The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. - The
B- Sound: B-
Extras: A Film: B
Brisco County first aired in 1993
the commercials touted it as a Comedy Western.
It was obvious from the opening scene, that of Chinese workers being
granted super powers by a high-tech glowing, golden orb, that neither comedy
nor western quite covered the bases.
This quirky show, created by the late Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse,
writer and executive producer on Lost, regularly straddled the line of several
genres, all with a tongue-in-cheek good-natured sense of fun. The network didn’t know how to market the
show and it never found an audience (the same fate that befell the
Sci-Fi/Western series Firefly a
couple of years ago for much the same reasons).
basic premise was pretty straightforward.
Brisco is the son of a famous western lawman who was gunned down by bad
guy John Bly and his twelve-man gang.
Brisco Jr. is hired to track these outlaws down. While many of the
episodes are pure Western, the plot is complicated by that golden orb. Seems the Orb (all three of them, we later
discover), is from the future, as are several of the cast members who attempt
to retrieve it over the course of the series.
John Bly has a connection to it, as does Brisco himself.
complicate things, along the way we have an episode that is a tribute to the Alfred
Hitchcock horror film classic Psycho
(filmed at the actual Hollywood set), and another that is a murder mystery
straight out of a game of Clue. Like it
wasn’t hard enough to categorize this show.
the style of the program is an obvious tribute to the classic Western movies
and serials of the past much its theme is about the future and what it
holds. It is set in the 1890’s, a west
on the verge of a new century. Brisco has quite the imagination, always keeping
an eye out for "the coming thing."
To that end we see the advance of technology in the series, and although
some of it is anachronistic, it is all used to great effect. There are diving suits, tanks, motorcycles,
and lighter than air ships. We also see
items that were unknown at the time, such as a shower instead of a bathtub, a
miracle fabric known as denim, a sandwich made out of fried ground beef, and a
town sheriff who could pass for a certain flamboyant 1950’s King of Rock and
the genre, there is no confusion about what truly has Brisco County stand out,
and that is the cast. Each of the
primary characters are a joy to watch. Many of the roles Bruce Campbell is best
known for (Army of Darkness and Bubba Ho-Tep, both reviewed elsewhere
on this site) have a darker edge to them, but Brisco was the classic
square-jawed cowboy hero who loved his horse and never missed a shot. Julius Carry originally played bounty hunter
Lord Bowler as an over-the-top angry Mr. T in the old west, but over the course
of the series toned down and found nuances that made him lovable. Christian Clemenson rounded out the regular
cast as Socrates Poole, the beleaguered city lawyer who just wasnąt cut out for
extended cast of recurring characters is also essential to the feel. John Astin
as the befuddled inventor added an air of SteamPunk to the proceedings. Kelly Rutherford played Dixie Cousins, a
dancehall girl with an agenda of her own, adding an updated Mae West-like
sexuality and a love interest for Brisco.
Drago portrayed John Bly with a poise and grace that was Shakespearian in its
villainy. John Pyper-Ferguson was a joy
as my personal favorite character, Pete Hutter, a hired gun who came up with
plans that were phenomenally stupid, yet periodically discussed existentialism
and the Hegelian dialectic.
show ran a full season before being cancelled. The good news for viewers is that the primary
plotline, that of the Orb, is resolved in the first season, so there are no
really annoying cliffhangers at the end.
addition to the twenty-seven episodes, the eight disc set is loaded with extra
features. There is commentary on many
episodes, a full color booklet episode guide, Brisco’s Book of Coming Things (a
video catalog of the show’s references to the future), a retrospective
documentary, a roundtable discussion with the show’s primary writers, and a
reading by Bruce Campbell from his book If Chins could Kill: Confessions of a
B-Movie Actor, focusing on his time with the show.