The Quest (1976 TV series)

The Quest is an American Western series which aired on NBC from September to December 1976. The series stars Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson.

The Quest
Series title screen
Created byTracy Keenan Wynn
Written by
Directed byBernard McEveety
StarringKurt Russell
Tim Matheson
Theme music composerRichard Shores
ComposerRichard Shores
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes15 (4 unaired)
Executive producerDavid Gerber
ProducersJames H. Brown
Mark Rodgers
CinematographyAl Francis
  • Hugh Chaloupka
  • John Elias
  • Richard L. Van Enger
  • Ken Zemke
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time44 mins.
Production companiesDavid Gerber Productions
Columbia Pictures Television
DistributorColumbia TriStar Domestic Television
Sony Pictures Television
Original networkNBC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 22 (1976-09-22) –
December 29, 1976 (1976-12-29)
Preceded byThe Quest

The pilot episode aired as a television movie on May 13, 1976.


Two brothers Morgan (Kurt Russell) and Quentin Bodine (Matheson) are seeking the whereabouts of their long-lost sister, Patricia, thought to be held by the Cheyenne. The siblings were separated after their parents were killed during an "Indian massacre". Morgan, known as "Two Persons", was a captive of the Cheyenne for eight years until he was freed by the United States Army. Quentin was taken to San Francisco, where he was educated as a physician.

After their reunion, the pair journey together over thousands of miles across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains in search of Patricia; hence, the title The Quest.


Guest actorsEdit


A pilot movie aired on May 13, 1976 as a preview of the upcoming series;[2] it received strong ratings, placing in the top 20 programs for the week.[3] The first regular series episode was broadcast on September 22 with an extended 90 minute runtime to recap events from the pilot.[4]

The Quest aired at the 9/10 p.m. Wednesday timeslot,[5] deliberately targeting an adult audience after the failure of the family-oriented western Sara earlier in 1976.[6] It ran opposite Charlie's Angels on ABC, also debuting that fall,[7][8] and The Blue Knight on CBS.[9]

