Another thing I've noticed is the Heath character's change. Early on, Lee Majors puts on a slow, draggy drawl and he's full of cynicism and anger. Later on, thankfully, he's a lot more on the "swift, silent, and deadly" track, and he leaves the pacing and bellowing to Nick.
Where the gradual deepening of Heath's character is concerned, you're well aware all shows take time to evolve and morph into their own distinct identity - ditto the cast. Once everyone - especially the staff writers - see what the actors can do, they usually start scripting to their strengths (with the show the overall beneficiary, plus us passive appreciators in the audience).
Nick was always bellicose (even from the Pilot) and Breck was masterful in navigating the tricky tightrope of not becoming boring or predictable.
Majors had the most difficult task, in our estimation, precisely because of all that justifiable anger in the beginning which gradually cooled into acceptance (tho you still wouldn't wanna cross him when his Barkley dander was up) ...
I just found this board, how fun!!! I was a child of the 60's, grew up with my grandparents and, since my grandfather ruled the TV, didn't realize that there was anything other than westerns on TV until I was about 9 years old! The Big Valley was always my favorite and, after recently purchasing season 1 and 2.5, I'm amazed that it really is as good as I'd remembered. The music, both the opening theme and all the background music used in the episodes, was always SO well done, it added a lot to the show. I just discovered there was a soundtrack and have it in my watch list on E-bay but I have a feeling it's going to be a bit out of my price range when the dust settles. I see that at least one person here has the soundtrack, what's your opinion on the quality of the recording. I suppose it's too much to hope for that it's been released on CD? I've googled it but haven't had any luck. Sorry to be so chatty, I was just excited to find fellow Barkley fans after all this time!
As Victoria was wont to say, "Welcome to the Barkley ranch!", met.
The Barkley Brigade may not be an overwhelming majority around these parts, but we sure as shootin' ain't an underwhelming minority, either.
As for George Duning's
soundtrack, we owned the vinyl way back in The Renaissance and aim to reobtain it anon. Occasionally it does pop up on Ebay and the prices aren't as outrageous as one might assume, so don't give up hope (whilst some of the more technical merlins amongst us might offer insight on how to convert the record's contents onto CD. Where technology is concerned, alas, we're almost Amish in that regard).
So stated, here's another sterling salute to:
THE BIG VALLEY
September 15, 1965 - May 19, 1969
And anyone wanna lay odds we'll actually see a Season Three?! ...
Before you can get a Season 3, you have to get the rest of Season 2 released first, which is very unlikely alas. I'm again glad I found a collector with uncut episodes from cable airings to get the rest of the series, so I'm covered with stopgap copies just in case.
I had a feeling this thread had been bumped for the specific purpose of making such a request.
There are some matters pertaining to the in-progress threads that must be attended to, but since all four seasons are available for screencap purposes (the remaining 2.5 from Encore airings, and which has previously made possible the Julie London caps from "They Called Her Delilah" that are included as a bonus item in the UNCLE thread) there is no reason why the request can not be granted....soon. A new thread shall be formed for just such a purpose, and I can already envision a larger spotlight for Julie, and of course one for Jill St. John, in addition to the essential profiles for Linda and Barbara.
Yes, Zelig, buy up more unsold copies so Fox can then have reason to restart the releases!!! (and be sure to check the Yum thread devoted to that show and get a further taste of what you've been missing!)
For Fox to at least not have the decency to finish S2 only further cements their image as the worst studio bar none when it comes to releasing classic TV. Warner at least just doesn't bother to do *anything*.
"Nick, Heath, Jerrod! There's a fire in the barn!" - Airplane
This show is one of those that can easily transport me back to the late 60's just by hearing the theme. Especially the later version of it, it just feels more contemporary to the time in its orchestration. It's hard to imagine these shows, which got started in the mid-60s reaching 1970. The 70's ushered in such major change in television, shows like these were suddenly old fashioned. Richard Long's later "Nanny and the Professor"was about 5 years too late.
I've been trying to follow the Western channel reruns as best I can and recently caught the first batch of episodes in the run. Since they run the show twice a day (two different seasons no less), I've been able to reacquaint myself with the Barkleys.
Richard Long as Jerrod is easily my favorite of the cast (as a kid, his name made us laugh: Dick Long!). Such a tremendous actor, sadly saddled with the aforementioned "Nanny and the Professor" after BV ended, this is his best and most engaging role. Just his hangdog face and his easy manner makes him likable at first glance. He's the brother I'd want at my side during hard times. Unless I needed muscle, then Nick or Heath, I guess.
