Home Television Drama McClain’s Law

McClain’s Law

1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 2 (USA)
15 x 60 minute episodes

NBC bought this series without a pilot or even a script. What they did have was a Living Legend (Gunsmokes James Arness) and a concept.

Arness played former San Pedro Police Department detective Jim McClain who had been retired for 13 years due to a leg injury. Then his best friend and fishing partner Sid Lammon was brutally murdered. And what were the police doing about it? Zip.


So the ex-cop, now aged 52, rejoined the force and found himself teamed up with 30-year-old by-the-book detective Harry Gates (Marshall Colt) whom he didn’t like too much. The feeling was mutual.

This promising duo reported to Lieutenant Ed DeNisco (George DiCenzo) and chased crooks in San Pedro, a Los Angeles port with rough waterfront bars and colourful ethnic neighbourhoods.

Off-duty, Jim returned to his waterside hangout, a bar owned and managed by his friend Vangie Cruise (Conchata Ferrell) – originally called The Tides and later The Flatfish Café.

Susan Cross (Tanya Boyd) was Jim’s romantic interest, Marie DeNisco (Brooke Bundy) was Ed’s wife, and Detective Jerry Cross (Carl Franklin) and Grace Bannon (Cheryl Anderson) were Jim’s neighbours.

Jim wore badge number 127.

The series was partly inspired by a 1952 film in which Arness had starred with John Wayne. Called Big Jim McLain, it featured Wayne in the title role as a right-wing special agent rooting out communists in Hawaii.

Detective Jim McClain
James Arness
Detective Harry Gates
Marshall Colt
Lt. Edward DeNisco
George DiCenzo
Detective Jerry Cross
Carl Franklin
Vangie Cruise
Conchata Ferrell
Grace Bannon
Cheryl Anderson
Marie DeNisco
Brooke Bundy
Susan Cross
Tanya Boyd
Sid Lammon
Gerald S. O’Loughlin