- The Gospel Bill Show
show_name = The Gospel Bill Show
Title cardfor the show.
format = Christian children's program, Western
runtime = 30 minutes
Willie George Ken Blount Jeff Merrill(1986-1993) Lana Osborn Daine Demaree(until 1990) John Witty(1990-1993)
network = syndicated
"The Gospel Bill Show" is a Christian-values based television show that was produced by
Willie George Ministriesfrom 1981to 1993. It was broadcast on CBN and TBN, and is currently seen on Daystar, Smile of a Child, and in syndication on other small Christian television stations.
* Gospel Bill (
Willie George) – the sheriff of Dry Gulch. Bill serves both as representative of the law and as moral guidance counselor to the citizens of Dry Gulch.
* Nicodemus (Ken Blount) – deputy and sidekick of Gospel Bill. Nicodemus was once a drunk of ill-repute who was sobered up by Bill and reaffirmed as a born-again Christian. Nicodemus is easily swayed by various shysters, but Gospel Bill serves as his moral compass when temptations arise.
* Miss Lana (Lana Osborn) – runs the town's general store, which doubles as a telegraph office. She serves as the town's maternal figure, although in the series she is not known to have any husband or children.
* Elmer Barnes (Jeff Merrill) – a citizen of Dry Gulch who is friends with the main characters. He is portrayed as somewhat mentally challenged and is often confused on Biblical matters. He has two pet worms, Inky and Dinky (which he often carries on his person, though they are
unseen characters) and his primary concern is "goin' fishin'".
* T. U. Tutwater (Daine Demaree) – the mayor of Dry Gulch as well as the president of the Dry Gulch Bank and Trust. He represented secular interests such as pride and greed and usually mocked Gospel Bill's religious views, though he would not engage in illegal acts. In later episodes, Demaree (who moved to California to pastor a church) was replaced by John Witty and the character's name was changed to T. W. Tutwater.
* Luther Bedlow (also played by George, but credited as "himself") – the stock
villainof the show. He usually attempts to engage in criminal activity but is always foiled by Gospel Bill.
* Orville Cornpone (
Rodney Lynch) – served in early episodes as Bedlow's dim-witted henchmanwho would usually cause Bedlow to be unsuccessful in his criminal activities. Cornpone later experienced a religious conversion (courtesy of Gospel Bill) and thereafter played a morally upstanding character (though Bedlow would attempt to recruit him back to villainy).
* Miss Trudi Lou (Trudi Blount) – a minor character to whom Nicodemus often refers as the woman he hopes to woo someday. (Trudi Blount is Ken Blount's real life wife.)
* Ferman Farnsworth (Willie George; though often credited as "himself") – a minor character (though often referenced) who played Nicodemus' boss.
* Barkamaeus – an anthropomorphic human-sized talking dog who wore a cowboy hat and vest. He only appeared in early episodes of the show.
Before the Elmer Barnes character was introduced, Jeff Merrill appeared on early episodes of the show as a geological surveyor, who advised Luther Bedlow of gold deposits to be found underneath Dry Gulch.
John Witty and Rodney Lynch also appeared as the town doctor in several episodes.
The Gospel Bill Show was set in the fictional town of Dry Gulch, portrayed as being in the Old West. However, there were many anachronistic references to the present day, such as television and answering machine, which did not exist back when the show was supposed to be set. Dry Gulch was so named because the citizens voted it as a "dry" city (i.e., one which prohibited alcohol sales).
The show would center around a topic, where Gospel Bill would be heavily involved in providing moral guidance to one of the citizens (usually Nicodemus or Elmer Barnes) and/or preventing catastrophe (mainly stopping Luther Bedlow's criminal activities).
Oogene and Jeannie Mae segments
A typical episode would be interrupted several times by puppet segments depicting Biblical stories as well as the adventures of Oogene, a young boy who squabbles with his sister Jeannie Mae (but the fights are always resolved by a moral lesson) and narrates "Oogene at the Zoo," in which Oogene studies an animal and relates its role to a lesson from the Bible ("Oogene at the Farm" replaced the "Oogene at the Zoo" segment in some later episodes). Segments with Oogene and Jeannie tend to be unique, but the zoo and farm field pieces are repeated frequently throughout the series as filler for the show. Willie George voiced the majority of the various
puppet skits, most notably Oogene and his sister Jeannie Mae.
