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Slow paced episode dealing with a killer (Phillips) who gets involved
with a lonely and shy librarian (Smith).
In some ways this episode has its moments especially with regards to the theme. The characters resemble the true life Charlie Starkweather affair where a shy teenage girl fell in love with a spree killer in 1950's Nebraska. It offers some good insights as to why an otherwise 'nice' girl would be attracted to a 'bad' boy. It shows how the woman is so lonely and bored with her existence that she reaches out to this otherwise dangerous man because she finds him 'sick and helpless' and someone who she can 'save' with her love as well as finding him a much needed diversion to her stagnate life. The role of the killer also is created with some insight as he shown as someone with a very low self-esteem, lack of direction, and full of bitterness and self-loathing. This is a lot different and more in depth portrayal of a killer than what you usually see in most other movies and TV shows.
However in the end the show becomes very talky and in need of a lot more action and plot twists. The best part comes at the very beginning where the killer is driving a motorboat out on the lake and swings it around at such a reckless speed that it knocks the other occupants off the boat where they then drown. However even this has some problems. One of which is the fact that it is never explained why he did this. Was he just some psychotic who did it for fun? Or did he have some past grievance with this couple and did it for revenge? None of this is explained, but probably should have been. Of course with the incredibly annoying way that the couple is seen singing an already incredibly annoying song as the show opens one could probably not blame the killer for knocking them off the boat as anyone might consider it.
This episode does feature both Phillips and Smith giving some fine performances. Both had appeared in earlier episodes, but seem to give their best work here. This episode also features the rare scene where someone else besides Tod ends up driving the Corvette. It occurs when Tod hands the wheel over to Phillips who promptly drives the car along the crashing waves of the ocean and skims the water over the car, which is kind of cool to watch.
Grade: C +
Buz comes to the aid of a very shy co-worker who has been talking to a
female operator for years over the phone, but doesn't have enough
confidence to meet her in person.
This story unfolds nicely and has four distinct acts to it, which flows well and keeps the viewer involved. However in the end it seems like just a carbon copy of MARTY as well as full of a lot of stereotypes and clichés. The main asset of this episode is the fantastic on location shooting of Chicago. There are some great shots of the skyline, as well as Wabash Avenue, and even the Marina Towers under construction. There are also some nice scenes shot on the roof of the Tribune Tower and at Buckingham Fountain.
Actor Sorrell Booke gets a good early role as the shy and hopelessly self-conscious co-worker. He plays the part well enough that the viewer has sympathy for him without it going overboard and becoming pathetic. Buz is showcased quite well here and this maybe some of his best stuff from the entire series.
This episode takes a look at the people who inhabit small towns
focusing on those who are bored with it and looking to 'escape' while
also looking at those who come back to it because the corrupt and fast
lifestyles of big city ways isn't for them.The main character of this
story is a young man (Horne) who got humiliated by an elaborate
practical joke while he was away in the army and how his inability to
get over this effects him and all those he comes into contact with.
Unfortunately this is where the episode begins to fall apart.
One of the problems is that he decides to invite the woman who was a part of the practical joke (played by his then real life wife Wilcox) back to his hometown so he can prop her up in front of all the townspeople and expose her for what she really is. However it is just not real plausible why this woman, or anyone for that matter, would be so gullible as to agree to take a long ride in on a bus from a completely different area simply to be used as bait for what is a very obvious set-up.
The second problem is actor Horne himself. He seems to be a good actor, but not for this part. He is supposed to be portraying a 'country bumpkin', but his face seems too expressive and he is way too articulate and well spoken.
The direction in this episode is also poor, which makes for the third problem. It was filmed in historic Savannah, Georgia and yet we don't see hardly anything of the city. Most of the action is confined to a very dingy, windowless bar that has no atmosphere or ambiance about it. The camera also stays locked on Horne too much as he tells everybody about the details of the joke, which seems to take almost twenty minutes for him to do. The use of flashbacks could have made this segment much more interesting.
This is one of the series weaker episodes.
Grade: C +
This episode is made more interesting by its main character than by the
actual story. It pertains to a self-centered middle-aged man who jilts
his bride on their wedding night by faking his own suicide. He then
hops on a bus and stops off at a small southern town where he tricks
everybody into thinking he is an artist researching the origins of folk
music, which he only does in order to get closer to a young beauty that
he is attracted to. Of course the 'hicks' finally catch on to the fact
that he is using them and this leads to several uneasy confrontations.
