#8 - "The Badge"
1958 - 1959
Johnny's childhood friend Bill Anderson is the one good apple in a bad barrel. His father was hung for bank robbery and murder, his three brothers sent to prison. Bill is courting Molly Matson whose father would rather she fancied Tim Bucknell who works in Matson's bank and comes from a good family.

When Bill's employer, Mr. Seymour, counts out money for Bill to deposit at the bank, one of the fifties falls to the floor. At the bank, Bucknell accuses Bill of stealing the money. When a fight ensues, Matson files a charge of attempted murder against Bill. Johnny is forced to lock him up. Too late Mr. Seymour comes to the bank with the missing fifty.
Bail is set at $200. Mr. Seymour is too afraid of Matson to spring for it. Then Bill's brother Rick, fresh out of prison, comes to Laramie and bails him out. Johnny can tell Dan thinks that Bill is headed for trouble as a result of this turn of events. Johnny says he's betting Bill won't go bad and will show up for trial. Dan allows that he hopes Johnny is right, but the odds were against it with Rick in town. Johnny responds that he only has one thing worth betting, his badge. "If I'm wrong Marshal, I shouldn't be wearing this badge. And you ought to get yourself a deputy with more sense."
Rick tells Bill that the reason their Pa robbed the Laramie bank is because they wouldn't give him a loan when their ma was sick. He tries to convince Bill that they should rob the bank themselves. Bill refuses and goes to town to find Johnny. He first sees Dan and seems about to warn him of Rick's plans, but changes his mind. He goes into the Blue Bonnet looking for Johnny and is beaten up by two of Matson's men. Dan arrests the two men but the damage is done. Bill believes he'll never be able to live in Laramie in peace so he joins Rick in breaking into the bank. At the same time, Matson comes to the jail to get his men out. Dan has him sit down while he decides what charges to file. It appears Matson will have to drop the charges against Bill if he wants his men released.
When Johnny goes looking for Bill, he checks the bank. He has the drop on Rick but loses it when Rick kicks the gun out of his hand. Of course, when the chips are down, Bill chooses to stop his brother from shooting Johnny. By the time Dan arrives, Bill and Johnny have Rick at bay. Rick admits to Bill that he lied about their father's reasons for robbing the bank.
NiteOwl Review: This was another welcome non-generic episode. We liked seeing Johnny stand up for his friend against everyone, even Troop. Peter Brown did a nice job going from engagingly light-hearted in the first scenes, in which he and Bill plan to take two girls to a dance, to determined and earnest in defense of his friend, to courageous as he keeps talking to Bill when held at gunpoint in the bank by Rick. His scenes with Gary Vinson would have been much better had Vinson played Bill as more than a colorless victim. We don't know whether Vinson or the director was responsible for this vacuum.
Cast Notes: Peter Breck is seen here in the tiny part of the scummy first ranchhand, one of the two men who beat up Bill in the Blue Bonnett. By the next year, he was costarring in his own western series Black Saddle as a gunfighter turned lawyer. (There's a joke there but too many lawyers in our video group to choose which one to use.) He later became rancher Nick Barkley in The Big Valley. Breck also had an interesting role in the short-lived 1979 science fiction western, cliff hanger serial The Secret Empire. Gary Vinson, who didn't bring much personality to this particular role, usually played earnest young innocents. He was much better as the earnest young copyboy who aspired to be a reporter in the Warner Brothers series The Roaring Twenties and as Christy, the likable young sailor in McHale's Navy. Vinson also costarred as a sheriff in the short-lived western sit-com Pistols N' Petticoats. He was very funny with his earnest naive characterization in an episode of Maverick "A Fella's Brother."
Johnny encourages Bill
"You going into the Cupid business, Boy?"
Dan and Johnny defend Bill
Johnny believes in Bill
Dan is concerned about Bill
Johnny puts his badge on the line
Johnny tells Dan his obligations to his badge & his friend are not inconsistent
Matson's men start trouble
Johnny catches them in the bank
but he loses the advantage
"Win your bet?"
"Yes Sir!"
Original air date Nov 23, 1958
Directed by Lee Sholem
Written by Finlay McDermid
    & Bernard C. Schoenfield

Regular Cast
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay

Guest Cast
Gary Vinson as Bill Anderson
Wesley Lau as Rick Anderson
Ventenia Stevenson as Molly Matson
Charles Bateman as Tim Bucknell
Phil Tead as Mr. Seymour
Kenneth R. McDonald as Mr. Matson
Peter Breck as 1st ranchhand
John Cason as 2nd ranchhand
James McCallion as Shorty

Official Peter Brown Fan Site