Saturday, September 21, 2019

3 Doors Down's "Kryptonite" Video and the Rosslyn Hotel

Today I solved a mystery that has haunted me since 2000. A portion of 3 Doors Down's video to their song "Kryptonite" is set atop what is clearly a hotel. The problem is that one does not get a really good look at the signage or the surrounding buildings. There are several hotels I could rule out, such as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, because of the sign, but until today I could not definitively identify the hotel.

Of course, here I should offer up some background to the song and video. "Kryptonite" was the debut single of 3 Doors Down, released on January 11 2000. The song clearly references Superman and draws upon his relationship with Lois Lane for inspiration. Quite naturally, the video utilises a superhero theme. It centres on an elderly man who was a superhero in the Forties or Fifties. At the start of the video in his apartment there is footage of him in his prime battling a supervillain atop a hotel. As the video progresses our elderly superhero dons his costume again to save a damsel in distress.

Watching the video on YouTube, I could pause it to get a better look at the sign. I could make out the words "million dollar" and "hotel." From there all it took was a Google search of the phrase "million dollar hotel" and "sign" to learn that the hotel is the Rosslyn Hotel in Los Angeles. The Rosslyn Hotel was built in 1914 and initially called "the New Rosslyn Hotel" because an older hotel of the same name stood beside it. It cost one million dollars to build, hence the sign that reads "Million Dollar Hotel." It was nine years later, in 1923 that an annex was built across the street.  According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Rosslyn Hotel had such amenities as ice water from the tap and ventilated phone booths. At the same time, however, its price range was within that of the average person.

Despite its reputation, the Rosslyn Hotel closed in 1959. In 1979 the two buildings would be reopened as two separate hotels, with the Rosslyn Hotel becoming the Frontier and the Annex retaining the name "Rosslyn Hotel." In this century the Rosslyn Hotel would become affordable housing and was renamed "Rosslyn Lofts."

For those of you who want to see the historic Rosslyn Hotel as the site of a superhero battle, here is the video to "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

ER Turns 25

It was 25 years ago today, on September 19 1994, that ER debuted on NBC. While ER would eventually degenerate into a rather typical medical soap opera, for its first several years it was a revolutionary medical drama. It differed from other medical dramas before it in that it often featured a great deal of medical jargon with little to no explanation of what that jargon meant. It could often be much more graphic than other TV shows of the time, going even further in portraying surgeries than M*A*S*H had. The show also had an unusually fast pace, with the show's doctors and other medical personnel going from case to case. Multiple subplots were featured in each episode. Until viewers adjusted to just how much was going on in any given episode of ER, it could be difficult for viewers to keep track of everything going on in any given episode of the show. In fact, in his review of ER in The Hollywood Reporter, Miles Beller commented that the show's debut episode ("24 Hours") could be " times confused and confusing."

ER centred on the emergency room of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago. It differed from many earlier medical dramas in that it featured a rather large ensemble cast, including several leads and several supporting characters. In its early days, at least, the focus of the series was upon the various cases and issues faced by the emergency room staff from day to day.

ER was created by Michael Crichton, the best selling author of such novels as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park and the screenwriter of such films as Westworld (1974) and The Great Train Robbery (1979). In 1974 Michael Crichton had written a screenplay drawing upon his experiences as a medical student at Harvard. The screenplay generated no interest at any of the studios and Michael Crichton went onto other things. It was then in 1993 that he started work with Steven  Spielberg on bringing his 1990 novel Jurassic Park to the big screen. Mr. Spielberg had read Michael Crichton's old screenplay and expressed interest in it. It was an employee at Steven Spielberg's production company, Amblin, who suggested that it might work better as a pilot for a television series than as a movie.

ER was pitched to NBC. Warren Littlefield, then the head of NBC Entertainment, admitted, "We were intrigued, but we were admittedly a bit spooked in attempting to go back into that territory a few years after St. Elsewhere." Regardless, the network agreed to six episodes of the new series. The pilot for ER, "24 Hours," aired on September 19 1994 opposite Monday Night Football, where it did remarkably well in the ratings. Afterwards ER aired in its regularly scheduled timeslot at 8:00 PM Eastern/9:00 PM Central on Thursday. There it not only exceeded expectations, but it did spectacularly well in the ratings. Not only did it beat CBS's rival medical drama, Chicago Hope, soundly in the ratings, but it ranked no. 2 in the Nielsen ratings for the year. The following season it would be the no. 1 show on the air. It would continue to rank in the top five shows for the year for its next six seasons and ranked in the top ten for its first ten seasons on the air.

