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Caught this episode yesterday. It truly demonstrates the difference between the "Jeff" years of Lassie, and the "Timmy" years. Not every episode after Timmy took over fits the description I give, but too many of them did. It annoyed me as a kid when they were airing and keeps me, generally, from watching as an adult.
Simply put: When Lassie became companion to Timmy, she moved from just being an intelligent dog to being "Superdog," capable of many things you would never think a dog could possibly do.
In this episode, a prized racing greyhound winds up at the Martin farm after being dog-napped. The Martins take care of it, (Paul's truck injured it in a minor collision) and Doc Weaver is the one who wound up discovering that the dog had its fur dyed to change his appearance. A handy newspaper headline reveals the kidnapping story. Paul calls the dog's owner and they await that man's arrival to turn the dog over.
A man comes to the house and Ruth (Cloris Leachman) assumes he is the owner and immediately turns him over. You'd think with the big news about the dog-napping, she would have been more careful. They did not explain how the dog-napper knew to go to the Martins to claim the dog.
A few minutes later, the real owner shows up. Since it has only been ten minutes since the other man left with the dog, Paul and the owner set out to catch up to the dog in his dog-napper's panel truck.
This is the part that gets me. Timmy tells Lassie to get the other dog. Lassie wasn't there when the dog-napper picked up the other dog and never saw the panel truck. Somehow, she knows to 1) race over the fields to cut off the truck (it could have turned either way out of the driveway, 2) after cutting through fields, she knew to just wait for the truck to come down the road, then 3) leap into the speeding truck at just the right time to land inside, then gnaw at the driver's hand until he stopped the truck, then hang on until help arrives in the form of Paul and the dog's owner.
The fact that the help arrived in about 30 seconds proves how much faster two men can drive a vehicle than a dog-napper escaping with his victim can drive, seeing as he had a ten-minute head start.
I mean, based on what Timmy said to Lassie, the dog would have had no way of knowing the dog was being stolen, he just told her to go get her. But it was the sight of Lassie stopping at the side of the road and waiting for the truck so she could jump into itjust instinctively knowing this approaching vehicle would be the one containing the dog she was seekingthat made me shake my head at the phoniness of this episode.
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