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Monday, March 11, 2013

'The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams' S2: LIttle House on the Mountain



The recently released four-disc 24 episode DVD set of the second season of the 1970s action adventure/nature series "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" is one of the latest examples of Shout Factory subsidiary Timeless Media Group delighting fans of niche shows. This set offers members of the "Adams" family the extra-special treat of an interview with series star Dan Haggerty.

In simple terms, "Adams" is a mash up between "The Fugitive" and "Little House on the Prairie." The main character James "Grizzly" Adams retreats to the 1850s frontier rather than stand trial for a crime of which he was falsely accused.

Adams' very strong rapport with his fully grown ursine companion Ben the grizzly and with the assorted skunks, raccoons, and other local critters truly was charming and delightful. The professionally trained animals often stole the spotlight.

Many of the plots revolved around the adventures of Adams and his pals in their truly beautiful mountain community. Adams' BFF was an old trader known as "Mad Jack," played by Denver Pyle.

Jack's beloved animal companion was a strong-willed burro named Number Seven, not to be confused with "Star Trek: Voyager's'" equally strong-willed Borg Seven of Nine. Number Seven's frequent vocalizations provided many opportunities to comment "you don't bray" in response.

Jack took highly skilled mountain man Adams under his wing and called him "Greenhorn" even after an temporarily amnesiac Adams handily hogtied Jack out of a delusion that Jack was an adversary. 

Jack also played the role of narrator by both describing the context of Adams' action and providing insight regarding the nature of the great and copious footage of woodland creatures great and small frolicking, defending their families, and simply enjoying their surroundings.

The human group's third member was a friendly but very dignified native American named Nakoma. Nakoma served as a liaison between his equally friendly tribe and Adams and Jack.

Seeing a native American nicely portrayed and not playing the role of comic relief, which was Jack's purpose, or hostile savage was genuinely refreshing considering the era in which "Adams" was produced. However, it was laughable that most of Nakoma's tribe could understand English but could not speak it.

Like any good '70s-era family show, "Adams" was entertaining but usually had an educational and/or fable element. The season premiere involved a balloonist who got stranded in the wilderness learning that that region was not as hostile as true greenhorns believed. This episode had truly hilarious moments and an amusing and educational subplot regarding the balloonist's pet rabbit.

Another episode had Adams and Jack looking after a couple of frontier orphans who looked like they stepped right out of "Little House on the Prairie." These scrappy moppets provided a sense of the risks that pioneers faced when they headed West.

Episodes in which a bounty hunter came looking for Adams and in which Adams returned to "civilization" to answer for the crime with which he was charged helped remind the audience that the show was about more than a very nice grizzly man leading a nice life in a wonderfully unspoiled region of the country.  Another episode had Ben literally standing trial for a crime of which he was inadvertently framed. This legal proceedings truly were bearly legal.

The bottom line is that "Adams" told some kinder and gentler stores very well, and the prospect of settling in a serene mountain community still holds great appeal.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Adams" is welcome to email me.