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Great Metrano week: day seven, 28 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Last week it was Art Metrano's birthday and this reviewer has been looking at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day seven: Hill Street Blues season seven: Falling from Grace.

This show is much more grown-up than any of the other series that have been featured in the Metrano week so far, so it's fitting that this one should close out the week (it's also the last one going by air-date). Still, it's funny since this series is practically the complete opposite of that other Eighites staple, The A-Team (reviewed yesterday) but whenever there's a car chase, Mike Post's music sounds almost exactly the same. HSB is also an ensemble peace with serialized story lines, so there are at least three plots here that began in the previous episode, 'Amazing Grace' (as if the title didn't give that away already) but none of these plot lines involve Art Metrano.

The Great Metrano shares a three scene 'arc' with my favorite pair of Hill Street cops: Renko & Hill. He plays shirt-salesman Al Sanderson. When we first meet him, he's shouting up a storm Metrano style in the middle of the street. He claims that a young street kid named Lewis broke into his car and stole his sample-case. The kid and his uncle admit that he broke into the car but all he did was listen to the radio. Sanderson initially refuses to go to the station because that'll take up too much of his precious time, but Renko and Hill insist.

After taking both parties' statements, Al's business partner Joel Hirschman shows up with the case, which was left in the hotel check-out desk. The cops tell Al he should apologies to the kid, but instead he offers him 50 bucks. Proud Lewis refuses. Later on, Hill & Renko bump into Al again and take a particular delight in busting him for sharing some private time in his car with a lady of the night (during the day). It's your typical sleazy kind of character Art Metrano excels at. Would have been nice if he had gotten a more dramatic arc, but hey, you take what you get.

Elsewhere in the precinct, Furillo is still coping with Councilman Wade who shot a man, claiming self defense. Belker is undercover as usual, this time at a car chop shop where he's not allowed to visit the seventh floor. And one of Buntz's finger has been sewn back on after an incident with a loan shark named Falco. The episode is bookended by scenes set in Buntz apartment, where Sid the Snitch appears to be a regular, if unwanted, visitor. Looks like the writers were already setting up the spin-off series "Beverly Hills Buntz" at this time.

One of the most interesting subplots involves Sister Chastity, formerly known as Grace Gardner, who can't help herself but fall for young officer Flaherty. Long time viewers will remember Grace as a regular character since season one. First appearing as the official police decorator, who soon became Sgt. Esterhaus' lover. There's a touching call back to his character (who died way back in season 4) when the Sister is seen straddling his podium while uttering his name (he died in her arms while having sex). They probably wouldn't have done this if the actor hadn't passed away, though.

And that wraps up this Great Metrano Week. Moustached in the Seventies, clean shaved in the Eighties, always a bad guy, never the lead but always putting a smile on this reviewers face as soon as he appears.

8 out of 10

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Great Metrano week: day six, 27 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was Art Metrano's birthday earlier this week, so this reviewer is looking at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day five: The A-Team: Uncle Buckle-Up.

This episode is not particularly well appreciated among A-Team fans, but at the time it first aired, Art Metrano was better known than ever after playing Mauser in the second and third Police Academy movies. It also puts Metrano up against his near-namesake Arte Johnson in the title-role. Still, we could have done without that opening sequence in a toy store that appears to have come straight out of Santa Claus the Movie.

So, Uncle Buckle-Up is a man in a chipmunk suit who has been teaching kids all about safety on TV since 1956. But he's upset that his formerly quality toy-line has been reduced to cheap knockoffs made in Japan. The man responsible for this, sleazy manufacturer Nick Gretch is of course played by Art the Great Metrano.

The A-Team gets involved because Hannibal has set his eyes on getting the supporting part of 'Ruff the Bear'. Seems he's become tired of playing monsters such as the Aquamanic all the time. Murdock, who is of course an Uncle Buckle-Up expert, poses as Hannibal's manager. There is surprisingly little action for an A-Team episode. We don't get a chase scene until 16 minutes have past (instead we see several men wearing Bear masks practicing a stupid dance). And even then this chase is rather lackluster as it doesn't feature any close-ups of the people involved, hence no witty one liners. The second action sequence is not much better: it's a brief shoot out in a convention hall filled with stuffed toys (but without any innocent bystanders, so there's no danger).

