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How the West Was Fun

Contemporary family Western is soft as mush but salvaged by irresistible 8 -year-old twin moppets Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Contemporary family Western is soft as mush but salvaged by irresistible 8 -year-old twin moppets Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Blond, saucer-eyed Olsen kids charmingly play scheming twins who cajole their widowed father (Patrick Cassidy) out West in order to protect an old woman’s dude ranch from land developers.

The girls, without being saccharine or tiresomely cute, are so focused and watchable they would melt W.C. Fields’ heart.

Credit director Stuart Margolin for affable, synchronized achievements with the child stars. Another plus is the enjoyably callow Martin Mull. He plays the nasty son of the sweet old ranch owner (Peg Phillips) who plots behind her back to turn her pristine haven into a raunchy, concrete Western theme park.

Mull’s war with the twins, whom he sneeringly calls “little creeps,” is the heart of Jurgen Wolff’s otherwise pedestrian teleplay.

On the tech side, kudos to Canadian cameraman Richard Leiterman’s occasional grand vistas of the cinematic Calgary country.

Young female viewers will no doubt identify with these resourceful sisters, but, for others, the helming is generally routine and doesn’t light up the family/juvenile market.

How the West Was Fun

(Sat. (19), 8-10 p.m., ABC)

  • Production: Filmed in Calgary, Alberta, by Dualstar Prods. and Green/Epstein Prods., in association with Kicking Horse Prods. and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Jim Green, Allen Epstein; producer, Adria Later; director, Stuart Margolin; writer, Jurgen Wolff.
  • Crew: Camera, Richard Leiterman; production design, Rick Roberts; editor, David Blangsted; costume design, WendyPartridge; sound, Daryl Powell; music, Richard Bellis.
  • Cast: Cast: Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Martin Mull, Peg Phillips, Patrick Cassidy, Ben Cardinal, Michele Greene, Leon Pownall, Georgie Collins.
  • Music By: