Sam's evening with Chris Caughlin is interrupted when a low-level crook assaults him in a bar, then informs him of a "hit" planned against a prominent businessman. He later denies it, but following McCloud's instincts, Clifford assigns him to act as bodyguard. Sam soon finds himself in a viper's nest, as it seems Arthur Yerby (Patrick O'Neal) has a way of offending everyone whose path he crosses, including, it seems, every member of his family. He's like the murder victim in an Agatha Christie story, except here, McCloud is trying to prevent the murder before it happens, as well as find out who's behind it.
Along the way Sam manages to interview a retired hit-man (Arthur O'Connell), who gives him tips on how someone in that peculiar business operates.
After the last 3 episodes, this is a real step back toward the "traditional" McCLOUD of the the 1st and all later seasons. His occasional girlfriend Chris (Diana Muldaur) is around, writing stories about him that anger his boss, and hob-nobbing with the rich and famous. Clifford gets to be angry & irate in some scenes, while clever enough to "play along" with McCloud's schemes in others. And Sam gets help from-- no, wait, that isn't Joe Broadhurst, it's Richard Thatcher! I don't know what happened to Terry Carter, but James McEachin fills in nicely. His Thatcher, while filling the slot of "helpful black detective" (I don't know what else to call it) is quite different from Broadhurst, if anything he's got a lot more "personality". 2 years later, McEachin would get his own short-lived TV series as part of the NBC MYSTERY MOVIE cycle. If "McCLOUD" was based on "COOGAN'S BLUFF", then "TENAFLY" surely was inspired by "THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS!" 15 years later, he could be seen semi-regularly as "Lt. Ed Brock" on the revived PERRY MASON movie series (like this episode, produced by Dean Hargrove).
Also in the cast are comedian Jack Carter as "Frank Gordon", the crook who tips Sam to the contract; Nita Talbot as "Rosalie Hudgins", the hooker who fails to take Sam's advice (I always remember her as the Russian spy on HOGAN'S HEROES); Arlene Martel as "Linda Farley", the strange, long-winded girlfriend of Frank Gordon (she's probably best remembered as "T'Pring" from the STAR TREK episode "Amok Time"); Randolph Mantooth ("EMERGENCY") as "Phillip Yerby", perpetually put down by his father; Pat Morita (HAPPY DAYS) as "Felix", the bartender at the beginning of the story; Murray Matheson (BANACEK) as "George Lincoln", Yerby's business manager; and James Olsen as "Thomas Dane", the hired killer of the story title. Olsen's had a long career playing mostly psychos and killers, this episode being a prime example, but I often remember him as the lead scientist (and hero of the film) in "THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN".
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