I’ve wanted to write about this unsold pilot for a little while it took me some time to dig up enough information about it to fill out a Spotlight. Actually, it took some time just to figure out it was an unsold pilot. I initially thought there was a TV series called Mr. Preach starring Fess Parker. But I couldn’t find any information about it. Once I realized that Mr. Preach was an early title for a proposed CBS series called The Code of Jonathan West, I was able to do some research and learn a little more about it. I was never able to find out when or why the name was changed, however.
The series would have followed a former Confederate officer named Jonathan West (played by Parker) as he traveled the American West searching for purpose and meaning. The pilot episode itself was called “The Aftermath” and was set in April 1865 during the last days of the Civil War. The plot involved West trying to learn the truth about a murder and stop a lynching.
The Code of Jonathan West sounds a lot like ABC’s western series The Rebel with Nick Adams, which premiered in October 1959. From 1965-1966, CBS aired a similar series called The Loner, which starred Lloyd Bridges as a former Union officer wandering the west. Rod Serling created that series, which ran for 26 episodes.
You can read the entire spotlight here.