Classic TV Scripts: ‘Johnny Nuance’ By Iowahawk
Although it ran a scant 13 episodes, the western series ‘Johnny Nuance’ still prompts fond memories among baby boomers who followed the exciting weekly adventures of the treaty-slinging frontier diplomat. Featuring former matinee idol Lash LaDouche in the title role, the series debuted on CBS on March 4, 1958 as a mid-season replacement for the low rated ‘Walter Cronkite Presents Hackleigh Rich Tobacco Flavor Playhouse.” After its brief run, it was replaced by the SciFi classic ‘Enigma Sector.’
Lash LaDouche went on to star in several other short-lived CBS series, including the 1964 sitcom ‘I Married a Hag,’ the 1968 variety show ‘Flip Out,’ and the gritty 1975 police drama ‘Torino Squad.’ He retired from acting in 1978 to found the LaDouche Winery in St. Helena, California, but is still frequently recognized by fans — an experience he relishes.
“I am proud of my work on Johnny Nuance,” says LaDouche. “The scripts might have been awful, but we taught youngsters that you didn’t have to be violent, or foolhardy, or particularly courageous to be a hero.”
EPISODE SEVEN: SHOWDOWN AT SILVERANGO CANYON
THEME (sung by Eddie Fontaine and the Frontiersmenaires)
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
From the shores of Martha’s Vineyard he rode his horse out West,
With a treaty in his holster and a medal on his chest,
Bringing law and justice to a wild and violent land,
Talking was his creed and sanctions were his brand!
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance! (Hyahhh!)
Outlaws feared his blazing pen!
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Nuance… brought to you by Twenty Oxen Team Bleacho.
ACT I – TROUBLE BREWS
Scene 1 – The poker table at the Wild Baguette Wine Saloon
BARKEEP CLEM: I think you’re bluffing Johhny, I call.
JOHNNY: Read ‘em and weep Clem.. a pair of one-eyed jacks.
BARKEEP CLEM: What the…? You done out-thunk me agin, Johnny!
MISS TERESA: Eets no use, Clem. Johnny Nuance has the magic touch.
JOHNNY: No magic, Teresa. I learned to play poker the same time I learned how to fight – back in Antietam. The memories are seared, seared into my memory… me and my band of brothers were taking a clandestine canoe mission up Cripple Creek for a showdown with Johnny Reb, when…
(Old Chuckwagon Pete bursts through the saloon doors)
CHUCKWAGON: Johnny! Johnny! You gotta git out to Silverango Canyon!
JOHNNY: Get yourself together, Chuckwagon – where’s the fire?
CHUCKWAGON: Marshall Hayes needs your help, and pronto! That durned jackass got hisself into a gunfight with that desperado gang from up there in Sandy Flats!
JOHNNY: That fool! I told him that taking on the Sandy Flats would be nothing but trouble! I told him they had nothing to do with that dynamite attack on the Mercantile Bank! I told him not to go, right after I told him to go!
CHUCKWAGON: I tells ya it’s a quagmire, Johnny. A real quagmire!
JOHNNY: You don’t have to tell me, Chuckwagon! I fought in Antietam. Where’s the Marshall?
CHUCKWAGON: Silverango Canyon!
JOHNNY: I know what I have to do. Chuckwagon, fetch my golden fountain pen.
Scene 2: Exterior of Saloon – Johnny on Horse
MISS TERESA: Please don’t go, Johnny! It’s not your battle!
JOHNNY: I learned a little lesson back in ‘Tam, Miss Teresa. I learned that it’s always my battle. In fact I remember it as if it were yesterday… my band of brothers was surrounded on all sides by Jeb Stuart’s boys, and I was the only one who could save them. Luckily I had my lucky hat, personally given to me by General Meade. I carefully reviewed the situation and sprung into action….
MISS TERESA (sobbing): Go, Johnny! Just go!
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Nuance will continue after this message from our sponsor.
COMMERCIAL SPOT ONE
LASH LADOUCHE: Hi everybody, this is Lash LaDouche, star of TV’s ‘Johnny Nuance.’ After a hard day on the set, my costume takes quite a beating – trail dust, horse perspiration, not to mention hard-to-treat ink and wine stains. That’s why my wardrobe crew at Catamount Pictures insists on Twenty Oxen Team Bleacho for the studio laundry.
VOICE OVER: Watch as the secret cleaning ingredient in Twenty Oxen Team Bleacho repels ground-in dirt safely back beyond the de-soilized zone, like a United Nations peacekeeping force.
