Morgan Starr

Morgan-Starr3INSP 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.


Author: PGreen

Published work in U.S.A. for McFarland & Co. Inc. : A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971 (2006, 2009 Softcover edition) Pete Duel : A Biography (2007, 2009 Large Print edition; Kindle edition) Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns (2009) Jennifer Jones : Life and Films (2011)

3 thoughts on “Morgan Starr”

  1. While I agree with you I have always liked John Dehner as an actor and he sort of grew on me watching the reruns.

  2. I had an issue with the dialogue for the Virginian and the story line. First as you said his dialogue was subserviant and not the thoughtful intelligent and insightful dialogue we are use to. Second, the Virginian would do anything for Judge Garth. This has been enforced not only in every espisode prior to this but also in the episode and yet the writers want us to believe that the Virginian turned down running Shiloh for the Judge and because as he was written to tell Starr, “he doesn’t want to be tied down.” i think the writing for this episode left a lot to be desired and could be one of the many reasons this idea was not well received. The personality of the Virginian was changed completely. In the first 2 episodes I have watched he just the hired hand in the back ground with a couple of lines.

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