The Oregon Trail (TV series)
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|The Oregon Trail|
|Created by||Samuel A. Peeples
|Written by||E. Jack Neuman
|Directed by||Bill Bixby|
Gina Marie Smika
|Opening theme||"Oregon Bound" performed by Danny Darst|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (7 unaired)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Universal Television|
|Original release||September 21 – October 26, 1977|
The Oregon Trail is an American western television series that aired on NBC from September 21 until October 26, 1977, starring Rod Taylor as the widower Evan Thorpe, who leaves his Illinois farm in 1842 to take the Oregon Trail to the Pacific Northwest. The show also stars Andrew Stevens, Tony Becker, and Gina Marie Smika as Thorpe's children. Darleen Carr stars as Margaret Devlin, one of the passengers on the wagon train, and Charles Napier portrays Luther Sprague, a frontier scout recruited by Thorpe. The series was filmed in the Flagstaff, Arizona area.
- Rod Taylor as Evan Thorpe
- Andrew Stevens as Andy Thorpe
- Gina Marie Smika as Rachael Thorpe
- Darleen Carr as Margaret Devlin
- Charles Napier as Luther Sprague
- Tony Becker as William Thorpe
The following episodes aired in the US, on NBC:
- "Hard Ride Home and the Last Game", September 21, 1977 (Wilford Brimley)
- "The Waterhole", September 28, 1977 (Lonny Chapman and Kim Hunter)
- "Trapper's Rendezvous", October 12, 1977 (Claude Akins)
- "The Army Deserter", October 19, 1977 (Clu Gulager and Kevin McCarthy)
- "Hannah's Girl", October 26, 1977 (Stella Stevens, mother of Andrew Stevens, as Hannah Morgan)
- "The Scarlet Ribbon", Unaired (Richard Jaeckel, Donna Mills, Bill Bixby, and William Shatner)
NBC cancelled the show after six episodes, but the remaining seven episodes were later aired on BBC 2 in the UK, and the entire series was shown in the UK on BBC1, from November 1977 to January 1978.
- "The Race" (Mariette Hartley and Andrew Prine)
- "The Gold Dust Queen" (Susan Howard, later on the CBS drama Dallas)
- "The Man Who Wouldn't Die"
- "Return of the Baby" (with Kim Darby and Gerald McRaney)
- "Evan's Vendetta" (William Smith, previously of the NBC western series Laredo)
- "Suffer the Children" (Robert Fuller, previously of Laramie, Wagon Train, and Emergency!)
- "Wagon Race".
The series followed another western-themed program, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on the NBC Wednesday schedule. The Oregon Trail aired at 9 p.m. Eastern opposite the CBS Wednesday Night Movie and ABC's detective series, Charlie's Angels. Michael Gleason was the executive producer; Richard Collins, the supervising producer; and Carl Vitale, the producer for NBC Universal Television. Bill Bixby directed two episodes. The series pilot aired on January 10, 1976. Terry Wilson (Bill Hawks in Wagon Train) served as production supervisor on the series, and series stars Rod Taylor and Charles Napier co-wrote the theme song, "Oregon Bound", with singer Danny Darst.
The budget for the series was a reported $380,000 an episode.
On April 13, 2010, Timeless Media Group (TMG) released the show on six DVDs, running 750 minutes. The set includes 14 original episodes, including the feature-length pilot and the six episodes that did not air on NBC.
- Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, 4th ed., p. 629
- "The Oregon Trail". CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood (Bear Manor Media, 2010) p198
- Lambert, David (March 12, 2010). "The Oregon Trail - The '70s NBC Show Starring Rod Taylor Comes to DVD with Unaired Episodes". TV Shows on DVD. TV Guide Online. Retrieved April 20, 2015.