Laramie: Bad Blood isn’t really a huge favorite of mine, even though the main focus is on Robert Fuller as Jess Harper. Part of it might be that he’s teamed up with a teenage kid who lacks charisma and pretty much bored me throughout the hour.
In the show, a woman who once saved Jess’ life, shows up with her son, asks Jess a favor, and then dies. After her burial, Jess takes the son to meet up with his father, who isn’t exactly the image of what Jess or the boy had in mind. It’s a little more complicated than this, but that’s the basic idea.
John Anderson plays Leo McCall, the notorious outlaw who fights to keep his son. Anderson is a capable, versatile, and dynamic performer who has been in just about everything, including multiple episodes of Laramie.
Steven Barringer guest stars as the teenager, Skip Whitaker, who develops an understandable but unfortunate case of hero worship of his father. Barringer just didn’t do well in my opinion. Someone in the Laramie casting department liked him a lot, though, because he was on three episodes in the space of a year.
Brad Weston does a good job as one of the villains early on, and Jan Shepard is adequate as a woman under Leo McCall’s spell, in a twisted sort of way. Jean Byron was very nice in her small bit as Skip’s mother, Annie. It’s too bad she didn’t have a bit more to do. She’s a very good actress.
For me, there was too much of Barringer. I wasn’t at all compelled by his portrayal. If Fuller hadn’t been such a good actor, I would have been totally put off by the show. The plot was good, so don’t misunderstand my point here. I liked the story, and Anderson was very believable and luring in his bad guy role.
The problem was all with Barringer, who needed more edge in his scenes. The potential was there as the drama is big, especially when Jess and McCall face off against each other. Jess is essentially held prisoner, and there’s some very good stuff on his side. Barringer just needed to be stronger and more dynamic to really make the shows sing.
Still, give me an episode of Laramie, and I am a happy camper, especially when Fuller is center stage.