Friday, 13 January 2012

Fury - Packy's Dream

Best Episode of Fury Ever!

Well, I can’t claim to have watched every episode of Fury. It’s not the best quality sound in the world, and no subtitles, so it’s really hard to watch with raucous children around. It’s not the best show in the world – but there’s a lot of Peter Graves in it, and a lot of him riding around on horses and generally being adorable.

Not long ago I stumbled on what is, I think, the last ever episode, although it’s not the last on the DVD boxset I own. It’s called Packy’s Dream, and it’s awesome.

Peter Graves as 'Silas', the bumbling deputy

Look, he even has sideburns!
Fury centres around the surprisingly serious premise that Jim Newton, a horse rancher, adopts a young boy that he finds on the streets not long after his own wife and young son are killed by a drunk driver. This could be the basis for a heartfelt and serious tearjerker about their trials in life. Instead it becomes a premise for Jim, Joey (the boy he adopts), and Pete the ranch manager to have plenty of fun-filled 1950s type adventures, all with the help of Fury, a wild stallion that Joey manages to tame. Sometimes this series is sickeningly 50s, sometimes it’s surprisingly good. There’s a deep moral and Christian streak, and it’s often at pains to remind us that girls may like to aspire to those things that boys do, but really they’re best in dresses, preparing for motherhood. It makes for uncomfortable viewing. Almost every episode ends with a heartfelt laugh, and I believe Peter Graves said (in an interview I can’t find at the moment) that it taught him how to laugh when he really didn’t feel like laughing.
And Pete's his boss!

All that aside, recently I discovered the episode Packy’s Dream. Homer ‘Packy’ Lambert is a young boy of the obligatory type that they pull in when the boy star starts to get older. Packy spends an inordinately large amount of time at Joey’s house, eating meals and sleeping there, considering he has a perfectly good home of his own to go to. But there we are. This is how semi-soap operas work.

In this episode Joey makes an arrangement to have a fight with another boy over a girl they both like. Jim talks him out of it, telling him that it’s much more modern to settle these things over an ice cream soda than by duking it out in the street. Packy, who is greatly disappointed that he will be deprived of the chance to watch a good fight, goes to sleep that night and dreams about an older time, a more exciting time when men were men and fighting ruled the world.
Bugsy-Malone-style bar kids

Packy dreams that Jim is ‘Cyrus’, the deputy sheriff and Packy’s father. Peter Graves plays Cyrus as a wonderful, rather dumb hick character. Packy thinks that the entire town depends on his father’s rifle, which, as Cyrus says, is ‘kinda scary when you think about it.’ The reason why it’s scary is because Cyrus is about as adept with his gun as a dog would be with a fountain pen. He can’t even climb onto the wagon with it without getting tangled up.

Why do I love this episode so much? Well, apart from Peter Graves’s kick-ass sideburns, it’s so very out of the mould for Fury. It feels like the last day of term when the kids play around. Joey (Bobby Diamond) plays ‘the Kid’, an all-in-black mean cowboy just out of prison, in town to press his unwelcome attentions on the local school teacher. He chews on candy cigarettes and drinks sarsaparilla. Fury is a horse called Satan, with a mean streak a mile wide. There’s a glorious Bugsy Malone moment, well before Bugsy Malone was made, when ‘the Kid’ walks into a bar full of children in adults’ clothing, playing cards, drinking and generally acting like adults. As the bartender serves ‘the Kid’ his moustache begins to fall off.
And Silas gets his gun caught on anything he can.

Peter Graves gets to show off his straight-faced comedic skills in this one, and that’s the main reason why it’s so adorable. You get to hear him uttering phrases like, ‘Bless my bones, son,’ ‘doggone,’ ‘blame well,’ and ‘Feel plumb naked without this little feller to keep me company.’ (he’s talking about his trusty rifle there). He strolls around being dumb and a little clumsy, and at the end he’s shot down in the street by ‘the Kid’. He ends his part in the dream with the immortal line, ‘Caught my thumb in the doggone pump handle, son.’ You also get to see him as Packy wakes from his nightmare clad in a lovely cosy dressing gown. What more can I say?
He prepares for a stand-off

...and fumbles.
‘Caught my thumb in the doggone pump handle, son.’
All's well, only a dream, and Jim's dressing gown is snuggly and warm...

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