Procrustes Comes to Syndication

February 25, 2012

Last week’s look at McCloud leads us into the murky waters of syndication for our sequel.  During the seventies, the New Mexico marshal’s home studio, Universal, cooked up some of the industry’s most creative – one might also say mercenary, or repugnant – ways of squeezing some rerun coin out of its unprofitable properties.  This second part of our McCloud coverage is the story of a show mutilated by its rightsholder, and rescued – four decades later – by an independent DVD label.

In the seventies and eighties, when made-for-television movies were some of the hottest properties on television, enough of them accrued for their owners to bundle them into syndication packages.  These offerings were similar to the packages of old TV shows that cable and local stations could buy, except that they consisted of unrelated telefilms instead of episodes of a single series.  They were a good fit for showcases like CBS Late Night and other time slots that regularly ran old theatrical films.

Once the made-for-TV movie proved its value in off-network reruns, the executives at Universal had an idea: why not create some “new” TV movies out of spare parts?  The “parts” were series that had flopped after a single season, or less.  Because the predominance of “strip” (i.e., five days per week) syndication placed a premium on long-running shows, these failures were perceived as having no rerun value, even if they’d been critical hits.  In the seventies, Universal began to cannibalize these write-offs, sewing together two or more episodes of forgotten series, giving them a generic new title, and dropping them into syndication packages along with authentic telefilms.  With few reference books and no internet to consult, unsuspecting viewers would recognize these hybrids as recycled television episodes only if they’d been among the few to watch the failed show when it was on the air.  That these telefilm Frankensteins were incoherent and unsatisfying – instead of telling a single story, they put the characters through several abrupt, unconnected plots – didn’t matter.  They added to Universal’s profits, without any obvious negative consequences.

Most of the series that Universal cannibalized for this program remain obscure today: Tammy; Mister Terrific; Pistols’n’Petticoats; The Outsider; The Psychiatrist; Matt Lincoln; The D.A.; O’Hara, U.S. Treasury; The Partners; Doctors’ Hospital; Man and the City; Paris 7000; Toma; Chase; Get Christie Love; Sons and Daughters; Lucas Tanner; Griff; Fay; Sara; Mobile One; Kingston Confidential; Gemini Man; Cliffhangers; Turnabout.  But a few of them have since built up enough of a cult following that it seems surprising, in hindsight, that Universal would pilfer them in this way.  When Kolchak: The Night Stalker first entered syndication, only fourteen episodes were made available; the other six were tied up as mutant telefilms.  Alias Smith and Jones, the Roy Huggins-created western, also had some episodes turned into telefilm features and then returned to the syndication package years later.

The other studios “TV movied” a handful of old series this way – Fox (The Man Who Never Was and Blue Light) and QM (Dan August) – but mainly it was Universal that rummaged through the vaults with its extract-every-last-dime philosophy.  And the hybrid TV movies were only the start.  Universal went syndication-crazy in other ways, turning cross-overs into two-parters (a logical idea, actually, that landed an unsyndicated Owen Marshall in the Marcus Welby package) and attaching failed series to successful ones (the few episodes of the George Kennedy vehicle Sarge were syndicated together with The Bold Ones).  The most invasive of these reworkings remains infamous among TV fans: Universal turned Night Gallery, the hour-long horror anthology, into a half-hour syndication package, slicing out large sections of the longer segments and adding stock footage to others to achieve a uniform length.  Then the studio took The Sixth Sense, a one-season occult drama, edited its hour-long episodes down to a half-hour form, and married them to the recut Night Gallerys in order to hit the magic number (100 episodes) that syndicators supposedly desired.  Night Gallery was restored to its original form for a home video release back in 1991, but the uncut Sixth Sense episodes emerged (on the Chiller Channel and then Hulu) only a couple of years ago.

All this effort on Universal’s part ran counter to the creators’ intentions for these shows.  “All the rhythms are off, and it doesn’t play so well any more,” said Night Gallery director John Badham in Scott Skelton and Jim Benson’s Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour (Syracuse University Press, 1999).  “On its own it was a very good episode and I was horrified when I saw it,” said Joel Rogosin of The Meanest Man in the West, which combined one of Rogosin’s episodes of The Virginian with one produced by another unit, in Paul Green’s A History of Television’s The Virginian (McFarland, 2010).

