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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'Bronco' S1 DVD: Porn Star Style Portrayal of Ex-Confederate Soldier Being Valued Old West Ally

Bronco: The Complete First Season (1958)
The Warner Archive 5-disc 20-episode DVD release of the 1958-1959 first season of the Western series "Bronco" nicely introduces modern audiences to a lesser-known member of that genre several months after wrapping up the releases of the classic "Maverick" series with the Unreal TV reviewed set of the fifth season of that classic James Garner series. Further, the "Bronco" theme is comparable to the very catchy "Maverick" song.

A general interesting thing about "Bronco" is that, ala "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" roughly 20 years later, ABC alternated episodes of the first season of that series with episodes from the second season of "Sugarfoot." These earlier presentations aired under the umbrella of "The Cheyenne Show." Truly charming promos for the upcoming "Sugarfoot" episode that air at the end of DVD "Bronco" episodes add to the fun of watching the current set. Archive explains that it includes those promos in the interest of authenticity.

The titular cowboy in "Bronco" is a Confederate Army veteran whose current disgrace, which the fifth episode explains, is a factor in his wandering around and finding himself in a fix either by trying to help someone apparently in distress or doing odd jobs that also inevitably create trouble that Bronco must resolve.


The pilot has the titular character coming to the rescue of an uber-pacifist group of homesteaders who are literally under fire by a group of nefarious types. The refusal of the peace-loving flock severely hampers the efforts of Bronco to help them reach their land with their bodies fully intact.

A rather obvious indication of divine intervention merely sends a nice message, rather than adding an annoyingly preachy note.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of scenes from this episode provides a good sense of the series.


The second episode centers around a classic Western plot regarding train robberies and related justice. The involvement of an old Army buddy of Bronco adds to the fun.

The fourth episode adds an even more interesting twist to the tried-and-true plot of a big bad vowing to return to a town to shoot it up. In this case, the town provides reasonable justification for lawman Bronco and his deputies to allow the mayhem to ensue.

One of the more intriguing episodes has yet another town turn against well-meaning Bronco after a teller is killed in the course of a bank robbery. Particular animosity on the part of the son of the teller and the resulting frustration of Bronco add great value to this outing.

Nice humor in this episode relates to someone trying to call out Bronco for a gun fight, and Bronco essentially replying that he ain't comin'.

The producers save the best episode for last in having landlubber Bronco reluctantly agree to pilot a steamboat on an economically critical mission despite the son of the owner of the boat having an enormous chip on his shoulder regarding our hero. This one has every classic Western element, including a surprising show of support during a showdown.

The less good news is that the adequate appeal of New York City born series star Ty Hardin is largely limited to good looks and a body that prompts a clearly gratuitous shirtless scene in most episodes. He never really smiles and express very limited emotion.

Rather than coming across as strong and silent, our leading man simply seems not-so-comfortable regardless of the situation. Considering this acting style, it is apt that Bronco portrayor Ty Hardin has a name that is appropriate for an adult film star.

The less-than-stellar acting aside, "Bronco" is a fun example of the genre of television that helped that medium thrive in its early days. It is also nice to see a show in which justice prevails without the aid of unsavory tactics or unwarranted beat downs.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bronco" is encouraged to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.