From year two of this terrific western series, Laramie, Duel at Parkinson Town was riveting and emotional. It is one of those episodes that brings back the past, in this case some history of the Sherman family, and allows for some neat friendship stuff between Slim (John Smith) and Jess (Robert Fuller). It is also one of the few second season shows that includes Robert Crawford Jr. as Slim’s brother, Andy. By season 3, Andy is not even a memory.
This appearance for Andy is right on, though, with his personality. In the pilot episode, he was surrounded by animals, and here, he wants to adopt a wolf cub. The short segment is really about freedom for Andy. In the process, Jess recalls cuddling up to a baby cougar when he was a kid.
Henry Hull, the primary guest star, portrayed Ben Parkinson, a man with a lot of hate in his heart. Here he blames Slim for the death of his son, though his surviving son tells him that his brother was up to no good at the time. Still, Parkinson seeks revenge in the form of a duel. Hull’s character always felt a little off to me, though I don’t know exactly why. It might be his somewhat unique voice, but whatever it is, something bugs me.
In one sense, the show serves as an education for how old gun duels were conducted, and there is some fascination in that part of the story.
This episode had a pretty good supporting cast, including Murray Matheson who guest starred as Alexander. He’s an author who Slim literally tosses out of the house. The fun part is right after that when Jess, who doesn’t know why his friend is acting the way he is, but has a good time with it anyway by frightening Alexander to the best of his ability.
Also appearing are Ron Harper as Lee Parkinson, Don Beddoe as Dr. Sweeney, Howard McNear as Waldo, and Bartlett Robinson in his recurring role as Laramie’s sheriff. I also want to mention Kenneth MacDonald, who has a brief but fun supporting role as Duggan, the stagecoach driver. The son of the great Edward G. Robinson also has a small role.
The joy of this hour is really in the way Jess and Slim communicate about the past and how Slim ends up having to rescue the kidnapped Jess.