupid for a pro like Josh Randall. In a feat too fantastic to believe, an outlaw takes away his sawed off Winchester and removes the firing pin without the aid of tools and without so much as removing the bolt from the receiver. Of course there's also that sawed off rifle of his that sometimes has a D-ring on the lever and sometimes a teardrop ring, a gun barrel that changes from round to hexagon, and a gun barrel that always has a bigger bore than the .30 caliber slug in a .30-30 shell. And let's not forget that the outdoor scenes seldom match the geography of the story lines and that more times than not they use the same western street sound stage for towns ranging from Wyoming to Arizona to Texas with just the store front names changing! All this in just the first half of the first season. LOL

    The show is all about watching McQueen, watching the offbeat stories that sometimes beg for more time for storytelling, and watching for all the goofs. It's great fun and well worth the time even 50 years later!
  • "Wanted-Dead or Alive" was a half hour western series appearing on CBS television for three seasons from 1958-1961. The series actually got its start as an episode of another popular TV series of the time, "Trackdown", during the second half of the '57-'58 TV season. "Wanted-Dead or Alive" starred Steve McQueen as bounty hunter Josh Randall in what was a very good start to an outstanding acting career in feature films. As played by McQueen, Josh Randall was the most laconic of a broad television landscape of would-be laconic western series heroes.

    Josh Randall carried a sawed-off 44/40 Winchester carbine (his "Mare's Leg", as he called it) on his hip instead of the traditional Colt 45 pistol. This of course played into the TV "cool factor" as his weapon made a much louder, more devastating sound when fired and of course had much more "stopping power" upon impact with the intended victim. Cool! Although "Wanted-Dead or Alive" was truly nothing out of the ordinary in terms of content or quality compared to other like fare of the period but Steve McQueen as Josh Randall and his unique weapon made this a "must watch" series. Only Paladin was better and "cooler" than Josh.
  • Wanted, Dead or Alive was a star vehicle in the truest sense of the term. It was a western calculated to exhibit the talent and charisma of its star, Steve McQueen. It lasted for three seasons before McQueen decided to devote full time to the big screen.

    McQueen was after some of the most dangerous fellows in the old west, plenty who could shoot a lot better than he. His character Josh Randall needed an equalizer.

    In John Wayne's classic western El Dorado, you remember that Duke discovers that James Caan can't hit the broad side of a mountain with a regular six shooter. Before going to El Dorado to aid Robert Mitchum, they stop off and see a gunsmith who fixes Caan up with a Josh Randall special. After that Caan's of considerable help to Wayne and Mitchum.

    Of course the sawed off shotgun was also an evil weapon in the wrong hands. Take note of the Dan Duryea western, The Bounty Killer, a very Freudian piece where Duryea becomes hated and feared as a bounty hunter until an innocent bystander gets shot with it.

    But with McQueen you knew the weapon was on the side of law and order. As for his Josh Randall character, you can see a bit of him in all the people Steve McQueen brought to the screen like Virgil Hilts, Nevada Smith, all the way to his last two films, Tom Horn and Pappa Thorsen.

    Wanted, Dead or Alive was most folks first exposure to a screen legend. I wish that westerns like that were made today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, it's a tossup between Wanted Dead or Alive and The Rifleman. Both shows were no-nonsense westerns and featured very intense actors in the lead. Steve McQueen was just as good in this series as he was in all his subsequent big screen movies. He was a very gifted actor; a prodigy. McQueen had so may subtle, nonverbal nuances and when he delivered his lines, it was completely believable. Like Chuck Connors' Lucas McCain from The Rifleman, McQueen's Josh Randall was a strong, authentic character, although where McCain was an outgoing rancher, Randall was moody and aloof, as would befit a bounty hunter's character. Both men were quick to deal with the bad guys and showed little mercy. Both shows were consistently well-made, with high production values. Unlike many westerns of the genre, Wanted Dead or Alive and The Rifleman have stood the test of time. Too bad there's nothing like these shows on television now.
  • THE PROFESSION OF Bounty Hunter, which persists today in one form or another, was not one of honor or general acceptance. Sometimes referred to as "Bounty Killer", as in those "Spaghetti Westerns" of the 1960s, the line of work called for those who were neither weak of constitution nor overly genteel in relations with others.

