GENERATIONS: A look back at times and simpler plots


A few nights ago, I stopped by a channel that features old westerns to watch part of an episode of Gunsmoke. It was my dad’s favorite show, and watching Matt Dillon make things right in Dodge City was as close as it gets to dad and a time when good steadily outweighed bad and life was simpler.

Let me take you to the middle of the episode:

Matt Dillon bursts in through the swinging doors of the Long Branch Saloon and yells, “Hold him there. Drop the gun, ”just in time to save Festus and Quint from a villain armed with a black hat from out of town. Dillon bends down to retrieve the villain’s gun and the man in the black hat throws a desperate punch at him, but Matt sees the punch coming out of the corner of his eye and lands a preemptive blow that puts the villain out of the way. .

The first episode of Gunsmoke aired on September 10, 1955. YouTube screenshot

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Then Matt puts him back on his feet and tells him that he better pack his bags and get on the next Dodge stage, and the villain makes a timid attempt to proclaim his “innocence” by means of “you have no proof.” ! “which is not a prerequisite in Dodge City, where the Sheriff and Festus and Miss Kitty and Doc all know that good is good and evil is just plain bad. Dillon responds with Western righteousness and indignation:” Yes I had proof, you would be locked in jail right now, so get on stage, go and don’t come back.

Justice seemed so simple then.

I searched for another popular show from my childhood with a recent return to Lassie thanks to the wonder of YouTube. In one episode, after listening to his grandfather’s stories about gold mining, Timmy, 8, and his friend Boomer, 9, load the metal baskets on the front of their bikes with the material needed to find gold. small shovels and large bags to bring home the gold nuggets.

Timmy’s mother goes out with sandwiches for each boy before they leave for their day in the hills across the lake. “Be home before dark,” she says. The boys pedal with Lassie running alongside.

Of course, a good drama involves more than two boys digging in the dirt and finding nothing, so the adventure includes their discovery of a crashed plane and a seriously injured pilot.

When Timmy and Boomer take care of the man and send Lassie home for help (Lassie always knows exactly what to do), the pilot doubts the dog’s ability to communicate the problem and shoots a flare to call for help. Unfortunately, the rocket misfires and ignites the dry grass across the hill, forcing Timmy and Boomer to turn their gold digging shovels into fire shovels, but they can’t stay ahead of the curve. the flames that spread.

Meanwhile, Lassie comes back to Martin’s house and barks his urgent message. “She’s trying to tell us something,” mom says, and she and Timmy’s dad and grandfather jump in the Dodge pickup and head to the other side of the lake, unsure of exactly what the hell is going on. involves urgency – or do they?

They happen to have shovels and even a fire extinguisher on board, so after finding the fire (and the two boys frantically trying to put it out), Timmy’s mother calls him out of the fire with a calm voice and slightly worried, and the two men hasten to put out the flames.

The Lassie series debuted in 1954. YouTube screenshot

The Lassie series debuted in 1954. YouTube screenshot

When Timmy explains how the fire started, his mother believes her story about the plane crash and the injured pilot just up the road and the rocket gone awry because, well, why wouldn’t – she not? Everyone comes to the rescue of the injured pilot and it all ends well as he apologizes for doubting Lassie’s communication skills.

Lassie was a regular in our house as a kid, and when I watched her the idea of ​​two young boys biking alone for a whole day in the wilderness without adult supervision wasn’t at all unusual. My siblings and I did it all the time.

The Lassie series debuted in 1954, the year after I was born, so by the time I was a big fan, Timmy Martin and his ideal foster parents were the main characters. In fact, it took a Wikipedia search to remind me that Lassie had had a completely different family in the first few seasons.

Today, of course, Lassie would never be trusted to look after two young boys, and a mother who allowed them to go alone for an entire day would likely be accused of neglect.

Lassie, according to Wikipedia, won two Emmy Awards and ran for 17 seasons: I had passed my channel surfing to access the other black and white “oldie” that took me back to simpler times.

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