Gather round for another Friday Flashback here at Crave Online!
This week, we take a look at one of two shows that debuted on Fox Friday nights all the way back in 1993. One of these shows was highly touted, with a rising leading man heading for big things and the network and critics were sure that it was the next breakout hit.
And the other show was "The X-Files."
It’s true, everyone expected "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." to be a huge success. And why not? It had Bruce Campbell in his prime, just a year or so removed from "Army of Darkness" with genre bending stories that regularly mixed in sci-fi and steampunk with its late Western setting.
But the series may have just been too far ahead of its time. It was co-created by Jeffery Boam and Carlton Cuse (whom you may remember from "Lost"). Campbell played the title character, a former Harvard trained lawyer who became a full time bounty hunter to avenge the death of his father, Brisco County, Sr. (R. Lee Ermey).
Like any great hero, Brisco had a few sidekicks. First and foremost was his horse Comet, who seemed oblivious to the fact that he was a horse.
Then there was Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson), the prerequisite nerd who was Brisco’s liaison to his employers, whom Brisco dubbed "the robber barons." Their friendship started as early as the pilot episode and lasted through the end of the series.
The late Julius Carry also co-starred as Brisco’s primary rival, Lord Bowler. For the first half of the series, they have a very Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck relationship, with Brisco almost always getting the best of Bowler. And frankly, Bowler didn’t become interesting until he and Brisco settled into a real partnership.
But once they got to that point, Brisco and Bowler kind of became the new Lone Ranger and Tonto. In fact, one of the popular fan theories about this show is that Brisco County Sr. was actually the Lone Ranger in his later years. I don’t think there’s anything in the show to back that up, but it’s a cool idea.
The great John Austin (Gomez from "The Addams Family") was also a recurring cast member as Professor Wickwire. Think of him as Brisco’s Doc Brown, the guy who supplied him with advanced tech for the time. He was also responsible for getting Brisco on this rocket train.
Weirdly, Anne Tremko only appears in the pilot once as Amanda Wickwire, the Professor’s granddaughter. I think she was supposed to be Brisco’s love interest, but somebody must not have liked her because she never showed up again.
Which brings us to the true love of Brisco’s life, Dixie Cousins, as played by Kelly Rutherford. She was an accomplished con artist and a very popular lounge performer.
This picture is the only one online that even comes close to doing justice to how beautiful she looked in costume on this show. After the series Rutherford stayed close to Fox and ended up as vampire bait on "Kindred: The Embraced" and Jake bait on "Melrose Place."
Finally, we have Brisco’s main villain, John Bly (Billy Drago). And here’s where things get a little weird.
Brisco’s grudge against Bly came because Bly murdered his father. But Bly wasn’t actually a native from this time. Instead, we eventually learn that he’s from the 26th century and he’s been chasing a mysterious Orb from even further in the future, which could grant people special powers and abilities. It was the Macguffin of the series from the very beginning of the pilot.
And here’s Bly about to use the Orb to take over the world… or break into a musical number. Seriously, I don’t know what’s going on in this picture.
The series was great fun, but it only ran for 27 episodes… which is a hell of a lot for a single season show. But the good news is that it’s available on DVD and you can watch most of the episodes online at theWB.com.
"The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." may never get the following that it deserves, but you never know. Hollywood loves remakes and it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody took this concept out and tried it again sometime down the line.