Matt Houston: Season 1, Episode 13

The Yacht Club Murders (16 Jan. 1983)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama
5.8
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While being named Commodore of a yacht club, boorish Rawson Harmon IV is killed by a snake. Manager Honey Lewis asks Houston to investigate. Suspects include Honey; her restless son Jeb; sleazy filmmaker Bevak; & gambler Binky.

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Title: The Yacht Club Murders (16 Jan 1983)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
Lee Horsley ...
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Penny Santon ...
Jimmy Baio ...
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Rawson Harmon IV (as Alan Hale)
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Danone Camden ...
Christie (as Danone Simpson)
Anthony Gordon ...
...
Cynthia B. Hayes ...
Secretary (as Cynthia Hayes)
Karl Johnson ...
...
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Storyline

While being named Commodore of a yacht club, boorish Rawson Harmon IV is killed by a snake. Manager Honey Lewis asks Houston to investigate. Suspects include Honey; her restless son Jeb; sleazy filmmaker Bevak; & gambler Binky.

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Crime | Drama

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16 January 1983 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The Skipper Goes Belly Up
11 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Yacht Club Commodore Rawson Harmon IV (Alan Hale Jr. - which would be like casting Tina Louise to play a farm-girl named Carrie-Anne) is murdered, killed by a deadly African viper planted in his ceremonial Commodore's jacket. The victim was almost universally hated (Quel surprise!) and a slew of suspects have motive and shaky alibis.

Season 1 episodes of this series tended to have a whodunit with an ironic tone much like this one along with celebrity guest stars from old TV shows. In the spirit of murder mystery novels the victim is an unpopular individual a lot of people wanted dead maximizing the suspense up until the end. The victim is also killed in a bizarre way.

The problem I always had with the series was not the concept of a rich guy who investigates crime. Nor was my problem believing in a male-model cowboy type from Texas working as a private investigator in Los Angeles. The problem I always had with the series was they tried to have it both ways often in the same episode. Here they just try to have it the wrong way.

Houston is given two plausible informal points of entry into this mystery. The first is his middle-school sweetheart from Texas - Honey Lewis (Mary Ann Mobley - 16 years Lee Horsley's senior) who manages the yacht club. The second is that he is a rich dude and it is a yacht club. But instead we see him brought in professionally to examine a threatening note Honey has found. He is formally hired to investigate after Harmon is killed. He gets fired from the case near the end. It is case he need never have been hired to be on and can solve it without formally taking it on.

In a setting where a billionaire is often found, Houston needs not present his credentials. He can be there to help out a friend. He can be there because he owns a yacht etc. But the way he is brought in to the episode references his private investigator credentials like he is a cheap gumshoe out of the yellow pages.

Some of the grittier Matt Houston mysteries call for the qualification that he is a private cop, or a police consultant or is deputized. Ones like this episode only need for him to show up and be recognized by his rich friends who know he likes solving mysteries. When Harmon dies Houston is a witness so it is natural that police will talk to him about that. He can be a skilled amateur here so why not let him? Then there are unintentionally funny lines of dialogue which are just wrong. Before Harmon is murdered he refers to Houston as "the help" which is not something you say seriously when the guy you say it to probably has as much if not way more money than you. So he isn't a rich guy in this episode? Did his portfolio leverage collapse overnight? Looks like they let him keep his by now trademark beige Dusenberg as well as the penthouse.

As for the casting, they really got offbeat here. Honey, Houston's middle-school crush is played by Mary Ann Mobley - clearly a woman a lot older than Matlock Houston though a line of dialogue suggests they are the same age. Her son Jeb is played Jimmy Baio (Chachi's cousin who played Billy Tate on Soap). Why does a guy named Jeb from Texas talk with a Brooklyn accent? Nothing had to make sense in the first season no matter how offbeat and they could stage whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted especially since they figured they were going to be cancelled at any time.

Spoiler Alert! By the end the real killer turns out to be Darren (Dick Sargeant) from Bewitched and after that goofy moment we see in too many of these shows where the detective confronts the killer eliciting a detailed, heartfelt confession the back-up husband from Bewitched tries to whack Houston and actually gives the ubermacho P.I. a real run for his money which I guess is only natural for a dude who bumped off the skipper from Gilligan's Island.


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