Branded (TV series)
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Connors as Jason McCord and guest star Anna Morrell, 1965.
|Created by||Larry Cohen|
|Opening theme||"Branded" by Dominic Frontiere and Alan Alch|
Richard Markowitz (1.13)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||48|
|Executive producer(s)||Harris Katelman (1965)|
|Producer(s)||Cecil Barker (1965)
Andrew J. Fenady
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Branded Company (1965)
|Distributor||King World Productions
CBS Television Distribution
|Original run||January 24, 1965 – September 4, 1966|
Branded is an American Western series which aired on NBC from 1965 through 1966, sponsored by Procter & Gamble in its Sunday night 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time period, and starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a United States Army Cavalry captain who had been drummed out of the service following an unjust accusation of cowardice.
The opening title credits of each episode in the series feature a depiction of McCord's cashiering: his hat is pulled off, his epaulets are torn from his uniform, his buttons are pulled off, and his saber is broken, while a drum plays over Dominic Frontiere and Alan Alch's theme song:
"All but one man died...There at Bitter Creek...and they say he ran away.
Branded! Marked with a coward's shame.
What do you do when you're branded, will you fight for your name?
He was innocent . . . not a charge was true . . . but the world would never know.
Branded! Scorned as the one who ran.
What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man?
Wherever you go for the rest of your life you must prove ... you're a man."
He is then sent out of the fort where this occurred, and the gates are closed behind him.
In the pilot episode entitled "The Vindicator" McCord is confronted by a newspaper reporter (Claude Akins) who wanted a follow up story on the "Bitter Creek" massacre. General James Reed, McCord's mentor, was on a peace mission and was to meet with representatives of the Apache nation at Bitter Creek when his unit of 31 men were outnumbered and attacked by a group of renegade Indians known as "Dog Soldiers." As the attack was underway McCord realized that the old general had taken leave of his senses and relieved him of command, but it was too late. McCord himself was wounded in the battle and left for dead. He remained in a coma for ten days after the attack. McCord was later brought up on charges and cashiered out of the Army after being found guilty of deserting his men in battle.
The newspaper reporter meanwhile tracked down a widow of the "Bitter Creek" massacre whose husband was third in command. She possessed a series of letters her husband had written questioning the mental instability of General Reed. Those letters would have been enough to grant McCord a new trial and possibly exonerate him. But it was McCord who convinced the widow (played by June Lockhart) to burn the letters in order to save the reputation of General Reed. McCord feared that if Reed's reputation was damaged certain people in Washington DC would try to start a new war with the Apaches. Therefore McCord never spoke out about what really happened at Bitter Creek.
McCord's cavalry saber is seen to be broken as part of the dismissal ceremony shown at the beginning of each episode during the opening theme. McCord has the pommel and remaining blade sharpened into a long knife which becomes a gimmick in many episodes.
In the series, McCord traveled throughout the Old West, continually confronted by people who refused to believe his notorious reputation for cowardice was undeserved, requiring him to prove them wrong.
John M. Pickard, formerly of the related series, Boots and Saddles, appeared in six episodes as General Phil Sheridan. Notable guest stars included Chris Alcaide, Russ Conway, Burt Reynolds, Don Collier, Burgess Meredith, John Carradine, Pat Conway, Alex Cord, Janet De Gore, Chad Everett, I. Stanford Jolley, Martin Landau, June Lockhart, Gregg Palmer, Dolores del Río, and Lee Van Cleef.
Created by Larry Cohen, the show was co-produced for most of its run by Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions in association with Sentinel Productions, Inc. Goodson-Todman was primarily known not for Westerns or dramatic shows, but almost exclusively for game and panel shows such as What's My Line? and The Price is Right. Present-day U.S. rights to Branded came into the ownership of King World before it became CBS Television Distribution. Many stations that carry Branded today usually schedule the program alongside others about drifters in the Old West including Aaron Spelling's The Guns of Will Sonnett, which starred Walter Brennan and Norman "Dack" Rambo.
The series followed Connors' highly popular series The Rifleman, but it did not have that show's longevity, lasting only 48 episodes over two seasons, the first in black and white, the second in color.
