The Rider Review - The Kid
By Johnny Betts
The Kid. That's the name of the very first The Young Riders episode. What are we to
infer from this? Well, it seems the writers plan on making The Kid the leader of this
group of riders. Ty Miller obviously recognized this. Here's a rare quote from Ty I found.
It's from 1989. Note the irony: "All my dreams are coming true. My new show, The Young
Riders, is destined to make me a star. It looks like I'll even be the lead character on
the show. Don't be surprised if in about 11 years you see me starring in the number 1 movie
in the world about an invisible man or something. I know it sounds weird, but I've just got
Poor Ty. Things changed dramatically, but hey, LET'S NOT FORGET ABOUT U.S. SEALS!!! I
haven't seen the movie myself, but if any Ty fans out there want to send me a copy
then I'll be happy to review it.
So, we see a young man approaching from the distance. Pretty cool music plays as he draws
near. He enters town and sees a young woman buying apples. He longs for the apples, but
alas, he has no money. I could be mistaken, but I think I heard him mutter, "I would fain
have filled my belly with the husks that the swine did eat." Interesting.
We hear an old man offering $30 to anybody who can last three minutes with Irish Johnny...
BETTS!!!! Whoa! How would the writers know that I would one day be reviewing the show?
I'm not Irish though, what's up with that? Ohhh, Johnny McClarnen, oops. Sorry about
The Kid wanders into a stable and sees a horse. Now you've got to understand that this is
not just any horse, nope, it's one of the best the mustached owner has ever had. Kid was
looking to buy it, but it was $25 and there's a good chance (as mustache boy points out)
Kid will never see $25. But Kid is determined.
We head back to the boxing where the last guy only lasted two minutes and twelve seconds.
Can the Kid last longer? Well, the old man tries to convince him it's not even worth
trying. The Kid, in all his naïveté, asks if he has to beat the big Irish dude. The old
man assures him no, he doesn't have to beat him. He merely has to remain standing after
To make a long story short, the Kid received a pretty good beating. He sold the punches
really well too. It actually looked like the Irish guy was pounding him pretty good. But
he was indeed standing when the old man rang the bell. But listen up, dear reader. The
rules were he had to be standing after three minutes, right? Well, good ol' Johnny Betts
decided to track the time and see how long it lasted. Guess what? IT ONLY LASTED FOR A MINUTE
AND 45 SECONDS!!!!! WE'RE NOT EVEN 15 MINUTES INTO THE SHOW AND IT'S ALREADY MISLEADING ITS
The Kid got his $30 and went and bought his horse. That's great and all, BUT THE KID
HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE A FRAUD!!!! He should've said, "Whoa, that wasn't three minutes,
what kind of scam are you trying to pull here?" and then demanded the fight continue.
I apologize to all the Kid fans out there, I know it's hard to see a hero fall, but
it's best you know.
I will say other than the one minute and 45 second fraud, this was probably the Kid's
finest moment of the entire series. You gotta admire him for standing his ground and
getting what he wanted. Unfortunately, this means his character hit his peak during the
first 15 minutes of the very first episode. Where do you go from there?
We come back from commercials to see the Kid riding into town on his newly- (albeit
fraudulently) acquired horse. Rather than the usual (to us now) opening credits all we
see this time are the cast members' names thrown up on the screen. Kid rides past a Pony
Express sign and makes his way into a, I assume, Pony Express sign-up office. The Kid
says, "It's me on the sign outside." The man immediately called for the sheriff. The
sheriff got there and arrested the Kid for admitting to being the man on the "Wanted Dead
or Alive" sign outside the office. The Kid explained he was talking about the Pony Express
sign he saw. Everybody had a good laugh and went about their merry way. Don't remember that
part? They cut it out of the Odyssey episodes.
The man asks the Kid if he has any relatives or anybody to account for him. The Kid
BLATANTLY LIES and says no. Did you forget about Jed? Hmmm? He's only your brother! I
guess getting the job is more important than family? Do you see a pattern here, folks?
First the fraudulent $30, now the job. Sad. Is that any way for a leader to act?
IS THAT ANY WAY FOR A HERO TO ACT?!?!?!
