Summary: But wasn’t he someone else last week, or last month? What about last year?
Word Count: 1600
“I’m confused,” said the redhead plaintively. She was sitting on the porch of the Ponderosa ranch house with Joe and the blonde, drinking coffee. “Isn’t that Farmer Perkins? I thought he was hanged in Death at Dawn?”
The other two looked across at the tall man leading a horse from the barn. It was white, and not the most beautiful horse they had ever seen, although it was very distinctive. “Hmm,” said the blonde. “Well, I thought he was Cap Fenner, from Amigo. And he was in My Friend, My Enemy.”
“He’s Danny Morgan,” Joe said, firmly. “A friend of Adam’s and he keeps us up all night with his blooming singing!” He rolled his eyes expressively.
“And isn’t that the horse you bought for your father in The Gift?” the redhead went on. She had a keen eye for horseflesh, and could sex a horse at 50 paces.
“I think it must be its identical twin,” Joe responded. It really was an extraordinary looking albino-brute, with a wild look in its red eyes. The blonde privately thought they must have borrowed it from the circus, but wisely decided not to say anything, as Joe still seemed to labor under the assumption that it was beautiful.
Ben Cooper walked passed and the redhead almost fell off her chair in shock. A large mouthful of coffee went down the wrong way and she spluttered in an alarming fashion. Clearly she would be a very handy contender in any tobacco-spitting contest. “I thought he was paralyzed in The Horsebreaker! Mind you, I could never quite work out why he had to sleep on a camp bed in the living room, when there was a perfectly good downstairs bedroom just three feet away.”
The set-dressers gave her a dirty look: hadn’t she learnt by now that only shady characters slept in there? Besides which, they were kept too busy moving Joe’s bedroom around to be erecting other sets.
“That was Johnny Lightly,” the blonde explained. “At the moment he’s clearly Sam Kirby from Showdown.”
A small smile played around the corners of Joe’s mouth. “I wore those flowery chaps in that episode!” he reminisced. “I always wondered if cowboys did have appliqué details or if wardrobe were just winding me up. Mind you, they did fit extraordinarily well.”
The sister nodded in agreement, not quite trusting their voices enough to speak. That particular scene had caused the blonde to re-title the episode Showcase.
Ben had been listening to the conversation and stepped forward. “It’s quite simple, really,” he said in his patented re-assuring and avuncular manner, patting the blonde on the knee. “You may see the same head appearing on a completely different character, but don’t let it bother you. I think the record is held by Claude Atkins, who played four completely different characters in Desert Justice, The Mill, Sam Hill and The Deserter.”
“Don’t mention this to anyone else though,” Adam urged, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the amazing insulated coffee pot that kept beverages piping hot for hours on end. He lowered his voice and continued in a confiding tone, “The powers that be don’t think anyone notices these little things.”
“Little things!” the redhead stuttered. “Like Jamie appearing first in The Real People of Muddy Creek as Tommy? Let’s face it, he’s pretty unforgettable isn’t he?” It was only when she saw the bemused expressions on the faces of the three Cartwrights that she remembered this was a much later episode. Covering up for her sister’s faux pas, the blonde quickly pointed out that when Deputy Clem Foster first appeared it was as Poindexter, an escaped prisoner in The Long Night, and then as Major Reynolds in The Honor of Cochise. “He seems to have been demoted since then,” she mused. “Oh, but remember, he was Sheriff Walker in The Other Son, too!”
Ben shot an angry look at the director. “No one will notice?” he thundered and half the valves on the soundboard blew. “Theynoticed!”
On a roll now, the blonde said, “And then there was Stacy Harris. He was in House Divided, and Twilight Town and a Far, Far Better Thing.”
“I remember him,” Joe agreed. “Bit funny, isn’t it, a bloke called Stacy? Especially as in Twilight Town I kissed his daughter, and hername was Davey! Is that odd or what?”
“Isn’t that Dave Donovan over there?” the redhead asked, reminded by the reference to Davey. “Your foreman in The Quest?”
“You just had to bring that up, didn’t you?” Joe protested. He glared at Adam, who found the whole thing funny. “Then he was someone named Gavin in Lonely House when he beat me up, and then he appears as a lieutenant in Second Chance.”
