They, their wives and families, who all share a log cabin, have moved to Texas from the Carolinas to ranch and to skip the Civil War.
Oddly, the ex-Carolinians speak in only moderate Southern accents. Now smalltime ranchers, they discover the Army’s too busy with the Civil War to protect settlers against Indians, who are intent on driving them all out by killing them or taking them hostage.
All the assembled Johnsons, a pointedly bigoted guest Fitzpatrick (Chris Benson) and his family are sitting ducks.
The Comanches and the Kiowas swoop down and scoop up the women and children. Since he’s black and the Indians respect blacks, Britt, who’s given the name Black Fox by the Indians, volunteers to parley with the Kiowas’ chief about trading the hostages for horses.
The opening telefilm of the series — other entries air on successive Fridays — as directed by Steven H. Stern doesn’t set up much of a challenge to Reeve in this vidpic, one of the three made before his accident.
Alan proclaims his brotherhood with Britt too much and stupidly follows Britt into the wilderness when Britt doesn’t return from his mission. Janet Bailey, playing Britt’s strong, caring wife Mary, gives a strong perf.
Todd works his role for all it’s worth, which is limiting. Raoul Trujillo as English-speaking Kiowa Running Dog is OK, as is Nancy Sorel’s Sarah, Alan’s wife.
The camerawork is fine, and Ron Wisman’s editing is solid. Production designer John Blackie, shrewdly using Alberta locationing for Texas plains and slopes, gives the telefilm an authentic feel.
But “Black Fox” so far lacks much excitement. Diehard cowboy-and-Indian fans may take to the first chapter and come back for more; on the other hand, they might find it pretty thin going.