The High Chaparral

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Pelletier and Hewitt plotting the heist

3.79  The Reluctant Deputy     Blue, Mano, Buck

Blue is the victim of a practical joke that finds him enlisted as a temporary lawman.
Written by Walter Black         Directed by Leon Benson

Story Line:  Tricked into being sworn in as a deputy marshal by Manolito and his Uncle Buck, Blue is forced to take the job seriously when the town's regular lawman departs leaving him in charge of the entire town. Blue's new authority enables him to exact a sweet revenge on Manolito and Buck.

Guest Stars: 

Charles Durning 
as Hewitt

Robert Donner 
as Pelletier

Dan White 
as Sheriff Prentiss

Character Highlights:  While the third season generally shows Blue in more serious roles, this one has him back in a more light-hearted episode that ends up being one of the most humorous of the series.  Most of the interplay is between Buck and Mano, but Blue makes an excellent straight man for them to play their antics off.  As the butt of their jokes it allows Blue to take the mature, responsible role, but when Buck and Mano discover Blue may actually be in danger, his uncles find a way to protect him from the background so that not even Blue knows they have intervened.  Priceless scene between Mano and Buck when Mano accidentally discovers their cell door will open but decides to close it again to see if it works a second time.  Altogether an excellent episode, especially for the new, more mature Blue.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  A weekend off in Tubac for Buck, Manolito and Blue begins in jest when the marshal appeals to the men for one of them to act as deputy to help him guard a large Wells Fargo payroll shipment. Buck and Mano immediately defer, but when Blue tries to do the same, they volunteer him for the job. Unable to extricate himself from it, Blue reluctantly becomes the deputy, but vows to get even with Buck and Manolito. An explosion in the Wells Fargo office makes it appear that the safe there was robbed, and the sheriff heads off to track down the thieves, leaving Blue in charge of Tubac for the next day and night. Blue makes his presence known to Mano and Buck in the saloon, telling them to keep out of his way. A fight breaks out in the saloon soon afterward, with Manolito and Buck in the middle of it, and Blue promptly throws them into jail. Both men rant and fume about their predicament, but Blue is extremely pleased with himself at getting his revenge. No amount of pleading or cajoling convinces him to release Buck and Mano, and the two are left to sit out the weekend behind bars.

In the Wells Fargo office, Al Hewitt and his crony Pelletier discuss their plan for the money that they have stolen from the Wells Fargo safe. Using the explosion as their cover, they have hidden the payroll money in the office, but Hewitt is uneasy about leaving it there until Monday. He hits on the idea to take the money to the safe in the sheriff's office, making up a story that Pelletier is a rancher who just sold his herd, and needs a safe place to stash his cash for the weekend. Blue opens the safe for them, and puts the stolen money inside.

Meanwhile, Manolito launches into a tirade about his desire for revenge, and as he demonstrates how he will punish Blue, he hits the bars of the cell door, and it flies open. Amazed, he closes the door to try it again, and sure enough, the locked door can be opened by a blow of the hand. Armed with this knowledge, Buck and Manolito leave the cell while Blue is gone, and after fortifying themselves with a hearty breakfast, they make their own plans for revenge. Seeking to discredit Blue, they remove the money from the safe and hide it in their cell, then resume their places in the cell. Pelletier, nervous about the money being out of his sight, sneaks into the sheriff's office to check on the money while Blue is making his rounds. He finds the money missing and immediately sets out to confront Hewitt. While he is gone, Buck and Mano replace the money in the safe. When the two thieves ask Blue to unlock the safe for them, they see the money there, but Blue becomes uneasy himself about it. When the men leave, he takes the money out and stashes it beneath a cot in an empty cell, and locks the door.

Mano and Buck again move the money and put it back into the safe, and when Blue returns, he panics when he sees the money isn't in the cell. Mano and Buck play dumb and tell him that he never moved the money. Blue checks the safe, and lo and behold, the money is there. All this makes Blue queasy and he lies down for a nap. Mano and Buck then pay a drunk to deliver a fake telegram to Blue, saying that Pelletier is a notorious bank robber. Blue notifies Hewitt, and with Pelletier behind the door in the Wells Fargo office, Blue is in danger of ambush. Back in their cell, Buck and Mano play poker with the stolen money for laughs. When they count it out, they realize that the amount in their cell matches the amount of the stolen payroll, and they know that Blue is in trouble. They distract Pelletier enough for Blue to get the jump on him, and Blue captures both thieves, unaware of the help he received. The sheriff and whole town are ecstatic at the return of the money and the capture of the thieves, and Blue and the two jailbirds return home to the High Chaparral.

As he tells his story to John and Victoria, Blue knows that something isn't exactly right, but Buck and Manolito keep their secret, content to let him enjoy his well-earned glory in exchange for his silence about their tenure in the Tubac jail. (Synopsis by Lisa McKenzie)

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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