Men of the Apocalypse: Drifters
Tuesday/March/09 2010 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
An innocent victim of blind justice...freed by fate to search for a one-armed man..freed to run from a policeman obsessed with his capture.
You don't see this kind of character on TV much anymore more but in the mid-20th century it was one of the most popular of all.
He -- always he -- had no home and was constantly on the move, whether driven by need for excitement, justice, survival or inner peace.
And over the course of each episode, strangers would become friends or lovers as the Drifter found some lost jigsaw piece of his own self-mystery.
The Seven Types of Drifters:
The Running Man Drifter
The Running Man Drifter is accused of a crime he didn't commit and must find the true killer to prove his innocence.
Ripped from the same cloth as The Fugitive was the Incredible Hulk series. David Banner was the sci-fi twist of Richard Kimble.
Banner's first name was Bruce in the comic book that spawned this series, but that wasn't considered macho enough for TV.
Like Kimble, David/Bruce Banner ran to escape those who had falsely accused him.
On the way, he experienced one extreme wardrobe-malfunction after another.
The Gadabout Drifter
Warner Brothers cornered the market on old-west drifters in the 50's.
Maverick was a classic Gadabout, always in search of whiskey, women and a fast hand of five-card stud. This Drifter was motivated by thirst for risky adventure.
James Garner portrayed Bret Maverick, a card shark with a heart of gold. But because each episode took more than a week to crank out, Bret's brother Bart -- played by Jack Kelly -- was soon introduced. Most episodes featured Bret, some featured Bart.
Roger Moore, playing English cousin, Beau, joined the show when Garner left over a contract dispute.
Oh yeah, the WB was turned down by their first choice for Beau, Sean Connery.
The Crusader Drifter was a man on a mission.
He was a tortured soul who could not rest until every wrong had been righted and every perp put in prison.
Batman never left Gotham and Superman stayed close to Metropolis. But the Crusader Drifter was always journeying from town to town, hoping to be there when justice had to be done.and there was no one else there to do it.
The Crusader-Drifter sometimes had a sidekick.
The Lone Ranger had Tonto and Batman had Robin. But the Crusader Drifter's sidekick was generally motivated by loyalty to his Kemo-Sabe, as opposed to the same kind of justice-jag that spurred on the main character.
The Lonesome Road Drifter
This kind of Drifter wasn't running from anyone nor toward anything .
He was called by the open road, that endless ribbon of highway.
He wasn't yet ready to settle down and he had the money and means to take some time to ... drift.
On CBS's Route 66, Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock restlessly searched for adventure in an inherited convertible Corvette, which was somehow always the latest model each of the show's four seasons on the air. (Chevrolet was a sponsor).
Route 66 was the last chance for viewers to see a regionally diverse America that just doesn't exist anymore. As stars Martin Milner and George Maharis commented in interviews, "Now you can go wherever you want ... and it's a Denny's"
The Dead-Man-Running Drifter
This Drifter has only so much time and he's trying to grab for all the gusto he can.
He wasn't out to save the world yet each week he found a way to bring resolution or meaning to lives he touched as he wandered from one city to the next.
NBC's excellent, but ironically short-lived, Run For Your Life starred Ben Gazzara as Paul Bryan, a man afflicted with a never identified terminal illness.
Paul Bryan now had to squeeze thirty years of living into one...or two...
The "If I'm Not Me Who Da Hell Am I?!" Drifter
This Drifter suffered from some kind of amnesia.
He had no idea who he was. All he knew was that he had to keep on the run because someone, for some reason, was trying to kill him.
Coronet Blue was a short-lived series in the mid-60's. It didn't last long enough for the lead character to figure out his mystery.
The main character crawled out of the ocean, cold, alone and afraid, with no memory of his past and only the knowledge that he was being pursued by dangerous people.
Do you think if the series lasted longer he might have discovered that his real identity was that of Jason Bourne??!
No one described this Drifter better than Arnold...
The Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Drifter
Like, far out, man
This Drifter was like, you know, tired of that whole button-down corporate thing, man. He had to, I don't know, like bust loose and maybe like, you know, find himself and stuff.
Maybe he would, maybe find some chicks along the way and dig that groovy scene. But then he'd have to cut out, like space. Leave, even.
Like, you know?