The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

The Rifleman

I’ve been watching “The Rifleman” on Amazon Prime – because it’s free and because it’s nostalgic (to me – I’d watch “Branded” too if it were out there). And as I watch – from a different perspective than my younger days, a couple of things that I notice are:

1) Lucas McCain seems to have always come across most of the “bad guys” that show up in North Fork.

Now, his back story is one of a man who fought in the Civil War, started a family somewhere in the Midwest, but moved to the western range with his son after his wife died. He’s revered in the town as an honest, upstanding man. So it makes me wonder what kind of person was before, to have associated with all this riff-raff. Or does trouble just seem to follow The Rifleman?

2) Though he’s single and young, he’s never really looking for a wife.

In more than a few episodes, his son Mark comments on how he’d like a new Mom, and points out the few “pretty” women that come to North Fork. I say few for a reason – it seems that, unlike Bonanza, where “pretty gals” just seemed to fall from the sky, North Fork consists of mostly lonely older women. Any time a pretty gal comes to town, it’s usually with a problem. And good old Lucas, being the nice guy that he is, fixes their problem and then sends them on their way (or they can’t wait to get out-of-town).

3) Just what does he really do, besides shoot his rifle?

Although he’s a “rancher” who’s always “fixing the north fence” or “fixing the corral” for his herd of 4 horses, all I’ve ever seen through the first 20+ episodes is one stray cow with a calf. I mean, didn’t all the other “Westerns” at least occasionally show a herd somewhere? And he always has fresh (I hope it’s fresh) milk on the counter, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen a milk cow on the place. Come to think of it, he’s always eating bacon and ham as well, yet I’ve never seen a pig or a smokehouse. Just what kind of ranch is this?

Well, that’s about it for now. If I notice more I’ll update it here. On the positive side, I have seen many of the old stars cutting their teeth in some of the episodes – including Dennis Hopper, Michael Landon and Hoss himself, Dan Blocker. As I said, for me it’s nostalgic.