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A viewer's favorite from the get-go, McCloud applied country-to-city humor to the popular police-series formula that exploded on TV networks in the early 1970s. Although it would eventually become part of the three-way line-up on the "NBC Mystery Movie" schedule (where it rotated with McMillan & Wife and Columbo, the series pilot premiered (on September 16, 1970) as part of NBC's "Four-in-One" cycle of TV miniseries (Rod Serling's Night Gallery was also in that foursome), and its popularity quickly earned a regular network timeslot, first on Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. and later as the "Mystery Movie" threesome settled into a well-rated Sunday-night slot. To be sure, McCloud owed almost all of its success to the perfect casting of Dennis Weaver as Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud, of Taos, New Mexico, a good ol' boy crimefighter who spends the two-hour pilot ("Portrait of a Dead Girl") tracking a key witness who's escaped from his custody. This takes him to New York City, where the show's premise (involving McCloud's temporary assignment with Manhattan's 27th precinct, to "learn the methods of a large metropolitan police force") placed him at constant odds with his immediate superior, Chief Clifford (J.D. Cannon) as he partnered up with Sgt. Joe Broadhurst (Terry Carter, later on the original Battlestar Galactica) and pursued an on-and-off romance with Chris Coughlin (Diana Muldaur), a journalist who finds McCloud endlessly intriguing (not to mention newsworthy). These characters are now far more appealing than the hoary plots that frequently found McCloud applying Southwest sleuthing to Big Apple crimes. Like McCloud himself, many of these 11 episodes are lanky and loose-jointed, and not quite as involving as nostalgic reverie might suggest. The first-season episodes are also the "condensed" versions, resulting from the subsequent combination (after their original broadcasts) of two original one-hour episodes into one 90-minute segment, hence the credits for two directors and two-layered plotlines in episodes like "Manhattan Manhunt," starring Richard Dawson as a Cockney-accented theater producer threatened by a would-be killer. (The second-season episodes are fully intact as originally shown.) And while the cost-cutting expediency of '70s TV production is painfully evident in cheesy process shots, blunt ADR recording, and oft-repeated stock footage, the tongue-in-cheek charm of McCloud remains fully intact, as Weaver adopts his signature line ("There ya go!") and commands his role with a gentleman's demeanor and a wry, fish-out-of-water perspective on big-city police work in episodes costarring a who's-who of '70s guest stars including Barry Sullivan, Nina Foch, Milton Berle, Stephanie Powers, Susan Strasberg, Bo Svenson, Sebastian Cabot, Susan Saint James (just prior to McMillan & Wife) and many more. The sight of McCloud navigating Manhattan's concrete canyons on a galloping horse was iconic in the playful spirit of the series: It makes no sense whatsoever, but with Weaver in the role, you bought it immediately and happily went along for the ride, which explains why McCloud aired for five enjoyable seasons until 1977.

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MC28247 McCloud Season One & Two DVD (1970/Dennis Weaver) $39.95 $35.99