When a man Houston sent to prison escapes, he then makes an attempt on Houston but gets Bo instead. Houston tries to flush him by shaking down his old associates. He then learns that the ... See full summary »





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Episode complete credited cast:
Lee Horsley ...
Penny Santon ...
Fred Boethig
Dirk Bronson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Deidre Cole ...
Boethig's Secretary
Alvin Ambler
Maureen O'Connor ...

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When a man Houston sent to prison escapes, he then makes an attempt on Houston but gets Bo instead. Houston tries to flush him by shaking down his old associates. He then learns that the man was broken out by a deranged billionaire who became a serial killer whom he caught, who's been in an insane asylum, so he has to find out how he's doing it. He also finds out that the man has recruited a couple of other men to get Houston. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

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Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

20 February 1983 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

The First Dark Unironic Episode Of The Series
11 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Houston's birthday party begins with a bang as his ranch hand Bo (Dennis Fimple) opens a gift that turns out to be a bomb which explodes putting the old cowpoke in hospital.

Houston, in a very abrupt turn from the lighthearted, ironic tone of the first season of the show flies into a rage suspecting that an escaped convict named Dirk Bronson (Don Stroud) whom he put behind bars several years ago has targeted him for revenge and goes on the warpath trying to find Bronson.

After shaking a few trees Houston discovers that another enemy from his past - Castanos (A surprisingly effective Chuck Connors) a wealthy shipping magnate turned serial killer (If Houston can be a detective another rich dude can be a serial killer, right?) has hiredhitmen to kill him. Castanos, who is confined to an asylum and faking being catatonic when doctors are around, taunts Houston when he visits.

Castanos, having consulted the devil on a regular basis, believes the soul of man lies within a woman. He just doesn't know which one and feels compelled to carve up as many different women as he can until he finds it. Houston helped capture him and Castonos swore revenge not merely going after Houston in this episode but also Houston's beloved C.J. whom Castonos believes might have the soul of man within her.

He escapes, abducts her and awaits his confrontation with Houston in an episode which can more accurately be described as "thriller" rather than mystery. We have gotten some well-delivered expositional dialogue from C.J. detailing Castanos' past with Houston which serves as perfect foreshadowing. As the climax builds it even begins to resemble horror touching bases the series never had up until that point.

This particularly chilling bit of TV doesn't look like an episode from the generally satiric first season and my guess is it was an experiment to see if the production team and cast could mine a much darker vibe convincingly at the behest of the network before fully moving in the direction for the second season. You can bet they were still astonished that they had avoided cancellation at this point given the timeslot they were in.

Houston, drawn out of his comfort zone from early in the episode onward is seen yelling at C.J. and Novelli and drinking a lot of whiskey. "This is different!" he proclaims to his secretary Cris having taking a shotgun out of his display case to head out to an abandoned amusement park to confront the villain.

Castanos freaked a lot of people out and showed audiences that there was something in this new show that was really provocative. The arc and backstory of this villain were that electrifying and made skeptics overlook the improbability of the main character by scaring them with this bug-eyed maniac.

The lighthearted supporting character Bo was written out in this episode along with his buddy Lamar (Paul Brinegar) who we don't even see here and is just mentioned in passing.The show was changing and they were the first two casualties. The success of this much darker episode led to more like it in the second and third seasons including serial murders of women and child abduction.

My criticisms are minor as I regard this as one of the best episodes of the series. Don Stroud would return to appear in the premiere of the second season, just 9 episodes after this one, as a completely different character. There are few things I hate more than guest stars who appear on shows playing different characters in later episodes. The backstory and character development of the regulars and those in recurring roles are things we in the audience are supposed to keep track of but then we are supposed to forget that we saw these guest stars portraying different people.

Chuck Connors, though very terrifying as Castanos was 62 years old here and Lee Horsley was 28. As a kid when I first saw this episode I remembered thinking it was a little silly that this senior citizen was clobbering Houston but all things considered it was one of the better guest appearances in the run of the show. I didn't know Chuck Connors could do accents or play the heavy. Here he gave the performance of his long career.

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