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Hawaii Five-O: Cry, Lie (1970)
Good episode but it could have been great.
Cry, Lie from early 1970 is an outstanding episode for roughly the first three-quarters of the show. The mob frames Chin Ho for bribery and then murder as part of a master plot to destroy McGarrett and Five-O.
Much of what follows can be expected. Five-O goes into high gear, the Governor is nervous, the newspapers print damning headlines in large font etc. Meanwhile Martin Sheen plays some sort of hotshot in the mob who is directing the operation over the complaints of the old line Boss.
Just why the mob was running this operation isn't made clear. The problem with discrediting individual policemen is that new policemen just take their place.
The plotting/writing is reasonably tight but leaks in a few places. Chin reacts numbly and can't seem to think beyond wondering why this is happening to him. While understandable to an extent, a veteran cop like Chin would be expected to deal with this type of shenanigan with a bit more dexterity. Then he foolishly acts on an anonymous phone call and goes running off alone rather than let McGarrett know.
The major problem with this episode is its length. It should have been a two parter. Instead, once McGarrett figures out what is going on, he goes after Sheen's character and bada-bing its all over. Very disappointing end to an otherwise very good show.
Hawaii Five-O: Killer Bee (1970)
"Killer Bee" is an excellent episode
This was one of the best episodes to this point in the series and it had several unusual elements.
The basic plot revolves around two men returned from Vietnam, one with documented and one with undocumented mental problems.
Young boys are kidnapped, and then released unharmed, while ransom notes are sent to a woman who says she has no children.
This episode will evoke strong reactions from some because the kids are used as pawns in a sick game and then dumped, albeit alive and unmolested, in remote areas.
The scenes between a tortured young man and his cold mother are also unusually emotionally brutal for circa 1970.
This episode is well constructed with no obvious short-cuts in the plot and a story that hangs together well once you understand what really happened between the two former soldiers.
The last scene is noteworthy because for one of the few times ever Danny has some fun at McGarrett's expense.
A well acted, well written and very interesting production.
Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are 'It might have been!'
While the "new" Dallas could have been much worse, it could have been exponentially better. Having watched all three seasons of the reboot here are my random thoughts which I expressed succinctly in the title.
1. Without regard for their good looks, charm, and acting ability, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe both looked too young and behaved too immaturely to carry their roles. Both actors looked closer to 25 than 35 and this lack of gravitas is a problem. As the "good seed" Metcalfe was too light weight to be a be believable counterbalance to John Ross and bad guys in general.
2. As the new series began, J.R. should have been in power and pulling strings and pulling levers from behind a desk (as he always did on the original) instead of traipsing all over from Dallas, to Las Vegas to Mexico etc trying to make a comeback. By 2012 Larry Hagman was too old to carry off the role as it was written, but it was not the proper milieu for the character in any case.
3. The role of Christopher was poorly conceived and written. He was not a strong enough character to be the good guy in charge so an aging Bobby once more filled that role. It is a difficult task to be both nice and tough and Christopher/Metcalfe were not up to it. He spent most of his time being judgmental and self righteous with no redeeming qualities like strength and forgiveness.
4. The show would have benefited enormously if the producers had paid for the rights to show flashbacks from the original. That it would have been a synergistic relationship should have been obvious to all. The new show would have gained depth and purpose while the owners of the original would have sold thousands of DVD sets that they otherwise will not.
5. I understand the need to introduce new blood but a blizzard of new characters dislocated the center of the show which had stayed true throughout 13 years of the original. As interesting as the Ryland clan was, and it was fine to feature them as the bad guys for an arc or two, as continuing characters they foolishly compete with the Ewings. Why was this new family invented out of thin air and the McKays relegated to one smart-ass nerd who gets himself hung?
6. To continue in that vein, why wasn't the old Carter McKay part used? Even if George Kennedy was too feeble for even a short guest role, his daughter Traci could have had a son, or even Carter McKay Jr (remember when last seen, McKay was back with Rose who was of child bearing age).
7. Way too many drug goons. When ordinary folk mix it up with drug king-pins, the ordinary folk wind up dead. It beggars belief that the Ewings would ever engage people like that in a tit-for-tat kind of game. The on and on with the Mexican drug story-line is not credible.
8. Not enough oil. Dallas was always about oil, and so it should have remained. While its reasonable that alternative energy would be featured to some extent, OIL should have remained the focus of the Ewing family.
