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A "bad dude" for a really bad episode
I almost hate to write a review of a Kojak episode, but after seeing this one I just couldn't resist. I should add I'm not a fan of the show. I didn't watch it back when it originally aired and I only watch it now to see some of the old guest stars.
While he is taking his date home Crocker hears a gunshot nearby and goes to investigate the source. (Poor guy - even on his night off!). When he finds the "body" of the victim, it turns out to be a fake; someone has put some pillows under the blanket, and for the head, used a watermelon with an Afro wig. It doesn't take Kojak long to determine that this is all a part of a complicated situation. A bounty hunter from California named Salathiel Harms (Rosey Grier) is in town to grab Harlem hoodlum Sylk (played by Bill Duke, in a performance that has to be seen to be believed), who has a warrant out on him in the Golden State. Salathiel had been the intended victim at the beginning, as Sylk had hired an out of town gun (appropriately named Shotgun Willie) to off him before he could drag Sylk back to California. Although Kojak doesn't like having a bounty hunter working his turf, he decides it's better to work together instead of against each other. Besides, who's gonna turn down the chance to ship a bad guy off to the west coast?
This is an episode that is so bad it must be seen to be believed. While the story itself is okay it really doesn't matter since all one can do is snicker at all of the bad (and I don't mean baaaaad) performances. Rosey Grier can barely walk and talk at the same time (early proof of the effect of concussions on football players?). Bill Duke, a very fine actor, is so pimped out he would make Huggy Bear jealous. His performance is so outlandishly bad it has to be seen to be believed. He delivers his lines so slowly it's as if speaking every word takes every bit of strength he has. (It would probably take him all day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.) And if you watch this episode, do not miss the confrontation between Salathiel and Sylk. Just make sure you're not eating anything at the time or you might choke to death while you're laughing.
It's a safe bet that Duke wishes every copy of this episode had been burned. In fact this episode is so riddled with racial stereotypes it's a wonder they are even allowed to show this on TV anymore. All the black guys are pimped out to the max, and Sylk looks like he's one step away from being a drag queen. And the use of a watermelon to mimic a black guy's head? Oh boy, they didn't think that one out very well...
Adam-12: The Late Baby (1972)
Did they really go there?
This is a fairly routine episode with one running subplot about an attractive woman working at the station and her overprotective uncle trying to fend off potential suitors. As the story progresses the viewer starts getting an uncomfortable feeling that maybe they are going down a path they really shouldn't go down (I'll explain in a moment).
Everything else in the episode is so run-of-the-mill you'll think that you've already seen it before. If you must know what else happens in the show then read the very good synopsis of it just below the cast list, because just thinking about it makes... me... verrr... reeee... sleeep... eeeee... zzzzz...
As I said above the only interesting thing in this episode is the ending, which revolves around an inside joke that many viewers of that time would have understood but is probably over the head of many people today. When Malloy tells Officer Wells that his niece is going out with Officer Boyd, he says,"Oh, you've got to be kidding!" presumably because Boyd is a notorious Romeo and Wells didn't even like the fact his niece went out with Malloy. The inside joke here is that the potential couple is played by Tina Sinatra and Frank Sinatra, Jr., the children of you-know-who, which means that in a way a brother is romantically interested in his sister. The overly protective uncle is played by the oldest son of Bing Crosby, another little fact many viewers back then would have known.
The NBC Mystery Movie (1971)
The NBC Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday Mystery Movie (1971 - 1977)
First off I want to comment on the fact IMDb has this listed under "The NBC Tuesday Mystery Movie". It isn't appropriate since the Tuesday episodes were only on for HALF of a season. If all of the different versions have to be listed on one listing (why, I don't know) then the umbrella title should be just Mystery Movie or The Sunday Mystery Movie, since that it what everyone tends to think of.
