Season 1: Episode 2 – Blood Rock

Scott and Ben Wallace

Original air date: October 1, 1968

SynopsisTen year old Ben Wallace has just lost his mother. Because Ben’s mother was a Lancer employee, Murdoch feels some responsibility for the boy and makes arrangements for him to be placed with a local family. All seems fine, until Ben’s father, Morgan Price shows up. Ben has never met his father but has an idealized sense of what he believes his father is – the only problem is that Morgan Price is an outlaw. A deal is made with the sheriff of Blood Rock to allow Ben one hour of time with this father – without repercussions of an arrest, but the sheriff double crosses Murdoch and Scott and intends to take Price in custody. The plan backfires, and one of the Lancer men is in jeopardy.  

Now for my thoughts, as I watch the episode.

So mount up, here we go —

The Grave sequence

  • The episode begins with a solemn scene with the Lancers, and a young boy, surrounding a new grave as they listen to a Preacher as he intones all the virtues of Laura Wallace and how she leaves her son Ben behind.
  • Murdoch, and then Scott as he follows Murdoch’s gaze, notice that there are men watching from a rise above the grave site.
  • As they are getting ready to leave, Teresa asks about the men and Murdoch explains that he’s pretty sure it’s Ben’s father – Morgan Price the outlaw.
  • Scott consoles Ben, and tells him that he will be going to live with the Taft’s. No idea who they are, or how they fit into Lancerland, but apparently they are nice people.

The Dining Room sequence

  • This is the first time we see the Lancers (and I include Teresa in that grouping) sitting together at the table having their dinner. The pilot was too fraught with angst and action for them to sit and have a meal together (at least for us viewers to see).
  • Is it just me, or does Johnny look like he’s really hungry as he takes a big bite of something.
  • All of a sudden dinner is interrupted as Morgan Price and his men barge into the house. Johnny gets to his feet first, but he’s not wearing a gun at the dinner table so he’s not about to start anything with 2 guns pointing at them; Scott gets about halfway to his feet. Murdoch tells them to settle down. He obviously knows it’s Price.
  • I had to listen closely a few times, but I just love how you can hear the tiniest little jingle of Johnny’s spurs as he sits back down.
Morgan Price interrupts the Lancer dinner
  • Morgan Price drops a bag of coins on the table and tells Murdoch that it’s $5,000 – the same amount as the price on his head. He wants Murdoch to make sure that Ben gets the money – and reminds everyone that Ben is his son. Maybe not the brightest bulb, because now two of his men are wondering how they can cash in on some of that. That’s a lot of money to just throw on the table, and they figure he can pony up another bag of cash – for his son.

The Taft Barn sequence

  • Ben is in the barn, taking care of some chores. He has a wood carved gun in his waistband. Scott rides in to the barn as Ben is pretending to draw his gun. He tells Scott that someday he will have a real one.
  • Scott tells Ben that the Taft’s would like to adopt him, but Ben gets upset because he says that’s for people that don’t have kin, and he knows he has a father.
  • At just about the same time the two thugs, Harris and Baylor, that had earlier talked about kidnapping Ben have now pushed their way into the barn, and there is a fight between the two of them and Scott. Scott is knocked out – I mean it was two against one.
  • The two men tell Ben they are there to take him to his father.

The Campfire sequence

  • Murdoch and Scott are tracking Harris and Baylor, and see a campfire in the distance.
  • As Baylor and Harris fill up Ben’s head with nonsense about his father wanting to see him, Scott calls out, “freeze”.
  • Murdoch’s reply to the two thugs is priceless – see for yourself:
Campsite
  • But, as we all know, you can’t trust thugs – they go for their guns. But Scott and Murdoch are ready, and they wound both of them. They decide to take them to the Sheriff in Blood Rock – and take Ben home.
  • So from the pilot we know that the closest town to Lancer is Morro Coyo. This is the first time that we hear of another town close by – but Blood Rock is never mentioned again in the series (I know I’m may be jumping ahead, but I don’t recall it ever being mentioned beyond this episode).
  • Honestly, the way Ben always says “sure” – argh! (shakes fist in the air). I just find it so annoying.