Even in its earliest years the cast of ER would change. Gloria Reuben joined the cast as physician assistant Jeanie Boulet in the 14th episode of the first season, "Long Day's Journey into Night." Originally a recurring character, she became a regular character in season 2. Jeanie was unique as a character at the time in having HIV, which she had contracted from her ex-husband. What is more, Jeanie was still alive and living with HIV when Miss Reuben left the show in 1999 and when she returned for a single episode in 2008. Laura Innes would also join ER early in the show's run as Dr. Kerry Weaver. She would ultimately remain with the show for twelve years.

While various characters were added in the show's early years, ER would also see some departures in its early years, departures which would, in my humble opinion, hurt the show in the long run. The first of these was Sherry Stringfield, who played Dr. Susan Lewis. Miss Stringfield had tired of the gruelling filming schedule of ER and also expressed a desire to live a normal life. She left at the start of the third season, only to return at the beginning of the eighth season. Other members of the lead cast beyond Sherry Stringfield would also leave over time. George Clooney, who played paediatrician Doug Ross, left the show in its fifth season. Julianna Margulies, who played Nurse Carol Hathaway, left the show at the end of the sixth season. Anthony Edwards, who played Dr. Mark Greene (more or less the main character on the show), left the show at the end of its eighth season. In an unusual move for TV shows of the time, Dr. Greene was written off the show as having died of brain cancer.

As much as lead characters leaving ER may have hurt the show, it was also hurt when popular supporting members of the show left the cast. Vanessa Marquez played one of the most popular supporting characters on ER, Nurse Wendy Goldman. Nurse Wendy was frequently featured in humorous subplots during the early years of the show. Unfortunately, Vanessa experienced both sexual harassment and racial slurs used against her while on the show. When she reported the harassment and the racial slurs, she was fired. Nurse Wendy last appeared in the show's third season. What the producers apparently did not realise at the time is that many people missed Nurse Wendy, as well as the humorous subplots on the show, which appeared less and less after the third season. I know I missed her (of course, here I must point out that Vanessa and I were very close, as my long time readers know). Another popular supporting character, desk clerk Jerry Markovic (played by Abraham Benrubi) suddenly stopped appearing at the end of the fifth season. He was absent from the show until the 8th season, when he rejoined the cast. Over time other supporting characters would also disappear from the show. This would ultimately hurt ER in the long run, as many viewers tuned into the show not simply to see the lead characters, but to see the many of the supporting characters as well.

Of course, ER was not only hurt by the departure of several popular characters, but also by the fact that the quality of the writing began to decline as well. More and more the show began to focus on the character's personal lives rather than work in the emergency room itself. Eventually there would even be episodes set entirely away from the hospital. The seventh episode of the fourth season, "Fathers and Sons," had Mark Greene and Doug Ross travelling to California by car. County General Hospital did not appear at all in the episode. The 16th episode of the fifth season, "Middle of Nowhere," had Peter Benton travel to Mississippi. Unlike "Fathers and Sons," the hospital does appear in the episode.

Not only did episodes eventually emerge that departed from the hospital setting of ER, but eventually characters would begin, well, acting out of character. The perfect example of this for me is the romance and eventual marriage of Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday (played by Alex Kingston). Now I like both Dr. Greene and Dr. Corday. I think both Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston are talented actors. That having been said, the characters of Dr. Greene and Dr. Corday had very little in common and had absolutely no chemistry together. It always appeared to me that the writers on ER did not know what to do with either of the characters and simply took the easy way out of forcing a romance upon them. Sadly, this would become all the more common as the show progressed. In fact, between cast departures and declining story quality, I ceased watching ER, once one of my favourite shows on the air, around the fifth or sixth season. I would tune in occasionally for episodes now and again, but it just seemed to me to be getting worse and worse.

