Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Lone Ranger Animated Series

Of all the versions of the Lone Ranger ever committed to media, my favourite is not the Disney movie, nor the original radio show, nor the iconic television series. It is the off-the-wall animated series that ran for 26 episodes from 1966 to 1969 on CBS.

The radio show ended its astonishing run of nearly 3,000 episodes in 1956, and the television show with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels likewise came to an end a year later. During the intervening decade, a new TV Western arrived - The Wild, Wild West - which transfused the old genre with the sensibilities of the "Spy-Fi" shows that were becoming a rage in the Sixties. Following in the footsteps of James Bond and The Avengers (the real, British ones), James West and Artemus Gordon launched their mission for the US Secret Service in 1965. A new Lone Ranger animated series was quickly placed in production that pitted our masked hero against monsters and mad scientists.

Each episode was divided into three segments: two tandem adventures and one solo Tonto story. These adventures were, for the most part, utterly, enjoyably daft, which is why I love it so much. My favourite is a story called "The Monster of Scavenger Crossing" in which the Lone Ranger and Tonto investigate a series of riverboat sinkings along the Mississippi. The guilty party turns out to be a salty pirate with a peg leg and a hook who is scuttling them with his own version of the Nautilus. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find clips online, including that one.

I have gathered a pair of clips here to give you a taste of the Lone Ranger's most bizarre adventures. As you watch, also make note of the show's visual style. Though not the best quality animation by any means, the style is fantastically graphic and texturally rich.

The series introduction and The Ghost Riders episode.

The Cult of the Black Widow.

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