This week I rewatched two more episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. This time we see classic Western action and learn a bit more about Dixie Cousins. Saddle up and prepare to ride with the Chin That Won The West.
In Episode 10 “Showdown” we get a classic Western plot with an old girlfriend named Annie, villainous ranchers and a hired gunslinger. Here’s Bruce Campbell:
The episode begins in a saloon. The local sheriff is a drunk old man who tries to arrest the son of a local bigwig for murder. It doesn’t go well and the sheriff is knocked down while his daughter watches. But Brisco and Lord Bowler show up and put down the spoiled son and his friends. Brisco is there in response to a letter from the sheriff’s daughter, Annie...
Mack Brackman, rancher and local bigwig, shows up at the saloon with his other son. They take back the murderer son, Bishop, at gunpoint. The man he killed was a homesteader on land the government had sold to him. But Brackman considers it his land because he grazes his cattle there. Everyone knows Brisco because it’s his home town. With Brisco’s father dead and the sheriff a drunk, Brackman has effectively taken over the town with no real opposition.
Federal marshals will be in town in a couple of days for Bishop so Brisco offers to capture and hold him in the jail. Bowler offers to stay and help Brisco (he’s a lot more friendly with Brisco than we’ve seen before). They snatch him from the upper floor of the saloon where he’s getting a massage (no happy ending for Bishop).
Brackman comes for his son but Brisco stands his ground with the aid of Bowler and Annie. The Mayor appoints Brisco as the new sheriff for two days until the marshals can take Bishop Brackman away.
Annie’s father Bob doesn’t take losing his job well and starts to crawl into a bottle of booze. He tells Brisco he was on the train when his father was killed but was too far behind Brisco’s father to help him when he was killed by Bly’s gang. So he’s carrying that guilt around. Now he would rather sit in the saloon and drink instead of help another County.
Brackman’s men try to drive out the last homesteaders but are met by Brisco and Bowler who capture them instead.
Olaf visits his brother Bishop in jail where Annie is guarding him. He manages to slip a knife to Bishop.
Annie and Brisco go skinny dipping in the moonlight. They were raised almost like brother and sister because Brisco’s father was away so much. But their feelings are definitely not just sibling love.
Brackman assembles a group of rough looking men in (wait for it…) a cave. He’s offering $5000 for someone to kill Brisco. Fast drawing gunslinger Utah Johnny Montana takes the job.
As Brisco and Annie return to town in the morning from their night together Brackman’s men pop up, lasso the two and tie off the ropes trapping them standing in the middle of the street. Then a herd of cattle appear at the end of the street. Brisco and Annie are trapped in the path of a cattle stampede...
Bowler shoots one of the ropes (with a shotgun). Brisco and Annie get free of the ropes and crawl under a wagon as the cattle run past.
Brisco is fed up with Bob’s drinking and calls him out on it. Then he and Annie head off to find Olaf (who was behind the stampede) while Bowler and Bob watch Bishop. They stop at Annie’s house where Bob shows up with a knife in his back (the one that Olaf slipped Bishop earlier). Bob doesn’t die though. He explains that Bowler was out getting food when Bob got too close and Bishop stabbed him and got the cell keys.
But Lord Bowler is the best tracker in the West and quickly recaptures Bishop. Brisco, Bowler and Bishop are headed back to the jail when Olaf ambushes them from a second story balcony. Fortunately he’s a terrible shot and they make it inside the jail. Brisco sneaks out the back of the jail and captures Olaf. Meanwhile Utah Johnny Montana grabs Bob and tells Annie he’ll trade Bob for Bishop.
This is a Western so the exchange takes place in the middle of the main street. Brackman has men hiding but Bowler works his way around the street and knocks them out one by one. Brisco knocks out Brackman for the “hideous wallpaper” he put up in the County house (Brackman bought it after County Senior died).
That just leaves Utah Johnny Montana to deal with. It’s the classic Western showdown with UJM at one end of the street and Brisco at the other. Brisco gets the first shot off and puts the bullet down the barrel of UJM’s pistol. The gun explodes in his hand. The injury will probably end his gunslinging days. And Bowler is looking to collect the thousand dollar bounty on him.
The marshals take away Bishop Brackman as well as his father and a few others. Bob’s brush with death got his head back in the right place. Brisco gives Bob his sheriff’s star back. Brisco and Bowler have leads on Bly but instead of riding off Brisco delays leaving to spend a little more time with Annie.
- There are several anachronisms (as Bruce Campbell calls them) in this episode played for laughs. Acting sheriff Brisco conducts a roadside sobriety test on a couple of guys racing horses through town. Utah Johnny Montana used to be Utah John Cougar Montana but he thought that sounded too pretentious (hey, in 1993 this was funny). A kid named Duncan gives Bowler a donut. And yes, Brisco does actually say “Annie, get your gun.”
- Lord Bowler lightens up a lot in this episode. He still gives beatdowns as needed but he also finds time to help a young couple get engaged. It’s a side of the character very different from the Bowler of the first episode.
- This episode is another straight up Western that uses a classic plot and many classic Western elements. They might as well have called it Rio Brisco. That’s not a complaint. Brisco County Jr. is of course an homage to classic Westerns as much as anything else and I would be disappointed if there weren’t episodes like this.
