Insp Channel have been running The Big Valley, a television western from 1965-69 that holds up extremely well despite it’s age. I wrote a longer story about why you should love the show for Sequential Tart but I’ve been learning new things every day from the show and wanted to list them.
1. Do Not Make the Matriarch Angry.
Victoria Barkley, the matriarch of the clan, is played by Barbara Stanwyck and she’s awesome. But in the episodes I’ve seen, Victoria has been a mean shot with a rifle (her body count must be in the double digits at least), driven a rig cross-country to deliver medical supplies to the Indian reservation, protected a group of women being pursued by bad guys, took down two murderers chasing her and her daughter while unarmed, got involved in a sex scandal with a politician, fought her way out of an underground cave.
For good measure, she’s a mean cook too. I think she and Cordelia Naismith would get along very well.
2. Fighting is the Best Way to Make Friends
I learned this from Nick, the hot-tempered middle brother. There are conditions. One, you have to fight with someone the first time you meet them, thus allowing time to make friends later. Nick does this at least four times in the episodes I’ve watched so far, including the first time he meets his new brother, Heath, and with Pernell Roberts, doing a very bad Irish accent.
3. Good Lawyers Can Get Guilty Clients Freed
Jarrod, the eldest, is the smart one and he’s so smart that twice he’s defended guilty clients and created enough doubt in the minds of a jury to have them believing his client is innocent. On the bad side, both clients were actually murderers and Jarrod had to kill one of them. Maybe the lesson should be that when the whole community thinks someone is guilty, including your brother and the Sheriff, believe them.
4. Illegitimate Younger Sons Must Be Sexy
Heath, played by Lee Majors, is definitely the most purely sexy of the brothers. I think this is why he’s often in situations when his shirt is removed or unbuttoned.
5. Gunshot Wounds to the Head Don’t Cause Long-term Problems.
It’s very interesting what kinds of shots kill people in The Big Valley. Jarrod has been hit in the head twice by bullets that only “creased” the skull. Not much blood loss, either, though Jarrod once did have amnesia for a week or two. The Sheriff was hit the same way and survived with no ill effects. Not much blood loss either.
6. Some Horses are Very Patient.
I say this with no irony. The horses on the show had to be some of the most well-trained animals in Hollywood. They’re often standing around in a scene, being very quiet, or sometimes ridden up cliffs or what looks like treacherous ground or around when the fake guns are being used. Despite the loud noises, they hardly ever flinch. Except when it’s plot-required.
7. Great Theme Music Always Helps
I present the theme song to the Big Valley.