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Chuck Connors in Branded

Been watching episodes of Branded the sixties TV series with Chuck Connors. It’s a good series but it only lasted two seasons (1965-1966). The reason it flopped must have been the crazy premise writer Larry Cohen came up with. Chuck is branded a coward for being the only survivor  of the Battle of Bitter Creek. He actually covered up for General Reed, who probably had Alzheimers’.

So they kick Chuck out of the Army and all the shows are about people who know the truth, that he isn’t a coward, who want to clear his name, but he stops them because it would hurt the general’s reputation and might ruin the peace treaties the general made with the Indians. Every week it was “Hey, You aint a coward. Let me set the record straight.” Chuck: “Shut up. Yes I am. Go away.” Meanwhile he takes all kinds of abuse from people who don’t know any better. There are a lot of fight scenes every week and it appears Chuck did most of his own stunt work.

It’s definitely a different concept for a western, sort of a western for masochists. After one season it started to get more and more unbelievable. At the end of the run they brought Lola Albright in as a newspaper editor,and possible love interest, but she’s only in a couple shows, before they pulled the plug.

Hats off to Larry Cohen for trying something different. It’s a concept that probably would have made a great feature film, but, of course, TV series can’t help beating a good idea into the ground. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s on at 8 a.m. every morning on the Heroes and Icons cable channel. Worth checking out, if you’d like to see something as far removed from today’s narcissistic TV fare as you can get. It’s got a great theme song too.

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