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Luke Perry and Simon Kane run a stagecoach line in the Old West, where they come across a wide variety of killers, robbers, and ladies in distress. They are accompanied by Simon's young son David.Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've got no quarrel with the qualitative assessments here, but I do
have to clarify a couple of things. First of all, STAGECOACH WEST and
WAGON TRAIN had almost nothing in common, despite the presence of wagon
wheels on both shows. One (STAGECOACH) spotlighted single stories of
the heroes' interaction with one of the passengers on the stagecoach,
while the other featured multiple stories of the many occupants of the
wagons that made the cross-country journey. The stagecoach ride was
short and almost never shown in its entirety, while the days-long
journeys on WAGON TRAIN usually started and ended the episodes.
The other clarification is that, due to the series' structure (a 38-39
episode season, one-hour episodes), the length of production of each
episode made it impractical to feature both Wayne Rogers and Robert
Bray in every episode. (Again, this was another difference between the
two; meantime, WAGON TRAIN solved this by having multiple leads--Ward
Bond, Robert Horton, Robert Fuller--who often would share episodes.)
Using the MAVERICK paradigm, most STAGECOACH WEST episodes just
featured one or the other, with infrequent instances when both (not to
mention Richard Eyer) were involved. The Rogers episodes involved him
as more of a roving gunfighter-defender usually set in destination
cities (more like WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE), while the Bray episodes were
more homespun (like THE RIFLEMAN), set around the town where the
stagecoach line was based. In other words, the partners were not
interchangeable, just as Bret and Bart (or Beau and Bart, or even Brent
and Bart) were usually given stories playing to their strengths, so, in
essence, you got two different series under an umbrella title, even
more similar to the much later NAME OF THE GAME.
The marshal thing seems to come and go; I'm not sure if Luke and Simon
were deputized in mid-series or not, but I've seen episodes in which it
would have been natural for one or the other to flash a badge, and they
did not. (The consequences of viewing them randomly...)
One other thing: while it's historically interesting to see Wayne
Rogers more than a decade before M*A*S*H (and Bray several years prior
to becoming Corey Stuart on LASSIE), what's more interesting is how
little Rogers changed between his series. In fact, you can hear Trapper
John Alabama-tinged line readings in almost every episode of STAGECOACH
WEST, (quite unlike Alan Alda, whose acting changed quite a bit in the
same decade prior to M*A*S*H; see his episode of BILKO, for example),
just as you knew what you were getting when Rogers later portrayed Jake
Axminster and Dr. Charley Michaels. And even in his eighties, Rogers
looks like he could still play Luke Perry.
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