Dusty's Trail is an American Western/comedy series that aired in syndication from September 1973 to March 1974 starring Bob Denver and Forrest Tucker. The series is a western-themed reworking of Denver's previous (and more well known) series Gilligan's Island.
|Created by||Elroy Schwartz|
|Written by||John Fenton Murray|
|Directed by||Jack Arnold|
Leslie H. Martinson
|Theme music composer||Ross Schwartz|
|Composers||Frank De Vol|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer||Sherwood Schwartz|
|Running time||24 mins.|
|Production companies||Metromedia Producers Corporation|
Writer First Productions
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 11, 1973 –|
March 12, 1974
|Followed by||The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West|
Two coachmen and five passengers of a wagon and stagecoach become separated from their wagon train on the way to California in the early 1870s. The group includes wagonmaster Mr. Callahan and his shotgun lookout Dusty, Mr. and Mrs. Brookhaven (a wealthy Eastern banker and his wife), book-smarts thinker Andy, dance-hall girl Lulu McQueen, and farm girl Betsy. The show follows their adventures while they attempt to return to their wagon train. According to the theme song, "...Dusty's the reason for their plight, thanks to Dusty – nothing's right".
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"The Not So Magnificent Seven"||Earl Bellamy||Sherwood Schwartz,|
|September 11, 1973|
|The wagoners stumble upon a ghost town. While they try to find out the reason for the abandonment, one of the wagoners believes the residents were forced to leave. This proves all too correct, as they then encounter three gunmen who hold the town hostage.|
|2||"There Is Nothing Like a Dame"||Bruce Bilson||Howard Ostroff||September 18, 1973|
|Two cattle thieves try to rustle up some women and the others have to lead a cavalry charge to save them.|
|3||"Horse of Another Color"||Oscar Rudolph||Brad Radnitz||September 25, 1973|
|Dusty catches a wild horse and tries to tame it, but then the horse's owner shows up with a marshal, ready to hang him as a horse thief.|
|4||"Treasure of C. Harry Motley"||Bruce Bilson||David P. Harmon||October 2, 1973|
|Dusty's discovery of a treasure map brings out everyone's greed.|
|5||"Duel for Daphne"||Leslie H. Martinson||Larry Rhine,|
|October 9, 1973|
|Dusty and an Indian headdress cause a misunderstanding that leads Mr. Brookhaven to challenge Callahan to a duel over Mrs. Brookhaven's affections.|
|6||"Love Means Not Having to Say You're Bananas"||Leslie H. Martinson||Ron Friedman||October 16, 1973|
|A gorilla that has escaped from a traveling circus invades the camp and captures Betsy. Dusty, Andy, and Mr. Callahan try to think of some way to get her out of the cave the gorilla has put her in.|
|7||"Then There Were Seven"||Oscar Rudolph||Larry Rhine,|
|October 23, 1973|
|Andy and Betsy are tricked into giving medical aid to a wounded outlaw, which results in the entire group being held hostage while they try to surgically remove a bullet.|
|8||"Tomahawk Territory"||Jack Arnold||Elroy Schwartz,|
|October 30, 1973|
|After rescuing a young Indian brave from a bear and finding out he's the Chief's son, the group hopes to trade being Good Samaritans for safe passage through Hackamaw territory, but instead the Hackamaws go on the warpath and kidnap Betsy.|
|9||"Two of a Kind"||TBA||TBA||November 6, 1973|
|Seeing a "Wanted" poster with a bearded outlaw who looks just like Callahan, the travelers wonder if he has been hiding a checkered past.|
|10||"Half Moon"||Earl Bellamy||Austin Kalish,|
|November 13, 1973|
|Seeing Dusty's birthmark, an Indian chief thinks Dusty is his long-lost son and kidnaps him to resume life with the Indians.|
|11||"Here Come the Brides, There Go the Grooms"||Russ Mayberry||Bill Freedman,|
|November 20, 1973|
|Two hillbillies kidnap Dusty and Callahan to become husbands for their ugly sisters in a double-barreled shotgun wedding.|
|12||"Danger Stranger"||Bruce Bilson||Bruce Howard||November 27, 1973|
|While trying to find a pass through the mountains, the wagoners bump into a murderous outlaw who is on the run.|
|13||"The Magician"||Bruce Bilson||John Fenton Murray||December 4, 1973|
|The group encounters a traveling magician who keeps them amused with his tricks while his assistant steals all their valuables.|
|14||"Androcles and the Bear"||John Florea||John Fenton Murray||December 11, 1973|
|A grizzly bear follows Dusty back to camp after he pulls a thorn from its foot, but the others drive it away, right into the path of some hunters.|
|15||"My Fair Callahan"||Bruce Bilson||Bruce Howard||December 18, 1973|
|When they rescue a young woman of high social standing who was lost on the trail, Callahan falls in love with her and tries to transform himself into a gentleman.|
|16||"Brookhaven U.S.A."||Richard Michaels||Bruce Howard,|
|December 25, 1973|
|When Dusty and the gang stumble upon an apparent ghost town, Mr. Brookhaven decides to rename it and turn it into a real town again.|
|17||"How Dry Was My Valley"||TBA||TBA||January 1, 1974|
|When the group's supply of fresh water runs out, they hope a crackpot professor will be able to make it rain.|
|18||"The Wizard of Ooze"||Bruce Bilson||Skip Webster||January 8, 1974|
|Dusty learns that the wagon train is parked on a volcano, but on the way to warn the others he hits his head and gets amnesia.|
