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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Young Riders: Season 1 (review)

Stephen Baldwin and Josh Brolin would go on, in later years, to portray less than savory characters, but here they’re positively charming as, respectively, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok as youngsters, when they were (fictionally) serving as Pony Express riders in pre–Civil War Kansas among a gaggle of orphaned misfits hired for the dangerous work. This ABC series, which debuted in 1989, lasted longer than the actual Pony Express service (which endured for only 19 months from 1860 to 1861), and no wonder: this is a delightful, if innocuous, family-friendly show about friendship, tolerance, hard work, and sweet romance. These 24 episodes — also starring Anthony Zerbe as the boss of their Pony Express station, Melissa Leo as the stand-in mom for this crew of lonely toughs, and the entrancing Yvonne Suhor as a spunky gal who disguises herself as a boy among the riders — see the noble gang confront everything from the injustices of slavery to blackhearted bank robbers, betrayal by family and friends to secret military missions gone wrong; actually, they hardly ever seem to get to deliver any mail! The set may disappoint serious fans of the series, however, for even though the mono sound has been upgraded to Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (the original full-screen format remains in place, of course), there are no extras of any kind on the discs… not even chapter stops in episodes.


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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