    THE CASTING OF Mr. Steve McQueen as Josh Randall put all of the actor's abilities on full display before the whole world. His cool, underplaying of the character did much in making this just more than another Horse Opera. It was intelligent writing, careful attention to a complex story line combined with the ability of the Star that served up something other than a plain old 2 dimensional cardboard cutout look at the work of a societal bottom feeder.

    BEING THE OLD, Wild West of the 1870s, it was a position that was needed. Horrible conditions often times produce solutions that are less than civilized; as a live by the sword mentality is a necessity of life. Being far removed from the Big City life of the "Stupidgencia" as practiced in Academic circles, this is reality; though not necessarily how the "Experts" feel it should be.*

    IN REFLECTING ON the various rerun episodes that are shown on Cable Stations such as Chicago's MEE TV, one gets a pretty microscope-like look at Steve's abilities. Even at this relatively early stage, we can view the man as Artist. And Artist is the proper term to use for the guy who brought us such great performances in: THE Magnificent SEVEN, THE CINCINNATI KID, THE SAND PEBBLES, THE REIVERS, JUNIOR BONNER, BULLITT,SOLDIER IN THE RAIN, PAPILLION, THE GETAWAY, etc., etc., etc..

    IT IS TRULY a shame that he left us a such a relatively young age.
  • "Wanted: Dead or Alive" was one of the "greatest" if not the "best" of the Four Star produced television Westerns to come out of the late- 1950's and continued into the early-1960's that made an unknown actor by the name of Steve McQueen into a bonafide star. This was his first and only attempt to star in a weekly series before he went on to become a huge theatrical star in his own right. His first big exposure in either film or television. Long before "Wanted:Dead or Alive" went into production,Steve McQueen was already making headway as a huge star in the 1958 theatrical release "The Blob"(which was released in theaters by Paramount Pictures on September 12, 1958)that became a runaway box office hit. But it was McQueen's performance in "The Blob" that caught the attention of Founder and Executive of Four Star Television Dick Powell. It was here that Steve McQueen made his television appearance as bounty hunter Josh Randall in an episode of another Four Star produced series "Trackdown" starring Robert Culp titled "The Bounty Hunter"(Season 1, Episode 21 of the series)that aired on March 7, 1958. His performance was the greenlight for the spin-off to the series "Trackdown" titled "Wanted:Dead or Alive" that premiered on CBS' Saturday night schedule in prime-time on September 6, 1958. It was sometime after "Wanted" premiered on television that his movie debut in "The Blob" was released in theaters a week after his television series premiered. By that time McQueen was already a star and with his success as bounty hunter Josh Randall on "Wanted:Dead or Alive" the series became one of the biggest hits of the late-1950's and a huge ratings boost for the CBS Television Network.Out of the eight television Westerns that premiered in 1958(which included "Northwest Passage"-one of the earliest short-lived series that was produced in color,and the ones that were in classic black and white included "The Texan","Bronco", "Bat Masterson","Cimarron City","The Rough Riders",and "Yancy Derringer" not to mention the premiere of another successful Four Star produced Western "The Rifleman" which became a huge colossal hit for ABC)only "Wanted" had a premise,and it worked.

    "Wanted:Dead or Alive" for the three seasons that it aired on CBS, was placed on it's Saturday night time slot in prime-time between the courtroom drama "Perry Mason",and "The Gale Storm Show",and it faced strong competition against NBC's "The Perry Como Show In Color",and also the variety series "Jubilee USA" over at ABC. "Wanted:Dead or Alive" aired from September 6, 1958 until March 29, 1961 producing 94 episodes all in classic black and white and was produced by Malcolm Enterprises in association with Four Star Television and the CBS Television Network. Steve McQueen was the only actor that starred in all 94 episodes but during the show's second season McQueen's Josh Randall had a sidekick or assistant bounty hunter named Jason Nichols(Wright King) that appeared in 11 episodes from 1959-1960. Some of the best writers were in hand for some great episodes of this series ranging from D.D. and Mary Beauchamp, Don Brinkley, Calvin Clements, Christopher Knopf, Fred Freiberger, to Richard Matheson, Dan Ullman, Frank Gilroy, David Lang, Richard H. Landau, Tom Gries, Cy Chermak, Samuel A. Peeples, John Robinson, to Wells Root, George Slavin,and Tony Barrett to Ed Adamson contribute to some of the stories. Great directors ranging from Thomas Carr, George Blair, to future film director Richard Donner. Others included Harry Harris, to Murray Golden, Gene Reynolds, Don McDougall and actor-director-producer R.G. Springsteen just to name a few.