|19||"Phony Express"||Robert Jones||Howard Ostroff||January 15, 1974|
|A wounded soldier clamps a pouch onto Dusty's wrist, tells him to deliver it to Ford Hood, and to protect it with his life. Bad guy Bates shows up at the camp demanding the pouch, but it's empty. Everyone makes up a story of how they stole the contents to keep Bates from shooting them.|
|20||"Nothing to Crow About"||Russ Mayberry||Rick Mittleman||January 22, 1974|
|With a terrible storm approaching, the travelers try to find the map to a hidden canyon where they'll be safe, but it has gone missing, as have several other valuable items around camp. Dusty is suspected of being a kleptomaniac.|
|21||"From Here to Maternity"||Earl Bellamy||TBA||February 5, 1974|
|Encountering a pregnant Indian woman, Callahan tries using smoke signals to contact her husband, but he's a member of an enemy tribe, and the smoke signals bring her angry father.|
|22||"Witch's Trail"||Bruce Bilson||Gene Thompson||February 12, 1974|
|Dusty and Callahan find a girl on the trail and bring her back to camp, but when strange things start to happen they think she must be a witch.|
|23||"The Cavalry Is Coming"||Richard Michaels||Austin Kalish,|
|February 19, 1974|
|A Cavalry officer arrives, claiming that Andy is a deserter who stole an army payroll. After he arrests Andy, Dusty, and Callahan, who is left to save them?|
|24||"John J. Callahan"||John Florea||Rick Mittleman||February 26, 1974|
|Callahan will win $500 in a boxing match if he can last 5 minutes against the Champ. But the Champ has kidnapped Mrs. Brookhaven.|
|25||"Day at the Races"||TBA||TBA||March 5, 1974|
|The wagoners are forced into a horse race to win safe passage through Indian territory.|
|26||"Pechango Berries"||TBA||TBA||March 12, 1974|
|Dusty comes back to camp after eating some berries and is suddenly changed from an incompetent bumbler to someone brimming with easy confidence. The trouble is, the berries are also going to kill him.|
- "Tomahawk Territory" (ep. 8)
- "Horse of Another Color" (ep. 3)
- "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" (ep. 2)
- "The Not So Magnificent Seven" (ep. 1)
Reception and cancellationEdit
The show was created for Denver by Sherwood Schwartz, who had also created its progenitor, Gilligan's Island. Jeannine Riley and Lori Saunders were both former cast members of Petticoat Junction. According to U.S. television researchers Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, the reason for the show's failure was that it was too obviously a rewrite of Gilligan's Island.
Denver professed on several occasions that Dusty's Trail was his favorite show to perform.
At that time I still had some animus at how CBS threw us in the dumper. Herb Edelman and I'd done The Good Guys- but sour critics said it should have been just called 'Guys'. Gilligan repeats were on the tube more than Cronkite, and its royalties about kaput. I told myself to just enjoy the ride, and if it (Dusty's Trail) hit paydirt, super, if not, then it wasn't in the cards. It was my best year in front of a camera.
During its run in the 1973–1974 season, it was reported Dusty's Trail barely made the top 50 shows, a fairly respectable showing for a first-run syndicated program; nonetheless the program was canceled after its lone season, with 26 episodes produced out of an originally planned 30.
Each of the seven main characters is derivative of those of Gilligan's Island, a previous series that had been created by Sherwood Schwartz, who had been trying unsuccessfully to sell a Gilligan's Island revival for several years (and eventually succeeded, in animated form, with The New Adventures of Gilligan in 1974).
- Dusty was based on Bob Denver's Gilligan's Island character, Gilligan.
- Tucker's role as the wagonmaster was based on The Skipper, originally played by Alan Hale, Jr.
- The millionaire Brookhavens (Ivor Francis and Lynn Wood) were essentially the same characters as the Howells (Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer) from Gilligan's Island.
- Music hall singer Lulu (Jeannine Riley) was an adaptation of Ginger Grant, the movie star played by Tina Louise
- Girl-next-door Betsy (Lori Saunders) replaced farm-girl Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells)
- Andy (William Cort) filled the role of the savant Professor (Russell Johnson)
Other elements of the series are reproduced/recycled:
- the Gilligan's Island shipwreck, following what was meant to be a "three hour tour," is now replaced with a wagon being lost in the wilderness after getting separated from a wagon train.
- Head hunters are now replaced by American Indians, who bear resemblance to the Hekawi, a fictional tribe from Forrest Tucker's previous series, F Troop.
Several Dusty's Trail episodes, for reasons not entirely clear, were not properly copyrighted; these were among some of the last episodes of a regular TV series (in order of production) to lapse into the public domain, and some of the few to do so that were produced after 1963. Because of this, the show became widely available in reruns and on discount DVDs.
- Leszczak, Bob Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide p. 42
- KDKA radio interview May 12, 1989
- "Dusty's Trail - The Almost Complete First (And Only) Season (1973)". Retrieved 17 March 2011.