The Blood Rock sequence

  • OK – now we are getting somewhere – this is where we can get our teeth into this episode, because so far it’s been kind of tame.
  • I am not a fan of this sheriff at all – he’s up to no good. Trying to get into the good graces of a kid by telling him he’s buying him some candy (creepy) and then – oh, what a surprise the store is closed. In his little heart to heart with Ben, the sheriff puts the idea in his head that his father is hiding out not that far away.
  • Of course now Ben has to sneak out of the hotel, where he’s staying with Murdoch and Scott, to try to find his father. But oh wait, the sheriff catches him – lurking, just waiting for the kid to make that move. Again, using his manipulative creepiness to find a way to let Morgan Price know his son is in town he takes him the saloon. Queue the outlaw’s girlfriend, who is working at the saloon and joins the conversation with the sheriff and Ben.
  • Seeing how Ben is so determined to know who his father is, and maybe in an effort to discourage Ben from idealizing his father, Murdoch makes a deal with the sheriff. One hour of amnesty in the town for Morgan Price and Ben to meet. The sheriff at first pretends to not like the idea, and then (surprise) decides to go along with it.
  • Scott volunteers to take the news of the deal to Morgan Price. But there’s a hitch in the plan (well actually 2). First, Scott finds out that he’s to remain with Price’s gang until Price gets back from town safely, and second, we suspect that the sheriff is not going to hold up his end of the bargain.
  • As the sheriff rounds up his men to lay in wait for Price, we hear a horse ride up – and it’s Johnny! Now, Johnny is no fool – and he knows something is up, even referring to it as a “mouse trap”. The deputy relieves Johnny of his gun, and at the sheriff’s bidding takes him to the saloon in “protective custody”. In the meantime, right under their noses, Morgan Price sneaks into the hotel.
  • Quick jump to the camp, where Scott pulls some fancy trick and escapes!
  • Back in Black Rock, the sheriff is watching from the saloon, still waiting for Morgan Price to show up. His men are spread around town, rifles at the ready.
  • At the hotel, Price wakes Ben and tells him that he is a friend of his father’s and that his father is dead. Price knows he’s been double crossed by the sheriff. There is a bit of concurrent back and forth between scenes, but this is the gist of it. Murdoch helps Price sneak out of the hotel.
  • Still stuck in the saloon, Johnny tells the sheriff that it looks like he’s been stood up. When he asks who he’s waiting for they hear a horse ride in to town. Johnny realizes it’s Scott just as the sheriff raises his gun – Johnny grabs the sheriff’s arm and the shot is redirected up in the air.
Scott Rides In
  • Johnny yells a warning to Scott, but one of the deputies gets a shot off and Scott falls from his horse. Johnny pulls him to relative safety behind the skinniest of trees – but thankfully the sheriff yells for his men to hold their fire.
  • Meanwhile as the sheriff commands his men to search the hotel and town, Murdoch is still trying to sneak Price away. But Price, dauntless, does something out of character and breaks a window to steal a jack-knife for Ben. This blows his cover, and after he tosses the knife to Murdoch runs for it – getting gunned down in the street by the sheriff (who is still a creep).
  • As Price’s girlfriend cradles his head, Ben comes running and Price’s last words are for his son.

The End Sequence

  • As Ben gets ready to leave Lancer to go live with the Taft’s, Murdoch gives Ben the $5,000 his father has left for him, and says that he could spend it as he wishes, or give it Mr. Taft to hold for him. Ben agrees that Mr. Taft can hold on to it for him.
  • Johnny tells Murdoch that he thought he would give Ben the knife, but Murdoch explains that one day he will, when Ben is old enough to realize just how much it cost.