The part of the cad, who is given a very pretentious sounding name of Julian Roeback, is brilliantly played by actor Richard Basehart. He was pretty much known as an average actor at best, but his performance here is a real stand out and possibly the pinnacle of his career. The character is quite believable. Half time you want to see him get punched in the face, but he ends up being strangely engaging no matter what he does.
The only problems with the story are some of the actions by Tod (Buz was again off due to the illness by actor Maharis). Tod sees right through the Roeback character and yet is always defending him so he won't get beat up. In fact Tod ends up taking a beating twice that should have gone to Roeback. What is worse is that Tod goes the next day and forgives the men who beat him up and continues to work alongside them like somehow he deserved it, which doesn't make any sense at all.
An interesting scene involves Tod and Roeback walking alongside a dirt road while holding a conversation. A dragonfly then appears and lands on the back of actor Basehart's neck while he is talking and then flies right into actor Milner's face. Both actors duck out of the way of the fly, but still manage to say their lines without missing a beat.
Overall this is a good episode, but the 'double' ending is a bit disappointing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode has a really terrific and intriguing set-up. It deals with
a woman (Weld) who gets off of a bus wearing a dreadful mask that she
refuses to take off and thus sends the small Texas town into a complete
This episode stands out with some good and memorable imagery. The mask is one, which is incredibly macabre and creepy looking. The other is a scene where the Weld character burns a doll on a stake on the front lawn of her parent's house.
This is also one episode that makes terrific use of its location and nicely interweaves it into the story. A real good example of this is the sound of the wind blowing off the flat and desolate Texas plains as the Weld character talks with a woman who now lives in the house that she once grew up in.
The story touches on some good issues, namely going back to conquer one's childhood demons as well as the need to satisfy ones need for vengeance as well as learning to forgive and move on. The plot though has enough complex and shocking story lines to it that fifty minutes just does not do it justice. This is the kind of story that deserved a two part episode and could easily have been made into a feature length film or hardcover novel.
Burt Reynolds appears briefly as a punk who harasses Weld and then ends up in a fist fight with Buz. Weld is a great actress, but here after she takes off her mask, she doesn't seem quite as compelling. It is really Cloris Leachman who steals the show as the heartless and cold mother, especially at the end.
This episode also features a great line of dialogue. The town's newspaper editor advises Weld that she will have to take off the mask because it will frighten too many people. Weld then points to all the townspeople standing outside and replies "I'll take off my mask when you have them take off theirs."
This is a very intense story dealing with a social worker (Kanen), who
is also a former childhood mentor to Buz, who falls to his death after
playing a dare game with a local youth gang leader (Sheen). Buz then
takes it on himself to find answers as well as justice.
This episode marks the acting debut of Martin Sheen who looks so young and different from what you are used to you almost have to look twice to make sure that it is him. He has a bowl haircut here and looks very, very boyish almost like he was fifteen even though he was actually twenty-one at the time. He has a laugh like the Riddler's and plays his menacing role pretty well. James Caan (billed here as 'Jimmy Caan') also makes his debut. The two play an 'ultimate' dare game at the end that is fairly well handled.
Yet the real star of this episode is the fantastic direction by the then up and coming Elliot Silverstein. The nice panoramic views of 1960's Philadelphia is breathtaking. The shooting of the scenes on top of an abandoned building rooftop are thrilling and well choreographed. The editing is crisp and there are some real nice dramatic camera angles. There are also a few scenes shot inside the abandoned building and the rundown interior really helps give the gritty subject matter an authentic feel.
The only problem with this episode is that a middle aged and educated social worker should not be allowing himself to be duped into a stupid and dangerous dare game by some sixteen year old punk. There is also a scene where Tod gets literally pummeled by everyone of the gang members and somehow comes out of it with only a bruise on his cheek when normally it would put anyone else into a coma or worse. It also would have been a little more compelling and satisfying had Buz been the one to take on the Sheen character during the show's climactic dare sequence instead of the Caan character.
This is a very somber episode (even for ROUTE 66 standards) detailing a
lonely spinster of 41 (marvelously played by Jo Van Fleet) who in a
impulsive moment hooks up with a married man and father who has a
penchant for fooling around. Together they sneak into a mine shaft and
then become involved in a cave in. The rest of the story involves their
attempts to get out as well as the rest of the town's efforts to free
Although the issues that are brought up are overwhelmingly sad they are still very real and done in a honest way. It is interesting how the two lead characters seem quite the opposite at first, but are eventually exposed to be a lot alike. Namely two very lost souls searching for answers, but finding only more confusion in the process. This is also one of the earliest story lines anywhere that touches on the difficulties of the returning veteran to civilian life and the overall statement that is made is surprisingly tolerant and sophisticated.