The man responsible for this butchery was Harry Tatelman, a Universal vice president whose department oversaw, among other things, the recutting of feature films to meet television censors’ requirements.  Tatelman was a kind of self-hating corporate yes-man, an old-time Lew Wasserman lackey who had started with MCA as a literary agent in the forties.  Tatelman left to produce feature films and some of the Warner Bros. westerns and detective shows in the fifties, returning to the bustling Universal shortly after MCA purchased the studio in 1959.  “Lew made me crawl when I came back,” Tatelman said in Dennis McDougal’s The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood (Da Capo, 2001), but his fealty to the company was such that he had no compunction about hacking up other filmmakers’ work behind their backs.  “The resulting pictures were not good, but Harry was widely praised by the financial people for his ability to turn otherwise useless film into money,” said producer and television executive Frank Price in A History of Television’s The Virginian.  “By the time anyone had learned what had happened with the old episodes, it was pretty much too late to change anything.”

Although it likely turned a modest profit in the short term, Universal’s thinking seems totally backward in the current vintage television market.  Short-lived television series have become marketable again on niche cable networks like TVLand, Trio, Encore, ALN, RTN, and MeTV; to some extent, they have even displaced played-out behemoths like Wagon Train or The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, which had so many episodes that some were omitted from syndication just to make the packages manageable.  And while many remarkably obscure television series have enjoyed successful DVD releases, the made-for-television film has remained an almost wholly uncommercial prospect.  (Only the Warner and Sony manufacture-on-demand DVD-r initiatives have, in the last three years, attempted to release vintage TV movies in any number.)  Any number of the series that Universal once chopped up for TV-movie scrap have a hook that a licensor like Shout Factory or Timeless could use for a DVD release: Get Christie Love (blaxploitation); Mister Terrific (superheroes); The Outsider (Roy Huggins’s first draft for The Rockford Files); The Psychiatrist (early work by Steven Spielberg); and so on.


Here’s the best-case scenario with one of Universal’s hybrid TV movies: Two episodes of a series are glued together but remain essentially uncut, with only the title sequences replaced.  (Of course, for historians like myself, the removal of the original credits is already a disastrous consequence.)  But it could get much worse.

That’s what brings us to McCloud, which, as a successful, long-running series, would seem to be immune to this indignity.  But McCloud had a pre-history that the other NBC Mystery Movie wheel shows didn’t.  While Columbo and McMillan and Wife debuted as ninety-minute shows in 1971, McCloud had spent its freshman year as part of Four-in-One, an earlier, unsuccessful alternating-series concept.  Instead of taking turns, the four shows under this umbrella (the others were Night Gallery, The Psychiatrist, and San Francisco International Airport) would each broadcast six consecutive episodes and then cede the time slot to the next one.  The Four-in-One shows were all an hour in length, which meant that the six 1970 McCloud segments were too short to fit into the same syndication package as the feature-length episodes (which ultimately numbered forty, counting the pilot).

The obvious solution was for the Tatelman unit to glue the hour-long McClouds together into three new segments – The Man From Taos, Manhattan Manhunt, and Murder Arena.  (Was someone at Universal having fun with alliteration?)  Instead of simply fitting two episodes back-to-back, these hybrid McClouds intercut between them, to give the impression that Marshal McCloud was solving two crimes at once.  (This was possible only because Dennis Weaver wore the same brown coat and cowboy hat in almost every scene.)  In an odd way, the recut McClouds anticipated the serial cop shows of the eighties and beyond – real cops do work more than one case at the same time.  But the patchwork syndication edits could not balance the dramatic highs and lows of the originals, and the results were schizoid and semi-coherent.

The toughest episode for Tatelman’s editor – and we know who he was, because the credits of the hybrid telefilms all list one editor, Jean-Jacques Berthelot, whose name does not appear on the hour-long segments – to blend with another one was “Our Man in Paris,” which saw McCloud kidnapped and sent abroad to deliver a package for some smugglers.  Obviously McCloud couldn’t be on two continents at once.  But a scene in the series’ first episode, “Who Says You Can’t Make Friends in New York City,” in which Chief Clifford got so riled up that he put the marshal on a plane back to New Mexico, gave Berthelot the airport segues he needed to drop the Parisian adventure right into the middle of the other segment.  Overdubbing changed the bad guy (Carl Betz) in “Who Says…” from a blackmailer into the leader of an international smuggling ring.  Hey, a villain’s a villain, right?