    The guest stars that appeared on in this series were some of Hollywood's best ranging from future "Bonanza" television stars Michael Landon and Pernell Roberts,to future box office superstars Warren Oates, James Coburn, and Martin Landau. Others were Fay Spain, Mala Powers, Nick Adams, Cloris Leachman, Paul Burke, Constance Ford, Susan Oliver, Mara Corday, to Frank Silvera, Dyan Cannon, Royal Dano, Denver Pyle, Clu Gulager, along with Mary Tyler Moore, Vic Perrin, J. Pat O'Malley, Lee Van Cleef, Claude Akins, Jay Silverheels, John Carradine, Stafford Repp, Ed Nelson, Gerald Mohr, John Lupton, Wayne Rogers, Harold J. Stone, Beverly Garland, to Howard Morris, Stephen Talbot, Jay North, Jay C. Flippen, Regis Toomey and R.G. Armstrong(who directed and star in several episodes).

    The best episodes from the series ranged from "Desert Seed"(Season 2, Episode 11), "Three For One"(Season 3, Episode 13), "The Prison Trail" (Season 2,Episode 31), "The Voice of Silence"(Season 3, Episode 20), "The Sheriff of Red Rock"(Season 1,Episode 13), "Eight Cent Reward:The Christmas Story"(Season 1, Episode 16), "Twelve Hours to Crazy Horse" (Season 2,Episode 12), "The Bounty"(Season 1,Episode 3) and from the premiere episode that started it all "The Martin Poster"(Season 1, Episode 1). Others included "Bounty on Josh"(Season 3, Episode 17), "The Bad Gun"(Season 2, Episode 8), "The Hostage"(Season 2,Episode 6), "The Choice"(Season 3, Episode 12), "The Trial"(Season 3, Episode 1),to "Death Divided By Three"(Season 2, Episode 29), "The Empty Cell" (Season 2, Episode 7),to the comedial "The Twain Shall Meet"(Season 3, Episode 5).

    The phenomenal success of the "Wanted:Dead or Alive" television series propelled Steve McQueen's career as a bonafide Hollywood superstar. And it showcased his great talent in such great theatrical films as "The Magnificent Seven","Baby,The Rain Must Fall", "Soldier In The Rain","Nevada Smith","Love With The Proper Stranger","The Reivers", "Junior Bonner", "The Getaway","The Cincinnati Kid",not to mention the movie that cemented his status as a top box office star "Bullitt"(who became one of the top ten highest grossing pictures of 1968). Not to mention his Oscar nominated performance in "The Sand Pebbles"(Oscar nominated for Best Actor in 1966),and also for his work in "Papillion" (Oscar nominated for Best Actor in 1973). And to also mentioned his work opposite Paul Newman in Irwin Allen's "The Towering Inferno",and the movie that would be his last theatrical feature was 1980's "The Hunter"....the lists goes on and on.
  • Throughout the '60's Steve McQueen was often referred to as Mr. Cool, and it all started with Wanted Dead or Alive back in the days when TV westerns had not yet succumbed to the liberal non-violence boohooing about too much violence on TV. How many of us kids from the '50's who fought in Vietnam didn't carry just a little of what we learned, rightly or wrongly, about cowboy right and wrong from Josh Randal, Paladin, Marshal Dillon, Cheyenne, John Wayne (multiple roles), etc? Josh Randal, like myself was bred and born a Southerner; unlike today after a couple generations of historical revision, back then to be a Son of the South was a point of respected honor from the entire country including was the "fight" not the issues, boys and girls, that have made Southerners the most decorated soldiers throughout the entirety of this nation's existence.

