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Series / Nichols

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Nichols (also known as James Garner as Nichols) is an American Western television series starring James Garner and Margot Kidder. It was first broadcast in the United States on NBC during the 1971-72 season.

In 1914, Nichols, a soldier, sick of killing, returns to his Arizona hometown, named after his family, and is strong-armed into serving as Sheriff by the Ketcham clan, who run the area. Nichols, who doesn't believe in toting a gun, scoots around via a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Ketchams install as Deputy their relative, Mitch Mitchell. The nasty Deputy has a dog named Slump, and Mitchell is very dumb. A business-savvy local gal named Ruth has an undefined relationship with Nichols, but it's obvious there's lots of action in the back rooms of her saloon.

Tropes present in Nichols include:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: In "Nichols", Ruth shoots Mitch in the arm with her derringer. When Nichols says he is surprised she didn't shoot Ketcham, Ruth replies "Who do think I was aiming at?".
  • Badges and Dog Tags: Frank Nichols served for 18 years in the US Army Cavalry before becoming sick of killing and returning to his hometown where he is made sheriff against his will. Something of a subversion because he is a Technical Pacifist who refuses to carry a gun.
  • Bar Brawl: In the pilot episode, a barroom brawl erupts when Scully One jumps on Nichols from behind and Nichols throws him off on to a table. Nichols is knocked out and when he wakes up, he finds that Ketcham has stuck him with the bill for all the damage.
  • Cardboard Pal: In "The Siege", Ketcham and Mitchell and put a mannequin behind the wheel of Ketcham's car and send it towards the Mexicans so it looks like they are making a run for it.
  • Clueless Deputy: The Ketchams install their cousin Mitch Mitchell as Nichols' deputy to serve as their spy and agent. However, Mitch is so dumb that he serves as just as much an impediment to their schemes as he does to Nichols' law enforcement.
  • Cut Phone Lines: When Colonel Alcazar and his gang of revolutionaries arrive in Nichols in "The Siege", they cut the phone line leading out of town so no one can inform the outside world of their presence.
  • Defiant Strip: In "The Indian Giver", Ma Ketcham is foreclosing on Lou Feeny's ranch, and the enraged Feeny protests by stripping off his clothes and throwing them at Ma; shouting that she now owns them too. Feeny refuses to get dressed again and Nichols is forced to arrest him and bring him back to town naked.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: The eponymous hero was a soldier for 18 years who gradually became sick of killing. The final straw for him was when the army introduced fully automatic heavy machine-guns. After being made sheriff of his hometown, he refuses to carry a gun.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Scully One gets a bottle broken over his head during the Bar Brawl in "Nichols".
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In "The Indian Giver", a group of townsfolk show up to help Sheriff Nicols evict the Ketchams from their ranch. The townsfolk and the Ketchams unload a fusillade of shots at each other from about 20 feet apart: with a very reluctant Nichols caught in between the two groups. Absolutely nobody gets hit; including Nichols.
  • I Own This Town: This is the attitude of Ketcham. He enjoys throwing is weight around as the eldest son of the richest family in the county, he thinks anything (and anyone in the case of Ruth) is his for the taking. However, the real power in the family is the Evil Matriarch Ma Ketcham.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: In "The Siege", Nichols arranges for the US Army to accept the surrender of Colonel Alcazar and his forces as part of a plan to allow Alacazar to escape and cross the Mexican border.
  • Kangaroo Court: This is how Nichols ends up as sheriff of his namesake town. Facing trumped-up charges of damaging Slater's bar during a Bar Brawl, Ma Ketcham sentences him to six months as sheriff of Nichols, with his wages being garnished until he pays the damages.
  • Money to Throw Away: In "The Indian Giver", Flying Fox is making a Run for the Border having stolen Nichols motorcycle while Nichols chases him on a horse. Flying Fox tosses a chunk of the money he conned off Ma Ketcham into the air: forcing Nichols to choose between retrieving the money or catching Flying Fox. Nichols stops to pick up the cash.
  • My Horse Is a Motorbike: Nichols showed he was embracing the coming age by riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle instead of a horse.
  • No Full Name Given: Everyone calls Nichols by his surname. His first name (Frank) is only known because it is seen briefly on his army induction papers in the first episode.
  • One-Word Title
  • The Place: As well as being a Protagonist Title, Nichols also refers to the setting of Nichols, Arizona, which is named after Nichols' family.
  • Repetitive Name: Clueless Deputy Mitch Mitchell.
  • Run for the Border: The proximity of the town of Nichols to the US-Mexico makes this a viable option for bad guys.
    • In "The Siege", Nichols pulls an I Surrender, Suckers to allow revolutionary Colonel Alcazar to slip through the US lines and escape back to Mexico.
    • In "The Indian Giver", Flying Fox steals Nichols' motorcycle and makes a run for the border after Nichols learns he is a Con Man: forcing Nichols to borrow a horse to give chase.
  • Taking Over the Town: In "The Siege", Colonel Alcazar's men take over the town and prevent anyone from leaving while the Colonel receives medical attention.
  • Technical Pacifist: Nichols was a soldier for 18 years and became sick of all the killing her saw. As sheriff of Nichols, he refuses to carry a gun, preferring to outsmart his opponents. He is not above throwing the odd punch if he has too, however.
  • Twilight of the Old West: The show is set in 1914, and Nichols travels on a motorcycle rather than a horse. Ketcham owns the first automobile in the county.
  • Underside Ride: In "Nichols", Johnson rolls out from under the train where he has been riding the rods when it stops in Nichols.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Ruth keeps a derringer hidden in her cleavage. In the pilot, she shoots Mitch in the arm while aiming at Ketcham.