Hondo the Series

  • Produced by Batjac Productions, Inc., Fenady Associates, Inc., and MGM Television
  • September 8, 1967 to December 29, 1967
  • ABC

An embittered former Rebel officer travels the Arizona Territory in the 1870s with his dog, clashing with the local cavalry whom he holds responsible for the death of his Native American wife as he tries to keep the peace between the factions.

Ralph Taeger stars as Hondo Lane, taking over the role from the legendary John Wayne. Taeger does his best to channel John Wayne and quite honestly nobody can channel John Wayne. He was a unique screen persona that can never be duplicated. Taeger comes off more as Humphrey Bogart impersonating John Wayne than anything else.

Hondo’s sidekick in the series is Buffalo Baker who is portrayed by Noah Beery. Beery himself is perhaps best known for his role on the classic series The Rockford Files. Beyond that though he appeared in several Wayne films. Buffalo Baker fits in the general type of character Beery played. Affable, kind, and a touch on the scheming side.

And what is a family friendly Western without a cute kid for the hero to be a father figure to? Hondo is idolized by blond haired and blue-eyed Johnny Dow who is played by Buddy Foster. His acting was genuinely bad. He made Jake Lloyd look like a gifted thespian. It is no wonder his sister is much better known.

Kathie Brown plays Johnny’s mother Angie Dowe who ceases to be a factor in the show. Michael Pate takes over the role of Chief Vittoro. The character shows up to give things a Western feel but is really not reflective of how the characters talk about him.

Hondo was inspired by the film Hondo but doesn’t maintain a strong connection to the film. You might be able to take it as a prequel series but even that is a little difficult. Back in the day shows inspired by movies were not a continuation of the story or a prequel of the story but rather their own thing that took elements of the movie and spread it out.

Nothing really clicks in this show. There is something missing here and I think what is missing is John Wayne. John Wayne was and still is a tough act to follow. And given that this series came out not that long after the film I can certainly see what this is missing. Hondo was John Wayne. Here in Hondo the lead actor is trying to be John Wayne being Hondo. What I’m saying is the actor should have made the part his own.

The more successful film to television adaptions take whatever characters appeared in the movie that they decide to use and allow the actors to make them their own. M*A*S*H* did that and the show worked. Stargate SG1 did that and it worked. And I know it’s animated, but you can lump in The Real Ghostbusters in all that. They did their own thing with the characters and the show lasted six or seven seasons.

And the stories in Hondo the Series were kind of bland. There is nothing special about them or interesting. I think that is because the show just did not know what to do. They were following in the footsteps of something that starred John Wayne and back in the day he was a huge star and they just did not know how to get this guy to do stories that filled those shoes for television.

One thing that jumped out at me was that the obligatory love interest of Angie Dowe was married in the pilot episode but by the second episode her husband was gone and it was implied he died some time ago yet nearest I can tell events of that episode were fairly recent in connection to everything else.

All the shows did that and more often than not they could get away with it because this was in the days before VCRs and DVRs and in some cases shows were not even repeated during the summer. It’s not as if people could go on a streaming service or what not and binge watch the show and pick out the inconsistencies back then.

Hondo the Series is not bad but it is nothing too special and does not live up to its source material. I think this is one of those things that you can watch out of curiosity. It is not must see television.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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