What we do get are no less than three scenes set at a zoo (because Hannibal has to study the bears to get into character). In the third of these, one of the evil henchmen is being held over a lion's den by B.A. Apparently Stephen J. Cannell really wanted to make the most out of their one day visit to the Zoo since all three scenes were obviously filmed on the same day. Not that you could tell by the A-Team since they never change their costumes during the episode anyway (except for Hannibal's bear outfit).

So, the A-Team, with Uncle Buckle-Up replacing Faceman, barge into The Great Metrano's office to point a gun at him and confront him about his falling apart toys. Along the way we get a throw away line by one of the toy manufacturers saying that B.A. would make a great doll. I'm a bit surprised they didn't sneak any of the A-Team toys into this episode actually, since the Six Million Dollar Man and Charlie's Angels got to plug their dolls on their show...

By now viewers of the episode and readers of this review who are paying attention might be wondering why Face is missing during the big Metrano confrontation. It's because he was fighting off all of Metrano's henchmen on the Uncle Buckle-Up set on his own (must have been filmed on one of the infamous days when both George Peppard and Mr. T. decided to leave early). The henchmen capture Faceman and Uncle Buckle-Up's assistant (also secretly his daughter) and they all get locked up in a toy warehouse.

Now I can see why this episode is not high on any A-Team lover's top ten favorites lists, but at least the requisite "A-Team building a tank out of nothing" scene here is an admirable piece of self-parody. The guys make an arsenal out of toy planes, remote control cars, rockets and firecrackers (and remember that Nick Gretch's toys were supposed to be complete rubbish). Armed with all this, they manage to blow up all the bad guys cars and defeat them utterly.

As for Art, he end up like all unscrupulous A-Team villains do: he gets knocked out by B.A. personally. And deservedly so: he was smuggling heroine in stuffed toys.

6 out of 10

The Great Metrano week will conclude tomorrow with Hill Street Blues: Falling from Grace.

Great Metrano week: day five, 26 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was Art Metrano's birthday earlier this week, so this reviewer is looking at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day five: The Incredible Hulk: Stop the Presses.

Yes indeed, true believers, on November 24 1978, Art Metrano became the first and only man in history to be thrown around by two different TV superheroes from separate publishing houses on the same night and on the same network. First he faced DC's Wonder Woman (see yesterday's entry in this week of reviews) and immediately after that, he went up against Marvel's Green Goliath, the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately for this reviewer, Art's part only lasts for about half the episode, so this might be an extra short review...

At least T.G.M. is front and center in the first shot of the show, bothering our favorite Hulk hunter Jack McGee at work: the New York offices of the National Register (established 1860). Our Art is 'Charlie' and he makes a buck selling pictures to the Register. But McGee knows Charlie likes to sell the same photos to different reporters and get paid twice. So tells him to stick to working with Joe Arnold, a young, unscrupulous newsman who likes to bend the truth to make his articles juicier.

Joe and Charlie's modus operandi is certainly unusual. They visit Bruno's, a promising new Italian restaurant run by two women and an Asian cook called Fred (Pat Morita, who else?). There they throw some firecrackers in the dumpster at the back so Fred and the new dishwasher (a certain David Banner) run out. While the staff is distracted, Joe and Charlie enter the kitchen, Charlie dumps garbage everywhere and Joe takes pictures. I thought Art Metrano (Charlie) was supposed to be the photographer here, but I guess reporter Joe didn't want to get his typing hands dirty.

Naturally Jill & Karen, the two girl owners (named after writers Jill Sherman and Karen Harris) are upset that a the health scare is about to be reported about Bruno's. Meanwhile dishwasher David is especially worried because Arnold managed to snap his picture. Strange character, that David. Clearly overqualified to be a mere dishwasher and much better at fixing the girls taxes and liquor license. But J&K don't want to see him leave because they both really fancy him.

For some reason Arnold and 'Cockroach' Charlie don't feel like they've done enough damage at Bruno's so they return for round two. But this time David is there. Unfotunately for him, Charlie used to be a wrestler and in no time David is face down in the food and thrown under the table. Somehow that happens to him in every episode. The baddies and bullies always dump Bill Bixby somewhere out of their eyesight for a few minutes so he has time to change places with Lou Ferigno. Then Lou comes out as the Incredible Hulk, pushes the entire kitchen counter at Art, picks him up and throws him out the door. Unfortunately that's the last we see of Art Metrano in this episode, as well as Pat Morita's Fred. They both decide to leave town after the first Hulk-out.

