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Pop culture Q&A: 'Big Valley' of late '60s produces 'little' query

Q: Could you please tell me a little about the show "The Big Valley"? When did it air? Did Richard Long die while the show was on? How old were the main characters when the show aired? Did all the main characters get along well while the show was on? Whatever became of the main characters since the show ended?

A: So many questions for "a little" information! But here are some answers (and a couple of reference works for future use).

According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present," by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, "The Big Valley" originally aired on ABC from 1965 to 1969. The cast included Barbara Stanwyck (58 when the show premiered), Richard Long (37), Peter Breck (36), Linda Evans (22) and newcomer Lee Majors (26).

After the series ended, Stanwyck continued to act, notably in the miniseries "The Thorn Birds," until her death from heart failure in 1990. Long's later credits included the comedy "Nanny and the Professor"; he died in Los Angeles in 1974 after a long battle with a heart ailment.

Majors starred in "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Fall Guy," along with having an unsuccessful marriage to Farrah Fawcett. Evans, of course, was on "Dynasty" and later toured with Joan Collins in the play "Legends." Breck is also still alive and has his own Web site, http://www.peterbreck.ca. On the site, he says of "Big Valley": "We all had a marvelous time with good scripts, good directors and I must include the excellent crew."

Q: Back in the `80s there was a show on TV about a cop, I think from Chicago or Detroit, who was reassigned to Texas and partnered with a cop down there. It was notable because this guy drove a blue Shelby Cobra in the series. I think it ran only one season, and I'd like to know the name of it and the names of the actors portraying the two cops.

A: You are probably remembering "Houston Knights," an 1987-88 drama on CBS. It starred Michael Pare as Joey La Fiamma, a former Chicago cop who transferred to Houston. His partner was Levon Lundy, played by Michael Beck. For more, see "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows." And, according to several car-fan sites, there was a Cobra on the show.

Q: Sometime around the 9-11 attacks, there was a TV movie about Marine Corps boot camp. Then a series was supposed to follow, but never did. I think it was supposed to be about a drill instructor. What happened to it and could I get a copy of the movie?

A: You are probably remembering "Semper Fi," a TV-movie that aired in early 2001. It was supposed to kick off an NBC series about young Marines, with Steven Spielberg among its producers.

NBC made a deal for 13 episodes of a "Semper Fi" series in 1999, for airing in the 2000-2001 season. But in September 2000, NBC backed out of the series deal. The New York Times reported that, after seeing the two-hour pilot, "NBC executives concluded it would not work as a series." NBC aired the pilot as a TV movie in April 2001.

I have not seen an authorized release of it on video.

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