CTVA - The Virginian 5.06 [126] "The Challenge" 19-Oct-1966

The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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5.06 [126]
"The Challenge"

(not to be confused with episode #62 'The Dark Challenge')
original NBC Broadcast - 19 October 1966

 Universal Television
A Division of Universal City Studios, Inc.
Executive Producer - Frank Price
Produced by Joel Rogosin
Teleplay by Joy Dexter and Harry Kronman
Story by Joy Dexter
Directed by Don McDougall

(shown on the ride-in) (all appear in this episode)
Charles Bickford as John Grainger
Doug McClure as Trampas
Don Quine as Stacey Grainger
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest Stars
Dan Duryea [Ben Crayton]
Don Galloway [Jim Tyson]
Michael Burns [Bobby Crayton]
And Introducing Barbara Anderson as Sarah Crayton

(Pictured above - left to right - Dan Duryea, Barbara Anderson, Michael Burns)
Complete ending credits:
Ed Peck as Sheriff Milt Hayle
Bing Russell . . . Sam Fuller (questionable character name credit mistake
since this was Jim Tyson's brother)
Hal Boker . . . Hank Logan
Grant Woods . . . Walt Sturgess
Clay Tanner . . . Station Agent
Byron Keith . . . Dr. Manning
Lew Brown . . . Deputy Hod Ellis
Clyde Howdy . . . Marshal Coons
Music Score
Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes
(some of this score was recycled from 4.04 [094] "The Claim" and 5.01 [121]
"Legacy of Hate")
Theme by Percy Faith
Director of Photography
Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director . . . George Patrick
Film Editor . . . Michael R. McAdam, A.C.E.
Unit Manager . . . Abby Singer
Assistant Director . . . William H. Kissel
Set Decorators . . . John McCarthy and James M. Walters
Sound . . . Earl Crain, Jr.
Color Coordinator . . . Robert Brower
Editorial Supervisor . . . Richard Belding
Musical Supervision . . . Stanley Wilson
Costume Supervisor . . . Vincent Dee
Makeup . . . Bud Westmore
Hair Stylist . . . Larry Germain
The Title "THE VIRGINIAN" by permission of EMKA, LTD.

Series regular characters appearing in this episode: Featuring Trampas with
John Grainger and brief appearances by the Virginian, Elizabeth Grainger,
and Stacey Grainger.

John Grainger is seeing the Virginian off on his train trip to Denver.
Trampas has been away on Shiloh business, and the station agent asks if
they've heard from him. When John and the Virginian admit they haven't, the
station master's explanation is that Trampas has "found him a real live
town". The Virginian remarks that it
isn't like Trampas to stay away without telling anyone. John assures his
worried foreman that he'll watch for Trampas. Besides, "You said it to me -
'Any place, any time, Trampas can take care of himself'." . . . But Trampas
is wandering afoot alone in the wilderness.

Farmer Ben Crayton is upset because his son Bobby is late
getting back from town with supplies. When his daughter Sarah
comments that one could hardly blame Bobby because he didn't get
out very often, Ben tells her that it isn't his fault he works the boy so
hard - "It's the land. It takes a man's life for just a piece of bread."
Sarah thinks maybe her brother is just lonely for someone to talk to,
like Jim Tyson, their former hired hand whom Ben let go because he
was a bad influence.
Ben fears Sarah is in love with Jim and counsels that when her
mother was alive she wanted Sarah to have a home and happiness. He wants
that for her too, but she won't find it with Tyson. During this discussion
Trampas stumbles into their yard.

Bobby is leaving town when Tyson stops him. Now a deputy, Jim
promises to keep the boy informed on the most recent stage robbery
then changes the subject and asks if Sarah misses him.
Bobby replies that she must because she goes
around "sad like" all the time. Tyson grumbles that he'd still be around if
it weren't for Crayton thinking he isn't good enough for his daughter. As
the two continue talking, the sheriff returns from looking for the stage
robbers and informs Tyson that everyone on the coach had been killed so
there were no witnesses. But it must be the same gang who had been involved
in the other hold ups, and the one thing they do know about them is that one
of the men carries a fancy white handled gun.