Guest Stars

  • J.D. Cannon as Morgan Price
  • Barry Williams as Ben Wallace
  • John Anderson as the Sheriff
  • Charles Dierkop as Harris
  • Tracy Morgan as Kate
  • Rayford Barnes as Baylor
  • Jack Bannon as Tacker
  • Michael Stearns as Teague
  • Jon Lormer as Preacher

Some final thoughts:

  • When I refer to “the Lancers” in this post and throughout this blog, that includes Teresa (just for simplicity). When referring to the three men together in a sequence I will more than likely just use “Lancer men”.
  • Has anyone else ever wondered how many people are buried on Lancer land. This is the first that we see, but it won’t be the last. Murdoch Lancer is very generous with his land.
  • While waiting for Price to arrive, Murdoch looks at his pocket watch. Is this the same pocket watch that he gives Johnny in the next episode (jumping ahead here); and could it be that just because of a prop we see this episode and the next one in what I believe is the wrong order. Think about that for a minute. The timeline of a watch? Once again, something we’ll never know, but it’s making me wonder.
  • This one was difficult for me to enjoy. After that fabulous pilot, it feels like a bit of a let down. It takes place outside of the ranch, and it revolves around Ben and his father, not the family dynamic that we should have gotten after we witnessed the signing of the agreement, and more importantly (to me anyway), the fact that Johnny decided to stay and become a Lancer. It feels completely out of place as the second episode.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – especially about my pocket watch theory – sometimes I can read too much into something, but that just seems like something that the continuity team (did they have them back then) would have noticed.

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Lots of Lancer love!

Lancer: From TV Screen to Page to Online and Back to Screen Again (sort of)

When Samuel A. Peeples created Lancer, and saw it brought to fruition by CBS, I’m sure that he, and everyone else associated with the show, believed that it would sit alongside some of its predecessors and have a long run of multiple seasons in the TV Western genre. But it was 1968 and things were changing – people were changing. Westerns became kind of old-fashioned and were starting to die off. But would those same people ever believe that more than 50 years later there would still be such a diehard fanbase?

Let’s go on a Lancer journey…

Print – magazines and books

For any new TV show there were always the customary TV Guide covers and interviews, along with many of the other TV fan magazines. Some of these TV fan magazines dedicated to Lancer are still out there somewhere, and every now and then one will pop up on eBay for some quick Lancer fan to snatch up and add to their collection.

Publicity also included tie-in books, and other merchandise. Lancer was no different. I’m sure there were lunch boxes – every show had a lunch box (can anyone confirm if there was a Lancer lunchbox?); and maybe even a View Master – they were very popular for some TV shows in the late 60’s and 70’s (I have a set from the TV show “Emergency” that my husband surprised me with on my birthday a few years back). If there ever was one for Lancer, I sure would love to know.

The paperback “Lancer’ by Paul Fairman (below) seems to be quite rare – and would be quite the collectible if it can be found. I have heard, though, that the book bears no resemblance to the TV show other than the names.

Then there are Those books – plagiarism or not?

OK – this section may be quite controversial, and may even anger some Lancer fans – but I do believe it needs to be mentioned.

Apparently there was a former Lancer fan fiction writer who had the opportunity to turn her fanfic into actual published works – for profit (à la 50 Shades of Gray by E L James). Although nowhere near the level of 50 Shades, the The Devil’s Own four book series, written by J D March has received some small acclaim. To anyone at all familiar with Lancer it’s obvious that she unabashedly used the characters and premise created by Samuel A. Peeples. Like E L James before her (and lets be fair, others), J D March removed references to Lancer by changing the location and the character’s names, which I believe is referred to as “filing off the serial numbers”. 

Is this plagiarism? Well, lets look at the definition of plagiarism –

plagiarism
[ pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz- ]
noun
1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.
2. a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation.

I wanted to see for myself, so I ordered all four books (used, at a very nominal price for all four), and I read them. Now I’m not going to do a lengthy review of the four books – I already have a book review blog that I’ve ignored for far too long anyway – but I am going to give some general impressions.