9. Not enough Texas. The original was best in those years when its focus was close to home. The more the various characters went globe trotting the less believable it all was. Pam trying to find her mother in Austin was interesting, while her looking for Mark Graison in Asia was groan inducing. Cliff Barnes as head of the Texas OLM was believable stuff. Cliff Barnes as national energy czar, not so much. Trying to be "the biggest independent in the state of Texas" which J.R. identified as his goal early in the original, was far more compelling than the later attempts to take Ewing Oil international etc.
10. There should have been more meaningful roles for old cast members and their offspring known and unknown. Was everyone who worked on the new show unaware that Bobby had a son with Jenna that Ray, presumably, raised? What about J.R.'s other kids, the Beaumont boy (and his son) and Cally's child (and heaven knows how many others given J.R.'s lack of restraint).
11. John Ross was too bitter toward his family. One episode he even spoke harshly about Miss Ellie which made no sense at all given his relationship with her as a child. His condescension toward Bobby was over the top. His sense of entitlement was embarrassing. His father was such a strong character because buried beneath all the evil scheming J.R. did have some charm, redeeming qualities and love for his family.
12. Like any show of this sort, Dallas needed a decent center, a core of characters that the viewer can count on to generally do the right thing. The new Dallas turned just about everyone into messed up sleazy creeps. Bobby's new wife should have been a rock instead of an unstable head case. Bobby himself stooped to levels he would never have contemplated on the original.
I liked the two young female leads. Obviously they are both gorgeous, but they are two very different types, decent actresses, and frankly deserved better treatment than they got from their male counterparts. Bobby and Sue Ellen were not used to their potential but they did OK. In fact that sums up my feelings very well, the new Dallas was "OK". I watched it out of a sense of loyalty to the original and because even though sometimes it was pretty bad, occasionally it hit the sweet spot and made the time investment seem worthwhile.
(first written in October 2014, updated and expanded April 2015)
This is one of the better episodes of Season 4 and has some of Linc's most moving scenes.
Linc and Todd are working for a young but quite successful businessman (James Coburn) who has a blonde sister (Barbara Mattes) that is quite upset with him. Linc pulls the sister from the water after her attention seeking dive and commences to try and save the damsel from her brother's domineering influence.
While this series is replete with troubled (albeit beautiful) females to the point where it became somewhat ridiculous, viewed in isolation this episode is quite well done as it delves into various weaknesses of the human condition.
A sister who talks of killing her brother, a man who can't forgive his father for old sins, a brother confused by his sister's mind games, that same sister picking up a strange man (with a bad comb-over no less) in a bar, was rather heavy material for American episodic TV in the early 60s. It is to this show's credit that here it is done with both subtlety and clarity.
Good episode but not for the faint of heart
Simon Devereaux is country boy who did not adjust well to life outside his home town. While in the Army he was the butt of several elaborate practical jokes and he has not handled that well. In fact he seems to be in an extended temper tantrum for almost this entire episode. Because he was a sort of minor league hero when he was a kid, the townsfolk put up with an unusual amount of his nonsense.
Geoffrey Horne is somewhat miscast for this role (not because he had an expressive face or was articulate, oddly enough people who live in rural areas often have expressive faces and are articulate) but because his voice is clearly not deep south. He sounds more Boston than Savannah once you get past the weak attempt at a southern accent.
The high point of this episode is an amazing ten minute monologue given by Horne that explains to the town why he is so angry. It culminates in Simon attempting to shove dollar bills into a young woman's mouth while the crowd sits in dumbfounded paralysis. It is easily one of the most wrenching scenes I've ever seen. I became physically uncomfortable as the scene reached its climax.
Like many Rt. 66 episodes there are issues left unexplained. Simon's father played by Crahan Denton, is an episode unto himself in that regard. Todd and Linc play subsidiary roles here and spend much of their time repairing a neon sign.
One additional note, be sure to notice Graham Jarvis as Mr. Denker, he is a spitting image doppelganger for Wayne Duvall as Homer Stokes in "O Brother, Where Art Thou".
This may well be the worst episode of this series that I've seen. It wasted a great cast on a silly plot.
Tod and Linc are passing through a small town when they stop to fill up with gas and hamburgers. Tod gets into a fracas defending The Tramp (played by Chester "Boston Blackie" Morris) who has been set upon by three teenage punks. When the cops arrive the kids try to lie their way out of it but a witness (after prompting by Honest Citizen played by Frank Overton) lays the blame where it belongs. Meanwhile Linc has an encounter with some kids one of whom (played very well by Tommy "Flipper" Norden)wants a ride in the Vette.
