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  • This, along with Wanted Dead or Alive, was one of the better written and scripted of the routine weekly western TV dramas that glutted late 1950s TV.

    Robert Culp was unique in his character of Hobie Gilman. Gilman looked for the moral justice behind each situation he found himself in. It was not just 30 minutes of chase 'em and shoot 'em.

    Interestingly, Steve McQueen got his first shot at a TV series by playing Josh Randall on an episode of Track Down. His spin off series Wanted Dead or Alive was also a unique series, and launched another great actor's career.

    By today's standards, yes, most of the 1950s westerns were formulaic. But if you have the time to catch a group of them for comparison, Track Down stands out. Culp is a great actor, as subsequently shown in every piece of work he did later on.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a kid in the Fifties, I used to catch as many TV Westerns as I could with my Dad, as long as they didn't go past my bedtime. I've seen episodes of most, but the two I remember watching regularly are virtually unknown today. One was 'Johnny Ringo' starring Don Durant, and the other was 'Trackdown', the story of Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, portrayed by Robert Culp. Culp was every bit as cool as another TV Western star, Steve McQueen, and if you've seen him in action, you know he worked the part. With his upturned jacket collar and the strutting walk, Culp exuded a unique confidence in his role, standing up to bad guys and delivering justice to the Old West. Ranger Gilman even smoked, rather unusual now as I think of other popular TV characters of the era. I could be wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen guys like Marshal Matt Dillon or Rebel Nick Adams light one up. Now that I mention it, I'll have to be attentive when I catch some of those shows.

    Since I bring up Steve McQueen's name, it's worth mentioning that 'Trackdown' first introduced the character of bounty hunter Josh Randall in a first season episode appropriately titled 'The Bounty Hunter', airing on March 7th, 1958. McQueen was brought back ten episodes later as a completely different character, actually two characters, when he portrayed a pair of brothers, one good and one an outlaw. Interestingly, the character of Hoby Gilman was first introduced by Culp in an episode of 'Zane Grey Theater' from May 3rd, 1957.

    It wasn't unusual for guest actors to show up in a series back then more than once, almost always in different roles. Nick Adams, Richard Devon, Warren Oates and DeForrest Kelley each made three appearances in 'Trackdown'. Michael Landon, Johnnie Crawford and Don Durant both had two along with McQueen. Other favorites of mine who appeared a single time include Vic Morrow, Pernell Roberts, Elisha Cook Jr., James Best, Strother Martin and Keye Luke.

    Watching the series in episode order over the past few months (there were seventy), the only one I remember seeing fifty years ago was one called "The Schoolteacher". That's probably why it's one of my favorites, in which Richard Cornthwaite portrays a non-violent, milquetoast sort of character who's bullied by Harold J. Stone. The teacher trains himself to shoot accurately under the watchful eye of Gilman, who emphasizes that shooting straight and hitting a target is more valuable than being quick on the draw. When the inevitable showdown eventually occurs, the teacher first displays his shooting prowess to his adversary, causing the town bully to back down. It was a neat way to show the audience that violence doesn't always have to be the answer if you use your head.

    As a Texas Ranger, Hoby Gilman was called on to fight trouble in various towns, but a good portion of the stories took place in Porter, Texas. There were a handful of regulars supporting Culp, most notably Ellen Corby as Henrietta Porter, the publisher of the town newspaper 'The Enterprise'. Norman Leavitt was Gilman's deputy Ralph, and later shows brought in Peter Leeds as Tenner Smith, owner of the Buckhorn Saloon, and Addison Richards as Doc Calhoun. All had significant roles in various stories, demonstrating their loyalty to the town's peace officer.

    Produced by Four Star Films and airing on the CBS network, the show lasted only two seasons, but back then, over thirty episodes per season was pretty standard. The thirty minute episodes began on October 4th, 1957, and ran until September 23rd, 1959. That last episode by the way, guest starred DeForest Kelley and Don Durant as a pair of brothers protecting their mother who was going senile. A week later, Don Durant debuted my other favorite TV Western on October 1st with the initial episode of 'Johnny Ringo'. I'll eventually get to reviewing that one as well.
  • Trackdown, Wanted Dead or Alive, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun, Will Travel were my favorite television westerns during the 1950s. I have the DVDs of the last three but can no record of Trackdown being available?

