The Western genre – since its emergence in the 19th century – has served as a long-standing platform for moral lessons and questions. The Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher film collaborations of the 1950s, for example, show how the reactions of characters to a moral test can vary. In The Tall T (1957), the lead Scott character does not let fear rule his actions, even while afraid of the fate outlaws promise him, while another character is willing to ransom his own wife in order to live.
Adult Westerns, such as the Italian Westerns that emerged in the 1960s, do acknowledge the often less-than-straightforward path toward a moral choice, yet the genre does remain for many a place to view a decisive and morally good hero. The popularity of the ongoing A&E series Longmire speaks to the attraction of a fundamentally decent and humble human being, in the form of Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), who strives to do the right thing. Ultimately, the Western genre gives us an opportunity to ask what we would do in a given situation and in so asking learn about ourselves.
A new Disney children’s series is set to join the Western tradition of dealing with moral questions. In what is being billed as the first Western series for preschoolers, one that will share ideas about morals and manners, the Disney Junior Channel is launching Sheriff Callie’s Wild West on Monday, January 20th (5pm ET/PT). The animated series features Callie, the cat sheriff, who along with her deputy Peck, a woodpecker, and Toby, their cactus sidekick, look after the Western frontier-era town of Nice and Friendly Corners. Singer-songwriter and actor Mandy Moore provides the voice for Sheriff Callie.
Each installment of the 23-episode series is composed of two 11-minute stories that in the words of Disney Junior, “focus on character building, and being a good friend and neighbor”. For example, in one episode of the first season Deputy Peck learns about good sportsmanship via a game a horseshoes. The series will also premiere on the official Disney Channel later on this spring (2014).
Parents interested in more information about the series, which carries a TV-Y (all children) guideline, can visit the link Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)