• Howdy, Kids!! A Saturday Afternoon Western Roundup

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: April 2, 2013.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Various
    Year: Various
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Shows:

    Back in the 50's - long before cable TV existed, kids on a Saturday morning were at the mercy of whatever programming was on the 3 or 4 stations available or, if you had access to UHF stations, maybe a few more channels. One of the most common genre staples of that era was the Western - and this set complies 24 episodes of various shows from that era. Epsiodes of The Lone Ranger, The Range Rider, The Rifelman, The Adventures Of Rick O’Shay, Fury, The Roy Rogers Show, Annie Oakley, The Adventures Of Kit Carson, The Adventures Of Champion, The Cisco Kid, Sergeant Preston Of The Yukon, Sky King, Red Ryder, and Buffalo Bill, Jr. are included in the set with each show represented by one or two episodes.

    Shout Factory has done a nice job with this three disc package. While there are no extras the set does have a fairly representative mix of what was on TV during the era in terms of Westerns for children. This is very much G-rated stuff with white hatted good guys, a few noble American Indians (The Lone Ranger's Tonto) and restrained violence with family values front and center. Its also a mix of the slightly more prime-time adult friendly fare like the Chuck Connors vehicle THE RIFLEMAN and unabashed children's programmers like THE ADVENTURES OF CHAMPION about a young boy and his horse. Production values vary wildly on the shows from almost slick like THE RIFLEMAN to RICK O'SHAY with it's painted wooden backdrops. Keep in mind that many of these shows were shot on the quick and cheap n studio backlots and scheduled for slotting on morning weekends - hardly a dumping ground for any network's highest quality offerings!

    Nevertheless, its kind of fun to watch these shows and a little sad to realize what truly hard times the Western has fallen on as a genre. This was once a staple of both adult and children's programming - and while the more typical adventure oriented programs live on today for children, the Western is practically extinct. This set manages to thoroughly satisfy anyone's nostalgic itch for this kind of show that actually remembers them as well as introduce the child's Western genre to anyone new and with an interest. Its also fun to spot later stars like Peter Graves in stuff like FURY (a fun show about a kid and his stallion named, you guessed it, Fury).


    What is there to say? These were 4:3 full-frame shows and the transfers are faithful to the sources. Its obvious that no restoration has been done but the shows are all perfectly watchable and a step up from fizzy network reruns. Most of the shows are in black and white but a few are in color.

    The audio has been remixed into Dolby stereo for the set which is almost certainly not faithful to the original mono but the job was well done. Everything is audible and evenly balanced. There is very little dynamic range but the original source tracks never had much oomph to begin with. Any viewer keeping in mind that these are television shows from the 1950's should be more than happy with this set. The package has no extras.

    The Final Word:

    Shout Factory has put together a very comprehensive sampler of children's western programming from the 1950's. With an eclectic mix of shows and generally strong a/v values considering the source material this set is recommended for folks who enjoy their Westerns - even if what is on offer here is a bit mild.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      Can't access the page
    1. Horace Cordier's Avatar
      Horace Cordier -
      There's been some browser issues today. It'll get sorted out sooner or later.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      And it did!
    1. Richard--W's Avatar
      Richard--W -
      Shout Factory is intruding on Alpha territory here. I can't imagine children wanting to watch 1950s TV westerns today. There's nothing on the screen that kids expect from their entertainment now. Early TV westerns were more primitive, technically, than silent films had been and kids are usually put off by anything that isn't big loud and in color with plenty of f/x. When the programs were new every boy and girl in America admired the cowboy and looked to them as role models. It was like a firestorm of hero worship. Good role models are still needed, and sorely missing from kid's programming today. The real audience for these are adults in their 60s and 70s who are nostalgic for their childhood. That age group doesn't buy many DVDs. I'm not old enough to have seen these programs, but I confess to a vague interest in the Roy Rogers musicals. The Lone Ranger, however, always struck me as ridiculous. In real life the Texas Rangers were a grungy band of ruffians and the cowboys would have shot a man off his horse with their Winchesters from a mile away if they saw him coming in that powder blue outfit. Masked heroes and Indian compadres never happened in the west and are not even believable in the imaginary west. I respond better to the morality plays of The Rifleman, a program created by Sam Peckinpah, in which widower Chuck Conners teaches his boy how to live and survive. Peckinpah's take was true west and infinitely more sophisticated than the programs in this box. The picture quality had better look better than the screen caps represent if Shout Factory hopes to sell a few.