Volume 1, Issue 1
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The Kid
Home of the Brave
Speak No Evil
Bad Blood
Black Ulysses
Ten-Cent Hero
False Colors
A Good Day to Die
End of Innocence
Blind Love
The Keepsake
Fall From Grace
Hard Time
Lady For a Night
Unfinished Business
Daddy's Girl
Matched Pair
Man Behind the Badge
Then There Was One
Gathering Clouds Part 1
Gathering Clouds Part 2



Born to Hang

The Rider Review - Home of the Brave
By Johnny Betts

Well, the e-mails are in and everybody is pretty much in agreement that I am NOT suffering from "Kid Syndrome" (see the "Gunfighter" review for clarification). But don't get your hopes up, we're only on the third episode of the first season. That means we have a looooooong way to go.

And I guess you people really do care about these reviews. A few days go by without a new review being posted and I start getting e-mails asking if I'm still alive. Don't worry folks, some crazed Kid fan hasn't kidnapped me and locked me in a closet! I'm alive and doing fine. The World Series distracted me a little bit, but I feel in order to make these reviews the best they can be I cannot rush them. It's a pretty selfless act if you ask me.

The problem is that I do feel the pressure to hurry up and release this review, and well, the quality may suffer. Actually, that's a built-in excuse in case this review isn't up to the standard the other two reviews set.

But hey, I'm Johnny Betts, so I'm sure this review will be just fine.

I'm gonna try something new with the review this week. At the very first of the review I'm going to give a quick summary of the episode. We're talking one or two paragraphs, nothing big. Then I'm going to add my commentary wherever I see necessary. There's a good chance that this will cut down on the length of the review a little bit. Most of you don't seem to mind the length of the reviews, and to all the readers that fit in that category let me just say BLESS YOUR LITTLE HEARTS! There have been a couple of you who have said the reviews are a tad long. I appreciate your feedback and would just like to say... I POUR MY HEART, SOUL AND TEARS INTO THESE REVIEWS AND YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO SAY THEY'RE TOO LONG FOR YOU?!?!?! THIS IS THE THANKS I GET????? It may take you 15 or 20 minutes to read a review but that pales in comparison to the HOURS AND HOURS OF HARD WORK AND EFFORT I HAVE TO DEDICATE JUST TO ENTERTAIN YOU FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!

It's like giving a poor man a burger only to have him tell you he wants cheese on it. It's like giving a homeless man a new coat only to have him complain it's too heavy. It's like, um, it's like, oh I don't know, I'm too distraught to come up with something clever.

In all seriousness, I'd like to make the reviews a little shorter in order to get them posted quicker. But don't worry, I'll cut down on the summarizing and won't hold back on any of the comedy, so hopefully that will keep everybody happy. Then again a few of you out there aren't too thrilled with my definition of "comedy," so chances are you'll be out of luck.

[UPDATE - April 1, 2002 - I wrote THIS review over a year ago. Nothing's changed. Everybody wanted the reviews to be in-depth and so they are. Oh how they are.]

Just a couple of more things and we'll be ready to get to the review. In the "Gunfighter" review I posed a trivia question asking what two other projects Jay O. Sanders and Josh Brolin worked on together. The answer is "Private Eye" and "Picnic." Only three readers got it right: Aimee, Beth, and Ann from Australia. Congratulations, you girls are the Rider Reviewer Marks of the Week. I also have to give Queen Stallion and Jess an honorable mention since they have recently added me to their sig files! Does this mean I've officially "made it"? Jess says she is the campaign manager of "Elect Johnny Betts for President," so please folks, start sending in those donations! Johnny needs an HDTV.

I'll try to come up with a trivia question for this review, but I don't have anything at the moment.

I also asked about the ages of the readers. It seems the ages range from 15 to 35 to "older than you." I also have a few international readers. There's Ann from Australia, and there's also Marie from France. Are there any other non-U.S. readers out there? Stand up and be recognized.

Let's get moving.

Home of the Brave. That's the name of the episode, and I'm sorry, I just can't help my...OH SAY DOES THAT STAR-SPANGLED BANNER YET WAAAAAAAAAAVE...O'ER THE LAAAAAND OF THE FREEEEEEEEEE...AND THE HOME...OF THE...BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!!!!!!!!!!! (wipes away a tear). Thank you, I'm sorry you had to see me in such an emotional state.