(Evidently Douglas Heyes, the writer of “Who Says…,” didn’t think so; he replaced his name in the credits with a pseudonym, “Matthew Howard.”)

The “Who Says…”/“Our Man in Paris” hybrid, The Man From Taos, was ninety-four minutes long (two hours with commercials), but the other two were intended for ninety-minute slots and totaled only seventy-three minutes each.  That meant that, for those, some twenty to twenty-five minutes of the original episodes were excised.  Manhattan Manhunt kept almost all of the Broadway murder mystery “The Stage Is All the World,” but discarded the lighter half of “Horse Stealing on Fifth Avenue,” which had alternated between a dark anti-drug A story and a comedic subplot about a mounted officer’s missing horse.  Murder Arena combined “The Concrete Canyon” (a murder-at-the-rodeo story with meaty parts for an A-list guest cast) with “Walk in the Dark” (a Leslie Stevens teleplay, in which a Central Park stakeout took a backseat to McCloud’s romancing of a policewoman played by Susan Saint James) by making trims to each, which sent both plot-crammed storylines lurching forward at a jerky, breakneck pace.  Clumsy voiceovers laid over awkward cutaways to inserts and extreme long shots – fortunately for Berthelot, McCloud was one of those “shampoo commercial”-era shows that relied heavily on telephoto lenses – created tenuous connections between the bifurcated plots.


The most pernicious aspect of these recut first-season McCloud episodes is that in some ways they have been accepted as the official versions.  For instance, Wikipedia,, and all list the new titles as the primary ones.  The Internet Movie Database describes “Who Says You Can’t Make Friends in New York City” and “Our Man in Paris” as “Part 1” and “Part 2” of The Man From Taos.  That’s inaccurate not only because the original episodes are unrelated, but because they commingle within the recut version.  The Man From Taos doesn’t have a discrete “Part 1” or “Part 2.”

For decades, the first six episodes have rarely been shown in their original cuts.  When Universal released the first two seasons of McCloud on DVD in 2005, it missed the opportunity to restore the hour-long segments to their proper form.  And that would have been that – most old TV shows get one shot on DVD, and no redos – if not for the heroic efforts of Madman Entertainment, an independent Australian label that licensed the Region 4 rights to McCloud.

When Grant Taylor, a DVD producer for Madman, asked Universal for the hour-long episodes, the studio informed him that they had no video elements for the original versions.  But Taylor didn’t give up.  McCloud was “a personal favourite,” he told me in an e-mail last year, and Taylor resolved to do the series justice.  Since not only the American but also the subsequent British and Scandinavian DVD releases had sourced the first season re-edits, Taylor “kind of saw it as the last chance.”

Taylor commenced a search of Australian stations that had rerun McCloud, but found only the recut versions.  On a trip to London, he mentioned his quest to a friend who recalled that a British broadcaster had shown the hour-long episodes many years earlier.  Holding out little hope that the station in question had retained copies of the masters, Taylor checked with his sources there and learned that, “miraculously, all six were still in the vault.”

“We had dubs made and when they arrived at the office it was like the Holy Grail,” Taylor wrote in his e-mail.  “I don’t think I had ever seen the original versions, and after viewing them it was like watching a completely different season. The episodes were so much tighter and made sense, unlike the bizarrely cobbled together feature-versions.  We did a bit of audio restoration and then set about getting them out. To create a definitive release, we elected to include the syndicated feature versions as a bonus, allowing viewers to note the differences.”

The Madman set, which came out in 2010, really does make it possible to observe some night-and-day differences between the original McCloud episodes and the syndication versions.  In general, the Four-in-One edition of McCloud was a quirkier, looser show, more sixties than seventies, more of a character-driven procedural and less the polished mega-mystery it became as part of the NBC Mystery Movie franchise.  Much of the deleted footage is atmospheric: gorgeous second-unit Manhattan scenery (Universal sacrificed production value and time-capsule status when it recut the shows) and relaxed interplay between Weaver and the supporting cast.  The first season of McCloud also had its own title sequence (kind of an ugly one), which disappeared after the show joined the Mystery Movie wheel.

