McCloud

From Academic Kids

McCloud was an American television police drama that aired on NBC from 1970 to 1977. The title role was played by Dennis Weaver as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam McCloud, a law officer from Taos, New Mexico on semi-permanent "special assignment" with the New York City Police Department.

Contents

History

The pilot ("Portrait of a Dead Girl") aired on February 17, 1970, and established the premise by having McCloud escort a prisoner from New Mexico to New York City, only to become embroiled in solving a complicated murder case.

This premise of "a cowboy in the big city" was more or less adapted from the 1968 Don Siegel film Coogan's Bluff (with Clint Eastwood), which itself reflects Richard Thorpe's great Tarzan's New York Adventure and the latter-day career of Bat Masterson (Siegel himself appears in "Return to the Alamo" as "2nd Desk Sergeant"). Like Coogan, McCloud galloped the length and breadth of Manhattan (he was joined by a mounted unit in "The 42nd Street Cavalry"), and the absurd sight of McCloud on horseback riding down the middle of a busy street (taken from an early episode) became one of the series' iconic images.

NBC renewed the show for six 60-minute episodes in the fall of 1970, placing it in the rotation of its "wheel format" series Four in One, along with Night Gallery, San Francisco International Airport, and The Psychiatrist.

In the fall of 1971, NBC placed McCloud. along with two other new series, McMillan and Wife and Columbo, in the rotation of a new drama NBC Mystery Movie which aired on Wednesday night from 8:30-10:00. The running time of each episode was increased to 90 minutes. The umbrella series was a success, finishing at number 14 for Nielsen ratings for the 1971-72 series. The following season, NBC moved McCloud and the other two shows of Mystery Movie to the competitive 8:30-10:00 Sunday night position and added a fourth series, Hec Ramsey to the rotation as the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. The rotating series was an enormous success and finished at number 5 in the ratings for the season. [1] (http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/N/htmlN/nbcmysterym/nbcmysterym.htm).

Starting in the fifth season in the fall of 1974, the episodes were two hours long, but were dropped again to 90 minutes for the seventh and final season starting in the fall of 1976. The forty-sixth and last episode, "McCloud Meets Dracula", was aired on April 17, 1977.

The character was brought back for a made-for-television movie, The Return of Sam McCloud, which aired on November 12, 1989.

Dennis Weaver received Emmy nominations in 1974 and 1975 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series.

The show was nominally created by Herman Miller, who co-wrote Coogan's Bluff and had also written for the Western series Daniel Boone and The Virginian. The executive producer was Glen A. Larson, who wrote brilliantly for the series (as did Peter Allan Fields, Lou Shaw, Jimmy Sangster and others). Larson won an Edgar for "The New Mexican Connection".

Recurring Themes and Characters

The Westerner in New York City

The most enduring theme of the show was the conflict between the good-natured, clear-eyed buoyancy of McCloud and the metropolitan cynicism of the residents of New York City, including his fellow officers. McCloud's attire, typically consisting of a sheepskin coat or Western jacket, kerchief tie and cowboy hat, allowed for implied comic relief in many encounters with New Yorkers. That New Yorkers might mistake him for a naif because of his appearance occasionally worked to his advantage. He would often allay suspicion of his motives by insisting he was in New York "to observe and learn."

The signature of McCloud's character was his Western unflappability and seeming inability to recognize an insult, especially from Clifford, whose jibes ("send in the sagebrush Sherlock Holmes") he never would take personally. Weaver's grin and drawling twang represented McCloud as the embodiment of the American law officer who always sees the good in people but knows the real stakes and spares no pain to catch the bad guy. The character's signature catch phrase was his line of encouragement, "there ya go," often received with bemusement or puzzlement by the listener.