This is a "Buck episode" and the story line is pretty basic. A waystation is attacked by Indians. Buck is consulted. He meets his half-brother and asks him what up. Tension builds among the riders. Ike is kidnapped by Indians. Buck must save him and in the process must decide whether to stay with the Pony Express or join his brother. Hmm, I WONDER WHAT HE'LL DO?!?!?! I CAN BARELY STAND THE TENSION!

That's it. Johnny Betts just accomplished in 5 lines what the writers needed 45 minutes (and who knows how many pages) to accomplish. You really don't need to see the episode now. That's just how keen my summarizing skills are.

I see Michael Wren guest-starred in this episode. Does anybody know if he is related to Clare Wren?

The episode starts off with a fat guy in longjohns. That's right, a fat guy in longjohns. Not the best way to grab the viewer, but I digress. Kid and Ike ride into the waystation and see it has been attacked by Indians. The fat guy has been beaten up and is tied to the fence. What's the lesson here? FAT GUYS SHOULDN'T BE WALKING AROUND IN LONGJOHNS!!! The most notable part of this scene is when the fat guy talks, it's just classic. He's beaten and bruised, but he manages to throw a sentence together, "Indians ... are after ... Pony ... Express." IT WAS SO FAKE!!! Man, my friends and I did better jobs of acting when we played Cowboys and Indians. I have to give it the first nomination for "stupid line of the episode" because of how poorly it was delivered. I'm sure that guy is delivering pizzas somewhere now, either that or co-starring in Michael Pare's latest straight-to-video movie.

Some round thing Oh, and let me just point out Kid and Ike found some round thing with painting on it. Kid observed it wasn't a sign of welcome. Who couldn't predict what they would do with it next?

In the next scene Jimmy, Cody, Lou and Buck go to town. Lou explains they only have an hour, but Jimmy doesn't see what the point of going to town is if you can't have a little recreation. Cody doffs his hat to a lady and says, "Relax Jimmy, it only takes a minute to fall in love." Jimmy says, "And half that time for you to mess it up." It was a funny exchange. I just want to point out Jimmy and Cody work well together. Whenever they're in a scene together it's almost guaranteed it will be entertaining.

[UPDATE - April 1, 2002 - Hmm, looks like this foreshadowed Jimmy's out-of-character actions in "Blind Love."]

So is it true that it only takes a minute to fall in love? Well, it took less than that for me to fall in love with my beautiful wife! (All the female readers let out a collective "Awwwwwww!")

They see a sign regarding an Indian attack, and then Tompkins tells them to leave his store, calling Cody and Jimmy "Indian lovers" in the process. Jimmy and Cody decide to take up for Buck.

Lou: Sir, we didn't come looking for trouble.
Cody: No sir, we didn't come looking for it...
Jimmy: Hey Cody, these boys don't want to get into a fight over nothing. 'Specially over nothing like a couple of smart-mouthed Indian lovers, do we boys? Now, on the other hand (cuts open bag while Buck leaves), THAT may be just the something these boys need for a fight.

A brawl breaks out and Jimmy and Cody leave victorious. I'll have to make this the first contender for "Scene of the Episode." What happened next never fails to get on my nerves.

Jimmy and Cody confront Buck because he left them and he has the gall to say the only reason they fought was because Tompkins called them Indian lovers.

Then Lou says, "He's right."

WHY? WHY IS HE RIGHT?!?! First of all, Jimmy and Cody were taking up for Buck as soon as Tompkins told Buck to leave. They even called him their friend. It was obvious they were looking for a fight anyway. There is no indication whatsoever the "Indian lover" remark is what caused Jimmy and Cody to get into the fight. And come on, this is Jimmy, he's always looking for a brouhaha and that is why Jimmy rules!

I've had a few people tell me Jimmy just likes to fight and that's why I like him, etc. Well, yeah, because this is a Western! Westerns are all about gunfights and showdowns! How popular would Clint Eastwood be if he went around reading poetry and crying at the sunset in his Spaghetti Westerns???

Let's see, Buck sees the little round painting deal and says it's a warning sign. Emma sees Jimmy is roughed up and wants to know what happened. Thus, we get another funny scene where Lou says that Jimmy's "usual talent" got him roughed up. It was then pointed out Tompkins had a problem with Buck and Cody said, "So, uh, of course we had to discuss it."

