The Big Valley - Family dynamics

If you like the westerns we’re currently discussing, you may have liked other western TV shows. So why don’t we discuss them here! Post about western conventions (non Bonanza), the shows, the actors and anything you want to discuss.

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The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by october » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:47 am

Just saw The Big Valley for the first time since its original run. Great cast but somehow they don't ring true to me as a family the way
the Cartwrights did from the start. :huh

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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by Tracy » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:06 am

I agree, but as the show continues, the cast seems to fit better, and the family dynamic gels a little more tightly.

Honestly, I never cared for Barbara Stanwyck's acting. Even when she plays a vulnerable scene, she comes across as too harsh to me.

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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by PlatoofthePonderosa » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:06 pm

The Cartwrights strike me as being more consistent and clearly defined personalities than the Barkleys. It's much easier to say, "Oh, that's SUCH a Hoss thing" or "That's exactly what Adam would say" than to say, "That's so Jarrod" or "I know just how Audra would react in that situation!"

That said, there are definitely ways in which the Barkleys echo the Cartwrights. Victoria puts a smile on my face because I can't ever quite shake the idea that she's secretly trying to be Ben Cartwright. And I'm sure The Big Valley as we know it would never have existed if Bonanza hadn't. Bonanza almost created its own genre...the western set on a family ranch instead of focusing on marshals, gunslingers, and outlaws.
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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by littlejoenice » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:55 am

To me, Big Valley is just Bonanza with a matriarch instead of a patriarch, and just a few more family members than the Cartwrights had.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. What you're saying is that at your age, you don't know the difference between a girl and a horse?

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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by PJudith » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:26 pm

I've been watching some of The Big Valley episodes lately. I haven't seen the show in years. In some ways it is like Bonanza, but I think there is too much temptation to call it "Bonanza with a matriarch instead of a patriarch."

For one thing, Victoria Barkley didn't have three husbands. She had one husband and she worked very hard with him to start their ranch and all the wealth that they accrued.. I see her as similar to Inger. She was a very tough, hardworking pioneer woman.

The Barkley sons did have very clearly defined personalities. Jarrod was similar to Adam in that he was less a cowboy and more of a cerebral type. He was a lawyer who managed the family business. Nick was quite hotheaded and emotional. He was similar to Joe although he didn't have nearly the number of romances and dead fiancés!

There was no exact Hoss counterpart although I would put Heath in that role at times. He felt deeply for people and cared about their plight. He was the outsider owing to the fact that he was the product of Tom Barkley's affair with a woman. Hoss often seemed to feel like an outsider because he was so big and "different". Heath was different in his own way.

Of course there was no Cartwright daughter. Audra had no counterpart on Bonanza. I often thought it would've been fun if Joe had a twin, "Jessica". But BZ was always intended to be an all male family.

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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by Tracy » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:02 pm

PJudith wrote:I've been watching some of The Big Valley episodes lately. I haven't seen the show in years. In some ways it is like Bonanza, but I think there is too much temptation to call it "Bonanza with a matriarch instead of a patriarch."

For one thing, Victoria Barkley didn't have three husbands. She had one husband and she worked very hard with him to start their ranch and all the wealth that they accrued.. I see her as similar to Inger. She was a very tough, hardworking pioneer woman.

The Barkley sons did have very clearly defined personalities. Jarrod was similar to Adam in that he was less a cowboy and more of a cerebral type. He was a lawyer who managed the family business. Nick was quite hotheaded and emotional. He was similar to Joe although he didn't have nearly the number of romances and dead fiancés!

There was no exact Hoss counterpart although I would put Heath in that role at times. He felt deeply for people and cared about their plight. He was the outsider owing to the fact that he was the product of Tom Barkley's affair with a woman. Hoss often seemed to feel like an outsider because he was so big and "different". Heath was different in his own way.

Of course there was no Cartwright daughter. Audra had no counterpart on Bonanza. I often thought it would've been fun if Joe had a twin, "Jessica". But BZ was always intended to be an all male family.
And don't forget Eugene -- the disappearing fourth Barkley son. I do wish Charles Briles hadn't been drafted so the Eugene character (who was planning on becoming a doctor) could have continued.
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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by PJudith » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:29 pm

Oh yes, Eugene. I DID forget about him. lol

I watched The Big Valley when I was a little kid and I didn't remember Eugene. It was just last year when I started to watch the episodes on youtube that I saw him again and remembered him.

Since the actor was on briefly I am sure that they could have recast the part and kept the character on the show. But they just forgot about him.

There's another instance where Victoria Barkley is different from Ben Cartwright. She immediately accepted Heath even though he was the product of her late husband's affair. She always called him "my son."

In contrast, Ben was very suspicious of Clay and I got the feeling that he wasn't going to welcome him with open arms if he decided to stay. Marie didn't have an affair while married to Ben. He was her firstborn. But Ben was not so open and welcoming as Victoria Barkley.

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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by Adamant » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:56 pm

I think Eugene was just one too many characters to shuffle on the show. I never considered TBV an ersatz Bonanza nor Lancer either although there are more similarities between Lancer and Bonanza.
If I remember, Victoria wasn't immediately accepting of Heath but was kind as she was a lady despite being a strong-minded woman. And Heath didn't have the background that Clay did. And it was Adam and Hoss who wanted Clay's background checked, not Ben; he just agreed. NIck was not so welcoming of Heath and it "appeared" as if Audra did a bit of flirting with Heath, maybe to test if he really was her half-brother. Remember, she tries to whip him and he wrestles her to the ground and if they hadn't been kin, if Heath had been a stranger, he would have kissed her with her heaving bosom and wet lips. But he lets her up.
And remember that line when the baddies hold Heath against the wall and press the hot "B" branding iron into the wood next to his head with the comment that "B" , in his case, doesn't stand for Barkley. As a kid, I didn't know what that meant, :laughing
One trivia item -- Lee Majors said that Barbara Stanwyck had quite an influence on him; because of her, he learned to be on time (if not early) and to know his lines. She was the consummate professional and he adored her.
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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by LuvAdam9 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:49 am

I love Big Valley and really got into it after I noticed Heath one day. I also really liked Victoria Barkley; she was strong, yet she was a lady. There was a time I despised Big Valley (even though I'd only seen 1 or 2 episodes) mostly because people were always comparing it to Bonanza and saying how much better it was. I'm glad I gave the show a second chance though, it's definitely worth watching even though it isn't as good as Bonanza. :grin In my opinion, no show will ever be.
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Re: The Big Valley - Family dynamics

Post by PJudith » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:58 pm

I just recently watched the first few episodes, it's been years...Yes Audra tried to flirt with Heath. I do think she was testing him to see if he was who he said he was.

Nick was the resident "hothead" on the show, but he grew to love his half brother pretty quickly. In fact all the Barkleys displayed that family loyalty that the Cartwrights had.

That letter "B", gosh what did it stand for if not Barkley? :grin A lot of things went over my head too when I watched TV shows back then.

In the episode "The Secret" the girl who was killed was supposedly dating Little Joe. The town doc did an autopsy and asked Ben and Joe if she was married. They said no and he said, "She should have been."

I had no idea why!

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