In the 1880s Jason McCord travels the country trying to prove he's no coward. He needs to do this because the military career of this West point graduate came to an end when he was thrown out of the army after being accused of cowardice.
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In this Western series, Jason McCord, the only survivor of the Battle of Bitter Creek, is court-martialed and kicked out of the Army because of his alleged cowardice. Rather than demean the good name of the Army commander who was actually to blame for the massacre, McCord travels the Old West trying to restore his good name and reputation. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The lone survivor of the Battle Of Bitter Creek, an Apache massacre of U.S. cavalrymen, Chuck Conners is falsely court-marshaled for cowardice and desertion. Dishonorably discharged, he's forced to roam the west, taking on odd-jobs, while enduring cruel taunts and unprovoked violence, proving his manhood time and again.
Branded is pretty high-concept for a fairly low-budget thirty-minute show, with a lot of early episodes (under the supervision of series creator Larry Cohen) dealing with the nature of cowardice and what exactly makes a man a man, as well as Connors' attempts to keep the secrets of Bitter Creek, his encounters with various friends and relatives of his deceased men and the inevitable vengeance-seekers among them.
The first season is the more cerebral and ambitious of the two, with much of the action taking place primarily in town and leading to some anticlimactic conclusions to some of the episodes. The second season finds the series upgraded to color, with a bigger budget and better- staged action scenes. It's a bit of a trade-off though, with Connors' past (and the participation of Cohen) pushed to the back-burner. There's still some quality scripts, though in the spirit of a more conventional western series. It does however, provide a serviceable ending to the series.
One of the show's strengths, over only two seasons, is it's virtual army of old and new guest stars: Johnny Crawford, Burt Reynolds, Bruce Dern, Noah Beery, Beau Bridges, Lee Van Cleef, Dick Clark (!), Jay Silverheels, L.Q. Jones, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Cesar Romero, Iron Eyes Cody, James Best, Pat O'Brien, John Carradine, John Ireland, Claude Akins, Burgess Meredith, Martin Landau, Angelo Rossito, Pat Wayne, Dick Miller, Victor French, etc.
As the show ended, the producers gathered much of the crew, Connors and Branded guest stars Michael Rennie and James MacArthur for the feature, Ride Beyond Vengeance. Fans of this should definitely check it out.
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