Warner Bros. // 1956 // 980 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ben Saylor (Retired) // February 24th, 2011
Cheyenne, Cheyenne, where will you be camping tonight?
Speaking as someone who was born in the '80s, it's hard to believe that at one point, the airwaves were full of Western TV shows such as Maverick, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke, to name just a few. While TV Westerns started in the half hour format, with Cheyenne the genre moved into the one-hour time frame.
The setup of Cheyenne is simplicity itself: Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker, The Dirty Dozen) is taken in by Cheyenne Indians after his parents are killed in a wagon train massacre. The adult Cheyenne roams the West as a drifter, with no fixed address or permanent job. Season Two of Cheyenne, which has been released by Warner Archive, finds Cheyenne working in such capacities as cattle agent, undercover Indian Department operative, dispatch rider and more.
Making Cheyenne a nomad was a smart move on the part of the show's creative team, as it gives the episodes' plots a good amount of variety. Some, like "The Iron Trail," in which Cheyenne has to foil a plot to kidnap President Grant, are more action-packed affairs. Others, like "The Bounty Killers," where Cheyenne signs on as a deputy for a deceptively good-natured U.S. marshal, are slower paced and more interested in character and moral debate. There's even room for a flirtation with horror with "Big Ghost Basin," in which ranch hands are terrorized by an unknown menace.
Although the plots may vary, the character of Cheyenne remains consistent. Courteous, open-minded, and brave, Cheyenne can always be counted on do to what's right. Though the character isn't all that complex, the breadth of storylines and Clint Walker's confident, quietly charismatic lead performance help make these episodes entertaining television.
With most classic TV shows, another element of fun is spotting famous guest stars, and in this regard the second season of Cheyenne does not disappoint. On this set, you'll find appearances from the likes of Dan "Hoss" Blocker, Diane Brewster, Richard Crenna, John Carradine, Angie Dickinson, James Garner, Dennis Hopper, Slim Pickens and more.
Warner Archive has split Season Two of Cheyenne across two five-disc sets, with two episodes per disc. While not flawless, the video quality is nonetheless pretty strong. The sound conveys what it needs to well, which is good since there are no subtitles. No bonus features are included.
The relatively-high price tag of these DVDs will probably be a deterrent to some, but fans of this series and of Western television in general should be happy with Warner Archive's release of Cheyenne: Season 2.
Not guilty. Move along, Cheyenne?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 980 Minutes
Release Year: 1956
MPAA Rating: Not Rated