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Magnum, P.I.: Novel Connection (1986)
Season 7, Episode 8
Cross-over Cross-up
30 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I've just watched this episode of Magnum PI, (not a show I watched much), and it's second part, which appeared on Murder She Wrote, (one of my favorites), which was entitled "Magnum on Ice" and I was disappointed, (to put it mildly) with what Magnum PI did to the ending of their segment in the version I saw, which was altered for syndication and for the DVD I was watching, (which was from the boxed set of Murder She Wrote's third season).

A hit man is threatening one of Higgins' several female guests, which include Jessica Fletcher. Jessica and Magnum get off to a bad start with Thomas presenting himself as a professional who should handle everything. At the end of the episode, as shown in the intro to the MSW finale, Magnum shoots the hit man but the hit-man's gun somehow disappears and he's found to have been shot in the back. A police Lieutenant who doesn't like Magnum arrests him for murder. He winds up in jail. He doesn't like it but now Jessica is his best hope for getting out of jail.

MSW got the right to add the Magnum episode to their DVD as a bonus. But the Magnum people wanted the first episode to be a stand alone for syndication and later the DVD so a phony scene was shot with Magnum and Higgins talking about how Magnum has killed the bad guy and his employer has confessed and Jessica and the other ladies have returned to the mainland after realizing that Jessica was wrong in her theories of the case. Magnum is not in jail at all. This ending makes Jessica look like an idiot.

There ought to be agreement when cross-overs are done that the episode of the other series should be made available for syndication and DVDs of each show so viewers can see these episodes as they were intended to be seen, instead of creating a false ending that makes the star of the other show look bad.

Interestingly, the original Hawaii Five-0 had two episodes where McGarrett teams up with a middle-aged female mystery writer, (played by Mildred Natwick) to solve cases, (Frozen Assets 3/30/78, and The Spirit is Willie, 1/25/69). In one epsilon she's trying to find out how an old friend died and in another she's trying to find out what happened to her niece's husband. Either could easily be a Murder She Wrtoe- Hawaii Five crossover if the shows had been contemporary and both were better than this mish-mosh.
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Murder, She Wrote: Menace, Anyone? (1986)
Season 2, Episode 20
Whither Betsy?
20 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This episode ends without a confrontation between Jessica and the murderer. Instead the confession comes from her father, played by Van Johnson, who simply says she's home and describes her mental illness that led her to commit the crime. There's even a flashback sequence depicting the crime where the murderer is shown only from the waist down, making it likely that a stand-in for Betsy Russell, who plays the character, was doing the enacting of the murder.

There's got to a be a backstory to this. Did Betsy, (an old crush of mine from her 80's films), walk off the set? Did she become ill? Her promising career took a bit of a nosedive right around this point, although her marriage two years later might have caused her to put it on the back-burner.

The final scene would have had a lot more to it if she had appeared in it. it would have been a major acting opportunity for her, playing an unbalanced murderer, forced to confess. The ending to this episode wasn't so much confusing as it was limp, because of the lack of the confrontation with the murderer.

Something happened here and I wonder what.

(I would love to have put this on a MESSAGE BOARD so there could be a discussion about it.)
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The Racket (1951)
The Racket and Horizons West
25 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
These two Robert Ryan movies form the early 50's would make a great double-feature. Both are good movies full of faces that would become familiar on television in the coming years.

A comparison of the two movies is also interesting The Racket was done for Howard Hughes' RKO studio. Horizons West was a Universal picture. Both had famous directors, John Cromwell, (supplemented by several others, including Nicholas Ray) and Bud Boetticher. The Rackett is a re-working of a successful play and movie from the 1920's with a screenplay by WR Burnett, (High Sierra among others). Horizons West is done by Louis Stevens, a veteran writer of movie westerns, (this appears to be his best work).

Ryan is the main "bad guy" in both movies but in each case, he's much more complex than that. His Nick Scanlon in The racket is violent and intimidating, almost reptilian. He's fully formed as a heavy from the moment we meet him. But we find out he either grew up with or went to school with Robert Mitchum's police Captain: in the grand tradition, they came from the same background but went in different directions. We also learn that Ryan sent his now troublesome younger brother to college to keep him out of the rackets. He clearly doesn't think much of the crooked politicians and new "corporate" crooks that are running things. And in the end, his revenge is to "tell the voters to vote for the honest politicians". Underneath the violence, he has a certain integrity. Something- we never learn what turned him against society while Mitchum remained well-adjusted and on the right side of the law.

