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Series / Wild West Tech

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A Documentary Series from The History Channel. Ran from 2003 to 2005. This series explores the technology of The Wild West. Hosted first by Keith Carradine then by David Carradine, it features just about all of the Wild West tropes one would have encountered in Real Life in the Old West. A variety of historians and experts on The Old West act as Talking Heads and fill in more info on the event/person/technology under discussion.


Tropes featured in this series:

  • Cool Car: One episode features a Twilight of the Old West era shootout involving an early automobile fitted with some armor plating and a machine gun.
  • Cool Train: At least one episode spends time examining the tech and troubles associated with travel by rail on the frontier.
  • Cowboy: One episode is dedicated to cowpokes and their tech and exploits.
  • The Dung Ages: Frontier towns often feature muddy, unpaved streets that feature just as many horses as humans. The resulting mess can be... unappealing to say the least.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Many historical fights between men as well as pairs/groups of women are mentioned.
  • The Grim Reaper: He gets his own episode. Let's face it: The Wild West was a dangerous place and era. The Grim Reaper was a constant companion to all settlers of the time.
  • Hanging Judge: Several get mentions throughout the show's run.
    • Judge Roy Bean. "The Law West of the Pecos".
    • Issac Parker gets his own segment and is treated in a favorable light. He claimed that he brought peace to a lawless territory, and, among other things, treated Indians as fairly as whites. According to Time/Life the only reason he hanged so many people was that there was an excess of Outlaws in his territory who "needed killin'."
      • Parker's reputation for harshness is often overstated; of 13,490 cases tried before his bench, 344 were for capital offenses. Of those, 160 defendants were convicted and sentenced to hang, and only 79 were actually hanged.
  • Hurricane of Puns: This series is liberally sprinkled with puns. Usually a play on how some unfortunate individual met their end.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: One commenter made this statement about Capt. Fetterman in 1866. Fetterman said that with 80 good soldiers with him, he could " roughshod over the Sioux Nation". Pursuing a retreating band of attackers, he and his 80 man company were ambushed and killed.
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  • Outlaw: At least one fugitive per episode. Often more.
  • Out of Character Is Serious Business: Usually Dave will end on some wise crack involving the last segment. But in Massacres II, he basically just says he needs a drink, before lamenting on how we've seen the absolute worst of humanity and no matter what, a massacre is not the solution.
  • Public Execution: Hanging a convicted criminal in the town square might have been the highlight of an entire month in this era of limited entertainment opportunities.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: One episode featured an outlaw being undone by the complexities of the safety on one of them new-fangled semi-auto pistols.
    • The lethal effectiveness of double-barrel shotguns and lever-action rifles is also discussed.
  • The Rustler: Cattle and horse rustling and the men accused of such get a lot of discussion.
  • Train Job: Lots of them. Some more successful than others.
  • Twilight of the Old West: This gets some discussion with events occurring during the early 20th century.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: One episode harshly deconstructed this trope.
  • U.S. Marshal: Often the only law in The Wild West. Not always readily available.
  • Vigilante Execution: Was occasionally known to involve the entire community.


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