Pyromaniac Judd Patterson sets a warehouse ablaze and gets away in a stolen car. He abandons the car and hitches a ride with farmer Claude Norpel, who offers him temporary employment as a ... See full summary »
Pyromaniac Judd Patterson sets a warehouse ablaze and gets away in a stolen car. He abandons the car and hitches a ride with farmer Claude Norpel, who offers him temporary employment as a hired hand. An arson investigator gives Patterson's name as a possible suspect, and Dan Mathews and Sergeant Williams trace him to Norpel's farm. However, they arrive after he has already assaulted Norpel, knocked him unconscious, and is about to set the barn ablaze with Norpel still in it. Sergeant Williams distracts Patterson while Dan Mathews overpowers him, but the barn is set afire in the scuffle. The two Highway Patrol officers have only seconds to rescue Norpel and extinguish the blaze. Written by
Among the most dangerous and unpredictable criminals with which law enforcement agencies must contend is the arsonist. His senseless and destructive crimes result in a staggering loss of life, property, and national resources. On August 15th, the Highway Patrol was asked to cooperate in an effort to apprehend a dangerous arsonist.
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A serial arsonist has burned down a warehouse and is on the loose; he's an unemployed, mentally unstable young man who ditched his car and tossed the 5 gallon gasoline can deep in the woods. Picked up while hitchhiking by an alfalfa farmer, this arsonist could strike again; the farmer is unaware of the danger on two legs he picked up on the side of the road, not knowing that his barn (with a gasoline can and lots of hay perfect for engulfing in flames if so lit) could be the next target. A lot of the episodes of Highway Patrol aren't complex or overly plotted. This episode, "Fire", keeps things simple: Chief Dan Matthews (Broderick Crawford) and police officer, Ken Williams (William Boyett) are after Judd Patterson (a boyishly handsome Robert Fuller; a veteran in television), hoping to nab him before he can do further harm with his homicidal impulses to set places on fire. Fuller has a moment towards the end where he seems compelled to go into a barn, tries to leave, but appears unable to shoo away the compulsion to burn it down. Crawford, for me, could be quite a bullish smart ass, particularly with the uniformed Highway Patrolmen under his command. Dan could be a bit of a pill; he seems impatient and wants to get on with it. When an arson expert talks with him about how to detect and investigate a pyro-nut, Dan appears annoyed that he speaks to him as if he didn't know how to catch them. Later when they take a look at the ditched car, Dan gets a bit restless when there's a discussion on the evidence found in the trunk (he knows that there's evidence there and after some careful observation and brief conversation with the policeman who found the car, Dan just wants to get moving). I find Dan a bit difficult, but his cops seem to tolerate him well. Ultimately, Dan is about proactively capturing the current criminal he's after, and, until he does, this rather gruff treatment of his officers is to be expected. This isn't an episode that challenges you much--to me, going through the motions a bit--but the ending is a bit suspenseful as Ken tries to convince Judd to put out the fire he threatens to use on the barn, with Dan sneaking from behind in the hopes of stopping the arsonist.
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