Everybody was discussing the Indian trouble at dinner that night. Teaspoon said the Indians didn't like the white men riding on their land, so in a funny line Jimmy says, "Fine. Next time an Indian chases me I'll get off my horse and sing him Yankee Doodle." Then he whistles. I tried that once. The Indian just stared at me, shook his head, and said, "Crazy white man." What's the deal with THAT??

We later see Buck sneaking off to meet someone. We find out it's his brother Red Bear and the round painting deal was a message for Buck. Hmm, so Buck lied to the other riders? He must be taking tips from Kid. "Hey Buck, did I ever tell you about the time I was supposed to remain standing in a fight for three minutes to get $30, but I actually only lasted for 1:45 and still got the money?"

This scene basically consisted of us hearing a little about Buck's past and Red Bear using a bunch of cryptic-sounding language (since that's what Indians did) to say a war with the white man was coming. And by "cryptic-sounding language" I mean stuff like, "When the blackbird crows on the fortnight before dawn, I will see your visage in the land behind the setting sun upon which the raven belloweth, my brother." Or something like that.

Now the next scene is a little disturbing. We see Kid with Katy, and then Buck tells him to take care as he sets off on his ride. "So what's disturbing about that, Johnny?" I'm getting to it, hold your horses! Hold your horses, bwahahaha! Did anybody else see the eyes that Kid was giving Katy??? He NEVER looked at Lou like that! No man should smile at a horse like that.

Tompkins and Sam confront the riders about messing with Tompkins store. Sam demands an explanation, and Jimmy has a "Sam-worthy quip" candidate when he says, "They started it, we just happened to be the last ones standing." You know, there aren't too many scenes or lines that stand out in this episode so the competition won't be strong.

Sam tries to act disappointed in the riders and let's them know that Emma's credit will be taken away, but we see Sam's true feelings when he walks away with Teaspoon and smiles as he says he wished he had seen them teach ol' Tompkins a lesson. 'Twas funny. "Yeah, but this review sure isn't! You're only on the third episode and you're officially suffering from 'Kid Syndrome!' BOOOO for Johnny!" Hey, I'm trying my best here, no need to be harsh!

Ike and his sign language In the next scene we see Buck and Ike together. Buck claims he needs to be breaking in his saddle. Ike does some sign language and Buck leads us to believe Ike was saying he didn't believe him. Sorry, but I've consulted the Johnny Betts Sign Language Dictionary and Ike was merely trying to engage Buck in a game of paper, rock, scissors. Who exactly did the writers think they were fooling?

We see the Indians chasing Kid. KID PULLED OUT FIREWORKS AND THREW THEM AT THE INDIANS! THEY'RE USING STOCK FOOTAGE! Well, I halfway expected that. Buck was there to make the save.

In the next scene we see the riders confront Buck about sneaking out the other night. Buck says what he told Red Bear doesn't concern them. Jimmy makes an excellent point when he says, "They attack our waystation, steal our horses, try and kill the Kid, and you're saying that don't concern us?" Excuse me while I CLAP OUT LOUD! So Buck doesn't want to pick sides, Jimmy tackles him, Buck runs off, and Teaspoon wants to know if everyone is proud of what they've done. This, my friends, is called "Johnny Betts' Speed Summarizing." My mama always told me, "Son, if you don't have anything funny to say, then don't say anything at all." That saying helped make me what I am today.

Teaspoon is learnin' the riders about them Indians and how they think with their hearts and white men think with their heads. Isn't that a stereotypical thing to say???? Ike pointed, shoved his fist, and threw his hands up. Kid said this meant, "We're just delivering the pouch." Weird, the Johnny Betts Sign Language says it means, "Where is the latest Rider Review? I'll punch Johnny in the face if he doesn't have one soon!" Wow, how prophetic! I'm sorry, you fine readers waited a few extra days for this review and this is the best I have to offer. You must all be so ashamed.

At any rate, the riders decide they want Buck to stay, and Teaspoon goes and tells Buck he can stay if he cuts down on the snoring. I really like Teaspoon. Anthony Zerbe was perfect for this role. He's another character that should've been explored more deeply, especially his past as a Texas Ranger. But Buck doesn't succumb to Teaspoon's fatherly ways, he's decided to leave the Pony Express. He says some junk about praying to the rising sun for an answer.

Teaspoon claims he's lived with Indians long enough to know Buck won't change his mind. Well, we know that Buck DID change his mind, so I guess ol' Teaspoon wasn't as smart about them Indians as he thought! Senile old man.

