INSP have begun broadcasting the Morgan Starr episodes. Arguably the least popular addition to the Shiloh “family” – Morgan Starr succeeded Judge Garth as the boss at Shiloh Ranch for a brief period during Season 4. The dark tone of Starr’s episodes was in stark contrast to Judge Garth. Starr’s stern, abrasive manner and military type persona was ill fitting for a show that relied on a friendly extended family at Shiloh Ranch.
Even the Virginian’s character was compromised and at times he took orders from Starr with an eagerness that bordered on servitude as in ‘Harvest of Strangers’ (4:22). It’s hard to accept Judge Garth would have recommended a surly authoritarian to succeed him at Shiloh. It is this basic lack of character continuity that adds to the confusion for the viewer in late Season 4. With the departure of Betsy and Judge Garth the introduction of Morgan Starr was an unwise decision by executive producer Norman MacDonnell as it darkened the tone of The Virginian and Shiloh Ranch.
There is no doubting John Dehner’s acting pedigree. These episodes can be now be viewed with the benefit of hindsight and positive aspects are evident. But at the time of broadcast this was a dangerous direction for the show to take and almost resulted in cancellation due to falling ratings.