Lassie and The New Lassie

Lassie (1954-1971)
The New Lassie (1989-1991)
Type: Spin Off

   Man, I swear, with the amount of Lassie projects there have been I think every collie ever born has played that dog at some point. I mean look at the original run of the first Lassie series: 17 years!?! That's a pretty old damn dog. And it's not like Lassie was a puppy in the first episode. Over the years on the first show, ownership of Lassie passed from one owner to the next: from Jeff to orphan Timmy, from Timmy to Cully Wilson, then to Ranger Corey Stuart and then to Scott Turner and Bob Erickson and then finally to just wandering as a stray from town to town. And then, in the final episode, Lassie was struck dead by a car. The final images were a shot of a child in the car yelling "Look mommy, Lassie!" Then cut to a shot of Lassie limply flying through the air with her whistling theme music playing in the background. Okay, that is the biggest nastiest lie of all time. Actually, Lassie kept helping people in first run syndication after CBS tried to put the show to sleep in 1971. It ran there until 1974.

   Cut to 1989. Lassie is back in the syndicated The New Lassie. And it had to be a new Lassie or else that would be one really old and gnarled collie. "Mom, Lassie's trying to make noise and move again. I think she's trying to tell us someone is in trouble. Timmy down the well again girl?"

   Nope. New dog. This Lassie belonged to a boy named Will McCullough. But unlike the other Lassie TV shows and movies that seemed independent of each other, this show actually was part of the same world as the original series. Will's uncle was Steve McCullough, formerly known as orphan Timmy on the old show and still played by Jon Provost. They gave some cock and bull story about Timmy changing his name due to finding his real family or something. I say it's bull. I think Timmy was on the run from the law and so changed his name. Ahh maybe not. But it's a more interesting explanation then the show came up with.

   Another tie to the old show came with a guest appearance by June Lockhart who had played Ruth Martin on the original Lassie. It turned out that the current Lassie was in fact a direct descendent from the old Lassie and Ruth wanted the current Lassie for herself! Uh, okay. First of all, how do you keep track that this is in fact a direct descendent of the original Lassie when all the original cast eventually lost touch with the dog and she became a stray!?! And on that note, what gives with Ruth? She is so devoted to Lassie she has to have the new Lassie for herself but when the original Lassie got inconvenient she dropped her like a bad habit. Aw, that's love. Anyway, she was persuaded to let the kid keep Lassie because LASSIE WAS HIS FREAKIN' DOG! Lots of stories of boys and their dogs, not so many about crazy dog stealing old women and their dogs. And maybe that's the biggest injustice of them all.

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