— The tagline used by Turner Network Television when rerunning episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a mid-nineties TV show which provided a unique mix of the classic western and science fiction genres similar to The Wild Wild West TV series of the '60s. Created by Jeffrey Boam (screenwriter of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Inner Space) and Carlton Cuse (before Nash Bridges and LOST), the series starred B movie and television icon Bruce Campbell as the title character who, after the murder of his father (Marshall Brisco County, Sr, played by R. Lee Ermey) at the hands of the infamous John Bly gang, is hired by the wealthy members of the Westerfield Club to recapture John Bly (played by Billy Drago) and his gang of 12.Brisco is a graduate of Harvard Law School (with a theater minor) who is an implausibly accurate gunman, One-Liner King and ladies man with killer jawline and an almost permanent 5-o'clock shadow (Hey, it's Bruce Campbell, you expected something else?). He is smooth, quick-witted, durable, extremely creative and annoyingly hard to kill (he was even brought back from the dead once). After being hired by the "Robber Barons" of the Westerfield Club, Brisco (along with his horse, Comet) is immediately paired with the club's personal lawyer Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson) who will be the middle man between them and their employee, Brisco. While searching for the escaped members of John Bly's gang Brisco obtains a reluctant partner in fellow bounty hunter Lord Bowler (Julius Carry), comes to know (quite well) a woman by the name of Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford), slightly crazed scientist Prof. Albert Wickwire (John Astin) and a large number of guest characters. The secondary plot of the show revolves around a mysterious golden "Orb" which was uncovered by Chinese railroad workers and contains possibly mystical powers. Its true origin and purpose is something Brisco must discover.The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. ran on the FOX network for a total of 27 episodes from August 27, 1993 to May 20, 1994 and was then cancelled. The theme music is composed by Randy Edelman and is used by NBC during their Olympics coverage.
Hippie drug guru Timothy Leary's expertise in botany and pharmacology as Dr. Milo in "Stagecoach"...not to mention his Fauxlosophical Hand Contemplation scene.
John "Gomez Addams" Astin mentioning how the [John & John Q.] Adams family was "weird".
The series finale features a group of villains who are all played by football players, and discuss their plan to capture Brisco in the same style as a football play, including shouting "Break!" at the end. While running down a street, they encounter props which conveniently resemble a football training camp obstacle course, including tires.
The traveling scenes are denoted by a very Indiana Jones -style red line on a map overlaid with video footage, which falls more within Author Allusion.
Adaptation Decay: In "Mail Order Brides," Brisco and Bowler learn that writers back east are writing dime-store novels about their adventures. Some of the material tracks with what we've seen before, but others (like a cover picture of Brisco or a Bolivian adventure) not so much.
Air Guitar: Actually more like Dueling Air Banjos when Pete Hutter and Aaron Viva try to outdo each other while locked in a jail cell
All Amazons Want Hercules: Subverted when the actual Amazons (the Schwenke sisters) are more interested in Prof. Wickwire than Brisco.
Anachronism Stew: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. included such things as rockets, a mobile battle wagon (it's a freakin' tank, people!), steel horses (motorcycles), "machinery" guns, an inner-space suit (diving suit), a zeppelin and other items as well as modern popular culture references in the show dialog. Though these were supposedly early prototypes, their functionality and most people's understanding of them really strains suspension of belief.
Some of the "anachronism" were more carelessness than playing with history - several of the "new-fangled" devices featured were already around by 1890, some for decades. The Gatling gun was patented in 1861, diving suits were a major area of research during the decade and would be manufactured before the end of the decade, and steam-powered airships had been flying since 1852. First motorcycle has been built in 1885 while similar vehicle powered by steam engine was constructed in 1868. Another episode featured denim being presented as the "next big thing" in textiles, despite having been used in American clothing for over a century.
Although Ned Zed's "machinery gun" was more like a Thompson sub-machine gun than a gatling gun, which makes it still fit into this trope.
The writers may well have been aware that these devices were around, albeit in primitive form, and that was the point.
Artistic License - History: Of all the historic liberties the show takes with its time period, the biggest is probably in "Baby Makes Three" where Brisco, Bowler, Dixie, and Whip have to looke after a kidnapped Chinese baby who's the rightful emperor of China. Of course, no Chinese emperor was born in 1894. The actual emperor of the time had reigned since 1875. The next (and last) Chinese emperor was born in 1906.
A-Team Firing: From most of the bad guys, and from Brisco, whenever the plot requires that the bad guys get away in the first act.
Being Good Sucks: In "Hard Rock," Sheriff Viva recognizes Hondo as a criminal, but can't arrest him since no one can prove he's broken any laws that are "on the books."
Berserk Button: Subverted. Supposedly, Pete Hutter will flip his shit if you touch his gun. In practice, every time someone does (even if it's a repeat offender like Brisco), he's so shocked that he'll stand there, gibbering that they "touched his piece", for several minutes, giving the would-be victim plenty of time to get rid of it, compelling Pete to waste his time finding it.
Sheriff Viva: Uh, Miss Raymond? Any chance we can get something to gnaw on? Lenore Raymond: Of course, Sheriff. What'll ya have? Sheriff Viva: Four chicken-fried steaks, two top sirloins, six baked potatoes, a loaf of bread, a stick of butter...ahhh pound of tapioca and ahhh gallon of buttermilk. Mister County, you want anything? Brisco: Uh, no thanks.
He's later shown BRUTALLY winning a pie-eating contest.
Big Fancy House: Bowler, much to Socrates and Brisco's surprise; apparently they thought he was stuffing his mattress with those big bucks he was making as a bounty hunter. He even has a cabinet full of top-of-the-line crystal, which he asserts he will make Socrates pay for in full if there's so much as a chip in it. So it's unfortunate that the reason they're even having the conversation is because Socrates has managed to acquire a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend in record time, and needs a place to hide out.
Gil Swill: You remember our cousin Ed? Bill Swill: The one who married Aunt Merriam? Phil Swill: I thought he married his mother. Bill Swill: That's what I said. Gil Swill: Until recently, Ed was one of the Army's top test drivers. The man is fearless. Phil Swill: You have to be fearless to marry your mother.
Black Best Friend: Bowler to Brisco after the two become partners and stop being competitors.
Blasting It out of Their Hands: Brisco, in a showdown, actually manages to put a bullet through his opponent's barrel and into the chamber, causing it to explode.
Book Dumb: Bowler may be slow on intellectual matters, but he's quite brilliant when it comes to tracking fugitives.
Boom Town: No Man's Land, a boom town with a population made entirely of women.
Bounty Hunter: Aside from Brisco and Bowler, many other bounty hunters also appear in the show. Most notably in the episode Bounty Hunters Convention
Brother Chuck: Professor Wickwire's daughter Amanda is never heard from after the pilot.
The reporter from the pilot was meant to be a recurring character as the paper's regular correspondent for Brisco's exploits, but as Socrates fulfilled the same function in a different venue, the idea was quickly dropped.
Butt Monkey: When at odds with Brisco, Bowler tends to wind up as this.
Socrates fits this category to a tee.
Card Sharp: Played to the hilt in one episode where Brisco is in a poker game and both he an his opponent are cheating extensively. At one point Brisco even reaches down to pet a dog and pulls an ace from it's collar. Even the cigarette girl is in on it. Though Brisco's opponent has a hand of five kings, he concedes defeat to Brisco's five aces:
"Ya cheated me fair and square!"
Even more fun is that despite Brisco's obsession with the "coming thing," he's relying on classic low-tech cheating while the other guy has all kinds of steampunk gadgets to help him. And it's still Brisco who wins.
Chained to a Railway: In the pilot episode, Brisco and Lord Bowler are tied to the railway tracks by the John Bly Gang.
Character as Himself: "...with Comet" - actually played by four horses, each with a specific area of training (gestures, riding tricks, etc.)
Bruce Campbell mentions on the commentary that there were a few times where he had to break it to an episode's director that a shot they wanted with Comet was impossible, due to requiring two different horses.
Chekhov's Gun: Quite literally with Brisco's own gun, which has a connection with the Orb.
Subverted in Socrates' Sister where the titular sister Iphigenia Poole (Judith Hoag) helps accused forger Jack Randolph (William Russ), who claimed Mistaken Identity, to escape...guess what; he was guilty all along
Played straight in Crystal Hawks with Brisco himself the innocent accused.
Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: Examples include Brisco being tied to a log in a sawmill, tied to railroad tracks, tied up with wet rawhidenote that would slowly contract as it dries, squeezing him to death, stuck in a soon-to-be exploding boiler room, tossed into quicksand, dumped down a well, stuck in a burning barn, the ax-throwing trick, tied to a metal pole in a thunderstorm, acid bath (actually intended for the victim in the room above Brisco but nearly gets him when it falls through the ceiling) and much more.
Cool Gun: Aside from having a pretty, sculpted pearl handle, Brisco's gun, which was also his father's, holds a secret.
Cool Horse: He can even open combination locks. And knows Morse code.
So naturally, Brisco is inclined to quibble over small details.
Counting Bullets: Brisco tricks a young gun-shooter into wasting his bullets before he shoots of his gun-belt.
Creator Cameo: Carlton Cuse as an artist Pete hires in the pilot.
Deadly Dodging: In the first episode, Brisco is about to be shot by four bandits who form a perfect cross around him. He decides to duck at the last moment and the bandits kill each other simultaneously.
Elite Mooks: Pete Hutter enters the show in the pilot movie as the somewhat elite mook of Big Smith. After his initial appearance he becomes a minor Anti-Villain, periodically showing up while working out his own villainous schemes. Pete has a special love for his gun, a la Sledge Hammer!, which is known as "Pete's Piece."
Socrates: U.S Attorney....uh, Mister Break...oh, this is silly. My name is Socrates, what's your first name? Breakstone: Ginger. But that's on a need-to-know basis. Socrates: Ginger....? Breakstone: That's right, Ginger.
Played with in "Hard Rock." Hondo previously shot his brother for cheating him, but he can't bring himself to shoot his own son when threatened. He also urges his son to be a good man in memory of his mother.
Even Evil Has Standards: More like "even perpetual nuisance has standards", but Pete, when accused of committing every crime on the books short of murder, adamantly insists that he's never violated an agricultural quarantine.
Five-Bad Band: Big Smith has a very short-lived Five Bad Band in the pilot "You killed my four best men! Pete, Scratchy and....those other two." Of course The Dark ChickDixie Cousins falls for our hero.
Enzio Tataglia: [Sitting at a table in the middle of town] In my country we have a saying "If you yodel in the forest , the yoohoo that you yoohoo will be the yoohoo that you get back." Brisco County Jr.: Where were you from again?
General Ripper: General Quarry is a thoroughly cynical version of this, deliberately framing a Mexican revolutionary to start a war with Mexico, solely to satisfy Quarry's own political ambitions.
Genre Savvy: Brisco is this. Unfortunately circumstances usually end up leading him to the dramatic climax that he's already described in detail and was trying to avoid.
Genre Shift: Starting with "Bye Bly" where John Bly is killed and the Orbs returned to the future, so the genre shifts slightly out of fantastical Sci-Fi and into less fantastic western espionage for the rest of the series.
Bowler: Brisco, can we just be cowboys from now on?
Not long after we meet Dixie Cousins in the pilot, we find that her boyfriend, Big Smith, calls her Dix for short. Now that in itself isn't really too impressive, but in conjunction with her last name, it's pretty funny.
Girl of the Week: Somewhat subverted in Dixie Cousins as a regular Love Interest, but played straight in almost every other episode...including with New Old Flame Annie Cavendish, whom he promised to return to one day. Next week, she's forgotten. of course.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Given a certain twin German amazonian blacksmiths kinda twist. The good cop flirts, while the bad cop makes to beat the hell out of the person.
I Lied: A villain does this to Pete Hutter in the episode And Baby Makes Three
I Am Your Father: Turned on it's head when the son reveals himself to his father instead.
Idiot Ball: Emilio Pena (Episode Brisco in Jalisco)
Improbable Aiming Skills: And how! Brisco's gunplay in the final act is usually without error. Any time he's shooting early in an episode, it's more likely to be A-Team Firing, with him not hitting anything.
Ironic Echo: As a Running Gag throughout Socrates' Sister, people keep commenting that Socrates is carrying "too much weight" during his ill-planned quest to rescue his sister. At the end of the episode, after the rope that leads to Jack Randolph's diving suit snaps, dooming him to death by drowning, Prof. Wickwire ruefully comments that there was "too much weight."
Whip Morgan: You think we can break out? Pete Hutter: Whip, you happen to be in the company of a connoisseur of penal lodging. Whip Morgan: Hey! I ain't into that. Pete Hutter: I was talking about the jailhouse design.
Kangaroo Court: In "Brisco for the Defense," Brisco's old school pal is the prime suspect for a murder. The judge is actually a reasonable (if stern) person, but the sheriff and other citizens actively try to obscure evidence and push for an innocent man to be hanged.
Literal Cliffhanger: A humorous example as Brisco is hanging out a window with Socrates(who is holding onto Brisco's belt). There's a wagonful of sharp pointy things under them and a Chinese gangster stepping on Brisco's fingers.