In Horzions West, Ryan starts out being a good guy, or at least not a bad guy yet. He comes home from the Civil War with his brother, (Rock Hudson), and a loyal friend named "Tiny", (James Arness). As they arrive in Texas, they have a conversation about the future. Arness wants to raise his family. Hudson wants to work the family ranch, just like before. Ryan shows a harder edge. He wants to make it big. They arrive in town, (Austin) to see that Yankees carpetbaggers have made it big. Ryan ties to associate with them but gets on the wrong side of Burr in poker game and is on the outside looking in. He organizes a band of out-of-work soldiers and deserters into a cattle rustling operation and establishes connections with a Mexican military officer who is running a crooked operation across the border. Eventually he gets even with Burr, who is killed. And has an affair with Burr's pretty young wife, (Julie Adams). In the beginning our sympathy is with him but as he grows more and more powerful, he becomes more ambitious and ruthless, which makes him too many enemies and causes his eventual downfall.

In Horizons West, Hudson becomes the town sheriff and has to take on his brother, thus paralleling the Ryan-Mitchum relationship in The Racket. In that film, Ryan killed a policeman played by William Tallman, who became famous as Hamilton Burgers on Perry mason. In Horizons West, he kills Hudson's deputy, who is played by Jim Arness, soon to be famous as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. William Conrad, radio's Matt Dillon, appears as a corrupt policeman in The Racket. That film has two actors from Perry mason, the other being Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg. Horizon's West has two actors form Gunsmoke, with Dennis Weaver playing a very un-Chester-like gunman. Both films have a heavy dose of corrupt public officials. Both of them have a major movie star to face off against Ryan, although Rock Hudson was early in his career and never became the dramatic force Mitchum was. But Ryan dominates every scene he's in, no matter who is in it with him.
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Horizons West (1952)
The Racket and Horizons West
25 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Both are films made by Robert Ryan in the early 50's and they would make a terrific double feature.

A comparison of the two movies is also interesting The Racket was done for Howard Hughes' RKO studio. Horizons West was a Universal picture. Both had famous directors, John Cromwell, (supplemented by several others, including Nicholas Ray) and Bud Boetticher. The Rackett is a re-working of a successful play and movie from the 1920's with a screenplay by WR Burnett, (High Sierra among others). Horizons West is done by Louis Stevens, a veteran writer of movie westerns, (this appears to be his best work).

Ryan is the main "bad guy" in both movies but in each case, he's much more complex than that. His Nick Scanlon in The racket is violent and intimidating, almost reptilian. He's fully formed as a heavy from the moment we meet him. But we find out he either grew up with or went to school with Robert Mitchum's police Captain: in the grand tradition, they came from the same background but went in different directions. We also learn that Ryan sent his now troublesome younger brother to college to keep him out of the rackets. He clearly doesn't think much of the crooked politicians and new "corporate" crooks that are running things. And in the end, his revenge is to "tell the voters to vote for the honest politicians". Underneath the violence, he has a certain integrity. Something- we never learn what turned him against society while Mitchum remained well-adjusted and on the right side of the law.

In Horzions West, Ryan starts out being a good guy, or at least not a bad guy yet. He comes home from the Civil War with his brother, (Rock Hudson), and a loyal friend named "Tiny", (James Arness). As they arrive in Texas, they have a conversation about the future. Arness wants to raise his family. Hudson wants to work the family ranch, just like before. Ryan shows a harder edge. He wants to make it big. They arrive in town, (Austin) to see that Yankees carpetbaggers have made it big. Ryan ties to associate with them but gets on the wrong side of Burr in poker game and is on the outside looking in. He organizes a band of out-of-work soldiers and deserters into a cattle rustling operation and establishes connections with a Mexican military officer who is running a crooked operation across the border. Eventually he gets even with Burr, who is killed. And has an affair with Burr's pretty young wife, (Julie Adams). In the beginning our sympathy is with him but as he grows more and more powerful, he becomes more ambitious and ruthless, which makes him too many enemies and causes his eventual downfall.