Teaspoon on Indian Relations I like the scene where Teaspoon totally lays the smack down on Tompkins. He tells Tompkins if he doesn't want to give Emma her credit back then the Pony Express doesn't have to deliver him mail. Teaspoon even says they may start up their own Pony Express Trade Center. Yay! Business relations have been reestablished with Tompkins! Long live business relations with Tompkins! Cody had a very funny line when he said, "Add this to the bill," as he takes a bite out of an apple.

True story. After watching this episode back in '89, young Johnny Betts went to the grocery with his mother. Little Johnny always loved Westerns, so you can imagine how excited he was when the Young Riders came on and he had a Western to watch every single week. As young boys are wont to do, Johnny tried to emulate his on-screen heroes. So at the grocery store Johnny thought he'd be William F. Cody for the day. He walked over to the fruit, picked up an apple, took a bite out of it, and proudly said to the clerk, "Add THIS to the bill" and then left. The clerk stopped Johnny and informed him that he'd have to pay for that apple. At that very moment Mrs. Betts saw what was happening and came over in hopes of diffusing the situation. "We didn't come looking for trouble." Then the following exchange took place:

Johnny: Hey mom, this clerk doesn't want to get into a fight over nothing.
Mrs. Betts: Johnny, what are you talking about?
Johnny: 'Specially over nothing like a smart-mouthed Indian lover, do we clerk boy?
Clerk: What? I didn't call you an Indian lov...
Johnny: Now, on the other hand (cuts open a bag), THAT may be just the something clerk boy needs for a fight.
Clerk: What in the world are you talki...

And with that little Johnny nailed clerk boy with a punch to the face. The clerk went sprawling over a display of Campbell's soup cans, knocking them all over the floor. The cops were quickly called to the scene and to make a long story as short as possible at this point, Mrs. Betts spent the better part of the summer in jail. To this day she still doesn't speak to little Johnny that often.

Has this ever happened to anybody else?

So anyway we see Ike and Kid are riding together. Ike seems troubled, and Kid wants to know why. Ike pointed to the left, pushed his palm outward, put two fingers on the side of his hand and pushed his flat hand outward. According to the Johnny Betts Sign Language Dictionary he was either telling Kid that Buck quit the Pony Express or we just witnessed the first incarnation of the Macarena!

Something else that doesn't make much sense is Ike put his hands to his hat and then his hand in front of his face and Kid somehow interpreted that to mean Teaspoon. HOW?? I would've acted like I was stirring some tea, now THAT is how you sign Teaspoon!

You know what would've been a hilarious feature on the show? They should've had some huge cornfield like on Hee Haw and then Buck could've constantly popped up from the corn rows to translate what Ike was saying. That may sound a little silly, but it's not quite as silly as the Young Riders dream I had the other day. I dreamed the show was still on, and it was in its 11th season. A lot of the episodes were musicals! I think all the mentions of "Cop Rock" in the last review forced this dream on me. In the dream, I was thinking, "Man, they've sure run out of ideas."

Man, where were we? This review is one long series of tangents. Oh yeah, Ike was kidnapped by the Indians, and guess what? KID TUCKED TAIL AND RAN! He gets Buck and has to promise he won't tell the other riders what is going on but he does follow Buck.

Here we see the return of the all-powerful CHIEF RUNNING PIMP! Buck should've been wearing a hat with a feather in it. It would've been the perfect accessory to the vest-with-no-shirt ensemble.

So Buck unties Ike and says he'll stay with them if they let Ike go. What we see next is some Indian ceremony that is worth a few laughs. Man, we see an old Indian dude TOTALLY lip-synching some chant. "A-hee a-hay, a-hee a-hay, a-hee a-hay. O-hay, o-hay, o-hay." What in the world is that? And WHY DID HE HAVE TO LIP-SYNCH IT? It's bad enough when Britney Spears does it, I don't want to see some totally fake lip-synching on my favorite TV show! The dude's mouth was barely even moving.

Then Buck drinks some water of life junk and starts acting weird. He's hit with sticks to drive out "white demons" (those Indian racists!) and he screams while dangling over hot coals.

Back at the station, we see Jimmy wants to go looking for them. Teaspoon and Emma have a nice conversation where Emma wants to mother the boys, but Teaspoon explains that when "People shoot at you, you grow up quick." Amen brother! I'll save THAT true story example for another day.