Season 1 (black and white)
|Episode #||Episode title||Original airdate|
|1-1||"Survival"||January 24, 1965|
|1-2||"The Vindicator" (pilot)||January 31, 1965|
|1-3||"The Test"||February 7, 1965|
|1-4||"The Rules of the Game"||February 14, 1965|
|1-5||"The Bounty"||February 21, 1965|
|1-6||"Leap Upon Mountains..."||February 28, 1965|
|1-7||"Coward, Step Aside"||March 7, 1965|
|1-8||*"The Mission" (part one)||March 14, 1965|
|1-9||*"The Mission" (part two)||March 21, 1965|
|1-10||*"The Mission" (part three)||March 28, 1965|
|1-11||"The First Kill"||April 4, 1965|
|1-12||"Very Few Heroes"||April 11, 1965|
|1-13||"One Way Out"||April 18, 1965|
|1-14||"That the Brave Endure"||April 25, 1965|
|1-15||"Taste of Poison"||May 2, 1965|
|1-16||"Price of a Name"||May 23, 1965|
*In color "The Mission" was released as a movie called Broken Sabre, with new footage added featuring Allyn Joslyn.
The episode "Coward, Step Aside", Guest starred Chuck Connors' Rifleman Co-star Johnny Crawford.
Season 2 (color)
|Episode #||Episode title||Original airdate|
|2-1||"Judge Not"||September 12, 1965|
|2-2||"Now Join the Human Race"||September 19, 1965|
|2-3||"Mightier Than the Sword"||September 26, 1965|
|2-4||"I Killed Jason McCord"||October 3, 1965|
|2-5||"The Bar Sinister"||October 10, 1965|
|2-6||"Seward's Folly"||October 17, 1965|
|2-7||"Salute the Soldier Briefly"||October 24, 1965|
|2-8||"The Richest Man in Boot Hill"||October 31, 1965|
|2-9||"Fill No Glass For Me" (part one)||November 7, 1965|
|2-10||"Fill No Glass For Me" (part two)||November 14, 1965|
|2-11||"The Greatest Coward on Earth"||November 21, 1965|
|2-12||"$10,000 For Durango"||November 28, 1965|
|2-13||"Romany Roundup" (part one)||December 5, 1965|
|2-14||"Romany Roundup" (part two)||December 12, 1965|
|2-15||"A Proud Town"||December 19, 1965|
|2-16||"The Golden Fleece"||January 2, 1966|
|2-17||"The Wolfers"||January 9, 1966|
|2-18||"This Stage of Fools"||January 16, 1966|
|2-19||"A Destiny Which Made Us Brothers"||January 23, 1966|
|2-20||"McCord's Way"||January 30, 1966|
|2-21||"Nice Day for a Hanging"||February 6, 1966|
|2-22||"Barbed Wire"||February 13, 1966|
|2-23||"Yellow For Courage"||February 20, 1966|
|2-24||"Call To Glory" (part one)||February 27, 1966|
|2-25||"Call To Glory" (part two)||March 6, 1966|
|2-26||"Call To Glory" (part three)||March 13, 1966|
|2-27||"The Ghost of Murietta"||March 20, 1966|
|2-28||"The Assassins" (part one)||March 27, 1966|
|2-29||"The Assassins" (part two)||April 3, 1966|
|2-30||"Headed For Doomsday"||April 10, 1966|
|2-31||"Cowards Die Many Times"||April 17, 1966|
|2-32||"Kellie"||April 24, 1966|
Timeless Media Group released both seasons of Branded on DVD in Region 1 in 2004-2005. Season 1 was released on August 3, 2004, while season 2 was released on February 8, 2005. On February 16, 2010, Timeless Media Group released Branded: The Complete Series, a 6-disc box set featuring all 48 episodes of the series as well as several bonus features. Three minutes are missing from each segment. "Broken Sabre" is not included.
In popular culture
- In the 1998 Coen brothers's film The Big Lebowski, Branded is mentioned several times in connection with the (fictitious) former writer of the show, Arthur Digby Sellers. According to the character Walter Sobchak, Sellers wrote 156 episodes, "the bulk of the series." In reality, the run of Branded did not consist of even a third that many episodes. Later in the film, the main character "The Dude" (Jeff Bridges), sings the theme song to Branded while intoxicated in the back of a Malibu, California police car.
- In the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, D.J. Drake (played by Brendan Fraser) is fired as security guard at the Warner Bros. studio in a scene lifted directly from the opening of the show.
- The series Married... with Children episode "All Night Security Dude" parodies the series opening when Al Bundy is fired from his replacement job as a high school security guard in the same fashion as McCord, while the theme song plays. Afterward, while he sulks with his broken night stick, Al quotes the song's lyric to his wife Peggy by asking, "What can I do when I'm branded and I know I'm a man?"
- Spoofed in an episode of SCTV as "Yellow-Belly," with John Candy as Yellow-Belly
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