A CRY FOR HELP. A brigand in flight. A woman in distress. Our hero to the rescue - it had all the ingredients of another episode in the television series "McCloud." There was Sgt. Joe Broadhurst, McCloud's intrepid partner, relentlessly pursuing the villain through the obstacle course of downtown Washington traffic. Of course, "McCloud" fans didn't doubt for a moment that Sgt. Broadhurst would get his man. And, true to form, he did.

But it wasn't make-believe adventure. This time it was life imitating art. Terry Carter, the actor who played McCloud's sidekick on television, happened to be in town a business trip. As he was driving in his car, he saw a man run out the door of a downtown restaurant. The man was pursued by a woman shouting "Stop, thief!" Ignoring the possibility of the man's being armed, Mr. Carter followed him in his car and, when the man boarded a Metrobus, used his car to block the bus, boarded it, captured the man, led him off the bus and placed him in his car. But the captive escaped. Undaunted, Mr. Carter again pursued the man by car, this time to the Greyhound bus terminal. There he cornered the man on the sidewalk, jumped from his car, captured him a second time, and returned him to the restaurant where the police were waiting . Mr. Carter modestly shrugged off his heroics - "I guess I'm still playing that role." But an admiring police officer called Mr. Carter's persistent pursuit of the suspect and his disregard forhis own safety " a real fine piece of work." And so it was.