Anyway, the series began as simply The NBC Mystery Movie, debuting in 1971 on Wednesday's nights (preceded by Adam-12 and followed by Night Gallery). The show was a hit, buoyed by the popularity of Columbo, McMillan and Wife, and McCloud. (McCloud was not a new show, as it had debuted the year before in another "wheel" program called Four-In-One. Unlike Mystery movie, that program showed it's program in blocks, so that every episode of a particular show was shown for several weeks, then the next one, and then the next one. So if you were a fan of McCloud you'd have to wait until summer reruns. When that one was cancelled, only McCloud survived and moved to new series.) Apparently NBC figured that if one Mystery Movie was good then two were better (so if you want to blame someone for all of the CSIs and Law and Orders, you know who's responsible). In Sep. 1972 the original Wednesday show was moved to Sunday (which included a new show Hec Ramsey, an interesting show that tried to meld Matt Dillon to a modern day detective, at least as much as possible around 1910), where it became an even bigger hit and lasted for another five years. The new Wednesday lineup that replaced it included Banacek, Madigan, and Cool Million.
Banacek was an insurance investigator, who took on impossible cases in exchange for exorbitant fees. Banacek's cases were the kind that could only happen on TV, like a train car that mysteriously disappears while on a cross-country trip, or when a player in a football game vanishes into thin air when his group of tacklers get up off the ground. Cool Million was about a former secret agent who could do just about anything and charged a million for his services (equivalent to about 4.5 million in today's inflation ravaged dollars). Madigan was a New York cop was sent to other cities (like London, Paris, Lisbon) to show them how N.Y. cops get business done. Only Banacek survived to the next season.
Joining Banacek in Sep. 1973 were a trio of new shows: The Snoop Sisters, two elderly women played by Mildred Natwick and Helen Hayes, who solved mysteries; Faraday and Company, a P.I. wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years and once released, had to catch up on modern day know how; Tenefly, a somewhat unusual detective who wasn't a gritty loner but a dedicated family man. In January 1974 NBC moved them to Tuesday night where they clung by their finger tips until cancellation at the end of that season. No real loss there.
So starting in Sep. 1974 it was just the The Sunday Mystery Movie with the Big Three still going strong. Joining the lineup just before Christmas was a new show called Amy Prentiss, a show originally introduced to the world as a backdoor pilot on Ironside. She was the first female chief of detectives, so in addition to fighting crime she was also fighting male chauvinism in the police force. Make it she did not - The Force was not with her.
Sep. 1975 saw another show join the Big Three: McCoy, starring Tony Curtiss. McCoy was a con man and Curtiss was the perfect actor to play a con man (in one show he convinced a mark that the US Govt. was going to withdraw the greenback and replace it with a different currency to fight inflation). But even Tony couldn't con NBC in renewing the series and it vanished.
1976-77 was the last year of the Sunday Movie. One change was that since Susan St. James left her show McMillan and Wife lost the "and Wife" from the title. Joining it and Columbo and McCloud (did you notice there three shows starting with a "Mc"?) was a new called Quincy, ME (thankfully it wasn't McQuincy). Quincy became very, very popular, and perhaps with NBC sensing The Mystery Movie was not long for this world, decided to make it a weekly hour long show starting in January 1977. This was a good idea as Quincy was among the living until the summer of 1983. Replacing it was Lannigan's Rabbi, about a small town sheriff who relies on the help of his rabbi to solve crimes. Hey, it could happen. The late great Art Carney played the sheriff, and one change from the pilot of that show was that Stuart Margolin did not continue in the role of the rabbi, probably so it wouldn't interfere with him playing Angel on The Rocking Files. One wonders what might have been.
These shows are generally available on DVD and are still syndicated. Nowdays they seem more like curious artifacts from early 70s. Of all of these shows Columbo seems to have made the most lasting impression, even managing to be briefly revived in the 1990s.
A matter of life and death, and selfish convenience
A young woman dies after getting an illegal back alley abortion. Even though she is a complete stranger, Eve takes an intense interest in finding the person responsible for her death. Ironside reluctantly goes along. The young woman's residence, a hotel for single women, soon becomes the target of investigation. In it are four women, former associates of the victim, and conveniently drawn from the usual stereotypes: an intellectual (complete with a pair of big glasses ); a somewhat overweight woman (who always has a box of chocolate in hand); a token Afro-American model; and a somewhat mysterious woman, played by a young Susan Howard in one of her first roles. Naturally the guilty party is the one you'd least expect.
Eve goes undercover as another young woman "in trouble," to see if the person responsible for the first death will reveal herself. The ending is by the numbers.