    Yes, the mare's leg was odd and impractical, and it sounded funny, too when fired, but the cat-quick grace of this newcomer, Steve McQueen, is what captured our little boy imaginations back then. Until recently, I had not seen any of the old Wanted Dead or Alive shows in over 50 years, and I found it surprising how much time affects our memory of details. Of course much of what I've seen lately, I don't remember at all except for that Christmas episode where the boy asks Josh to find Santa Claus...turns out that I remember that one in an altogether different fashion, too! Anyway, given what VH1, BET, MTV, Hollywood in general, the video gaming industry, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. have given (or done) to two or three generations of American youth, I can truly say that being raised in the 1950's rural South with one TV station that shared both ABC and CBS programing that I had a much more imaginatively rich upbringing than the sad majority of the entitled obligate mouth-breathing government dependent generation of today.
  • It seems to me that Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive is a standout from many of the other Westerns of the great Western era, despite the intense competition of Rifleman, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, and all the rest, because of McQueen himself and many great stories shown throughout its three years, credited to the talents of the superb writers mentioned by other reviewers. I think too much emphasis is put on the technical aspects of the sawed-off Winchester. Most viewers thought--and think--it is a cool gun because of the looks and the noise it makes, and don't care enough to analyze its workings. It's a TV prop, for heaven's sake. McQueen used it effectively enough to impress his viewers. My only criticism is that he tended to blow away everybody he aimed at, when he could have been a little more discriminating.

    But again, the reason I watch the show--on the Westerns channel, by the way--is for the stories. There are some really different stories, that make you think, some with twist endings, some really original tales on this show. I especially like the ones with kids in them, that I can share with the little kids in my family--the Christmas story; the one about the little boy (Richard Eyer) who is the outlaw's adopted son; and also the karate story with actor Robert Kino. The importance of story is what we're missing in many of today's TV and movie offerings, and that is why I like many of the older classic TV shows.

