Nostalgia Time – What TV Show from your Childhood Influenced You?

Jordan Dane

ABC Television


What show from your childhood or younger years would you bring back and why? Who would you have star in it?

Something that always influenced me–and ultimately teased me into becoming a writer–was my love for Westerns and HORSES. I read every Louis L’Amour I could get my hands on. When I was a young girl and in elementary school, I loved horses and read every book they had in my school library. Literally every book, no lie. As I became a teenager, I got a job and my parents allowed me to save toward buying a horse of my own. We ended up with five horses and it became a big thing for my family.

I shoveled a lot of horse poo and mucked stalls, but it was a great experience. As I grew older, I became enthralled with the men who rode those horses in the 1800s. They were mysterious loners, good guys who lived life on the edge of civilizations and made their own version of the law and justice. The ultimate anti-heroes for me. My first perceptions of manhood came from these TV shows and the many books I read. It definitely influenced how I write men in my books. The brooding loner type.


I watched anything Western as I grew up and continued to read every book I could get my hands on. TV shows on Wild Bill Hickok, Alias Smith & Jones, Lancer, Big Valley, Bonanza, Branded, Maverick, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, High Chaparral, Laramie, Laredo, the Lone Ranger, Lonesome Dove, The Magnificent Seven, My Friend Flicka, Ponderosa, Rawhide, Rifleman, Shane, The Virginian, Wild Wild West, and even Zorro.

My sisters and I would sneak out of our bedrooms to watch TV in our pajamas if the shows came on after our bedtime. Mom told us that she caught us many times, but didn’t say anything. She knew how much it meant to us and appreciated the making of childhood memories. Girl first crushes.

Louis L’Amour hooked me into reading, but thriller authors like Robert Ludlum kept me going (Bourne Identity series). I got into crime fiction and espionage thrillers. Ludlum made me pay attention to how to pace a book and the structure of cliffhangers. He opened my eyes to writing and my desire to write never left me.

BONUS QUESTION – So help me cast a great Western. Who would star in the TV show or movie?

For Discussion:
1.) What show from your childhood or younger years would you bring back and why?
2.) Who would you have star in it?

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

68 thoughts on “Nostalgia Time – What TV Show from your Childhood Influenced You?

  1. I’m a bit older, I think. In addition to the ones you mentioned, I remember Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry. Range Rider, the Cisco Kid, Sky King. And then there was Disney who brought me Zorro, Spin and Marty, and Davy Crockett

        • I sang the Davy Crockett theme song in a school show wearing the western shirt that my Mom wore when she played in a country and western band on the radio when she was sixteen. Oh, and I had the coonskin cap, too.

            • I’m not sure, but it seems it was KCKN. I don’t have any references to the station in any of her notes or pictures. But that was the primary country station at the time I grew up. This would have been 1947.

              • Wow. I haven’t thought about KCKN in decades. I asked about WLS (Chicago) because they had the Barn Dance back in the day. My granddad worked there.

            • There is one, but I no longer have it. I thought I had scanned it but must have missed it. I just sent the originals to my daughters in Florida for their keeping. I’ll have to check with them to find it. Sorry, But it was pretty cute.

  2. Fun post, Jordan. I loved westerns, too, but never read one until after my Dad died. He read them all at his job, where he ran a blast furnace to make Fiberglas insulation for 38 years. When he died, my brother put a copy of L’Amour’s “Beyond the Blue Mountains” in his casket for his trip. Later, my mother-in-law moved in with us and had a box with all the L’Amour westerns in paperback. I read one, then all of them, in order. Wonderful stuff.

    As for your western, I would love to see a sequel to “Silverado” with the original cast. Probably will never happen, they’ve all become such big names. But the first one was great and left it open for a return, with Jake yelling, “We’ll be back!” as they rode away.

    Two of my favorite westerns were made in Australia, “The Man From Snowy River” and “Return to Snowy River.” Great stories, incredible cinematography, and I fell in love with Sigrid Thornton. If you love horses, those films feature some of the best horsemanship I’ve ever seen in movies.

    “Hildago” was another great western horse movie.

    When I was in the third grade, we lived near a riding stable, where the horses and riders would pass down our semi-rural road past our house. My grandmother “loaned” me the money to buy a retiring horse, which we kept in a pasture across the road from our house. I would sit bareback on him often, but once when the stable horses passed by, he decided to go with them and jumped the fence. I went flying.

    Great memories.

    • Wow, I love all those movies, Dave. I have horse stories too. Surprised I lived. The things I never told my parents. Oy.

      I might have to look for that Louis L’Amour book you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your memories, Dave.

