13 February 2008 | aimless-46
An Outstanding Series, Very Funny
"Larado" was a successful attempt to transfer the three British sergeant characters from "Gunga Din" (1939) into the American west and transform them into Texas Rangers. Archie (Cary Grant) became Chad Cooper (Peter Brown), Mac (Victor McLaglen) became Joe Riley (William Smith) and Tommy (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) became Reese Bennett (Neville Brown).
Brown was the best of the mid-1960's "pretty boy" action stars (James Stacy, Mark Goddard, and David Hedison come to mind).
The show was a western parody, which like "Maverick" did not take itself too seriously despite an attempt to introduce relatively realistic action sequences and some straight drama. The humor mostly came from Chad and Joe teasing and baiting Reese, whose sputtering reactions were always entertaining. Brand was the heart of the show because his character was eccentric rather than serious. Reese did not have to play the straight man role because that function was handled by Ranger boss Captain Parmalee (Phillip Carey). While Reese indignantly blusters around, Parmalee just acts mildly aggravated by the threesome's juvenile antics, in the tradition of Ward Cleaver.
To go with "Larado's" three "Gunga Din" characters, Carey also brought a connection to television's "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" (1956-57) series in which he starred as Lieutenant Michael Rhodes. Not to be outdone "American" Indian themes were prominent in the show with the Rangers regularly fighting renegade Indians and Joe having a vague Cheyenne Bodie type Indian background (note his beaded Indian belt).
Apparently Neville Brand had a contract dispute or just didn't get along with some members of the cast/crew because he quit midway through the second season. Although they tried to carry on with Claude Akins as replacement the show had essentially lost its best element and could not make a successful transition. Brand's fans would get to see him again when they combined several episodes into a feature length movie called "Three Guns For Texas" (1968).
William Smith would go on to become the quintessential low budget movie tough guy and would star with Brown in "Chrome and Hot Leather" (1971). His all-time best performance was as Joe Namath's nemesis in "C.C. and Company" (1970).
Half of Season One is now out in a DVD package with the misleading title "Best of Laredo". The remainder of Season One is scheduled for DVD release in March 2008. No effort was made to cull out the best episodes, rather they just released 15 or the first 17 to air back in 1965- 66. Oddly the episodes are not arranged on the DVD by their original air dates. The DVD set has no special features.
Here is a list of the 15 episodes on Volume #1 of the Season One 3-DVD package in the order they appear on the DVD's, followed by their original air dates in parenthesis: Rendezvous At Arillo (7 October 1965) Anybody Here Seen Billy? (21 October 1965) I See By Your Outfit (23 September 1965) A Question of Discipline (28 October 1965) Limit of the Law Larkin (27 January 1966) Yahoo (30 September 1965) Lazy Foot, Where Are You? (16 September 1965) Three's Company (14 October 1965) The Golden Trail (4 November 1965) The Land Grabbers (9 December 1965) The Calico Kid (6 January 1966) A Matter of Policy (11 November 1965) The Pride of the Rangers (16 December 1965) Which Way Did They Go? (18 November 1965) A Medal for Reese (30 December 1965).
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.