This week I rewatched two more episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. This time we have two lighter classic Western episodes before the final showdown with you-know-who. Saddle up and prepare to ride with the Chin That Won The West.
In Episode 18 “Hard Rock” features some backstory for Lord Bowler. Here’s Bruce:
Brisco and Bowler ride into the town of Hard Rock in response to a letter from an old friend of Bowler’s, Lenore. They interrupt some ruffians in Lenore’s cafe and it’s clear Bowler and Lenore have some serious history...
The town’s troubles started when an unsavory character named Roy Hondo showed up. Hondo is running a security business - pay Hondo for security or bad things happen. Lenore is the only business owner who in town who has refused Hondo’s services.
Brisco goes to see the local sheriff, who looks a lot like a certain Vegas lounge singer who still has a lot of impersonators today. Unfortunately Sheriff Aaron Viva can’t do anything since Hondo hasn’t been caught breaking any laws.
Hondo is called out on the street by a young hothead. The hothead draws on Hondo, who instead of killing him shots some nearby jars of paint that end up on the hothead, ending the shootout. The sheriff takes the hothead away to cool off in a jail cell. The hothead is named Whip Morgan and he has a personal grudge against Hondo because he killed Whip’s uncle. Brisco decides to mentor Whip.
Bowler tells Brisco about meeting Lenore while he was in the Army (First Sergeant in the 10th Cavalry). She was married to an officer who was missing. Since they didn’t know the husband’s status Bowler and Lenore didn’t act on their feelings for each other. She only recently found out that her husband is in fact dead. But they hadn’t reconnected until she asked for his help in Hard Rock.
Brisco and Bowler capture Hondo’s chief henchman, Gage, when he tries to kill Lenore. Brisco and the sheriff allow Gage to escape so Brisco and Bowler can follow him to his gang’s hideout. They have Gage ready to turn snitch when hothead Whip rides up shooting at the hideout. Brisco, Bowler and Whip beat a hasty retreat when they’re outgunned (they still have a captive Gage with them). Gage’s gang blows up the entrance to the cave the four men are in, trapping them inside.
Bowler makes a gunpowder explosive rom everyone’s ammo but before they can use it a bear appears from deeper in the cave. All their ammo has been taken apart to make the explosive so they can’t shoot the angry bear...
Bowler confronts the bear while Brisco and Whip finish the fuse for the explosive and blast open a hole to escape the cave. Bowler fights the bear offscreen but when he returns to the cave entrance the bear doesn’t follow.
Gage is locked back up in the jail awaiting federal marshals to whom he’ll spill everything he knows about Hondo’s operation.
Lenore is trying to get the townspeople to stand up to Hondo when he shows up to put the fear back into them. Hothead Whip bursts in and tells Hondo they have a witness that will put him away before Brisco and Bowler can drag Whip off. Brisco chews out Whip for letting Hondo know about Gage. Whip reveals that Hondo is his father (but doesn’t know it).
Sheriff Viva has taken Gage to the mayor’s house for safekeeping but the mayor is in cahoots with Hondo. The mayor knocks out the sheriff and lets Hondo in. He kills Gage and tells the mayor to finish off the sheriff. Viva regains consciousness in time to take down the mayor. The sheriif drags the mayor to the jail and locks him up. A shootout at Lenore’s cafe ends with Gage’s gang also in custody.
Meanwhile Whip has gone after Hondo. He confronts Hondo in the saloon and reveals his true identity as his son. Brisco shows up and talks Whip out of the showdown. They take Hondo into custody (the mayor can testify that Hondo killed Gage).
Whip says goodbye to his father before he is hauled away to stand trial. Bowler says goodbye to Lenore - he has his life to go back to and she is about to become the new mayor of Hard Rock. Brisco, Bowler and Whip ride off at a full gallop together from Hard Rock.
- This is another episode with a lot of humor. Besides the Elvis-like sheriff there are mentions of a sandwich made with ground beef (“It tastes like steak only soft”), a drive-through window and a few other nods at the audience.
- We find out that Lord Bowler’s name is really James Lonefeather. A previous episode mentions several names he’s used but this is the first time we find out definitively what his real name is.
