Heartland aired from March until July 1989 on CBS.
B.L. McKutcheon ( Brian Keith) was the Nebraska cornfields version of Archie Bunker-a cranky opinionated , but somehow lovable bigot-in this labored 1980's version of All in the Family meets The Real McCoys. A widower who's farm had been taken over by the bank when he couldn't keep up the payments , B.L. had moved in with his daughter , Casey and her family. Although he loved Casey ( Kathleen Layman) and doted on his grandchildren, B.L. just couldn't seem to get along with his son-in-law Tom ( Richard Gilliland). The oldest of the Stafford children , Johnny ( Jason Kristofer), was a TV addict who wanted desperately to move to Southern California; Gus ( Devin Ratray) was a stereotypical if incredibly clumsy, young farm boy; and Kim ( played by Brian Keith's daughter Daisy Keith) was their intellectual adopted Asian daughter.
In a sad set of circumstances Daisy Keith shot and killed herself on April 17, 1997. Two months later her father, famed actor Brian Keith, who was also suffering from emphysema and lung cancer shot and killed himself as well.
A Review from The New York Times
a Lovable Bigot
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: March 20, 1989
For ''Heartland,'' at 8:30 P.M., think of Archie Bunker being shipped out to Nebraska farm country. He is now being played by Brian Keith and is called B. L. McCutcheon -grumpy, ornery and, you'd better believe it, thigh-slappingly cute. Having lost his own farm, B. L. now lives with his daughter, Chris (Kathleen Layman), and her husband, Tom (Richard Gilliland). B. L. doesn't have much use for Tom but is partial to his three grandchildren: Johnny (Jason Kristopher), who would rather live in swank Beverly Hills; Kim (Daisy Keith), an adopted Vietnamese child (who is indeed Mr. Keith's real-life daughter), and clumpy Gus (Devin Ratray), whose best friend is an enormous sow.
B. L can be trying when he sounds off about big-city folk, including Jane Fonda, of course. But this series, created by Don Reo, comes with the always promising imprint of a Witt-Thomas Production (''Golden Girls,'' ''Beauty and the Beast''). Moving away from television's standard suburban setting for sitcoms, the series manages to find a laugh or two in the most unlikely situations, including attempts by a greedy banker to get the family farm for an agricultural conglomerate. There is even a tornado (''God's way of telling people not to live in trailer parks,'' one family member notes). Checking on the house the next morning, Tom announces, ''It's still here, but there's a dead witch under the house and everything's in color.'' Maybe ''Heartland'' could turn out to be lovable after all. It beats peeping-tom training.
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