"Matt Houston" The Rock and the Hard Place (TV Episode 1983) Poster

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Rock Not So Solid
Jason Daniel Baker12 August 2011
World champ boxer Rock Lennox (Dorian Harewood) takes in dinner at a sushi bar with his wife Janey (Berlinda Tolbert), his doctor Warren Cozzeck (Dennis Cole), his nurse Marcia Bingham (Diane McBain) and his promoter Kip Williams (Richard Jaeckal).

At the eatery owned by Hideki Aoki (George Takei), Bubba Dax (Stan Shaw) - the main contender whom Lennox is set to meet in the ring the next week shows up and talks trash in the champ's face before retiring to a neutral corner i.e. another table.

Inexplicably the champ's nurse gets whacked by a flying sushi knife that flies out of the hands of the table chef. The champ's drunken paranoid wreck of a wife assumes the blade was meant for her husband and hires Houston to investigate. The champ thinks it was an accident and tries to get Houston to bud out.

The mystery ends up being more complicated when the working hypothesis upon which Houston's hiring was based becomes questionable. A major difference between this entry and others from the first season is that the victim was not universally hated which puts the emphasis on motive and method.

The problem I always had with the series was not the concept of a rich guy who investigates crime. Nor was my problem believing in a male-model cowboy type from Texas working as a private investigator in Los Angeles. The problem I always had with the series was they tried to have it both ways often in the same episode as they do here.

Some of the grittier Matt Houston mysteries not set in lush surroundings call for the qualification that he is a private cop, or a police consultant or is deputized. In such cases his surreal life of luxury should be de-emphasized in accordance with the tone and setting but that is not done here.

To begin involvement in a case at Houston's penthouse at 100 Century Plaza South may as well be starting it off on Mount Olympus. It is a disconnection from the down to earth reality of a murder scene and the character is supposed to maintain credibility with the duality of being a guy who has everything and one who hires himself out the way a cheap detective would.

There has to be a better way to get him into this mystery than have him be hired at his huge office. When we see reminders of his wealth we wonder what his incentive is for working on a case and are waiting for him to get bored with detective work and go into politics, buy a football team to meddle with or take up race car driving.

As for the casting, the group assembled here was quite experienced and appealing even though their respective characters weren't. While it is structured like an offbeat whodunit the cast is not from old sitcoms which was the way they had it in numerous episodes in the debut season. These are actors known for work more serious in tone.

If you see this episode and you wonder they even bothered to cast Mr.Sulu when they were only to going to use him for a few seconds of screen time as a glorified background performer you aren't alone. Did they want Clyde Kusatsu?
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