    Hoby Gillman is as an important part of my memory as Josh Randall, Matt Dillon, and Paladin. I remember being glued in front of the television set on Saturday night with my family all around, turning the rabbit ears in JUST the right direction to get the least amount of "snow". A bowl full of popcorn and a bottle of Dr.Pepper by my side, I rode the range with all of my idols. Through the miracle of cable and a DVD player I can experience this feeling once again and it's wonderful! Trackdown was on for three seasons, as I recall. Does anyone know if it's available?
  • bux26 October 1998
    An obvious vehicle for Culp, "Trackdown" was on the cutting edge of the 'adult' western. Culp's character, Hoby Gilman comes off as a hip Texas Ranger-kind of a cross between Sunset Strips Kooky, and Dragnet's Joe Friday! By today's standards, routine, at the time it was must viewing.
  • AMONG THE MOST popular subjects to center a Western on has long been stories of the highly storied Texas Rangers, incidentally, who were the first State Police department in the Country. We can and will name several series that find their roots in the organization.

    STARTING WITH THE most fundamental and ancestral to all is THE LONE RANGER; which started out with the cold blooded massacre of a troop of Rangers. The sole survivor becomes the one who dons the mask. TALES OF THE Texas RANGERS, like the previously mentioned series was a kiddie show its origin on the radio also. We even have WALKER, Texas RANGER in more recent times.

    SO, SOMEWHERE IN the middle, circa 1957-59, we were presented with, for our approval, TRACKDOWN. It starred a young Robert Culp as Ranger Hoby Gillman. He was sullen, humorless and all business. Mr. Culp played him that way to a tee, creating for us the impression that this was his own true personality.

    THE SERIES' OPENING sported the Flag of the Texas Rangers vigorously blowing across our smallish, B & W TV screens. It was accompanied with opening theme, which we have long since forgotten. We do seem to recall that there was an announcer doing opening voice over.

    EACH AND EVERY week, Ranger Gillman was out somewhere in solo force, looking for those who were wanted for previous High Misdemeanors and Felonies. In short, the Ranger was serving Arrest Warrants. HJe served many and did it far and wide.

    OF PARTICULAR INTEREST is one episode which co-featured a Bounty Hunter, who struck an alliance with Hoby. This Boiunty Hunter was Josh Randall, portrayed by Steve McQueen. This is the most significant episode in the series; for it served as the Pilot for McQueen's starring in WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE.

    NOW SCHULTZ, DON'T them network execs move in mysterious ways?
  • This show's character was a major departure for standard western characterizations of the late 1950's. And the individual solely responsible for that swing in characterization was the series star, Robert Culp.

    Culp played the show's lead character, Texas Ranger Hobey Gillman, as a hip, cool dude; somewhat reminiscent of the then running top rated detective series, Peter Gunn.

    Culp gave the character a cool walk 'hip-diddy' walk, and spoke his lines as though he'd taken his responses off the top of his head and, basically, without any thought whatsoever before doing so. He was even cool when someone had the drop on him, or when he outdrew the bad guy. He was just plain 'cool'.

    Robert Culp sharpened this image during his tenure in his first television starring role and vehicle. He then deftly transferred it, intact, to the character Kelly Robinson in the 1965 TV espionage hit, "I Spy."

    In that top rated series in which he starred with acting newcomer Bill Cosby, to this day, many fans of the show felt that it was Culp's acting demeanor that gave the show it's real appeal.

    Unfortunately, Cosby's being the first Black in a television series in a lead role, stole the show from him. Cosby became the viewer draw.

    Culp was initially hired to be the 'lead' star in the series, but in the last three years of its run, Cosby was the everyone talked about even though, clearly, he was not the veteran or polished actor Cosby was.

    In the final two years, Cosby was even paid more for his participation than Culp was, which did not come out until some ten or more years after the series ended.

