11 July 2002 | Poseidon-3
It's hard to believe that a mid-1960's western could be the favorite TV show of a preteen boy in the 1970's but it's true. This was in reruns at 4:00pm daily and I could not WAIT to get home and see it. My sister felt the same way. I know, based on www pages out there, that I am not alone in my love for "The Big Valley", but I have to admit that it's a strange thing to be addicted to. There's something about the camera-ready cast, the quality of the stories and guest stars, the majestic opening theme and background music in the episodes and the overall aura of "The Barkleys" that is just irresistible to me. The series was just one of many, many TV westerns, but what sets this apart is the female slant and the striking use of color. Was there ever a bluer shirt than Victoria Barkley's? Hair more golden than Audra's? Leather more black than Nick's? Watching reruns of "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza", they really look like dusty, brown, more authentic (especially with "Gunsmoke") presentations. "BV" started out that way, but soon progressed into an almost surreal blend of authentic locales mixed with '60's styles and colors. How else to describe Lee Majors' sideburns, the clean lines of the womens' riding gear or the ladies' false eyelashes? But I wouldn't change any of it for the world. The Barkleys' world is a world I'd want to live in. Everything is beautiful and they stand for truth, justice and the American way! They are defenders of right and will suffer to preserve integrity. (Kinda like The Super Friends, but with less wacky costumes...) The blend of types in the show is expert. You have scholarly, level-headed Jarrod, tough, explosive Nick, sensitive, handsome Heath, thoughtful, gloriously beautiful Audra and stern, fair, in charge Victoria (...oh, and then some poor kid who was let go right off the bat and never heard from again. That's the breaks, Eugene!) Together, in any combination, or separate, they are a captivating lot. Certain images burn the memory......Victoria cocking her rifle and ordering outlaws away, her croaking Audra's name when the girl has stumbled into trouble, Heath anytime he removed his shirt, Nick raging through the front door, Audra's black riding hat with chin string sitting atop her mane of the most beautiful hair in Hollywood...... Some of the stories were rehashes of other previous works (including Stanwyck's own movies! See "Jeopardy" some time!), but most of the time they were compelling and always they were filmed with skill and class. This is one of the best TV shows ever made.