That having been said, while ER would slowly decline in quality, for its first several seasons it was one of the best shows on the air. The show's original premise, fast paced and full of medical jargon, was far different from anything that had come before it. Furthermore, ER was not afraid to take risks. At a time when it was unusual for shows to kill of characters, ER did so. Mark Greene was not the only regular character to die on the show. Indeed, Lucy Knight (played by Kellie Martin) was stabbed to death by a schizophrenic patient (the stabbing took place in the episode "Be Still My Heart" and she died in the following episode, "All in the Family'). In addition to HIV (which the show dealt with beyond the character of Jeanie Boulet), ER also addressed such issues as child abuse, domestic violence, drug addiction, euthanasia, poverty, racism, sexual assault, suicide, and more. It also addressed medical conditions only rarely seen on previous medical dramas as well, including various mental conditions, chlamydia, human papilloma virus, meningitis, Parkinson's disease, and a variety of unusual injuries.

What is more, it has to be pointed out that it is very rare for a long-running show not to decline in quality at some point. What is more, there are even fewer shows that ever reached the level of quality that ER did in its first several seasons. In fact, at 124 nominations  ER held the record for the most Emmy nominations of any show until A Game of Thrones broke that record with 161 nominations. ER also won several SAG Awards, including ones for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Drama Series, and so on. 

Of course, it should be little wonder that ER won so many awards, as it produced some of the best episodes of any television show ever made. "24 Hours" still numbers among the best pilots ever produced. In the first season it was followed by yet more remarkable episodes. "Chicago Heat" took place during a heat wave when the hospital's air conditioning failed and Dr. Greene was forced to bring his daughter Rachel to work with him. "Blizzard" portrayed the exact opposite in weather, as a blizzard takes place resulting in a 40 car pile-up that nearly overwhelms the emergency room. "Love's Labour Lost" placed Dr. Greene in a predicament no emergency room physician would want to be in. "Motherhood" was directed by Quentin Tarantino and saw the ER staff have multiple personal crises.

Arguably, the first season of ER was its best, but the following seasons would also produce great episodes. "Welcome Back, Carter" saw the ER dealing with victims of a gang shoot out. "Hell and High Water" saw Doug Ross rescue a boy from a flooded storm drain and the resultant media coverage that ensues. "It's Not Easy Being Greene" saw Dr. Greene come into work on his day off, a decision he soon regrets. "Night Shift" saw most of the emergency staff working the night shift, during which Dr. Greene must treat a woman with meningitis. In its first three seasons ER produced many other excellent episodes beyond these, and would continue to produce solid episodes into its fifth season. During this period ER compares favourably with such esteemed shows as The Sopanros and  Mad Men.

While it is my own personal opinion that ER declined enough in quality after its fifth season that it was no longer worth watching, clearly many people disagreed with me. Indeed, the show would continue to be nominated for several Emmy Awards well into its seventh season and would still receive nominations until it went off the air. ER would also be the longest running medical drama in the United States, having run fifteen seasons, until its record will inexplicably be broken by Grey's Anatomy (which will begin its 16th season later this month). The show still has a loyal following. What is more, since Pop TV started rerunning it a few years ago and Hulu picked it up more recently, ER has developed a following among younger viewers. There should be little wonder why. ER was not only different from any medical drama that debuted before it, but from any medical drama that has aired ever since.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"It's Getting Harder All the Time" by The Mindbenders

Tonight I watched one of my fall time favourite movies, To Sir, with Love (1967). Most people know that the movie's theme song, "To Sir, with Love" by Lulu, was released as a single. What many people might not know is that there was another single released from the movie's soundtrack as well. That single was by The Mindbenders, who appear in the film.

The Mindbenders were a beat group originating from Manchester, England. They began as the backing band for Wayne Fontana, and with him had the hit "Game of Love." Wayne Fontana left The Minbenders in 1965 and the band continued without him. They had a hit with "Groovy Kind of Love" on both sides of the Pond. Their song "Can't Live with You (Can't Live Without You)" and "Ashes to Ashes" were hits in the United Kingdom.

The Mindbenders would have two songs featured in To Sir, with Love. "Off and Running" was featured during a scene set at lunch break, where it was playing on a record player. For the movie's dance at its climax The Mindbenders appeared on screen performing, "It's Getting Harder All the Time." Strangely enough, even though "It's Getting Harder All the Time" was featured more prominently in the movie, it was "Off and Running" that was chosen as the A-side of the single and "It's Getting Harder All the Time" that was chosen as the B-side. Personally I have always thought this was a mistake. Not only was "It's Getting Harder All the Time" featured more prominently in the movie, but I think it was also the better song. Unfortunately the single did not chart in either the United Kingdom or the United States.

