Thursday, February 16, 2012

On DVD: Branded (1965)

Branded was the 2nd of three post-The Rifleman series for Chuck Connors during the latter part of the 60's. In between Rifleman & Branded, Connors had starred in the crime drama, Arrest & Trial, and would follow Branded with Ivan Tors' little-remembered Cowboy In Africa.

Branded took Connors back to the Old West, but this time as a disgraced Army Captain, Jason McCord, falsely accused of cowardice against the enemy and court-martialed. McCord now wandered the plains, helping people in need whenever possible, but often is reminded of the public perception that he was, supposedly, a coward.

Branded creator Larry Cohen mined the lone-man's crusade again in two other series: Coronet Blue, which debuted later in 1965, then was revived in rerun form a couple of years later, and the Quinn Martin science fiction opus, The Invaders, neither of which lasted very long, either. Branded was an anomaly of a different kind, as it was produced by game show moguls Mark Goodson & Bill Todman, as, in those days, they dabbled in scripted programming. Their resume also includes The Rebel and Philip Marlowe.

Timeless Media released not only the complete series on DVD, but a smaller, 5-episode sampler that includes a color 3-parter guest-starring John Carradine and MacDonald Carey (later of Days of Our Lives). Other familiar faces include Claude Akins, Robert Q. Lewis, Alex Cord (later of Airwolf) and June Lockhart (ex-Lassie, would later star in Lost in Space later in '65). The sampler also includes a Connors-starring episode of the little-remembered 1955 anthology series, Frontier, in which Connors plays a gun-for-hire, uncharacteristically smug & glib, in comparison to the stoic characters that became his trademark.

SpudTV uploaded the open & close. As I noted earlier, the Goodson-Todman logo was skipped over. This comes from the episode, "The Survivor", with Alex Cord.

Branded currently airs on Me-TV Saturday afternoons at 12 noon (ET).

Rating: B.


Samuel Wilson said...

If that Frontier episode seems out of Chuck's comfort zone, you ought to see him as a filthy, cowardly villain who has to be shot down by his own dad in William Wyler's The Big Country from 1958.

hobbyfan said...

That's the one thing in common between Frontier & Big Country. In Frontier, Connors' character meets his maker via hanging at the end of the show, and the hanging is kept off-screen.

Shoot, I had never heard of Frontier until I bought the Branded DVD sampler.