  1. Although the names and location has been changed, it is clearly Lancer. There is no doubt in my mind (and anyone else with a brain) that this author didn’t just have this story pop-up in her head. BTW – the names are pretty bad. Guy for Scott, Guthrie for Murdoch, and Sinclair for Lancer. None of it rolls off the tongue as you read the books – because it’s so obviously Lancer. As for Johnny, well she kept the first name, but swapped out Madrid for Fierro. Let’s just face it – Madrid is way cooler, so kudos to Samuel A Peeples!
  1. The depiction of Johnny is just dreadful. Do I mind that he’s foul-mouthed? No not really, I’ve been known to throw a few f-bombs around. Do I mind that instead of sounding self confident he sounds more self aggrandizing? Yes, I do! In Warburton’s Edge, when Tallie says to Johnny, “you don’t look very dangerous”, he quietly, almost shyly answers, “I am”. He is never boastful. Sure we’ve seen Johnny use the Madrid name to his own advantage knowing that it invokes a fearfulness in some – but it was never as over the top as in these books, which is kind of gross.
  1. These books are just not that well written. At least in my opinion. If you read each one, right after the other like I did, without the benefit of having to wait for the next installment to come out, most of it is the same conversation over and over and over again. It’s actually tiresome, and I was able to skim through most pages.
  1. The author thanks a few supporters, but never once mentions or gives credit to the actual creator of Lancer. I guess that would be admitting it’s not your own work, but I find that kind of low.

Honestly, I’m not trying to be mean here, I give anyone credit that can write a book and then have it published, but my goodness this sounds an awful lot like plagiarism to me.

Rant over….

Online lancer community – fan fiction

Which leads us to the wonderful world of FanFiction. Something that has always amazed me is how serious fans are when it comes to keeping their favorite TV series alive (which is why I started this blog). For a short-lived show like Lancer, fanfiction writers had to jump in and fill that void of only a two season stint. And we’re so glad they did.

Fanfiction is such a great way to explore canon, which is defined in the FanLore Wiki as follows: “(in the context of fandom) is a source, or sources, considered authoritative by the fannish community. In other words, canon is what fans agree “actually” happened in a film, television show, novel, comic book, or concert tour. Specific sources considered canon may vary even within a specific fandom.”

Fanfiction is also a great way for an author to add their own spin, or to create different worlds or versions. This is typically known as fanon, also defined in the FanLore Wiki: “any element that is widely accepted among fans, but has little or no basis in canon. Sometimes it’s a small event in canon that gets exaggerated; sometimes it’s something in a fanfic story that gets picked up on and repeated by other writers until it’s so common that newbies might think it’s a canonical fact.”

Either way, whether a fanfic author creates a story based in canon or fanon it brings the characters, the show, the setting, back to life. For many of us that don’t have the talent to create our own fanfic stories, we look forward when those authors develop and create something new for us – the fans! And remember, this is not done for any form of profit – just for the love of the fandom. Another important distinction from the section above – Lancer fanfic authors make a point of saying that they don’t own the characters and they give credit to the show. They never take the credit away from the original creator. That’s critical.

Here are a couple of great sources for Lancer Fan Fiction that are my go to, time and time again.

For more interest – There is a great article that I encourage all fanfic writers, and aspiring fanfic writers to read: Canon vs. Fanon: Folksonomies of Fan Culture. I found it very interesting.

Screen (Again?) – Once upon a time in hollywood

OK – this one still blows me away. I’m at my in-laws for some holiday dinner – can’t remember which one. All of the women are still sitting at the table, drinking wine, enjoying family gossip. The men and kids are in the living room watching a movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie – and honestly, I’m not a fan of his work. But I glance over and what do I see; Timothy Olyphant dressed surprisingly like Johnny Madrid (I use Madrid because this is early on in the pilot episode, before he chose Lancer). Now, that got my attention! I decide to watch a bit, and I finally realize what’s going on. And I’m pretty stunned. I look over at my husband and say, “that’s from Lancer”. He casually answers, “oh yeah, looks like it”. I think my mouth actually hung open for a few minutes. Why did Quentin Tarantino make a movie that features Lancer?

