Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Forgotten TV: Dundee & the Culhane (1967)

Filmways' greatest successes came with sitcoms (i.e. Addams Family, Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies). Until their final drama, Cagney & Lacey, came along in the early 80's, the studio had next to no luck with dramas.

In 1967, the studio signed British legend John Mills to star in a Western, Dundee & The Culhane, for CBS. The network loved the pilot, they say, but subsequent episodes exposed some flaws, leading to a quick hook, two weeks before Christmas.

Series creator Sam Rolfe came over from MGM, and wrote some of the episodes himself.

All that's available right now are sample clips, like this one:

No rating.


Mike Doran said...

How did this one get completely lost?

For some time, I've noted that many British actors (including most of the titled ones) expressed a desire to come to America and do at least one Western.
Apparently the Old Vic and the Royal Academy were full of classically trained actors who wanted nothing more than to ride a horse through Monument Valley.

Getting John Mills to commit to a year in the States for a TV series was a coup for CBS, and was so publicized in the summer run-up to the '67 season.
I must have seen that promo (not your clip) dozens of times, and what I remember most about it was that the Villain was Charles Bronson (one of his last TV guest shots).
I'll guess that this was the pilot that CBS was so enthused about - and once they bought the series, the first exec decision that CBS made was to replace the actor who played "The Culhane", which meant that they had to use a different episode as the premiere.
That's right - Sean Garrison wasn't in the pilot.
And I can't call to mind the obscure newbie who had the role. :-(

What I do recall is that CBS did run a "revised" version as the fourth or fifth episode of Dundee And The Culhane.
They had to shoot a framing scene to explain the Culhane's absence, and Dundee picked up a "different" character (I can't remember that name either) to be his legman du jour.
The fragmented pilot footage was run off: basically it was Mills vs. Bronson and good for all that, but the editing seams showed, and anyway it was already too late.
Between ABC's movie (they had a pretty strong slate that year) and NBC's Run For Your Life, Dundee (with or without The Culhane) never had a chance.

I only ever saw that bobtailed pilot episode; frankly I'd like to get a look at the other shows (few though they may be) - the credits certainly look promising enough.

hobbyfan said...

At least you've seen it. There is a fragment of the Bronson episode also available, but that's about it.