Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Based on the classic 1960 western movie of the same name (which in turn was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's epic The Seven Samurai), the weekly, hour-long The Magnificent Seven first rode onto the CBS primetime schedule on January 3, 1998. In slightly more "PC" spin on the 1960 film's plotline, in which the villain was a snarling Mexican bandido, the titular seven gunfighters were brought together to safeguard a friendly tribe of Seminoles from an insane ex-Confederate officer and his minions. This done, the Magnificent Seven decided to remain in the town of Four Corners for the purpose of protecting the innocent, punishing the guilty, and in general righting the wrongs blighting the landscape of the Great Frontier. Michael Biehn headed the cast as the group's grim-visaged, Eastwoodish leader Chris Larrabee, a former gun-for-hire who felt responsible for the murders of his loved ones and intended to devote the rest of his life doing penance for past sins. The rest of the Seven included Chris' best friend Vin Tanner (Eric Close), a taciturn sharpshooter who hoped to bury his past as a bounty hunter, if only his many enemies would let him; Buck Wilmington (Dale Midkiff), the group's resident womanizer; Josiah Sanchez (Ron Perlman), a former priest who lost the calling after killing a man in self defense, and who assumed the guise of a "mad prophet" to strike terror in the hearts of the bad guys; Ezra Standish (Anthony Starke), a Southern-born gambler, con artist and all-around cynic, and the only true "mercenary" in the bunch; Nathan Jackson (Rick Worthy), a former slave who threw a mean knife, and who by virtue of serving in an all-black Union field hospital during the Civil War was Four Corners' unofficial doctor; and J.D. Dunne (Andrew Kavovit), a callow young New Yorker who claimed to be a man of wealth but wasn't, and who'd gone west seeking the sort of excitement he'd read about in dime novels. Unlike the original film, the TV series included a brace of female leads. Laurie Holden played Mary Travis, widowed publisher of Four Corners' newspaper "The Daily Clarion" and off-and-on sweetheart of Chirs Larrabee; and Dana Barron) was seen as the hoydenish Casey, who was sweet on J.D. (at least during Season Two). Carried over from the film version of Magnificent Seven were executive producer Walter Mirisch, the unforgettable theme music by Elmer Bernstein, and one of the original stars, Robert Vaughn, here cast in the entirely different role of Mary's father, Judge Orin Travis, who'd brought the Seven together in the first place. During Season Tow, the arrival of a federal marshal obliged Judge Travis to split up the Seven and order them to cease their peacekeeping activities, but our heroes still managed to converge covertly when the necessity arose. Lasting two seasons and 19 episodes on CBS, The Magnificent Seven: The Series was cancelled on July 30, 1999. Four previously unseen episodes were telecast in 2000, by which time the series had been picked up for rerun play by cable's TNN channel.