Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Loosely based on the Clint Eastwood theatrical feature Coogan's Bluff, the TV detective series McCloud was first seen in the form of a two-hour pilot film on February 17, 1970, originally titled Portrait of a Dead Girl and later syndicated as McCloud: Who Killed Miss U.S.A. ? Dennis Weaver starred as Sam McCloud, freewheeling deputy sheriff of Taos, New Mexico. After losing a murder witness he had been escorting from Taos to New York City, McCloud -- still sporting his wide-brimmed Stetson, sheepskin coat, and leather boots and toting a pair of six-guns -- found himself enmeshed in another murder case involving Puerto Rican activists, a high-profile architect, and a murdered beauty contest winner. Not surprisingly, he immediately clashed with the local authorities, who looked askance upon his "cowboy" tactics, which often included punching first and asking questions later. The McCloud series proper was launched on September 16, 1970, as one of the rotating components of the NBC anthology Four-in-One. Having been transformed into a folk hero of sorts by journalist Chris Coughlin (Diana Muldaur), McCloud decided to remain in New York, primarily because he had an interest in Chris. He took on a "temporary" assignment with New York's 27th precinct, where he answered (when he felt like it) to Chief Peter Clifford (J.D. Cannon). Despite their obvious differences in temperament and professional outlook, McCloud and Clifford became good friends -- even when Sam's gonzo approach to law and order (which included riding horses down 5th Avenue and roping and hog tying certain perpetrators) got both of the officers in hot water with the higher-ups. Other regulars included Terry Carter as police sergeant Broadhurst, who frequently aided McCloud in his investigations despite the heated objections of by-the-book Chief Clifford; and Ken Lynch as police sergeant Grover, who joined the show during its third season. Beginning in the fall of 1971, McCloud became a component of the NBC Mystery Movie anthology, and as such, expanded from 60 to 90 (and later 120) minutes per episode. Twelve years after the series' cancellation on August 28, 1977, Dennis Weaver and J.D. Cannon were reunited for the TV-movie special The Return of Sam McCloud. By this time, Sam McCloud had become a pro-environmental U.S. senator, and Peter Clifford had been appointed police commissioner.