Apparently, Quentin Tarantino is a fan of Lancer – who knew. There are a lot of articles about how he resurrected a forgotten (ahem! not by us) TV show, and rumors that he may want to re-make the show. I have no idea what his motivation was or is, but (and it pains me to say this) kudos to Tarantino for having some taste in TV. I hope the rumor of his re-creating the show is brought to fruition; I hope that he doesn’t “Tarantino” it up too much; I hope that it brings renewed interest in the original; and I hope that we get a DVD set of the original Lancer. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and one last thing – if Tarantino does re-make the TV show, I hope he casts Ray Nicholson (Jack Nicholson’s son) as Johnny Madrid Lancer. I defy anyone that watches Ray’s performance in Panic (Amazon Prime) to say he wouldn’t make a pretty decent Johnny.

What do you think – would Ray make a good Johnny Madrid? Take a look at this clip https://youtu.be/fTJO_GMNXMs

I would love to know your thoughts and experiences with Lancer. Please leave a comment below – and don’t forget to follow the blog. You will be alerted to any updates and new posts. You can follow via email or through WordPress, just select your choice below in the Subscribe section at the bottom left-hand side of this page.

Season 1: Episode 1 – High Riders

Original air date: September 24, 1968

SynopsisMurdoch Lancer has built his empire, a 100,000-acre cattle ranch in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His two adult sons are estranged from him. Scott, the eldest, was taken from him when his first wife dies shortly after Scott’s birth. Scott is raised by his wealthy grandfather in Boston. Johnny, the younger son, was taken by his mother, Murdoch’s second wife, when she runs off with another man. Johnny is raised in somewhat inferior circumstances and has made a name for himself as the notorious gunfighter, Johnny Madrid. When another gunfighter, Day Pardee, threatens the Lancer ranch and shoots Murdoch in the back, Murdoch has no choice but to locate his sons, and make them an offer of a partnership for their help in defeating Pardee and his crew.

I’ve re-watched this episode so many times, and there is just so much to talk about. First of all – the different versions. I’ve watched the full 59 minutes of the black and white unaired pilot; and the 50 minute version that originally aired in 1968. I don’t consider this second version the actual pilot because there was that extended version. We may never know why the decision was made to trim it down to fit into a one hour time slot (with commercials), but luckily someone had the full version – or did they?

There has been some speculation that the 59 minute black and white version may have also been trimmed.

On the IMDb page for the episode there is a section called “Trivia”. The following is posted there:

“The Lancer pilot was originally a long format TV movie named “Homecoming” but when the series was picked up, the pilot was edited to the standard one-hour show length and retitled “The High Riders.

There is no indication of who posted that bit of information, or if it’s even accurate; however, while doing some research for the series I came across this great post from Melinda Young’s Blog – Fiction For Real – The Blog. Melinda makes a compelling case as she discusses key elements of the existing footage, and outlines a very plausible argument that the pilot may have indeed been movie length by discussing what’s missing from the footage. An interesting approach – and it makes sense.

I could never do justice to the points that Melinda makes, so I highly recommend that you take the time to go through them thoroughly – and decide for yourself (links below). Her blog has some extraordinary insights not only on the pilot episode, but she has also written some remarkable character studies of each of the three Lancer men and Teresa. Sink your teeth into these – I have, multiple times. BTW – her entire blog is a goldmine, and I’m really enjoying all of the other nuggets (ok, stupid pun).

Lancer: The Original Story?

Lancer: In Search of the Lost Elements

Now for my thoughts, as I watch the episode. I’ve chosen the 59 minute black and white version.

Some thoughts on the opening credits –

  • The Lancer logo that we all have come to love has not been added to this version.
  • James Stacy gets top billing as the “starring” role; and Wayne Maunder in the “co-starring” role. That changes later.
  • “Introducing Elizabeth Bauer” is credited in the opening, whereas in every other episode she is listed in the closing credits.
  • Andrew Duggan of course takes the place of honor, although not listed with the “And” in his title card.
  • The font used is very 1960’s.

I decided not to blog a scene by scene appraisal or examination, but to discuss my observations and favorite scenes – hoping to start some dialogue. I think most people that are reading this have already watched and studied this episode a great deal – and if not, what the heck are you waiting for?

So mount up, here we go —

The First Morro Coyo sequence

  • One of my favorite parts in this sequence is when Murdoch gets a shot off at Day Pardee, who is concealed in the bell tower. The bullet goes astray and hits the bell. Pardee is fabulously portrayed by Joe Don Baker, and his reaction is spot on great acting.

