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This five part opener to season six just got worse and worse as it went on. Jack Webb's demand for featureless acting made it dull. The writers' lazy reliance on tired cliché made it tedious. And the decision to copy bad 30s and 40s film noir made it depressing.
However, the whole story made little sense when they "tied it together". Nothing Bailey's original client did made any sense. Why hire a private detective to investigate things that you don't want investigated? LOL Pitiful.
It's very sad. When I saw this fiver-parter coming up, my wife and I were looking forward to it. Finishing this mess turned out to be an exercise in tenacity. We kept hoping for improvement that never happened.
77 Sunset Strip: 5: Part 2 (1963)
To start off with, this series is no longer 77 Sunset Strip at this point. It's a clichéd rip-off of cheap 30s and 40s film noir. Stuart Bailey is just a name. The character has none of the life and charm Zimbalist brought to the role through the first five seasons.
This disaster has Jack Webb's "style" written all over it. Guest stars under his direction in Dragnet frequently reported that Webb would tell them "Just say the lines", and get irritated if they tried to put any life into them. That's pretty much the drill here, too. William Conrad, as the director, allowed a little bit of life to slip into the characters, but not much.
The dialogue and the plotting are filled with tired clichés that had been wrung dry long before the early 60s.
The frequent voice overs, though competently performed by Zimbalist, are wretchedly written. The sage advice of "show, don't tell" is often completely ignored.
The impressive array of guest stars is completely wasted. They are shoe-horned in as "characters" with long, irrelevant soliloquies that are supposed to be clever, but just fill time in an irritating fashion. This happens in scene after scene.
The one "emotional" scene in the episode was allowed to William Shatner, who chews it up in an overwrought delivery that seemed very inappropriate to the circumstance. But then he was given terrible dialogue to work with.
This "part two" of the five part series to open the season is even worse than part one was. You can see my review of it for more detail.
77 Sunset Strip: 5: Part 1 (1963)
77 Sunset Strip in name only
While there is some praise for the last season of 77 Sunset Strip, it is obviously misplaced. The show only got an order for about half the episodes of seasons one through five, and then it was gone.
The iconic theme song was replaced by a drab James Bond wannabe composition. The colorful co-stars -- gone without explanation. In the first show, Bailey claims to be broke.
While the series always threw in a few noir plots, the last season seems dedicated to that, with drab voice-over exposition and a constantly dark look.
We can blame Jack Webb for much of this. His vision of TV worked OK for Dragnet. It torpedoed 77 Sunset Strip and sent it straight to the bottom. When a series has a loyal following for five years, it's sheer folly to turn everything on its ear. Possibly the desire to bandwagon the spy craze spelled the end for Sunset Strip just as it did for Burke's Law. Sad. However, this season really didn't even manage that. All they managed was to copy cheesy 30s and 40s noir film.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. looks miserable and out of sorts for this entire episode. With his co-stars and friends axed and the premise ruined, I'm sure he was at odds with the changes and felt the death grip of tanking ratings closing about the throat of the series. Even the character of Stuart Bailey is present in name only, with lines completely foreign to the character's history.
This show was the first of a five part episode, and the supporting cast is deep and impressive -- but ultimately wasted with the depressing plot and shady characters.
The Orville (2017)
Pretty lame first episode
I suppose that if you're a die hard Seth MacFarlane fan, and think 5th grade potty humor (sometimes literally) makes for superior comedy, this show might have you doubled over in laughter and quivering for more.
For people who like comedy with some clever thoughts and actual timing, this won't cut it.
It seems like MacFarlane was funny once upon a time. Now it seems like he's got nothing left but juvenile, clichéd jokes with glacial pacing.
Other than the claim of parody, I don't see how such a blatant Star Trek rip-off can reasonably survive without getting sued. And this is not a Star Trek rip-off in a good way. And by the way, the original Star Trek knew how to do comedy when they decided to. If this show were a stand-up comic, it would play to a dead crowd and eventually be beset by hecklers.
Special effects are clean, but very, very cheap. They have nothing of the detail that has been state of the art for at least the last 30 years. They remind me more of digital effects in The Last Starfighter, which were revolutionary 34 years ago, if you get my drift.
77 Sunset Strip: Flight 307 (1963)
We were surprised with the episode "Nine to Five", which was three episodes prior to this one. Speculation runs that it was a pilot, and I think for an anthology series. This looks to be another audition for that series, as again Stu Bailey is relegated to a very minor role and almost no screen time.
But where "Nine to Five" was entertaining, this story was merely irritating. None of the characters were likable or really even sympathetic. Two weak stories came together at the end, and there was no reason to care. Oh, Stu helped catch a bad guy.
Even a 77 Sunset Strip completist can safely give this dud a pass.
77 Sunset Strip: Nine to Five (1963)
Bailey's bit part
"Nine to Five" sounds suspiciously like the name of a proposed series, and everything about this show would make you believe that it was a pilot squeezed out of 77 Sunset Strip.
Stu Bailey is in NY delivering an investigative report to an old friend. The old friend, Richard Long, was of course part of Bailey and Spencer for a season a couple of years before this episode. His character is dealing with a shady partner that he wants to buy out, a wife who can't decide between moving out and moving in, and a secretary with a big crush on him, and a bit of larceny in delivering a message that might help his marriage. Stu delivers sage advice to help on the marriage front.
With the title, the way this story wrapped up neatly, and the way the camera pans up the outside of a huge office building at the end, my guess is that this was to be an anthology series, where each episode would have centered on different characters in the building. I can't see the characters and situations in this story as a continuing series, which led me to that conclusion.
So while this was an odd 77 Sunset Strip story, I like anything with Richard Long and Diane McBain -- two charming actors who always delivered pleasing performances.
Mission: Impossible: The Town (1968)
Forgiving a couple of practical issues, this is a great episode.
Jim Phelps stops in a small town for a drink and witnesses an accident that the townspeople suspect might give a clue to their real status -- a Russian cell cluster with the goal to assassinate selected targets.
Luckily for the USA, it's an IMF mission leader who stumbles upon this, and not just some random traveler! ;-)
When Roland goes searching for the missing Phelps and is told he has had a stroke, he discovers the truth and calls in the cavalry. Somehow, they are all able to get set up and get there in a matter of a few short hours, comfortably in time to save Jim and foil the plot.
The unsuspecting spies are no contest for the slick IMF group.
So while the coincidence and time scale may be unbelievable, this is a very fine, tense episode. Just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, and don't think up too many question! LOL
For the completist
As much as I like Richard Long, he didn't add much to 77 Sunset Strip. His performances just didn't have the lively quality of Ephram Zimbalist or Roger Smith.
This episode isn't one of the better stories. The motives for a murder and attempted murder are a bit weak, and the mystery just isn't all that compelling.
The Rifleman (1958)
The Rifleman was the series that MADE Chuck Connors. He portrayed a strong but patient widower father, who just happened to be sudden death with his rifle whenever challenge by bad guys. Mostly he tried to stay out of the gunfights, but generally he was forced to clean up the West a little every week. LOL
There were very good supporting casts on most episodes. This was during the period where supporting actors in films were finding that they could supplement their incomes with supporting roles on TV. Plus you'll see a few "up and coming" stars here and there.
This series had a great pedigree, having been created by three of the most prolific and successful producers in TV.
And it had Dennis Weaver,plus Pat Hingle, who always delivered in type.
However, the network put it up against M*A*S*H*, then later tried to save it by moving back an hour to 10 PM against the very popular Lou Grant.
Plus it was a mid-season replacement, and they don't get the ad build-up that the new fall shows do. So Stone never got a chance to let an audience find it.
What a shame.