WHAT HAD STARTED with jack Webb's DRAGNET, Hollywood had made great strides in dramatizing just what is the plight of the Big City Cop. Although there would always be a certain measure of old fashioned "Cops & Robbers" gun-play, car chases and "APBs", there was a definite, conscious effort to reveal the man inside the "Costume."
ONE OF OUR favourite episodes was this "Wyatt Earp Syndrome", which owes both its title and its very central theme to a widely recognized rut that affects just about every young Cop out there. Although it is nothing to really be concerned about at the outset of one's career, if it persists it can be a real problem in trying to maintain a family, spouse and indeed, sanity.
RATHER THAN OWING the stresses of the job on the Criminal Element that a cop deals with, the story examines all of the other pressures that come to bear on a guy in Blue. Among the most severe is a sense that one is "The Police" 24-7. An affected party thinks he must walk tough, act like a bad-ass, talk like a Damon Runyon character and even dress a certain way.
FURTHER EXTENSION OF the syndrome calls for the inclusion of manly activities (Martial Arts, SCUBA, Skydiving), hanging out in the right bars, developing a sort of false "bravado" and playing around with whatever females are available; whether or not he's married.
IN THIS EPISODE, one of our favourite actors of the period, Cliff Gorman, was cast as the main character of the story. The very energetic, athletic and photogenic Mr. Gorman puts in a most memorable and on-the-mark characterization and performance. His Officer Curt Nations' manic behavior is done in stark contrast to his wife, Barbara (played by Kim Darby in a rare appearance).
ALTYHOUGH THE WIFE and family that Nations has is one that would be the envy of anyone and a source of true happiness, it is not enough for this Policeman. The job has changed him.
NOTE: AS a former Chicago Cop, the author can speak with some authority from 34 years experience on this subject. Those who persist in such behavior beyond their first few years on the job are phonies and "Paper Tigers" who never did any real police work, never worked in high crime neighborhoods and generally were politically connected. Coincidentally, these are also the folks who always get promoted up the ladder. Oh excuse us, did we inadvertently say "coincidentally?"
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