The Boston sequence

  • Scott must have some sort of reputation – maybe as a playboy, because Barbara’s father is hellbent on getting in that room. There are plenty of men that wouldn’t mind seeing their daughter have a match with a wealthy and highly respected family.
  • Scott makes a quick getaway, but not before grabbing an apple and making a witty remark – which is such a great trait of Scott’s character. Wayne Maunder delivers these witty and often caustic remarks to perfection. Scott’s witty repartee with the Pinkerton agent gives us some insight into his character. He uses his sharp wit as a kind of weapon.

The Mexico sequence

  • Prisoners are being executed by firing squad and as the guns are fired, Johnny Madrid, waiting for his turn flinches at the sound and says “…lution” finishing the word of the man who just yelled “viva la revo….” before he was shot. (thank you Char E and Sally D for setting me straight – I initially heard something different!).
  • In the 59 minute version we have one of the best action sequences of the episode as Johnny and the Pinkerton agent have to run for their lives. James Stacy portrays Johnny Madrid perfectly as the “action hero”. It’s shamefully trimmed down to fit into the one hour time slot of the original airing, and if it had been kept intact it would have made a perfect bookend to the action sequence at the end of the episode.

The Second Morro Coyo sequence (and how we get there)

  • Johnny, now dressed in his iconic red shirt and silver concho pants, flags down the stage to Morro Coyo (I’m watching the black and white version, but we all know the shirt is red). He turns his gun over to the driver (a little reluctantly) and proceeds to climb in almost landing in the lap of one of the other passengers – Scott. This is where we can give a bit of a wink and a nod, because as viewers we know something that neither one of them knows.
  • Teresa asks, “Mr. Lancer?” and of course they both answer. This is such a great scene when both Johnny and Scott learn that their travelling companion is actually their half brother. The realization on their faces is priceless.

The Lancer sequence

  • We see Murdoch Lancer looking at two photographs – his two wives. The tone and music of the scene is sentimental, and as Murdoch sees his sons as grown men for the first time the look on his face is almost wistful. They he breaks the silence with one gruff word – “Drink?”. Oh Murdoch, why open with that?
  • Murdoch’s gruffness is belied by the tiniest (almost) smile that he has when Johnny kind of back-talks him.
  • I love Scott’s eyes as he looks at both Johnny and Murdoch when Johnny disrespectfully calls Murdoch “old man”.
  • I call the rest of this sequence “guy talk”. It’s not what you think – what I mean by that is (in my experience) men have a knack for getting on the same page when something needs to get done. They may be strangers – but when push comes to shove, these three men are speaking together, putting crap behind them to work together for a greater cause.

The 3 Lancer men all together for the first time.

Scott’s Bedroom sequence

  • In my opinion, one of the best scenes in the entire series. This sets the tone for the relationship between Johnny and Scott. Johnny tries to use a form of intimidation – the tough guy persona, and Scott is having none of it, once again using his wit and sarcasm as his weapon of choice. Johnny may be fast with a gun, but Scott is just as fast with his sharp tongue and quick wit.
  • Teresa also sets the tone in this scene when she tells them to think of her as a sister. She’s not going to be a love interest for either of them in the series.

Corral sequence

  • Great all around scene – I love watching both Johnny and Scott show off their horsemanship; but more importantly to me, this is where Johnny is paired with Barranca. To the fans of the show Barranca is part of the cast. There is a bond between Johnny and Barranca likely because of the bond between James Stacy and Barranca. I know there was more than one “Barranca” used in the show, but the knowledge that one of them was the personal horse of James Stacy makes his interactions with the horse that much sweeter. There is an article where James Stacy talks about buying the horse from John Wayne, but the spelling of Barranca in the article has only one “R”. Does anyone know which is correct – most of the fan fiction that I see use a double “R”.