Here we see a prime example of Hollywood bending the laws of common sense and logic to fit the politically correct mindset that would soon permeate all of America: people acting contrary to good behavior, getting caught in a bind, and resorting to extraordinary measures to fix their problem that's the result their own selfish needs, regardless of its effect on everyone else. It was still new then but There is an interesting note about the casting of Connie Kreski as the poor doomed girl who dies at the beginning. At the time of the show's airing she was the brand new Playmate of the Year, a timing of events that probably wasn't coincidental. In a way this is interesting in a sad sort of way. The Playboy lifestyle was leading to innumerable unplanned pregnancies and a commensurate number of illegal abortions. It was this societal change that led to the eventual Supreme Court ruling that allowed people to legally kill their unborn children.
It also marks the debut of Jeannot Szwarc as a script writer and director (he was already an associate producer of the show). He would go on to direct many a TV episode and even make it to the big league, with such notable disasters as Jaws II and Supergirl. The cream does not always rise to the top.
Rules of Engagement: Role Play (2013)
If a tree fell in a forest ...
At the beginning of this episode Jeff asks Adam the famous riddle that if a tree in the middle of a forest were to fall down, and no one was there, would it make a sound? The very idea seems to blow Adam's mind, and I'll provide the answer below, but you'll have wait and read the rest of this review first (no fair skipping).
Jeff tries to make reservations at a popular restaurant but since the only one available is at the witching hour he claims the reservation is for Nicole Kidman. It isn't very likely that Audrey could pass for her, but what if she put on a wig? You gotta hand it to Jeff - he thinks of everything.
Russell's "wife," Liz, talks him into coming to her sex addiction group, and if there is anyone on Earth for which such a group is made, it is he. Russell naturally sees it a happy hunting ground and gladly goes.
Timmy has never seen or even heard of the Three Stooges and Adam invites him over to watch them. Timmy doesn't understand the point of their humor and suggests they watch The Importance of Being Earnest, to which Adam says that if it isn't Earnest Goes to Camp, he isn't interested. It's really sad what they did to Adam's character. Whereas in the beginning he was meant to be the comedic relief of the group, he gradually morphed into a truly pathetic character, who was so stupid it stopped being funny. While i was never a big fan of the show, I mainly watched it for Patrick Warburton's droll delivery, which was borderline perfect. I wonder how much Oliver Hudson complained about his character's devolution into a simplistic nitwit.
As for the answer to the famous riddle the correct answer might surprise you. This is a purely scientific question, not a philosophical one, as so many seem to believe. If a tree fell in a forest, and no one was there, then there would be NO sound! There would be a shock wave that moved through the air, but unless there is someone there to hear it, then there is no sound, as a sound only exists when someone hears it.
Bones: The Princess and the Pear (2009)
I can't say "The Princess and the Pear" is a peach of an episode
This one begins with Bones accidentally putting Booth's back out, and since he's flat on his back, he's AWOL for most of the episode. This story centers around a death related to the theft of a sword, a potentially valuable prop from an old movie. The investigation leads Bones and Agent Perotta, subbing for Booth, to a fantasy convention where the victim had been working. This of course provides ample opportunity to make fun of the geeks who inhabit a place like this. The convention provides an opportunity for Sweets and Fisher to go undercover and uncover their suppressed nerdy sides. Sweets even finds himself in the middle of the action although he has to rely on Bones to save him. (In a sense she is his white knight in the battle against the Black Knight. Oh the shame.) Fisher connects with a Goth conventioneer, and eventually discovers the murder weapon. And you won't believe this, but they solve the case and live happily ever after.
Fisher, the rangy squint, confesses to be a big fan of sci-fi, and names all of the shows he likes. Strangely, he makes the rare mistake of mispronouncing Star Trek, as he pronounces the last word as "track." Funny how nobody caught this mistake during filming, although mistakes are a common problem on this show. This episode had more than its normal allotment.
One of the oddities of this show is that Bones is supposed to be a know-it-all who constantly corrects people on the smallest detail, even if she has no way of knowing if she's right, like on the existence of God, or when she apparently doesn't know what she's talking about. This particular episode has her doing this a number of times. At one point she corrects the diagnosis of Booth's doctor; her qualifications of being a forensic anthropologist doesn't mean she can correct the diagnosis of a medical specialist. After she had successfully beat off of an attacker (how does she know the proper fighting technique with a sword against an armored knight?), Sweets says that, "my heart was pumping (very fast)." She replies, "Well, technically your adrenal glands were secreting." Of all of her pointlessly stupid "corrections" she has ever made, this might be her dumbest. Then when Hodgins asks if Bones thinks she was attacked by a real knight she chides him by saying that time travel is impossible (it actually isn't, but that's another story). In this instance she not only is wrong but she looks foolish while doing so.
