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Hondo and the Mad Dog (27 October 1967)

Appearing as Judd Barton

Broadcast 27 October 1967 on the ABC television network.

Synopsis by curator@jmdigitalscrapbook.com:

The Fort is under a scare after an outbreak of hydrophobia (rabies) and Corporals Judd Barton (James MacArthur) and Mills (Michael Harris) are sent out into the desert to see if they can find the mad animal responsible for spreading the disease.

Barton is disgusted at the futility of their assignment and complains bitterly that he could be back at the Fort enjoying a cold drink and a game of cards. This reminds Mills that Barton owes him a significant amount of money from their last card game and demands that Barton pay up.

Barton tries to talk his way out, claiming he can feel a win coming on if only Mills will advance him a little more cash. Mills isn't having any, he needs the money to help his kid brother through college. If Barton doesn't satisfy his debt, Mills threatens to take it up with the Captain. Just as Barton reluctantly agrees to pay up, the men are distracted by the sight of a sickly looking white wolf.

As Mills goes for his rifle to shoot what is surely the animal responsible for the rabies outbreak at the Fort, Barton sees his chance and stabs Mills dead. Unfortunately for him, as he works to hide the body, there is a witness lurking in the underbrush.
It is Sam, Hondo Lane's (Ralph Taeger) dog. Barton chases after, but is unable to catch up before the dog returns to his owner.

Back in town, Barton, Liebel (Royal Dano), and several others have gathered for a card game. When Hondo and Sam wander in, Sam immediately begins to growl and bark at the sight of Barton. Before anyone can react, the dog leaps at Barton, knocking him to the ground and making as if to go for his throat.

The others manage to pull the dog off before anyone is hurt, but the frightened townspeople, led by Liebel, begin to think perhaps it is Sam who has been spreading the dread disease. This is further strengthened when the shopkeeper's son is found unconscious and badly bitten, with Sam standing over him.

Only Barton knows the real reason for Sam's animosity toward him and of the existence of the white wolf. It looks as though everything will work out for him if he can just shut the dog up. He carefully moves around behind the scenes, urging the mob led by Liebel to kill Sam before he can infect anyone else.

Will he succeed in ridding himself of the only witness to Mills's murder? And what of the white wolf? Will it continue to spread its disease while Barton stays mum in order to keep suspicion focused on Sam?

To view a full gallery of images from this performance click here.

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James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Ralph Taeger

Royal Dano, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

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