The Virginian (TV Series 1962–1971) Poster


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A great achievement in its time.
west-19 May 2001
This was an ambitious series, which made use of first class actors and magnificent location photography.

In its early years the series had five main characters: Judge Garth, owner of Shiloh, a great cattle ranch in Wyoming; his innocent young daughter Betsy; the Virginian, his heroic foreman; and two likeable ranch hands, Trampas and Steve. The relationships between these five, as they were developed and tested, provided the most affecting and amusing moments.

The series gave us strong, intelligent stories, which could be tragic or light-hearted, and often the direction was imaginative, sometimes even poetic. Issues such as injustice through prejudice, individual responsibility and the necessity for compromise were explored, and 'Shiloh' came to stand for the virtues of tolerance, compassion, courage and optimism. Compared with earlier Western series, The Virginian was amazingly deep yet subtle.

As the series ran on over the years it created a hopeful vision of a society slowly progressing towards order and peace.
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A series with a lot of heart that needs to be seen
rcj53656 August 2004
"The Virginian" was without a doubt one grand amazing ambitious series which made use of its first class actors and some of the most magnificent piece of location Technicolor photography ever assembled for a brilliant television series which kept its viewers tuned in for 90 minutes during the impressive nine seasons that it stayed on the NBC-TV network from its premiere in 1962 until its final episode in 1971.

Based on the classic novel by Owen Winsler,the series is set on the Shiloh Ranch in the Wyoming Territory of the 1800's and the goings on within the town of Medicine Bow. In its early years,and within the first five seasons,the series had five main characters:Judge Henry Garth(Lee J. Cobb),the owner of the Shiloh Ranch,which was a great big cattle ranch in Wyoming who was also the not only the town Judge but the District Attorney as well;his innocent young teenage daughter Betsy (Roberta Shore);the Virginian(James Drury),his heroic foreman Trampas (Doug McClure),and the assistant ranch hand Steve(Gary Clarke). The relationship between these five individuals,as they were developed and testing were providing the most affecting and amusing moments,and later on during this series new characters would be added on to provide support. It was also during the early years of the show that "The Virginian" was rise to the top of the Nielsen ratings,and to anyone's surprise rack up several Emmy nominations for actors Lee J. Cobb and James Drudy not to mention the show's theme song for musical composer Percy Faith. During its initial run,the show was always in the top ten and it stood shoulder to shoulder among the television Western giants like "Gunsmoke","Bonanza",not to mention "Rawhide",and the courtroom drama "Perry Mason".

The series gave us strong,intelligent stories,which could be either tragic or light-hearted,and most often the direction was either imaginative,and sometimes even poetic,but still this series was one action-packed show full of unexpected excitement and breathtaking suspense along with some comedical support in some of the episodes which were directed with excellent timing by some of the best in the business. However,throughout its entire run,only actors James Drudy and Doug McClure stayed on the series until the final episode in 1971. As for the special guest stars on this series,this show had them,and some of them appear in either one or two episodes within the 90 minute time frame. In some of the episodes you got to see Hollywood greats like Bette Davis and Lee Marvin and in some episodes you get Charles Bronson, James Coburn,Richard Anderson,Telly Savalas,Arthur Hunnicutt,John Dehner,David Hartman,Lee Majors,Pippa Scott,Stewart Granger,Diane Baker, Inger Stevens,Harry Morgan,Brian Keith,George C. Scott,Pete Duel,Hari Rhodes,Harrison Ford,and the list of the guest star roster goes on and on with very familiar actors doing the "Stagecoach" routine each week.

As the series went on the issues of the day were very informal subjects ranging from injustice,racial prejudice,individual responsibility and the necessary for compromise were explored,and during the final years of the series the name of "Shiloh" came to stand for something for the virtues of tolerance,compassion,and courage and optimism as well the respect of mankind were the objectives of the day,and this show delivered the goods. Compared to other Western shows of that era,"The Virginian" was well acted and for one,it had a lot of heart and like other shows it knew exactly when to call it quits beforehand. Most recently,this series is now on The Hallmark Channel,and for those who never seen this series,it is a worth seeing every weekend where Hallmark shows back to back episodes of this series. Not to missed!

NOTE:"The Virginian" was produced by Revue Studios/Universal Television and it produced an astounding 249 episodes,all in color during its impressive nine year run on the NBC Network.
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The return of a true gem
vranger27 January 2010
This is yet another series that I remember being devoted to as a kid, but some 40+ years later I of course didn't remember any real details of the series, its guest stars, or episodes.

When in January 2010 Encore Westerns began showing it, I was amazed.

First, when it originally aired my family didn't have a color television. The cinematography in The Virginian is amazing for a series that started in 1962. Not only was filming a TV series in color unusual at that early time, but the quality of color is outstanding ... each episode looks virtually like a technicolor movie.

