Created by Nicholas J. Corea, Outlaws debuted on December 28th 1986 and blended westerns, detective stories and time travel. It ran for twelve episodes. The show followed the adventures of Sheriff Jonathan Grail (Rod Taylor) who lives in Houston, Texas in 1899. In the pilot episode Grail corners the villainous Pike Gang in a Native American graveyard. Grail once led the gang but had a change of heart and became a sherrif. The gang have since wanted him dead. The gang is now lead by Harland Pike (William Lucking), his young brother Billy Pike Jr. (Patrick Houser), Wolfson Lucas, a born-again half-Native American scout (Charles Napier), and Isaiah “Ice” McAdams, an escaped slave from New Orleans who rode with the Pike Gang (Richard Roundtree). As as all five men prepare for a final stand off a bolt of lightning strikes the cemetery – and all five men end up being transported 100 years into the future where after a run in with a drug lord, they all have to work together to save themselves ans stop him.
With no way to get back to their original time, the five men agreed to a truce, and started a private investigation/detective agency called the Double Eagle Detection Agency to pay their bills. During their first case they met Lt. Maggie Randall (Christina Bedford), a Houston detective, who became romantically involved with Grail and often helped them in their cases.
In Episode 3 “Primer, ” while trying to stop a protection racket that preys on shopkeepers, Billy Pike joins an adult education class (he never learned to read in the 19th century), where he comes face to face with the leader of the protection racket, whose followers are also terrorizing the adult education class.
Through its 12 episodes Outlaws also featured amongst others, Nick Costa, Lewis Van Bergen, Richard Coca, Marshall R. Teague, Tammy Lauren, Lar Park-Lincoln, Lynne Moody, Leigh Taylor-Young, Claudia Christian, Anthony James, James Hong, Ethan Phillips, Buck Flower, Shannen Doherty, and Starr Andreeff.
In the final episode 12 “Birthday,” the Outlaws take some time to prepare a birthday party for Detective Maggie Randall, but the Double Eagle Detection Agency ranch comes under siege from sharpshooters. During the episode, thinking it might be their last moments together, Grail confides a story about how he and Wolfson Lucas first met – featuring film footage from the classic television series, The Oregon Trail, in which both actors starred.