When he arrives home, Bobby explains to his annoyed father that he is late
because everyone in town had been talking about another stage robbery. The
boy relates that all the passengers had died, and his father wonders if any
of the outlaws had been hurt. Crayton tells Bobby he's going for the doctor
because they had found an injured stranger and directs his son to watch over
his sister. Bobby tells Sarah that Jim must miss being there with them.
The boy finishes his chores and sits down for supper with Sarah. Trampas
appears in the bedroom doorway, and Bobby is quick to want to protect his
sister. Sarah helps Trampas back to bed, but
the cowhand can't answer any of the questions she has for him.

At the outlaw's hiding place, Jim's brother Sam is recovering from a gunshot
wound. When Jim joins them Sam says he hasn't
split up the money with the rest of the gang because he didn't want them
to go off and leave him to die. He knows Jim hadn't been "too keen" on
helping them with the hold up, but Jim remarks he owed it to his brother and
"won't say no to" his "share of the payroll".

The doctor examines Trampas. The diagnosis is that he has a concussion
but should be fine in four days to a week with a very good chance
that he will regain his memory. Sheriff Hayle questions Trampas as to his
possible role in the stage holdup, but Trampas can't remember a thing.
Sarah brings the cowboy some soup and soon they are laughing together when
she relates how Bobby had gotten pecked on the head by a woodpecker
because the bird "couldn't tell one kind of wood from another".

Ben brings in the checkerboard to see if Trampas knows how to play. Asked
how he's feeling, Trampas remarks that he's "not up to breaking a mustang"
but maybe he could "tame him a little". Ben asks if breaking horses is how
Trampas makes his living, but Trampas thinks maybe it was "just a figure of
speech." Ben explains that Sarah is always doing things for others. When
she was young she saved a calf with a broken leg. The leg never mended
right, but the animal lived. Trampas reckons, "Maybe that's what she's
trying to do for me, help me to live." Ben advises there is nothing more to
it than that. Trampas takes several jumps on the board, and Ben is sure of
one thing - Trampas does know how to play checkers.

Bobby is practicing roping a stump, and Trampas shows him the correct way to
throw a loop. Bobby asks where he learned a skill like that, but Trampas
can't remember. It has already been three days, and the cowboy is anxious
to get his memory back. Sarah comments to Bobby that Trampas is nice.
"Nice as Jim?" wonders Bobby. Sarah explains that Trampas is different, and
Bobby guesses a person could like both men.

Since Trampas came out of nowhere like Jim Tyson did, Crayton is concerned
that his daughter might make a mistake caring for Trampas.
But Sarah assures him Jim had only been someone to talk to, and it couldn't
be a mistake to help a man in need. Yet her father
wonders if nothing is wrong, wouldn't someone be looking for him?

Back at Shiloh, John Grainger can't keep his mind on the book he's reading.
Liz asks if he's worried about Trampas, and John admits he has to be now
because it's been so long since they've heard from him. Stacey comes in
carrying Trampas' suitcase, and now John
determines to find out where and why Trampas got off the stagecoach.

While washing clothes, Sarah recounts to Trampas how her mother had helped
build their first home. It was just a little one room cabin that was now
inhabited by wild animals. But she and Bobby still go up there sometimes.
Trampas recalls that they have a place like that, too, up on a ridge. But
then the train of thought leaves him. He can't sit around there and wait
any longer. He has to find out who he is. Sarah tells him he's too weak to
go, but Ben asks Trampas if he's up to riding the 12 miles to town. "I'll
ride anywhere I can find my name," Trampas replies. Ben suggests the
sheriff might be able to help him and wants to talk to him anyway. The
cowboy promises Bobby he'll come back to finish teaching him to rope. Sarah
helps Trampas gather his few belongings and informs him his belt is in the
bureau drawer. When Trampas opens the drawer he also finds a white handled
gun. Sarah assures him it is his because she took it off him herself.
Trampas thanks Sarah by giving her a kiss on the cheek, and Bobby is shocked
to see the fancy gun in his holster.