Second, most of the scripts are quite compelling. Unlike some Western films, where an complex adventure has to be squeezed into 90 to 120 minutes, the writers of The Virginian knew they had a series of shows to work with. Therefore they opted for somewhat more simple, yet strong, stories that they could explore at a more leisurely pace. It doesn't mean the shows are slow moving ... quite the opposite. It means they have more time for character study, and for the most part this is a real strength of the show.

Finally, the acting is very good. Each show has strong guest stars, a real Who's Who of television and movie actors. The cast also gives strong performances, including an amazing job by James Drury. Why he wasn't treated to more long term starring roles after this is a mystery to me. Even Doug McClure, who walked thru most of the rest of his career trading on his popularity as Trampus, gave strong and believable performances in this series.

Obviously, I highly recommend The Virginian to any fan of westerns. Whether you are a younger viewer discovering this show for the first time, or someone like me 'rediscovering it', you'll experience a true delight.
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Favourite TV western
john-cunniffe4 November 2005
This was my favourite TV western when I was a child, and I believe it was much more superior than the other TV westerns of the 70s. The casting and acting was first rate, so to was the cinematography. The story lines were realistic, gritty and strong. The character of the Virginian and Trampas worked well together and the chemistry between the actors was evident. While the Virginian was the strong silent type, Trampas was the wild and reckless one. Each episode had a wide array of character actors who began their acting careers on this show. I find it strange that of all the TV westerns this seems to be the only one that is not available on either VHS and/or DVD. I only wish the entire series plus The Men from Shiloh were available on DVD.
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LOVE the Virginian
dogsavvy20 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a new fan. A lot of the shows finally airing on Encore or TvLand I've never seen. I'm glad I came home early one day & got the tail end of an episode of the Virginian. The characters grab you quick. It's hard not to be drawn in by James Drury's portrayal of The Virginian. His good lucks, ultra polite manners & always doing the right thing is wonderful. I really don't grow tired of watching this show. I bought Season I & II & often times take them with me to work & listen to them at my desk on a portable DVD player. Any time I bring the Virginian DVD's I end up with a passel of coworkers who drag their lunches & chairs into my office & offer to share lunch if they can watch with me during lunch hour!! Even some of the youngsters get drawn in & say, "Man, he's a cool dude" :) It's nice to be able to sit down & watch something that there are no age limit to who can watch. My husband's young grandson all the way up to my 88 yr old Grandma love it.

And how many modern shows can you let the kiddies & adults without worrying that anyone would be offended??? I don't know if this is a spoiler or not but the abrupt cast changes left our household a little upset but so long as James Drury's in there we hope they keep putting the whole show out on DVD because the show is much loved & will be watched & shared for many years to come!!!! It's highly recommended viewing. I love Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Loredo, Cheyenne, The Daniel Boone Series & now The Virginian is fast becoming my favorite! Every time I watch I fall a little more in love with The Virginian.
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Great Western Series
eastbergholt200212 February 2010
I first saw the Virginian in England in the 1960s. It became my favorite Western series. The characters were honest, likable and honorable. The acting was good and the stories were compelling and well written. The show also seemed more subtle and complex than the average western series. The stories usually had a moral message and the good guys always came out on top.James Drury, Doug McClure and Lee J.Cobb were all excellent.

The Virginian came from a time when American TV shows were very popular in the UK.During the 1960s and 1970s we tended to see a lot of American shows in prime-time in Britain, but that changed in the 1980s. This show is being shown on Encore and I'm enjoying watching it in color for the first time.
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Forgotten Feelgood Fun
ih007b207724 March 2003
Quite simply, I grew up watching 'The Virginian' and I have to thank it, for being very watchable, and mainly for keeping my attention span for 90 minutes. This was unheard of for a show in those days. It led me to becoming an avid cinema addict, for which I am eternally grateful. Probably my favourite western series, although 'Alias Smith and Jones' threatened to equal it until Pete Duell committed suicide. Great memories, from the early days of colour and BBC2, I believe...
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Good series
gazzo-220 December 2003
Good series, it's sad it's been kinda forgotten. It's easy to write it off as another 'Bonanza' knockoff-Big Valley, High Chapperell, for example, but it wasn't that, not at all. In one episode, you get to see Lee J Cobb, Richard Anderson, Harry Morgan, Arthur Hunnicutt and a host of other Very familiar character actors doing the 'Stagecoach' routine-while McClure, Drury and co weren't exactly chopped liver either.

It had heart, it was well acted and was on forever. I would watch this over Bonanza any day.

