23 March 2006 | dougbrode
a hero (ralph taeger) and a con man (james coburn) cross paths in 1897 Alaska.
As TV westerns about the great plains were becoming redundant in the late 1950s, the networks experimented with variations on the them. One such idea was the 'northern,' set up in th eland of the midnight sun. Seemed like a strong idea, and the John Wayne movie North to Alaska was certainly a hit at the box office - though, then again, Wayne didn't have many flops, whatever he happened to be in. Not so with the TV versions. ABC/Warner Brothers tried this format with The Alaskans, starring Roger Moore (fresh from a British series, Ivanhoe), Jeff York (recycling his gruff mountain man role from Disney's The Saga of Andy Burnett), and Dorothy Provine, the only one of Warner's blondes who seemed right for period pictures. The show lasted one season - Provine went on to a year and a half on The Roaring Twenties, Moore to Maverick (he replaced James Garner, sharing top-billing with Jack Kelly as the British cousin "Beau"), and Jeff York . . . well, he didn't work a whole lot after that. But wait a minute . . . this is supposed to be about Klondike! So over at NBC, on Monday nights, yet another Alaskan western was kicked off, this one with Ralph Taeger, who looked a little like Clint Walker by had none of the charisma, as a the big shouldered, big hearted hero, and James Coburn, in one of his very first leads, as a giddy con man. Also aboard were two lovely veterans of B movies, Mari Blanchard (brunette) and Joi Lansing (blonde) as two very buxom females trying to survive in the shabby gold rush towns. Sam Peckinpah directed some of the episodes, so they are not without interest, but the show never caught on with the public. So NBC had an epiphany - Surfside Six and Hawaiian Eye were both big hits over at ABC. So how about taking the two male stars of Klondike and shifting them to a modern sunny locale? All of a sudden, Klondike was gone and Acapulco (starring Taeger and Coburn) was there in its place. Heavily advertised, with the heroes basking on the beach amid a half dozen bathing beauties, it couldn't miss . . . but it did . . . and the ratings were so much lower than those of Klondike that NBC threw in the towel after about eight weeks.