The Kid then begins to read the oath he has to sign. Whew, I'm glad the dude ended up
reading it for him, it would've taken us 30 minutes to sit through Kid's attempts at
reading. Then he signed his mark on the oath. I guess it's pretty much understood it's an
"X" he's drawing, but could there be a chance he was writing his name? It's worth looking
into. Are there any handwriting experts out there? If so, then maybe you can watch Kid's
hand movements and determine what he wrote. Maybe we can finally solve the mystery and
figure out what his real name is. To me, it looked like he was writing "Beula" but I
could be wrong.
One thing I want you to remember is the oath asks the riders to agree not to fight with
any other riders. This will come into play later in this review, so please keep it in
Next, we see all the riders are gathered together. We then get our introduction to
Teaspoon. He arises from a horse trough, wipes his face off with a horse's tail, and then
rubs some kind of salve under his arm. This all causes the boys to shake their heads in
disgust. It was a cool, eccentric introduction to the grizzled former Texas Ranger. Hello
grizzled eccentricity, Teaspoon is thy name!
We see that Teaspoon is "learning" everybody his bag of tricks. We see Buck really knows
his arrows! He's an Indian, after all, what else would you expect? Now comes the coolest
introduction of all. Teaspoon approaches Jimmy Hickok, and we have the following exchange:
Teaspoon: You're wearin' that Colt a mite low ain't ya?
Jimmy: Feels about right.
Teaspoon: Got a hair trigger?
Teaspoon: What's your name?
Teaspoon: You're whole name.
Jimmy: Hickok. James Butler Hickok.
Teaspoon: Well get this Mr. Hickok, I don't like no hair trigger
around me. You're here for ridin', not for gunfightin', but if it's trouble you want, you'll get
a belly full.
Jimmy is unfazed, and this, my friends, is why Hickok rules. This exchange is now in the
running for the "line of the episode."
We then see a scene of Cody knocking Jimmy off his horse when he throws a mailbag at him.
Jimmy takes exception to this and pulls Cody off his horse. Jimmy then proceeds to hit Cody,
which can only be described as fighting with another rider! WE'RE NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH THE
SHOW AND TWO OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS ARE ABOUT TO BE KICKED OUT OF THE PONY EXPRESS FOR FIGHTING!
THESE WRITERS ARE THE GUTSIEST I'VE EVER SEEN!
We come back to the group of riders and see Jimmy and Cody are still there. Hmm, guess the
Pony Express isn't too stringent on those rules. So let's see, we're introduced to Ike and his
bald head. Teaspoon says some of the boys might lose their hair to an Indian. He then goes to
Cody and another cool exchange takes place:
Teaspoon: You for instance. What is your name?
Cody: (Slowly looks up) Cody. William F. Cody. (Smirks and
looks away) Billy, if you like.
Teaspoon: I don't like. (Slaps Cody's face back towards
him). You think you're pretty hot stuff, don't ya?
Cody slowly turns around and with his rifle shoots through a rope holding a bale of hay.
Teaspoon: Don't need to impress me Cody, I ain't gonna be
Very cool scene.
Jimmy and Cody have had the best intros by a long shot. Teaspoon then comes upon a puny
little guy named Lou. We find out that Lou is puny, but spry. What a totally wimpy
looking guy. Looks almost girlish. Kid then lets us all know he doesn't want a rifle
issued to him because he'd prefer to save the weight. Wimp.
Teaspoon then tells the riders they're gonna tie the United States together and as he
does this we see all the riders riding in slow motion in what will become the ending
credits. It's a cool scene.
We quickly move to a scene where some bad guys are raiding a camp. The main bad guy,
sporting a scar, emerges from a tent with some valuables. A man comes out of the tent
and tells Scarface he has no right to take it. Scarface shoots him and says, "I do now."
Huh? Since when was there a rule that if you kill someone, you then have the right to take his
property? I guess they really didn't call it the "Wild West" for nothing.
We get back from commercials to see Buck teaching Ike some sign language. Buck wiggles
his hand around and says, "Water." Ike repeats the process. Um, if Buck and Ike supposedly
knew each other for some time before this moment, shouldn't Ike have already known
something as simple as "water"? Or are the writers trying to say because Ike can't talk
he's dumb??? WHAT KIND OF STEREOTYPES ARE THESE WRITERS FORCING ON US?!?!