    I was not expecting such high quality when I first starting watching this show, as I was new to it (I was a year old when it was released, so never saw it firsthand) but am now a fan of the very young Steve McQueen as well as the older McQueen whose movies I remember later in my life. It's wonderful that so many of these shows are being rebroadcast!
  • As a Boomer, McQueen's always been on my radar just from Bullit alone. Then I read Greg Laurie's 2017 biography of the man, further piquing my interest. Laurie mentioned this series which, being born in '54, was on when I was too young to remember it. Do remember seeing it in the listings on late at night cable, but never caught it, and never knew it was even a western, let alone starring McQueen. The guy has the "It" factor, as we all know. Like Charles Bronson, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, he's the good-hearted loner we're always rooting for. But what I've really come to enjoy, some nine episodes into the 94 episode DVD set is the co-stars that boomers will recognize. Alan Hale Jr (The Skipper!), Michael Landon, and Clair Griswald so far, many more to come. This was Clair's first appearance on TV and even dressed as a nun, you could see she had the chops to become quite an actress. Her chemistry with McQueen is there too. Just a great series, corny sure, but just watching McQueen ride a horse, move, shoot, and flash that smile of his just makes for great 'stretch out on the couch and relax ax' back-in-the-day video; black and white film, no CGI, raw sex, psycho violence, and when good or bad was just as plain black or white. We miss Steve McQueen.
  • "Wanted: Dead or Alive" is currently playing weekly on Sapporo televsion. When I watch it now, I am reminded of a biography I read of Steve McQueen in 1971 that described arguments young actor McQueen often had with the producers of the show at the time. As is evidenced by what I see almost every week now, the scripts were forever having Josh Randall surrounded by two, three, or four big guys, and Josh Randall diving in to get in as many first strike punches as possible before they beat him up. According to the biography, almost every time McQueen read such a script, he would protest the stupidity of such a scenario. But he was always overruled by the studio brass. But what bothers me much more than the suicidal actions of Josh Randall in the script is the mechanical impossibility of the sawed off Winchester rifle he carried. First of all, the four inch long cartridges he carried would have been far too big to insert into the side slot of the rifle. Secondly, it the rifle had somehow been modified to permit insertion of the elephantine cartridges, the sawed off tube of a magazine below the barrel would have been able to hold three rounds at most. And yet, in the series Josh Randal is often pumping rapid fire shots like a semi-automatic assault rifle. Incidentally, "Wanted Dead or Alive" never shows Josh Randall inserting the cartridges into the weapon and the series almost never shows Josh Randall with his cartridge belt anything but completely full. In other words, he is often shooting his rifle but never using his supply of cartridges.
  • "Wanted Dead or Alive" was the show that introduced Steve McQueen. This is a show with episodes that lasted 25 minutes each. The plots are streamlined, due to the running time. There isn't much location shooting but that's OK as the stories are very solid usually. The writing is pretty good. There are many respected character actors to be seen. Steve McQueen is a bounty hunter and each episode shows him on the trail of dangerous bandits and outlaws. He carries a sawn off shotgun as his main weapon. Plenty to enjoy here.
  • I usually write long reviews, but having just read the other 23 reviews that are here, I am going to keep this very brief. I am in my 70s and am giving the classic TV Westerns one more go-round, before hanging it up. What impressed me about this series, and I mean really impressed me, is the quality of the writing. It is sometimes spare, but it matters. I also think that, for a 22-minute show, the direction was unusually good. There were times that I had to remind myself that John Ford wasn't directing. Look carefully, and you'll see what I mean. The series brought the best out of a lot of pedestrian actors. Lastly, I agree with everyone that McQueen was a very cool guy, but what he was doing required attention to the director and a performance that is reminiscent of the best method actors (Brando, Steiger, others). I am glad I gave this series another look. It is more enjoyable now than it was when I was a kid.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Wanted: Dead or Alive" aired on the CBS television network for three seasons, from September, 1958 to March, 1961. It's star, Steve McQueen was tapped as the lead for the series following a successful trial run on another TV Western of the era - "Trackdown" starring Robert Culp. In the appropriately titled episode, 'The Bounty Hunter', McQueen made his debut as Josh Randall, airing on March 7th, 1958. Interestingly, the character of Hoby Gilman was first introduced by Culp in an episode of 'Zane Grey Theater' from May 3rd, 1957. Some great trivia there for old timers like myself.

    I've watched the entire three seasons of W:DOA a couple of times now, once a number of years ago, and again just recently. This was one of the shows I caught regularly when it first came on TV, my Dad and I being pretty solid Western fans. I only remembered one of the episodes from back in the Fifties, #1.9 from the first season titled 'The Fourth Headstone'. Randall has to escort a woman accused of murdering three men, including her husband, to a court trial in another town. Actress Mona Freeman displayed an amazingly amenable and charming character who Josh was beginning to fall for. With his wits about him however, he emptied his sawed off shotgun of bullets in case she tried to bushwhack him on the trail. When she finally had the upper hand, she attempted to shoot Randall with an empty gun, proving to him that she was every bit the cold hearted murderer she was said to be.

    That shotgun by the way, was a character of the show in it's own right. Nicknamed 'hogleg', Randall wore it on his right hip and it was always at the ready in case of trouble. Others on this board have mentioned how the bullets Randall wore in his bandolero would not have been compatible with the weapon, but what did we kids know back then. It was just cool, every bit as cool as McQueen himself. The interesting thing about McQueen as an actor is that he always sought out little things in his repertoire to add to the character of Josh Randall, He had different ways of mounting his horse for example, and would often shake off his fist after decking some bad guy. In a third season episode titled 'The Long Search', he walked past a saloon girl and blew on the back of her neck to attract attention. It was those same kind of tactics that frustrated Yul Brynner on the set of "The Magnificent Seven", filmed during the series' second season, eventually catapulting McQueen into the big time. Brynner complained that McQueen was stealing his thunder as the nominal star of that movie.

