Beverly Hills, Western
As a western fan if is hard not to deride modern made for TV westerns, rarely are they gritty and more often than not rely on an easy going nature with pretty actors and an unrealistic wholesomeness. But the irony is that whilst they don't come close to the gun toting action of the 40s and 50s westerns they are still entertaining, you could say they are today's equivalent of the 50s b-westerns. That brings me to "Goodnight for Justice" which this may surprise you is the first of 3 made for TV westerns about circuit judge John Goodnight and to add to that surprise it not only stars Luke Perry but is directed by his "Beverly Hills, 90210" buddy Jason Priestley. It is completely typical of modern made for TV westerns, easy going, false and a little bit cheesy yet still strangely entertaining.
As a child John Goodnight (Luke Perry - The Pledge) witnessed the murder of his mother and father and now having grown up he finds himself as a circuit judge sent to Wyoming where he hopes to track down the man responsible for their deaths. His journey sees him travel from town to town dealing with the petty crimes, domestic rows as well as issues of racism till eventually he finds himself in the town of Crooked Stick where he not only meets the pretty Kate Ramsey (Lara Gilchrist - Meteor Storm) but also businessman Dan Reed (Ron Lea) who basically owns the town and with an old leg injury makes John suspicious.
I won't lie because "Goodnight for Justice" is pretty stereotypical of modern made for TV westerns from the unoriginal story to the way it comes across. As such for the most those who like their westerns will find themselves presented with various cliches thrown together from John being a man haunted by the murder he witnessed as a child to his need for revenge to be able to move on. Add to that a typical plot line which sees him save and fall for the pretty Kate whilst then having to deal with a town run by an evil business man and you have nothing but familiarity. But there is an exception because we have a twist and not a bad one at that because it forces John to deal with his feelings towards Kate.
Now all of this typical storyline comes across in a typical easy going manner with the character of John made to be a classic hero figure with the weight of the past haunting him. We see him be the lone man in the west treating everyone fairly no matter what the colour of their skin and when he can't dispense the ruling he would like to in the courtroom he does so in private later on. All of which is done in a semi humorous manner with John being quiet but sure of himself, world weary but also sharp and afraid of no one. Compared to the westerns of the 50s it is cheesy especially when it comes to him being a lover, but at the same time it is kind of entertaining for being cheesy.
The daft thing is that whilst the easy going nature of "Goodnight for Justice" makes it cheesy Luke Perry does strike a good pose as a lawman. Okay he looks a bit clean with his bright waistcoat but he has a Clint Eastwood look going on but one which is softer and friendlier. And Perry works well with Lara Gilchrist who together have this wonderful playfulness going on when it comes to the relationship between John and Kate. Although the scene stealer is in many ways Ron Lea as Dan Reed because he plays the corrupt businessman not as some dastardly figure but as a confident thug not afraid to dish out a beating.
What this all boils down to is that "Goodnight for Justice" is a stereotypical made for TV western which has an easy going nature and plenty of prettiness. It doesn't compare well to westerns of the 40s and 50s even those b-westerns but is on par with the modern trend of easy to watch made for TV westerns.