I find that some of the cast work best when teamed with others. Peter Breck's constantly hard-edged Nick is tempered around Linda Evans' Audra character (here's a lady who didn't look anything like she used to 12 years later). What I do enjoy is how Nick is a total softie when it comes to Audra and is over protective of her. He's the ultimate nightmare "girlfriend's brother" any potential suitor would hate meeting. Even if you come across as a stand up guy, you still have to PROVE it to Nick! Damned good fighter, though.
Ah, Lee Majors. His Heath is potentially the most interesting character, but sadly, he was not always up to the task. His strength is what he became later on, both here and in "The Six Million Dollar Man." He's the quiet, gary Cooper type, the kind who hides behind the country bumpkin image, never revealing his shrewd nature until necessary. A good physical actor with natural charm, he works best when emoting least. But he carries off one liners well. As stated above, he would never have a role this good. His Steve Austin would prove to be more popular, but he was the David Hasselhoff of his day. Don't flay me, I've been his fan since I was a kid. But I know his weaknesses. :-)
Linda Evans was so sweet in this, you wanted to gather her up and protect her. Her breathy line readings were nice and soft, but she was a tough gal. As I said, she seems a totally different person, physically as well, than the Linda Evans of Dynasty. I preferred her here.
Finally, Lady Victoria. Is it me, of was Barbara Stanwick sexy even as she got older? Her acting ability is obvious, but her beauty was timeless. Her first two seasons credit picture does not do her justice, making her look hawkish. But later, as she looks at the camera head on, her inviting features melt this old man's heart. Or, to quote the young uns these days, she was a total MILF.
Some episodes really pushed the envelope for the time. It's amazing how The Big Valley was a precursor to Dallas. A prime time soap with a dysfunctional family, each character an archetype and both had a bastard son who was tough and sensitive. Big Valley didn't have an evil JR character, but if we were to compare characters, some of them are similar, some combined:
Victoria = Miss Ellie Nick / Jerrod = Bobby Heath = Ray Audra = Pam / Lucy
And Dallas, before it got crazy after the "dream year" was a solid and pretty complex drama. Big Valley, conforming to the standards of the era, was episodic (except for the premiere trilogy). It's a shame it didn't follow the Peyton Place example and be more serialized.
The Big Valley was a magical combination of the era and the cast. Whatever their abilities individually, the chemestry among all of them was amazing. The series dererved to run at least 7 years and make a bigger splash in TV history.
that's just about one of the most gloriously impassioned tributes to The Battlin' Barkleys we've ever eagerly encountered.
As for the excellence at the essence of Richard Long's Jarrod, most actors always cite The Usual Suspects as "most influential" in their career - y'know, Tracy, Olivier, James Earl Jones, etc - and rarely acknowledge any who honorably toiled in the teevee gardens. Along with the ever-remarkable Robert Culp, the magisterial Mr. Long is one of our Magnificent Seven of All Tyme.
More comments anon, but just wanted to offer a titanic THANKEE as your swingin' syllables brought a bright beam'a sunshine to this crisp Wednesday morn ...
Not That You Asked Fer It By Popular Acclamation, But Because We Wanna Dew It Anyway Department:
Since we’re havin’ such a blast with our Equalizer series appreciation (sorta a public pre-production visualization of our a’borning book on the series), we figger why leave another of our all-tyme favorites outta the lovin’ loop? So, without any further ado (or don’ts) – hopefully along with Eric's enterprising and invaluable assistance whenever he has the time, opportunity and inclination to creatively cross-fertilize this with some of his swingin’ visuals – upcoming is our own ever-adoring Series Guide to the unforgettable Barkleys of Stockton, California.
But afore we get to that, we thot those already thus enamoured of the show would get quite a kick outta this extra we recently stumbled upon:
[ WHAT FUN I HAD WITH NICK
I am grateful for all the many fans he brought into my life. The cast of Big Valley went right into the mix while it was boiling with Westerns all around us. The ground work had been laid by some pretty good representatives of the cowboy way of life.