    Regardless, the series was a good one for its time, even though now quite dated to a younger generation who know little of and care less about the 'Cold War' period of history.
  • Robert Culp is the most unique actor I've ever seen. He's one of the most believable characters--no matter what he portrays, from Trackdown to I Spy... Rarely does one see an actor with such natural finesse and brillance.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Be sure and watch "The Bounty Hunter" and "The Brothers", as you get to see Steve McQueen very early in his career. On a DVD I have, there is an interview with the star of "Trackdown", Robert Culp. Steve McQueen came on the set shortly before his first appearance in it (which led to his own show). Robert Culp had gotten very fast "on the draw". He was quicker than Steve McQueen. Culp showed Steve how to do it. McQueen (obviously) went home and practiced, over and over. The very next day, they did a practice "quick draw" with each other. Of course, Steve McQueen beat him! Culp could not believe how quick McQueen was. As time would tell, all of Steve McQueen's fans came to know that "winning" was a thread which ran throught his entire life. He had to win at everything, which is part of why he was so brilliant. Whether it was acting, racing motorcycles, or cars; in all kinds of settings. He would beat you lagging quarters. Regardless, Robert Culp had a lot to say about Steve McQueen, and it is all in good fun.
  • There are two things that stand out to me about this show. First, it was shot almost exclusively on soundstages; no outdoor or even backlot scenes And while I like Robert Culp, his character was not. Hoby Gilman was not particularly pleasant or friendly. In fact, he had a rather sour disposition.
  • Hoby Gilman, the Texas Ranger played by Robert Culp, was dry and somewhat unfriendly, just like Robert Culp was in most of his roles. I always liked Robert Culp when I was a kid. Years later, as an adult, I found his characters in most roles were dry and a bit abrasive.

    Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman usually expects the worst from people, and often he gets it. Sometimes people turn out to be good, which not only surprises Gilman, but sometimes they make him look like a jerk.

    It is interesting that the writers would occasionally show up Gilman by making him look bad, but that was the Adult Western Genre that was popular in the 1950s. Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke also had the frequent Adult Western theme of realistic stories with unhappy endings.

    The stories sometimes felt pretty long even though it was only a half-hour show. Because of Gilman's personality, it seemed like a lot of the stories were fated to live up to his expectations regarding the other characters. Almost everyone turned out to be less than they could have been. They usually lived up to Gilman's low expectations. Gilman's attitude about people makes it harder to enjoy the stories now, when I watch them as an adult.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a lifelong fan of Western movies an TV shows,I have enjoyed re-watching this show METV, even with the commercials! Robert Culp created not only a unique Western hero like none before, or since, but also in the choice of weapon, a 1875 Smith & Wesson Schofield break-top revolver, which I was surprised none of the previous reviewers picked up on or mentioned.

    While the Schofield was quite a popular handgun in the old west, and may even have been used by General Custer, it seldom shows up in the thousands of Western films over the years.

    That said, this show is worth watching if only to see Robert Culp bring a interesting take on a Western character. Others have already commented on that, to which I only agree.

    The only negative comment I would make of something was prevalent to ALL the TV Westerns of that era: the use of the obvious FAKE sound stage street, a real bummer!!

    Robert Culp was one of a kind, he will always be missed.
  • Trackdown was a western that ran two seasonsn television and was a product of Dick Powell's Four Star Productions. It starred Robert Culp who got his first big break as an actor.

    Culp played Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman and he was on roving assignment throughout the state of Texas. Culp dealt with assorted bad gius bringing them to justice.

    Watching these haf hour episodes I liked the fact that even with the li,ited time it took to develop characters the plots were tigjht and the stories told. Culp was a man dedicated to enforcing law and justice.

    A pity this did not run longer, but Robert Culpas destined for bigger and better things.
  • This show while not as well known as bonanza, gunsmoke, rawhide, or the rifleman may be the best of the classic TV westerns. In fact, as much as I like Richard Boone as a show I believe Trackdown is superior to have gun will travel. In thirty minutes you generally have a complex story, well acted, with some moral ambiguity to it. Of course Robert Culp makes the show work in a way few others could, but all in all one of the few fifties shows that still holds up sixty years later.
  • Eso me suena un gracias a Dios jajaja!! Lo se necesito amigos.