    As in all TV Westerns of the era, a lot of character actors appeared who are much better known today, but weren't household names back then. Making repeat appearances in the series were folks like James Best, Richard Devon, William Schallert, John Dehner, and Gloria Talbot. Celebrities who went on to bigger and better things included James Coburn in a couple of episodes, Warren Oates, and DeForest Kelley. The biggest surprise guest for this viewer appeared in episode #3.73 - 'The Twain Shall Meet'. In that one, Mary Tyler Moore appeared in a very minor part as a saloon gal, and her character did not factor in the story's resolution at all, but it was a kick just seeing her in it.

    Out of ninety four episodes, it's hard to pick a favorite, but two of the more humorous stories came back to back in Season #3. Noah Beery Jr. portrays a Mexican outlaw in 'El Gato', and in the very next show, 'Detour', actor Howard Morris hires Josh to help him elope! A lot of fans consider first season episode 'Eight Cent Reward' to be a fave, with future Dennis the Menace, Jay North, asking Josh to help him find Santa Claus to help out his family. Certainly, the series got off on the right foot in the very first show, 'The Martin Poster'. In that one, Josh has to track down a pair of outlaw brothers portrayed by Nick Adams and Michael Landon. Western fans know that both of those actors went on to star in their own shows, "The Rebel" and "Bonanza". Ah, the nostalgia, one of the great perks of being an old time TV fan.

    Having gotten a little long winded here, I'll wrap this up with some final thoughts on the character of Josh Randall. Take note of Randall's habits as he travels the Old West from town to town. He liked his whiskey, smoked quite a bit, obviously liked his women, and was a fair hand at poker. You might also note he had a fondness for apples, as he ate one in at least a half dozen shows. But the thing that gets me to this day is, how the heck did he hold his pants up? He never wore a belt!
  • My 10 rating is probably, no it is biased. Steve McQueen was one of my all time favorite actors. Sure, this show was hokey, but for a show that was 30 minutes, it packed a lot into it. I was too young to watch the originals, but over the years I was able to watch episodes here and there. Now watching them again on MeTV, it brings back so many good memories. For me, nothing beats a good western. Especially when it stars Steve McQueen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *Spoiler/plot- Wanted Dead or Alive, 1958. TV series plot follows the western US life of Josh Randall seeking bounties on desperate criminals by hunting them with his sawed off saddle rifle or as he calls it, a dangerous kicking 'Mare's Leg".

    *Special Stars- Steve McQueen.

    *Theme- There are many ways to cleanup the western USA in the late 19th century.

    *Trivia/location/goofs- TV series. Black & White.

    *Emotion- An enjoyable TV series and very entertaining to see McQueen well before his film stardom.

    *Based On- Western USA cowboy lore.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Take my review with some grains of salt as I haven't watched the whole series yet (got the entire run from a collector and watching the first season now), and other than vague recollections from youthful viewings (not a good sign that I don't remember more), I'm sorry but I don't see much interest to keep watching "Wanted Dead Or Alive". To clarify my background since most other reviewers here have done theirs, I watch WDOA in the 70's and 80's in the odd repeat on syndicated TV channels, and I only remembered it had Steve McQueen and a cool gun, a sawed off Winchester. With that said, I also watched shows such as Have Gun Will Travel, Bonanza, and The Rifleman, two of which were 30 minute western dramas aired during the same years as WDOA. Unlike WDOA, I remembered a lot of details of those other shows, the reason being, character development. I don't blame McQueen, he was a starting actor, and his persona is clearly evident thankfully or else this would be totally forgettable. But other than the cool intro and ending credits that's all I remember from my youth of this show. 30 minute (really 23 minute when you take out the commercials) are tough to do, they require a really fast intro and usually need some heavy moral dilemma to make a memorable impact as good drama. HGWT and Rifleman did this very well, WDOA does have a little of this but the level of morality and injustice doesn't come close to those other two shows. Maybe its that or maybe its that Josh is a bounty hunter who isn't seen making a whole lot of money like Pallidan does, so the show looses realism. I don't know, I can't put my finger on it, but if the show's selling point is the gun, it looses that point to the other two shows as well, since in the few episodes I've watched recently, I'm really loosing interest, Josh uses the gun as a club more than a gun. Rifleman showed what a man could do with a rifle quick so the point of sawing it off seems really stupid, I'd just use a pistol and also a rifle. Palladin has a wicked creep when he's ready to draw, I do NOT want to mess with him in a draw! Anyway, if your looking for the best of the 30 minute westerns, I'd check out those other two shows first. I'm still a big McQueen fan, when his material is good.
  • Steve McQueen stars as Josh Randall, the straight-arrow bounty hunter who gives away most or all of his reward money, a gimmick that in actuality only lasted the first few episodes. However, Randall did indeed have a heart of gold, standing up for not only law and order, but actual justice as well, even if there wasn't always a fairy-tale ending and sometimes finding himself protecting the guilty against vigilante justice.