There are a few more things worthy of mentioning about this episode, because Karen & Jill (the writers, not the restaurant owners) keep throwing out more far fetched plot fabrications. David finds a snapshot made by the girls just before the fist garbage incident which just happens to have a newspaper with a readable date visible on it, as well as a clock showing the time. This is proof that Arnold (the reporter, not Pat Morita as he was known in Happy Days) came in later with other people's garbage.

But the evidence means nothing as long as they don't have Arnold's original negatives. So they have to sneak into the newspaper-building and dark haired Jill has to distract the guard by wearing a slinky black dress. The three of them manage to get the negatives, but then Jill, who earlier on mentioned that she briefly worked at the Register, figures out by looking at a 'runsheet' hanging on the wall that some of the pictures have already been duplicated and are at the presses, about to be printed. And of course one of those photographs shows David's face.

So, David sends the two women home and goes down to the presses. It's unclear what he was hoping to achieve on his own, because it sure doesn't look like he planned to get his denim jacket caught in the spinning press, causing him to Hulk-Out faster than usual and smash the entire printing press to pieces. I guess the Hulk must have retained a bit of Banners intentions this time around.

But the fun's not over yet. In another subplot, Jack McGee had just acquired a big game hunter's riffle and while he was just sitting at his desk after hours, admiring his weapon, he gets word the Hulk is on the premises. But McGee proves himself even clumsier with his rifle than Banner was with his jacket: he shoots a tranquilizer dart into his own leg. And that's how we get a scene of David Banner, (transformed back into Banner faster than ever) face to face with his hunter Jack. Only Jack is too groggy and woozy to make out David's face.

What a silly comic book episode this was. It must also be mentioned that a lot of scenes obviously had lines dubbed in at a later stage, whether it's a scene the two girls walking down the street or The Great Art wisecracking 'I Ain't gonna wrestle this guy' during his far too brief confrontation with the Hulk.

7 out of 10

The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with another classic: The A-Team: Uncle Buckle-Up

Great Metrano week: day four, 25 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate Art Metrano's birthday earlier this week, this reviewer is enjoying a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day four: Wonder Woman: Skateboard Wiz.

Yes, it's another episode in which Steve Trevor only has two scenes, and they are both at IADC headquarters. Also, it's another one of those where Diana Prince interacts with old acquaintances whom we never saw before on any other episode. This week there are three: former IADC supervisor personnel member Leslie O'Neil and her teenage daughter Jamie, plus former LA cop now turned traitor Skye Markham.

Diana has her first vacation in about a year (probably the first one ever, since she started working at the Inter Agency Defence Command as soon as she got back from Paradise Island in 1977) And she wants to spend it with her gal pal the widow Leslie. But the real genius in the family is daughter Jamie. Not only is she a fantastic roller-skater and arcade computer gamer (specializing in a 'Torpedo' type of game), she also has a photographic memory and can memorize top secret information with just one glance. On top of that she has a big mouth, introducing Diana as a spy to her African-American skater pal Kevin who's is only there to be awestruck and totally supportive of Jamie all the time. I'm telling you, there's a bright future for this girl at the IADC. But of course this is the third and final season so we won't see her again (and we wouldn't have seen her again even if the series had continued).

For the first time in this week of reviews, Art Metrano does not play the main villain, but a flunky instead. He runs the electronic arcade down near the beach, which has a secret passage to an illegal casino. This job is not as easy as it sounds: Arty (or Friedman as he's called here) has to change clothes between the two sections of the operation all the time: from frumpy looking manager to suave casino patron. Meanwhile Diana Prince goes to the beach and is almost killed by two muscle heads. She hadn't even realized there's a evil afoot and the poor Amazon's already a target.

The actual head bad guy is real estate shark Evan Donelson, played by Eric Braeden. This actor actually did appear on Wonder Woman before, but as another villain and in another time-frame. He was Nazi pilot Captain Drangel in the 1975 pilot movie, and if he hadn't shot down Steve Trevor Sr. over the aforementioned Island of Paradise at that time, Wonder Woman would never have traveled to the good old U.S. of A. at all. So we should really be grateful to Braeden here. And since Lyle Waggoner plays both Steve the father and Steve the son, maybe possibly we can imagine that evil Donelson here is the offspring of that Ratzi Drangel. Obviously the family changed their surname after the war...