*** outta ****
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If you like Westerns, do NOT miss this series!
gerryn-101-93194212 October 2013
This series (The Virginian) is truly amazing. It ran for 9 long seasons, a total of 249 episodes. The Virginian (James Drury) and Trampas (Doug MaClure) stayed through the entire series. There were a number of Owners of the 'Shiloh Ranch' located near Medicine Bow, Wyoming in the late 1800's. The daughters and/or nieces of the owner were a series of lovely actresses. Owners included Lee J. Cobb, Charles Bickford, and John McIntyre (and his real-life wife, Jeanette Nolan). John Dehner was also the owner for a (mercifully) short period.

Although there were many, many writers and a very long list of directors, the series was very fluid. Top name actors were guest stars week after week, and somehow the episodes were always very enjoyable. When you stop to think that they basically produced a 90 minute movie every week, 30 weeks a year, it is remarkable that each week was unique and entertaining. Various sensitive topics were handled in a real-to-life manner.

This series remains, in my opinion, one of if not the greatest series ever presented on TV. I would watch every episode again, and with great enjoyment!
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I'm surprised that nobody put out a comment for this
raysond4 December 2000
I remember this show vividity as a child during the 1960's and part of the 1970's. Its amazing that this show that ran for an impressive nine seasons on NBC(from 1962-1971),was the first show ever to expand to a full ninety minutes and the only western that was second to "Bonanza"(which was on the same network)to be presented in "living color" during that time. Based on the novel by Owen Winsler,the show centers around the goings on of the Shiloh ranch and it characters(played by James Drudy and Doug McClure-who stay on during the show's entire run) who were always in a bland situation or two. Its rarely seen nowadays,but the last time this show was seen anywhere was on the Family Channel during the 1980's and most recently the movie version of the same name was made(which didn't go by the 1960's TV show)on TNT. Excellent Western!!!
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Underrated Show That Deserves Much More
agentmelton30 December 2011
The Virginian first aired in September of 1962. It was the only western at the time to be in color with a full 90 minute format. It's lengthy time slot allowed for extensive character development and deep plots. The show attracted many famous guest stars of the time because of the amount of screen time that each would be allotted. Because of the shorter time of many westerns, guest stars were not allowed much screen time, as the time was badly needed for developing the central characters. However in The Virginian, there was plenty of time for everyone. The Virginian (James Drury) is the tough minded foreman of Shiloh Ranch, Medicine Bow, WY. He and his top hands especially Trampas are friends who help each outer out in times of trouble. Being weighted down with his many responsibilities, the foreman generally has a more serious nature to his character, and at a glance, might even seem standoffish. However, at heart, he was really a kind and generous person. *His true name was never revealed in the run of the show, which allowed for a sense of mystery to his character.

Trampas was the fun loving cowboy who was the top hand at Shiloh for the entire 9 years of the show's run. Doug McClure succeeded in playing his role to perfection. He was an underrated actor who really did quite well. He was by far the most developed character in the series, and McClure was so popular that he along with James Drury were the only characters to appear as regulars for the entire run of the series.

There were many more characters. A total of five ranch owners owned the ranch from 1962-1971. Their families came and passed with them, and many of them left no explanation as to their leaving. The producers rather chose to let the viewers imagine what might have been the destiny - or fate of the characters.

The Virginian was the third longest running western in television history. Unfortunately, this show is overshadowed by the more famous and popular shows, Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Thanks to syndication by popular channels and DVD releases by Timeless Media Group, this show can now be enjoyed by people of all ages from everywhere.
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Take a Trip in History
timfuneraltim11 March 2017
The Virginian is still a classic story within a story and a story. The characters are real and the life lessons we learned are still with us.So if you're willing ,hop up that horse there and let's go for a ride.The sun's out and we might just come across a man who sez when you say that,smile or just another interesting person with a story to tell.
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Currently Airing on Retro Television network
bozey458 February 2009
"The Virginian" TV series airs currently on Retro Television Network on Sunday mornings at 8A.M. EST and 9:30 A.M. EST. Check your cable or satellite guides for the RTN channel or the digital sub-channel of your local affiliate. Retro television network is a service for local channels to use on one of their digital sub-channels; as soon as a local channel adds the service then it can be added to a satellite or cable service lineup. This is a great series, each episode almost equal in quality to a 90 minute movie (minus commercial time of course.) If you're interested in seeing this series contact your local channels about adding the Retro television network as a digital sub-channel. if you've never seen this series you're in for a great treat, sure it's long, being 90 minutes, there were only 3 90 minute westerns on TV over the years and this is by far the best. Wagon Train is a close second, and that also air son RTN, Sundays at Noon EST.
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The first western
bkoganbing21 August 2017
With no less than the presidential imprimatur of Theodore Roosevelt on the novel by his good friend Owen Wister, many consider The Virginian to be the first realistic western novel. Before that the rather discredited prose of people like Ned Buntline dominated the field and none of their 'literature' survives today.

