THE WILDCATTERS. “Kelly from Dallas.” Unaired pilot, 30 min. Batjac Productions, 1959. Claude Akins, Sean McClory, L.Q. Jones (as Justice McQueen), Karen Steele, Don Wilson (yes, that Don Wilson), Denver Pyle. Created, written & produced by Burt Kennedy. Directed by Budd Boetticher. Currently available on You Tube (see below).

   Set in WWI-era Texas, three friends work as oil well diggers on spec (that is to say, wildcatters), but their latest venture seems to have gone bust, not because there’s no oil, but the owner of the venture has lost the rights to it to a lady gambler, who has given them only one more day before closing it down.

   Also in opposition to the project is a local cattle rancher who fears that oil, if found, will poison the only watering hole on his land.

   And that’s about there can be said about the story line itself. It’s a jaunty, more than semi-humorous effort, with blaring music, a backfiring contemporaneous automobile, and featuring the beauteous Karen Steele as the lady gambler.

   A highlight of the episode occurs when the three guys barge in on the lady and start to strip down to take a well-needed bath but not noticing that she is already in the tub.

   Mostly an entertaining but essentially inconsequential enterprise, in spite of an excellent cast and high production values. If it had been picked up as a series, one has to wonder how long it would have lasted before running out of stories to tell. This pilot seems to have exhausted most of the possibilities, all in itself.