Monday, May 15, 2006

There Are Manly Men in the Big Valley

My parents didn't let me watch lots of tv, which was one of the reasons I enjoyed playing at my best friends house. His family had the tv on 24 hours a day. There was even a huge tv in the basement, which didn't make much sense since the family would watch a smaller set upstairs. We used to watch reruns of Star Trek, Gilligans Island, Wild Wild West, or Batman. I'm not sure whether Big Valley was in syndication at that time, or if James West and Master of Disguise Artemus Gordon were so cool and action oreinted that they totally kicked the Big Valley's ass.

Big Valley was the story of the Barkley family. The rich, ranch owning, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-and-act-like-a-man, tough old matriach dominated Barkley family. Daughter Audra seemed a bit vacant. Illegitimate son Heath was played by a young pre-Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors. Oldest brother Jarrod was a level headed lawyer. Youngest son, Eugene, was mostly away at college and didn't seem to be involved in the storyline even when he was home.
And then there was Nick, the hot headed Barkley. There alwaysa hothead if there is a levelheaded guy. After viewing Big Valley episodes as an adult, I believe that Nick's screaming, fighting, and hotheaded impulsive challenges were the result of his being the manliest of men in a land of big, burly, stinky, drinking, manly men.

Either that or he was legally insane, which you could make a really good case for judging from the scene where ol' hotheaded Nick went ballistic and beat up a middleaged, hamfisted, immigrant gypsy squatter.


Jimmy said...

Was Heath really illegitimate or are you just joking??

I was allowed one hour of TV per day as a kid. I picked Andy Griffith and Dick Van Dyke. I would have chosen Star Trek, but not one town I ever lived in had it available. I still feel the pain.

Chris Jart said...

Wow, you know my parents also limited my tv viewing. They made me go outside and play, or read, or do something artistic. The horror! Yet somehow I ended up obsessed with pop culture. Go figure.

As an adult, I have watched the entire Big Valley series, and yes, Heath is illegitimate. It's not joke. Victoria Barkley was not his mother.

At the beginning of the series, Victoria's husband has died and Heath shows up claiming to be his son. They think he's a gold digger, but he really is a Barkley. Of course, Nick as the unreasonable hot headed one, has the worst time of it.

While Heath's heritage is an issue during the first season, I don't think it was mentioned after that.

Jimmy said...

I suppose I would have been too young to understand Heath's bastard status, ha. All I know is that Steve Austin was on the show, and Nick was always good for a fistfight nearly every episode. Good enough for me.

Chris Jart said...

Yeah, I wouldn't have picked it up when I was young either. But when I was watching it a few years ago, there was an episode where Heath shows up and the Barkleys don't believe he's related to them.

After having seen tons of episodes where Heath is part of the family, it totally confused me as to why they were saying they didn't know him and thought he was a gold digger.