Cade's County is a hybrid crime drama/Western that aired on CBS during the 1971-72 season, produced by David Gerber for 20th Century-Fox Television. It starred Glenn Ford, which made it part of a trend that had movie stars trying their hand at TV series.note
Set in the southwestern desert town of Madrid (no state was ever specified), the series had Sam Cade (Ford), who grew up there, returning to be the Marshal of the area. Having served in Naval Intelligence and in the FBI, Cade was more than up to the lead lawman's job, whether investigating a simple robbery or murder or a missing person case that always seemed to lead to a larger conspiracy. Assisting him was Head Deputy J.J. Jackson (Edgar Buchanan), who may have looked like a doddering old man, but was a very shrewd law enforcer who knew the town (and everyone in it) inside and out. A team of deputies served under J.J., Arlo Pritchard (Taylor Lacher), Rudy Davillo (Victor Campos) and Pete (Peter Ford, Glenn Ford's real-life son). A pair of fetching Indian dispatchers, Sundown (Betty Ann Carr) and Little Bird (Sandra Ego), rounded out the team.
Although it was well-produced and well-received, Cade's County lasted only a season, but when reran the following Summer on CBS, got higher ratings. By that time, Producer David Gerber had moved from 20th Century-Fox Television to Screen Gems (aka Columbia Pictures Television), where he would score his biggest successes with Police Story (1973) and Police Woman. Gerber and Ford would work together again, first on the unsold 1973 pilot Jarrett and later in a two-hour episode of Police Story.
J.J., have the boys go out and round up some of these tropes:
- Amoral Attorney: In "Violent Echo", Cade thinks death row inmate Jody Ray Baker was falsely convicted of murder and enlists the help of attorney Frank Leonard (William Windom) to clear Baker before he's executed. However, Leonard turns out to be as amoral as an attorney can get, because he's the real killer.
- Badges and Dog Tags: Cade served in the Navy during The Korean War.
- Billed Above the Title: Glenn Ford in... Cade's County.
- Cain and Abel: In "The Brothers", we discover that Arlo's brother Jess, who was the favorite son when they were growing up, is now a criminal who's planning a kidnapping.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In "Delegate At Large", Grover Curtis decides that he and his gang need a kidnapped J.J. alive to get across the border to Mexico. Then they'll dispose of him.
- Compilation Movie: Three of them...
- "Sam Cade", comprised of the episodes "Homecoming" and "The Fake".
- "The Marshal of Madrid", comprised of the episodes "Crisscross" and "A Gun For Billy".
- Additionally, the two-part "Slay Ride" was also made into a movie.
- The Corpse Stops Here: All the trouble for illegal alien Esteban Sanchez in "Crisscross" starts when he's found standing over the body of a guy who hassled him earlier that night, holding the knife that was the murder weapon.
- Drop the Hammer: In "Company Town", Sam has to do battle with a recalcitrant miner in front of a hostile group in a miners' bar with both of them using the supposed miner's weapon of choice, a pick hammer.
- First-Name Basis: Everyone, including the deputies and dispatchers calls Cade by his first name, Sam, and never Sheriff Cade or Marshal Cade.
- HeelFace Turn: Sheila Curtis, the wife of villain Grover Curtis in "Delegate At Large", eventually helps to free J.J., who was kidnapped while at a law enforcer's convention in Los Angeles.
- I Have Your Wife: In "Ragged Edge", the young daughter of an old friend of Cade's is kidnapped to be exchanged for a drug pusher in Cade's custody.
- Jurisdiction Friction:
- In "Delegate at Large", Cade goes to Los Angeles to look for his missing deputy J.J. and immediately clashes with Gifford, the LAPD Lieutenant in charge of the investigation.
- In the two-part episode "Slay Ride", Chicago Police Lieutenant Ed Kaprowski arrives in town to take Willie Ball, an Indian who's confessed to murder in Madrid. There has been a series of similar slayings in the Windy City, and Kaprowski is certain that Willie is the killer, but Cade is certain that he's only confessing to crimes to draw attention to the plight of Indians and asks the visiting cop to give him extra time to prove Willie innocent.
- New Old West: The show had a Western setting and themes, but was set in The Present Day. Lampshaded in "A Gun for Billy", in which the villain played by Bobby Darin is under the delusion that he's Billy the Kid.
- One-Word Title: "Homecoming", "Crisscross", "Shakedown", "Inferno", "Jessie" and "Blackout".
- Police Procedural: Albeit one with Western elements.
- Short-Runner: It lasted for one 24-episode season.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never fully established where Madrid is located... is it in southern California? Maybe Arizona or New Mexico (where there is a town called Madrid, though they pronounce it with the emphasis on the first syllable, i.e., MAD-rid)? It might even be in Utah or Colorado! The series never gives the state away.