    Like many of the late-fifties and early-sixties western television series', Wanted: Dead Or Alive packs a lot of narrative in each thirty- minute episode, usually with enough great ideas to fill a typical feature-length B-movie from previous decades, though featuring sudden bursts of violence you probably wouldn't see in the thirties and forties.

    This made a bonafide star out of McQueen and a cult-star out of his signature gun, a sawed-off repeater rifle. Also, it was a great showcase for up-and-coming actors like James Coburn, Warren Oates, Michael Landon and Lee Van Cleef, not to mention a few old-timers like Lon Chaney and Noah Beery.

    Also of interest is the short-lived stint of Wright King (who was probably being groomed to take over from the famously fickle McQueen), as Josh's flawed apprentice. Although it was somewhat better to have Randall acting alone, King's character was interestingly handled by the writers and his episodes (especially the first few) were very worthwhile.

    One thing that might interest the modern viewer, is Josh's unwillingness to let his more sympathetic bounties to make a run for it, dispensing with one of the latter-day's most reliable contrivances.

    Finally, look out for a few outstanding and hard-hitting episodes, penned by Twilight Zone writers Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, as well as a Kung-Fu themed episode that predates the series "Kung-Fu" by a dozen years!

    Highly Recommended.
  • the series did not get the best ratings, and is not as hockey as some shows at that time. He is an under acheiver as far as making money, but then what could you spend money on back then. Like raw hide he does seem to have his main goal side tracked a lot and the to large of shells that were for effect are a big mistake. But the rebel johnny yuma is more of a joke with his sawed off double barrel ten gauge shotgun that doesnot kick on fireing and shots multiple times. From what i have seen the stories are more varied than some series Perhaps not having enough big name actors hurt the ratings. The action was not as ruthless and bloody so that all so would hurt the rating. I do enjoy the show . it is more down to earth than palidin, gunsmoke , bonanza and others the rifle man is to over the top.
  • In TV's "Wanted: Dead Or Alive", actor, Steve McQueen, as bounty hunter, Josh Randall, broke away from the stereotypical mold of your stock, "Old West" bounty-man who was solely driven by his ruthless greed for money.

    Set in the late 1800s, this Western has the rugged, no-nonsense Randall treating people with respect, and giving away large portions of his reward money to charity.

    And when the time came for a change of pace - Randall never stopped to think twice about using his prized, sawed-off Winchester rifle to settle some scores and bring in the bad guys (dead or alive) to justice.

    Filmed in b&w - These episodes from 1958-1961 featured lots of guest star appearances.
  • What makes W:DA such a good series is that it's basically a solid drama, and avoids falling into the trap of "format becomes formula". It tells all sorts of stories, perhaps the strangest of which is "Littlest Client", in which an orphan asks Josh to look for her father. The father is involved in an intense erotic friendship with another man (which might or might not be sexual, but nothing is said, or even hinted). At the end, she walks away with two daddies.

    By the way, in "The Blob", the film that won McQueen his role on W:DA, there's an actor in a minor role named... Josh Randall!
  • I was beginning to think this show was believable until I saw McQueen fanning the hammer on a sawed-off lever action rifle. The mistake most actors made, even big stars, was to jack the lever two or three time before shooting. As if moving the lever up and down gave them something to do to pass the time. Mutton-headed movie directors never seem to understand what that lever is for. Then I saw McQueen in at least two episodes fire his rifle twice without ever using the cocking lever. Just passing the palm of his hand over the hammer as if it were a single action pistol. That says out loud, we don't know what we are doing so just play along and act like you believe it.