The first episode of The Virginian, originally broadcast September 19, 1962, is a mediocre story that gives little hint of future heights. Hugh O’Brian and Colleen Dewhurst dominate scenes while the regular cast are reduced to background players.
Even the Revue publicity still of the period emphasizes O’Brian over Roberta Shore and James Drury.
This episode premieres on Encore Westerns on January 1st followed by a January 4th broadcast at 4.30 p.m. EST.
To anyone watching The Virginian for the first time don’t be discouraged by this episode. The first season is uneven in quality with the Charles Marquis Warren episodes heavily re-edited (see my book for complete background details to the turmoil at NBC as told to me by executive producer Frank Price).
The first season does include some excellent episodes and is also of interest for demonstrating the early and convoluted evolution of The Virginian television series. Many episodes are atypical of the rest of the series and clearly owe a debt to 1950s Universal-International Westerns.