By Aaron Mastriani
TV production has been kind to the state of New Mexico over the years. Dozens of productions have shot here, going back many decades. Not all are icons like Breaking Bad, but many stick around for several seasons, like Better Call Saul, In Plain Sight, Wildfire, and Longmire. Others, like Scoundrels and Easy Money, didn’t make it past the first couple of episodes. But each one has provided money and brought a great number of jobs to the state.
One of the more short-lived New Mexico shows was a program from the mid ’70s called Nakia, which starred Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Disney’s The Black Hole) and Arthur Kennedy (Lawrence of Arabia). Forster stars as Nakia, a Native American sheriff’s deputy in a fictional small town in New Mexico. Nakia is a tough but fair deputy who enforces the Law in his small town and looks to do right by everyone, whether they’re the citizenry or a former Mob accountant who has turned a new leaf. Nakia frequently butts heads with the sheriff (Kennedy), but he always comes through in the end.
The episode I viewed, “No Place to Hide,” found Nakia protecting a former Mob accountant named McIntosh from assassination attempts. McIntosh is fresh out of the joint and looking to start a new life, but his old buddies in New York have different ideas. McIntosh meets his former Mob associates at the Sandia Peak Tramway. He assures them on Sandia Crest that he’ll never rat on his old friends, that he just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately for McIntosh, his word isn’t enough. Thankfully Nakia is there to save the day. Nakia sends him to a safe house outside of town, but two contact killers from Texas get wind of the move and are there to meet them. After a shootout at a nearby cement plant, McIntosh is saved and the bad guys arrested.
“No Place to Hide” was first broadcast on October 19, 1974. It was directed by Nicholas Colasanto, who was most famous for playing Coach on Cheers. In addition to the tramway and Sandia Crest, the episode was shot in Old Town, the South Valley, and Tijeras Canyon. Nakia made great use of area locations and it’s fascinating to see Albuquerque as it was in 1974 (bad suits and hair notwithstanding). Forster is great as the tough but honest cop, and it’s a shame the show lasted only one season.
Check it out for yourself: