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The Rifleman was weekly half-hour TV program that aired from 1958 through 1963. This Western was shot in black-and-white, as it portrayed a period in U.S. History before the invention of color. The show starred Chuck Connors as Loco McBrain, a Civil War widow maker and fast food spokesman. McBrain and his son Marky Mark lived on a ranch outside the real-life town of North South Fork and spent their time taming the West. Regulars included Sheriff Mica Torrance, Swiney the Bartender, and the entire population of North South Fork.
In an era where every show on television (including the nightly news) was a western, the creators of The Rifleman felt they needed a special gimmick to distinguish the show. As nothing makes the gents' hair stand on end like a massive murder-stick from the future, they settled on a Browning Winchester Model 1892, which wasn't made until ten years after the events of The Rifleman took place. And since nothing makes the ladies' nipples stand erect with passion like a massive murder-stick from the future that can be fired perpetually without reloading, the Winchester was given a specially-designed trigger that allowed the main character to fire it like a machine gun, enabling him to kill as many as twenty people over the course of the show. Ahh, the '50s were a more innocent, idyllic time.
McBrain taught his son the homespun wisdom of the day. For example, a man should avoid gunplay whenever possible, instead opting for fisticuffs or cursing; and all people should be treated with dignity, except those wearing black hats, who should be shot on sight.
The show also taught the moral that people should be given a second chance. For example, the lawman was a recovering alcoholic, and McBrain was allowed to date a few times, although he never remarried.
The Rifleman was one of the first network TV shows to hire a full-time continuity supervisor. Unfortunately, the perverse sloppiness of the show's writers drove her to drink; in 1959, her despair led her to became the second suicide-by-meat-grinder in Los Angeles history. From that point on, the errors, including McBrain's anachronistic Winchester, multiplied like crazed rabbits. For example, while network publicists claimed that the series was set in the 1880s, McBain was so young that he could only have served in the American Civil War as a three-year old; considering that none of the Union's Toddler Brigade survived the war, this was highly unlikely. In later episodes, McBrain was shown driving a Chevrolet Corvette (not in production for another sixty years), smoking Kool-brand cigarettes (everyone knows that cowboys preferred Marlboros), and eating at a variety of fast-food diners which only existed in the Los Angeles area. In one episode, McBrain even attempted to jump a Harley-Davidson motorcycle over a shark swimming in a fabricated steel tank—which would have been quite a feat, considering that fabricated steel tanks over three hundred gallons in volume were not in mass production until 1921.