"Smoke Screen" is the second episode from the seventh season of "Quincy" that appears to have been ripped off from "Hawaii Five-O". Perhaps it's just coincidence, but two shows sure looked like the plots were 'borrowed' from these earlier shows. In this case, "Smoke Screen" sure looks a lot like "The Sunday Torch" from 1973--a show ALSO about a known arsonist being framed for a series of fires.
The show begins with a guy showing up at a restaurant to meet a lady--but the lady he THINKS is the one that phoned him has no idea who he is. In response, the guy makes a bit of a scene. Later, the restaurant is burned down and the fire inspector proves it's a case of arson. When they learned that the guy who had an argument with the woman is a KNOWN arsonist, the police arrest him as his old m.o. is the same of this recent fire. However, a severely overly involved therapist who works with the guy insists he's innocent and she convinces Quincy to dig deeper. Quincy also gets an insurance investigator (Gerald O'Laughlin) to look into the case as well.
As a retired psychotherapist (as well as teacher), this episode really annoyed me. Whoever wrote the show had no idea how to create a realistic or responsible therapist. The lady is simply badly written. First, she insists she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt the young man is innocent--though no one can be that sure and a decent therapist would use terms like 'it seems' or 'it's most likely'--and would NEVER stake their reputation on a case like this. Second, when the client is put in jail, SHE puts up his bail!! Wow...talk about no professional boundaries--and this is also the case when she tells her therapy group that they can phone her any time day or night! Third, she says '...they are pyromaniacs...at least in the eyes of society'. Huh?! They were caught deliberately setting fires and, in some cases, burning down buildings. I think this would DEFINITELY qualify the guys as pyromaniacs!!!
Most of my problems with "Smoke Screen" concern this goofy and unprofessional therapist. One small one concerns Quincy. In an annoying scene, Quincy meets with the fire inspector and then lectures HIM about the dangers of burning plastics. Don't you think any fire investigator would know this?! Overall, we have a plot that seems heavily inspired by another show, a terribly written character and Quincy making a grandstanding speech AT the audience. This is not a recipe for a great episode, that's for sure.
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