The scenes that were cut for syndication – probably totaling close to an hour across all six episodes – have their minor surprises and delights.  McCloud pitches pennies with street kids in “Walk in the Dark,” outshoots the chief on the firing range in “Who Says You Can’t Make Friends in New York City,” confronts hippies and a modern-day Lady Godiva in “Horse Stealing on Fifth Avenue.”  Joanna Moore achieves a lovely, wistful camaraderie with Dennis Weaver in scenes excised from “The Concrete Corral,” and Leo Gordon’s cameo in Manhattan Manhunt becomes a meaty comic role in “Horse Stealing on Fifth Avenue.”  A number of other actors were cut out of the shortened versions altogether: Maggie Thrett and William Bryant (in “Horse Stealing”), Mwako Cumbuka (in “Walk in the Dark”), and Dennis Fimple (in “The Concrete Corral”).  Doug McClure, then the star of Universal’s The Virginian, makes a quick, inexplicable in-joke cameo as one Gringo Fontana, which didn’t make the cut when “The Concrete Corral” was folded into Murder Arena.

So McCloud gets a happy ending on home video, one of which American fans may still be unaware.  It gets better: in the U.S., Universal dropped McCloud after its first DVD release, but Madman has continued the series up through the fifth season.  The Madman catalog also offers seasons of Ironside and Quincy, M. E. that aren’t available in North America . . . so if you’re placing an order, you might as well stock up!

Thanks to Grant Taylor and Ben Pollock at Madman Entertainment, and to syndication expert “Neil Brock” for sharing his research on the re-edited TV movie phenomenon.


22 Responses to “Procrustes Comes to Syndication”

  1. michael Says:

    Great stuff and thanks for the tip about Madman catalog.

    Uh, didn’t George Kennedy star in “Sarge” and Ernest Borgnine do “Future Cop”?

    Of course, you are aware that “The Outsider” was not Roy Huggins’ first draft of “The Rockford Files.” Huggins claimed Rockford was Maverick as a PI. Also, while Huggins did the pilot TV-Movie (one of the “World Premiere” Universal package that began Universal’s success in syndicating TV-Movies), Gene Levitt did the series “The Outsider”.

    Were the British the first to do compilation films? As I understand “The Cases of Eddie Drake” has episodes edited together to form “Murder Ad-Lib” and “Pattern For Murder”.

    • Stephen Bowie Says:

      Fixed the Sarge error; thanks. Eh, George Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine, what’s the dif, really?

      The link between The Outsider and The Rockford Files is obvious and has been pointed out by many people other than myself; and anything Roy Huggins said can be taken with a big grain of salt. However … Gene Levitt’s name in the credits is always a reliable indicator of why something isn’t any good.

      The Prisoner excepted, I don’t know a whole lot about British TV. However, one thing I didn’t point out in here is that MGM pioneered this idea in the early sixties by refashioning some two-part episodes, and expanding some one-parters, into features for overseas release; they did it with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., obviously, but also Cain’s Hundred and The Asphalt Jungle. There were also a few threadbare “features” in the fifties that glued together episodes of TV shows that never aired, e.g. Walter Doniger’s Duffy of San Quentin and The Steel Cage. It’s an obvious idea; it just took Universal to refine it into a science.

      • michael Says:

        Not to stray too much off topic, but there is an argument over who created “The Rockford Files”. Huggins claims he did. He also claims “Maverick” is “Cheyenne” in opposite world. (“Adventures on Prime Time: the Television Programs of Stephen J. Cannell” by Robert J. Thompson)

        Jim Garner and Stephen J. Cannell claim it was Cannell.

        Cannell had done an unsolicited script for “The Outsider,” but the series was cancelled before he could submit it. Much of that script went into the pilot of “The Rockford Files.”

        Cannell also claimed James Rockford would have been in an episode of “Toma” Cannell wrote for the never made second season.

        The genesis of “The Rockford Files” is the story researchers dream of exploring.

  2. Jon Burlingame Says:

    Thanks so much for this, Stephen. I spent years scrutinizing late-night TV schedules for some of these TV-movie recuts.