Crayton is going to ride along with Trampas until he's sure he's headed in
the right direction, and Jim appears from the back of the house to talk to
Sarah. She wants him to leave, explaining that there had never been
anything serious between them. Jim accuses that her father had picked out a
man for her, but Sarah insists she knows nothing about Trampas. Jim
questions Bobby about the cowboy, reminding him they are friends and if he
knows anything he should confide in him. Bobby declares that Trampas is the
one who held up the stage because he has the fancy white handled gun. But
it won't do any good to question him about it because he can't remember
anything. Tyson encourages the boy that even so the right thing to do is
tell the sheriff about him.

When he arrives in town, Trampas heads for the sheriff's office hoping to
find information on himself. Since Sheriff Hayle is off with the posse,
Trampas looks through some papers and at the wanted posters. Jim meets with
the outlaws who suggest he arrest this man with amnesia so they can get away
clean. He then returns to the law office where he finds Trampas waiting.
Trampas asks if anyone has inquired about a missing person, but Tyson says
he knows he's an outlaw because of the gun he's carrying. Unable to reason
with Jim, Trampas has to make his escape.

The sheriff returns and heads out to the Crayton place where he informs them
that Trampas is one of the men they are looking for. But Sarah won't
believe he's a criminal. "Sometimes you have to look deep for the truth .
Sometimes you have to go by your feelings." When her father asks if she
has feelings for Trampas, Sarah replies, "He was hurt and lost. You'd have
done as much for a calf you found in the snow." Trampas comes through the
back door and says he ran from the law because he's not sure whether he was
involved with the robbery or not. All he asks is for time to find out. As
Crayton leaves the room, he tells Trampas that if he goes right away he'll
forget he was here. Trampas asks Sarah to send some telegrams for him.
Bobby suggests for now he hide in their old cabin.

In Demarest John Grainger learns from the marshal that all the people on the
stage from Centennial had been killed during a holdup.

The next morning Bobby brings Trampas some breakfast. Sarah is going to
send the telegrams, but they both had to wait so their father wouldn't be
"riled." Bobby recounts how his pa hadn't always been this way, but after
their mother died all the joy had gone out of him. But he was good to them.
The boy promises to come back after Ben goes to bed that night. However, on his
way back to the farm Bobby is met by Tyson. Jim convinces Bobby that, if
they are really friends, he needs to trust him and tell him where Trampas
is. Because Jim assures the boy that he only wants to help Trampas, Bobby
reluctantly reveals the cowhand's hiding place.

Back at the outlaws', Sam admonishes Jim to go after Trampas and kill him.
After all, he's a deputy and can use the excuse that Trampas was trying to evade arrest. Jim
doesn't really want to have anything to do with killing a man but gives in
to his brother's urging. That night he goes to the cabin to hunt down Trampas.

The next morning Ben, unaware of Sarah's motives, tells his daughter he is
glad she had gone to town and wishes she could do it more often. The
sheriff comes to ask the girl about the telegrams she sent. He's going to
leave a deputy with them in case Trampas comes back inquiring if anyone had
answered them. Ben thinks Sarah couldn't tell him about the telegrams
because she believes him to be "too hard and unfeeling". But she tells him she's
smothered by his over protective ways. Her father doesn't want her to be
hurt - first it was saddle tramp Tyson and now a man who's running from the
law. Sarah replies that maybe Trampas is running from people who won't
believe he's "lost, mixed up, and scared" and Ben can't ask her not to help
him. Reluctantly, Ben agrees that she's a grown woman and can do what she
wants. Bobby goes to the shed to feed the horses and is grabbed by Trampas.
The cowhand wants to know why he told Tyson where he was hiding. Bobby
explains that Jim had promised to help Trampas and bring him in alive. But
Trampas recounts how Tyson had come to the cabin shooting to kill. The
cowboy can understand that Tyson is Bobby's friend, but the boy insists that
Trampas is his friend, too. Trampas figures Jim must know something about
him, and he wants to find out what it is. When Sarah brings deputy Ellis a
cup of coffee, Trampas makes his get away on the deputy's horse.
Ellis is about to shoot Trampas when Ben pushes up the barrel of the rifle
with the excuse that Hod might have wounded his horse.