So, Diana noticed that somebody (read: the son of the man who shot down Steve the first over Paradise) is threatening several landowners into selling their property to him. And with a little reluctant help from Skye she's started to investigate. Jamie and her pal Kevin are still hanging around the boulevard arcade where an always just out of frame carousel is constantly playing Civil War era songs like "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Suwannee River". We've also witnessed dumb cowboy gambler Duane Morrisey being kicked out of The Great Metrano's top secret casino on account of his losing streak. The various plot lines begin to come together when Duanne convinces Jamie to help him out with her photographic memory, and she happens to set eyes on a map of Donelson's real estate plans.

So now Donelsen wants little Jamie silenced and Art Metrano and another henchmen are tasked to do the dirty deed. But at least they have the courtesy of letting her enter the local skateboard competition first (the main prize: a trip to San Francisco). Naturally it all ends with a chase scene in which Wonder Woman uses Jamie's board to catch up with Art's big American car and before you know it, Arty and the other henchman are flying through the air and looking perplexed lying on the ground (that's three out of four times Metrano ends up on the ground this week).

8 out of 10

The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with The Incredible Hulk: Stop the Presses, which, amazingly enough, was broadcast on the same night as this episode of Wonder Woman, on the Super Hero network CBS.

Great Metrano week: day three, 24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate this weeks birthday boy Art Metrano this reviewer kicked off a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day three: Charlie's Angels: Angels in Paradise.

Originally show as a two hour special, this episode is well remembered for introducing Cheryl Ladd as 'Jill's little sister' Kris Munroe and for being shot on location in Hawaii. You can imagine the pre-broadcast excitement: will we see all three Angels in a bikini? No such luck with Kate Jackson still in the cast. In season one, Jaclyn Smith was the least experienced Angel and therefore had to wear a bikini in every other episode. This season (and also the next), it's New Girl Cheryl's turn.

Unfortunately, as is usually the case with these two hour specials, the real reason this episode is twice as long is to compensate for the location shooting. That way they can make two episodes for the price of one, and indeed even on DVD 'Angels in Paradise' is split in two like it is in reruns and syndication. Could it be possible that the original two hour cut has been lost? And while the episode certainly offers a lot of nice things to look at, the script , convoluted though it is, has to be padded out with a lot of hula dancing every other scene. Also, there are two different villains who are both after the same thing: one for part one and the other for part two.

After her introduction, we learn that Kris secretly attended the police academy in San Fran, possibly funded by her sister Jill who assumed she was in college. Then Charlie calls them up sounding chipper as ever, only to tell the Angels he's been kidnapped and could be killed. The four Townsned detectives fly to Hawaii and have a Mai Tai on the beach. But the first bikini on screen clings to villain number one, Leilani Sako, who rises from the sea Honey Ryder style. She then explains that her men kidnapped Charlie because she wants the Angels to bust her husband Billy out of jail. We also learn why Charlie's phone call was so cheerful: he's being treated like a prince (as always) at Leilani's estate.

While the Angels never play it for comedy like that other Spelling/Goldberg TV show reviewed yesterday, they sure are having quite a lot of fun vacationing while their boss is supposedly in mortal danger and they are being forced to break the law (also a young surfing girl gets shot for no good reason). They never actually break Billy out of jail, but free him by dressing Bosley up in a wig and doing the old car switcheroo. Once they have Billy, Leilani is no longer harboring Charlie. He's been kidnapped (off screen) for the second time. As proof we only see some broken crockery on the floor at Leilani's mansion.

The Great Metrano, who should have been the main villain all along, finally appears as Mr. Blue, a man 'both dangerous and ridiculous'. He lives life like James Bond and also wants to swap Charlie for Billie. He's also the only villain (actually the only character other than the usual bimbo's) who interacts with Charlie on a face to face basis. Of course it's not really John Forsythe sitting opposite Art because when Forsythe took the voice-over job he swore never to set foot on the set, and Blake Carrington always keeps his word.

