Rifleman

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Locknar
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Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:38 pm

As the saying goes...and now for something completely different.

The Rifleman, a US TV show that was aired in the late 50s/early 60s, following the life of character and all around good guy Lucas McCain and his son Mark. In the mix was the Marshall Micah Torrance, and reoccurring characters Sweeney (the bartender), Nels (the blacksmith), Hamilton (the banker) and Lucas's love interests (of a sorts) Milly and Mallory.

On the surface, as they say on the show..."Northfork is a quiet, friendly town" of about 500 - 1000 people (being VERY generous); but is it really? Let's take a look...

There are over 160 killings in the town, Lucas alone accounts for about 120 of them either in self defense or as Micah's Deputy. The show ran for 7 years...so that makes a average of ~22 killings a year. 22! If we use a base population of 1000, that means that every year 2.2% of the population will be killed. Putting this in perspective in the US, the homicide rate in 2011/12 was 4.7 per 100,000 which comes to .0047%. Using this as a base, that would put Northfork at mind staggering rate of 2,200 per 100,000.

Now, it is mostly the bad guys that end up being killed...and most of them are drifters "just passing through" vs citizens of the town. In fact, similar to the Eagles "Hotel California" most of the bad guys check in but never leave. This begs the question...at some point word would have spread that if you are up to no good - AVOID NORTHFORK! But no...every week for 7 years various folks up to no good would show up, plans in hand, only to encounter machine gun Lucas.

And every week Lucas would have fatherly talk at the end of every episode with his son Mark, who often witnessed the "goings on".

Quiet, friendly town...I think not!

ETA: As with many shows from the same time period (such as Get Smart, Hogan's Heros, Bonazna, Big Valley, etc.), they would never air in prime time today due to violence, but do show on cable channels such as AMC and MeTV.
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Michael Regan
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:00 pm

An excellent show during its run and I watch it when I can on AMC. It is unfortunate that the series has not been completely released on homvie video (to the best of my knowledge) as I would love to analyze the data you have posted. I don't doubt it, I would simply like to see for myself.

To the best of my memory, many of those killed were outlaws and others passing through but the actual town limits are so vague and undefined that their status is generally questionable.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:12 pm

It is a oddly addictive show; several of us watch it where I work and talk about it (like we have nothing better to do). Re the town limits...Lucas' ranch is about 30 minutes outside of town. A horse walks about 4 miles an hour, so maybe something about 2 or 3 square miles (which would include the outlying ranchers like Lucas...who always says he's from Northfork).

Other then the killing rate and such, other odd aspects would include:
- Micah goes back to the bottle at the drop of a hat it seems, and his left arm is useless (have you seen him try to drive a nail with it?)
- Mark seems to regress over the show, consider....
-- In the 2nd episode Lucas goes after the men that burned down their newly purchased house and leaves Mark to camp out on his own, he's about 8 or 9. Now, there is a chance that Lucas won't be coming back, which leaves Mark all alone in the west. Of course Lucas comes back (and the men agree to rebuild the house), but Mark is able to set up camp, tend the horses, cook, etc. no problem.
-- In the last of the series, a friend of Mark's falls in quick sand he yells for help...Mark spends about 10 min looking for her. He finds her, goes to pull her out...and FLOP into the quick sand he goes, not just on the edge but in the dead middle of it all. The point being at 8 he's self sufficient, by 14/15 a total klutz
- Aside from outlaws checking into to Northfork but never leaving, if they are buddies or a group when they arrive it is almost certain they will turn on each other before the episode is through
- Lucas is proficient with the rile left or right handed (this is never explained in the show)
- The whiskey that Sweeny serves must be just above water; folks drink, and drink, and drink it and seemingly never get drunk in most episodes
- Sweeny...the Moe from The Simpsons of his day; as often as his bar gets shot up, people pull guns on him...and yet he stays

There are a few bad episodes, but that is with any series; over all lots of good ones. My favorites would include:
- Episode 4, where Micah becomes Marshal
- Episode 6, where a judge kidnaps Marks with the intent to kill him to avenge his own sons death (indirectly caused by Lucas)
- Episode 98, where Micah is terrorized by someone and Lucas helps by not helping
- Episode 109, maybe my favorite...where a former gun fighter turned Dr stands up to Lucas; Episode 98 is a very close 2nd
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:22 pm

Older shows are wrought with inconsistancies, which us verterans love to discover. I found this fun site discussing "How far is it to the McCain Ranch". In spite of inconsistancies, I think it could be ironed out to some degree on a real map. Ah, the things I could to with unlimited time to do so.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:44 pm

I've seen that site, and there is another good one here: http://www.therifleman.net/

The inconsistencies were interesting, in what they actually stayed consistent with. Micah wore his pistol left handed through the series (as did Michael Landon, who really was left handed), and they were always very careful re Mark handling guns (near the end, he has a rile for hunting for example). Also Hamilton and Sweeney stayed the same which was nice (there were several different actors that played the same town Dr, as at least two Nels).
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:11 pm

I found this a while ago, machine gun Lucas in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrOPVo5GFY4

This does not include the off show deaths such as soldier he kills during the Civil War (there is at least one, because he faces the man's son in a gun fight), or the two he stabs, or the one he kills in the rock slide. Re the above and Mark; he holds one a few times, and they talk about hunting but I do not recall him ever actually shooting on screen.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:19 pm

I love compilations like that!
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:33 am

Interesting trivia of sorts; the firing sounds were blanks vs sound overs. Conners practiced flipping and cocking the rifle so he could actually do it (and not misfire), and the changes to the loop over the years were based on his suggestions.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:35 am

Locknar wrote:Interesting trivia of sorts; the firing sounds were blanks vs sound overs. Conners practiced flipping and cocking the rifle so he could actually do it (and not misfire), and the changes to the loop over the years were based on his suggestions.


Additionally, if you count the shots at the opening of the show there is one more than is possible for the rifle shown. The last shot is added as emphasis for the title.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:51 am

If I recall, and its been a bit since I've looked it up, the rifle in question could carry 12 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber for a total of 13 - the number of shots in the opening. This would be a amazingly unsafe way to carry the rifle in real life, but would account for the opening.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:25 pm

I've been researching the series for a little while, and Chuck Connors himself. I just discovered the Kenny Rogers movie series of The Gambler, having forgotten it existed, noting that Lucas McCain makes an appearance along with a few other notable characters from various old westerns.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:30 pm

Rewatching the series as it airs in AMC, and it is funny to watch with a more sceptical eye, noting that so many problems are started or escalated thanks to Mark.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Locknar » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:33 pm

In the 1st episode (not the pilot), he camps on his own (which includes tending to the animals) in a unknown country while Lucas goes off contront the men that burned their house down. Nervous, but he does fine but think about this..."on his own" and there is a chance that Lucas will not return.

As the show progresses, Mark becomes more naive and clumsy. Talking to much, to the wrong people...to falling (almost jumping) into the middle of quick sand to save a friend after it takes him 10 min running around to find her. It is a stark contract to "Saint" Lucas, who knows most everything and can do no wrong.

It is, however, a very addictive show. Characters like Lucas, Mark, Mica, heck even Sweeney (the curmudgeon bar keeper). It is almost Andy Griffith Show like in that, you tune in to see what happens your friends in North Fork....a quiet, friendly town.
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Re: Rifleman

Postby Michael Regan » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:54 pm

I agree completely, I look forward to it every week (if I'm up early enough). I think I have the first two seasons for reviewing but the remaining seasons have proven difficult to find. I may also expand my viewing to include the five movies of The Gambler to see which classics were worked into them.

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