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Frontierland 2023-11-20

I like old-timey westerns. There, I said it. And earlier tonight I was talking to a friend who was asking me some western related questions because of a modern show called Supernatural. It turns out that Season 6, Episode 18 titled "Frontierland" has the main characters traveling back in time to meet up with gun designer Samuel Colt for various demon disposal services. It was perhaps a bit unexpected, but I decided to view the episode to see if I could catch any old-timey references. Here is what I found:

Screenshot of Jim Beaver Screenshot of Jim Beaver.

The screenshot above is of Jim Beaver, who is a guest star in this episode. He also just happened to play Ellsworth in the early 2000's TV series Deadwood, which just happens to be one of the most viewable western themed shows made this century. Near the end of the episode he says "We can't just strand those idjuts in Deadwood" as a nod to his previous work.

Now, at the very beginning of this episode there is a sequence with a burning map as seen in this screenshot:

Screenshot of the burning map intro Screenshot of the burning map intro.

This is obviously a reference to the TV series Bonanza, which had this flaming map in its opening credits, and lasted for fourteen seasons.

Next up was a Clint Eastwood reference in which Sam says Dean can recite all of the lines from every Clint Eastwood movie including the monkey movies. Now, Clint Eastwood was definitely in a bunch of westerns... perhaps most notably spaghetti westerns. Personally I like some of his earlier westerns like Ambush At Cimmarron Pass [1958] in which he plays an angry and kind of young Southern soldier who wants to get back at the Yankees. Anyways, the "monkey movie" comment refers to a pair of movies Eastwood made in 1978 and 1980 with Orangutans. He plays a truck driver named Philo and his "monkey" buddy is played by Manis in the first movie, and C.J. in the second. On a side note, Sondra Locke also starred in the monkey movies, was married to Eastwood at the time, and starred with him in The Outlaw Josey Wales [1976], which happens to be one of my favourite westerns. The Eastwood references continue when Dean introduces himself as Marshal Eastwood and as he does, the wahwah theme from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly [1966] plays in the background and then he introduces his pardner as "Walker, Texas Ranger" which is a reference to the 90's TV series of that name starring Chuck Norris (though I am not quite sure I'd classify that as western). The last Eastwood reference is that Dean wears a blanket with a hole in it, which I would probably have referred to as a poncho but he corrects Finch by saying it is a serape.[1] Either way, he looks a lot like Eastwood in the "Dollars Trilogy" movies.

Phew! With all the Clint Eastwood stuff out of the way, let's plow on shall we? Before they go back in time, Dean says "See ya at High Noon tomorrow" which is a reference to the Gary Cooper film High Noon [1952] which I think is an all-time great western. It actually has no gunfighting until the big showdown right at the end, but it does have Quakers, a good fist fight, and of course the pretty girl (played by Grace Kelly).

Next up is when Sam says "Whatever Sundance", referring to The Sundance Kid, who was a real person and who was represented in a number of westerns. Perhaps played most notably by Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [1969]. After that, when Dean goes to find the town deputy, he knocks on the door and says "Candygram for Mongo" which is a reference to this scene from the movie Blazing Saddles [1974]. As it turns out, Alex Karras plays Mongo in that movie, and my favourite western role he played is as Booker in Hardcase [1972] with Clint Walker. Once he actually gets in to the room with the deputy he calls him "pilgrim" which is a typical John Wayne thing to say. I'm glad that was the only JW reference I caught because he's kind of a wanker eh.

When Sam and Dean arrive at the saloon, Dean orders up whiskey for himself and sarsaparilla for Sam... which is kind of like root beer. This may simply be a cute way for Dean to make Sam seem like a greenhorn, but I'd like to think it is a reference to Will Rogers Jr. in his role as the wussy sheriff in The Boy From Oklahoma [1954] who only drinks sarsaparilla. His father Will Rogers was known as "Oklahoma's favorite son" and starred in a number of silent films.

The next reference I caught was at the final showdown when Dean says "yippee-ki-yay mother..." which is definitely a reference to the Christmas movie Die Hard [1988] with Bruce Willis. According to this IBT article, the phrase was a nod to old-timey The Roy Rogers Show TV series. I'm pretty sure Die Hard can't be considered western, but Roy Rogers sure can.

The last reference I caught was at the end when Bobby says he is "still kickin' Annie Oakley", who was also a real person in the wild west, and who has also been played by a bunch of people over the years in film. Hopefully I didn't miss many references... and at least I caught a few. :-) Most importantly, that show is funny as hell (demon joke intended).

[1] Near as I can tell a poncho and a serape are very similar in appearance but while a poncho is intended mostly for protection from weather, the serape is specifically meant to be of cultural importance.
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