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Showdown in Yesteryear is an amusing title that made me think about the classic Star Trek episode, “Spectre of the Gun.” The set design and concept that’s presented isn’t in verbatim but as for what’s real or imagined, that’s up to Daryl Dumwoody (Jeff Grennell) to decide. The fact this work is set in the Wild West was enough for me to want to check it out!
This character is a nobody in a dead end job where he can easily get forgotten. After being dumped by his girlfriend and losing that work, he’s ready to end it all. But when a magical door appears before him–a common enough trope used in various anime, namely Suzume no Tojimari–it’s perhaps a sign for him to look into who he is deep inside. Instead, what he walks through is a portal to the past, his hometown some 120 years ago.
Although there’s more people wandering around Dogwood, there’s trouble looming! Jesse ‘The Beast’ Bristol (Jesse Marciniak) wants control of this town, and who he works for is a robber baron who doesn’t get enough screen time to do this story justice. When Dumwoody gets involved, that’s when the tale earns its legs. Thankfully, the fish out of water elements don’t get overplayed. While there’s a few Back to the Future type jokes being made for the expense it has to be done, thankfully the dialogue isn’t as corny as when Marty McFly lied about his name.
Although Darryl wants to be called The Duke, only viewers get the joke. There’s another reference to equate him to Deputy Fife (Andy Griffith Show), and that may have been overkill since he’s supposed to be a dimwit.
Instead, I see him as just a guy who got a bum rap in life. Nobody can find happiness unless they make the effort. His passion for John Wayne films is no different from those who love anime and want to decorate their media cave with souvenirs. As a side note, Steve Graf, who plays Sheriff Dobbs, voiced Al in Dominion Tank Police more than a decade ago. Some may say it has a Wild West vibe too, and this is an amusing piece of trivia to advertise.
Meanwhile, law enforcement can only do so much to keep the peace. After kicking out the previous deputy, he’s looking for a new hire, and Darryl hopes he can take the position. But without the training, he can’t pass the torch right away. In what’s presented as a film is a fairly good character building story. This ne’er-do-well becomes a hero when he’s given a second chance at life. We don’t need any Quantum Leap style explanations on why this is happening.
Although that means a twist to the usual climax, I rather enjoyed how this story builds to that moment. Dumwoody is no idiot when it comes to realising that home is where the heart is. As for where he belongs, the finale isn’t all that surprising.
4 Stars out of 5