The Marshal

Action-adventure from Don Johnson's production company features Jeff Fahey as a U.S. Marshal, roaming the country in search of fugitives. Regularly scheduled in ABC's Saturday night spot formerly occupied by "The Commish," and opposite CBS' "Walker, Texas Ranger," show should fade quickly from public consciousness.

Action-adventure from Don Johnson’s production company features Jeff Fahey as a U.S. Marshal, roaming the country in search of fugitives. Regularly scheduled in ABC’s Saturday night spot formerly occupied by “The Commish,” and opposite CBS’ “Walker, Texas Ranger,” show should fade quickly from public consciousness.

Pilot, which ran Tuesday night, finds deputy marshal Winston MacBride (Fahey) in pursuit of former radical Susan Tuttle (Laura Johnson), who has spent the last 20 years as mild-mannered housewife Elaine Sinclair.

Her husband, Barry (Michael Brandon), has no idea of her former name or identity, but she’s still wanted by the feds for participating in long-ago raid on draft board office, in which a security officer was killed.

Similarity to real-life Katherine Ann Power story ends here; Susan Tuttle escapes, but makes herself all too easy to track down and capture, leading MacBride to suspect that there’s something bigger at stake.

He’s right, and it’s Tuttle’s former co-conspirator LoyalTruscott (William Russ), wild-eyed radical who keeps babbling about his Asian war experience.

Still at large, he kidnaps his daughter by Susan, Teri (Molly Parker), evidently in an attempt to get Susan to escape the marshal and reunite with them. Don’t look too closely for logic in this one, scripted by series co-creators Daniel Pyne and John Mankiewicz.

Whole thing ends up in big shootout, with second of two buildings to be destroyed by fiery explosions.

MacBride must have been demoted from Grammar Patrol: in one piece of exposition, he tells Barry that “her and three of her friends” participated in aforementioned draft board attack. In publicity, the producers make much of the series’ authenticity, which should be limiting: exploits of a real deputy marshal are limited to one of 95 judicial districts across the country. And it’s unlikely that a real marshal would win commendation from his superiors for resolving a case as MacBride does here — setting a fugitive free “because it’s right.”

Pre-title sequence has, like those in James Bond movies, little to do with what follows except to set up method of final capture of Truscott; it doesn’t take a cineaste to spot MacBride stealing from Dirty Harry Callahan’s “Do you feel lucky” speech.

There’s one funny, fleeting reference to Fidel Castro playing piano for Susan and singing her a Steely Dan song; more of that kind of flavor would help a lot.

Fahey could turn into an appealing lead if given more opportunity to loosen up. Though they’re not regulars, MacBride has a wife (Patricia Harras) and two young daughters.

Most noteworthy aspects of tech credits are use of relatively fresh Canadian outdoor locations and the first major explosion, which ends with a large chunk of house dropping behind a stakeout car.

The Marshal

(Tues. (31), 10-11 p.m., ABC)

  • Production: Filmed in Calgary and British Columbia by Buffalo Wallet Prods., Western Sandblast and Paramount Pictures. Executive producers, Don Johnson, Aaron Lipstadt, John Mankiewicz, Daniel Pyne; producer, Gareth Davies; co-producer, Diane Sillan; director, Dean Parisot; writers, Pyne, Mankiewicz.
  • Crew: Camera, Ron Garcia; editors, Jere Huggins, Victor Dubois; production designer, David Willson; sound, Ralph Parker; music, Tim Truman.
  • Cast: Cast: Jeff Fahey, Laura Johnson, Molly Parker, Michael Brandon, William Russ , Don S. Davis, Alan C. Peterson, Duncan Fraser, Frank C. Turner, Nicholas Lea, Oliver Becker, William MacDonald, Jennifer Clement, Patricia Harras.
  • Music By: