Venture back to the days when the land was still untamed and the West was still wild with Season One of The Big Valley, the TV classic starring Barbara Stanwyck, Lee Majors, and Linda Evans.
The Barkleys are the wealthiest and most powerful family in California's San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s, owning and controlling cattle herds, gold mines, citrus groves, and logging camps. Follow and share the family's trials and tribulations as matriarch Victoria Barkley leads her brood through joys and heartache, adventure and danger, and laughter and pain in Season One of this seminal and timeless Western Soap!
The Big Valley rounded up a stable of great character actors, several at the beginnings of their careers. The episode "By Force and Violence" alone offers Bruce Dern as an escaped convict whom Victoria compels at gunpoint to help rescue Heath, who is trapped under a disabled wagon, and L.Q. Jones and Harry (Dean) Stanton as the bounty hunters on his trail. Several of the episodes cover some of the same ground: an old family friend is revealed to be less than trustworthy; Audra falls for the wrong guy; someone's got a grudge against the Barkleys. One of the season's most memorable episodes is a tale of redemption, "The Guilt of Matt Bentell," in which the man the Barkleys have hired to oversee their logging operations is the former warden of an apparently Abu Ghraib-like Civil War prison where Heath was incarcerated. Now that network television has put Westerns out to pasture, fans of the series and Western buffs who wouldn't be caught dead in Deadwood can enjoy The Big Valley's more traditional pleasures, including breathtaking cinematography (no painted Ponderosa backdrops), great Western action (the fight scenes pack a real punch), and involving stories. --Donald Liebenson