Twilight Zone – Showdown With Rance McGrew

★★★ February 2, 1962 Season 3 Episode 20

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

Showdown With Rance McGrew is a lighthearted episode about a temperamental actor playing a cowboy hero. He is doing impossible stunts that would insult real legendary outlaws if they could see it. That part might just come into play in this one.  This episode was made during the golden age of westerns on television. You couldn’t turn a channel on without seeing a western. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Wanted Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, The Rifleman, and that is just naming a few.

Larry Blyden as Rance McGrew is a whiny, pampered, and coward actor who tries the patience of all the actors and crew. The wonderful character actor Bob Kline plays Jesse James who might have something to say to Rance with him always winning against James and all of his outlaw friends in TV Shows…dead outlaws have their pride also. The episode is fun but far from a classic.

Rod Sering: Fred Fox had an interesting notion, which was quite serious, about a modern-day cowpoke, not a television star, who found himself living in the past. It had no sense of humor in it. It was a straightforward piece. But it struck me that it would be a terribly interesting concept to have a guy who plays the role of a Hollywood cowboy suddenly thrust into the maelstrom of reality in which he has to do all these acts of prowess against real people… . And it just occurred to me, My God, what would happen if the Ranee McGrews of our time had to face this? I used to think this about John Wayne all the time, who had fought most of our major wars. In truth, of course, they were fought on the backlot of Warner Brothers, in which the most deadly jeopardy would be to get hit by a flying starlet. And I always wondered what Waynes reaction would be if he ever had to lift up an M-l and go through a bloody foxhole on attack sometime. But this is the element of humor that I was striving to get.

This show was written by Rod Serling, Frederick Louis Fox, and Richard P. McDonagh

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Some one-hundred-odd years ago, a motley collection of tough mustaches galloped across the West and left behind a raft of legends and legerdemains, and it seems a reasonable conjecture that if there are any television sets up in cowboy heaven and any of these rough-and-wooly nail-eaters could see with what careless abandon their names and exploits are being bandied about, they’re very likely turning over in their graves—or worse, getting out of them. Which gives you a clue as to the proceedings that will begin in just a moment, when one Mr. Rance McGrew, a 3,000-buck-a-week phoney-baloney discovers that this week’s current edition of make-believe is being shot on location—and that location is the Twilight Zone.


Rance McGrew is the star of a weekly TV western where he plays the town Marshal. He is, to say the least, difficult to deal with. He is frequently late on the set, arrives unprepared and often requests script changes just as they are about to shoot a scene. To top it off, he’s quite inept at handling his gun which he inadvertently tosses into the saloon mirror on more than one occasion. He’s given a dose of reality however when he inexplicably finds himself back in time, coming face to face with the real Jesse James

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

The evolution of the so-called ‘adult’ western, and the metamorphosis of one Rance McGrew, formerly phony-baloney, now upright citizen with a preoccupation with all things involving tradition, truth and cowpoke predecessors. It’s the way the cookie crumbles and the six-gun shoots in the Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling… Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Larry Blyden as Rance McGrew
Arch Johnson as Jesse James
Robert Cornthwaite as Director
Robert J. Stevenson as Bartender
William McLean as Property Man
Troy Melton as Cowboy #1
Jay Overholts as Cowboy #2

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Showdown With Rance McGrew”

  1. Agree enjoyable episode. Thanks for the background on it – makes me appreciate what Serling was try to do with the story idea. That was an interesting statement that Serling made about John Wayne. I tend to think the same thing about Clint Eastwood in all his Westerns. Its a testament to how good an actor they were that you really believe that that is the way they would be in real life.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. to me, there were just perhaps a few too many Western-themed episodes, BUT as you point out, TV was dominated by that genre back then so I guess it made perfect sense to use them as a starting point to…the Twilight Zone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a western back then. I agree the channels were saturated by them.
      Serling did one also after the TZ called The Loner…I think I posted about it…it was really good and had more of a social conscious than the TZ did.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No it was more of a funny one…. I’ve said it before…but I’m doing tomorrows right now. One review said it was one of the worse….another review say its 10/10…The TZ has more conflicting reviews than anything I’ve seen.


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