If you're watching this episode in two parts, at least the cliffhanger in kind of interesting: the corpse of a man with Charlie's wallet washes up on the beach and none of the girls can identify him because they've never seen his face. But it's another red herring, of course. Then we get a boring bit in which boring Billy recounts how he met and fell in love with Leilani to a bored looking Bosley.

The girls spend another scene being cute and practicing the Hula while waiting for a phone call that proves that Charlie's still alive. This is followed by a useless detour of new angel Kris going to a nude beach to talk to Mr. Roper (Norman Fell). Poor little Kris. being the new girl, she has to go 'nude' on her first outing. But we actuality see more of Norman Fell (at least from the waste up). That must have pleased the seventies TV viewers a lot.

Well at least the Angels get to do a lot of detective work all around Honolulu until they find out Charlie must be held on Blue's yacht. Meanwhile they are still keeping stupid Billy as a bargaining chip and he never once objects. He's all smiles and doesn't even mind going back to jail if it means can take Mr. Blue along with him.

Finally the Angels, joined by silly Billy, infiltrate Blue's Boat to save Charlie. Now we have both Kris and Kelly in teeny bikinis. Some of this footage is so memorable that it appears in the opening credits up until the last season. But just when Sabrina is just one door removed from saving Charlie, he takes matters into his own hands, jumps out a little window and swims to shore. Obviously nothing is more frightening to Charlie than to meet his Angels face to face.

The wrap up back at the office features still more hula dancing (including some by Bosley). Then, as Charlie calls, we cut to footage from an earlier scene just before he was kidnapped. This makes it appear like a 'here-we-go-again- tag' even though it isn't.

7 out of 10

The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with Wonder Woman: Skateboard Wiz

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Great Metrano week: day two, 23 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate yesterday's birthday of Art Metrano this reviewer kicked off a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day two: Starsky and Hutch season two: Nightlight, aka Bust Amboy. Personally, I prefer to refer to the second version, since the character of Amboy is played by our man, Metrano the Great.

You know you're watching a Spelling/Goldberg production when the opening shot features three young widows showing too much leg & cleavage exiting a limo. And you know we're back in the Seventies when the next shot has Starky and Hutch trying to hide a walkie talkie the size of a shoe box in a bouquet of flowers. And it gets better: inside the funeral home the three 'widows' can be seen dancing seductively to disco music until S&H burst in to bust everybody concerned. The usual comedic fight breaks out, soon followed by the first car chase of the week.

You see, it's like this: Hutch and Starsky let one of the dumb thugs escape, knowing he'll be stupid enough to lead them right to his boss, Amboy (played by TGM). Amboy for his part is a classy mobster/restaurateur in a white suit who insists on eating only the finest food. When we first see him, he's giving a lecture on the ripeness of corn. Ken H. and Dave S. think they've busted him when they find a stash of green dough hidden amongst the corn, but we're only 10 minutes into the show, so Amboy gets off on a technicality: the boys didn't notice that they crossed the county line. Their arrest was invalid.

That same day, Amboy has his goons pick up Ken and Dave and offers to give them a job over some fine champagne and beluga. All this fancy stuff is gobbledygook to Starsky, but Hutch proves himself quite knowledgeable about the finer things in life a la 007. It's no wonder Amboy employs an Oddjob clone called Itchy as a bodyguard, although he doesn't turn out to be much of a challenge for KH and DS. First the boys enjoy the expensive food and drink Amboy offers them (during work hours), and then Ken thanks their host by going into Public Service Announcement mode scolding their him for turning 9 year old's into drug addicts and putting teenage hookers on the streets. Of course this serious message only takes up a minute or so before the boys are busy beating up Amboy's goons 'Three Stooges style'.

After the required scene with Huggy Bear, Starsky and Hutch start operation 'Annoy Amboy'. First they disturb him during a posh dinner at his restaurant "Andre's" (leading the way for the Blues Brothers to do the same in their movie) and later they catch him with his pants down at the Tailor (similar to things that would happen to Art Metrano in both of his Police Academy outings). After spending the night in their car, the penny finally drops when the two comedy cops remember that Amboy was making a big deal out of reading the London Daily Dispatch during their meeting the day before. Amazingly, they have no trouble finding a copy of yesterday's Daily and they quickly deduce Amboy is eying a cruise ship about to leave for England.