  3. I discovered Louis L’Amour in college and he still influences my stories. Gunsmoke and The Lone Ranger, too. Many of the John Wayne westerns also influence me, especially The Cowboys, The War Wagon, and Rooster Cogburn. The Cowboys taught me that the hero can die and you still have a great movie (or book), while the interplay between the hero characters in the other two showed wonderful conflict that isn’t between protag and antag.

    Other TV shows outside the western genre that I think still influence me include Mission Impossible and Manix for the action and twists.

    • Interesting that you made a connection to espionage thrillers (Mission Impossible) & crime fiction like Mannix. I saw a correlation between the loner cowboy & the lone wolf operative or detective/PI. A similar kind of man, in their ways & values. Thanks, Doug,

  4. I loved Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel. Richard Boone was the quintessence of “ruggedly handsome” but it was his charm and smarts that usually got things done. He rarely solved issues with a gun, despite that being his profession. He usually just out thought the bad guys. I was too young then to appreciate his historical and cultural references, but watching the shows now has that added delight.

    Hard for me to think who could do that role today. Would have to be someone who can be believed as a man trained in the classics as well as the gun, who has been in a few fights yet knows how to take a woman to the opera. Not too young and not too pretty. Is there such an actor?

  5. Jordan, you brought back some great memories of Saturday nights in front of the old black and white TV with rabbit ears.

    All-time epic western: High Noon with Gary Cooper.
    Runner-up: Man With No Name spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood.

    Perry Mason got me into mystery writing. The puzzling murder, the many suspects with great motives, the Big Courtroom Reveal by Raymond Burr. The only predictable constant–Perry’s client was always innocent.

    I wanted to be Della Street. Come to think of it, my current series heroine works for a flashy big-time criminal defense lawyer. Hmm, just realized that as I was typing this response. Funny how childhood influences keep echoing through life.

  6. Fury was probably my favorite show as a kid. When I got a little older, Paladin and Wanted Dead or Alive – Steve McQueen. I wish we had shows like that now. Not only do our kids miss out on playing outside from daylight to dark, they miss out on using their imagination. I spent many days chasing the bad guys on my imaginary horse.

  7. I grew up watching westerns as well & still miss them. Gunsmoke (loved the Matt/Kitty/Doc/Festus/Newly years the best), Bonanza (Adam years–he was my favorite) & many others. Later on I watched The Young Riders. And I’d bring home stacks of Zane Grey books to read as a child. The powerful effect of the TV western on me can’t be overstated. Watching the spectacular scenery of western shows made me plot as a little kid to leave flat, dumpy Maryland behind & head west to the real country & I’ve never regretted it. The west is even more magnificent than I got to see on TV.

    I was journaling about this a few weeks ago–in general, there was a lot more selection on TV back in the 60-80’s. Just between the ages of 5-8, I counted up almost 54 shows I alternated my time watching (don’t know how I had time for mundane things like school. LOL!) Contrast that to now where I watch ZERO. Nobody has anything to interest me.

    I would not re-cast any of these, western or no. I can’t stand remakes & I can’t think of a single existing actor with the stuff to do justice to any of them. Thank goodness for re-runs! 😎

  8. Not to sound like an old fart, but I’m afraid anything I suggest would be bastardized by the sweet young (and not-so-young) things running/ruining the studios today. A lot of good story-telling has been replaced by in-your-face whatever.

    Have Gun Will Travel would have stagecoaches out of control (and probably exploding). Sky King would have airplanes tail-spinning for ridiculous reasons (and probably exploding). That Girl would have Ann Marie in porno because there’s not enough legitimate work. Each week Gunsmoke would have a subplot of Miss Kitty going tooth and fingernail against the local morality crowd, complete with half-naked (totally naked, if on cable) cat fights and buildings raging on fire (or exploding, since the pattern has been set). Subtlety just doesn’t seem to cut it any more. More’s the pity.

    • I watched Russell Crow in 3:10 to Yuma and researched the Richard Widmark version. The remake with Crow was soooooo much better in acting and camera techniques/craft. Not even close.

      Some movies are classics but it’s interesting to see the old alongside the new. Thanks, Laurie,

      • What I dislike is when old shows are brought back and the only part that’s true to the original story is the title. And I don’t like when perfectly fine films are redone and made more “shocking” just for the heck of it. I’ll get flack for saying this, but no one can beat Robert Mitchum as a baddie in CAPE FEAR, not even De Niro. If a film must be remade, take a movie that lacked the first time around and add some good stuff to it, like ICE STATION ZEBRA. Better acting, directing, and special effects would make that a pretty good film.

  9. I grew up with three brothers, so I watched a lot of westerns. My favorite was “Wild, Wild West.” For casting? James Garner.
    And the show that influenced me was “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason.

