The Big Valley
- 4 Seasons
The Big Valley is a show depicting a wealthy American ranch family. It is based quite loosely on the Hill Ranch in California's Calaveras County at the very end of the nineteenth century. Barbara Stanwyck, cinema star of the 1930's and 40's, is the matriarch of the family and head of the ranch after her husband is murdered. She brings a realism and passion to the role as she effortlessly moves from regal matriarch to rough and able cow'woman' who could and would match efforts with any man on the ranch. Stanwyck plays Victoria Barkley who loves her four children passionately, including the illegitimate son of her late husband. Lee Majors plays Heath Barkley, who learns of his true father's identity at his mother's deathbed, and fights his way into the lives and eventually the hearts of the rest of the Barkley family. The Big Valley captures much of the harsh realities of the times. Despite their wealth, there are many physical challenges that one simply has to manage. Buried in earthquakes, fighting off fires, and just dealing with ranching and cattle are all played out in a gripping and genuine manner. The Big Valley is not without its drama. The younger brothers Nick and Heath are typical western frontier men, able and fit. They both deal with issues first with their fists even if it means untangling details later. The oldest son, Jarrod, is an attorney and prefers to handle his disputes through the law. But being a Barkley, when the situation becomes most dire he is known to resort to frontier justice. They have one sister, Audra, who, like her mother, is not to be regarded as demure and rides her horse astride alongside her brothers. She is leery of Heath's claims initially and even tries to seduce him in order to flush out the truth. But as the events of the series progress, Audra, along with the rest of the family, grows to believe and trust Heath implicitly. These two youngest siblings bond as tightly as if they had grown together from birth. The show is as exciting as endearing, with Stanwyck's legendary performances leading the cast. The Big Valley is a compelling and entertaining look at old western ranch life.