Friends, obviously when it comes to television series that I might have missed back in the day, there are various reasons. I’ve explained before on the site that with only the one television set in the house – if my Family wanted to watch something I would be watching it as well. Of course when Barbary Coast played on CBS back in 1975…the reason I didn’t catch it might have had something to do with the fact I was three years old. However that doesn’t explain how as I started searching out ‘lost’ or ‘failed’ TV shows that Barbary Coast flew under my radar…I mean it starred William Shatner and Doug McClure for Pete’s sake!
The pilot movie for Barbary Coast aired on ABC back on May 4th, 1975 – with the series itself debuting on September 8th of that year. Interestingly enough, Doug McClure who would play the gambler and saloon owner of the Golden Gate Casino in the TV show wasn’t in the pilot film. The role of Cash Conover in that May 4th movie was played by Dennis Cole, of Bracken’s World and Bearcats! fame.
Now Shatner is obviously the star of Barbary Coast, portraying Jeff Cable, a 19th-century undercover investigator who works for the Governor of California . Cable has something of a secret base of operations by way of an luxury apartment – hidden away in Cash Conover’s casino. Jeff Cable who does his best to keep the country safe from all manner of enemies and perils, happens as well to possess a love for a good disguise.
McClure’s character of Conover is interesting in that he doesn’t want to actually get involved in any of Cable’s adventures. He is more than happy enough living a life of ease – earned from his casino and ‘social’ standing in the community. It’s up to Cable to either play on his friend’s desire to see the right thing done or a possible damsel in distress situation to eventually secure his aid.
Interestingly enough, while this was William Shatner’s first attempt at being the main star of a television series since Star Trek – both he and Doug McClure had worked together previously in a pair of episodes of The Virginian. If the plot of Barbary Coast sounds a little familiar it might be because it DOES sound a little like The Wild Wild West!
Barbary Coast appears to have had an embarrassment of riches in regards to it’s guest stars as well as supporting players. Richard Kiel, Dave Turner, John Dehner (Who played Paladin in the Have Gun Will Travel radio series!), Pat Hingle, Michael Ansara, James Cromwell, Joan Van Ark, and Sherry Jackson to name a few. In addition I should point out that the series ran for a total of 13 episodes – it received a full run of it’s first season. Besides the similarites to The Wild Wild West it happened to feature many of the writers from the popular Mission: Impossible TV show – it just sounds like in this case the show failed to secure the necessary audience to warrant a second season.
For what it’s worth, it looks like back in 2014 the Barbary Coast series was collected and released on DVD, so if I can get my hands on it I’ll do a follow up article on what I personally think of the show. If you happened to have any memories of the series yourself I hope you will share them with us all in the comments!