Brisco: "Socrates...my hands are slipping." Scorates: "Don't worry, I've got a good grip on your belt."
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Billy Drago. Cast and crew have described him as downright scary while in-character as Bly, but as a very nice person in real-life.
The Mole: Pena's second-in-command Aguerro in "Brisco in Jalisco" and Rita Avnet in "Deep in the Heart of Dixie"
Moody Mount: Brisco's horse Comet is like this sometimes, when they've had a spat. He also gets this way in "Steel Horses" when he's initially outclassed by the motorcycles.
Mook Promotion: In the first Swill brothers episode, they're led by the eldest brother, Gill. At the end of that episode, Gill is Killed Off for Real, but Will, Bill, and Phil are all caught alive. In their second episode, the next eldest brother, Will, is in charge.
Noodle Incident: An example from the episode "Hard Rock" where there's a buckboard wagon stuck in the side of the second floor of a building:
Brisco: What's with the buckboard? Sheriff Viva: Wagon-jumpin' contest...got out of hand.
A more serious example in another episode when Brisco calls Bowler on being distrustful of others, asking if he even has any friends. Bowler responds that he did once, but "It didn't work out."
As Bowler explains his New Old Flame to Brisco, he has to reveal his last name was originally "Lonefeather." When Brisco asks why he changed it, Bowler simply asks him which story he'd rather here at this point.
Dixie: You like the bed? It comes from France. Brisco: Louie the 14th? Dixie: No, I think Louie was the 9th or 10th. But then a lady never counts. Brisco: Oh, yeah, then what are those notches on your bedpost?
Old Master: Lee Pow, leader of the Scarred Foot Clan.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Lord Bowler is an excellent tracker and has a good record of success, but to dime store novel readers, passers-by and even a woman from the very distant future, he is just Brisco's "faithful companion."
Paper-Thin Disguise: In order to hide his identity, Brisco often introduces himself as Roscoe Merriweather or "Kansas" Wylie Stafford (at least until the episode AKA Kansas, where "Kansas" Wylie Stafford actually shows up to set the record straight).
Parental Abandonment: Episode: The Brooklyn Dodgers. Okay, actually The children weren't abandoned, they thought both their parents were dead but their mother was still alive although she also believed they were both dead.
Bowler himself, having lost his father while a baby and his mother later on during childhood.
And, of course, Brisco. His father is gunned down in the pilot and his mother died years earlier.
Parental Favoritism: In "Mail Order Brides," Ma Swill says that dearly-departed Gil was her favorite.
A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: One member of John Bly's gang and his lackeys were a group of actual pirates. Somehow or another they'd gotten driven off the high seas, so they took to pirating on the American plains. It's also a literal example of this trope, as they're very much classical pirates (maybe 17th century-ish), but the show is supposed to take place right around the turn of the 20th century.
Power Trio: Brisco (ego), Bowler (id), and Poole (superego)
Reality Subtext: Originally, the writers envisioned the rivalry between Brisco and Bowler lasting longer. However, as Campbell and Carry had such strong chemistry, the writers were compelled to have them interact more often - leading to Brisco and Bowler becoming close friends sooner than expected.
While Brisco is tussling with a bad guy. The Girl of the Week wants to help, and grabs a nearby pistol by the barrel and is about to hit the bad guy before Brisco stops her. He beats up the bad guy himself, then demonstrates that fact that if the woman had struck someone with the butt of the loaded, flintlock pistol, it would've gone off. Directly into ''her''.
Also lampshaded in the pilot, when Big Smith's gang is going to shoot Brisco.
Pete: "Dixie! I'm kind of a stickler for gun safety." *waves the gun in her direction* "Could you move a little to the left?"
Reluctant Mad Scientist: Professor Wickwire, though he may be just a little unhinged. In "Socrates' Sister," he is forced by Jack Randolph and Pete Hutter to use his new dive suit for their scheme. In "Senior Spirit," Bly has him kidnapped to study an Orb and threatens a hostage to force his compliance.
Retroactive Precognition: Brisco and his obsession over "the coming thing." Which he runs into quite frequently, even when he doesn't know it (such as drive-thru windows and the hitchhiker's thumb.)
In "Steel Horses," Wickwire unveils his one-way glass for an interrogation. Bowler muses that he'd want something like that at home that he could turn on and watch anytime he wants.
Bowler: Did I just think of a comin' thing? Brisco: It's fun, isn't it?
