The Virginian

Season 5 Episode 17

Yesterday's Timepiece

Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Jan 18, 1967 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • After finding a piece of his past--a vintage timepiece--Stacy goes on a quest to find another piece, the identity of the man who murdered his parents.

    Focusing almost entirely on Stacy, this episode shows us how the murder of his parents marked him, giving him recurring nightmares triggered again when he buys an old watch from a colorful peddler. Stacy takes to the road on a quest to learn how the watch, given to his father by John Grainger, found its way to Wyoming from the Texas site of his parents' death.

    This episode left a strong impression on me when I first saw it, probably because of the dream flashbacks and the road trip theme. But aside from Stacy's ultimate confrontation of the Indian chief who he thinks is the murderer, this episode is pretty much a muddled mess.

    The trail Stacy takes to the truth is convoluted, to say the least. The highlights of the story are all courtesy of the guest stars, notably Andy Devine as the peddler and what could be described as a cameo appearance by Pat O'Brien as a country doctor. Swift Wolf, the Indian that appears in Stacy's dreams, is portrayed by Henry Brandon. a German-born actor who played Indian chiefs in two John Ford films. While his grey eyes look anything but native, he's effective and even poignant as the wizened warrior.

    The most grating guest appearance is also the most significant: Kelly Jean Peters as Elaine, the young woman who teams up with Stacy to search for the father she's never known. Are we supposed to be surprised that her long-lost dad and the murderer of Stacy's turn out to be one and the same man? Peters' acting might not be as wooden as it appears (it couldn't be!), but her outfit and makeup are so anachronistic, they distract from any line she delivers. The false eyelashes and eyeshadow would have shamed a saloon girl, and her western wear looks like it was plucked from a schoolgirl birthday party where pony rides are the main attraction.

    For Virginian fans of the Grainger arc, the episode is worth watching for the backstory on the Grainger grandchildren, as well as a good scene between Stacy and the gruff old man himself. But the highlight for me is the scene when Stacy meets Swift Wolf--not the final confrontation with the real murderer. In between this action we're forced to watch a lot of fake riding through fake scenery and other scenes that are inexplicable as anything other than filler for the 90 minutes. And the ending is as abrupt as so many others, with no real payoff. We can assume Stacy's nightmares are at an end and he can now carry his father's watch in peace.

    This episode seemed a lot better when I was a kid.