Episode 19 is “The Brooklyn Dodgers.” Brisco and Bowler try to get a pair of orphans to San Francisco before they’re killed for their inheritance. This episode is pretty much like a side quest for a game like Fallout or Skyrim. Here’s Bruce:
Brisco and Bowler ride into a town in pursuit of a bounty. While they’re in a saloon apprehending their man a pair of teenagers try to steal Brisco’s horse. Brisco tells Comet to stop and the theft is thwarted...
The kids - Tommy and Shannon - are orphans from Brooklyn (though only Tommy has the accent) who are trying to get to San Francisco in time to claim their inheritance of a gold mine. But Simon Wolfe, the man who runs the orphanage Tommy and Shannon ran away from, is trying to get their inheritance. Brisco accepts the side quest of escorting the kids to San Francisco. He and Bowler are heading back north anyway and it’s not a bad idea to pick up some experience points and maybe level up.
In San Francisco Socrates Poole has received word from Brisco and is looking into the inheritance. A long lost and presumed dead uncle has appeared to claim the gold mine (worth over three million dollars). Socrates is immediately suspicious of the uncle who he believes is really Wolfe. Outside the lawyer’s office Wolfe is confronted by Irish gangsters from New York that he owes money to. They kill Wolfe and plan to take the full inheritance from the kids.
On the trail north Tommy tells the story of how they were orphaned after a ferry sinking. Their parents’ bodies were never found and their uncle sent them to an orphanage while he went out west to prospect for gold (it’s his mine the kids will inherit). That night Tommy and Shannon steal Brisco and Bowler’s horses while they’re sleeping. Comet leads the kids in circles until Brisco and Bowler catch up.
Socrates is reading up on the ferry accident that orphaned Tommy and Shannon (another side quest accepted). Fortunately the librarian has a photographic memory and helps Socrates track down the ferry captain who conveniently is in San Francisco. The trail leads to a Japanese fishmonger who gets Socrates to try some rice and raw fish rolled together along with some hot wine (then charges his $50). The fishmonger points Socrates to a tavern on the wharf. The ferry captain is a drunk full of remorse over the accident. He sends Socrates to a woman on Nob Hill who knows something.
The Irish gangsters find Brisco, Bowler and the orphans. The gangsters try to convince Tommy to go with them since they’re from the old neighborhood but Brisco and Shannon get him to think otherwise. The orphans ride off on Bowler’s horse. The gangsters disarm the two bounty hunters but they run into the woods.. The gangsters are in hot pursuit. The gangsters catch up and shoot Brisco and Bowler in the chest. They both fall down motionless...
The gangsters leave. Brisco and Bowler pop up. They each have a shovel blade under their shirt as body armor. As Bowler points out it’s a good thing they didn’t go for head shots.
Tommy and Shannon have arrived in the next town. SHannon wants to go to the sheriff’s office like Brisco said but Tommy want to. The gangsters show up and tell Tommy that Brisco and Bowler decided to abandon them. (Tommy doesn’t wonder why Bowler isn’t coming for his horse, which would be like giving away his car.) The men head to a club while Shannon evades them. She finds Brisco and Bowler when they arrive in town. Shannon tells them where her brother is and that there’s no sheriff in town to help them.
The two bounty hunters sneak backstage in the club and with the assistance of some belly dancers get Tommy away from the gangsters. But Tommy is still acting like a teenager and breaks away from Brisco. He finally realizes what’s really up with the gangsters when they rough up Brisco and threaten Tommy.
On Nob Hill Socrates finds the house but the housekeeper won’t let him in. Socrates realizes it’s not the woman of the house he’s looking for but the housekeeper. She is Tommy and Shannon’s mother. Just as the children thought she was dead, she thought they were dead.
The gangsters bring Brisco and Tommy to San Francisco and Tommy is led into the lawyer’s office. Observing from across the street are Bowler and Shannon. Tommy signs the paperwork to become the new mine owner and is expected to sign it over to the head gangster. Brisco and Bowler intervene. After a chase and shootout through… wait for it… the streets of San Francisco, the Irish gangsters are defeated.
Socrates reunites Tommy and Shannon with their mother. He and Brisco have successfully completed their side quests and earned lots of experience points (and maybe a level up). They’ll need it next time because the main quest isn’t over just yet.
- You may recognize the girl playing Shannon as Mercedes McNab who was in the Addams Family movies and would later play Harmony Kendall on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
- Because I’m the kind of person who notices these things, I was distracted by the Irishmen being armed with these Mauser pistols, which weren’t produced until 1896 (it’s 1894 on the show).
All images via screencap