As Buck and Ike are immersed in their sign-language lesson, Jimmy is busy shootin' up
In a scene that was later cut, Buck held his thumb up and stuck his index finger forward
to let Ike know what the symbol for "gun" was. Ike sat there looking confused.
Jimmy approaches the Kid and points out he just hit three for three. He wants to know if
Kid can do it. Kid claims he can, but when Jimmy wants to see it, Kid says "Lead costs
money." Jimmy gives Kid some money and Kid goes and shoots all three cans twice. Jimmy
then pulls his jacket over his gun, sending out a challenge to Kid.
This is why Jimmy rules. Kid is obviously scared and walks away. Note the wet spot on Kid's
pants. Jimmy tries to tell Kid he was just fooling, but they both come to an agreement that
he "weren't." All right, I'm about to introduce you to something that you'll become addicted
to. Follow my lead:
My name is Kid *clap clap clap, clap clap* I'm scared of Jimmy *clap clap clap, clap clap*.
Play this little game around friends and family, it's quite funny. Just start off by
saying you're so-and-so, do the claps, then make a comment about them, more claps, and
then sit back and watch the laughter roll in.
Teaspoon then gets a shipment of Beckwith Volley guns. They have 7 barrels in one, 50
caliber, and they fire all at once. How cool is that? Cody seems quite impressed. Teaspoon
announces they're backup for a lone station keeper. Emma doesn't like it though. Teaspoon
tries to explain the Pony Express doesn't hire orphans for nothing, but Emma lets Mr.
Spoon know they're not orphans while she's around. I like Emma. Emma is supposed to be
25? Well, she was only 29 at the time, so that's not too far off, but she looked like she
was almost 40. And Cody was supposed to be 15? Bwahahaha, at least they never declared
that on the show. I heard Luke Perry was supposed to make a guest appearance as a
12-year-old stock boy, but he was too busy scrunching up his brow at the time.
Emma then takes the boys to town where we get introduced to Sam, who is busy keeping
order and throwing people around. We see Scarface and his crew causing trouble. Sam will
have none of that and decides to warn the rebel rousers. Scarface tells Sam there's 6 of
them. Unfazed, Sam announces (in what is the second candidate for the "line of the
episode"), "That won't matter to you, you'll be the first I drop."
It's official, Sam rocks! I have always wanted the opportunity to use that line. Jimmy
seemed to like Sam's response also.
After some good-natured flirting between Sam and Emma, Jimmy asks Sam how he knew
Scarface would back down. Sam tells young Mr. Hickok he figured a man with so many guns
must be afraid of everything.
All right, time to remind us that this show is about the Pony Express. Kid heads out on
his first ride. It doesn't take him long to run into some Indians. They give chase, but
Kid is able to spook their horses with some fireworks. I think I'd still make a little
room for a pistol or a rifle. He sure lit those fireworks pretty quickly didn't he?
We head back to the bunkhouse to see Jimmy throwing mashed potatoes at Cody. A little food
fight breaks out and Cody NAILS Lou in the head with some mashed potatoes. Take a look, there's
a huge glob of mashed potatoes near Lou's ear. It's very funny.
What's even funnier is that Emma starts to scold the boys for playing around, so they show
a shot of Cody, then they go back to Lou and guess what? The glob of mashed potatoes is
gone! The whole scene is pretty funny. But the laughter quickly turns to concern as Emma
tends to a horse-kicked Ike. Hickok wants to "put the horse down," but Ike's mumbling is
somehow interpreted to mean that it was his fault. I'm eagerly waiting for the first time I
can report on Buck mysteriously appearing from out of nowhere to interpret something Ike
said. Trust me, it's always a hoot.
Lou is riding around looking for a mount. As he gets to the station he notices Harley
(whoever that is) lying on the ground. Scarface comes out and asks Lou what's in the bag.
Lou unwisely starts to ride away and Scarface shoots him! HALFWAY INTO THE SHOW AND ONE
OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS IS ALREADY KILLED OFF! I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THESE WRITERS. THEY ARE
The commercials end just in time to show Kid riding in and finding Lou. Oh, Lou's still
alive, oopsie. Kid starts to tend to Lou and in the process must remove his shirt...
