East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Tracking down “Trackdown”

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An then they say there’s nothing good in Trump’s election.trackdown_culp
No, easy – I’m not going to talk politics.
Fact is, because of Donald Trump’s election I just discovered a TV series I did not know existed.

Because you see, it turns out that in a 1958 episode of the TV series Trackdown, a hustler and snake oil salesman called Trump, whose sinister plan involves the building of a wall to save good, god-fearing American citizens.

Now, in part because I’m currently on a Western roll, this Trackdown thing caught my attention – and when I found it features one of my favorite TV stars, actor Robert Culp, I had to learn more.

dead-or-aliveThe series was a spinoff of another series that adapted Zane Grey’s stories to the screen, and was produced by Dick Powell, and in turn it originated another spinoff, one that I know quite well – Steve McQueen’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, which I remember watching when I was a kid. The hours we spent in the old schoolyard playing bounty hunters!

Described as “the thinking man’s western” and designed as “a western Dragnet“, Trackdown was about a Texas ranger, Hoby Gilman (a vaguely Lovecraftian name, but that’s just me), and his various adventures as he tracked down (aha!) law-breakers and in general mantained the peace in his community.
And the featured a large supporting cast of typical “western faces” that would become familiar in later years in various western-themed TV-shows.
Also, Trackdown was the only TV series to be endorsed by both the State of Texas and the Texas Rangers themselves – no, they didn’t endorse Chuck Norris, but they did endorse Robert Culp.
How cool is that?


And this was actually the series that put Robert Culp on the map, so to speak, and paved the way for his role in I Spy, a series that still casts its long shadow on my tastes in terms of fiction1.

And so I set myself to track down Trackdown (yeah, I know, this one’s cheap).
Turns out the series is in the public domain, no DVD release exists, but you can find chunks of it on YouTube. Obviously it’s a series from the 1950s – the quality of the recording is uneven to say the least, anbd it’s mostly shot on soundstages.
But as they say hereabouts, if you never saw it, it’s new… and as I said, I’m on a western roll right now.
So, I’m set for a few hours of viewing.
And all because of Donald Trump.

  1. I’ll have to do a post on that. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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