|Created by||Elroy Schwartz
|Written by||John Fenton Murray
|Directed by||Jack Arnold
Leslie H. Martinson
|Theme music composer||Ross Schwartz
|Composer(s)||Frank De Vol
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer(s)||Sherwood Schwartz|
|Running time||24 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Metromedia Producers Corporation
Writer First Productions
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Television|
|Original run||September 11, 1973– March 12, 1974|
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 Gilligan's Island.
The series, set in the latter 19th century, is about a small, diverse cluster of lost travelers, who become separated from their wagon train.
Two coachmen and five passengers of a wagon and stagecoach, become separated from its lead on its 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 the adventures of these range rovers, while they attempt to find the main wagon train. According to the theme song, "... Dusty's the reason for their plight, thanks to Dusty – nothing's right".
Dusty's Trail was not a direct spin-off of CBS's Gilligan's Island, but it reworked the "lost" premise into a frontier genre. Each character was analogous to a Gilligan's Island's prototype. Dusty was a replay of Gilligan (Denver); Mr. Callahan a replay of The Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.); likewise for the others- a wealthy senior couple (Mr. and Mrs. Brookhaven adapted from the Howells), a flashy vamp (Lulu adapted from Ginger), an intellectual (Andy adapted from the Professor), and the girl next-door (Betsy adapted from Mary Ann).
- Bob Denver as Dusty
- Forrest Tucker as Mr Callahan
- Ivor Francis as Carson Brookhaven
- Jeannine Riley as Lulu McQueen
- Lori Saunders as Betsy McGuire
- Lynn Wood as Daphne Brookhaven
- Bill Cort as Andy Boone
|Nº||Title||Directed by:||Written by:||Air date|
|1||"The Not So Magnificent Seven"||Earl Bellamy||(Unknown)||11 September 1973|
|Searching for a dentist to treat Dusty's toothache, the wagoners find a town that appears to have been abandoned very suddenly. Unknown to them, it is under siege by three outlaws.|
|2||"There Is Nothing Like a Dame"||(Unknown)||(Unknown)||18 September 1973|
|Two cattle thieves try to rustle up some women.|
|3||"Horse of Another Color"||Oscar Rudolph||Brad Radnitz||25 September 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||2 October 1973|
|Dusty's discovery of a treasure map brings out everyone's greed.|
|5||"Duel for Daphne"||Leslie H. Martinson||Larry Rhine,
|9 October 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||16 October 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,
|23 October 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,
|30 October 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"||(Unknown)||(Unknown)||6 November 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,
|13 November 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,
|20 November 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||27 November 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||4 December 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||11 December 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||18 December 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,
|25 December 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"||(Unknown)||(Unknown)||1 January 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||8 January 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||15 January 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 its empty. Everyone makes up a story of how they swiped the contents to keep Bates from shooting them.|
|20||"Nothing to Crow About"||Russ Mayberry||Rick Mittleman||22 January 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||(Unknown)||5 February 1974|
|Encountering a pregnant Indian squaw, 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||12 February 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,
|19 February 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||26 February 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"||(Unknown)||(Unknown)||5 March 1974|
|The wagoners are forced into a horse race to win safe passage through Indian territory.|
|26||"Pechango Berries"||(Unknown)||(Unknown)||12 March 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.|
Four episodes of the series were compiled into a TV-movie titled The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West, which was broadcast on 12 April 1979. In order, the four episodes are:
- "Tomahawk Territory"
- "Horse of Another Color"
- "There Is Nothing Like a Dame"
- "The Not So Magnificent Seven"
The show was created for Denver by Sherwood Schwartz, who had also created its progenitor, Gilligan's Island. According to U.S. television researchers Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, the reason for the show's failure was that it was too derivative of Gilligan's Island. Normally, retreading an old format should not mean an early demise of a series, unless the show being emulated is a rerun icon like 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 (Gilligan's Island). 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".
Reception and cancellation
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. It nonetheless was canceled after its lone season, with 26 episodes produced out of an originally planned 30.
The copyrights on all of the Dusty's Trail episodes eventually lapsed without any effort at renewal, making the series one of the last television series to enter the public domain before the Copyright Act of 1976 (and its much longer copyright terms) took effect. Because of this, the show became widely available in reruns and on discount DVDs.
Four episodes of the series were edited together and released as a feature length film The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West, in 1976.
- KDKA radio interview May 12, 1989
- "Dusty's Trail - The Almost Complete First (And Only) Season (1973)". amazon.com. Retrieved 17 March 2011.