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Ghost Canyon

'The Rifleman: Boxed Set Collection 6'
(Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / (1958) 2006 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: Widower Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) guides his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) through the often-difficult trials and tribulations of maintaining a small ranch in New Mexico during the late 1880s. This tremendously popular 1958-1963 TV series teaches the values of courage and justice, tempered with tolerance and understanding.

DVD Verdict: 'The Rifleman' was on TV before I was born, and though I dimly remembered the show growing up, I really became acquainted with the program when it was carried for a time on the Family Channel a few years ago. I enjoyed the program immensely, attracted by the relationship between Lucas McCain and his son Mark. Wonderful acting by the tough as nails Chuck Connors, and the adorable Johnny Crawford. Time really flies watching this program, it seems that it has only just begun, and then suddenly it's over. The same can be said of this DVD, as the episodes seem to quickly slip by one after another. McCain is a single father, trying to find a new life with his son in North Fork. His goal is to teach his son what he needs to know to survive in the old wild West. McCain's methods are basic "tough love", and may seem harsh by today's standards. But underneath the gruff exterior, is the true warm love of a father for his son. A similar treatment is applied to others undergoing life crisis, like the alcoholic Micah Torrance, and Michael Landon's outlaw character, as well as many others in future episodes in order to help them see the error of their ways. Issues of morality are typically presented as black and white, compromise is usually out of the question. Justice is often administered by McCain's tricked out Winchester lever-action rifle. Some episodes (particularly Peckinpah's), not necessarily in this collection, are particularly violent. The violence is treated as necessary, but the dead are not dwelt upon, and therefore the effect is softened, and passes as we fade to the commercial break. McCain kills only when forced to, and as a last resort. Others may not agree, but "The Rifleman" is a show about men, primarily for men. Sure, it will find an audience with some women, but this show definitely has a masculine view of the world. In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, there may more of an audience for a program where moral issues are clear, and justice is swift. The overall picture quality is excellent, and Elmer Bernstein's moving music comes in at all the right moments. Whether you are not familiar with this series or not, this is definitely a set of adventures that you can enjoy. Or, take it back to the start and watch the first series onwards ... a great place to begin and a journey worth taking. And thanks to MPI Home Video as there will undoubtedly be many more adventures on DVD to look forward to. This collection is highly recommended, and the best is yet to come. This is a Full Screen presentation (1.78:1), but comes with no Special Features.