"How the West Was Won" The Macahans (TV Episode 1976) Poster

(TV Series)


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Great Beginning for a Great Series!!
AbeStreet14 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching this TV film in the 70's when it was first aired. It is the film that led to the HOW THE WEST WAS WON (HTWWW) series. It is the story of a family that moves west from Virginia to Oregon during the Civil war. They are forced to stop in Nebraska due to unforeseen circumstances. I'll briefly review the main characters in this film and the plot. There may be spoilers in the reviews.

Zeb: I am to young to remember the first run of Gunsmoke, so for me this is the series I associate James Arness with first. Zeb is a towering mountain man that has a heart of gold, just don't get on his bad side. Zeb is a dead on shot with a rifle and uses his bowie knife extremely well although he seldom draws his pistol. In his youth Zeb left Virginia for the west and has spent most of his life out there. Zeb returns to Virginia just before the outbreak of the Civil War and brings his brother and his family out west. The best thing about Zeb was his sense of justice. Regardless of what the law said Zeb solved matters as he saw fit and in most cases it seemed that the law felt it was easier to side with this big man than oppose him.

Tim: brother to Zeb, was a small one as it was Zeb who would assume leadership of the family. Tim was a good family man that put providing for his family above chasing his own dream of moving west. Now he has the opportunity to move west like Zeb and he is going to do it. Unfortunately he is drafted into the Union Army and killed.

Kate: wife to Tim, only consented to moving west to keep her son's out of the war. She loved her husband and after he leaves them on the trail to return home to get his parents has to deal directly with Zeb. Kate and Zeb have a love hate relationship. She is the only one in the family who stands up to Zeb.

Seth: 1st born of Tim & Kate is a Zeb wanna be. He likes the glamorized life style of his Uncle Zeb and is handy with a gun. Yet while he has a good moral foundation he lacks the intuitiveness and instincts of his Uncle.

He hesitates during a crisis. Seth ends the movie by running from the law for deserting the Union Army and shooting a Missouri sheriff. Seth will be renamed Luke in HTWWW

Laura: 2nd born to Tim & Kate is an attractive young lady who prefers civilization and cities to the wild west. She often comes across as selfish but despite this always helps out when needed. She is easily love struck as she sees every adult male who is single as a way to move on.

Jed: 3rd born to Tim & Kate is a Seth wanna be. He is the youngest male and as a result gets shafted with all the farming duties while Zeb and Seth take off on adventures. He is so inexperienced that when he trys to help out during a crisis he usually makes matters worse. He has a good heart and in the final season of HTWWW he begins to mature and is allowed to branch out. Jed will be renamed Josh in HTWWW.

Jessie: 4th born to Tim & Kate is the nicest of the children. She always puts others needs before her own. Her glass is always half full instead of half empty.

Narrator: William Conrad provides the rustic voiced narrator for this film.

His voice along with the beautiful opening music make the viewer yearn to travel west and experience all the magnificent wonders that are there. The title song and sequence is perhaps one of the best ever.

Lastly just a bit of trivia. William Conrad portrayed Marshall Matt Dillon on the radio version of GUNSMOKE and when it became a TV show James Arness took over the role. Now in this film we hear William Conrad while we see James Arness.
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The Macahans is the best
ole-703 August 2005
This is probably the best western series I have ever seen. I loved to watch the Macahan family get settled in the west. You were looking forward to every weeks episode. Zeb Macahan was my favorite. The way he took care of the family together with Luke was outstanding. You followed the family from the south, just in the beginning of the civil war and continued together with them to they found peace in the west. Unfortunately the family lost their father in the beginning, but uncle Zeb took over to secure the family against criminals and outlaws. Luke Macahan was my favorite a long time after the series stopped. Fortunately it has been shown in Denmark and Sweden several times. I still want to see the series once more.
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Excellent Series
monty-837 October 2000
An excellent series. Beautiful scenery and James Arness, how can you go wrong. The musical soundtrack is bold and beautiful. The credits include pictures drawn by Charley Russell and other famous Western artists. So rent the movies, watch the shows on TV when you can. You won't regret it.
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This is a fantastic action series.
spurs-210 June 2002
This absolutely fantastic tv series is now recorded and owned by me. It has everything that a series should have including great actors aswell as nature,sadness,suspense,drama and of course the cool Zeb. So I do recommend you to see it if you have the chance.
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A tv-series that I can't forget
spurs-24 January 1999
This is a great tv-series that I do not own. But it is a very good tv-series that has everything to be4 called great.
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This is the best thing ever made
Leidan25 May 1999
"Hooo, easy boy", naive Josh says to his wild stallion and Zeb just shakes his head and smiles. "It got to be a man of you sometimes too Josh" he says and looks at the sky.

200 year old Zeb wrestles bandits and conquers young woman, dressed in his old,stinky leatherdress. He hardly can walk but no mission is too hard for this superhero. Young luke tries to step in Zebs footsteps but he is never even close.

This production is the best I've ever seen, I advise you to follow it as soon as you can.
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It has everything you can ask for...
JohanIII5 October 1999
This is the best Western-series ever made. I can watch it over and over. It has everything you can ask for, action, drama, romance, humor and a real hero ZEB! Everybody should see this; and if you´ve already seen it, you'll just have to wait for its next re-run!
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What happened next?
aliencita20 February 2000
This tv series was broadcasted by Spanish tv in 1982, the Macahans and also How the West Was Won.It was broadcasted everything but the end. Since that time the adventures of the Macahan family is a mystery. Please if any of you have seen the conclusion,let me know.
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TV Soap Western
cengelm6 September 2005
Unlike many other comment writers I'm only writing about the film and not the series. This entry of the IMDb refers to the pilot(?) film only.

The movie deals with the fortune of the Macahan family who underwent a life of strange and irrational decisions. Timothy(?) Macahan is tired of the life in Virginia and also fears the upcoming civil war and thus decides to go west. With a single covered wagon and his brother Zeb as a scout he soon arrives in Nebraska. Despite the availability of a telegraph line he starts to worry about his parents who have stayed back in Virginia and decides to ride back more than 2000 miles through territory of war. After nothing is heard about him one of his sons follows him to Virginia and is thereby recruited by the Unionists. In the middle of the Shiloh battle he meets his father who is just about to die in the same minute. Isn't the USA bigger than than the town where I'm living?!

There is a teaching narrative which gives the impression that the event-driven soap opera is meant as kind of a lesson. The actors could have been better and more natural, some more extras could have filled the scenes. The way the story is told lacks the necessary grit which is a typical flaw of TV-Westerns. Camera work and score are mediocre.

4 / 10.
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