Christopher Votos as the young son of the man who is trapped in the cave is a real stand out here as he creates a great deal of empathy with the viewer. His insistence at continuing to stand up and love his father even though the man is seriously flawed is quite touching.
A leisurely paced episode that manages to be nicely serene while still
bringing up some rather brutal life issues namely that of marriage and
middle age. O'Connor plays a man who feels that his wife is too
controlling and there relationship has lost the romance that it once
had during their courtship. He goes off to find himself and ends up at
a all male retreat where the conversations that he has with the other
men about their marriages are right on target and nicely introspective.
This episode ends up making a lot of good comments about the
difficulties of communicating in a marriage as well as the need for
independence versus companionship and how two people can still love one
another and still need time away from each other.
However the best scene comes at the very end where the usually well mannered Tod commits a major act of rebellion that is quite memorable. It is also interesting to see Anne Helm playing Tod's love interest and the daughter of the O'Connor character. She appeared in an earlier series episode entitle 'The Clover Thorn' playing a wild sexpot named 'Sweet Thing', but here effectively plays a character that is completely the opposite.
The only negative with this episode is the scene where the O'Connor character shows a group of investors a new computer invention that he has made. The sound effects that are used for the computer are overly cartoonish and very distracting. It puts what is otherwise a fine drama piece into the level of a sitcom and almost ruins the message in the process.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE PLOT: A naval lawyer (Cruise) defends two marines accused of
killing a fellow soldier on orders from an unwritten edict called 'code
THE POSITIVE: Cruise is terrific here. His energy and charisma completely propels the film from beginning to end. His ad-libbed impersonation of Nicholson is completely unexpected and funny. Demi Moore is also really good and she works well off of Cruise. It is really nice to see a male and female characters working together without it having to slip into a sexual relationship. The buildup to the eventual trial confrontation between Cruise and Nicholson is generally riveting and compelling.
THE NEGATIVE: Although Cruise gives a great performance his character at times seems too irreverent especially when he mocks the marines he is defending for their regimented and formal soldier like behavior even though the Cruise character is supposedly from the navy and therefore would have had many of the same regimented disciplines instilled into him as well. The Nicholson character also has some flaws. He is a man that prides himself on discipline and yet spews out some very crude statements to a lady officer that just doesn't seem realistic. It is also hard to believe that such a veteran officer would allow himself to have such a complete meltdown in court and then be so utterly oblivious to its consequences. The final little 'spat' that he has with the Cruise character seems much too contrived and 'Hollywoodish'. Also the scene at the beginning were Nicholson gives out the crucial order that becomes the crux to the whole story should have been cut out entirely and only revealed at the end, which would have then given the plot more intrigue and tension. There is also a scene where the Moore character takes Cruise out on 'a date', which should also have been cut since it doesn't propel the story at all nor the characters.
THE LOWDOWN: This is a generally good and compelling court room drama that is intelligently written and executed. It is hurt slightly by some obvious Hollywood contrivances and a Nicholson character that seems more like a caricature than a real person.
THE RATING: 7 out of 10.
THE PLOT: A cowboy (Fonda) decides to go back and work for the wife
that he left several years before.
THE POSITIVE: The cinematography and camera work is outstanding as well as the editing. There are a few angles and shots here that I haven't seen done anywhere else. The soundtrack is also excellent and helps create a real nice moody feel to a presentation that has a very good gritty and realistic look. The shootouts and especially the death scenes stand out the most and raise this up a few notches from the standard western. Verna Bloom is a great choice for the hard living and vanquished wife. Her plain face and weathered complexion looks like something one would realistically find in that environment and time period.
THE NEGATIVE: The impressive camera work and elaborate presentation belie the fact that the story really isn't much. The plot is very thin and filled with a lot of elements that you can find in any western. The characters needed to be fleshed out a lot more and the pace is too leisurely. It is great to see eccentric character actor Severn Darden cast as the bad guy, but he needed to be given a lot more screen time.
THE LOWDOWN: The production as a whole is excellent with a nice evocative style that draws you in and really holds your attention. Unfortunately the story is too routine and not profound enough to allow the movie to stand out anymore than it does.
THE RATING: 6 out of 10.
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