Sam complains that Jim had messed things up and that he'd better find
Trampas and kill him before the sheriff gets to him. He had looked after
Jim all these years and now it was Jim's turn to look after him.

Mr. Grainger arrives at the Craytons' and relates how he had come
across a telegram in Kyle and thought maybe it concerned one of his ranch
hands. When he hears the story, John wonders if Trampas had gotten a look
at the outlaws and if Jim could be after him because he's one of them. Ben
wants to help John look for Trampas, but John insists that Crayton has a
family to take care of and, even if he doesn't know the hills, he does know Trampas.

Trampas is doing his best to hide from the posse. Unbeknownst to him, he is
also being trailed by Tyson, Bobby, and John Grainger. Jim spots Trampas
and begins his chase up to the cover of some boulders where the two men
dismount. Hearing shots being fired, Bobby, the posse, and Grainger head in
the direction of the gunfight. Bobby arrives first and begs Jim not to hurt
Trampas. Trampas wants Tyson to tell him what he knows about him, and Jim
promises to do so if the cowboy will throw down his gun and come out in the
open. However, when Trampas does as he is told, Jim shoots him. Trampas
falls next to his discarded gun and gets off a shot at Tyson. As Bobby goes
to Jim's aid, Trampas hears the posse approach and goes back behind the
rocks. The lawmen have him surrounded when Grainger arrives. John
admonishes them to hold their fire because he can prove Trampas is no
outlaw. He shows them he's not carrying a gun and insists he just wants to
talk to Trampas. "Only a fool or a friend would take a chance like that,"
the sheriff remarks and lets John go on ahead. Afraid for his life, Trampas
fires the pistol at Grainger. But John says sternly that he can tell him
who he is. "You know me, John Grainger from Shiloh. They're all worried
about you back there." It takes a few moments for the recognition to
register in his mind, but then a relieved Trampas comes from behind his
cover. Trampas explains to the sheriff that the stage turned over when the
horses bolted during the hold up, and Tyson had been one of the bandits.
Tyson admits his part in the crime and confesses that the fancy gun belongs
to his brother. With his dying breath he appeals to the sheriff if he finds
Sam to tell him he's sorry he can't look out for him anymore.

John and Trampas are saying their good-byes to the Craytons. Trampas
apologizes for being so much trouble, but Ben has been reminded of something
he forgot when his wife died - "You gotta have feelings for people. Have
them and trust in them." John invites the family to Medicine Bow, and Ben
promises they'll make the visit in the fall. Trampas thanks Sarah and tells
Bobby, "It's not so often in this world a man finds himself a real
friend," then, looking at Mr. Grainger, adds "much less two of them." (bj)
Although the character of John Grainger seems rather gruff in the series, he
is a man that also exhibits care and concern. The recognition scene between
him and Trampas is a poignant moment in this episode.

"The Challange" had some similarities to 2.22 [052] "Smile of a Dragon." In
both stories Trampas is going on a business trip by stage when the coach is
held up. In both he receives a head injury. Although Trampas doesn't have
amnesia in "Smile of a Dragon," in both episodes he becomes the convenient
pawn of unscrupulous lawmen after he is found carrying the fancy white
handled gun that is the only link to the outlaws. In both episodes he is
helped by women who believe in him. Except for a brief scene at the
beginning of "Smile of a Dragon" in both shows Doug McClure does not wear a
hat (unusual for him). And in both stories someone from Shiloh comes to his
rescue (Steve in "Smile of a Dragon").
This was Dan Duryea's only appearance in the series. However, he and a very
young Doug McClure appeared together in "The Twilight Zone" episode 1.3 "Mr.
Denton on Doomsday."
Michael Burns co-starred in several other episodes of  THE VIRGINIAN. You
can also see him in 4.18 "Long Ride to Wind River," 5.13 "The Long Way
Home," 6.26 "Seth," 8.09 "The Bugler," and 9.20 "Tate, Ramrod." (bj)

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