But Bones is not the only one behaving oddly. When she asks Dr. Cameron if she can match the DNA from the sword, Cam says she has nothing to match it to. What?? Why wouldn't she automatically check to see if it matches someone in the national database? This is another instance where no one connected to the show was paying attention.
The title, in case you hadn't already guessed it, is based upon the old fairy tale about the Princess and the Pea. But in this case the murder weapon is a medieval torture device (the Pear of Anguish) used by sexual deviants. Just the thing to have on TV when the kids are likely to be watching. (I can see it now: some kid asking his mommy why someone would put that thing up their anus, and asking what an anus is. But that's the world we live in today.)
The World's Most Interesting Man Commits the World's Most Ridiculous Frame-Up.
This episode involves someone's attempt to frame McGarrett for the murder of his girlfriend (who knew he had time for women? Wasn't his badge his mistress?) She calls him at his tennis club and tells him she has to see him right away. He speeds over to her house but finds her on the floor apparently dead. Then he is knocked unconscious by someone. When he awakes, the phone is dead, his car radio doesn't work, so he speeds down the road to use a pay phone. (Was he too embarrassed to use a neighbor's phone? I'm just asking ...) Anyway, when the cops arrive McGarrett becomes the chief suspect. It was his gun that killed her. The phone that he said was out of order? - it works, as well as his car radio. An anonymous person had called the police and reported someone exactly like McGarrett leaving the scene. So was this an airtight frame? Not even close.
While it's true that audiences today are more sophisticated than those 40 years ago, there are so many plot holes and goofs in this thing it's surprising they didn't just burn the film. I don't even know where to begin, but let's start with (Caution - Spoilers): The bad guy (Malcolm Vaughn, played by Jonathan Goldsmith) performs all of his actions without gloves, which should have left his fingerprints on everything. The before hand switching of McGarrett's gun was clever, but there is one problem: since McGarrett didn't actually shoot her, there would have been no gunpowder residue on his hands and sleeves (even audiences in the 70s knew about this, as far back as Perry Mason).
Part of the case against McGarrett was the anonymous phone caller that claimed that he saw him leave the scene after the woman was murdered. But the phone call was made from the house itself, which should have made everyone suspicious, since they would have checked the victim's phone records. (And before you say they wouldn't have thought of this back in the old days, this very point - tracing a second phone call - was critical to solving the case! So why didn't they think to check the first phone call?)
One of the most puzzling points of this is that no one seemed to care about the other guy that everyone knows was there. McGarrett had a large bump on his head, and the toxicology report showed that he had been drugged after he was knocked out. Until this other person was ruled out, there was really no case against McGarrett, as the other person's involvement would have had to be determined, but no one seemed to realize this.
And if McGarrett is the only suspect, why was he allowed to lead the investigation and not be suspended from duty? Even if no one had the brains to think of this, McGarrett should have known that any involvement by him in the case would have meant problems for the case in court, since any defense attorney would have said that his personal stake in the case's outcome would irrevocably contaminate the prosecutor's case. It would have been the defense attorney's first motion and it would have ended the case before the trial even started.
Pay attention during the scene where McGarrett tries to call the police after he wakes up from being knocked out. You'll notice a shadow moving across his body, apparently from a crewman moving behind the camera. The crewman even bumps the cameraman, as you'll notice his movement coincides with the jostling of the camera. In the world of TV making such goofs are ignored, since they are often pressed for time and scenes are only re-shot if there is a big mistake (like someone or something falling down).
Still, as ridiculous as the story is, there is at least one bright spot: we get a few brief glimpses of Camilla Sparv who was seen too infrequently on TV in the 70s and early 80s. She is very easy on the eyes and I wish they had shown her more in this episode. And Jonathan Goldsmith was a good character actor in the 60s and 70s who often played heavies. He's become pretty famous now playing the World's Most Interesting Man in all of those beer commercials. (I wonder if people reading this years from now will know what I'm talking about.) Watch this one only if you are really bored or if you just want another glimpse of Camilla Sparv. But fast forward through everything else.