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Top 5 TV western series
By James Whittington, Sunday 18th March 2018

Yeeeehaaaaaa! Howdy pardners and welcome to my list of them thar greatest TV western serials of all time!! Ahem, sorry about that!

TV in the early days was a goldmine for fans of the western genre. There were so many families to choose from that were battling the elements of the wild, wild west that it was hard to choose a favourite. Let us help you…

5: The Little House on the Prairie
OK, not the most hard-hitting, gun-slinging series of all time (initially), but this gentle reminder of days gone by based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her childhood in the late 1800s had us tuning in in our millions. Running from 1974 to 1983 Melissa Gilbert won the key role of Laura and along with on screen parents Michael Landon and Karen Grassle the series was, at first, a gentle reflection of the time but it soon began to reflect more gritty issues such as domestic violence.

4: The Waltons
Often seen as the main rival to Little House this came before the Ingles saga running from 1972 till 1981. The Waltons first appeared in 1971 in a pilot The Homecoming: A Christmas Story which was written by Earl Hamner, Jr. and based on his book entitled Spencer's Mountain. It made stars of Richard Thomas and Ralph Waite. Also, any child growing up during this time would have the nightly ritual of saying goodnight to everyone in order! Don’t know what I’m on about? Better take a visit to Walton mountain!

3: The Wild Wild West
If you wanted something extra with your weekly western fix, then The Wild Wild West was for you. It concerned two Secret Service agents: the fearless James West (Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), a brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise. Their unending mission was to solve crimes and to protect the President of the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. To do this, the agents travel in luxury aboard their own train, the Wanderer, equipped with everything they could ever need. It gave the world Steampunk before it was such a thing as well as adding technology as a smart plot device. There was a big screen version in 1999, but we’ll not talk about that, shall we?

2: Bonanza
The show with the most recognisable theme complete with burning map, Bonanza chronicled the adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by the three-timed widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene). He has three sons each by a different wife; the eldest being the urbane architect Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts), who built the ranch house; the second, the warm and lovable giant Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright (Dan Blocker); and the youngest, the hot-headed and impetuous Joseph or 'Little Joe'. It lasted 14 seasons, from 1959 until 1973 and is still one of the most popular dramas of all time.

1: Gunsmoke
Ground-breaking, thrilling, gritty and the longest running western series of all time, Gunsmoke took the wild west genre to new heights with its emotional storylines and gripping characters. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) oversees Dodge City, a town in the Wild West where people often have no respect for the law. He deals daily with the problems associated with frontier life; cattle rustling, gunfights, brawls, stand over tactics, and land fraud. Such situations call for sound judgement and brave actions, of which Dillon has plenty. This is drama with heart, a drama we could all sit and watch safe in the knowledge that good will win over evil and that Marshall Dillon will have a full jail at the end of each episode.


Related show tags: BONANZA, GUNSMOKE, THE WILD WILD WEST
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