Despite some creative flaws, a generally strong two-part episode
The two-part episode, "A Continual Roar of Musketry", originally aired on NBC in November 1970, six months after the Kent State shootings.
The Retro Television Network (RTV) reran the episodes May 1 and 2, 2010 in several U.S. television markets. Despite a few questionable creative choices, the episodes are still very potent.
Senator Hays Stowe (Hal Holbrook) heads a three-person committee investigating the shooting of demonstrators at a college by the state's National Guard, in which two students were killed and at least four were injured.
As with other episodes from the shamefully short-lived segment of "The Bold Ones", David W. Rintels' script still has some significant resonance even after forty years. Obviously inspired by Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon", the episodes show several different viewpoints on the shootings. They include: the governor (John Randolph) who commissioned the investigation, the college chancellor (Laurence Luckinbill) who understood the protesters' concerns, the local mayor (John Marley) who wants to protect his town's reputation, the young protesters and the officer who may or may not have order the shooting.
I think the second hour was better than the first. The strong cast of familiar character actors (Edward Binns, Paul Stewart, John Marley, Noam Pitlik and the other actors mentioned previously) had the unenviable task of essentially playing two different roles. Unfortunately, I wished some of the performances, specifically in part one, took a "less is more" acting path.
In a 2006 interview, Randolph Mantooth mentioned that he got the role of paramedic John Gage in "Emergency!" from this episode. His performance as a fellow college student given the unfortunate responsibility of protecting the college from protesters, was very effective, showing that the character was not a robot who may have ordered the shooting of unnamed targets.
Also effective was Pamela McMyler as the girlfriend of the lead protester (Robert Pratt), who finds herself as the only person willing to talk to the commission about the shooting from the student protester's perspective.
Holbrook's powerful performance as the well-intentioned, idealistic senator was the strongest quality thought the entire series. As mentioned in a posting about the series, it has been nice to rediscover "The Bold Ones" and the segment "The Senator".
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