Did you know that CBS made a television series based on the popular western The Magnificent Seven (1960)?? If you didn’t, don’t feel too upset, up until a few years ago, I didn’t know the show existed either, but oh my goodness it is amazing!!
The show is loosely based on the same premise as the film, where a group of seven gunmen, led by Chris, band together to protect a town. Only in the show, they’re protecting a frontier town out West, and not a Mexican village south of the border. These are also not quite the same cast of characters from the film either. The ‘seven’ of the Magnificent Seven are:
Chris Larabee (Michael Biehn): The leader of the group, and based on the “Chris” character played by Yul Brynner in the original film
Vin Tanner (Eric Close): A bounty hunter and tracker, closely based on the “Vin” character played by Steve McQueen in the original film.
Ezra Standish (Anthony Starke): A southern con-man and gambler, who often struggles with moral dilemmas regarding what he does best. He really has a heart of gold though.
Josiah Sanchez (Ron Perlman): A preacher and former gunfighter who often provides spiritual aid to the group and others. He works on building a church for the town.
Nathan Jackson (Rick Worthy): A former slave who worked as a stretcher-bearer for the Union Army in the Civil War. He learned a lot about medicine and works as the healer for the group, as well as the town they protect. He is an expert with throwing knives
J.D. Dunne (Andrew Kavovit): A ‘city-slicker’ from the East Coast, J.D. has come West to make his fortune as a gunfighter, and has a hard time being taken seriously by the group (at first). Of all the seven, he gets hurts the most (he’s been shot, stabbed and royally beat up).
Buck Wilmington (Dale Midkiff): The ladies’ man of the group, Buck is the best friend of Chris, and has known him the longest. He’s always romancing at least two women at a time in town, though it rarely ends well for him.
With such a diverse cast of characters and great storytelling, it astounds me that this show ONLY ran for two seasons (and short seasons at that!!) Actually, it is my understanding that the reason The Magnificent Seven was renewed for season 2 was due to a fan campaign to keep the show going. I can only speculate that CBS ultimately killed the show because it wasn’t doing well enough in ratings to justify going forward into a third season, which is a shame because it’s one of the best TV shows derived from a film that I’ve ever seen. The late Robert Vaughn (who starred as one of the original Magnificent Seven in the 1960 film) was a frequent guest star as travelling judge Orrin Travis, and it was always fun to see him show up.
Fortunately, the entire series has been released on DVD, so it’s not too hard to pick up a copy and enjoy every single episode. Still, I can’t help but wish there were more seasons available, this is definitely a show that was cancelled too soon.
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