14 June 2010 | aimless-46
Holy Blended Genres, Batman!
This is an obscure one. "Frontier Circus" ran on CBS for 26 (hour-long) episodes during the 1961-62 broadcast season; I don't recall ever seeing it turn up in syndication. Technically it is a western; shot in black and white two years after Bonanza had begun bringing color westerns into America's living rooms, which gave it little chance for success.
The networks were desperately seeking a gimmick to distinguish their offerings from the mass of television westerns getting air time in 1961. CBS remembered that "Circus Boy" had been a modest success in a 30 minute format for two seasons (1956-1958). And Disney had just done well with their January 1960 theatrical release of "Toby Tyler (or Ten Weeks with a Circus)". So they made a series about a circus traveling around the Old West in the 1880's.
Character actor Chill Wills (who had been the voice of "Francis, The Talking Mule") plays Colonel Casey Thompson who runs the T&T circus with Ben Travis (John Derek before he married Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek). Richard Jaeckel plays T&T advance man Tony Gentry (sort of a Rowdy Yates of the circus set).
The show was an interesting blend of circus acts, Indian fights, and shootouts with assorted bad hombres.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.