Few DVD releases will generate the excitement among fans that this boxed set will, and for good reason: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., is arguably one of the best TV shows of ANY genre to have been produced in the past 20 years. (As its tag line promised, “Smile. You’re about to meet your new hero.”)
Not only does this box set include pristine transfers of the entire series (comprised of 27 episodes which aired on Fox from Aug. 27, 1993-May 20, 1994), it also boasts an in-depth feature interview with star and cultural icon Bruce (Army of Darkness) Campbell, who supported this DVD release in every way.
In addition, the studio has announced these great “extras” include Brisco’s Book of Coming Things; A Brisco County Writer’s Room, a write-em cowboy reunion; History of Brisco County Documentary; A Reading from the Book of Bruce; and Tools of the Trade, an interactive gadets gallery.
Kudos to Fox Studios for getting it right! (Note: while the individual episodes have been available for sometime on VHS, this is the first time the series has been released on DVD, and the first time the show has been released in a single boxed set in any format.)
While the series is clearly a western, it truly defies classification because it incorporates many different and unexpected elements including science fiction, time travel, ghosts, the supernatural, comedy, amazing gadgetry and core morality issues that make it a truly unique and unforgettable viewing experience.
In the pilot, the saga begins simply enough when, “one of the greatest lawmen the West has ever known,” U.S. Marshal Brisco County, Sr., (played by R. Lee Ermey) is on a train with other lawmen transporting outlaw John Bly and his evil Gang of 12, whom he had captured, to face justice. But, the tables are abruptly turned when the prisoners are freed and the Marshal is killed by Bly.
The Marshal’s son, Brisco County, Jr., a Harvard graduate who earned a law degree, is hired as an unlikely bounty hunter by the members of San Francisco’s Westerfield Club to track the outlaws down. Brisco straps on his father’s gunbelt with its famed ivory-handled six-shooter, which he handles better than a western trick star, and never looks back.
Brisco, ably assisted by Comet the Wonder Horse (who has more intelligence than most people), meets a variety of friends and foes as he pursues his goal and also stumbles onto an incredible legend: the tale of a supernatural golden glowing orb that bestows unimaginable powers on the person who possesses it. Brisco soon realizes that Bly will stop at nothing to obtain the orb and wield it for his own diabolical purpose.
Campbell, who is perfectly cast, brought a warm, human depth to the character along with an inside wink to the audience underscoring life’s absurdities. He also gave deadpan deliveries of puns laced with sexual and non-sexual overtones.
The primary cast includes Julius J. Carry III as James “Lord Bowler” Lonefeather, a rival bounty hunter packing a sawed-off shotgun strapped to his back who eventually became Brisco’s best friend and “side-kick”; Christian Clemnson as Socrates Poole, the straight-laced Westerfield Club attorney befriended by Brisco and Bowler; Kelly Rutherford as Dixie Cousins, dance hall singer and Brisco’s love interest; John Pyper-Ferguson as bungling outlaw Pete Hutter, in love with his six-shooter; John (Addams Family) Astin as brilliant, eccentric inventor Professor Albert Wickwire; and Billy Drago as the infamous Bly. There are also great and unexpected guest stars throughout including Terry Bradshaw, Sheena Easton, and Timothy Leary.
In addition to the two-hour pilot, episodes are: The Orb Scholar; No Man’s Land; Brisco in Jalisco; Socrates’ Sister; Riverboat; Pirates; Senior Spirit; Brisco for the Defense; Showdown; Deep in the Heart of Dixie; Crystal Hawkes; Steel Horses; Mail Order Brides; A.K.A. Kansas; Bounty Hunter’s Convention; Fountain of Youth; Hard Rock; Brooklyn Dodgers; ‘Bye Bly; Ned Zed; Stagecoach; Wild Card; And Baby Makes Three; Bad Luck Betty; High Treason Part I; and High Treason Part II.
Ironically, while the series was short lived its memorable theme song, composed by Randy Edelman, has been heard on NBC broadcasts of the World Series and the Olympic Games
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Yes, it is time that this cult fave got a DVD release. Criminally underrated during its one-season run on Fox (as a Friday night lead-in for the X-Files), Brisco County was a GREAT show. If you missed it, it’s one of those shows that “had it all.” Action, comedy, a few sci-fi twists…and a great sense of wonder that one finds in most of the early films by Lucas or Speilberg (or both, as Brisco was clearly inspired by the Indiana Jones films). Bruce Campbell, fresh off of Army of Darkness, brought his amazing physicality and comic timing to the title character.
I know there are plenty of other Campbell fans out there…let’s hear from you! Viva la Brisco!
