The High Chaparral
Bloopers and Reality Bites


Only a truly committed fan watches an episode closely enough to notice the several times Sam Butler takes his gloves off in any one scene without ever putting them on again, or how many times Buck and Mano ride past the same rock. This page is an act of love dedicated to the wonderful cast and crew of The High Chaparral from your devoted (and slightly anal-retentive) fans. Situations below are not listed in any particular order, although the episode and season have been included with each one.  When you discover others, please let us know.

The Magic Gloves
In "Best Man For The Job," Season One, when Sam is leaving the saloon with his arm around Buck's shoulders, he is not wearing his gloves, but as soon as they get out onto the sidewalk, his gloves are mysteriously on.

What to Wear - It's So Hard to Decide
"Shadow of the Wind," Season Two, Manolito comes down the steps of the hotel dressed in a white shirt and tie, but in the next scene, outside the cantina, he is wearing his regular gold work shirt and neck scarf. Yet, once they are inside the cantina, he is back in his white dress shirt and tie again.

Hmm, Was Prince really Rebel or Was Rebel really Prince?
In "Stinky Flannagan," Season Two, Buck, (Cam Mitchell,) is so rattled at having been thrown by his horse that he calls the animal "Prince" which is his real name, instead of "Rebel" which is his "character name."  Happens again in "A Piece of Land", Season Three.

Changing Horses in Mid-Chase
"The Stallion," Season Two, Blue rides back to the ranch after looking for his stolen horse, to get a fresh mount because Soapy is beat after three days searching. He leaves moments later on a big chestnut with Buck, Sam and the rest of the boys following. However, in the next scene, where he's chasing Chatto and the black, he's BACK on Soapy again, who is running his heart out! (Talk about your changing horses in mid-stream, or mid chase in this case.)

The Magic Halter
Also in "The Stallion," Season Two, when Blue and John are discussing the stallion, they look over at him in the corral, he has no halter on, but the next scene, he does.

Reality Bites

The High Chaparral was renown for the high degree of realism it achieved.  It was filmed mostly in the heat of the Arizona desert, rather than on a Hollywood sound stage like so many other Westerns of its day.  It had writers and producers who were committed to a high degree of historical accuracy and it used real Indians and real Mexicans to play those roles.  Still, reality is always waiting to bite and HC did stretch credibility from time to time.  These reality glitches, inconsistencies, and absurd coincidences are in a different category, but like bloopers, they are most likely to be noticed by the dedicated fans who know the show best.  Here's 28 off the top.  Go ahead and send us some more!   

1.      The New Guy Gets It

No wonder the guys in town all run when Buck comes looking to hire new hands.  It's always the new guy who bites the dust.  The regular guys can get hit repeatedly by bullets, arrows, rattlesnakes and still be home in time for supper.  If the new guy gets hit though, he's toast before he hits the ground.

2.     Which came first, the chicken or . . . where did you say those eggs came from again?

It's probably natural that we eat a lot of beef on the ranch and not much chicken.  On the other hand, we usually have eggs for breakfast, so where did those come from?  We never see any chickens scratching in the yard.  No one ever mentions having to feed the chickens, gather the eggs, or clean the coop even if we could find one.  A special chicken wrangler may exist whom we do not see,
because he/she is too important.  If we saw the chicken wrangler, like the New Guy, something might happen to that person, and then who would take care of our phantom chickens?

3.    Just where is that flower garden where Victoria gets all those fresh cut flowers?

Victoria is often seen bringing in armloads of fresh cut flowers to arrange but all we ever see outside is her cactus garden.  Maybe she uses her FTD florist.

4.   Never mind the flower garden, do they grow corn? potatoes? anything to eat?

There are a few things we eat regularly, especially potatoes and Mexican items that we assume are made with corn and tomatoes.  Sometimes we eat apples for a snack and we always have lemonade for our guests.  Being so far from town, which only has a dry goods store, it seems like we might want to grow some of these things.  But along with the flower garden, the vegetable garden is so well hidden that we never see it or the invisible garden workers who water, weed, and harvest whatever we need.

5.   Do we ever use the water in that water tower?

Apparently water is pumped up there by the windmill, so we must have pipes to get it up there.  Now that we have water under pressure and pipes to move it around, why do we just see people getting water in buckets from the well.  What is the point of putting the water up there in the first place if we don't pipe it somewhere after that?  So where would we want to pipe the water?  How about to the garden - where did you say that was again?  How about to a shower, or to the kitchen sink?  Maybe the horse trough?  We seem to have pretty sophisticated pressurized water storage, but we're still waiting to invent a rudimentary delivery system.

6.   Just how many guys did you say work at the ranch?

One time we heard 18, another time it was about 30, but it usually looks like about 6, all of whom stay in a bunkhouse that appears to sleep about 12.

