The High Chaparral

Previous Episode

Third Season
Plot and Character Highlights

Next Episode

Blue prepares to meet gunfighter, Johnny Keough

Buck failing to talk Blue out of gunfight

James Mitchum as Johnny Keough

3.55 Time of Your Life              Blue, John, Buck, Mano
A gunfighter attempts to goad Blue into a shootout.
Written by William F. Leicester         Directed by Leon Benson

Story Line: Participating in his first trails-end celebration that traditionally follows a grueling cattle drive, Blue joins his father John Cannon, Uncle Buck and Manolito and the town's other weary but happy cowhands in observing the occasion. A barroom argument develops between Blue and short-tempered Johnny Keough, who invites young Blue outside to settle the matter with their guns. Well aware of the obvious advantage the well-known gunman Keough has over him but also concerned about his own pride as a result of being publicly challenged, Blue finds himself facing one of the most important decisions of his life.

Guest Stars: 

James Mitchum 
as Johnny Keough

Tammy August 
as Penny

Ted Gehring 
as Jed Fox

Character Highlights: This first episode of the third season sets the tone for a more mature Blue who breaks out from the protection of his father and uncles.  He approaches his dilemma with more mature contemplation than we have seen from his previous hot-headed style.  In one of the most powerful character portrayals of the series John, Buck, and Mano each in succession try to talk Blue out of a shoot-out, and in the process we see each man struggle with reconciling his own sense of honor with his desire to protect Blue and each one coming up short.  Even though they cannot justify their interference, in the end the three try to intervene anyway rather than risk losing Blue.  Blue still remains adamant that this is his fight alone.  While Blue has done little to encourage her, Penny has a serious crush on him, risking her own life to save him.  The episode has a pretty cute scene in the barber shop where Mano, Buck, and Blue stop for a shave.  Both Buck and Blue have darker hair now than in earlier seasons.  Best quote of the episode - Buck to gunslinger, Johnhy Keough:  "Mr. Keough, if anything happens to that boy, I'll be next in line.  Mebbe I ain't as young as you, but I'm kinda sneaky." 

Complete Episode Synopsis:  Blue Cannon is about to experience the “Time of His Life,” or so say his father and Uncle Buck. Upon arriving in the town of Tubac after completing a grueling year by driving the cattle to market, Buck, Mano, Blue and Big John find Tubac turned upside down with every other ranch in the area also having just delivered their cattle. Blue is literally swept away by the sights and sounds as he experiences his first end-of-the-drive celebration. Amidst shooting guns, wagon crashes, fist fights, and hawking salesmen, Blue gets his first taste of this wild celebration. While anxious to explore the town, Buck and Mano convince Blue that the first stop on their exploration should be the barber – then on to the saloon … the beer will taste that much better for the waiting.

At the barbershop the boys meet Penny, the daughter of the livery owner who is a self-confident young girl of about seventeen. All three, but especially Blue, soon fall under Penny’s spell. She is not only a competent barber, but a well-versed businesswoman who sells them space in the livery to sleep for the night … beds being tight with so many ranch hands in town. With the shaving completed, the boys head over to the saloon.

Shortly after arriving at the saloon, Blue has a run-in with a gunslinger named Johnny Keough, who tries to push Blue into a fight. Blue does not want to back down, but his father and uncle step in and convince him to steer clear of Keough. Big John convinces Blue to give up his gun to try to keep Blue from any further mishaps. Blue’s misfortunes with the gunslinger continue, however, and he runs into Keough again that evening at the livery. The encounter is brief but again Blue does not back down.

The next day Blue witnesses another man’s total humiliation by Johnny Keough and declares he will never back down and be made to feel like that. Blue is later put to a real test when the gunslinger intentionally trips Blue and tells him that should Blue remain in town, the next day they are going to “have it out.” At first Blue decides he will leave town and avoid the confrontation and heads back toward High Chaparral. But then he realizes that he cannot back down from this man and live with himself for the rest of his life. He returns to Tubac and confronts his father, Uncle Buck and Manolito – who all try to convince him not to face Johnny Keough. In the end, Blue holds his ground and shows all three that he has to face Keough. All three realize that Blue is truly a man and although they don’t like his decision, they must respect Blue enough to let him make it.

In the end, Blue does face down the gunslinger and through the intervention of his new friend, Penny, is able to best Keough in a showdown. Blue wounds Keough but refuses to finish him off, telling the confused gunslinger that “he doesn’t have to, someone else will do it for him.” Blue has indeed had the time of his life … just not quite what he or anyone else expected.  (Synopsis by Pat Banaszak)

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

Return to Season Three Directory

Return to Home/Contents