By now S&H are getting too close, so Amboy has them run into some undercover cops (it is never explained what they were doing at his house) which leads to Captain Dobey forcing them off the case by giving them sick leave. That way, the boys can do whatever they want on their own time (as if they ever do anything else). Amboy forces 17 year old hooker Mickey (the object of Hutch's PSA messages sprinkled throughout this episode) to give a false lead to the two boys, but of course H&S soon see through this deceit. They arrive just in time to save Mickey from Itchy and then bust Amboy back at the fancy undertaker where the story started. So in the end, there was no sign of a cruise ship after all, but for the second time in this Metrano Week, Art ends up falling on the ground while fleeing (The writer must have seen his guest appearance on Kojak).

7 out of 10

The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with Charlie's Angels: Angels in Paradise.

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Great Metrano week: day one, 22 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate the birthday of Art Metrano this reviewer is kicking off a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. So lets get started with day one: Kojak season one: One for the Morgue.

The episode starts off with a bang as our guest star of the week appears in the opening shot, dancing in the street as Michael X. Tomasso, Founder and President of the Lower Manhattan Protective Association. The occasion is a celebration in honor of Tomasso himself. His followers are out to cheer him on (and dance with him) and the police (including homicide detective Kojak) are there to protect him. But still two colored thugs manage to slip through the cracks and take a few shots at Michael X. Tomasso survives thanks to a Kevlar vest but an innocent old lady isn't so lucky. She becomes the titular 'one for the morgue', as uttered by the title character himself.

After that the Great Metrano disappears for most of the episode, which is unfortunate for this review. But at least his role was more substantial than in the Partridge Family season one episode "A Partridge by Any Other Name", in which our man only appears in one shot and has about three lines.

So let's take a moment to talk about Theo Kojak. Keep in mind that this is only the third regular episode so not all of his catchphrases and trademarks are in place yet (most noticeably the lollipops are missing). I recently found this interesting comparison written by Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link: "If Columbo was a shabby cop in elegant surroundings, Kojak was just the opposite: an elegant cop in shabby surroundings, with macho Greek bravado in place of Columbo's rumpled humanity."

Indeed, Telly Savalas plays Kojak with so much self confidence and so little respect for any of the other characters that he kind off forces the audience to love him (or else). Kojak treats both friend and foe as little children that he's teaching a lesson. Even his superior at the precinct, Captain McNeil (Dan Frazer), seems to accept being waltzed over by Lt. Kojak all the time.

And although Telly doesn't have the lollipop to fiddle around with yet, not a single prop on set is safe from his hands. Every time he's exits McNeil's office he turns around a little framed trophy just for fun, leaving McNeil to shake his head and chuckle weakly. In another scene he's carrying two bags with enormous fishes sticking out of them while discussing the case with undercover cop Gil. Before leaving, Theo hands Gil one of the fish and tells him "for your mother". Again, Gil accepts this with only a slight raise of the eyebrows. I guess all the guys at the precinct must have seen Savalas' performance in The Dirty Dozen and after-wards accepted that no one is tougher than Telly.

The following paragraph will be especially spoilerific because this review is still meant to focus on guest star Metrano, so be warned.

Tomasso finally reappears around the 30 minute mark as Kojak begins to figure out that Tomasso ordered the hit on his life himself. Which means M.X. is responsible for the poor little old lady's death. And that's something Kojak just can't let slip (also the fact that Tomasso tried to pull a fast one on the entire police department). The Lieutenant sets a trap using young Mitch DuBois, the thug who actually shot the old lady (he is easily recognizable from the earlier scene because of his giant afro and matching sideburns).

Tomasso figures out that Mitch has squealed and tries to shoot the young punk as soon as he's released, clumsily firing a shotgun from a moving vehicle. But Kojak and co are already right behind him and Tomasso's driver ducks into an empty bar, car and all. The Great M. makes a run for it, but he's limping so he doesn't have a chance against Kojak, who shoots him down, but not fatally. When Tomasso is on the ground clutching his leg it's a bit unclear if this is because he was already limping or Kojak just shot him in the leg, or possibly both.

Good episode, albeit rather Metrano lite but Kojak's bravado makes up for it.

7 out of 10. Happy birthday, Art!