    One of the gems is “Last of the Powerseekers,” which consists of bits and pieces of (I believe) the first three episodes of the short-lived Harold Robbins-created “The Survivors,” setting up the entire grand soap-opera plot. Well, “gem” may be overstating the case, but at least it has Lana Turner. (I wish someone would write a tell-all behind-scenes story of that terrible, doomed show.)

    Among the strangest is the compilation of (I think) three episodes of “The Partners,” which wasn’t funny as a half-hour sitcom and is downright bizarre as a 95-minute TV-movie. Somewhere I have the “Psychiatrist” compilation, which contains one and possibly two of the Spielberg-directed episodes, but I wish someone (Madman?) would unearth the original six, which I recall as being superb television drama. And three of them have original Gil Melle scores!

    • Michele Says:

      Hi Jon, sorry to disturb you. I’m writing from Italy.

      You wrote you have some episodes of “The Psychiatrist”: I wonder if you could be so kind to contact me…

      You can send me a message here: . I’ll be very grateful! Thank you in advance!


      P.S.: not only Jon! To everyone who have some episodes of “The Psychiatrist”, please contact me! Thank you again!

  3. Stephen Bowie Says:

    My favorite story about The Survivors was the very profane one that I used to close my Richard DeRoy interview; it might be a good thing that Dick didn’t live to see me stick it at the very end. Walter Doniger trashed it too, but not as vividly. I’d just love to see the damn thing – that’s one that’ll never, ever escape the vault, unless somebody manages to pilfer it.

    I’ve always held my nose when it comes to these fake TV movies, even when it’s all there is – I just can’t abide not knowing how they’re actually supposed to be. The McClouds are a case study in how radically some were altered. I have a few on tape that I’ve never watched, and actually held off on starting McCloud for years because of the mess Universal made of the first season — even though I had no reason to hope the original six would ever emerge.

    When I met Roy Thinnes, the first thing I asked about was The Psychiatrist, hoping he’d had the sense to get 16mm prints of them; but all he had was the TVM, which a fan had sent him, I think.

    And Jon, you’d know this better than I would, but obviously the music had to be altered to some extent in most of these, even if it was just dropping in some stock cues over the bridging sequences. I didn’t pay much attention to it in McCloud, but I did notice that the goofy Burt Bacharach-style song (no composer or lyricist credited) in the Susan Saint James episode is talked over and elided somewhat in the syndicated version.

  4. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    Another great article. I only caught up with “Night Gallery” in syndication, and I always wondered whose stupid idea it was to make Gary Collins’ psychiatrist a recurring character. It gradually dawned on me that it was actually a whole nother series, and I didn’t learn until today that it was called “The Sixth Sense.”

    Boy howdy, that “Four in One” was a heroically bad idea. I hope someone got fired for that.

  5. Jeff Wildman Says:

    I suspect that Universal still actually has the original 60 minute 35 mm versions of “McCloud” in their vaults, despite their claims to Taylor. However, we know that Universal’s outrageous in-house transfer costs (another example of Universal’s accounting practices fiction) would have made it impossible for Madman to consider a release remotely profitable.

    Thankfully, his detective work with the British broadcaster paid off and managed to skirt Universal’s thoughtless disregard when it comes to remastering their television archives.

  6. Stephen, hats off on a truly impressive piece of research. Not only that, but I love the headline! My one question for you and others is, how do you guys afford those MacFarland and Praeger Books? Do you know a good second-hand dealer?

  7. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Thanks, David … although, again, I must credit “Neil Brock” (who prefers to remain anonymous; that’s the pseudonym he uses to torment the Home Theater Forum), without whose notes from various B.I.B. books (i.e., syndication guides dating back to the 70s) that list of recut TV movies would’ve been impossible to compile.

    The McFarland book issue is a real problem. I’d like to support those authors financially, but as you say, it’s cost-prohibitive. Surely the Paley Center has a bigger budget for that than I do…? I keep meaning to approach them about review copies, but I suspect they’re rather stingy with them. At least for now, some of the texts are readable, at least in part, on Google Books.

    • michael Says:

      McFarland doesn’t realize how better their sales would be if they dropped the prices on their books. I know they aim at libraries, but that market’s budget is shrinking so even libraries can’t afford to buy all of them.

      When I worked Tower Records books in Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles), I brought in several of their trade format ones. Despite being overpriced some sold, but when I put them on sale they flew off the shelf.

