Sunday, April 13, 2014
'Young Riders' S1 DVD: How the West Was Studly
TGG Direct releasing a new gift box set of the 24-episode 1989-1990 first season of the ABC action-adventure Western series "The Young Riders" provides a great chance for folks who jumped in with the second and third season gift box sets of this fun and exciting program to see how it all began. Prior reviews on Unreal TV share thoughts on the second season and opinions regarding the third one.
Another nice thing about the first season set is that it does not experience the clearance issues that result in the second and third-seasons sets excluding some episodes. It seems that the first-season set includes all 24 episodes from that year.
The basic premise of the first season of "Riders" is that the group of studliest young bucks ever to populate a television series portray employees of the Pony Express mail delivery system in 1860s Kansas.
Stephen Baldwin leads the group as a younger and fictionalized version of Western showman Buffalo Bill Cody, who also was a Pony Express rider. Josh Brolin co-stars as "Jimmy" Hickok, whom an early "Riders" episode establishes (just like the real-life James Butler Hickok) as the inspiration for legendary gunman "Wild Bill" Hickock.
The pilot establishes how the less studly but much more adorable rider known throughout most of the series as "The Kid" comes to acquire his beloved horse Katy and join the moderately wild bunch that would somehow form a family.
The Kid also sets himself aside early on by being the first in the group to learn that rider "Lou" is really "Louise." This discovery leads to a courtship that plays a significant role in the wrapping up of "Riders" in its third season.
Half-breed Native American Buck is just as dreamy as his colleagues and facilitates numerous story lines regarding the challenges that Native Americans who live in the anglo world face during a period in which those two groups are actively battling for the same land and right to live their traditional way of life.
The first-season episode "The Home of the Brave" introduces the element of the inner turmoil with which Buck struggles. A series of raids by a group led by Buck's brother both tests his loyalty to his fellow riders and townspeople and intensifies the prejudice of the general population.
Being mute is the characteristic that distinguishes rider Ike in this awesome 19th century boy band. His quiet demeanor extends beyond his ability to speak, but he is relatively quick to anger when properly provoked.
Ike's most memorable first-season episode has him fall in love with a mail-order bride from Baltimore who finds herself stranded on arriving in Kansas. His facial expressions are particularly communicative in this one.
No "Riders" review would be complete without mentioning the trio who at least try to guide our boys (and girl) and (try to) keep them out of trouble.
Team supervisor Teaspoon Hunter is seemingly nothing more than a wild old coot but has more wisdom behind his perpetually unshaved face that one would expect. He is also the center of a particularly awesome episode that is an homage to the classic 1963 film "The List of Adrian Messenger." The "Riders" episode has Teaspoon seeking to protect his fellow survivors of the Alamo and to discover who is killing them.
Melissa Leo plays station caretaker/den mother Emma Shannon; although she can be strict with her boys, she regularly shows how much she sacrifices to keep them happy and free of bullet holes.
Dreamy Brett Cullen plays Marshal Sam Cain, whose efforts to keep the boys out of the line of fire often fails. He is also sweet on Emma, and their courtship becomes a major plot point in the series.
A "very special" two-part season finale addresses the issues of states' rights generally and the upcoming Civil War more specifically. This one has "Hawks' Raiders" creating mayhem both in support of the southern states to govern themselves as they see fit and to oppose the cavalry abusing its authority in frontier states.
The local Army officers commandeering supplies and horses do not help the effort of this group to get the locals to support their cause.
This episode additionally involves sending The Kid on an exciting and dangerous undercover mission.
The final thought regarding the first 24 adventures of the easy-on-the-eyes rough riders are that this group does a great job putting on a wild west show that offers both gun fights and discussion-provoking social commentary. Further, many episodes end with a traditional ride into the sunset.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Riders" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.