The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with Starsky and Hutch: Nightlight

Auberjonois week: day seven, 7 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate the birthday of René Auberjonois, this reviewer spent a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's by the incomparable Mr. Auberjonois. Today is the last day. Day seven: Charlie's Angels season four: Angels on Skates.

René Auberjonois returns to the Angelverse to face two new (to him at least) Angels: Kris and (my personal favorite) Tiffany. Apparently our man René agrees, since he immediately comes on to Tiff at the 'Wheels of Fortune skate shop' wearing a Bluto T-shirt (there's a giveaway if ever I saw one). He then introduces himself as 'Frederick Victor Fortune - call me Freddie' and offers to turn the Angels into 'Fortune Girls'.

As soon as the Angels go back outside to skate the Beach of Venice, their teacher Ken's partner Rita is kidnapped in plain view as well as broad daylight. Somehow the Angels can't do anything but watch it happen. Further more, the police are unable prove it really is a kidnapping and Kenny doesn't have enough money to pay a ransom nor the Townsend Agency. Kris still convinces Charlie and the gang to take the case any way. While Kris sticks close to Ken (who may or may not be involved), the others investigate possible suspects and hey, what do you know? They actually use fake names for a change! Bosley poses as 'Warren Rambert of the West Coast Roller Derby', while Tiff and Kel pretend to be 'Yvonne Henning & Tara White of Roller Disco Magazine'.

Of course we all know the man they should really be looking into is Freddie Fortune, owner of Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace where he does double duty as the silky voiced DJ (using a different voice because as we've found out several times this week, that's R.A.'s specialty). Shortly after- wards, we the audience finds out Freddie is indeed behind the kidnapping. His victim Rita Morgan turns out to be heiress Rita Lathrop, who ran away from home 6 months earlier. So that's where the baddies plan to get the money. Also now the Angels can be paid their usual fee by Rita's step mom.

A few noticeable things: every time we cut back to the Palace, Kris and Freddie are wearing a new outfit. But none of the other skaters ever change their clothes, not even Kenny. Also, whenever the two K's, Cheryl Ladd and Ed Begly Jr., share a scene together they have to sit down, because they hardly fit in the same shot owing to the substantial size difference between them. Freddie still hasn't made his ransom demand until after the Angels find out Rita's actual I.D. When he does, he goes to the trouble of attaching a special voice altering device to the phone, but still uses an easily traceable payphone right next to the side entrance of his skating rink. And as we all know by now, Auberjonois hardly needs a machine to alter his voice.

Kris finally takes Freddie up on his offer to join his Fortune Girls. Meanwhile Tiff is on a bike with a bag filled with 1 million dollars in cash: ransom money. At the same time, the skating competition is about to start, so Freddie is wearing his most outlandish outfit yet. This one resembles a sparkly, disco version of the Lone Ranger costume, without the mask but with musical notes on it to make up for that.

It's a shame the Great René A. never puts on a pair of skates himself nor does he participate in the final chase scene. Sure, he loses the game and Bosley holds a gun on him, but we never even get to see Freddie be arrested or hear what happens to him in the office wrap up scene. Ed Begley Jr. does get to skate and be part of the chase, with a lot of help from a professional skating double during the finale of the competition.

9 out of 10

It's been a hoot reviewing 7 Seventies Auberjonois capers in a row. Maybe we'll do this again some time, focusing on another prolific guest star from that era.

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Auberjonois week: day six, 6 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate this weeks birthday of René Auberjonois, this reviewer is having a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's by master of inflection Mr. Auberjonois. We're already at day six: Starsky and Hutch: Dandruf.

Hutch and Starsky are undercover at a beauty salon as 'Mr. Marlene' and 'Mr. Tyrone' respectively. Hutch is doing a full blown Mr. Humphries act in a blonde curly wig. He also occasionally has a lisp. Meanwhile Starsky is doing a really bad Inspector Clouseau impersonation that is almost insulting to Peter Sellers. At one point, Starsky pronounces 'guy' as 'gay'. Before the end of the first act, they engage in a chase scene that ends that in a pool, as usual.