This television series takes the basic characters of The Virginian, Trampas, Steve, and Molly Wood from the novel and makes them all friends. The guys are foreman and his two best buddies all working at Shiloh Ranch. They're played by James Drury, Doug McClure, and Gary Clarke. Pippa Scott plays Molly Wood, school teacher in the novel, but in the TV series newspaper editor of the Medicine Bow periodical. The Shiloh ranch is owned by Judge Garth who lives there with his daughter Roberta Shore.

That's how it started but regulars came and went. The Shiloh ranch changed hands first to John McIntire and his real life wife Jeanette Nolan. Later on it went to Stewart Granger and the series changed its name to Men Of Shiloh as the women regulars were all eliminated. And we never learned what The Virginian's real name was or his past as in the novel.

The Virginian had the distinction of being the first 90 minute series on television. It must have been grueling shoot, it's like shooting several feature films in a year. It also had some name guest stars like that other series from Revue Productions Wagon Train.

The Virginian ran for 9 seasons before NBC pulled the plug. But in that time it gave us good and memorable television western shows.
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Was there a episode with the Virginian and Trampas going to fight in the Spanish American War?
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Great series
purplerozena20 October 2017
I love this series and have been very disappointed it is no longer on Inspirational channel.

I guess I will have to buy the DVD's

All of the typical guest stars of the 60's come in and out the show and makes for very interesting story lines.
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An Early-1960's TV Western
strong-122-4788857 December 2017
Set in the 1890s at the Shiloh Ranch and in fictitious town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming - The Virginian is quite a well-produced TV Western from 1962 that chronicles the lives of the struggling pioneers who had travelled west to this untamed land where they settled and eked out a living as best they could.

Filmed in living-colour - This once-popular "Wild West" production geared all of its story-telling to 90-minute episodes. It starred actors James Drury and Lee J. Cobb. Many of the programs featured celebrity guest-spots from the likes of such performers as George C. Scott. Eddie Albert, and Ricardo Montalban (to name but a few).
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Available on inspiration network tonight.
whohmd14 July 2019
This is a much underappreciated question. Doesn't get the same press as Bonanza and Gunsmoke but is just as good. When the good guys for good guys and the bad guys were really bad .
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A pioneering Western
edie2019F6 June 2019
Compared to other Westerns, the Virginian was a latecomer to British television screens. Preceding it from the late 1950s were Cheyenne, Wagon Train, Rawhide and the like. Initially, all were shown in black and white on very small screens. Although the Virginian was novel in being 75 minutes long and in colour, the team which created it seems to have come from the former era. Blips overlooked in monochrome stand out like a sore thumb in colour, particularly now, when played on the huge screens we have in our homes.

Watching Seasons 3 and 4 (on DVD) for the first time in 50 years, and catching up on Seasons 1 and 2 on Freeview, I was intrigued by the contradictions. There was the ambitious use of acting royalty like Bette Davis and George C Scott, and yet for interior shots, the scenes of the outside world as seen through open doorways, are painted backdrops which look amateurish.

Given my love of Westerns, it's surprising just how unengaged I was initially with the Shiloh regulars. Betsy was close to my age at the time but I didn't identify with her at all. It's like when you read a novel - there needs to be a character with whom you can empathise, one you trust to lead you into the story. For me, that did not happen until Season 3 when Emmett Ryker rode into town. The experience was like Guy Fawkes night, the fireworks those of wit and humour. It was such a clever script. In those days, with no internet to consult, there was no way of finding out if he would appear the following week. There were no video recorders either so if you missed a programme that was it - gone. But he did become a regular, and therefore so did I.

Why Ryker? Sure, Clu Gulager is easy on the eye, but being handsome doesn't necessarily make a person or a character attractive. He was intriguing. Ryker's awkward childhood, his chequered history, are laid bare in that first episode, giving his character instant depth. You understand how his experiences have sharpened his survival instincts and his intellect. At a turning point in his life, he hits the ground running, inner conflict hot wired into him. The mystery is not who he was in the past but who he is going to become in the future as he takes on the role of upholding the law he was sometimes on the wrong side of. In later episodes the scriptwriters refrained from throwing him into doomed love affairs like the ones Doug McClure and James Drury had to endure, which was another huge plus.

With Gulager driving the performance, Ryker is never, ever boring. He had two good years on the Virginian, but then when Season 5 opened on tv, he just wasn't there. For weeks and weeks he was a no show. My interest in watching dwindled and I sought solace with Manolito Montoya over at the High Chaparral. I never went back. Until now.

Watching The Virginian episodes again, knowing how little time the actors and production team were given to create them, it's truly amazing what they managed to achieve. Season 3 in particular is very good. But the gruelling schedule must have taken a toll because from Season 4 onwards, the turnover of regular cast members is constant. Some long absences and disappearances remain unexplained which, with time invested following the story arcs of certain characters, can be frustrating for the viewer. If you've never see the Virginian before, you could do worse than start with Season 3 and see where you want to go from there.
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