#19 - "Limit of the Law Larkin"
This episode is the first of five in which Claude Akins appeared as Ranger Cotton Buckmeister. The story starts with Cotton befuddled because Chad, Joe and Reese, sent to arrest moonshiner Dude Meeker, give him every chance to get away.
NiteOwl Review: This episode was written by Ric Hardman who supplied most of the lighter episodes in Peter Brown's former series, Lawman. We wish he'd written more for Laredo. Another top ten episode (we may have more than ten in the top ten, but who's counting).
Cast Note: Claude Akins was a ubiquitous, versatile and well-liked character actor. He played heavies, heroes and, as in this episode, comical good guys. He appeared in five episodes and is sometimes (wrongly in our opinion) listed in cast lists as a regular. He was a heavy favorite to replace Neville Brand due to Brand's inability to cope with the demands of series television. In this and several other episodes, he lightened the burden on Brand by taking over the role of the comic dupe in the Ranger trio.
The reason becomes apparent in court where federal judge Larkin hands out Draconian sentences for minor transgressions. When a court clerk races into Laredo with a box of legal records rescued from a burning courthouse in Uvalde, Cotton, Chad and Joe are assigned to take the box back to Uvalde to await the arrival of Judge Larkin, despite Cotton's great reluctance to take the assignment.
On the way, a lawyer tries to buy the box for victims of corrupt local Judge MaCallam who uses perjured testimony and trumped up charges to extort money from people whose charges remain unresolved for years. The lawyer is afraid that Judge Larkin will pass sentences based on the false records in the box. Judge MaCallam wants the records because he doesn't want a federal judge to take away a rich source of income. Chad and Joe discover the box contains a warrant for Cotton's arrest for breach of promise, the victim being MaCallams's sister. When the Rangers are ambushed in Uvalde by MaCallam's men, Joe blows up the box, destroying all the documents except the warrant for Cotton which is fortuitously rescued by Ada MaCallam. Larkin puts Cotton on parole to the Rangers for breach of promise, under the supervision of Chad and Joe.
Tough, no-nonsense Judge Larkin
Judge Ike Macallam and his "baby" sister Ada
Cotton waits to hear his fate
Original air date Jan 27, 1966
Directed by William Witney
Written by Ric Hardman
Neville Brand as Reese Bennett
Peter Brown as Chad Cooper
William Smith as Joe Riley
Phil Carey as Capt. Parmalee
Claude Akins as Cotton Buckmeister
Jacques Aubuchon as Ike MaCallam
John Hoyt as Judge Josiah Larkin
Dub Taylor as Dude Meeker
Whit Bissell as Burke
Bea Bradley as Ada MaCallam
Frank Gerstle as the farmer
Tom Fadden as Fish Simpson
Jack Williams as Eusebio
Official Peter Brown Fan Site