Honor Thy Elders begins in an inpatient rehabilitation facility with an elderly man, Mr. Morgan, deliberately taking an overdose of his prescription medication and committing suicide. Quincy (Jack Klugman) conducts the autopsy and discovers old injuries which were never treated or reported. When Quincy interviews the family, they deny knowing anything about it and the victim's son, Tim (Joby Baker), shows signs of having a bad temper. This leads Quincy to conclude that Mr. Morgan suffered from elder abuse at the hands of his son which prompted him to commit suicide, and he becomes very concerned about the elderly mother who also lives with the son. To gain further insight into the problem, Quincy connects with his friend Sharon (Julie Adams) who is a social worker and advocate for the elderly and abuse victims. Through working with Sharon, Quincy witnesses another abuse situation involving two elderly sisters, Muriel (Estelle Winwood) and Edna Prentiss (Jessamine Milner) which also has a tragic ending. Quincy and Sharon work together to get additional resources and support for a program to help the victims get out of their abusive situations.
Before I get to my critique, I have a little back story to share related to this episode. I was only a baby when the Quincy series aired originally so missed out then and I didn't become exposed to it until later in the 1980s when it was being rerun during the afternoons in syndication. My Dad would get home from work and turn it right on and I would hear that theme music playing as I was doing my homework in the next room. If I finished in time, I could watch the episode with him and there are a handful that I distinctly remember seeing way back then. This is one of them, and I vividly recall being shocked at how horribly the caretakers were treating the elderly people at the time. There are some things in life that you look at one way as a child and a completely different way as an adult, but this is not an example of one as I was still just as horrified and disgusted by the behavior of the antagonists in this story now as I was then. At least some things never change!
Now that the walk down memory lane is out of the way, I have to say while this episode deals with a very important topic which remains an issue in our society to this day, there are several problems which took away from the credibility. First off, what prompted Mr. Morgan (aged 80 or 81 depending on the scene) to be sent to the coroner lab for an autopsy? He was an elderly man with health problems already in a rehab center and none of the staff knew he was hoarding his pills, so what made anyone think he died of something besides natural causes? I didn't understand this or how Quincy suddenly had time to be a full time social worker alongside Sharon. Another unbelievable scene is where Tim Morgan powerfully punches his frail mother (Susan French) and she doesn't even fall to the ground. I also could not fathom how the abusers were somehow included in the birthday party at the end, seriously?? Monahan (Garry Walberg) should have been hauling them off to jail!
I think the highlights of this episode for me are the guest performances by Susan French, Estelle Winwood and Jessamine Milner. Susan French was great as the understated, timid abuse victim and gives a powerful speech towards the end. This was Estelle Winwood's final acting appearance and she was a whopping 96 years old when this filmed but could have passed for much younger. Overall not a great Season 5 episode, but interesting enough to watch nonetheless.
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