Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fly A Wild Horse

20 Fly a Wild Horse
December 8, 1979
Music: Stu Phillips
Writer: Richard Kelbaugh
Director: Christian I. Nyby II

Add BJ AND THE BEAR to the long list of television shows to film at Vasquez Rocks. The historic Southern California rock formation plays host to the attention-getting opening sequence, which includes a wild horse stampede and BJ running his semi into a ditch. BJ's current gig is hauling fencing supplies for wealthy rancher Angus Wainsley (special guest star Jock Mahoney). After getting conked on the head in a bar fight by crooked deputy Tero (Cliff Emmich), BJ is taken to the home of Native American Sixkiller (George DelToyo) and his sister Zena (Ruth Britt). Sixkiller is the man who accidentally ran BJ off the road during the teaser, while rescuing wild mustangs from Wainsley, who's illegally slaughtering them for money.

Director Christian I. Nyby II neglects to hide the shadow of the camera truck during the climactic car chase—also set in Vasquez Rocks—but other than that, "Fly a Wild Horse" is a pretty solid episode. Dependable Hank Brandt and the great comic character actor Burton Gilliam play Wainsley's henchmen. Mahoney was one of TV's great western stars, playing both the Range Rider and Yancy Derringer in popular '50s series. The former stuntman and stepfather to Sally Field (he was married to her mother Margaret Field) later returned as a different character in two 2-part BJ AND THE BEAR episodes.

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