September 16, 1970 – April 17, 1977
J. D. Cannon
McCloud is an American television police drama that aired on NBC from 1970 to 1977. The title role is played by Dennis Weaver as Marshal Sam McCloud, a law officer from Taos, New Mexico, on semi-permanent "special assignment" with the New York City Police Department.
The first choice for the role of McCloud was Fess Parker, who turned it down. Universal hired the highly experienced Dennis Weaver. 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, starring Clint Eastwood. Herman Miller was responsible for the story of Coogan's Bluff and co-wrote the screenplay with Dean Riesner and Howard Rodman (indeed, Miller is credited as the creator of McCloud). Coogan's Bluff reflects Richard Thorpe's 1942 film Tarzan's New York Adventure and the latter-day career of Bat Masterson. (Siegel himself appears in the "Return to the Alamo" episode 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 sight of McCloud on horseback riding down the middle of a busy street (taken from an early episode) became one of the series' most famous 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 & 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 a competitive Sunday night position and added a fourth series, Hec Ramsey, to the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. The rotating series was an enormous success and finished at number 5 in the ratings for the season.
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 46th and last episode, "McCloud Meets Dracula", was aired on April 17, 1977.
Dennis Weaver received Emmy nominations in 1974 and 1975 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series.
The executive producer was Glen A. Larson, who also wrote for the series (as did Peter Allan Fields, Lou Shaw, Jimmy Sangster, and others). Larson won an Edgar Award for "The New Mexican Connection".
In 1989, Weaver reprised the role in a made-for-television movie, The Return of Sam McCloud, in which his character was now a United States Senator. It first aired on November 12, 1989. Diana Muldaur returned to reprise her role as McCloud's love interest, Chris Coughlin.