The focus of our review, René Auberjonois, is 'The Baron', 'who's infamous reputation precedes him'. He is out to steal the Belvedere Diamonds at the unnamed hotel S&H work at. Nobody knows what the Baron looks like, but Scotland Yard does know the kind of cigars the Baron smokes: Corona Supurba. Every time the Baron appears, René uses a different voice in a ploy to secure his secret identity. It's also proof of why René is such a good voice-over artist. His disguises include a doctor, a bartender, elevator attendant and a cop.

Is this show always so over the top? All the characters look and act like cartoon characters. From the cliché gangsters wearing 30's fashion to all the patrons at beauty salon and the hotel guests they bump into. Of course René the A pulls it off well. And the two title characters are portrayed as the object of every beautiful woman's undying affection. Oh I get it, it's a the old Warren Beatty routine from 'Shampoo'. In the Seventies, leading men could still play the gay hairdresser for laughs, but had to make sure to kiss a different girl in every other scene to prove their masculinity.

Tyrone and Marlene run into hotel security Buddy Owens who is in charge of the diamond sale security and reluctantly team up with him. When Buddy ends up in hospital, he is somehow allowed to keep his gun holster on, complete with gun. Huggy Bear also joins the circus in disguise as 'Prince Nairobi' and the other two actually accuse him of 'hamming it up'.

During the all important auction that everything has been leading up to, S&H position themselves on a coach with their feet up and read a newspaper while Huggy manages to outbids himself. It's like writer Ron Friedman is really trying too hard to be funny. This being the fourth and final season, David Soul appears to be bored with the whole affair. If he isn't yawning in another characters face and getting distracted while important information is being divulged, he's fidgeting with his sunglasses and wig. Meanwhile, Starsky is carrying around a stepladder in several scenes for some undisclosed reason.

At least The Baron manages to escape without being identified. He even weeds out the police bug from between the diamonds, though Huggy gets the last laugh by switching the real jewels with fakes.

6 out of 10

Auberjonois week will conclude tomorrow with Charlie's Angels: Angels on Skates

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Auberjonois week: day five, 5 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To celebrate this weeks birthday of René Auberjonois, this reviewer is having a week long look at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's by the incomparable Mr. Auberjonois. Today is day five: Wonder Woman: Spaced Out.

This installment opens with very funky spy music as our own Auberjonois climbs into the Torrence Aerospace Plant to steal a trio of collimating crystals from a giant telescope. He manages to escape getting caught by the guards by disguising himself as a cleaner, or more accurately, a 'Conciergonois' and hides the crystals in a crate filled with Apollo moon rocks about to lend out to the Space Questicon.

René plays professional burglar James Kimball, who's faced Wonder Woman before (though not on screen). This is something the writers on this show liked to do a lot: Wonder woman and her alter ego Diana Prince both have lots of acquaintances that she met on adventures between the episodes. This particular story is filled with them: apart from having failed to catch Kimball at least once, Diana also knows Sylvester Grogan, son of the 'famous Professor Grogan' as well as the crook Kimball is working for, Simon Rohan. Apparently WW 'ran into him last spring when he was arranging to bug the U.N. committee room' (an adventure that was obviously not exciting enough to be televised).

So Diana Prince reluctantly agrees to accompany Sylvester (who wants to be called 'Sly' even though his friends call him 'Ester') to the Space Questicon's main attraction: a costume contest hosted by Robbie the Robot itself. Kimball meanwhile knocks out an actor known only as 'the Masked Avenger' and puts on his world famous outfit. This actually makes him draw even more attention from the convention goers, who are all enormous Masked Avenger fans. The studio shot convention scenes are inter cut with some footage filmed at the 1978 Galacticon in Los Angeles. Of course none of the early Star Wars cos-players seen here take part in the costume contest, which seems to be promoting some kind of Logans Run cult instead, calling them "Logies" as opposed to "Trekkies".

You've really got to hand it to the man: René Auberjonois spends almost the entire episode wearing a mask over his face, and yet he still manages to convey all kinds of emotions with just his eyes. Not only does this show the man has a refreshing lack of vanity, he also manages to make a lot out of very little. Eventually Kimball and Wonder Woman team up to recover the crystals and catch the bigger crook, Rohan. Kimball manages to slip away from Diana/WW once more (how many times does that make?), meaning that for once, the final freeze frame features Diana looking concerned instead of the usual bright smile.

9 out of 10

Kimball may have escaped, but René Auberjonois week will continue tomorrow with Starsky and Hutch: Dandruf.

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