Without further ado, here is "It's Getting Harder All the Time" by The Mindbenders.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Late Great Ric Ocasek

When it comes to music, nineteen seventy-eight would be a pivotal year for me. I turned fifteen in March, but at that point the majority of my favourite bands all came from the Sixties: The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Monkees, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and so on. That would change in 1978. Cheap Trick had released two previous albums, but it was in 1978 that I took notice of them with their third album, Heaven Tonight, along with the single "Surrender." They have remained one of my favourite bands ever since. It was later that same year that The Cars' self-titled debut album came out. The Cars' blend of pop rock, power pop, and New Wave appealed to me as a teenager, so that they also became one of my all time favourite bands. Their lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and primary songwriter was Ric Ocasek. It was Ric Ocasek who wrote the band's many hits, among them "Just What I Needed," "Let's Go," and "You Might Think." The Cars became one of the major bands of the late Seventies into the Eighties, and their influence is still felt today.

Sadly, Ric Ocasek died yesterday at the age of 75. He was found unconscious and unresponsive in his Manhattan town house. No cause had yet been determined, but he had been recuperating from surgery according to his wife Paulina Porizkova.

Ric Ocasek was born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore on March 23 1944. He credited his grandmother with spurring his interest in music. She convinced him to sing when he was a child and bought him his first guitar when he was 14. When he was a teenager his family moved to Cleveland, where he graduated from Maple Heights High School in 1963. He briefly attended Antioch College and Bowling Green State University, both in Ohio, before dropping out to pursue a career in music.

It was in 1965 that Ric Ocasek met Benjamin Orr, who would later become the bassist for The Cars. The two formed a folk-pop duo called Millkwood. Milkwood would record one album, How's the Weather, that was released in 1973 by Paramount Records. In addition to Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr, Milkwood's only album featured Greg Hawkes on keyboards. Mr. Hawkes would later become the keyboardist for The Cars. How's the Weather failed to chart and as a result Milkwood came to an end.

Following Milkwood, Messrs. Ocasek, Orr, and Hawkes formed a band called Richard and The Rabbits. Greg Hawkes would leave the band to tour with the comedy act Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture, after which Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr played as an acoustic duo called Ocasek and Orr. They had a regular gig at The Idler, a coffee house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Among the songs they played at this time were songs that would later be played by The Cars.

Ocasek and Orr then joined forces with lead guitarist Elliot Easton to form the band Cap'n Swing. Cap'n Swing attracted the attention of WBCN DJ Maxanne Sartori, who played songs from their demo tape on her show. Cap'n Swing was rejected by several record labels, after which the drummer and bassist were fired. Benjamin Orr, who had been singing lead vocals with Cap'n Swing but not playing an instrument, took over the bass. David Robinson, who had played with The Modern Lovers, became the new drummer. Greg Hawkes returned to play keyboards. It was David Robinson who came up with the name "The Cars." The Cars played gigs throughout New England in 1977. Early that year they recorded an eleven song demo tape. Their song "Just What I Needed" received airplay on the Boston radio stations WBCN and WCOZ. It was their popularity in New England that led The Cars to be signed by Elektra Records. Their first album, The Cars, was released in June 1978.

The Cars' debut album proved to be a success, peaking at no. 18 on the Billboard album chart. The album produced the hit singles "Just What I Needed" (which went to no. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100) and "My Best Friend's Girl" (which went to no. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100).  The Cars would have even more success with their next album, Candy-O, released in 1979. Candy-O went to no. 3 on the Billboard album chart. It produced the hit single "Let's Go" (which went to no. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100), as well as songs that received a good deal of FM radio airplay ("Candy-O" and "The Dangerous Type").

Candy-O established The Cars as one of the premiere bands of the late Seventies and Eighties. Except for Door to Door in 1987, every album they released ranked in the top ten of the Billboard album chart: Panorama (peaking at no. 5), Shake It Up (peaking at no. 9), and Heartbeat City (peaking at no. 3). The band also had several hit singles: "Shake It Up" in 1981 (peaking at no. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100), "You Might Think" (peaking at no. 7), "Magic" (peaking at no. 12), "Drive" (peaking at no. 3), "Hello Again" (peaking at no. 20), and "Tonight She Comes" (peaking at no. 7).