      I grew up in an era when my creative writing teacher at LSU (1976) did not know what a screenplay was. Now the subjects McFarland books cover interests a much wider audience than ever before.

      Or at least add e-books to their formats.

  8. Unfortunately the Paley Center doesn’t have any kind of a favored-son relationship with McFarland or Praeger, although, Stephen, you have planted an idea in my head, which I will pursue. Our problem is similar to the library situation Michael references above; we are only going to purchase so many of these books, and I don’t know how strong a case I can make for The Virginian or Cannell. Certainly we have some of them, and if you are ever in need of research help please feel free to let me know, and I would be happy to do whatever I can to help.

  9. Mike from Jersey Says:

    As I was reading your article I chortled to yself that no way would you be hip to Mr.Terrific for your list of tv movies made from episodes of failed series. Yet there it was!”I salute you sir” as Ed McMahon used to say. I wa six when that series aired for a year, I think my brother and me were its only audience and we were outraged it was cancled,hoping it would some day come back along with My Mother the Car. Lo and behold I came home from a party when I was in my 20’s and there was the Mr. Terrific movie on at 4 am, so I called my bro up, waking his wife and baby, told him it was on so he got up to watch it too. What crap, you really can’t go home again with some childhood memories,and I couldnt go to my brothers home either for weeks, his wife was ticked.Such is life for the dedicated tv afficionado.
    As for your explanation of why some McClouds were so bad, bless you! I couldnt figure out when watching it of late why such a fondly remembered series was so badly butchered at times, some had no endings, just a very quick cut to the music.As for McFarland Books they are way over priced but almost worth it,their I SPY one of the best books on a series yet, I was shocked by just how important it was in regards to educating America on how Black people were just like anyone else. Cosby, Culp and Sheldon Leonard should be lionized today for their work on that show, you would think BET would run it at least.
    Anyway Stephen, keep up the good work,and if you ever write a book please let us know. Mike

  10. Ward Cleaver Says:

    I’m glad that Taylor was able to find the original one hour episodes. I was just ten when McCloud premiered, so I barely remember the one hour shows. I do remember the closing credits, with McCloud on horseback, galloping through New York City streets. I’m hoping to catch these on DVD.

    Like you, I’m hoping for a Naked City DVD release; I’ve started recording and watching the reruns on Retro TV. That is, when the signal doesn’t disappear.

  11. Gary Gerani Says:

    I suppose you can divide these re-edited ditties into a few camps: shows altered/combined to fit into TV syndication (such as the McCLOUDs discussed above), or episodes of series strung together to create a bogus feature released to theaters. The U.N.C.L.E. “movies” are often mentioned (SPY WITH MY FACE, etc.), but Universal went crazy in this department circa ’67-’68 (TAMMY became TAMMY AND THE MILLIONAIRE, LAREDO begat THREE GUNS FOR TEXAS, etc.). Then you have feature-length compilations of old BOB HOPE network presentations (e.g., THE MOVIE MAKER derived from Rod Serling’s “Fade Out to Black” with Rod Steiger, Robert Culp and others, an hour drama that was padded with new “flashback scenes” featuring a younger version of the Steiger character). Most TV historians consider the wacko re-working of NIGHT GALLERY and THE SIXTH SENSE for syndication (16mm masters, yet!) to be the height of this bizarro approach to re-incarnating an already filmed TV product. But I also submit that U’s handling of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is noteworthy: The series began with a three-hour pilot that was eventually re-edited into hour episodes for syndication. The pilot was also edited down and released as a theatrical feature, with villain Baltar (John Colicos) slain on camera; he is spared in the TV version to become a semi-regular character. Then Universal released a second feature incarnation for early cable showings, culled from “The Living Legend” two-parter, entitled MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK. Finally, all episodes of the show were re-edited into features for TV syndication, offered to local channels that way, or in original hour format. New York’s Channel 9 chose the “natural” version, if memory serves. But… yeah. Universal just LOVED re-editing and re-packaging its TV creations, squeezing every last buck out of their product for whatever venues might have it. Although some have argued that this practice at least keeps some shows alive (e.g., THE SIXTH SENSE might’ve remained unseen to this day if syndication didn’t maintain a glimmer of it ; TAMMY AND THE MILLIONAIRE was long-viewed as the fourth TAMMY flick, shown alongside the others in those cable marathons for years, enabling Debbie Watson’s take to be compared with Reynolds and Dee). But, even so, this practice is pretty much indefensible. It’s one thing for Gene Roddenberry to deftly re-work his Jeff Hunter STAR TREK pilot into the two-part “Menagerie,” quite another to take finished, scored and released programs and, in order to fit a new picture frame so to speak, re-edit the hell out of them willy-nilly.