So we go back for some more gibberish from the old Indian. Why is it always assumed Indians spoke so weirdly? The old man starts saying stuff like, "Must begin trial in vision. Must reach zenith of smoky stone before sun sets behind coral mount. If spirit is true, eagle of morning will spread wings and protect from impending peril. Me smoke 'em peace pipe." It's good for a laugh or two, but come on!

Too Close for Comfort Buck was about to try to jump past these rattlesnakes, but Kid was ready to "take him out" with his rifle if need be. Ike didn't want that to be an option and he started to struggle with Kid a little bit. Go back and watch this scene again if you can, IT LOOKS LIKE IKE AND KID ARE ABOUT TO KISS! Nasty. Kid has his back against this rock and Ike jumps on top of him. Their faces are WAY too close and then they give each other an intense look that lasts long enough to be considered uncomfortable. What was going on there?

So Buck jumps to safety, Red Bear calls him his Kiowa brother, we get more fake lip-synched chanting by the old man and Red Bear tells Buck to go back to the Pony Express. NO WAY! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! I THOUGHT FOR SURE THAT BUCK WOULD BE LEAVING THE PONY EXPRESS! THIS IS A SWERVE TO END ALL SWERVES!

Red Bear agrees the battle can't be won, tells Buck the next time they meet might be in battle and he'd have to kill him. We never see Red Bear again. Buck meets Ike and Kid, they ride off, the theme music plays, the end.

It was a decent enough episode. It was entertaining, but it's not one of my favorites. There weren't enough lines or scenes that really stood out on their own and all the Indian chanting and stuff was a bit hokey. If you're trying to turn someone into a Young Riders fan then don't show them this episode first. The previous two episodes are better.

The main problem is for whatever reason I was having trouble finding motivation for the review of this episode. It just didn't provide me with a lot of material. But a truly good writer is one who can still produce a masterpiece without having a lot to work with.

Welp, the post-show awards are pretty easy. There's not a whole lot of fanfare or head-scratching this time. The "stupid line of the episode" goes to...

Fat guy in longjohns with, "Indians ... are after ... Pony ... Express." It was so fake. And, boy, was it not convincing.

The "scene of the episode" was the scene in Tompkins' store where Jimmy and Cody beat up Tompkins' men. It wasn't as tense as the previous "scene of the episode" winners, but it's the scene I marked out the most for during this episode.

And finally, this episode's "Sam-worthy quip" goes to...

William F. Cody with, "Add this to the bill." I know this might come as a bit of a shock to some of you, and granted, it's somewhat of an upset. I'll be the first to admit that this line is weaker than the two previous "Sam-worthy quips," but hey, I told you the pickin's were slim in this episode. Jimmy came in second with, "They started it, we just happened to be the last ones standing." But in the end, Cody's line has more applications to real life. You already saw one application in my true story, but it's only fair you get another application:

Chomp! Store clerk: Excuse me Mrs. Betts, I don't want you or your son in my store.
Mrs. Betts: And why is that?
Store clerk: Because your son is much funnier than my son, always beating him at school in a battle of wits and such. My only defense is to keep you from shopping in my store.
Mrs. Betts: Sorry, but it's my constitutional right to shop here if I want.
Johnny: 'At's right. Add THIS to the bill (takes a bite out of an apple).

BOOYA! The clerk would think twice about trying something like that again.

Well, I suppose this is a trivia question (even though I don't know the answer to it) so somebody please tell me, is there any relation between Michael Wren and Clare Wren? If you can verify it (or at least lie and convince me) then you'll be a Rider Reviewer Mark of the Week for the next review.

Oh, and Ann wanted me to give some commentary on the opening credits. Since I'm trying to hurry up with this review I'll save that for the next one. This guarantees Ann will read at least one more review. Do I know how to keep my readers or what? It's not always with non-stop humor, oh no, sometimes I must resort to devious tactics.

This review is about two pages (in Word) shorter than my last review! That should make some people happy. And whoa, I just realized I didn't bash the Kid all that much in this review! I'm sure that'll make another handful of people happy. I just hope I did the best I could with the material I had to work with to make all the other readers happy. I'm sure you'll let me know one way or another. And let me know if you like the "new" format, could you even tell a difference?

I'll end in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty (John Cleese): Oh, yes, I can cope. Coping's easy. Not pureeing your loved ones, that's the difficult part.

This is Johnny Betts, and remember, this has been my opinion, you could be wrong.
The Sun Sets on The Rider Review
Copyright 2002 Madlib Productions, All Rights Reserved

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