LANCER: REVIEWING THE CLASSIC WESTERN

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Westerns Were at Their Peak

Throughout the western era of television many a great hit came and left. Perhaps ratings were slipping or decisions beyond their control to cancel left programmers casting a show to the wind that otherwise would have soared to great expectations.

In the late sixties westerns were at an all time peak. Demands for other topics of view came pouring in and with that demand many westerns were canceled for no apparent reason. One particular western series that may have lasted a longer period of time if it had been made earlier when westerns were popular is Lancer. CBS aired Lancer from 1968-1970. It was another hour long western series which had all the theme material needed for a perfect western. It had bad guys, gun fights, cattle drives and a back ground of hard work involved in running a ranch. But it also had family ties. Not the convectional family of a mother, father and children, but that of out of the ordinary family connection which often comes when tragic events and domestic misunderstandings erupt.

An Unconventional Family

Murdoch (Andrew Duggan) Lancer was not new to bad luck. He lost his first wife to childbirth and in the drama associated with it he left his infant son Scott (Wayne Maunder) to be raised by his wife’s father. Scott never knew his father or even had any knowledge of his father’s extended family which included a younger brother Johnny (James Stacy) who through some domestic misunderstanding was raised near the Mexican border by his Mexican mother who fled with him at the age of two. Johnny not fully knowing the circumstances behind the retreat hated his father and never cared to even find out about him. Murdoch became a foster parent to Teresa O’Brian (Elizabeth Baur), his foreman’s daughter. Her father was murdered by villains who nearly caused Murdoch his own life. It was a battle to protect the Lancer ranch from being stole out from under them. The ranch is located in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

Bonding

Badly wounded, Murdoch introduces the beginning of the series by attempting to persuade his two sons to come help him run the ranch. He knows money will most likely be the only thing he can use to get them to even talk to him. He is able to track both sons down and offer them a thousand dollars just for an hour of their time. Scott comes to the ranch out of pure curiosity, but Johnny’s reason is much more personal and revenge could very well play an important part in bringing the now misinformed angry young man to his father’s side. Johnny’s reputation as a gunslinger will cause chaos as time goes on. He had previously been known as Johnny Madrid.

At the arranged meeting of father and sons, Murdoch offers his off springs each one third of his property. He knew they would never work for him. By convincing them they were working for themselves at whatever was left of the place made for a bonding agreement. The chemistry between the two brothers was a dramatic display as they showed both love and quarrels so demanded for a realistic family like relationship. With the extra quality given to a family bond by female influence, their foster sister Teresa helped keep the peace between her new found brothers and their father. Well into the first season came another character well trusted by the Lancer family. Jelly Hoskins (Paul Brinegar) after getting off from a rocky start as a thief who Murdoch gives a second chance to by bailing him out of jail becomes a valuable friend as well as an employee. Lancer gave yet another platform for many guest co-stars of talented people to perform their craft.

Where are they now?

Lancer only ran 51 episodes before it was canceled. The reruns playing years later still tuned in an audience of true fans. Even with its short run, Twentieth Century Fox can be proud for producing it. Today fans still seek the performances of these talented fellows whose Lancer brothers’ roles gave way to other fine acting. Visit their official websites: Wayne Maunder at www.waynemaunder.com and James Stacy at www.jamesstacy.com to see what our Lancer brothers are doing now.

Summer 1968 CBS

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Comments 4 comments

ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

I loved westerns back in the 60s. I don't remember "Lancer". Thanks for sharing the info on it.

Thelma


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa. Author

I love all those old classics. They also make for good hub articles with all their fans. I'm sure I'll be writing more about other shows like this one. Thanks for stopping by.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

You are right about them making good hub articles. I wrote one about Bonanza and it is one of my most popular hubs.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 4 years ago from Potter County, Pa. Author

This has been the most one viewed for the short time its been up. I'm on the facebook groups of some of these old western stars and sharing this type of hub there helps a great deal with the views it gets. Thanks for stopping ThelmaC.

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