From season four, Laramie: Time of the Traitor makes for a good hour of entertainment. Though there is a lot of action in it, I like the ‘think piece’ angle that is part of this western tale.
The main guest star is Lew Ayres who appears in this hour as Dr. Samuel Mudd, the real life historical character of the man convicted of(and subsequently pardoned for) helping John Wilkes Booth to escape after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Ayres is absolutely perfect in this laid back portrayal. He’s a cross of back road country and sophistication, and I’m just drawn into the characterization. In the episode, Mudd ends up involved in caring for a wealthy rancher’s son who has been injured in a buckboard accident.
R.G. Armstrong portrays that rancher, Vic Prescott. He’s very forceful in the performance, something that Armstrong could do with ease. Prescott blames Mudd for his son being paralyzed because he operated on him.
One of my favorite scenes is early on in the hour when Mudd bandages the paw of one of young Mike’s dogs. It’s just really cute to watch. I also love it when Daisy (Spring Byington) interferes with Prescott by pulling out a rifle. We don’t often get to see Daisy showing that kind of a wallop, and that was rather nice to see here.
Now something that doesn’t work is that the dog sleeps in the living room and is aware of a stranger in the house. He growls. Young Mike just tells the dog to be quiet or he’ll have to sleep outside. Then the intruder stands and the dog just growls again. He never moves, and that’s just not realistic.
On top of that, as soon as the intruder moves into the bedroom, Slim is up in a second. It just doesn’t work for me that Slim didn’t hear the growls and, considering what was going on, didn’t get up to investigate. It was nice to see the dog in the story, but the whole bit with the intruder was poorly done.
Harry Carey Jr., Lane Bradford, Anne Whitfield, William Fawcett, and Paul Carr provide some good supporting work for this story.