LASH LADOUCHE: remember gals, get the laundry brand personally endorsed by UN Secretary Dag Hammarskjold – get Twenty Oxen Team Bleacho. Now with a free pack of Lady Tarboro filters in every box!
ACT II – RIDGE OVER SILVERANGO CANYON
Scene 1 – Johnny Arrives amid furious shootout
MARSHALL HAYES: Nuance! I never thought you would pitch in against these outlaws! Now grab a rifle and commence a-shootin’!
JOHNNY: Don’t flatter yourself, Marshall! If I were sheriff we wouldn’t be here in the first place. And also, I would be shooting better.
HAYES: Do you mind, Nuance? Me and the boys are a little busy here.
JOHNNY: You call this collection of drunks and layabouts a posse?
HAYES: Can it Nuance, we’ve got desperados to kill!
JOHNNY: Listen to me Marshall, I know something about desperate, no-win situations. Need I remind you that while you were dallying with the dance hall girls at Fort Sheridan, I was off fighting a little thing called ‘Antietam’?
DESPERADO (running): I can’t take it anymore! Arrgghh!
HAYES: Got ‘em!
JOHNNY: You fool – don’t you see? Killing them only encourages them! You’ve got to start engaging in constructive dialogue!
HAYES: Nuance! Get back here, man! Where do you think you’re going?
JOHNNY (mounting horse): To Fort Escargot, to get the only man who can save you!
HAYES: No, not him…
JOHNNY: Yes, Marshall. Lucky Pierre.
(Johnny rides to the horizon)
ANNOUNCER: Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Johnny Nuance after these messages.
COMMERCIAL SPOT TWO
VOICE OVER: Saddle up, buckaroos! Now you too can be an old west diplomat with the Johnny Nuance Deluxe Junior Negotiator Kit. It comes complete with authentic letters of reprimand, humanitarian aid resolutions, an official Johnny Nuance golden fountain pen and attache case!
BOY #1: Sign the cease-fire, Deadeye Dan… I’ve got you economically sanctioned!
BOY #2: Says who?
BOY #1: Says my broad multilateral coalition, that’s who!
CROWD OF BOYS: We pledge our support!
BOY #2: Grrr! I’m peacefully boxed in!
VOICE OVER: The Johnny Nuance Deluxe Junior Negotiator Kit from Plastico – now at Woolworths and wherever fine toys are sold.
ACT III: PEACE IN THE VALLEY
Scene 1 – Pierre’s Trading Post, Fort Escargot
PIERRE: So you say Marshall Hayes is in quite a peekle, eh Johnny?
JOHNNY: I’m afraid so, Pierre. He’s really riled the Sandy Flats boys.
PIERRE: And why brings you to Pierre, eh?
JOHNNY: Because you’re the only one who can help, Pierre. You know the Sandy Flats gang, you know what makes them tick. You’ve traded with them. In fact, I think they were firing some of your rifles.
PIERRE: Johnny, Johnny. You know Pierre wants to help you, but how can I when this silly Marshall Hayes will not let Pierre trade for the Sandy Flats oil?
JOHNNY: You drive a hard bargain Pierre. Sign here.
Scene 2 – Back at the Saloon
MISS TERESA (hugging Johnny’s neck): Oh Johnny, The guns have stopped! I could kiss you!
JOHNNY: Easy there, Miss Teresa. Peace is my business.
BARKEEP CLEM: I gotta hand it to you, Johnny. Thanks to you, all the shootin’s done stopped agin! Just how did you do it?
JOHNNY: Well Clem, all it took was a little tact, a little diplomacy, and a little help from our little French friend. I brought in old Pierre to reason things out with the Sandy Flats boys. After doin’ some horse tradin’, Pierre convinced them fellers to hold fire until next Thursday. That gave us our chance to retreat!
PIERRE: Oh Johnny, mes ami, you know I would do anything for you.
JOHNNY: You don’t have to tell me about friendship, Pierre. I learned the meaning of friendship back in Antietam, from my beloved band of brothers. They know the real truth, that my medals are real, that I was unjustly branded by the Ironclad Veterans For Truth, that I…
PIERRE: Say Johnny, could I interest you in a friendly game of poker? I suddenly came into a large amount of oil money.
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
With a blue hat on his head and Mont Blanc on his hip,
He’s laying down the law with a diplomatic whip (Crack!)
Taming Western badmen with the wisdom of the East,
He’s searching every channel to make a fragile peace!
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance! (Hyahhh!)
Outlaws feared his mighty pen!
If you enjoyed this satire by Iowahawk, you can read more of his work here.