Under the creation of Glen A. Larson and Roy Huggins(who serves as executive producer)along with Jo Swerling, Jr., the television series "Alias Smith and Jones" premiered on ABC's Thursday night schedule in prime time on January 5,1971 producing 50 episodes until January 13,1973. Out of the 50 episodes that this series produced,Season one produced 15 episodes airing from January 5, 1971 until April 22,1971.Season two produced 23 episodes airing from September 16,1971 until March 2,1972. The third and final season of the series saw it's move to Saturday nights in an earlier time slot produced 12 episodes airing from September 16,1972 until January 13,1973.(Where it was placed opposite "All In The Family",and "Emergency!). The Western-adventure laced comedy series starred Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry who were outlaw cousins trying to reform. The governor offers them a conditional amnesty,aiming to keep the pact a secret. The "condition" in which they had to follow was that they were still wanted by the law until it becomes advantageous for the Governor to sign their clemency.
"Alias Smith and Jones" was modeled after the phenomenal success of the 1969 theatrical feature "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford that was a colossal box office hit. So the powers that be over at Universal(which produced the series) along with network executives at ABC though it would be a great idea to cash in on the success of the film. On March 17, 1970, the origin of "Alias Smith and Jones" began with a two hour made for television movie titled "The Young Country" about two con- artists in the Old West premiered as a special presentation on the ABC Movie of the Week. It was produced and directed by Roy Huggins(who also served as the executive producer) that also starred Walter Brennan and Joan Hackett. The two leads played by Roger Davis and Pete Duel were in the TV-Movie version with special guest star James Drury(of "The Virginian" fame). The TV-Movie version was indeed a smash hit and along with creator and producer Glen A. Larson on board gave the greenlight for the series. In fact both "The Young Country" and the series pilot originally aired as ABC Movies of the Week.
"Alias Smith and Jones" was made in the same spirit as his other American produced TV-series from Huggins' own shows such as "Maverick","Cheyenne", "The Fugitive", "Run For Your Life" to "Renegade" just to name a few. "Alias Smith and Jones" was next to the last of the great American television Westerns which dominated the prime-time schedule with "Gunsmoke",and "Bonanza" still standing among the last of the dinosaur of Westerns. The problem was that the network put this great Western series on it's prime time Thursday night schedule for the remainder of it's first two seasons(1970-1971 and 1971-1972) where it went opposite NBC's top-rated variety series "The Flip Wilson Show",and went neck in neck in competition with CBS' "Bearcats!". In fact "Alias Smith and Jones" held it's own on it's Thursday night time slot...an astounding feat in prime time television until the sudden death of actor Pete Duel which almost brought the show to a halt in production. Series writer-director,and producer Roy Huggins contacted actor Roger Davis(who was the narrator in the opening credits of the series' first season) to replaced Pete Duel in both Season 2 and Season 3. The rest they say is history. Actor Ralph Story became the main narrator for Seasons 2 and 3 of the series .
"Alias Smith and Jones" brought in big time directors, big time writers not to mention big time guest stars as well. Actress Sally Field appeared in two episodes of the series as the character Clementine Hale(Joan Hackett portrayed the character the TV-Movie Version). Other guest stars that were on the series included Burl Ives, Pernell Roberts, Alan Hale, Jr., Jack Cassidy, Cesar Romero, Neville Brand, John Russell, Rory Calhoun, Susan Oliver, Chill Willis, Slim Pickens, Claudine Longet, Denver Pyle, Susan Saint James, Jack Elam, Earl Holliman, Dennis Fimple, Michele Lee, Alejandro Rey, Sam Jaffe, and J.D. Cannon.
The series continued for two more seasons,but within the show's third and final season(which moved from Thursday to Saturday nights in an earlier time slot) it never regained it's popularity after the tragic loss of actor Pete Duel. "Alias Smith and Jones" was indeed the next to the last of the Western genre that was giving way to gritty police dramas brought the show to an end on January 13,1973. Three days after "Alias Smith and Jones" was canceled by ABC,another long-running popular Western series "Bonanza" aired it's final episode after 14 seasons and 431 episodes for NBC on January 16,1973. Leaving the eighteen year-old "Gunsmoke"(which ended it's 20-year run on March 31,1975),and the syndicated comedy Western series "Dusty's Trail" and "Kung-Fu" as the only Westerns scheduled for the 1973-1974 Fall Season.
The rest were cop dramas when "Alias Smith and Jones" was replaced on the ABC prime time scheduled by the police drama "Griff" starring former "Bonanza" member Lorne Greene and former "Alias Smith and Jones" member Ben Murphy.
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