List of episodes of the 1976 television series The Quest
No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
Pilot"The Quest"TBATracy Keenan Wynn[12]May 13, 1976 (1976-05-13)
Two brothers, one raised in the city and the other by Indians, are searching the Old West for their sister with the assistance of a former gunslinger-turned-cattle rustler.[10] Guest starring Brian Keith, Keenan Wynn, Will Hutchins, Neville Brand, and Cameron Mitchell.[9][11]
1"The Captive"Barry ShearMark RogersSeptember 22, 1976 (1976-09-22)
After eight years apart, the Beaudine brothers embark on the quest to find their sister, who they believe is held captive by the Cheyenne;[8] they accompany an Army raid on an Indian village to rescue a young white woman. Guest starring Bibi Besch, Dennis Cole, Christopher Connelly, Susan Dey, Royal Dano, Richard Egan, and Russ Tamblyn.[13][14]
2"The Buffalo Hunters"Earl BellamyPaul SavageSeptember 29, 1976 (1976-09-29)
The Beaudines are taken captive by buffalo hunters while rescuing a native woman.[15] Guest starring Alex Cord, John Quade, and Linda Redfearn.[14]
3"Shanklin"Corey AllenCharles A. McDanielOctober 13, 1976 (1976-10-13)
Texas Ranger Shanklin is assisted by the brothers in pursuing a gang of murdering rapists into Mexico. Guest starring Mariette Hartley and Don Meredith.[16][14][17]
4"Day of Outrage"TBATBAOctober 27, 1976 (1976-10-27)
The Beaudines seek shelter from a storm with Cattle Kate, played by Amanda Blake.[18][19] Also guest starring Don "Red" Barry, Severn Darden, George Gaynes, Steve Kanaly, James Keach, Lance Kerwin, Pamela Sue Martin, and Don Matheson.[14][20]
5"Seventy-Two Hours"Alf KjellinAnthony LawrenceNovember 3, 1976 (1976-11-03)
Tragedy ensues after a local marshal allows cattle drovers to run wild. Guest starring Maria Elena Cordero, Howard Keel, Cameron Mitchell, Aldo Ray, and Mitch Vogel.[14][21]
6"Prairie Woman"Bernard McEveetyEarl W. WallaceNovember 10, 1976 (1976-11-10)
The Beaudines are forced to make a tough choice after encountering a woman and her sick child.[22] Guest starring Jim Davis, Ty Hardin, and Laraine Stephens.[14][23]
7"Welcome to America, Jade Snow"Bernard McEveetyAnthony LawrenceNovember 24, 1976 (1976-11-24)
The Beaudines work to defuse a tense situation after Chinese workers are brought in to break a mine strike.[24] Guest starring Gary Collins, George Lazenby, Irene Yah-Ling Sun, and Jason Wingreen.[14]
8"The Longest Drive: Part 1"Bernard McEveetyKatharyn Powers and Michael MichaelianDecember 1, 1976 (1976-12-01)
The Beaudine brothers help a rancher muster a crew of cattle drovers.[25]
9"The Longest Drive: Part 2"TBATBADecember 8, 1976 (1976-12-08)
A determined rancher keeps pushing a cattle drive despite numerous setbacks. Guest starring Dan O'Herlihy, Keenan Wynn, Woody Strode, Erik Estrada, and John Rubinstein.[26]
10"Portrait of a Gunfighter"TBATBADecember 22, 1976 (1976-12-22)
After Quentin teaches an orphan how to use a gun in self-defense, the boy turns into a cold-blooded gunfighter.[27] Guest starring Morgan Brittany, Jack Colvin, John Ireland, and Andrew Stevens.[14][28]
11"The Freight Train Rescue"Michael O'HerlihySean BaineDecember 29, 1976 (1976-12-29)
The Beaudines team up with Nelson Story to rescue government surveyors. Guest starring Monte Markham.[29]
12"The Last of the Mountain Men"TBATBAUNAIRED
The Beaudines team up with two old trappers against a mountain man. Guest starring Leif Erickson, Douglas Fowley, and Pernell Roberts.[14]
13"Dynasty of Evil"TBATBAUNAIRED
A feud between homesteaders and a cattle baron entangles the Beaudines. Guest starring Howard Duff, Gary Graham, David Ladd, Joan Prather, and Robert J. Wilke.[14]
14"The Seminole Negro Indian Scouts"TBATBAUNAIRED
The Beaudines help Black Seminole Scouts under attack from a racist sheriff. Guest starring Henry Brown, Hal Miller, Bill Overton, Stack Pierce, and Bill Williams.[14]
15"Incident at Drucker's Tavern"TBATBAUNAIRED
The Beaudines are stranded in a town where a gambler and his pregnant wife are hiding from the father of a man killed by the gambler. Guest starring Julie Cobb, Scott Hylands, and Morgan Woodward.[14]

Background and productionEdit


The series was created by Tracy Keenan Wynn,[30] son of Keenan Wynn, who also made two appearances on the series. David Gerber served as the executive producer. Gerber intended to duplicate the "gritty realism, ... attention to detail, character and authenticity" of Police Story in the first prime time western since the end of Gunsmoke.[16] It was the only western scheduled for the upcoming fall 1976 television season.[10]


Much of the filming was in Arizona.


Consistently low ratings,[31][32] coupled with the fact that Westerns had fallen out of favor with networks and audiences, contributed to the demise of the series. NBC confirmed reports that The Quest had been canceled during its first season on December 7, 1976,[33][34] and the final episode aired on December 29, 1976. Four of the fifteen episodes produced never aired in the US.


Home mediaEdit

While the entire series has not been released on DVD, a two-part episode, "The Longest Drive", was released on Region 1 DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2005.[35] The television film which served as the series' pilot episode was also released on DVD by Sony in 2011.[36]


As of February 2021, The Quest airs on the classic TV network Get TV on Sunday afternoons, including the four episodes that were not originally aired.[14][37]


David Eden, reviewing the series for the Albuquerque Journal, compared the chemistry between Russell and Matheson to Starsky and Hutch and praised the acting, script, and production, but concluded the series was not refreshing because it repeated "too many tired story lines from old Westerns".[38]


