These were simple, friendly stories about the same Old West you may have read about as a kid. Did it really exist? Who cares? The time and place these video plays were set in is made of the same clay and light as the one where "The Twilight Zone" was set. Both relied on a degree of attention to plot and character by the viewer as necessary to the presentation of morality plays you don't see anymore. What do you do when the local sherriff threatens to hang your man when his townfolk are desperate to find the rustler taking their livestock, but you know he's not guilty? How do you cope with a proud boss when you need his best judgment, but only you know his wife has run off with another man? This is where the stories that, for a while, we thought of as "cliche'" originally came from. That was before we thought of anything not based on jiggle or teen angst as too much trouble to think about. (Though, lately, "reality" shows have relieved us of having to think at all.)
If you want to be reminded of just what a great storytelling medium TV can be, watch this show (currently on the Hallmark Channel, c. 2003). Be warned, though: you'll be spoiled for such fare as "Fear Factor" and "Dawson's Creek," thereafter. Maybe even for "Buffy," though I know you don't believe that.
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