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Classic Western Television: 3 TV Shows That Shaped the Genre

By    |   Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 08:58 PM

For many, the classic television Western may seem dead. Hollywood has tried through the years to tweak the genre and come up with a hit, from shows like "Walker, Texas Ranger" to "Deadwood." In recent years, film studios have even tried launching a remake of "The Lone Ranger" with Johnny Depp.

In the 1950s, Westerns were all the rage, but saw a decline in the 1960s. Many consider that the death of the Western came in 1975 when "Gunsmoke" was cancelled after 20 years. Although Westerns don't exist in the form they once did, there are still elements of the genre that linger, such as good versus bad, fighting for what is right, being neighborly and doing the right thing, as well as a need to protect the underdog.

Here are three classic Western TV shows that helped shaped the genre.

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1. "Gunsmoke"
"Gunsmoke" premiered on Sept. 10, 1955, and ran for 20 years until CBS pulled the plug, A.V. Club noted. The final episode aired March 31, 1975. The show originally started as a radio program that made the jump to television. It was the first to be a truly adult show. Most Westerns at the time were geared toward children or the whole family, "Gunsmoke" was geared toward an adult audience. The good guys didn't always win because things weren't always back and white. This was also a first, but allowed the show and its characters to be real and handle situations most people could relate too.

2. "Bonanza"
Bonanza was set in 1859 Nevada during the Civil War era, IMDb said. Each one of Ben Cartwright's three sons had a different mother, and none of his wives was still alive. It was a family show that highlighted the importance of familial ties. No matter the situation, the family put each other first and protected one another. While it showcased the ups and downs of life during the time, the reoccurring theme was being there for one another.

3. "The Lone Ranger"
"The Lone Ranger" is another television show that got its start as a radio program before becoming a children's television show, IMDb said. The Lone Ranger was a role model for children. He was fair and just, and violence was always a last resort. Tonto was his friend and equal, teaching children that friendship takes on many forms and that loyalty is as important as honesty and trust. It also spanned generations, so much so that children today still hear the stories or watch the old television show because of grandparents or great-grandparents who grew up watching them.

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For many, the classic television Western may seem dead. Hollywood has tried through the years to tweak the genre and come up with a hit, from shows like Walker, Texas Ranger to Deadwood.
classic TV Westerns
Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 08:58 PM
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