In the Eighties Ric Ocasek would also begin a solo career. His first solo album, Beatitude, was released in 1982. A second solo album, This Side of Paradise, was released in 1986. His single, "Emotion in Motion," would go to no. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also in the Eighties that Ric Ocasek began producing other artists on a regular basis. His first production credit was Suicide's album Suicide: Alan Vega and Martin Rev  in 1980. In the Eighties he would also produce Romeo Void's album Benefactor (1982), Bad Brains' album Rock for Light (1983), Alan Vega's album Saturn Strip (1983), and Suicide's album A Way of Life (1988).

The Cars announced their break up in February 1988. It came following the release of their album Door to Door in 1987, which had only peaked at no. 27 on the Billboard album chart.

The Nineties saw Ric Ocasek release further solo albums: Fireball Zone in 1991, Quick Change World in 1993, Negative Theater (a double album including songs from Quick Change World released in Europe) in 1993, and Troublziing in 1997. He also continued to work as a producer, producing Suicide's album Why We Be Blue (1991), Black 47's album Fire of Freedom (1993), Alan Vega's album New Raceion (1993), Weezer's Blue Album (1994), Bad Brains' album God of Love (1995), Bad Religion's album The Gray Race (1996), Nada Surf's album High/Low (1996), D Generation's album No Lunch (1998), Jonathan Richman's album I'm So Confused (1998), Possum Dixon 's album New Sheets (1998), Guided by Voices' album Do the Collapse (1999), and The Wannadies' album Yeah (1999).

In the Naughts Ric Ocasek released his final solo album, Nexterday (2005). He produced Weezer's The Green Album (2001), Le Tigre's album This Island (2004), and The Pink Spiders' album Teenage Graffiti. In 2003 he was briefly Elektra Records' senior vice president of artists and repertoire. Unfortunately, Elektra rejected all of his choices and he lasted less than a year.

In the Teens Ric Ocasek reunited with the surviving members of The Cars (Benjamin Orr having died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer) to record the album Move Like This. It reached no. 7 on the Billboard album chart. He produced Weezer's album Everything Will be Alright in the End (2014) and The Cribs' album For All My Sisters (2015).

Ric Ocasek also wrote a book of poetry, Negative Theater, that had been meant to be published alongside the album of the same name. He was also an artist, doodling frequently and making photo collages and other mixed-media works of art. In 2009 his work was displayed at an art galley in Columbus, Ohio. He played a role of a mechanic in the 1987 film Made in Heaven and had a cameo in John Water's 1988 film Hairspray.

Given how much time has passed since the late Seventies and the Eighties, younger generations may not realise the impact that The Cars had. In my humble opinion, alongside The Ramones and Cheap Trick, The Cars were among the most influential bands to emerge from the late Seventies. It is not simply a case that they were a sharp break from the progressive rock and blues-oriented rock of the late Sixties and early Seventies. It is not simply a case that they marked a return to pop songs that were only three to four minutes in length. It is a case that The Cars blended the conciseness of New Wave with the basicity of garage rock or punk and the aural density of power pop. Indeed, while many bands in the late Seventies were either synthesiser-driven bands or guitar-driven bands, The Cars were both.

It was The Cars' fusion of rock subgenres that made the band so successful. Punk and New Wave fans could relate to the relative simplicity and brevity of The Cars' music. Power pop fans could relate to The Cars' melodic ingenuity and density of sound. The general public could relate to their hook-laden songs. What is more, The Cars did all of this without any sense of compromise. There was never any sense that The Cars were selling out. What is more, they weren't afraid to experiment. The Cars' album Panorama was both darker and more experimental. While it wasn't as well received as their first two albums, it still demonstrated that The Cars were capable of more than brief, catchy, upbeat pop songs.

Of course, here I have been discussing The Cars, but then it is impossible to separate The Cars from Ric Ocasek. He was the band's primary songwriter, with Greg Hawkes having co-written a few songs with him. While there can be no doubt that the other members of The Cars made their contributions, there can also be no doubt that Ric Ocasek was the primary architect of The Cars' sound. Indeed, his solo work sounds more or less like, well, The Cars. Of course, Ric Ocasek was not only skilled as a songwriter, but as a producer as well. He produced synth-punk duo Suicide, hardcore punk band Bad Brains, and pop punk/power pop band Weezer. Ric Ocasek left an imprint on rock music that will never fade or go away. Years from now there will still be bands showing the influence of The Cars.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Laramie Debuted 60 Years Ago Today

Today Laramie is not as well known as such contemporaneous TV Westerns as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, or Bonanza . That having been said, it was fairly successful in its day and even influential as well. The show launched the career of Robert Fuller, who would later star on both Wagon Train and Emergency!, and was a showcase for several future stars who were guests on the series. It was Sixty years ago today, on September 15 1959, that Laramie debuted on NBC.