In Horizons West, Hudson becomes the town sheriff and has to take on his brother, thus paralleling the Ryan-Mitchum relationship in The Racket. In that film, Ryan killed a policeman played by William Tallman, who became famous as Hamilton Burgers on Perry mason. In Horizons West, he kills Hudson's deputy, who is played by Jim Arness, soon to be famous as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. William Conrad, radio's Matt Dillon, appears as a corrupt policeman in The Racket. That film has two actors from Perry mason, the other being Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg. Horizon's West has two actors form Gunsmoke, with Dennis Weaver playing a very un-Chester-like gunman. Both films have a heavy dose of corrupt public officials. Both of them have a major movie star to face off against Ryan, although Rock Hudson was early in his career and never became the dramatic force Mitchum was. But Ryan dominates every scene he's in, no matter who is in it with him.
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The Defenders: The Broken Barrelhead (1962)
Season 1, Episode 32
Money can't buy everything
12 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A very young Richard Jordan is hot-rodding with a couple of friends when a group of hunters step out onto an otherwise deserted road. Three people are killed and Jordan goes on trial. His father, (Harold J. Stone), is a highly successful businessman who has always done whatever is necessary to ensure his won success. He hires the Prestons to defend his son, then offers to back the DA in a run for Congress and finally bribes a juror.

Lawrence has to figure out what to do. The first trial was a hung jury due to the bribed juror. if he reports what he knows, the second trial would be conducted in a hyper-charged atmosphere in which the jury would resent the defendant's status as a rich kid whose father tries to buy his freedom. If he doesn't report it, he could be up for discipline before the bar. Kenneth urges his father to look out for himself but Lawrence feels his ultimate responsibility is to his client.

Meanwhile Jordan is getting sick of being a rich kid and having his father pull all the strings in his life. Another good "What would you do" episode that leaves you thinking, which is what this series is famous for.
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The Defenders: Along Came a Spider (1962)
Season 1, Episode 31
A not-so-bad seed
11 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A man is killed and his 9 year old daughter shockingly accuses her grandfather of the crime, saying she saw what happened. The old guy, a former Vaudeville comic with a a joke or story for everyone, seems like the nicest guy in the world. Even his daughter, (now a widow) can't believe it. But circumstantial evidence piles up: Grampa and Daddy were arguing about his living with the family. Daddy was killed by being bludgeoned with a trophy grandpa once won. And the people Grandpa says will give him an alibi, (some other Vaudvillians at a place they hang out, can't vouch for his being there at the time of the crime.

Lawrence Preston has to try to break down the girl's story in court, which makes him seem like a cruel guy but it would be more cruel to let his client be found guilty and possibly executed if her story is wrong.

He succeeds in demonstrating the girl made her story up through a clever procedure. The judge and prosecutor let her off without prosecuting her for perjury. Grandpa forgives her and all is well. One question remains unanswered or even addressed: who did kill Daddy?

The most memorable thing is a splendid performance by young Leslye Hunter as the girl. it's so good she's kind of creepy like the child in "The Bad Seed". Maybe she did it? But we never find out, due to the 'happy' ending.
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The Defenders: The Benefactor (1962)
Season 1, Episode 30
Oh pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth
10 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those episodes that made this show famous. They take on abortion, which was illegal at the time except where the mother's life was in danger. It's surprisingly sympathetic for the time toward the abortionist and his 'victims'. (Compare this episode to Detective Story 1951). Robert F. Simon, who normally plays garrulous types, is a gentle, idealistic surgeon motivated by the death of his own daughter, whose epitaph is in my title. We are also provided with some amazing statistics: in 1962, (when this was shown), per a witness, 1 in 10 unmarried women were becoming pregnant. There were 6000,000 unmarried pregnant women each year and 9 of 10 got illegal abortions! 175,000 such abortions were done on teenagers.The show makes a strong case that these women would be better off having legal abortions with good doctors in the best of circumstances.