  10. James Garner’s “Support Your Local Sheriff” was one of my favorites. Also, “Duel at Diablo” with him Sidney Poitier.

  11. Doctor Who – I think I’ve watched almost every episode since the mid 70s. My parents actually watched it as graduate students when I was a toddler so I’ve been hiding from Daleks for a very, very long time:)

  12. We are an older crowd around here. No one has asked, “What is a Western?”

    My first sentence, according to family lore, was, “I want a horse,” so, yes, lots of Westerns growing up. All those mentioned above, in fact. Even without a horse in it, I watched lots of mysteries and science fiction.

    I can’t think of any specific show I’d want to see come back because they were part of their times which can’t be replicated, and Johnny Depp, killer of childhood show memories, would probably destroy it. Shudder.

    Influences on my novels. IT TAKES A THIEF, both the TV show and movie. While I was writing my romantic suspense THE GAME WE PLAY which has a world-class thief as a character, my mental sound track was the Bossa Nova, the essence of coolness in my mind, then and now. THE WILD, WILD WEST which mixed the Western with Steampunk before there was Steampunk as well as horror. The episodes I remember the most are the weirdest one. Most of my books mix unexpected genres and the wierdness. STAR TREK, the original series, taught me a lot about character dynamics. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are my go-to example of the character trinity when I teach it.

    But horses on TV and in books started it all.

    • I got so wrapped up in westerns that I didn’t give Star Trek it’s due. Yes, the Kirk, Spock, McCoy friendship was the mega-draw for me in Star Trek (and Spock my all time favorite character). And while there were many shows I loved and still repeat quotes from, Star Trek TOS is hands down the master of quotable material for all time.

  13. I forgot to mention that sf/fantasy writer Judith Tarr has a weekly column on horse fiction at She’s also an expert on all things horsie so she’s open to questions.

  14. We didn’t have a TV when I was a child, but I listened to Sky King, Sgt. Preston, Space Patrol, and Tom Corbett Space Cadet on the radio. Saturday mornings was reserved for the movies, always a western, and the inevitable action-suspense serial.
    Finally got a TV when we moved to San Antonio in the mid-50’s and got to see my favorite shows on a small black and white TV. . I liked Davy Crockett, Paladin and Wanted Dead or Alive, but my favorite was TV Wrestling on Wednesday nights. I was old enough to know it was largely fake, but it had great story lines nevertheless. Ricky Romero was my favorite.
    I don’t think they could be brought back. The world has changed too much. The TV shows and wrestling were a simple contrast of good vs. evil. Not sure it would go over today.

  15. Mortenson did a great job in the movie version of Parker’s “Appaloosa”.

  16. I loved all the westerns too. One show that I watched religiously as a child was Wild Kingdom. I have always loved anything to do with animals. I also remember watching Perry Mason with my mother when I was very young. Most of the westerns, Mannix and Perry Mason are on ME TV and I can watch the westerns on Saturday morning and Perry Mason is on in the morning and evening.

  17. The show that has had the biggest influence on my warped sense of humor was Monty Python. I would see things much differently if it weren’t for that show.

    When I was a kid I had absolutely no use for tv westerns. I loved watching Dark Shadows after school. I got hooked on Elizabethan England watching Elizabeth R on PBS. Completely fascinated by the whole beheading thing. Loved to play Anne Boleyn with my Barbie dolls and chop their heads off.

    Monty Python, vampires, and beheading Barbies. Yep, that’s me.

    I developed an appreciate for Western films as an adult. There is no way a movie like The Searchers would ever be made today.

    • Dark Shadows was a family thing after we got home from school. Even my mom would watch with us. Such a weird vampire soap opera. Kinda sexy without showing sex.

      Love Monty Python. The Life of Bryan was one of my favorites.

  18. Billy Jack & sequels. Love the anti-establishment anti-war theme and the morals the continued struggle against the oppressive powers that be. Well represented in my own writings too.

    • Billy Jack came to our high school drama class to speak & showed his movie. Very cool. I can see how his themes would influence your writing. Very representative of the times too.

  19. Little House on the Prairie was big when I was growing up, but I loved reruns of Bonanza (Adam was my favorite too) and Big Valley. I also was and still am horse crazy, so one of my favorite movies of all time is The Black Stallion. Very influential, my mom took me to see it in the theater when I was a kid.
    My current work in progress involves horsewomen defending their semi-rural neighborhood from big development, criminals, and finally wildfire. It’s a mystery but has elements of a western–when I read the definition of a western somewhere, it included small town folk standing up to either a big rancher or cattle baron or railroad company.
    I recently read My Friend Flicka for inspiration about horse related writing, and wow, what a book! I was really impressed with the writing and the story. Supposedly a kid’s book I guess but it really could be called a family book in my opinion. The parents are rendered as real people too, not cardboard cutouts.
    Thanks for the cool post!

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