Television used to teach a little history along with entertaining you. Many of the earliest TV shows featured real life characters. Most, of course, were highly fictionalized and some – like Wyatt Earp – had as much to do with actual history as Star Trek, but every once in a while the producers would really try to stick to what were the known facts at the time.
TV Land is featuring a 48 hour marathon this weekend of one of the greatest historically based TV series ever, Daniel Boone, starring Fess Parker and Ed Ames. I was a mere kid when I first watched this show and as a result I still have in my possession an album autographed by Ed Ames when he was a on promotional tour that brought him to my hometown. I haven’t seen this series in decades and am planning on taping many episodes.
Daniel Boone is clearly not meant to be taken as a history lesson, but unlike Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson, there are nuggets of factual base to this show. Most of what takes place does have the general ambience of authenticity and, perhaps more so than any other series up until the 70s or 80s Daniel Boone presents its indians characters as fully fleshed out human beings. In fact, one of the main characters is an indian. Daniel Boone in reality had mixed feelings for native Americans. He killed some and he got along with others. Even that is reflected.
Also, since Daniel Boone lived during the most exciting time in American history, real-life American historial figures occasionally pop up, from Benjamin Franklin and George Washington to Aaron Burr and a group of people claming to be descendents of the lost colony of Roanoke.
Daniel Boone is a terrific example of old-fashioned television adventure and you should take an hour or two this weekend to check it out.