Retirony: In "Bye Bly" with Lord Bowler this was played straight and then subverted.
Best part: retirony is used exclusively for dramatic effect; after Bowler does not die, he decides against retirement. He was thinking of retiring just so it would be extra poignant when he dies.
The Reveal: In "Fountain of Youth," Bly is revealed to be a time-traveler from 612 years in the future. He came to get the Orbs so that he could conquer the world in his time.
Revenge Before Reason: Generally averted with Brisco himself. He's hunting the men that murdered his father, but as personal as the loss was, he is content to bring them to justice.
Played straight, however, when Brisco encounters the man responsible for his mother's death. Brisco takes two beatings when he tries fighting head-on as opposed to using his wits.
A Simple Plan: Usually a plan constructed by Pete Hutter which he often pulls off with the same success of anything by Wile E. Coyote. Though he does seem to be fairly successful at causing trains to run into giant rocks that are painted to look like the continuation of the train tracks.
Pete: That's why they came to Pete Hutter. Because they know if you're gonna pull off this type of operation, what you need is big rocks!
Spinning Paper: Used in the opening credits to tell the pilot's back story of Brisco's Dad getting killed, Millionaires hiring his Son, and Lord Bowler on Brisco's trail as a competitive Bounty Hunter. After Brisco and Bowler became partners, that part was excised.
Story Arc: The Orb and tracking the John Bly gang which are part of the same arc.
Superstition Episode: In a Halloween Episode Briso & Bowler have to deal with Bad Luck Betty, a superstitious deputy, while on a case. Where she goes bad luck follows, although she always says it's an accident - while also following various superstitions. For example, she managed to put the sheriff in a full body cast: she tossed salt over her shoulder just as he came in, which made him lose his footing and a grandfather clock fell on him.
Tempting Fate: When Brisco is framed for murder and captured by another bounty hunter, he easily escapes the ropes she ties him up with and advises her to invest in chains instead as he escapes. Not long afterward she catches him again, and it turns out she took his advice.
They Killed Kenny: Pete Hutter is supposedly killed more than once and other characters are usually surprised to see him again.
Brisco County Jr.: We heard you were alive, Pete. Lord Bowler: We just didn't believe it. We saw you get killed by that Chinese death star with our own eyes. Pete Hutter: Well that's the thing about your Chinese death stars, An hour later and you're alive again.
This Is Going To Be Huge: Fox's executives assessment. One even said: "If Bruce Campbell isn't the next big television star, I'll eat my desk." Ironically, they put some show after Brisco County Jr. on hopes it would get the residual audience... called The X-Files.
Twofer Token Minority : Bowler is referred to as a "half-breed" in the pilot, and other episodes refer to him being part Cherokee. He is black, but Bowler's hair, clothing, earrings, and aspects of his character come from his Native American heritage. Also falls under Truth in Television, as Julius Carry does have Native American ancestry.
What Could Have Been: Writers' plans for a second season included Brisco becoming sheriff of a town.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Brisco's father is killed by Bly and the 12 members of his gang. By the time of "Bye Bly," Brisco and Bowler corner the "last one" before going on to defeating Bly himself. However, we'd only seen eight members defeated prior to this (plus a tenth member in the Whole Episode Flashback that aired right after "Bye Bly"). The 12 number is repeated in a later episode, so the three remaining members were apparently dealt with off-screen, but some fans nonetheless found the development curious.
What the Hell, Hero?: In "Showdown," Brisco goes to his hometown to help out an old friend and her father, Bob. As he tries to deal with the local outlaws, Brisco gets sick of Bob's self-destructive behavior and unwillingness to admit to it.
Brisco: All those years where dad was gone all the time, you're the closest thing I ever had to a father! You were the sheriff! You held this town together. Bob: I'm still holding it together. Brisco: Like the hell you are! You're a drunk! If my father were still alive, he'd be ashamed to ride with you. And so am I.
Whole Episode Flashback: "Ned Zed," which tells a story early into the hunt for Bly and his gang—well before Brisco and Bowler officially teamed-up. (Surviving production codes suggest it was filmed after the Pilot Movie, but it wound up being held back for most of the season.) The framing device is a father and son reading a dime store novel.
Wig, Dress, Accent: While on the run in "Deep in the Heart of Dixie," Dixie dons a matching black wig and dress, and performs under a different name.
Will They or Won't They?: Brisco and Dixie. A Sexy Discretion Shot strongly suggests they did in the Pilot and while they clearly have feelings for each other, they never really get together until near the end of the season.