Marshal Dillon of the long-running Gunsmoke series, returned to TV
screens in 1978 in this mixture of Western adventure and soap opera.
was a rugged mountain man who had spent ten years in the Dakota Territory before
returning to Virginia, where his brother's family was preparing to make the long
trek west. No sooner had they set out than the Civil War broke out. Zeb's
brother Timothy returned east and his wife Kate was subsequently killed in an
accident, leaving the four Macahan children in Zeb's care. Luke, the eldest, had
killed three men in self-defense and was a fugitive from the law; Laura was
pretty and ready for woman-hood; Jessie was the tomboyish 12-year-old; and
teenager Josh was exuberant and anxious to become the man of the family. Aunt
Molly, Kate's widowed sister, came from Boston to help them on the long journey,
through dangers hardships caused by Indians, renegades, nature, and other perils
of an untamed West.
initial run in 1978, the series returned in early 1979 with 11 new two-hour
episodes depicting the Macahans as they homesteaded a ranch in the Tetons, and
began to raise Appaloosa horses.
Adding to the
epic scope of the series was the spectacular setting: the program was filmed on
location in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Southern California. The executive
producer was John Mantley, who had also been the producer of Gunsmoke.
The series was loosely based on the 1963 motion picture of the same name, which
was directed by John Ford and featured an all-star cast, including John Wayne.