Written by Gene Roddenberry, Have Gun – Will Travel: El Paso Stage was the 30th episode of the 4th season. Roddenberry did several shows during HGWT’s tenure on the air. Some weren’t so hot, but I enjoyed this particular outing for the western.
On the negative side, I really regret that shows that begin in a fun, upbeat manner end in such a downbeat low note. This happens a lot in this series, including this show. I find that unfortunate.
The show doesn’t have the usual opening in San Francisco, something I tend to miss. I just think a lot of the show’s personality comes from those tidbits, even though they most often have nothing to do with the episode itself.
Instead, the opening scene is on a stagecoach. What I noticed first was the appearance of Jeremy Slate, who plays Frank DeWitt, though we don’t know his name initially. He’s fun from the start. Sometimes Slate’s such the villain, but there is a playfulness to him in these first moments that is far from that.
As I said, the opening scene on the stagecoach is such a hoot. Slate comes off as a nice lawyer, impressing the female passenger. Then all of a sudden Paladin chimes in with some other point of view. There he is in his black gunfighter’s attire and he’s spouting off Supreme Court decisions. It really was a great start to the half hour.
The cast is first rate, something you don’t always get, but this one was superb. Supporting Richard Boone in his role of Paladin was Buddy Ebsen as Marshal Elmo Crane. Now this is not Jed Clampett, this is the dark side of Ebsen, as dictated by his character. He’s a good actor, but I think he’s more suited to those good guy roles, or at least the ones on the fence. However, watching him made for good drama. He pulled it off well.
Also providing successful power to the success of the show was Hank Patterson in a bit part and Karl Swenson as Sam DeWitt, who actually wants his son dead.
The chase at the end was intriguing, though I don’t think it was Ebsen on the horse until the last bit.
Overall, nice show.