I tend to be less enthused about the two-part episodes of this series. Probably because the writers seem to pad the stories, taking a good concept and stretching it out to a 90 minute running time (both episodes sans commercials) when everything could have been handled in one episode or 75 minutes at the most. Even if there is enough material without drawing out the small points, we sometimes get what is basically two scenarios cobbled together under an umbrella story, to make it seem like this is a special edition of 'Simon & Simon'-- either for a season opener or a sweeps month broadcast.
This two-parter seems like the latter. Here we have an umbrella story about the boys breaking up and going their separate ways. The first part establishes their newfound celebrity, when through some sort of fluke, they become media darlings. After stumbling across some evidence that implicates cold war agents, they become the toast of San Diego. In short order, A.J. is offered a job with a prestigious investigation firm (do such places really exist, like law firms or swanky medical practices?); and Rick is enticed to sell the rights to his life story for a movie. This is definitely where it seems like two separate stories have been thrown together. Each main character is then made to carry the stories separately after they've broken up.
Both these plots kind of run out of steam by the beginning of the second episode. Jamie Rose who plays the female producer that gets involved with Rick has special billing in the initial installment. But in the follow-up episode, her part is reduced and this is reflected when her billing changes. In fact, she and Universal contract player Ray Buketnica have one little obligatory scene in the second part, where Rick basically pulls out of the movie deal. It's like this was done to make it seem like we have a longer story that could cover two episodes. Similarly, A.J.'s posh new job quickly ends, freeing him up to reunite with Rick. Then for the last half hour, they are trying to find some bad guys related to the incident at the very beginning. Of course, this is all meant to indicate they are now back in business and the Simon & Simon detective agency is not quite history.
There are two directors that give each part a very different tone-- but despite this, there are some very good things here to watch. While the boys are apart, we do get to see a lot more characterization-- namely how they have to function solo and how it's better and worse than them functioning together as a team. Also, we get some nice moments with Cecilia who says she does not interfere in their fights, but she still has managed to save the letters from the board down in the lobby of their building, which can be reused when they reconcile. As the whole thing concluded, I couldn't help but think they should have postponed this idea and saved it for the series' very last episode. It would have made more sense that after eight seasons, they were eager to go their own ways. Coming as this does in the middle of season 4, it seems a bit premature they would even consider working without each other.
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