The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (tv)

The Boston Phoenix


REVIEWED: 12-01-97

Taken from The Boston Phoenix's "Character Sketches," a celebration of viewers' favorite TV characters. Click here for the full article.

You think these are the dog days of TV? Flash back to the '50s, the Golden Age of the Canine. I'm talking Cleo, the basset hound on The People's Choice; wire-haired Asta on the Motorola version of The Thin Man; Bullet being upstaged by Trigger on The Roy Rogers Show; a funny Saint Bernard on Topper -- what was his name? [Editor's note: Neil.] But the big two had their own pooch shows, both debuting in 1954: Lassie and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

As a kid, I liked Lassie, but I didn't love him/her. The androgyny was a wee bit confusing, and the pettable collie was just too tail-wagging sucky, protecting frail little Timmy and Gramps and Timmy's kindly mom. However, I adored Rin Tin Tin, that sleek, no-nonsense, unsentimental German shepherd. The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin was set, appropriately, in a boy's idyllic adventureland, a fort in the Old West. The cavalry officer in charge was reliable Lieutenant Rip Masters; hilarious comedy was provided by Sergeant Biff O'Hara; and the boy was the fabulous, freckle-faced Rusty, who got to wear a mini-cavalry outfit and have an honorary title: Corporal Rusty.

And Rusty set Rin Tin Tin in motion. Has TV ever again been so glorious as at the moment when a sullen bad guy idiotically pulled a gun, or a renegade Indian foolishly went to shoot with his bow and arrow, and Rusty unleashed his mighty dog with the immortal command "Yo-o-o-o RINTY!!!"? Rin Tin Tin made like Superman and flew through the air, teeth landing deep in the wrist of the villain. The West was saved!

At the end of each episode, Rusty would get on his knees to hug his dog, and the other series regulars would gather around in tribute. I approved, a true believer in Rin Tin Tin's omnipotence. Years later, I met a skeptic who told me, seriously, that he became a permanent atheist from watching The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. "I realized that the ridiculous way everyone worshiped Rinty was the way everyone bowed and scraped before a supposed God," he told me.

Film Vault Suggested Links
Teletubbies (tv)
Barney and Friends (tv)
The Disney Dream Factory

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