Laramie: Among the Missing seemed to be an odd choice for a season opener, mainly because usually a first show features an entire cast. While all four of the main stars (Robert Fuller, John Smith, Spring Byington, and Dennis Holmes) appear, the show is all Fuller’s. His Jess Harper character is off on a quest of revenge for a shooting in which Holmes’ Mike Williams character was severely wounded by the bad guys.
The show’s opening teaser featuring a deer sets the tone of the main guest character of Jamie Davis, as played by Ivan Dixon, who is probably best known for his later role on Hogan’s Heroes. Jess and Jamie bond over the care of Jess’ horse and their friendship grows as they face up to the prejudice of the town and the aforementioned villains.
For those who are not aware, Dixon is African-American and as such, the entire theme of this show was quite daring for 1962 when it first aired. The first time I saw it, I was wowed by it as well as being impressed that the show was presented at all.
There is a scene with Jess and Jamie by a lake where they discuss the Emancipation Proclamation. It is potent and really strong scene. My body react to it every time because the dialog touches a place down deep in my soul. It’s quite stirring, and Dixon truly hits a home run in the acting department here.
The rest of the guest cast is excellent as well. There’s Claude Akins as Sheriff Tyler Shaw, William Boyett as Porter, L.Q. Jones as Neeley, and Jan Merlin as Milo Gordon. All but Boyett appeared on multiple episodes of the series and were always impressive.
Fuller turns in a strong performance, which isn’t surprising. He is Jess Harper. He took on the role with force and style from the moment he read the first script. He gets to let go with some rage in this episode, and there’s nothing like a helping of angry Jess Harper to get your blood going.
My only regret in this show is just that there isn’t really any interaction between the four main stars. Fuller’s away from the ranch from the get-go. I simply prefer shows where they are all together, at least for part of the time.
Sprung from Mariah’s Japanese The Emancipation of Mimi.
Video Rating: 4 / 5