7.   The Magic Clothes Closet

Victoria's Magic Closet is filled with a perpetual supply of dresses that magically fit any wayward female who might wander by, no matter what her size and shape, no alterations needed.  None of these outfits, by the way, are ever seen being worn by Victoria.

8.   The Never-Ending Jewelry Stash

Along with the magic closet, Victoria has a jewelry stash rumored to be large enough to finance the Mexican Revolution.  She will generously give you items out of this stash to go with your new duds if you look helpless and worthy enough.

9.   Cooking from scratch in a 115 degree kitchen and always dewy fresh.

In the first season or so Vaquero was a big help in the kitchen, but later Victoria became such an excellent cook that even with no help, no garden, no grocery, no refrigeration and only going to Tucson every month or two, she can whip up a multiple course meal for five plus unexpected guests even in 100 degree plus weather.   Apparently her special wood-fire stove does not heat up the kitchen much because she always emerges from the kitchen looking cool and fresh.  If she is going to be gone, sometimes she leaves a casserole for the boys.  We're not sure where she leaves it but it never seems to spoil even in the warmest weather.

10.   And who cooks for the bunk house boys anyway?

Victoria cooks for everyone in the ranch house but she can't be expected to cook for the whole bunkhouse too - whether it's an additional five or thirty-five.  So they are on their own.  We've never had a bunkhouse cook that anyone can recall but then we don't have a kitchen at the bunkhouse anyway, just an outdoor grill.  Mostly they eat beef jerky. 

11.   Just a little off above the ears . . .

Cowboys don't get a chance to bathe more than every couple months (still waiting to rig up that shower from the water tower), but they apparently get a trim at the barber's every few weeks.  How else can we explain hair that never seems to grow.  After a long trail ride beards may have gotten downright scruffy but their hair is still the same length it was before leaving.   

12.   And just how far did you say it was to Tucson?  Rancho Montoya?

Tucson is usually 30 or 35 miles and Rancho Montoya is usually about 100 miles, but the time it takes to reach them seems to vary widely.  Sometimes it takes all day to get to Tucson and other times we seem to ride in and out in one evening.  Rancho Montoya is usually a 3-day ride but sometimes we seem to arrive almost instantly.  It also depends on whether you take the front road or the
back.  Mano seems to know the back road to anywhere.

13.   Exactly where was "back home" anyway? 

Various characters wander into John and Buck's lives from "back home" but it's not very clear or consistent where that was. At various times Virginia, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Missouri have been mentioned as places where they have a mutual background.  Apparently a family always on the move.

14.   Is it safe to leave the ranch today?

We know the land outside the front gates holds many hazards, but they seem to vary quite a bit depending on who is leaving.  It is never safe for Victoria to leave unaccompanied, but sometimes it is safe enough for female visitors to ride off alone without concern.  Likewise, the number of men we need to guard the ranch varies considerably.  Sometimes we need several armed guards on 24-hour watch but other times we can all go to Tucson and the ranch takes care of itself.  And even though it is never safe for Victoria to leave the ranch on her own, on at least one occasion it is safe to leave her to take care of the ranch all by herself.  

15.   Raised by different mothers or did one of them go to Harvard?

How else to explain the differences between John and Buck in the language department? Itís not just a few words. Their whole syntax and construct is different. They conjugate verbs differently, use pronouns and prepositions differently, and of course pronounce the same words differently. We know it isnít because John is the smart one and Buck is the dumb one. On many occasions weíve seen Buck step up, take charge, and strategize his way out of a fix just as well as John, and in some areas, like perceiving motive and intent, Buck is clearly sharper than John. So it canít be a matter of IQ.

If they had the same mother, then they both most likely had the same language construction at some point. Since we can assume Buck doesnít take great pains to speak the way he does, that means John used to talk like Buck, but changed. He might have changed on his own because of his own interest in reading and language, but we have nothing to indicate that reading the classics or anything else is something he does for pleasure. Victoria enjoys Shakespeare, John falls asleep during it. So maybe he went to some great effort (and thatís generally what it would take) to change his language through study or college.  While we never have any indication of it, it has been suggested that as an officer in the Union army John may have attended West Point and made a great effort there to change his language in order to fit in better.  Why he would feel so compelled to erase his linguistic roots when so many officers and men from the border states in the Union army had similar dialects is fodder for another debate.  But even if that were the case, one might expect in the presence of his "native" language (which is to say Buckís), his speech would tend to revert to that, in the same way that Mano and Victoria tend to fall into Spanish when they argue between the two of them.

