On April 12th, 1997 as a sort of joint birthday relaxation weekend, Mikey humored me and took me up to Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica mountains where Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was filmed. (This was to be my first visit of many that I would make before we departed for Japan and before CBS decided to bow to the powers of the marketing world and take Dr. Quinn off the air.) We arrived at the Raddison in Agoura Hills on Saturday afternoon (late) and got settled in. From there we cased out the park area, did some roaming around and then headed out for supper. On Sunday morning, after a relaxing breakfast, we wandered over to the Park and checked out the sets for my favorite television show (and about the only one I watch).
Sunday was a leisurely day as there was no filming on the set. Consequently, we got to roam around all the sets, sit on the porch of the homestead and Preston's Spa and idle for lunch at Grace's café. The temperature was warm although very hot and we managed to find some cool breezes while we wandered, read a bit, ate a bit and generally relaxed. Sunday night we ventured out to a movie (I can't even remember which one we saw).
Monday morning we were up early and raring to go. After a hearty breakfast at IHOP, we headed back over to Paramount Ranch only to find that they were starting off the day by filming at the homestead. We hung out at the big Tree in the round-a-bout for quite a while and watched them set up. Most of the filming was done inside the homestead with only a brief stint outside. Even the filming outside wasn't very revealing. We could hear Brian hollering that Daniel was coming and see John Schneider ride up to the homestead .... Many many times......
While we hung out at the Tree, we met some other DQMW list members and talked about the show, the potential changes and life in general. It turns one two of them were from my neck of the woods (San Diego) and we struck up a friendship.
Mike and I ultimately got hungry and wandered back into town so that we could head out and pick up some lunch. Not wanting to miss anything (they were - theoretically - due to start filming in town by 2pm.) we hit the nearest deli, grabbed sandwiches and headed back to the town of Colorado Springs (California style).
Well, they didn't start filming in town until nearly 4:30pm and were at it right up until 7pm when we finally called it quits (as did the film crews). The episode they were working on was the first episode of the new season to start in September 1997. Sully is missing and presumed dead and Matthew has given up his job as sheriff to help Michaela search for him. Loren is chasing a petty thief out the front of the general store and commiserating about the state of the town without a sheriff with Jake and the Reverend.
Well, the drive home went reasonably well. We grabbed supper from the closest fast food joint and headed back to San Diego. Traffic was light and we made the trip in record time.
My next trip to the Ranch occurred during the first part of June. I drove up with Trudy........ For this trip, I had my new "Lando Lover" T-shirt. This trip, I met, through Trudy, William Shockley who plays Hank on the show and we also spent some time talking with John Schneider who will reprise his role for the season as Sully's friend Daniel.
Most of the filming for the day was done at the school house and revolved around the epidemic ravaging Colorado Springs. We were kept quite a distance away from the filming and really couldn't hear very much. We took the opportunity to view the filming and to chat amongst ourselves about the Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood for Jane Seymour, the arrival of John Schneider as a cast member and other DQMW related topics.
They finished filming in town with a brief trip into town by Jane & family riding in the buckboard. Once they finished up, we headed for supper and then home.
My third trip to the Ranch with Trudy occurred the day before final shooting for the summer. Trudy made me a shirt with both Joe's & William's pictures on it in bright pink so we certainly were eye catching. We didn't have high hopes of catching anyone we knew but Trudy was trying to get autographs, etc. for her friend Pat Brown who interviewed various members of the cast for KYXY Radio here in San Diego. Pat was leaving KyXy for a teaching career. She was also hoping to give Joe Lando his wedding gift. Well, we got lucky as far as the other cast members go, but not so lucky with Joe. He was still consigned to the dreaded "Cave" and went directly from his trailer to the cave in the very late afternoon.
When we arrived, filming was being done in the saloon with Mrs. Quinn and Rebecca along with other cast members. We were lucky enough to talk with Frank Collison (Horace) for a while. This episode, which is the Thanksgiving episode, continued the saga of the epidemic (this is where Horace was originally supposed to die off) in which we will lose some of our towns' people. During a break Frank came over and talked to Trudy and I and later posed for pictures with us. Trudy got Frank's signature on the card for Pat along with Jason's, and some others.
The filming for the rest of the day was done inside the Clinic. All the extras and cast members gathered inside the coral that surrounds Grace's. We watched from the sidelines as they pumped cold air into that small building, turned it off, shot the scenes and turned the a/c back on. As various cast members wandered in and out of the area, Trudy was able to get the rest of the signatures for Pat Brown.
We hung around quite a while waiting for our contact to set up the long awaited meeting with Joe Lando only to discover that she hadn't been able to. She gave us directions to the Cave but we weren't able to get close enough to see anything or even have the possibility of talking with him when he came up in between breaks. So Trudy left the gift she brought with a crew member and we headed off for a late supper and the long drive home.
All in all the trips were fun but require a great deal of patience. There is a lot of standing around waiting to set up shots, to reshoot scenes sometimes with many takes per scene. Most of the time we couldn't really see much and got only a gist of what was happening. It's not something I have the patience to do on a regular basis but I did enjoy the chances to socialize and definitely liked the opportunity to relax.