Monday, March 26, 2012

There Ye Go

One of NBC's biggest hits on the 1970s was MCCLOUD, an arm of THE NBC MYSTERY MOVIE that starred Dennis Weaver as Sam McCloud, a New Mexico marshal assigned to fight crime on the mean streets of New York City. Yes, it was a ripoff/spinoff of COOGAN'S BLUFF.

Rather than spend much time here on MCCLOUD, I'll point you towards J. Kingston Pierce's excellent article on the TV series. That will give me more time to discuss THE KILLING, the third of six tie-in paperbacks based on the show.

Written by David Wilson (which sounds like a pseudonym), THE KILLING adapts "Butch Cassidy Rides Again," the fourth-season opener penned by MCCLOUD executive producer Glen A. Larson. It's a fairly silly plot that makes McCloud, his partner Joe Broadhurst (Terry Carter), and their boss Peter Clifford (J.D. Cannon) look like boobs.

Wilson's book seems fairly close to the episode, though it has been quite awhile since I've seen it. A highlight of the novel is a catfight between McCloud's girlfriend and a female TV reporter named Samantha, and, since they were played on TV by Linda Evans (THE BIG VALLEY) and Stefanie Powers (HART TO HART), respectively, one would think I'd remember the show better.

Basically, McCloud and Broadhurst are held up by four elderly robbers dressed in Wild West garb. Later, the same "Wild Bunch" robs a train and then an armored car. Considering one of the crooks is played by Roger Davis (ALIAS SMITH AND JONES), it's clear some Universal old-man makeup was involved.

THE KILLING is very light reading and not exactly involving for mystery or action fans. MCCLOUD's scripts were not exactly heady either, but the show mainly coasted on the strength of Weaver's considerable charm. Obviously, that's missing from the book, which is left to survive solely on the strength of Larson's original story, which is weak.

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