Friday, January 30, 2015
'Sugarfoot' S4 DVD: Have Law Books, Will Travel
Getting hooked on the '50s era Western television series "Sugarfoot" through episode promos for that show at the end of episodes on reviewed Warner Archive DVD sets of fellow Western series "Bronco" makes receiving the S4 set of "Sugarfoot" very exciting. Although the more rugged Bronco Layne is the guy whom you would want have your back in a gunfight, the more sweeter and caring Tom Brewster (a.k.a. Sugarfoot) is whom you would to share a sarsaparilla with at the local saloon.
As an aside, a bonanza from Archive is facilitating "evergreen" reviews of "Sugarfoot" S1-S3 throughout 2015.
The titular nickname in "Sugarfoot" refers to the cowboy skills of correspondence course law student Brewster being so sub-par that he is one level below that of a tenderfoot. Fortunately for the many folks in need of an advocate with whom Brewster encounters in his travels, his legal skills greatly surpass his talent for ranch work.
The IMDb entry for "Sugarfoot" includes a report of amusing trivia regarding the show. It states that star Will Hutchin appears as "Young Lawyer" in an autumn 1957 episode of "Maverick" that airs after the cancellation of "Sugarfoot." This information includes a statement that Beau Maverick asks Lawyer if he is the person known as Sugarfoot and that Hutchins replies that he never heard of any such individual.
An even better surprise comes in the form of a wonderful cameo in an episode that has Brewster in town in response to a call for deputies. Seeing him team up with the unexpected visitor is almost as exciting as the Batman/Superman DCU pairings.
The cute and charming Hutchins is a perfectly cast as the similar Brewster. He literally is kind to small children and animals and sticks to drinking the aforementioned soft drink despite more macho types teasing him for abstaining from the hard stuff.
This creative combination of traditional Western and legal drama succeeds thanks to the aforementioned charm of Hutchins, the parallels (and conflicts) regarding the court system and frontier justice, and the timeless nature of both aforementioned systems of achieving justice.
The S4 season premiere is wonderfully typical of the episodes that season. That one has Brewster defending an Indian whom a ruthless white man frames for a nefarious purpose. Our aspiring attorney being a "Sioux" advocate adds wonderful humor to this one.
The second S4 episode is awesome for involving a legal principle that is still highly relevant roughly 60 years after this story first aired and roughly 150 years after the era in which "Sugarfoot" is set.
It is undisputed that the innocent in this one fatally shoots her victim. The challenge that Brewster faces is finding proof regarding the motive for the shooting that allows his client to avoid a murder conviction. This illustrates the "it depends" principle that applies to the liability for any acts that facially are a crime.
The first of two S4 episodes that has Brewster coming to the aid of folks engaged in the generally despised profession of sheep herding has him teaming up with tough but sophisticated future president Theodore Roosevelt to help a small operation fend off the evil doing of a larger ranch. The second episode with this theme is a more amusing outing that involves two Mexican children and the more serious effort of the teen boy in this group to prove that he is a man.
The season (and the series) ends on a high note with Brewster becoming both the legal advocate and substitute big brother for a (justifiably) angry young man who is the victim of the current frame up. Former "Lassie" star Tommy Rettig plays the lad who finds himself in this mess.
The final argument regarding the merits of the final season of "Sugarfoot" is that this depiction of quests for truth, justice, and the frontier way is amusing fun that makes winter gloom more bearable.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Sugarfoot" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.