LOU IS A GIRL!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!!!! I TOTALLY THOUGHT IT WAS A GUY!!!!!!!!!
Please, is there anybody who couldn't tell Lou was a girl from the moment they saw her?
And I don't think that fake deep voice was truly fooling anybody. What would have been
funny is if the Kid had removed Lou's shirt and not said anything. Then when Lou said,
"Um, Kid? You're not shocked I'm a girl?" Kid would've responded with, "Huh? Oh, I
couldn't tell." I would've laughed.
Anywho, Lou goes on to explain she ran away from an orphanage. Kid was worried about what
would've happened if Scarface and his men had discovered that she was a girl. Lou
apparently isn't interested in staying in the Pony Express for very long. Her long-term
goal is to get her brother and sister out of the orphanage. The scene ends with Kid not
promising to keep Lou's secret.
We see Buck studying some hoof tracks and he was able to determine there were 12 or 13
men in Scarface's group, plus two wagons. Why did everybody else seem to have trouble
figuring out how many bad guys there were? Couldn't they have studied the hoof tracks?
Why was Buck the only one who seemed smart enough to count the number of hoof tracks?
Oh yeah, he's an Indian. Cody points out nobody has ever lost a pouch before, and Lou
(with the return of the deep voice) claims she's not gonna be the first.
Ike taps his chest 3 times, circles his hand around and sports a concerned face and Buck
says it means Ike wants to know how they'll go up against all those men. I'm afraid
Buck's wrong on this one. I looked it up in the Johnny Betts Sign Language Dictionary
and it turns out Ike was saying he needed to go to the bathroom, but there was no toilet
paper. I wonder if the writers did that intentionally?
Kid decides to act like a leader and announces he has a plan. He puts his arm around Ike
and says, "Here's what you need to do." Then he moves away from Ike about 2 seconds
later. HE DID NOT HAVE TIME TO TELL IKE EXACTLY WHAT HE NEEDED TO DO! Oh, wait, I just
consulted my Johnny Betts Sign Language Dictionary and apparently putting your arm
around someone's shoulder is sign language for, "You need to ride back to the station
and bring us the Beckwith volley guns." Oops, sorry about my rash assumption.
The riders head to Scarface's camp, giving us the chance to hear the theme music yet
again. No complaints here, it's only the coolest theme song of all time.
The riders show up at Scarface's camp. Buck is concerned because of all the guns the
outlaws have. Jimmy calmly says, "Let's rush 'em." Have I said that Jimmy rules? Buck
doesn't like Jimmy's idea and thinks Jimmy is crazier than any of them had previously
thought. Cody points out Scarface and his merry gang have buffalo guns and fresh horses
while the riders have little firepower and no cover. Hickok accuses Cody of being scared.
Cody makes a good point by telling Jimmy they're no longer dealing with cans on a fence.
Jimmy tells him he can ride out. They scuffle. WHAT ABOUT THE OATH?!?!?! Watch the face
Cody makes as they wrestle, it's hilarious.
Lou continues this charade of Kid being the leader as she asks him what they should do
next. In another "line of the episode" candidate, Jimmy says, "Let me know when you're
all through talkin'." The man is all business, folks. So for some unknown reason Kid
stands up. Scarface notices him. Scarface doesn't seem to be intimidated by these "boys,"
and he lets the riders know he's gonna finish his coffee and then he's gonna kill all of
Luckily, Ike shows up just in time with the Beckwiths. Kid tells him he "done good." Ike
smiles. Buck didn't tell us what Ike's smile was saying, but you readers are in luck.
With the Johnny Betts Sign Language Dictionary by my side I can let everyone know what
Ike was trying to say. Let's see... "Thanks Kid. Your acceptance means more to me than
anything else in the world. After all, you're our fearless leader. Your sign of
appreciation means more to me than hair or the ability to talk ever could." Ike always
was a bit verbose.
So everybody gets their Beckwiths ready. Jimmy stands up, ready to shoot. Kid warns Jimmy
to brace himself. Jimmy fires the rifle and in a very funny moment we see the kick throw
him backwards to the ground.
