Legend is a science fiction Western television show that ran on UPN from April 18, 1995 until August 22, 1995. It was Richard Dean Anderson's first major role after the successful MacGyver (1985) series, and also stars John de Lancie.
Ernest Pratt, a dime-store novelist in the old west, lives with his scientist friend Professor Janos Bartok in the small town of Sheridan, Colorado. The people of Sheridan mistakenly believe that Pratt—a drinker, gambler, and womanizer—is the audacious and pure hero of his novels, Nicodemus Legend. Bartok and his associate, Ramos, convince Pratt to assume the Legend persona while supplying him with Legend-like futuristic gadgets that they invent. Together, Bartok and the reluctant Pratt (as Legend), adventure throughout the west solving mysteries, capturing wrong-doers, and even making scientific discoveries.
Legend contains examples of:
- Actor/Role Confusion: Or 'author-character confusion' in this case.
- The Alcoholic: Ernest.
- Becoming the Mask: Ernest Pratt is a writer in the Old West who creates a popular series of pulp novels featuring a dashing cowboy hero known as Nicodemus Legend. With the help of Bartok, a pesky, but clever, scientist, the author winds up taking on the role and identity of his fictional creation. And apparently, Pratt, who was pretty much a drunk and a jerk, finds that the selflessness and heroism are less and less of an act as time goes on.
- Cattle Punk
- Dime Novel: Naturally.
- Expy: Bartok is a version of Nikola Tesla.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Since everyone in Sheridan knows that Nicodemus Legend is a teetotaler, the only way Ernest Pratt can get his whisky is to drink it out of a teacup.
- Giver of Lame Names: Bartok gives overly long names for his inventions.
- Gossip Evolution: A bank robber once nearly got caught because his horse balked in front of a woman crossing the street and wouldn't move until she'd passed. Witnesses thought that the robber had done it deliberately. Within a few weeks, the story had changed to the robber actively helping the lady across the street, and then to him giving her some of the loot to pay for her children's education. Eventually the robber decided that he liked being thought of as a Gentleman Thief and started acting the role.
- Historical Domain Character: President Ulysses S. Grant appears in an episode, and Oliver Wendell Holmes is mentioned in passing.
- Instant Book Deal: Pratt gets out of a gunfight by promising the man who wanted to duel the famous (and fictitious) Nicodemus Legend a deal with his publisher for a book series about his real-life exploits.
- It Will Never Catch On: A woman tells the protagonist Ernest Pratt her life story, which sounds remarkably similar to Gone with the Wind. When Pratt's friend says it would make a good story for the dime novels he writes, Pratt replies that it would never sell.
- Safecracking: Janos tries to blow a safe using nitroglycerin. The safe goes through the roof of the bank and lands in the stable next door.
- Stealth Pun: John DeLancie as the Gadgeteer Genius who makes all the gizmos the hero uses. In other words, Q plays Q.
- The Teetotaler: Nicodemus Legend is a Teetotaler. However, Ernest Pratt, the writer who portrays him, is an alcoholic. Because everyone in Sheridan thinks of him as Legend, the only way Pratt can get his whiskey is to drink it out of a teacup.
- Telegraph Gag Stop: In the pilot, alcoholic dime novel hack Ernest Pratt is accosted by his agent about the publisher's demand he pretend to be the hero of his novels, Nicodemus Legend, to promote his flagging book series. At least the story takes place in the right period for telegrams (1876).Harry Parver: (reading from copy of telegram) Imperative you meet public appearance obligations, stop. Last Legend novel barely recouped expenses, stop. If contract not complied with, advance on next book forfeit—-Ernest Pratt: STOP!