Western shows full of cliches

I think one of the reasons I love Westerns of both the big screen and television variety is that they're so predictable and loaded with clichés.

My wife in particular is a fan of the TV Westerns and lately we've watched a number of episodes of "The Virginian," "Wagon Train," "The Big Valley" "Gunsmoke" and "Rawhide" The one we've watched lately that really touched home with me though was "Laredo."

As we were watching "Laredo" the inevitable happened and the bad guys got the drop on Reese. I immediately told my wife that without a doubt, in the next scene good ole Reese would be trussed up like a turkey — sure enough.

I explained this was typical storyline for "Laredo" so the two young, good-looking Texas rangers could rescue the slower-witted Reese. I also imparted to her that the show was responsible for a weekly game whereby my brother and I would take turns tying each other up to see if we could get loose.

We also learned that tying up little sister and other stray humans younger than us could land us in hot water in a hurry. We found out that mom could tie knots you couldn't get out of until she wanted to let you up.

These days I can scan the menu for the Westerns Channel and tell you by the title which movies utilize the time-tested Western plot of bad land baron buying up the poor nesters and smaller ranchers and using heavy-handed tactics and henchmen to attempt to force out those stubborn enough not to sell. John Wayne, Roy Rogers or The Lone Ranger would arrive just in time to help out the honest, but timid rancher and his beautiful and unattached daughter.

Those movies always ended with the bad guys tied to a fence or with their hands in the air as the hero turned them over to the local lawman who had suddenly found his spine again. The hero rode off into the sunset, sometimes with the girl, but usually alone or attended by their sidekick Tonto or Gabby.

Along the way, if there was a fistfight you could count on the fact that the bad guy and or the comic sidekick would be knocked into a horse trough, a river, watering hole or campfire. Probably the best example was John Wayne's "McClintock" where the whole cast sans Indians wound up taking a plunge in the mudhole during one donnybrook scene.

Ever notice how many people get knocked unconscious with one swipe of a pistol barrel or whiskey bottle. Little brother and I called this "getting conked out." We proved it didn't work that way in real life by trying it on each other but that didn't stop our natural reaction to pistol whip whatever we were battling. Take for instance that old goose that was attacking our sweet little sister. We couldn't conk that old bird out but we held her off long enough for the fair maiden to escape.

I guess if I put together enough Western clichés I can make a spoof movie — maybe name it "Blazing Cowpies" or something like that.

Karl Terry, a former publisher of the Quay County Sun, writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:


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