Episode 11 is “Deep in the heart of Dixie.” Yes, this one centers around Dixie Cousins. As Bruce says:
We start off with Brisco giving Socrates Poole some advice about the woman Socrates is interested in. Then Brisco spies Dixie Cousins riding by in a cab. The cab is accosted to armed men who are trying to get Dixie. Brisco intervenes and drives off the attackers. But Dixie has vanished from the cab...
One of the tycoons is showing Brisco and Socrates an amazing device, a talking machine that records sounds on a wax cylinder. Dixie has in her possession a wax cylinder with a recording of John Bly talking with a former Civil War general with political aspirations. Brisco says he might be the next President of the U.S. Dixie found the recording while she was hanging out with General Hyde (yes, she gets around). Bly has an assassin on Dixie’s trail, Winston Smiles (played by David Warner). After the attack she ran off to south to Pasadena (as Brisco notes probably disguised as a little old lady). Dixie needs to be back in San Francisco in few days with the recording to testify in front of a grand jury. Brisco vows to find Dixie get her to court in time. The tycoon’s secretary, Miss Avnet, comes in to remind him of an appointment. She is the woman Socrates is smitten with. Outside Lord Bowler is approached by a U.S. Attorney about a job. Of course it’s the same task Brisco has - to find Dixie and get her court to testify.
Brisco finds Dixie right away in Pasadena. She tells him she hid the cylinder in a mission so he can get it and go back to San Francisco without her. He counters that the cylinder is useless without her testimony and they set off.
We see Winston Smiles is a proper English gentleman who prepares gourmet meals like pheasant even on the trail. He also uses the meal to poison the leader of the failed attack on Dixie.
On a side trail back north Brisco and Dixie run into Bowler. Since Bowler has been temporarily deputized as a federal agent and has a $5000 bounty riding on getting Dixie to San Francisco, he knocks Brisco off his horse and rides off with Dixie. Unfortunately the two ride right into an ambush by Smiles and his men. Brisco shows up and manages to ride off with Dixie. Smiles and his men are in hot pursuit, leaving Bowler behind. Brisco and Dixie leap from their horses onto a conveniently passing train and escape (though Comet is miffed at being left behind). Smiley telegraphs ahead to someone. Bowler finds Comet and makes nice with him using a green apple (Comet’s favorite).
In San Francisco the U.S. Attorney barges past Miss Avnet into Socrates’ office. He tells Socrates about Bowler also looking for Dixie. Socrates points out that there is probably a leak somewhere in San Francisco since Smiles’ men knew where to find Dixie. Miss Avnet is impressed with how Socrates handled the government man and insists on having dinner with him.
The train has almost reached San Francisco when it is stopped. Smiles and his men capture Brisco and Dixie. Smiles has Brisco’s feet tied to a stake behind the train with his hands tied to the back of the caboose. If Dixie doesn’t spill where the cylinder is the train will move forward. Dixie doesn’t talk and the train starts moving, stretching Brisco like he’s on a torture rack...
Brisco uses the spur on his boot to cut the rope tying his feet to the stake in the ground. Dixie manages to cut the rope at the caboose while Brisco is being dragged by the train. Brisco knocks Smiles from the train. He and Dixie ride it to the next stop.
They decide to get off since Smiley could stop the train again before they get to San Francisco. They run into Bowler there. Dixie points out that it would make much more sense for Brisco and Bowler to work together when they’re after the same thing for different reasons - Brisco wants justice, Bowler wants bounty money. Ther get a ride north with some Mexican singers who recognize Dixie from her Jalisco days.
Socrates tells the tycoon that Brisco has Dixie and they’re on the way to get the cylinder before returning to San Francisco. Miiss Avnet puts the moves on Socrates in his office and they make out.
Brisco, Dixie and Bowler show up at the mission where the cylinder is. Smiles and his men show up. But who knew where Brisco and friends were headed besides Socrates, the tycoon and Miss Avnet? With the help of the Mother Superior they evade Smiles and get to San Francisco with the cylinder.
They just need to keep Dixie safe until the morning so she can testify. But Miss Avnet lets Smiles into the Westerfield Club. She’s the leak! Smiles breaks into the club’s safe to plant a bomb but is interrupted by Brisco. Miss Avnet tries to feed Dixie a poisoned pheasant but Dixie smells something wrong with the bird. Miss Avnet draws a derringer that Dixie knocks out of her hand. The two women fight while Socrates looks on. He finally gets the derringer and stops Miss Avnet (and fires her as well). Meanwhile Smiles has managed to plant the bomb in the safe. Brisco rushes everyone else out but Smiles attacks him. They fight as the cuckoo clock timer counts down. Brisco knocks out Smiles and escapes the club just before it explodes.
Socrates is depressed about the club being gone (and about Miss Avnet). Bowler wants to discuss a partnership with Brisco but will wait since Brisco has a date. Brisco and Dixie keep their relationship status as complicated as they walk off together (along with Comet).
- Dixie got her face on a coin like she wanted back in “Brisco in Jalisco.” Assuming she’s telling the truth Dixie had an interesting childhood that includes Cherokees, Mennonites and training to be a nun (but her heart wasn’t into it). Also Kelly Rutherford has dialed back a little on the Mae West bit. It seems less forced affectation and more like just how she talks. It’s a lot less distracting to me now.
All images via screencap