|Review||Bisco County||Director||Kim Manners|
|Writer||James L. Novack|
|Cast||Bruce Campbell, Julius Carry, Christian Clemenson, Ian Ogilvy, Johnathon Schaech, Clare Wren and Morgan Woodward|
“A convention isn’t a bad idea. Just need the right bunch of people” – Brisco County Jr.
When Agatha Christie wrote and published “Ten Little Niggers” in 1939 (imagine that title today!) she couldn’t have fathomed how influential her relatively short book would become. The film adaptations are numerous, but the basic plot has been copied too many times to count. It’s even credited as being the first embodiment that slasher films took and quite a lot of those owe a great deal to the English queen of suspense.
The plot line has been covered in many TV shows and one of them is the short-lived cult-classic western/sci-fi/comedy/action hybrid “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” starring none other than B-movie legend Bruce Campbell. Said episode is number 16 out of a measly 25 that were made in it’s one and only season.
Bounty hunter Brisco County (Campbell) arrives with his colleague Lord Bowler (Carry) and assistant Socrates (Clemenson) on an unpopulated island for a Bounty Hunter’s convention at a hotel. They soon discover that someone is killing off the attendees in quite imaginative ways. Is the killer one of the guests or an outsider?
The tone of the show is semi-serious with a lot of comedy thrown in for good measure. The chemistry between Campbell and Carry is very good and sustains a lot of the lesser episodes but overall this series had enough high points, solid production values (just love those western sets), originality and decent writing to warrant future seasons. As it turned out it never gained a big viewing crowd and subsequently was given the axe at the end of its maiden season. Since then it’s become quite a cult favourite and many can appreciate the show’s blending of genres and styles.
“Bounty Hunter’s Convention” is not the high point of the series but it’s a solid enough episode. The sci-fi aspect is given a rest and a plain old murder mystery is laid before our bounty hunter. Bear in mind that the episode aired in 1994 and the target audience hadn’t been found (and never was) so there’s not much in the way of explicit violence let alone any gore. The murders themselves are off-screen and a bit cartoonish, the mystery angle never really takes off as the characters never register and there’s simply too many of them for such a short running time.
What you do get is Campbell in his prime doing his stuff such as physical stunts and top-notch line delivery with plenty tongue and cheek humour and the overall breezy atmosphere that the series possessed. The late Julius Carry as Lord Bowler is a fantastic sidekick as a rival bounty hunter who’s more or less Brisco’s best friend and their bantering really is fun to watch. A running storyline in the series is Brisco’s pursuit of a gunman named John Bly who was played by the inimitable Billy Drago and those episodes included a lot of otherworldly stuff.
“Bounty Hunter’s Convention” ends up being one of many incarnations of Agatha Christie’s ground-breaking murder mystery and a solid one at that. The scenario can unfold no matter what background and while here it’s not served with any real degree of sophistication or imagination it just shows how this classic material never gets old. Guest stars here include a very young Johnathon Schaech (1998’s “Hush” and “That Thing You Do”), old timer Morgan Woodward (“Cool Hand Luke” and “Battle Beyond the Stars”) and, The Saint himself, Ian Ogilvy (“Witchfinder General”, “From Beyond the Grave” and “Return of the Saint”).
I’ve had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A with Ian and I asked him about his thoughts on his Brisco County episode. Here’s my question to Ian;
Your guest appearances in British and American TV shows are very many but I was wondering if there was any good tale to tell about your role as „Furlong“ in the cult series „The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.“? (A personal favourite) Also; what is your most memorable guest turn in a series?
I was excited to be a guest actor of Brisco County because I had never done a Western, and saw myself all decked out in the cowboy hat and the guns on the hips … turned out I was a Scotland Yard detective, and was to be dressed in the archetypal English detective clothes of tweed suit and deerstalker hat … such a disappointment. My most memorable turn was in an episode of ‘Early Edition’ – it was the best part I had in American TV, playing an amiable art thief.
My full Ian Ogilvy Q&A’s can be found here: Ian Ogilvy Q&A