Third Morro Coyo sequence

  • Johnny rides into Morro Coyo and interrupts a group of thugs lounging in front of the saloon, harassing an old man. He says something in Spanish to the old man that sounds like “vete a casa”, which means “go home”. That sounds about right. He confronts the thugs and then (almost foolishly) pulls his gun to show the lead thug that he would likely be dead if he had decided to pull the trigger. But he is outnumbered and the thugs now have their guns pointed at him. He’s in a bad spot, but Day Pardee comes out of the saloon and stops them from taking him down. I just love Joe Don Baker in this role (even though he’s a bad guy) – the way he Texas drawls the name Johnny Madrid – priceless.
Johnny confronts Pardee’s thugs
  • In the saloon Pardee and Johnny are having a drink. Pardee tries to recruit Johnny by telling him that there’s plenty of money there – running people off of their land and homes, even killing, must be pretty lucrative. Johnny replies “that’s what I hear”. Pardee is a gunfighter, not a rancher, so what are his intentions – it’s never explained; but don’t gunfighters hire themselves out? Who is Pardee working for? Is he stealing the land to re-sell it? I doubt it – too much risk to try to get that to stick. So why is Pardee killing people and kicking them off of their land – is there someone else pulling the strings, and he’s only the hired gun in it for some sort of big payday? It does make me wonder.
  • Teresa brings Scott to town to buy some new clothes. The scuffle that Scott gets into with Pardee’s men, from the moment Coley enters the store to the moment that Scott is ready to go back in to buy his clothes, is 2 minutes 21 seconds in the black and white unaired version; and 2 minutes in the color aired version. What did we miss? Teresa screaming at the bad guys to stop and throwing something, and Valmero in anguish at the destruction of his store; but we also missed some important content as far as Scott’s character is concerned. In the color version he is thrown out of the store looking like they got the better of him and he was beaten, and he is to a certain extent; but what we miss from that version is his actual fight. In the black and white version, with only an additional 21 seconds, we see Scott give as good as he gets. He shows that he can fight back and has some fighting skill, he’s just outnumbered. It doesn’t sound like a big deal losing 21 seconds, but in an action sequence 21 seconds is a long time. Losing that little bit of time does Scott a disservice.
  • When Teresa runs over to the saloon hoping that Johnny will jump in an help Scott, Johnny says “nope”. Teresa’s earlier wide-eyed admiration of Johnny at the corral seems to fade at his refusal.

At the Water Sequence

  • Teresa’s look when Johnny rides up is a look of complete distaste. She’s letting him know that she’s not happy with him.
  • Scott finally gets fed up with Johnny’s smart mouth and takes a swing at Johnny (he kind of deserved it).
  • As Johnny rolls down the bank and almost into the pond, his hand does go into the water – barely. I never noticed that before. At first I thought it was because of the longer version that I’m watching, but no, it’s in both versions – very quick, but if you look carefully you can see it.
  • Johnny reveals his anger about his father, and it’s up to Teresa to set him straight and disclose the truth, which is in complete contrast to the lie that he obviously grew up with. I don’t believe there is any indication in the series of what actually happened to Johnny’s mother – but we assume she’s dead. It’s a pivotal moment for Johnny, which I believe is what guides him to his decision with his father and new family. Great scene.

Scott’s Bedroom Sequence and a Decision is Made

  • Just prior to returning to Scott’s bedroom, both he an Johnny see what Day Pardee is capable of. Johnny’s face says it all.
  • Scott has a plan, but Johnny disagrees. Murdoch sides with Scott. Johnny explains his reasoning to Murdoch, but because he still has that tiny little chip on his shoulder, and Murdoch isn’t 100% sure of Johnny’s loyalty, the conversation ends with Johnny leaving, giving no indication to Murdoch where he stands at this point. You can see the hurt on Johnny’s face and the disappointment on Murdoch’s.
Murdoch and Johnny

