Trackdown and Wanted: Dead Or Alive

Trackdown (1957-1959)
Wanted: Dead Or Alive (1958-1961)
Type: Spin Off

   Before becoming part of TV's mid sixties spy show craze alongside costar Bill Cosby in I Spy, Robert Culp was part of the larger and longer lasting craze of TV westerns when he starred in Trackdown.

   In Trackdown, Culp starred as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman... a name sure to inspire fear and dread in an outlaw's heart. It's only slightly more fearsome than the name Skippy McPuddlepants. But I'm getting off the subject just to take cheap shots. I apologize.

   The show told of Hoby's adventures in the west as a Ranger and, just as the stories on Dragnet were based on real L.A.P.D. cases, Hoby's adventures were often based on real Texas Rangers' cases.

   One episode in the 1957-1958 season centered on a bounty hunter named Josh Randall. Whether this was a story based on a real life case I don't know. What I do know is that the episode served as a pilot for a new series called Wanted: Dead Or Alive that premiered in the fall of 1958.

   Wanted: Dead Or Alive starred the soon to be legendary Steve McQueen as Josh Randall, a bounty hunter in the old west. Those old west posters that said "Wanted: Dead or Alive"? Josh Randall was the one who tested that out. He wasn't a lawman. He was a tough S.O.B. who went out and did whatever he had to to bring his man in. And like any cool TV cowboy he had a unique and equally bad ass weapon. His gun was the bastard son of a pistol and a rifle that you didn't want to mess with or to be messed up by. If you were a villain, Josh wasn't after you for justice, he was after you for the money. And all he needed was your body. In other words, just do yourself a favor and give up.

   As a side note, it should be noted that an attempt was made to revive Wanted: Dead Or Alive as a modern day movie franchise. The single movie made starred Rutger Hauer as Josh Randall's modern day great grandson Nick Randall who had also gone into the bounty hunter business. The only real tie to the original series was Josh's gun, his Mare's Leg, which Nick Randall keeps in a display case along with Josh's picture. By the end of the movie, you knew two things would happen. 1.) The Mare's leg would get used and 2.) Somebody would end up making Nick pick that "Dead" option. Playing a foreign terrorist, Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss ends up... not knowing when to keep his mouth shut... and becomes that guy. If you've seen the film you understand what I mean. If you haven't... well don't run out and rent it just to find out what I meant. There is a reason why the revival stopped at just one film, okay?

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