The Adventures of Brisco County was one of the most creative productions on television. Each week, Brisco and his friends, the Mae West-like old flame Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford), lawyer/ administrator Socrates Pool, the loyal and mad Prof. Wickwire (the brillant John “Gomez” Astin) and others take on the villains the “Old West” while keeping an eye on the future. The Harvard-educated bounty hunter teams up with his rival Lord Bowler (Julius Carry, Sho `Nuff for THE LAST DRAGON) to capture the Bly gang responsible for his father’s death and much more. It is this clever combination of classic action, a touch of sci-fi, and a good dose of humor that make the series unique (example: bad guys who paint tunnels on rocks like a train-robbing coyote). So, take a minute or two and slip back into the wild & weird days of the old west – where riding, shooting, and fighting was the measure of a man – that and a square jaw, a talking wonder horse and outlaws from the future. The series was also loaded the Bruce Campbell’s quirky humor and full of great anachronistic goofs on “coming things” loads of modern ideas and concepts quickly dismissed by the cast as impossibly unrealistic for the future (like Drive Thru-dining or hamburgers a.k.a “Cowpies”) The series was groundbreaking in a relatively unique TV genre, the “Western-Indiana Jones-style-action-sci-fi-spoof” (there was “Best of the West” an 80′s sit-com western and “The Wild, Wild West”).
Here’s the complete series episode breakdown, with some highlights:
When U.S. Marshal Brisco County, Sr. is murdered by John Bly and his gang, the robber barons of San Francisco’s Westerfield Club hire Brisco County, Jr. as a bounty hunter to round them up. Brisco meets a line-up unusual people along the way, including rival bounty hunter Lord Bowler, and the Westerfield Club’s stuffy lawyer, Socrates Poole also Prof. Wickwire. He also learns of a mysterious ORB which John Bly (Billy Drago, reoccurring on Charmed) would do anything to possess, for the supernatural power it can give him.
2.) The ORB SCHOLAR
On X-Files, whic happen to run after Brisco, they had Mythos episodes that continue the continuity of the alien-cover-up storyline. In Brisco, episodes would spring up exploring the mystery of the ORB so desired by the murderer of Brisco County Sr. Here we learn more about the ORB, and of Brisco’s destiny with it. Very good for such an early episode.
3.) NO MAN’S LAND
This one has little ORB continuity, but it does have a town propulated only by women, the Schwenke Sisters, and Professor Wickwire.
4.) BRISCO in Jalisco
Brisco and Socrates head to Mexico to recover some stolen guns. Brisco is in for a shock when Pete Hutter turns up as the thief, trying to sell them to a crooked General.
5.) SOCRATES’ SISTER
`Nuff said. Prof. Wickwire invents his Amazing Innerspace Suit (a diver’s suit) too.
Yep, you guessed it a gambling sting on riverboat. The invention of jeans, too.
Brisco & Bowler try to capture crazy land-pirate Blackbeard LaCutte, a wanted member of the Bly gang, who has stolen all of a town’s supplies, including the medicine needed to save a sick boy (awe-say it ain’t so).
8.) SENIOR SPIRIT
More Prof. Wickwire and the ghost of Brisco County Sr.
9.) BRISCO FOR THE DEFENSE
Brisco uses those lawyering skills we’ve heard so little about, to defend an old collage buddy.
Brisco & Bowler head to Brisco’s hometown, to help an old girlfriend and her sheriff father stop a town takeover.
11.) DEEP in the HEART of DIXIE
Dixie and Brisco are on the run from a hitman and his gang. The superb David Warner makes a guest appearance.
12.) CRYSTAL HAWKS
Every bounty hunter in the West is out for Brisco for a crime he didn’t commit, lead by lady bounty hunter Crystal Hawks played by Sheena Easton. Bly is in this one too.
13.) STEEL HORSES
Brisco & Bowler try to capture Bly gang member Juno Dawkins, and recover the prototype motorcycles he’s stolen to use to intercept a government wagon transporting the mysterious ORB.
14.) MAIL ORDER BRIDES
The disturbing Swill Bros. have stolen the dowry of 3 mail order brides.
15.) A.K.A. Kansas
Brisco uses the alias of Kansas Wily Stafford, to infiltrate the ranks of an ex-Bly gang member and ex-husband of Dixie, with Dixie’s help, ofcourse.
16.) BOUNTY HUNTER’s CONVENTION
This is a take off of Agatha Christie’s THE TEN LITTLE INDIANS. Its a mystery who-done-it in the classic sense, complete with an old hotel, thunderstorms, and secret passages.
17.) FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Brisco vs. the Best-looking gang he’s ever seen, while we learn Bly’s true origin and purpose…