In yet another language inconsistency, compared to John, Buck is a virtual language sponge when it comes to picking up Spanish, which peppers his speech continually always with the correct article/noun agreement, "los ojos", for instance. John on the other hand is married to a native Spanish speaker and has any number of employees he supervises who speak Spanish and yet he struggles when prompted to say "Mi casa, su casa". 

16.   Magic Saddles

At High Chaparral, if you need to make a quick exit, your horse will have thoughtfully gotten himself saddled and ready to go before you get to him.  Stirrups everywhere are also self-adjusting to the height of whatever rider happens to get on. 

17.   Super Glued Hats

Everyone knows a cowboy doesn't go anywhere without his hat.  In fact, sometimes they seem to be permanently  attached.  These hats stay on through the fastest horse chases, bucking bronc rides, and bar room brawls.  When they do remove their hats, our cowboys never seem to suffer from "hat hair" even if they've been wearing their hats since sun-up in 110 degree heat.

18.   Architectural Hair

As time goes on, not only does Victoria's effortless cooking improve, but the altitude and complexity of her hair styles soars to new heights.  Also, if you're fortunate enough to be getting your clothes from Victoria's Magic Closet you'll probably also get to visit Victoria's Magic Hair Salon where you too will be able to come down to dinner in an amazing new hair creation.

19.   Changing horses in anticipation of losing yours

Does today seem like a day your horse might get shot, stolen, or run off by Indians or bandits?  Then it's a good day to not take your regular mount.  Our characters seem to have a second sense about impending horse disasters so they intuitively know when to take a spare unknown horse out of the corral.

20.   Do these horses eat cactus or what?

Whether we are in town at the livery stable or on the ranch with the horses in the corral it is someone's job to make sure the horses are watered and fed.  What are we supposed to be feeding them?  Does anyone in Arizona grow hay, oats, alfalfa or are these special cactus-eating horses?

21.   When we pen feed the beef what is it exactly that we feed them?

Expand the horse feeding dilemma by a thousand or more and that's what we've got before the big trail drives when we have to pen feed all those beeves for a week or two.  

22.   Nature never calls here.

It doesn't really matter that we haven't invented plumbing yet.  There's no need for outhouses here either because nature never calls at the High Chaparral.  This is very convenient if you are laid up, tied up, or held hostage in a small room for a few days.  It also makes traveling with an infant and no supplies much more pleasant for everyone.   Of course this feature includes our livestock, so critical dialogue is never interrupted by our mount's bodily functions.  And the streets and front yard always stay so clean that no one ever needs to watch where they step, no matter how many horses we leave hitched up there.  It means the worst job on the ranch is straightening up the tack room since nobody here ever needs to shovel the . . . well you get my drift. 

23.   Doesn't everybody wear long johns in 110 degree weather?

The Mexican peons and the Indians seem to have hot weather clothing worked out:  light colored and loose fitting.  But our cowboys go for the layered approach that would keep you comfortable in case of an unexpected snow storm.  They all wear full long johns, long shirts, vests, and - at least in Mano's case - a jacket.  Many also wear chaps over their long pants.  Colors tend toward dark, or in Buck's case, all black.  It has been suggested that we may have ordered the special summer weight long johns from the long john catalogue in order to follow the bedouin principal that more layers will actually keep out the heat.  Still. the peons and the Indians look cooler.

24.   If you've got an outfit that works, why change it?

Once you've got your outfit worked out there is no need to ever change it.  Clothes on High Chaparral don't need to be laundered  and no matter how rough the use, the special fibers never wear out.

25.   Bat those lashes again!

Until the final season, Victoria's eyelashes are subdued.  Then, along with her hair they get bigger.  But from the beginning, all those wayward females, even fair skinned "natural" blondes, tend to have dark false eyelashes that appear heavy enough to make batting your eyes look like serious exercise. 

26.   "Thank goodness it only grazed him."   

Our regular characters were frequently shot by special "grazing" bullets that didn't penetrate far enough to do serious damage to tissue or bone.  John, Buck, Mano, and Blue were shot no less than 10 times altogether and the bunk house boys almost as often.  These were also very clean bullets because they never seemed to result in an infection that a splash of alcohol couldn't take care of. Their injuries are covered in detail on the Best Episodes page. 

27.   In all of Arizona is there just that one bird?

Even though we never see him, I have been informed by Steve Swanson that the bird we hear in the background is a Gambel's Quail.  He's apparently staked out a pretty big territory and driven off all the other avian interlopers because he's the only bird we hear for four years.  With such a prominent role in the series he deserves to have his picture here.

Gambel's Quail

We sometimes hear other birds at night, but it always turns out to just be Apaches pretending to be birds.  

28.   Wait a minute.  Haven't we seen that cactus somewhere before?

We ride and ride and there it is again.  Are we traveling in circles or is that thing following us?  Occasionally rock formations follow us around as well - along with that darn bird.

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