Some of you may not be old enough to have appreciated Brisco County Jr (BCjr). We here in the Fortress were, but sadly did not “get” the show at the time. We have long since learned the error of our ways.
It is a quirky 1890’s western filled with in jokes about their future which we obviously have seen. It also has a pervasive sci-fi element. It is the kind of content that takes a Bruce Campbell to sell, and sell it he does. He uses all the qualities people have come to expect from him; one-liners, fun cockiness, and an “everyman” appeal.
The well casted supporting players were colorful. John Astin, Sheena Easton, James Hong, Andrea Parker, even the female body builder Cory Everson made appearances. Kelly Rutherford played Campbell’s sultry, bad girl sometimes-girlfriend Dixie.
The writing quality was very high for the early 90’s, and was maintained until some inconsistency in the last third of the series. The show launched with an interesting arc. Brisco has to track down the dozen or so briefly glimpsed members of John Bly’s gang who gunned down his father in the first episode. John Bly himself is played by the entertainingly over-the-top Billy Drago. He just drips unstable villainy!
There were a lot of little touches that make BCjr stand out. They had 3 different end rolls, filmed another special one for an island episode, and even had an all black one for the final two-parter. They went the extra distance with fun ideas like having Brisco shoot a bullet down the barrel of another gun in a showdown. The fast draw opponent, the humorously named “Utah Johnny Montana” saw his gun blew up entertainingly.
Sadly, the Friday night death slot proved too daunting for BCjr and it teetered on the brink for a bit before getting cancelled after 27 episodes. It was an era before the kinds of distribution such a quirky and innovative show could get today. They tried to rework the show in the last third. They ended the Bly/Orb arc in a satisfactory but premature fashion. That arc was not the problem.
The new more general “special missions” format probably sounded better on paper than it was in reality. Even John Herd’s portrayal of President Grover Cleveland was not enough. Not 100% sure of cancellation, the producers tried to sound an upbeat note at the very end. The president said that he hopes to see Brisco back in action very soon. The replay is that he will, “maybe after a short hiatus”. Alas, that hiatus continues to this day.
BCjr is out in a DVD box set. Watch this gem if it sounds at all interesting to you. It is likely that you will be glad you did.