The Big Valley

Season 1 Episode 2

Forty Rifles

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Sep 22, 1965 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

Write A Review
out of 10
29 votes
  • Heath has to step up and prove to Nick and the Barkley ranch hands that he's right to be suspicious of the dubious hero, General Wallent.

    By the second episode of the series, an important theme of the first season is established. The newly christened Barkley, Heath, is often suspicious of someone trusted or even loved by another family member. And although the Barkleys never seem to catch a clue, Heath, by the way, is almost always right.

    While the oblivious Nick steps all over Heath's clumsy attempts to gain the respect of the Barkley ranch hands, the larger-than-life figure of General Wallent enters the picture, played by the equally larger-than-life character actor Andrew Duggan. Heath is sure he saw the man's distinctive horse at the battle with the railroad in the serie's opener, but Wallent is a hero of Nick's and a master at winning over the men. He joins the Barkleys on a cattle drive, setting up an inevitable series of events and a clash of wills between Wallent and Tom Barkley's "bastard son."

    Heath is, of course, right about Wallent. He's out to recruit his own army, and he recognizes the Barkley hands have wartime skills that he can exploit. First he needs to get Nick out of the way, which he does. Then it will be easy to do the rest, to enlist the disenchanted drovers into leaving the ineffectual Heath with a herd of cattle and no way to move them.

    Duggan is at his charming, yet overbearing best in his first of two appearances on this series. His 6 ft. 6 inch frame fills the screen, and his basso profundo pipes can almost convince even us to desert the Barkley herd. (Ironically, Duggan died of throat cancer in his early 60s.) He's a good enough actor to make Wallent's abrupt descent into madness believable, although Heath's last stand inside a shed full of explosives might have been the craziest choice of all.

    The sheepish cowpunchers are only too happy to follow Heath after Wallent's feet of clay are clearly revealed. And by the end of the story, Heath is on top of the world, boy howdy, and Nick is the one left disillusioned and in need of a little passionate Victoria Barkley speechifying to bolster his requisite bluster. We, along with the Barkley crew, have learned to trust Heath a little more, even though we can't help feeling a fondness for Nick's naivete'--perfect progress for our second introduction to the Barkleys.
  • I was only 7 when this show originally ran on television, and I really don't remember the first run. I do however remember when it went into syndication in the 70's and I would share episode plots with friends. Even so, this is all pretty new to me now.

    Yep, it's all new to me, and since The Big Valley was a color show, and my 13 inch set in my bedroom was a black and white (complete with hoop UHF antenna with tin foil for that extra added reception, which I'm sure didn't really work too well).

    I'm not sure that this is a true "pilot" but it is a pretty decent introduction to the series. Thrusting Heath at us from the very beginning is a great way to establish an attachment. Even so, I felt that I just had to take for granted that I knew the other characters. By the end of this first episode I felt pretty comfortable with what was going on.

    One of the weakest points of the show, as is with most westerns and action shows on television, and in the movies from this time, are the fight scenes. They tend to be over the top and seem to be fought in double time. I guess the networks couldn't let viewers fall asleep, so they'd somehow squeeze in the brawl.

    Even though the whole, "Big company trying to take someones land", has been done to death, I enjoyed this first episode.

    Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long and Lee Majors are standouts and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
No results found.
No results found.
No results found.