They decide to hang around town a while and take jobs at a rubber processing plant ran by the Honest Citizen. Tod works in the plant while Linc goes on the road as a salesman. In the most bizarre side plot, Linc is taken to a bar by Sleazy Businessman (played to weird perfection by a young Tom Bosley) who plans to use Linc as Stud Honey to attract the female flies.
The main plot, such as it is, has two of the kids come down with sleeping sickness. Immediately the town cop (played as both Good Cop and Bad Cop by Joe Campanella) rounds up all strangers which includes Tod, the tramp, and a truck driver played to annoying perfection by Bruce Glover.
The Town Doctor (played by a decidedly pre-Hawkeye Alan Alda) finds that The Bum has the sickness in his blood so naturally the Town Blowhard (ably played by the always effervescent Clifton James) and his gang wants to hang him or beat him up or something.
At the end we learn that the real culprit is a dog that was imported from Texas with the ticks attached that carry the sickness.
This is a very lame series entry. None of it makes much sense. The Tramp had no interaction with the kids (he certainly didn't bite them) so how could he have infected them? Given that its a disease spread by ticks, why would a human be suspected? Great cast, but a lousy story to end Season Three with.
Checkmate: The Heart Is a Handout (1962)
Good though off-beat episode.
Checkmate trended toward oddity during its second season and this episode is certainly in that vein. In a nut-shell the story revolves around the head hobo of a dingy shantytown under the tracks who in reality is the son of a wealthy and dying man. Jed Sills goes undercover to protect the son from an assassin. The plot is a bit sparse and hard to believe but all the while it is also satisfactorily entertaining. A highlight is a young Harry Dean Stanton playing a strolling guitar player and crooner. Don Cory is largely peripheral and Doctor Hyatt is also limited but does get a memorable scene as a rotund hobo passing through camp. Dabbs Greer, in a foreshadowing of his role as Rev. Alden on Little House on the Prairie, is quite good as an unlikely holy roller hobo. Good episode from a series ahead of its time.
Checkmate: The Heat of Passion (1961)
"The Heat of Passion" features fine performances by Dorothy Malone and John Dehner but Doug McClure steals the show with a hilarious Burt Lancaster send-up. McClure's Jed Sills arrives at a country inn posing as a demanding and rather vacuous producer. As to why the character sounds and acts like Lancaster I can only guess. Lancaster was at the height of his fame when this episode was filmed with Elmer Gantry having been a major hit the previous year. McClure's impersonation is very good as he captures both the speech and body mannerisms of the iconic actor.
The story here is of the well worn "young beautiful female marries older sick rich guy" formula but with a couple of twists that help to make it interesting and more complex than usual. Malone does a wonderful job of portraying a woman who must choose between a young former boyfriend and an ill husband. Dehner is strong in a role that manages to pull him outside his usual range. My only major criticism is that the storyline had a rushed feel to it and could easily have been made into a two part episode. After keeping us guessing as to the ultimate outcome, the ending is both satisfying and ambiguous.
A really good production is one that can make us forget that we are watching "make believe" and cause us to consider how we might react in a particular situation. "The Heat of Passion" does that and does it well.
Route 66: Journey to Nineveh (1962)
This episode was very entertaining and a joy to watch. Keaton is outstanding and the boat scene had me loudly guffawing.
Many of the gags were only made funnier by the fact that you know they are coming. The music is a perfect compliment especially the "poor soul" melody that plays when Keaton has just had another disaster.
Route 66 was a fine series in part because they didn't get stuck in any particular rut. You never knew what direction a given episode might take. Some episodes were dark, some were sad, some were heartwarming, some were thought provoking, and some were amusing.
This episode is not "deep" or filled with trenchant dialogue. Instead it is merely rib-tickling fun and thoroughly enjoyable.
Good and bad
I was not impressed by this episode except for one interesting aspect.
Mickey Rooney is at his over-acting nutty self-loathing worst here. He indulges in rather pointed self hate by calling himself a runt and other pleasantries.
The basic "be careful what you wish for because you might get it" plot has been done to death by TV, movies, and literature.
The "special effects" are crude and fail completely to make Rooney appear "big". A more effective tactic would have been to have Grady (Rooney's character) live above the stable and interact with a horse or horses. At the end just replace the full size animals with small ponies for a simple yet visually interesting effect.
The one laudable angle to this episode is that it presented a compelling allegory of Rooney's life. Here Grady was a jockey who wished to be "big" and when granted the wish he was too large to continue as a jockey. In real life Mickey Rooney was at his zenith when he was "small" and when he became "big" he failed to achieve at the same high level. Becoming an adult had the same result for Mickey Rooney that becoming a large man had for Grady.