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  • Of all the so-called adult westerns that hit the tube in the mid to late 50's, "Bat Masterson" was one of the best. Gene Barry played his historical character with just the right amount of seriousness and lightness to make what could have been a cardboard creation viable. "Adult westerns" back in those days when the TV west was young meant more talk and less action with stories that supposedly dealt with mature subject matter where characters were not just all good or all bad. In the "Bat Masterson" series, usually there would be a fair amount of action with Bat whipping the meanies with his cane and using his gun only when absolutely necessary.

    Another improvement in the TV western wrought by the "Bat Masterson" series was a weekly change of scenery (in reality, all the shows were shot on the same Hollywood lot), not just in Dodge City, Tombstone, or Abilene. "Incident in Leadville" is a good example. Leadville, now a Colorado tourist mecca, was then a silver mining town with its share of claim jumpers and bushwhackers.

    Bat rides into Leadville to clear his name. It seems that the lady who runs the local printing press, Jo Hart (Kathleen Crowley), has slandered Bat by lumping him together with notorious outlaws such as King Fisher, a cameo by the fine character actor, Jack Lambert. The local city boss, gambler Roy Evans, portrayed by future "Get Smart" chief, Edward Platt, also has an ax to grind with Jo Hart but wants to put her out of commission permanently. Evans decides to terminate Bat in the process, a notion not to the liking of the man with the cane and derby hat.

    The "Bat Masterson" theme song was an added treat, with catchy lyrics and a hummable tune.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Incident in Leadville" is among the better scripts in Bat Masterson's first season, a fairly thoughtful exploration of violence, particularly notable for Bat's (Gene Barry) appeal to the pretty lady publisher (Kathleen Crowley) and the explanation of his "code:"

    Jo Hart: "Are your gun and stick just there for show? Or do you really use them?"

    Bat: "Oh I use them all right... But I make sure before I use my gun, I use this first, (holding up his cane) just in case I've made a mistake. One is temporary, the other, final."

    Just to prove the point that he is a principled and reluctant killer, Bat sticks up for kids and women, beats up bullies and kills a famous gunfighter (after warning him to stay out of his way.)

    As is occasionally the case in the first season, there are allusions to the real-life Bat Masterson. For instance, Bat explains to Jo Hart that the man she accuses him of killing in cold blood, was the murderer of Ed Masterson, who was in fact, his brother, Buffalo hunting partner and later marshal with him in Dodge City. Then, at the end of the episode, Jo Hart gives him his first byline as a reporter, after which he remarks he now has "printer's ink in his blood," but he is not yet ready to give up his adventuring in the West to settle down. Of course, the real Bat Masterson became a newspaper writer in the West and later a sports columnist in New York.