“Second Chance,” sighed the sisters. “Shirtless, maimed Joe.” He beamed all over. “But no nice JPM at the end,” the blonde said, glaring at Ben.
“An’ that there Lilli Valenty,” Hoss interjected. “She was a gypsy in Dark Star, an’ Cesar Romero’s sister in The Deadliest Game, and Madame De Marigny in Marie…”
“My Love,” they all chorused, being well rehearsed in this.
“And then there was the gravel-voiced guy from MBK,” said the redhead. “He was in Joe Cartwright Detective, too.” She snapped her fingers to bring his name to mind. “Ken Lynch. He was in five eps all told.”
“And then there was James Cockburn,” the blonde said. “He was in three eps. Did they all come on special offer, these guys?”
Ben decided that this was not the time to point out that almost the entire casts of Star Trek and The High Chaparral had appeared in various assorted episodes. (He had not banked upon the fact that the Sisters’ dear friend, Lillian, had compiled an encyclopedic list of such coincidences, and therefore could sleep soundly at nights).
The blonde smiled fondly at him, although she was engaged in rebuttoning her pet bear’s fair-isle cardigan correctly. Although more intelligent than the average bear, Paw still tended to get a little overwhelmed when it came to buttonholes.
“My personal favorite is Ellen Corby,” she purred in the dulcet tones that endeared her to so many staff at the Registers. “It’s wonderful to think that dear Grandma Walton not only appeared in It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, but was then recycled in both The Gunmen and The Hayburner. Quite wonderful.”
“And Will Geer, who was Grandpa Walton turned up in The Running Man and A Home for Jamie!” the redhead added.
“Enough with quoting all those episodes!” Adam fumed. “Alright, you both have encyclopedic memories, but so what?”
The sisters gaped incredulously at him. Eventually the redhead recovered her normal composure and sang froid to ask, “You don’t find that odd? Even when you consider that really interesting characters, such as Clay Stafford …”
“My half-brother,” Joe interjected helpfully, just in case viewers hadn’t been paying close attention. The inept script girl flashed a grateful smile at him and made copious notations in her notebook.
The redhead continued unperturbed. “… only ever appeared once, in First Born?”
“Perhaps his head wasn’t interchangeable?” suggested the blonde, who had studied philosophy. “You can’t expect everyone to be interchangeable.”
“Exactly!” Adam bestowed one of his rather rare smiles upon her. He’d been giving the matter some considerable thought. Truth be told, he found life on the Ponderosa just a tad constraining and was considering a move to pastures new. “I mean, did the fact that John Carradine appeared in Springtime and Dead Wrong stop Keith and Robert appearing in Bushwhacked and A Home for Jamie? Of course it didn’t! They were stars and infinitely capable of playing numerous characters with the appropriate nuances and deft touches that denote a true professional.”
A slightly strained silence greeted this proclamation. The Giggly Sisters busied themselves with giving Paw a worm tablet, while the remaining Cartwrights examined their fingernails with evident interest. Eventually, the redhead plucked up the courage to ask the obvious question.
“So why did they only use David Cassidy the once? I mean, he was a talented actor, great looking, good voice and became one of the biggest stars of the seventies.” She paused and added “The Nineteen Seventies, that is. Why did he only appear in The Law and Billy Burgess?”
Ben turned his stern and foreboding gaze upon her. He looked like all the Old Testament Prophets rolled into one, with a dash of John Knox and Martin Luther added for good measure. “We work on an equal partnership here. I’m the patriarch and my fans tend to be the parents in the audience. Hoss is the innocent, and he appeals to children and those who wish life were a little more simple. Adam’s the singer and pseudo-intellectual: his fans tend to be ladies of a certain age and I don’t think they wear black in homage to the French existentialists. And, of course, Joe’s the pretty one, with long hair who appeals to the just about everyone!” Ben smiled fondly at his youngest son, totally impervious to the fact that he had royally insulted his two elder sons and their legions of fans.
“Still doesn’t explain the dreaded Jamie though,” the blonde muttered. Unfortunately, her bell-like elocution meant that every word was clearly audible. However, no one had ever managed to explain that particular phenomenon.
Adam wondered if anyone would dare to give him a new head if he ever departed the Ponderosa. Somehow, he rather doubted it.