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Posted on Sat. Dec. 07, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT


Westerns best left as memories

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What happened to all the good Westerns on television?

Back in their heyday, they were as omnipresent as reruns of “NCIS” are today. You couldn't turn on your black-and-white console TV without finding “The Big Valley,” “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide” (rollin', rollin', rollin', ... keep them dogies rollin'...) and a host of others.

These days, if you want to watch “The Rifleman,” you have to hope your cable system carries AMC or Me-TV. If you want to catch up with “Gunsmoke” or the Cartwright clan of “Bonanza,” check out TV Land.

Speaking of “Bonanza,” we can all be grateful whoever holds the rights hasn't remade that classic into a blockbuster movie, as has been tried with many other great, small-screen Westerns. Updated movies never come close to matching the style and magic of the original series.

Will Smith and Kevin Kline are good actors, but they can't compare with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin as Jim West and Artemus Gordon in “The Wild Wild West.”

“Maverick” with Mel Gibson instead of James Garner? I don't think so.

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger and Tonto? Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels must be turning over in their graves. What were the producers smoking (or sniffing) when they came up with that idea? Not even the “William Tell Overture” could save that bomb.

It pains me to imagine how they could have desecrated “Bonanza”: William Shatner (Capt. Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Denny Crane) as patriarch Ben; Billy Gardell (Mike from “Mike and Molly”) as Hoss; Jim Parsons (Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”) as Little Joe; and Jackie Chan as Hop Sing, the cook.

To top it off, Tim McGraw could play older brother Adam — before he mysteriously disappears — as well as hum the theme song. Got it stuck in your head yet?

Mike Marin is a cranky curmudgeon who, when he’s not yelling at kids to get off his lawn, likes to complain about the sad state of popular culture, especially as seen through a TV screen. His email address is marinating@ This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.

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