T.H.E. CAT. NBC-TV. 26 episodes. 30 minutes. September 16,1966 through March 31, 1967. Created: Harry Julian Fink. Produced: Boris Sagal. Cast: Robert Loggia (Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat), Robert Carricart (Pepe Coroza), R. G. Armstrong (Police Captain McAllister).


    In the fifties and sixties, many television series featured a darker hero, a cool intelligent fearless man of action, and a jazz soundtrack to highlight the noir-like visual look of such a man’s world. T.H.E. Cat was among the best of such series.

    “Out of the night comes a man who saves lives at the risk of his own. Once, a circus performer, an aerialist who refused the net. Once, a cat burglar, a master among jewel thieves. And now, a professional bodyguard. Primitive. Savage. In love with danger. T.H.E. Cat.” (from NBC introduction that can be seen at YouTube).

   Robert Loggia was perfect as T.H.E. Cat. His looks, even the way his body moved, made Loggia the ideal choice for the circus performer turned thief turned bodyguard.


   Much of the series reminds one of Peter Gunn, such as the opening titles and “Casa del Gato,” the jazz nightclub Cat owned with his gypsy friend Pepe. Lalo Schifrin’s wonderful jazz music was as valuable to T.H.E. Cat as Henry Mancini’s music was for Gunn. But T.H.E. Cat went beyond Peter Gunn.

   Created by Harry Julian Fink, who would later create “Dirty Harry,” T.H.E. Cat was set in a violent world full of odd exotic and often damaged people such as a dethroned King, a psychopath who refused to wear shoes, and Cat’s police contact, the one-handed Captain McAllister.


   Talented Boris Sagal set the look for the series as the first episode’s director and series producer. Not surprisingly, among Sagal’s many director credits include episodes of Peter Gunn and Mike Hammer (1958-1959). Another director for this series worthy of note was Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past) who directed the episode “Ring of Anasis” (December 30, 1966).

   The series focused on crime over mystery, action over clues, and style over realism. T.H.E. Cat featured scenes worthy of the Bond-like hero of the time.

   In “To Kill a Priest”, Cat faced the killer and his gang in the villain’s own lair, the old Hall of Justice building the villain had bought. Cat threatened the mobster, ignoring the gunmen and their guns pointed a few inches from his head. While of poor quality, this is the only full episode available to view on YouTube. (The link is for Part One of Three.)


   Despite being filmed in color, the noirish feel to the series was not totally lost. The damaged characters, jazz music, violent action, creative camera angles and lighting, all made T.H.E. Cat a series worth watching then and now. Hopefully, someday the series will make it to the world of the legit DVD, and we will see it in the remastered quality T.H.E. Cat deserves.