Getting Ready for a Battle Sequence

  • Scott puts his plan in motion, while Murdoch and Teresa have a fireside chat (am I the only one that thinks Teresa could have done a better job with the fireplace poker as she attempts to roll that log in the fireplace?)
  • Johnny is back in Morro Coyo and Pardee asks him if he’s made up his mind. Cleverly, Johnny says that he has made up his mind, but never explicitly says in what way he made up his mind. They ride to Lancer.
  • It’s almost daylight and Scott is riding back to Lancer with his men. The men spread out and take up their posts waiting for Pardee. Scott is in the house with Murdoch and Teresa. Scott asks where Johnny is, and Murdoch says “gone”. Scott’s expression is both sad and disappointed.
  • Pardee, his men, and Johnny are looking down at the ranch, and he has them fan out and take their positions. He moves to a vantage point behind a tree, and Johnny follows. Johnny tells Pardee that he’s on his land, and wants him off. Pardee finally figures it out and asks, “are you another Lancer”. Before he can reply, Coley – one of Pardee’s men – pulls his gun and tries to kill Johnny. But Johnny Madrid is fast, and he takes down Coley and manages to get a shot off at Day Pardee. As he jumps on his horse to flee, Pardee is yelling for his men to get Johnny.

The Chase Sequence

  • Johnny is making a mad dash for Lancer, with Pardee’s men hot on his heels. He turns and shoots as he’s riding hard, and manages to get a couple Pardee’s men.
  • Scott hears the gunfire, and runs to the window. He and Murdoch leave the house, Scott taking position on the second floor landing – he sees Johnny, but doesn’t recognize him from that distance. He yells, “here comes the first one” and readies his rifle.
  • Johnny clears the first fence, and then clears the second fence. It’s at this point that Murdoch recognizes the rider as Johnny, and yells, “wait – it’s Johnny”. But Pardee has cleared the fence as well and takes aim at Johnny. Johnny falls from his horse.
  • Scott begins to go to Johnny’s aid, but Murdoch stops him and tells him “it’s no use”.
Johnny rides home

End of the Battle Sequence

  • Johnny is still on the ground, but starts to move and manages to shoot a couple of Pardee’s men. Scott realizing that Johnny isn’t dead runs over to protect him, and with the help of Cipriano, pulls him to safety. Pardee takes aim at Scott, but Johnny warns him. Scott shoots, and kills Pardee. Without their leader, the few remaining men abandon the fight and run off. Lots of shootin’ goin’ on, but Lancer is victorious.
  • And this is where we hear Johnny admit to Scott, “you had your plan, and I had mine”.
  • Scott tries to help, but Johnny says he can make it. Unfortunately for Johnny though, he starts to stumble, and Scott has to throw him over his shoulder to carry him back to the house.

Epilogue

  • Our characters are in an attorney’s office. We have no idea how much time has passed, but Johnny has recovered from his gunshot wound. As Murdoch promised, they are signing the partnership papers. When it’s time for Johnny to sign, Murdoch explains to the attorney “that name should read John Madrid, not Lancer”. As the attorney begins to make the correction, Johnny speaks up, “no, let it stand”. Murdoch’s grin says it all.

And there you have it, my commentary on the pilot episode of Lancer. It’s a long post, and I don’t believe that I’ll have to be so detailed on the rest of the episodes, but there was a lot to unpack with this one. A lot of explaining and some back story to cover. Thank you for your patience, and I hope you enjoy my critique and side commentary.

Please let me know in the comments below what you think, and if Lancer means as much to you as it does me, I’d love to hear from you!

Guest Stars

  • Joe Don Baker as Day Pardee
  • Anthony Caruso as Toledano
  • Robert Adler as the Stage Driver
  • Paul Fierro as Cipriano
  • Lisa Jak as Barbara
  • Gordon Jump as the Pinkerton Agent in Mexico
  • Sean McClory as Coley McHugh
  • Alberto Morin as Don Valmero
  • Stanley Waxman as the Attorney

Some final thoughts:

  • Has anyone else wondered why Scott grew up with the Lancer name. Later in the series, we get an inside look at the adversarial relationship between Murdoch and Scott’s grandfather. I always wondered why someone that wealthy wouldn’t legally have the name changed. Am I overthinking it?
  • In the second episode Teresa now uses “Murdoch” rather than “Mr. Lancer”. I’m glad they made that change. It only makes sense – she grew up there and she is like a daughter to him. Hearing her refer to him as Mr. Lancer just never sat right with me.