Grady Hunt was nominated for the 1977 prime time Emmy Award in costume design for a drama or comedy series for his work on The Quest.[39]

One episode, "Hatcher's Drive" won a Spur Award in 1976 from the Western Writers of America for script writers Katharyn Powers and Michael Michaelian. The writers tied with "The Macahans" by Jim Byrnes for How the West Was Won on ABC.[40][41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ Martin, Bob (May 13, 1976). "New Western series previews tonight". Long Beach Independent. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  3. ^ "NBC Finally Reaches Top Spot". The Decatur Daily Review. AP. May 19, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  4. ^ Utterback, Betty (September 26, 1976). "The Quest". Fort Myers News-Press. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  5. ^ Goodman, Bob (August 8, 1976). "NBC Corners TV 'Western' Market". Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  6. ^ Holsopple, Barbara (September 2, 1976). "Stars Share Skepticism, Optimism For Western". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  7. ^ Buck, Jerry (January 12, 1977). "'The Quest'–Falls On Hard Times Like Other TV Westerns of Today". Greenwood Index-Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Highlights this week". The Montreal Gazette. September 18, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  9. ^ a b "'The Quest': TV's only Western". Bennington Banner. UPI. September 21, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b Margulies, Lee (June 20, 1976). "Fall Television To Include One Western Series". The Odessa American. Associated Press. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Thursday highlights". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 13, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  12. ^ Gardella, Kay (May 7, 1976). "NBC's 'The Quest' in Fall Is TV's Lonely Western". New York Daily News. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Real west explodes in action tonight". Decatur Daily Review. September 22, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "The Quest - Guide to 1970s western series starring Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson". Get TV.
  15. ^ "Television Tonight". The Evening Independent. September 29, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  16. ^ a b Smith, Cecil (October 3, 1976). "The Quest: Big Scope on the Little Screen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Wednesday, October 13, 1976". The Morning News. October 10, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Wednesday, October 27". New Castle News. October 23, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  19. ^ Sarmento, William A. (October 22, 1976). "Gone but not forgotten". The Lowell Sun. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Wednesday". The Emporia Gazette. October 23, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Previews". The Daily Times-News. October 30, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Wednesday Preview". The Courier News. November 5, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Wednesday". The Emporia Gazette. November 6, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  24. ^ "Wednesday evening, November 17, 1976". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 14, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Wednesday evening, December 1". The Lawton Constitution. November 28, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Wednesday Preview". The Courier News. December 3, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Wednesday". The Daily Item. December 17, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  28. ^ "Wednesday". The Emporia Gazette. December 18, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  29. ^ "Wednesday". The Emporia Gazette. December 24, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  30. ^ Witbeck, Charles (June 20, 1976). "How the Western was won". The Journal News. Gannett News Service. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  31. ^ Hanauer, Joan (October 6, 1976). "Nielsen Ratings Listed". Nashua Telegraph. UPI. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  32. ^ Deeb, Gary (November 9, 1976). "Hit serial hurts with Nolte gone". Akron Beacon Journal. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 May 2021. One of these years, westerns again will rule the TV roost. But apparently this isn't the season. TV's lone current sagebrusher, NBC's The Quest, is drawing consistently anemic ratings. It's a goner, boys ...
  33. ^ "News Capsules: Dropped". The Pottstown Mercury. AP. December 8, 1976. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  34. ^ Hanauer, Joan (December 18, 1976). "The Second Season". Atlanta Journal and Constitution. UPI. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  35. ^ "The Quest - The Longest Drive". Archived from the original on February 23, 2010. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  36. ^ "The Quest - TV Movie". Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  37. ^ Tim Matheson (August 28, 2020). "'The Quest': Tim Matheson Reflects on His Short-Lived Series With Kurt Russell" (Interview). Interviewed by Ileane Rudolph. TV Insider. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  38. ^ Eden, David (September 22, 1976). "Series Found Lacking". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  39. ^ "Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama or Comedy Series - 1977". Television Academy. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  40. ^ IMDb, The Quest, Awards[unreliable source?]
  41. ^ "Spur Award Winners: 1976". Western Writers of America. Retrieved 20 May 2021.

External linksEdit