Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Watching Western Shows as Old as I Am

Lately I've been spending wasting a lot of time watching really old Western tv series on the Encore Western channel. Which is kind of a funny thing.

Although I'm told that as a tiny girl I was enthusiastic about the Roy Rogers show and wore a red cowboy hat, by the time in my childhood where I actually remember things I wasn't a Western fan. Which was sad because it was about the only thing on television in those days.

I remember the routine when my mom, dad and brother would be downstairs watching Gunsmoke or some such show, while I was upstairs in my parents' bedroom watching old movies or The Avengers on the small black-and-white tv.

There were a couple of Western shows I did have a use for back then: The Wild Wild West, Alias Smith and Jones, The Rifleman, and, of course, Star Trek. (Star Trek? Well, Gene Roddenberry did allegedly think of calling the show 'Wagon Train to the Stars')

But now the world of television has changed. Besides the reality TV horror, the dramatic shows that remain tend to not be aimed at general audiences, but only at angry Leftists who enjoy anti-conservative and anti-Christian hate worked into their entertainment. Like that Law & Order episode that accused conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilley of condoning the murder of babies born to illegal immigrants. (Anyone who's actually watched Beck or O'Reilley knows they are notoriously against baby-killing, even the legal kind.)

So I haven't got attracted to many current television dramas other than those in Korean (subtitled) on KBS America. And these old Westerns came as a very pleasant surprise.

The ones I have been watching lately include Have Gun, Will Travel, Wagon Train, Rawhide, and Marshal Dillon (later renamed Gunsmoke.) And one I hadn't heard of before, Lawman.

Lawman, the story of Marshal Dan Troop and his young deputy sidekick Johnny McKay, was an excellent half-hour show which ran from 1958-1962. It premiered October 5th, 1958, the very day I premiered was born.

I like to spend time in this different world in which preachers are the good guys and not the killers, where men are gallant enough to treat women like ladies even when they are only saloon girls (hookers).

And there is some similarity in storytelling values between these old Westerns and the original Star Trek, which is a story about humanity's expansion into space, like settlers from Back East expanded into the Western territories.

My current WIP, a spaceship-based SF story, is turning out to be that kind of Western-in-Space thing, and I'm encouraging it. I've even looked up an article on how to write Westerns, 'Writing Western Novels Requires Specific Rules'.  I think most of these rules are adaptable to the writing science fiction and fantasy as well, particularly if you write from a Christian perspective. They are:

  1. Point of view is limited to one or at most two main characters.
  2. Foul language is impermissible.
  3. Excessive sexuality is not OK. The Western hero and his lady remain largely virtuous.
Another good point that authors of other genres might borrow is the fact that a Western male hero is a man's man, not a woman's fantasy of a perfect, sensitive mate. The Western hero doesn't spend hours talking about his feelings, or taking his gal on shopping trips to upgrade their wardrobes. He doesn't cook for her, do the dishes, or mind the baby while the gal goes out to climb a corporate ladder. He's a strong, silent type who'll put his life on the line to save the lives of those who are vulnerable.
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