Laramie centred on the Sherman Ranch, which was also a stage stop for the Great Central Overland Mail Company. The Sherman Ranch was operated by Slim Sherman (played by John Smith), a young man whose father had been murdered by a land grabber, and Jess Harper (played by Robert Fuller), a drifter who adopted the ranch as his home. In the first season Slim's younger brother Andy (played by Robert L. Crawford, Jr.) lived on the ranch, while the housekeeping and general maintenance was performed by Jonesy (played by Hoagy Carmichael). Except for John Smith and Jess Harper, the cast would change over the course of the series.

Sixty years later it is difficult to find information on the history of Laramie. The show's titles do not include a "created by" or "developed by" credit, so it is difficult to say who created the show. The pilot for the show, "Stage Stop," was written by Robert Pirosh, who had written on such classic movies as A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), and I Married a Witch (1942). He also produced the first two episodes. John C. Champion took over as producer afterwards and remained the show's producer for the rest of its run.

Initially John Smith was cast as Jess Harper. Robert Fuller was offered the role of Slim Sherman. Reading the script, however, Mr. Fuller became fascinated with the role of Jess. John Smith and Robert Fuller then switched roles, so that Mr. Smith played Slim and Mr. Fuller played Jess. Robert L. Crawford, Jr., who was cast as Andy, had already guest starred on several TV shows, including The Donna Reed Show, Zorro, and Playhouse 90 (for which he received an Emmy nomination for Best Single Performance by an Actor). He is the son of film editor Robert Crawford, Sr. and his wife Betty, a concert pianist and actress. His younger brother is Johnny Crawford, best remembered as Mark on The Rifelman. Of course, Hoagy Carmichael was the most famous member of the original cast of Laramie. A hit songwriter since the late Twenties, Mr. Carmichael made his film debut in an uncredited role as a piano player in Topper (1937) and had appeared in various films since then.

Beyond the four leads, there would be semi-regular characters introduced in the first season. Stuart Randall was introduced as Mort Cory, the sheriff in Laramie. There were also various stagecoach drivers who appeared on a semi-regular basis, most notably Eddy Waller as Mose.

While Laramie did not rank in the top thirty shows in the Nielsen ratings for the 1959-1960 season, it still did well, regularly winning its time slot. Despite this, there would be changes to the cast.  For reasons that do not seem to be known today, Robert L. Crawford, Jr. as Andy was written out of the show. It was explained that he had gone away to school. He appeared in only three episodes of the second season. Hoagy Carmichael would also leave the show, for reasons today that are unclear. According to Robert Fuller in an interview with the website Western Clippings, Hoagy Carmichael actually had to commute from Palm Springs to the set every day. It was then Mr. Carmichael's idea to leave the show, as he ultimately decided he would rather play golf. According to the biography Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael by Richard M. Sudhalter, however, it was NBC who decided not to renew Mr. Carmichael's contract for the following season. Either way, he was no longer with the show.

The departures of Robert L. Crawford, Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael not only changed the dynamic on Laramie, but more or less the format of the show as well. Whereas the bulk of the first season's episodes took place on or around the relay station, several episodes during the second season took place away from the stage stop. In fact, there were enough episodes in which Slim and Jess were away from the Sherman Ranch that it seems possible that viewers might have wondered who was running the stage stop. Along with the shift in the show's dynamic, for the first part of the season Laramie featured a different title sequence that consisted of a line drawing rather than the filmed title sequence of the first season. It returned to a filmed title sequence later in the season. Regardless, Laramie still won its time slot on a regular basis.

