Trackdown: The Brothers
Trackdown is an American Western television series starring Robert Culp that aired on CBS between 1957 and 1959. More than seventy episodes of this series were produced by Dick Powell‘s Four Star Television and filmed at the Desilu-Culver Studio. The series was itself a spin-off of Powell’s anthology series, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater.
Pilot and Synopsis
The series starred Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, and was set after the American Civil War. The show was based in the fictional town of Porter, located in Central West Texas (not to be confused with Porter, northeast of Houston), where Gilman also served as the de facto sheriff. His friends included Henrietta Porter, portrayed by Ellen Corby, later Esther Walton on CBS’s The Waltons. She is a widow of the town’s founder and owns The Porter Enterprise, the local newspaper. Peter Leeds plays Tenner Smith, the owner of the local saloon and a former gambler and gunslinger whose past was shrouded in mystery. Other series regulars included Norman Leavitt (as Ralph, Gilman’s deputy), James Griffith as Aaron Adams, Gail Kobe as Penny Adams, and Addison Richards as Doc Jay Calhoun.
The pilot episode, “Badge of Honor”, was directed by Arthur Hiller and was written by John Robinson. The show debuted on the Zane Grey Theater on May 3, 1957. The plot concerned Gilman, now an ex-Confederate cavalry officer who returns to his Central Texas hometown of Crawford after the War. He finds the town under the ruthless control of a gang led by an ex-Confederate Colonel, Boyd Nelson, played by Gary Merrill. The town sheriff portrayed by Tom Tully, now a drunken shell of the man that Gilman once knew, was no match for the outlaws. A Texas Ranger came to arrest Col. Nelson, but was fatally shot in the back—his Ranger badge tossed upon the dirt road. Gilman, who previously served with the Texas Rangers, was weary of the War’s violence and did not want to continue as a lawman. But after learning of the Ranger’s death, Gilman picked up the Ranger’s badge and finished the job of bringing Nelson (Merrill) and his gang to justice.