Music video and lesson
The episode would also feature a Christian song and music video (usually by Ken Blount) towards the end of the show. Sometimes he would appear in character as Nicodemus, but often he will appear as himself, singing about a dramatic story which is acted out by others. Some of the music videos not contributed by Blount included the songs, "We've Got the Power" by longtime KCM worship leader
Len Minkand "It's God" by Kellie Copeland-Kutz(daughter of Kenneth Copeland), as well as "The Joy of the Lord" where Blount is joined by unnamed puppets wearing blue and orange-striped shirts. An unknown band was occasionally seen opposite Blount in some later videos.
At the end of most shows, Gospel Bill reappeared with props in hand to spell out a lesson to the viewer, generally relating to the main plot of the episode. He would often use the props as a visual aid to demonstrate a particular concept he is emphasizing. In some later episodes, Nicodemus will give the lesson instead of Gospel Bill.
Adventures in Dry Gulch
Later episodes of the show were titled as "Adventures in Dry Gulch" rather than "The Gospel Bill Show", many of which did not feature Willie George at all. Instead, Nicodemus would be in charge while Gospel Bill is "out of town" on some unspecified task.
Dry Gulch, USA
Shortly after "The Gospel Bill Show" hit the airwaves, Willie George opened "
Dry Gulch, USA" in Adair, Oklahoma. Dry Gulch is a Western-themed camp for children. [ [http://www.drygulchusa.com Dry Gulch USA official website] ]
Willie George Ministries launched three direct-to-video spin-offs of "The Gospel Bill show":
The Candy Store": A program for pre-schoolers that featured Miss Lana and Nicodemus as well as a newcomer, Lefty Wright ( Jim Wideman).
Bill Gunter, U.S. Marshal": A more traditional western-style program that was shot on location at "Dry Gulch, USA". Gospel Bill is re-named Bill Gunter, while the other characters retain their names. "Bill Gunter, U.S. Marshal" is not as campy as The Gospel Bill Show, and takes itself much more seriously.
The Cimarron Trail": This was the last Show that was mainly sold at COTM on VHS. This show had more intense story lines. Bill Gunter, Nicodemus, and Elmer spend more time out of "town" in silver city and out in the wilderness chasing down the outlaws. While they are gone Lefty Wright takes on another role of sheriff in addition to running the barber shop and being the undertaker.
The Wichita Slim Trilogy
In addition to the aforementioned spinoffs, there were also three related movies. The cast was left mainly intact, but the Gospel Bill/Bill Gunter character was now teamed up with (now U.S. Marshall) Wichita Slim (
* "The Gunslinger", which revolves around a shooting where Wichita Slim is injured and loses his memory, causing him to temporarily revert to his outlaw ways. (This was the only movie in the trilogy to be completed during the show's run)
Covenant Rider" involves the two Marshalls efforts to rescue Bill Gunter's nephew, who was kidnapped by outlaws associated with Saul Gillespe (guest star: fellow televangelist Jesse Duplantis).
The Treasure of Eagle Mountain" concerns a treasure left by a retired (and seriously wounded) lawman to his jaded son, and the efforts to find it. (The name is a reference to Eagle Mountain Lake, located near Copeland's ministry headquarters northwest of Fort Worth, Texas.)
Andy Merrill, now known for voicing many characters on original Cartoon Network/ Adult Swimseries such as " Space Ghost Coast to Coast" and " Aqua Teen Hunger Force", was once on the technical crew of "The Gospel Bill Show". [ [http://movies.ign.com/articles/440/440886p1.html movies.ign.com: interview with Andy Merrill] ]
Fire By Nite" (another Christian youth television program from Willie George)
* [http://www.tbn.org/index.php/2/4/p/121.html TBN's Webpage For The Gospel Bill Show]
* [http://www.williegeorgeministries.com/?sn=11 Willie George Ministries]
* [http://www.kenblountministries.com. Ken Blount Ministries]
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