While the second season featuring only John Smith and Robert Fuller in the lead did well in the ratings, the third season would see changes to the show. For one thing, it was with the start of the 1961-1962 season that Laramie made the change to colour. Previously only the pilot, "Stage Stop," had been shot in colour, with the entirety of the first and second season being shot in black and white. For another, there would be new additions to the cast. Spring Byington joined the cast as Daisy Cooper, a widow who became the Sherman Ranch's new housekeeper. Dennis Holmes was added to the cast as Mike Williams, an orphan staying at the ranch until any next of kin could be found. This returned Laramie to its first season format, although with different characters. At the same time there were fewer episodes that took place away from the Sherman Ranch.

The format of Laramie remained stable until it ended its run in 1963. Just as it is difficult to determine how Laramie began, it is difficult to determine why it ended. While I have read that the show won its time slot even in its fourth season, it seems possible that a decline in its ratings caused NBC to cancel it. In the 1962-1963 season Laramie had new competition in the form of a show developed by Robert Pirosh, who had also written the pilot for Laramie. While Combat! did not rank in the top thirty shows for the 1962-1963 season, it did prove popular. It seems possible that it proved popular enough to affect the ratings of Laramie.

Following its cancellation, Laramie entered syndication as a rerun. It would be seen on television stations across the United States until the late Seventies, when it gradually began to seen in fewer and fewer markets. The show would be largely unknown to generations born since it has aired on network and in its initial syndication run until Encore Western picked it up in July 2015. Since then it has aired on Grit TV.  Laramie is also available on various streaming services.

While Laramie would be seen very little in the past several decades, it would have a lasting impact on television. In fact, the show would lend its name to the best known version of the NBC peacock, "the Laramie peacock." The Laramie peacock would be so named because it made its debut in an episode of Laramie. Many online sources give the date of the debut of the Laramie Peacock as January 1 1962, but that seems highly unlikely. Laramie did not air on January 1 1962, which was a Monday (Laramie aired on Tuesday nights for the entirety of its network run). It seems more likely that the Laramie Peacock made its debut on Tuesday, January 2 1962, which means it would have aired before the Laramie episode "The Perfect Gift."  NBC would continue to use the Laramie Peacock until 1975. Since then NBC has used the Laramie Peacock for various special occasions.

Beyond lending its name to NBC's most famous logo, Laramie would have a lasting influence in other ways. The Western cycle of the late Fifties and early Sixties was dominated for the most part by drifters and gunslingers who roamed from town to town (the only difference between the two being that the gunslingers were professionals). Even when the protagonist of a TV Western wasn't a drifter or gunslinger, he often had a job that required travel, such as the Maverick family on Maverick (who were gamblers), Jim Hardie on Tales of Wells Fargo (who was a special agent for Wells Fargo), Paladin on Have Gun--Will Travel (who was a troubleshooter for hire), and Josh Randall on Wanted: Dead or Alive (who was a bounty hunter). The only real exceptions were the various marshals and sheriffs who were the heroes of TV Westerns during the era, such as Wyatt Earp on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke.

It was in the 1958-1959 season that a Western debuted that was focused on a father and son on a homestead. The Rifleman was a sharp contrast to the many drifters and wandering gunfighters on the air at the time. The following season saw the debuts of Bonanza, set on the sprawling Ponderosa Ranch, and Laramie, set on the Sherman Ranch and relay station. Laramie was then among the earliest of a new breed of Western in which the characters were settled down. Like Bonanza, then, it was the forerunner of such Westerns as The Virginian, The Big Valley, and Lancer.

Laramie would also be influential in providing early roles for many future stars. Most notably, it was the first major role of Robert Fuller, who would not only guest star on many other shows, but would go onto star on Wagon Train and Emergency!. Three of the stars of The Magnificent Seven (1960) would have early guest roles on the show. Charles Bronson would go onto fame in movies, as would James Coburn. Robert Vaughn would gain eternal fame as Napoleon Solo on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Harry Dean Stanton, who would go onto fame as a character actor in movies, made a guest appearance on Laramie. Lee Van Cleef, who would appear in several spaghetti Westerns, appeared on Laramie as well. Both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, later of Star Trek, and Adam West, later of Batman, guest starred on Laramie. Laramie proved to be a showcase for several young actors who would later have a good deal of success.

While Laramie would not have the success in syndication that such Westerns as Bonanza and Gunsmoke, it would have a lasting impact on television. And it was never entirely forgotten. Airing on Encore Western, Grit TV, and other channels, Laramie has not only been re-introduced to those who saw in its initial network run or reruns, but to a whole new generation of Western fans.