Steve Canyon

"The Search"

Season 1 Episode 17 (Airdate: January 15, 1959 on NBC)


Since he's working for the government, the air force is asks to look for a civilian pilot who's gone missing.



The episode opens with two soldiers getting chewed out for being late for work. Nothing that worries them much, as they are too busy ogling the secretary who delivers some papers to the office. Their superior officer tolerates the behavior with a benign smile, continuing to dress them down without missing a beat once the distraction has left the premises .

In comes Colonel Steve Canyon (Dean Fredericks), who not much later gets a visit from an old friend, Senator Smith, called "Smitty" (Hayden Rorke). The Senator asks a favor. In his company he has the distraught middle-aged wife of a wealthy government contractor, and avid hobby pilot, who's more than overdue to check in. Emily Brendan (Jeanette Nolan) says she's aware her husband regularly is away on missions for days that sometimes he can't tell her about, but never has it been more than three days in a row. Now, he's been gone for two weeks without communication. Fearing the worst, she's in the care of a nurse because of a nervous breakdown, and initially was pronounced to 'fragile' to accompany the Senator when he sought help from the air force.

They don't want an official search, though, in case the missing man merely is in Washington at the Pentagon, or is around New York or Chicago. Smitty explains that Peter Brendan is habitually negligent of social niceties, like telling people he's alright when he's busy, and Emily stresses she doesn't want to come off as the typical career wife who's always pushing. In case he's just minding his own business, they don't want to embarrass him. A Seargent (Leonard Nimoy), keeps track of the operation by crossing out the areas on a board that have been searched.

When they find Brendan (Wilton Graaf), he's at a cozy lodge by a lake he's made into his hideout from the world and noisy people. He tells Canyon that the only way he can get rest, sleep, read, fish, hunt or dream is to tell nobody where he's going. Canyon asks what to tell Emily and Brendon says he'll be back the next day and do the apologies himself.

Back at the office, Canyon placates Emily Brandon, and goes back to business as usual. Emily thinks he brushed her off a bit fast and that there's more to the story. She requests that he posses the courage and courtesy to answer her questions, because it wouldn't make sense for her husband to vanish for days like that. She draws the conclusion that he has an affair with a younger, prettier woman, and accuses Canyon of covering it up for him, as men would do for one another. Her husband always had a taste for beauty and now that her's is gone, the only thing he married her for, cheating on her seems the natural state of order as she sees it. She has another nervous breakdown, turning on both, Smitty and Canyon, for destroying her marriage as much as her husband had done by finding him, when she only had to wait for him to come home, telling her he loved her and making up excuses for being away to long.



Now, I really should be writing about this being a time capsule where the military are still the unquestioned good guys, women know their place, parading their assets in front of the men, and men unashamedly feeling the victims of the social order set in stone by man. Or commenting on Canyon's too hydrogen peroxide blonde hair. Which, while in keeping with the comic book character he's based on, looks more like the unfortunate victim of chemical warfare one cannot help but feel for. Or images of the military from the 50's through to the 23rd century. But, how can I get this accomplished while mentally having to keep reminding myself to close my mouth while Mr. Nimoy, especially at such a fine young age, takes up the screen?





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