10 December 2003 | cariart
Wry, Witty Series, Ahead of it's Time...
'The Rogues' was my favorite television series, the season it was on the air. From the opening strains of Nelson Riddle's bouncy, hummable theme, and the introductory credits of stars Charles Boyer, David Niven, Gig Young, Robert Coote, and Gladys Cooper, I would be enthralled!
Certainly the program had faults; as with most television programs of that period, the sets tended to look sparse and generic, and the 'European' locales were all done on the studio backlot (it was amazing how often the same 'Town Square' would appear!), but plot-wise, the weekly 'sting', carried out by the St. Clair/Fleming clans against some nasty villain, were a joy (Picture 'Mission Impossible' with humor), and the appearances of Young (usually), Niven (occasionally), and Boyer (rarely) made each new episode a much-anticipated 'event'.
Some of the comments posted for this show have bemoaned how shallow American audiences were, in allowing this series to be canceled after a single season, while 'The Beverly Hillbillies' would run 'forever'. While I agree that 'The Rogues' was a far better program, the fault wasn't entirely because of audience's tastes. NBC placed the series in a 'suicide' timeslot, where it competed against a long-established 'hit' (much as ABC and CBS did to series on Thursdays in the 80s and 90s, when NBC dominated the evening with 'Cosby', 'Cheers', 'Friends', and 'ER'). Also, Four Star Productions (whose bosses included Niven, Boyer, and Dick Powell) created the series around the availability of the actors, between film assignments (none of the leads wanted to commit themselves 'exclusively' to television, which was still considered a 'step down' for an actor, despite the participation of Fred MacMurray, Robert Young, Donna Reed, and Loretta Young on the small screen), and scheduling conflicts were a problem, even during the single season 'run' (which was why a young Larry Hagman appeared, in place of Gig Young, for one 'caper'). Had 'The Rogues' been a 'hit', the series would have seen major changes in casting in subsequent seasons!
There was a loyal fan base for the series during it's run; the summer after it's cancellation, Gig Young toured the country in a 'road' production of 'The Music Man', which I had the good fortune to see. At one point in the show, a character pointed at 'Professor' Harold Hill (Young), and sputtered, "You...you...ROGUE!", which literally brought the house down, and caused Young to break character, momentarily, to take a bow, and flash his famous crooked grin. After the performance, I had an opportunity to meet the actor (whose later life would include an Oscar for THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?, yet, ultimately, end in tragedy, when, in a fit of depression, he would murder his wife, then commit suicide, in 1978), and Young expressed amazement at how popular the series was, and how gratifying the audience response to the 'Rogue' line was, each performance.
'The Rogues' had a glorious 'moment in the sun', and will always be cherished by those of us who loved it!