I first encountered RAWHIDE sometime during the 1980s, and like many I watched the repeats of the show that Channel 4 screened in the late 1990s. I was very impressed with the show and for a while watching it became a regular fixture of my weekends. Consequently, I'm enormously pleased that Paramount have begun to release the show onto a home video format.
At times, there's an odd, abstract quality about the series, as if the drovers are wandering through purgatory; some of the shows feature plot-points that verge on those you might expect to see in a horror film. For example, in one episode in the middle of nowhere a young drover stumbles across a man who has been hung upside down and disfigured with fire; and in another early episode, the herd is followed by a mysterious gunfighter (played by the great Dan Duryea). This abstract quality is reinforced by the fact that whatever problems the drovers stumble across, at the end of every episode they must continue to push the herd forwards: they are rootless, and unlike the heroes of many Western films and television shows the protagonists of this series are simply working men. They make mistakes; and if they are hit or shot, they are clearly wounded.
When I watched the show at a younger age, I saw Eastwood's Rowdy Yates as the star of the show, and it's hard not to let Eastwood's subsequent fame eclipse the other actors' roles in the series. However, revisiting the series, Eric Fleming steals the majority of the episodes: Gil Favor is the pivot around which most of the action revolves, and his background is shrouded in mystery.
I sincerely hope that Paramount decide to continue with the DVD releases of this well-loved series.