Hopalong Cassidy was my guy
March 30, 2020 5:20 PM   Subscribe

"Network television and I are the same age. I am of the first generation with that thing in the living room giving us all kinds of ideas. I’m sure adults were already speculating whether this new bit of furniture was changing people on a societal level (it was) but we were just making memories. And eating a lot of cereal." Michael McKean reminisces about early television, William Boyd, and Hopalong Cassidy.
posted by Flexagon (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was a great read, thanks!

I've been super into the old TV Westerns my whole adult life. They get easier to watch in bulk as the years go by. Mom tells me that her father was also a big fan; I wish he had lived a bit longer so we could have shared them.

(Well, maybe not that fantasy about the Maverick brothers. That one's not for Grandpa's ears.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:28 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


This is absolutely terrific. I suppose I know in the back of my head that McKean is a good writer, but it's fabulous to see him ply his hand at something so earnest.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:48 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Now be fair, Underpants Monster. You can't take both. You can have Bart as long as I get Bret. Heck I'll even throw in the English cousin,
posted by sardonyx at 7:01 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


We were early adopters in late 40's early 50's. Early programming was spotty and unusual. Lots of Soundies and fights almost every night. Many neighbors cluttered the living room to watch local boys fight.
It's amazing how TV has homogenized American English. When we moved (1952) from South Philly to a small town just south of Pittsburgh (apx 300 miles) the adults couldn't understand me. Kids would come up to me at recess with a group of friends and say "Talk!". They later translated for the teacher when ever I recited in class.
posted by shnarg at 8:14 PM on March 30 [15 favorites]


I just watched the first episode of the TV show, and you know what? For old TV, it was pretty darned entertaining. Thumbs up.
posted by billjings at 9:21 PM on March 30


I still entertain the cats with rousing bathroom versions of the Maverick theme song. and Wyatt Earp. and Sugarfoot. and Rawhide...
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:44 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


My dad is McKean's generation. I’m definitely forwarding this to him. I didn’t get to watch Hopalong Cassidy reruns (I think they had been replaced in the 70s by Gilligan's Island reruns), but we had many volumes of cool, “old-fashioned” records (78rpms), and several were of Hopalong Cassidy. And because we didn’t have billions of hours of content available yet, those records got played and replayed.

I discovered Maverick reruns as an adult, and the Maverick theme song was one of the first songs my son learned the lyrics to at age 4 or 5. It’s a good theme song.

Also, if I can brag on my dad: he can still recite the entire Lone Ranger introduction at speed at a moment's request:
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver!!! The Lone Ranger!
With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver!
The Lone Ranger rides again!

posted by LEGO Damashii at 11:24 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


RE: the Maverick theme song, just who were the Jackson Queens he was living on?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


One of my quarantine getaways has been watching episodes of Rockford.

Maybe when I run out of episodes I'll skip backwards and watch Maverick.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:03 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Like most shows, there is a distinct quality drop as the series goes on. By the time Roger Moore (the English cousin I referenced above) is on Maverick is on it's a lot harder to watch.

I can't say I've seen any Hopalong Cassidy episodes but I think I can understand why they appealed to McKean over Roy Rogers or Gene Autry (based on the few episodes I've seen of Roy's and Gene's shows.)

While I've seen my fair share of old westerns, there are a few that I'd be curious to watch (at least for an episode or two). Have Gun Will Travel is probably at the top of that list.
posted by sardonyx at 8:09 AM on March 31


Who is the tall, dark stranger there?
Maverick is the name.
Ridin' the trail to who knows where,
Luck is his companion,
Gamblin' is his game.
Smooth as a handle on a gun.
Maverick is the name.
Wild as the wind in Oregon,
Blowin' up a canyon,
Easier to tame.

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Annabel.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the west.

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Annabel.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the west.
Maverick is the legend of the west!
posted by sardonyx at 8:13 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Another great TV Western theme song is Robert Horton singing "A Man Called Shenandoah."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:30 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


One of my quarantine getaways has been watching episodes of Rockford.

Maybe when I run out of episodes I'll skip backwards and watch Maverick.


The James Garner episodes are definitely the best (IMHO).

Fun fact: The Rockford Files was pitched as: What if Bret Maverick was a modern-day (70s) private eye?

Also, not to get too tangential, but the “Two Hundred a Day” Podcast is a great way to supplement watching/rewatching The Rockford Files.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 9:45 AM on March 31


I watched Hopalong when I was a kid, because it was on, but nothing he did held a candle to Gene Autry's Radio Ranch movie-matinee series.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:57 AM on March 31


The James Garner episodes are definitely the best (IMHO).

I'm partial to the two-brother episodes, "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," "Three Beggars on Horseback," "Maverick Springs," "The Rivals," all brilliant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:58 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


When I got my first consulting gig, I charged $200 a day because Maverick did.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:11 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Rockford, not Maverick, but yeah. That show was one of the few that even addressed finances and wages and pay, and I think it became a touchstone for a lot of people striking out on their own with no idea about what to charge for their services.
posted by sardonyx at 12:17 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Garnerverse Theory:
B&W Bret Maverick played cards with the devil, and won immortality.
Years later we see him in Support Your Local Gunfighter / SYL Sheriff, having given up the Maverick name, wishing to hide out in Australia, and with the confidence and savoir-faire of A Man Who Cannot Die.
75 years later, still cocky but now just...tired, we see him having moved to LA and living under the name Rockford.
posted by bartleby at 1:16 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Really excellent, thanks. I never really knew who Hopalong Cassidy was -- by the sound of that nickname alone I'd formed the notion that he was some kind of bumbling hayseed -- so far off base, eh? Great old films to watch.
posted by Rash at 3:44 PM on March 31


You can have Bart as long as I get Bret.

True story: My older brother is named Brett. When I came along, Dad wanted to name me Bart, but Mom raised an eyebrow and that was the end of that.
posted by mediareport at 9:56 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


B&W Bret Maverick played cards with the devil...
posted by bartleby 23 hours ago


Eponysterical's brother.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:48 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


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