The riders really tear up the camp, forcing the bad guys to give up. In another funny
line Cody says, "Well, I guess he finished his coffee." Hmm, not technically. All the
riders were still alive, and Scarface had explicitly said he'd kill the riders
AFTER he finished his coffee. Therefore, we can conclude Scarface did NOT finish his
coffee since all the riders were still alive. I'm sure the writers are trying to say
Cody represents some sort of stereotype, but I haven't figured it out yet. I'll keep
The riders round up the outlaws and Jimmy is ready to hang 'em high. Kid stops him and
says there won't be any hangings, he wants to let "the law" deal with them. Sigh.
OK, time to introduce all of you readers to a new term. It's called "marking out." If I
say that I "marked out" for something, then it means I thought it was very cool. So if I
say, "I'm a Jimmy mark," then I'm saying that I'm a fan of Jimmy. Keep that in mind for
my next paragraph.
Jimmy tells Kid, "Out here we're the law. A man like that you never leave him standing,
never." Kid whines a little and Jimmy says, in another "line of the episode" contender,
"You ain't running things, Kid." I MARKED OUT big time on that one. I never fail to clap
during that scene. JIMMY RULES!!!!
So Kid whines and gets his way, but Jimmy points out it's a mistake. Scarface warns Kid
he hasn't seen the last of him.
We get back from commercials and see one of Scarface's henchmen knocking over the water.
Scarface tells the deputy the dude knocked over the bucket and he wants some water. OK,
is there anyone out there who could not see what was coming up next? If so, then please
save yourself some embarrassment and DON'T tell anyone.
The deputy goes over there and predictably gets choked out. How funny would it have been
if Scarface had just said, "Thank you kindly, sir," and then the deputy had gone about
his merry way? You know it would've been hilarious. But they get the deputy's keys and
there is NO WAY THEY HAD TIME TO UNLOCK THE DOOR!!!!!! Scarface gives one of the guys
the keys and almost instantaneously they open the door and take off. No way they had
time to unlock the door, simply no way.
Sam runs in and starts to chase after them, but he gets shot at the door. It was a good
We see Kid asking Teaspoon about women. Teaspoon says Kid came to the right place because
he (Teaspoon) has been married to three white women and three Indians. Teaspoon starts
comparing the world to a wheel or something. Kid was confused. So is Johnny Betts, that's
why I'm not gonna say anything else about this scene. Cody rides in hooting and
hollering, claims the job ain't easy, and the Kid takes off.
We see Kid in the woods. He senses something is wrong. Is it the Blair Witch? We find out
that it is NOT the Blair Witch, but it IS Scarface and one of his henchmen. Kid shoots the
dude behind him and then takes off riding. In a reason still unbeknownst to me, Scarface
fails to shoot at Kid IN POINT BLANK RANGE! He does manage to shoot Katy though. Kid hides
behind Katy (you gonna hide behind Lou next???) and then shoots Scarface. Scarface falls
to the ground and in a cool shot we get a close-up of his open-eyed face as he rolls to a
We see Kid walking Katy until he eventually sets up camp for the night. In true Kid
fashion he cries a little bit, and then he decides to shoot Katy. "Katyyyyyy" he bemoans
as Sam shows up JUST IN TIME. Wow, if there's one thing we've learned about some of these
characters it's that many of them have impeccable timing!
Sam explains how he was tracking the two guys Kid shot, then asks Kid to affirm he was
indeed the one who shot them. Kid says he had no choice but then says, "It just don't
seem right." WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Hello, Kid? This is earth. Just thought I'd let you know
that if you hadn't shot them then THEY WOULD'VE SHOT YOU AND YOU'D BE DEAD!!!!!!!!!
Sure, you can be unhappy about having to kill somebody, but why question if it was right
if it was your only resort? Kid has problems with the fact he had to defend himself, but
he seems to have no problem with FRAUDULENTLY winning $30 or LYING about not having a
brother. Sam has another good line when he tells Kid, "Out here you gotta grow up fast
or not at all." Preach it from the hilltop brer Sam! Preach it from the dew-covered
hilltop. So they dig Katy's bullet out and put a "burning stick" to the wound and all
Back at the station Lou thanks Kid for keeping her secret. Kid gave her his word he
wouldn't tell anybody. Then he said, "My word is bond," as he tapped his chest twice with
the side of his fist, kissed his fingertips, and pointed them at Lou. Huh? What was that
all about? So then Lou and Kid shared their first kiss together. I'm sure plenty of you
Kid and Lou fans marked out. I did not.
