Marilyn Monroe Must Have Been Rolling Over In Her Grave!
Chased by brutal mobsters, Jim Kirby (Bruce Fairbairn), an employee of Houston's begs for his help. Houston is only able to get to Kirby in time to watch him get shot to death and hear him ask that his beloved "Marilyn" be saved. Houston doesn't know who Marilyn is but finds out his former employee was seduced into a life of gambling by a mobster named Reardon and ended up in massive debt.
Upon further investigation Houston discovers that Marilyn (Katie La Bourdette) is the Marilyn Monroe lookalike (though she looks more like Florence Henderson than Marilyn Monroe) mistress of the married mob boss Reardon, paid to act like the screen legend to pique his arousal. The fake Marilyn had a fling with Kirby which got him killed by Reardon's henchman.
Then there is this ring-around-the-rosie silliness where Houston is set up to meet Marilyn by the baddies, then leaves her only to be set-up again by the baddies to meet her later.
When he does meet her it is an obvious set-up and Houston has called the cops who handle things quite satisfactorily. Satisfactorily enough in fact that you wonder why they haven't been able to nail the bad guy Reardon in the past and need some rich guy playing detective to draw him out yet again calling attention not merely to the silliness of the episode but of the entire series.
Not only do we see the show undermining its own credibility as it so often did but we watch the actors essentially retracing their steps in the script to inch the episode closer to the point where they will have enough footage to wrap up the vacuous storyline and move on to pre-production for the next episode.
Every series has episodes which are throwaways and an awful lot of them come after a big budget season premiere in which they splurged on guest stars and expensive stunts. The less-than-stellar cast of guest stars shown here are often of the cheaper variety not merely a result of the series fall back to get its budget in line but part of a concerted attempt to get actor salaries in line across the board.
Network TV executives had become obsessed with the idea of replacing series stars with lookalikes. The result was a fake John-Boy on the Waltons, Coy & Vance displacing Bo and Luke on Dukes of Hazzard, a heterosexual version of Steven Carrington on Dynasty which also recast the role of Fallon and staged a season ending massacre to explain the absence of characters played by actors they were about to fire from the show.
The use of celebrity lookalikes on shows also came as the number of old Hollywood studio contract players and TV stars from the 1950s began to decrease in line with the mortality rate. The only way you could have a silver screen legend was by getting a celebrity impersonator and, as in this case, a lot of them neither looked very much like who they were supposed to be or were particularly good actors.
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