Antagonism with Chief Clifford

Another recurring theme in the show was the conflict between McCloud and his superior, NYPD Chief of Detectives Peter B. Clifford, played in every episode but the pilot by J.D. Cannon. In the first episodes, their relationship was portrayed as somewhat amiable, with Clifford showing a wary respect for the unconventional Westerner assigned to his command. The relationship quickly soured, however, based mostly on McCloud's seeming disregard of authority combined with a charm that let him escape many of the consequences of his "cowboy-like" determination. Clifford's attitude to McCloud became one of cynical antagonism, bordering at times on apopletic rage, but sown with more or less grudging respect for McCloud's ability to solve intractable cases.

Friendship with Sgt. Broadhurst

In many episodes, McCloud was partnered with Sgt. Joe Broadhurst, played by Terry Carter. Broadhurst, a New Yorker, was portrayed with a certain existential pessimism to counter McCloud's high spirits. Like Chief Clifford, Broadhurst felt himself wise to McCloud's peculiarities, but was without the anger, and usually wound up resigned to being drawn into McCloud's schemes to solve particular cases, sometimes against direct orders. He would then sometimes play the role of voluntary lightning rod for Clifford's anger, and absorb as much of the blame for McCloud's initiative as McCloud himself (Broadhurst served as acting Chief of Detectives three times during Clifford's absence, in "This Must Be the Alamo", "Return to the Alamo" and "'Twas the Fight Before Christmas...").

Other Characters

Other recurring characters on the show included the gravel-voiced Sgt. Grover, played by Ken Lynch, who seemed to be forever at his desk in the squad room. The ever-smiling but somewhat batty Sgt. Phyllis Norton was played by Teri Garr.

Love Interests

McCloud was portrayed as something of a ladies' man, and the characters played by the frequent female guest stars would often fall for his protective charm. He was also given a recurring love interest, the tough-spoken but soft-hearted Chris Coughlin, played by frequent guest star Diana Muldaur, whose duties as newspaper writer ("never a reporter") sometimes came into conflict with McCloud's police work.

Portrayal of New York City in the 1970s

The show, which was in some senses a big city Western, was set in New York City during what was arguably the nadir of the city's existence in the late 20th century, a period following the troubled 1960s and leading up to the fiscal crisis of 1975 (which figured in "The Day New York Turned Blue", for example).

At the time, the city seemed to be on an inexorable downward slide into chaos, a theme that was explored in a more brutal fashion in William Friedkin's film The French Connection which was released the year after the pilot of McCloud. In some episodes (such as "Walk in the Dark") the city was portrayed as particularly crime-ridden, with the danger of muggings and bodily harm at every turn. Such lurking evil was often more in the dialogue than the pictures, however, and the show retained a somewhat whimsical and sunny flavor despite the subject matter.

McCloud was filmed partially on location (the unit was in New York for "A Little Plot at Tranquil Valley" notably, and traveled to Hawaii for "A Cowboy in Paradise", to Mexico City and Teotihuacan for "Lady on the Run", and to Sydney for "Sharks!"—second-unit footage came from London, Paris, Monaco, Rome, and Moscow at various times), but utilized the Universal back lot for many scenes.

A recurring theme in many episodes was the incorporation of a plot device from Hollywood cinema, particularly at the climax of an episode. Examples included chases on horseback to lasso cattle rustlers ("The Colorado Cattle Caper"), a 1930s-style gangster shoot-out (the film-within-a-film shot on location in "The Gang That Stole Manhattan,"), a Jesse James-style train hold-up on the Long Island Rail Road ("Butch Cassidy Rides Again"), and a showdown with a vampire on the Third Street Bridge ("McCloud Meets Dracula").

Since leaving the air in 1977, the show has played regularly and often in syndication. In 1989, Dennis Weaver reprised the role in The Return of Sam McCloud in which his character was now a senator from New Mexico.

Revival plans

In 2003, USA Network announced plans for a new McCloud series. The new series was to be a "reimagining" of the Dennis Weaver original, with the character changed to a woman and played by comedian Brett Butler. As of 2004 this project has yet to go forward, though USA did launch a reimagined version Kojak starring Ving Rhames that year.

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