Working in Westerns , I think has been belittled for too long by too many. Pre-Big Valley, I worked in Shakespeare , Shaw , Ibsen , Moliere ,Agatha Christie , Neil Simon , Herb Gardner (“Thousand Clowns”) , Richard Nash (“Rainmaker”) . When I went into Westerns (which is way back) all of a sudden I was cognizant that these were also classics about men who didn’t sit on the back of wagons eating beans and cleaning their six-shooters waiting to cut someone off at the pass. It wasn’t that way at all. Let’s get it straight, folks: they tried to live and survive just like anybody else would.
The real Westerner had a code – it was a code of the west. You didn’t ask a man his name, what he did for a living , where he was from or any of the amenities that we do sometimes brazenly inquire of our fellow man today. Prying into some person’s private life, you just didn’t do it.
The real Westerner was a quiet man. Minding his own business, he headed west looking for a piece of land that he could be comfortable on with the hopes that he could have a partner - a lady with whom he could raise a family. He was a good man, a strong man and a religious man – usually. His ethics and personal life, he wanted to keep private.
Big Valley gave me the opportunity of participating in the search of what these men and women were like. Seriously, can you imagine what it must have been to make all these things come to fruition? We tried in Big Valley to show several different cases or segments that would be focused on one or all of these things.
I’d say we did a pretty good job.
Barbara Stanwyck was certainly an advocate of this lifestyle. You will recall, as I do, that she did “The Cattle Queen” and many more westerns in her earlier career. She loved horses. She knew how to ride without making a big deal out of it and was at home on the set with all of the western paraphernalia around her.
She was a classy lady and never forgot that she was representing the women of the west and their struggles. I was totally captured by Barbara’s work in every scene that I had with her and I learned.
Everybody asks how did a guy from Boston and New York learn to ride. Well I never had a lesson. I stepped on a horse and sat in him. As Ben Johnson would say: That’s the secret of riding - you never sit on a horse: you sit in him. That way you get the feeling of tandem. You are working with the horse, and he is working with you. You’ve become one with each other. Ben Johnson said “Peter, there are three cowboys that can sit a horse in this town of Hollywood and only three: you’re one , Glenn Ford is two, and me” Needless to say , I was impressed with that.
The rest of the Barkley clan starts out with Jarrod, played by Richard Long. He was the lawyer son of the family and a real class act.
Lee Majors, who we all remember as “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “ The Fall Guy” was Heath. The pretty one in the family was Linda Evans.
You can’t do better than that. We all had a marvelous time with good scripts, good directors - and I must include the excellent crew. We had one of the best.
Boy – I really had fun with Nick Barkley. You see, Nick could do almost anything or at least he thought he could. Anyway , he’d try it – whatever it was – and you had the feeling he was having a lot of fun with whatever he was trying to do. He was quite a dimensional person. You could tell that in the thin line between his temper and his caring for whoever or whatever.
I thank the producers for thinking of me for the role and you folks. To quote you “Nick can do it!! Where’s Nick? He’ll save it!!”. Well, he usually did try and he did save it.
That’s why I like heroes who are open, above board and dead-on right or at least they think they are. We should hold on to that kind of philosophy: especially now, when it is challenged.” ]
made its official appearance on September 15, 1965 as it also introduced the conflicts besetting The Barkleys of Stockton, California when a mysterious stranger appears only to be revealed as a long-lost (and unclaimed) “bastard son” of their father.
With strong direction from William A. Graham benefitting from Christopher Knopf’s equally forceful pilot script, the guest-stars included Vincent Gardenia and Malachi Throne (who was far and away one of the most popular and perennially-employed character actors of that era, appearing on this show innumerable tymes in the future).
But it’s the bronco battles between Nick and Heath
that are among the standouts of the episode, from their opening collision when neither will back down to let the other cross a bridge to their vicious fight in the Barkley compound before the latter reveals his shocking secret.
All of which leads Jarrod and Victoria to come to equally emotional grips with what Heath’s appearance irreversibly portends, especially when it involves another major confrontation with the railroad barons and their hoodlum enforcers under orders to get the land from the farmers at any and all costs.
The dramatic apex is two sequences at the critical center of the show: whether the Barkley brothers will band with their neighbors in the same kind of foredoomed encounter that killed their father – and when Victoria confronts Heath with her marvelously unforgettable "If you were my son" monologue.
So, are all the eyes dotted and tees crossed for maximum dramatic symmetry by the time the closing credits run? Get real: this was just the opening appetizer, and (to coin a phrase) "Boy, howdy!" was it a beaut