Winter Kill was the pilot film for a potential Andy Griffith TV series, to be titled MacNeil. Griffith plays the easygoing sheriff in a Northwestern ski resort town (actually Big Bear, California). The object of Griffith's attentions is a mysterious serial killer, who leaves puzzling spray-painted messages at the scene of each crime. The plot was adapted from the 1972 James Garner film They Only Kill Their Masters, which was set in Southern California. Winter Kill didn't sell, but Griffith and his producer/manager Richard O. Linke attempted to promote the concept with two subsequent TV movies: Adams of Eagle Lake, in which Andy played the same basic character with a different name, and The Girl in the Empty Grave (77), wherein Griffith appeared again as Sam MacNeil.