|The cast of The High Chaparral.|
The pilot episode of The High Chaparral follows the journey of the Cannon family en route to a new beginning in the Arizona Territory in the 1870s. The family includes: "Big John" Cannon (Leif Erickson); his wife Annalee (Joan Caufield); young adult son Billy Blue (Mark Slade); and John's brother Buck (Cameron Mitchell). Along with the usual perils of frontier travel, the Cannons discover that a Mexican landowner covets their new ranch and that the local Apaches are hostile. During an Apache raid, Annalee is killed and John's strained relationship with his son comes to a head.
|John and Victoria looking formal.|
What sets The High Chaparral apart from other 1960s Westerns is its evolving family relationships. The Big John-Victoria relationship progresses from one of mutual respect to genuine love. Buck's relationship with Blue evolves from supportive uncle to de facto father at times (e.g., when Blue decides to leave the High Chaparral, it's Buck that goes after him and convinces him to return). Buck and Manolito--two kindred spirits when it comes to having a good time--act more like brothers than Buck and John.
|"Brothers" Buck and Mano.|
The High Chaparral debuted in 1967 in the Sunday 10 P.M. timeslot, immediately following Bonanza on NBC. The next year, it moved to Fridays, where it remained for the rest of its four-year run. While The High Chapparal scored decent ratings, it never cracked the Nielsen Top 20 shows for a season. Western dramas had also begun to fade from the television landscape. Less than two years after High Chapparal's cancellation in 1971, even Bonanza came to the end of its 14 seasons.
Over the last four decades, The High Chaparral has attracted a loyal following (click here to visit an in-depth web site created by its fans). Surprisingly, the series has never been released on DVD in the U.S., although the show's fans rave about a region-free DVD set produced in the Netherlands. And if you've never seen The High Chaparral and want to sample it, you can watch it currently on the INSP cable network.