When it absolutely positively has to be there by next month.
ABC made an effort to bring back the western in 1989. But The Young Riders was more of an extension of the popular Young Guns films than the traditions of Gunsmoke or Bonanza. I didn’t catch this show on its original run, so the DVD’s were a particular treat. A chance to see something new. Still, I never could shake the feeling that I’d seen it all before. Give ABC credit for a decent cast of upcomers. The production values were also far great…r than one usually finds in a network drama series. The major flaw was to base the series on the Pony Express. The premise required the characters to be out on runs for nearly a month at a stretch, which would leave very little time for the interaction and continuity necessary for an ongoing series. The Young Riders solved that problem the old fashioned way. They simply ignored it. The result was a show increasingly less about the Pony Express and more about life on the station’s ranch. The action was more or less provided with the cast helping out damsels in distress and fighting bad guys. It’s a wonder any mail got delivered at all. In an effort to forge some name recognition, the characters are made up from mostly misplaced western legends. If you are at all annoyed with glaring historic inaccuracies, this is not the show for you.
If you can get past the flaws of the premise, there really is some quality television to be found here. The locations are a treat for the eye. John Debney’s music is a wonderful fusion of Western and modern sounds. The cast is also quite a treat. Anthony Zerbe creates a compelling character with his Teaspoon Hunter, the station manager and father figure for the young recruits. Homicide’s Melissa Leo counters as the matriarch figure on the ranch. She is joined by her future Homicide partner’s brother, Stephen Baldwin, as Buffalo Bill Cody. Another famous brother, Josh Brolin, played Wild Bill Hickok. In one of the film’s greatest believability stretches we find Yvonne Suhor as Lou, a girl passing unconvincingly as a boy. Ty Miller plays the enigmatic “The Kid”..
Each episode of The Young Riders is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The print has a fair number of flaws, but nothing too distracting. Colors are good and natural. They actually hold up quite well for the time. Black levels are better than average. The occasional specks and score marks are to be expected, and perhaps enhance the period feel of the show. Many television on DVD sets have a great amount of inconsistency between episodes. This series maintains a good solid picture for the entire set.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers everything you can expect from a 1989 network series. Dialogue is well defined. The score is treated with the prominence it deserves and will not disappoint. It is unlikely that it sounded any better during its broadcast run.
Nothing to see here.
The best thing I can say about this series is that it was unexpectedly entertaining. In my mind it had a lot going against it. The historical inaccuracies alone might have been enough for me to turn a blind eye to what it really was. I found myself happily ignoring these handicaps and simply enjoying the ride. The most important DVD element here is that networks are taking chances and releasing older, shorter running shows. Fans of the show were likely not very hopeful of ever seeing it arrive on DVD. It’s a risk that you, the buying public, might think about rewarding. After all: “Dangerous work ought not to be done for nothing”.