Everybody's gathered together watching Teaspoon eat an onion like it was an apple. Ike
makes some hand movements behind Teaspoon's back. The other riders laugh to humor poor
Ike and Teaspoon tells him to quit talking behind his back. Teaspoon congratulates
everybody on sticking together and staying alive. The riders chant along with him as he
says the Pony Express is nothing but "sweat and trouble" (much like this Rider Review).
Kid is up for one last ride before the show ends. Everybody sees him off as he rides off
into the sunset and the theme music plays. The show ends.
So what did I think? It was a very good show. It got me hooked lo those 11 years ago. It
had some good action and some pretty funny scenes as well. I really like the way we were
introduced to each of the characters. Kid had a good introduction, but he got too wimpy
when they first caught Scarface. Jimmy showed why he is the coolest TV character of all
time. We can see Cody is going to provide some good comic relief and Ike and Buck showed
they will provide some unintentional comic relief in upcoming episodes as they give me
some sign language encounters to goof on. The Kid was sort of portrayed as the leader,
but it won't last long.
I'm not big on rating systems. I never could say, "Yeah, such-and-such movie was pretty
good, I give it 2 stars." So I'll come up with my own rating system. When I was first
trying to turn my wife into a Young Riders fan (which she now is), I would ask myself,
"Is this an episode she would find interesting?" when looking through my tapes. So for
each episode I'll let you know whether or not I liked it, and then I'll let you know if
it's one that could be used to create a new fan. With that said, I'll have to say this
first episode is indeed one to show the non-believers. After all, it showed us that
OK, now for the very first "line of the episode." There were many to choose from, but
alas, I'll force myself to pick only one. Oh, and I just added a new category called
"scene of the episode." I really need some cooler names for these categories, any
suggestions? So we'll start off with the "scene of the episode." And the scene of the
Jimmy's introduction. It was just too cool, especially the "feels about right" line.
I know that whole scene was in the running for "line of the episode," but I figured
I'd make up this new category for it.
OK, and now the line of the episode goes to...
Sam Cain with, "That won't matter to you, you'll be the first I drop." I mentioned it
before, but it's my dream to use that line one day. Here's the scenario:
My wife and I are walking down the street. Some punks approach us and start trying to
flirt with my wife.
Punk 1: Hey baby, leave this good-looking stud and come
join us hoodlums!
Johnny: Maybe you should just step aside.
Punk 1: Whatsa matter? You scared?
Johnny: No, I just don't want any trouble, and I don't
want you messing with my wife.
Punk 1: Well maybe your wife wants a real man.
Johnny: Well maybe I'll show you a close-up of a real
Punk 1: Don't you realize there are six of us?
Johnny: That won't matter to you, you'll be the first I
BOOYA! Would that not rock? Don't worry, I don't want to go around picking fights or
anything like that, I'm just saying that line would be perfect in such a situation.
So congratulations to Sam Cain on being awarded the very first "line of the
Well, that's a wrap, folks. Some of you will agree with some of the things I said, some
will agree with everything I said, some with disagree passionately with almost everything
I said, some won't have read this far, and some will be begging me to hurry up and review
the other episodes. Whatever category you fall in, please send me your comments,
criticisms, suggestions, etc. You might want to compliment me or complain about my
treatment of your favorite rider. Either way is fine. The most inspired e-mails might
even spur a topic for me to discuss in an upcoming Rider Review. And don't worry, most
of the Rider Reviews won't be as long as this first one (although I'm sure many of you
wish it were LONGER). Now that we've got the introductions out of the way I plan to do
less summarizing and more editorializing.
Oh, and if there is anybody out there who has copies of the first season of the Young
Riders from ABC then please contact me. I had to settle for Family Channel episodes,
and who knows how chopped up those are. I'll be sure and mention you in an upcoming
review if you can help me out!
I'll end in the immortal words of Todd Snider: "Life's too short to worry, life's too long to
wait, too short not to love everybody, and life's too long to hate."
I'm just trying to get ahead in a world full of freaks, folks. This is Johnny Betts, and
remember, this has been my opinion, you could be wrong.