  12. Doug Says:

    I too have always wanted to see the six one-hour episodes of McCloud. When I saw the stills u ran from the shows original title sequence, I immediately realized that Universal recycled the footage in 1973 for the opening titles to Kojak.

  13. rnigma Says:

    This explains the existence of “Riding with Death,” two “Gemini Man” episodes cobbled together – a fact not lost on the cast of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” who gleefully riffed it. At least the two episodes in question had a guest star in common (singer Jim Stafford). Footage from the “Gemini Man” pilot was shoehorned in to create a flashback sequence explaining the hero’s origin.

  14. Brian Pearce Says:

    I noticed just last night while watching “Murder Arena” that in one of the “voiceover” scenes that was added to join the two episodes, there was a reference to a plot point (the murder-at-the-rodeo from “The Concrete Canyon”) that hadn’t happened yet!

    Dennis Weaver is walking in the park with Susan Saint James, and he says (with his back conveniently turned toward the camera) “You know, that rodeo killing and the Park Bridge murders are really keeping us apart…”

    In a scene that follows shortly thereafter, he’s (somewhat inexplicably) in a taxi with Nancy Malone, and when they return to her hotel — only then does he learn of the murder.

  15. I was transfixed by the expositional prologue stitched onto “Meanest Men Of the West.” Uncharacteristically sadistic and brutal for “The Virginian,” it suited director Sam Fuller’s work to a “T.”

    • Mike from Jersey Says:

      Jan, I enjoy watching the COZI network, which only shows Universal series, such as The Virginian.
      As in the McCloud episodes Stephen cited above,”Meanest Men of the West” was spliced from two episodes that had nothing to do with the other, each one superior to this mess fashioned by a slob who had no pride in his work(in fact it is the ultimate example of what Stephen was talking about in regards to Universal whoring it’s product).
      Try to catch the Sam Fuller/Lee Marvin “Virginian” episode by itself, I think you will agree with me. Kraft Suspense Theatre(fridays 5 AM on COZI)did enjoy a big success by taking a 2 part Lee Marvin episode and releasing it to the theatres, I can’t recall the name but it was a war movie,it has yet to be shown in the reun package, maybe it was removed. This was the opposite case in regards to Superman,which absorbed a movie, The Mole Men, as a 2 part – or was it 3 – episode.

  16. Douglas E Lumley Says:

    Great article. Now I know the details of what was done to 4 Kolchak: The Night Stalker episodes; which brings me to a correction. There were 4 episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker that suffered this treatment, not 6. They were: episode 6 (“Firefall”) and episode 11 (“The Energy Eater”) – made into the mishmash known as “Crackle of Death” and episode 16 (“Demon in Lace”) and episode 17 (“Legacy of Terror”) grinded into the movie-sausage called “The Demon and the Mummy”. I can still remember the joy at finally getting to watch these episodes in unmutilated form thanks to the Columbia mail order club (2 episodes per month on VHS at $20 a pop – it took over a year to get them all; those were the days!). Incidentally, these movies used new insert shots and voice-overs to help link the episodes; I wonder if they did the same with other series?

  17. Steve Aldous Says:

    Really good, informative article. Interesting that the McCloud one-hour Season One series has finally been released on Region 1 DVD recently. I caught many of Universal’s hybrid TV movies here in the UK on Channel 5 a few years ago and made off-air recordings of “The Case of the Baltimore Girls” (Griff), “The Long Run” (Alias Smith and Jones) and “Riding with Death” (Gemini Man). Like you say, they are obvious stitch jobs that lose dramatic impetus. Channel 5 had a season of authentic Universal TV Movies and Unsold pilots mixing with these hybrids, which ran for a few months, and I also got a recordings of “Runaway” and “The Young Country” among others.

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