Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Little More About Kit

Reeves released photos of the Sneak Peeks for 2011, and the biggest nonsurprise there is a Giselle and Gilen set. They look quite lovely in Bay - continuing in the whole Running Mare and Foal theme, maybe? (I was secretly hoping for a Black/Dark Gray mare and light/white foal combo, myself.)

I hope their imminent arrival spares a few of the SRs - especially the beautiful Melanges - from the chopping block. (A matching foal for her would be a fine and lovely thing, I think. Aren’t we about due for another Web Special? Hmm.)

I had a serious case of writer’s block yesterday, so I spent the day going through my pile of unprocessed research notes. Not the new stuff I picked up at the main branch of the DPL back in September: most of this pile is old research, some of it dating back to the 1980s. I never had a framework to put it into before, but now that I do - along with the time to do it - I figured I might as well tackle it.

Most of it is secondary or supplemental research, the kind of data I’d find while researching something else for work or school. I’d get bored, or squirrely, or nauseous from the fumes of musty old issues of Gazette des Beaux-Arts, and off I’d go in search of something more interesting (or at least, less aromatic) to read.

One of those more interesting reads was Hal Erickson’s Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years 1947-1987. After looking up all my old favorites - Superman, Star Trek, Mr. Ed - I then proceeded to look up some of the shows I knew Breyers were based on: Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Fury, and … Kit Carson.

While doing my original blog post on Kit Carson, I was rather curious about the reasons why the show had, despite its popularity, so quickly disappeared from public consciousness. Lots of shows from that era continued on in syndication for decades, accruing new generations of fans. But not Kit Carson: the show seems to have just gradually faded away.

I had initially chalked the lack of enthusiasm about the show to its lack of originality. Erickson goes into a little detail about this:

Filmed at Republic Studios, the 104-episode Kit Carson was for a time syndicated television’s top-rated Western. Today it is largely forgotten. Perhaps this is because Carson was so derivative of most of the other Westerns of its era that one wonders why the producers were never sued.


Actually, the biggest reason why Kit Carson vanished was because its star, Bill Williams, didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. Erickson, again:

Former RKO leading man Bill Williams played Kit Carson; he approached the role as a job of work, with minimal exertion of personality or enthusiasm, and when the series ended, Williams declared publicly that he never wanted anything to do with Kit Carson ever again. Such words were the "kiss of death" to a syndicated western, where continuous personal appearances were ever so important.

As I mentioned before, pursuing a license from might not have been that big of a concern for Breyer. That the show was no longer being promoted nationally may have made it even less of a priority. They had already made their pile of cash from the Davy Crockett mold, and any profit they made from the Kit Carsons, however small it may have been, was theirs free and clear.

Next time we’ll talk about a TV license that worked out well - very well - for Breyer: Fury.

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