I've been listening to Gunsmoke, which has to be one of the best radio shows I've found yet, and so wildly different from the TV show, that it's almost "Same names, but completely different." I remember the TV show and I remember Marshal Dillon being about as good as good could get, and nine times out of ten, he won the day.
The radio show is entirely different. Yes, Marshal Dillon always lives, but half the time, he looses. He's forced to kill people who he didn't want to. He tries to save people from trouble and a lot of the time it ends up not working. Also, the show isn't afraid to get into adult issues, even if they do it in a cleaned up way. For example, on one episode, folks heading to California stop at Dodge. When they leave, someone leaves a baby at the doctor's. Matt rides out to find these folks and tells them that whoever left the baby should really think about this, that if they change their mind later, it will probably be too late.
The mother comes to claim the baby. When asked why she did it, she says, "Well, uh, my husband has been in the army since we were married and I haven't seen him in two years." They were supposed to meet up along the trail. Well, because every story can have an amazing coincidence, husband catches up with her about five minutes after she's told the story. Matt tells husband about the baby. Husband is upset, but decides he'll forgive her and they'll stay together and he'll be father to the baby.
Yes, later we find out that the woman was unable to have children and was claiming the baby because she wanted a child so badly. But still, the implications were clear as crystal. The show dealt with the idea of a cheating spouse and that yeah, maybe they can even be forgiven.
And while they don't come out and say it, it's pretty obvious from the show that Kitty is not a saloon owner, but a dance hall girl/prostitute. I appreciate the way that they make it obvious without slamming you in the face with it. Like the baby episode, they never said, "OMG, you CHEATED!" but anyone who has a knowledge of how babies get into the world and how long it takes to make one knows that's exactly what they're implying. If they were doing it now, the explanation would probably have been along the lines of, "You've been gone and your wife couldn't keep her dress on, so here's this baby who is definitely not yours." No doubt culminating in the couple being on the Old West equivalent of Maury Povitch, where the husband would rant and rave and the woman would swear on a stack of bibles that was HIS baby.
Well, having actually enjoyed Gunsmoke, I downloaded another western series to try, Wild Bill Hickok. And the difference is night and day.
First, let's start with some visuals.
THIS was Wild Bill Hickok.
And this is Wild Bill Hickok from the radio show. The one on the left is Wild Bill.
Also, according to the radio program, Wild Bill is an old west Knight minus shining armor, just polished spurs, who most of the time, doesn't have to kill anyone. Nope, instead he just
I'm not the Wild West history buff my dad and brother are, but I do know enough to remember that Wild Bill was a bit of a douche bag. The man was fired from being a marshal, because he had a habit of forgetting to only shoot bad guys, or else defining "bad guys" as "Anyone who pisses me off." He did some pretty decent things too, but he was a product of his time and the life he lead.
I'm sure a big reason for this wholesomeness and sunshine is that WBH was considered more of a kids radio program, but really, Wild Bill was a real person, with a real history. If it was too violent and unpleasant for the kiddies, then use someone else, preferably a fictional character. Because even if you want to make a more sterile version of Wild Bill, I'm sure even a sterile, all American good guy version of Wild Bill would never, never, NEVER, have a side kick named "Jingles" and talk on and on about what a delicious snack Kellogg's Corn Pops are, with or without milk.
Now, if you have a hankering to hear how bad this all is, you can mosey on over to here and download copies of the program to listen to it's terrible badness for yourself. But, if I were you, I'd skip it and instead head right to Dodge city and go for Gunsmoke
If there is a great saloon in the sky, where all the famous folks from the Old West go when they die, I imagine Wild Bill is still taking a ribbing about the radio show.