Simon's character makes two claims I disagreed with, one of which I had never heard before. he alleges that the life of an aborted child would be inevitably so unpleasant that it would not be worth living, (so it's OK- even good- that they aren't born), and that it's crueler to have women give birth and then give their babies up for adoption than it to abort them so that they never see the baby to begin with. Maybe it is but there's a lot of assumptions there.
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The Defenders: Reunion with Death (1962)
Season 1, Episode 29
"The Rack" revisited
10 October 2016
Paul Newman first became a star when he played Rockey Graziano in Somebody Up there Likes Me in 1956 but he solidified his status with his next film that year, The Rack, playing a Korean War veteran who cracked under psychological torture by the Communists. This episode of the Defenders may have been partially inspired by that.

It's another Kangaroo Court story as Lawrence Preston is called to a hotel room by a group of veterans to offer legal advice on creating a veteran's organization. Their real purpose is to assist them in putting one of their members on trial to see who cracked and told the Commies where the partisan group they were delivering supplies to would meet them. Preston reluctantly agrees to help when the accused says he wants to go through with it to clear himself. This produces a strange scene where the man at first tries to escape and then announces his desire to be tried in the next breath. It's not a very convincing set up but the resulting drama is very good, with a couple of good twists at the end.

The underlying theme is that all men have their limits and how can we judge them when we don't know our own? As usual, there's a cast full of familiar faces, with Lee Philips, (the movie version of Peyton Place), Robert Weber, (another alumni of the movie version of Twelve Angry Men), H. M. Wynant, Woodrow Parfey, Michael Conrad, (much later of "Hill Street Blues"), and, in a brief turn as a waiter, a very young Gene Wilder, RIP.
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The Defenders: The Naked Heiress (1962)
Season 1, Episode 28
The not so blue angel
7 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A college professor has become infatuated with an ecdayist and, in a drunken stupor has signed a paper prepared by her manipulative mother leaving her his estate, which had been promised for a scholarship fund for his university. the man tries to stagger home but fell in front of a subway train and the young stripper is suddenly worth $185,000. The school hires the Prestons to make a case against the new will.

Both Prestons are initially in contempt of the stripper and her mother, viewing them as gold-diggers. They are right about the mother but not about the daughter, a sensitive, intellectually curious young woman who was forced into her sleazy profession by her avaricious mother and who was legitimately in like with the professor and perhaps more than that because he introduced her to a new world and other possibilities.

Ken falls for the young woman while his father remains contemptuous- until the climatic hearing when she rebels against her mother.
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The Defenders: The Tarnished Cross (1962)
Season 1, Episode 26
Star chamber
6 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The Prestons are visiting a school to give the head of it an award for his creation of a student government that has given local youths a greater sense of responsibility. it's worked to the extent that they blunder into a court hearing set up in the gym to try one of their members for murder.A well-liked janitor was murdered a couple of nights before and the student was seen sneaking into the guys' apartment and later found in possession of a "zip" gun and a cross the old man had insisted was worth $500 because it was covered in gold.

the accused is played by a young Martin Sheen, making his second appearance on the show. the prosecutor is an equally young Ken Kershival of "Dallas. The judge is a young Barry Primus, who has been seen in many shows. A witness is played by an even younger Luke Halpin, later the older boy on Flipper. That, of course, is one the joys of the series- seeing actors who later became famous in their earliest roles. it's also a strong drama, with Lawrence and Kenneth Preston eventually taking over and showing the boys that, while their intentions are good, they are not yet ready to make such judgments.

Particularly effective is the opening sequence, which shows the students silently taking over the gym and setting things up for something but we don't know what - until Sheen realizes that these people intend to kill him.
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The Defenders: The Last Six Months (1962)
Season 1, Episode 27
Don't let the door hit you on the way out
6 October 2016
In an effective opening, Arthur Hill, (we only hear his voice in this scene: it's subjective camera), is told my his doctor that he's got 6 months to live. He marches out of the doctor's office, into the street. he contemplates suicide by stepping in front of a car but thinks better of it. Instead he goes to the office of his business, a partnership. he tells his partner what his prognosis is and asks him to agree to pay his family $500/mth after he dies. the partner refuses and Hill strangles him in a cold rage. it was Hill who created and built up the business and then brought this man on as a partner, who will now own the whole thing. His fortunate partner won't even lift a finger to help the founder's family and now he can't lift a finger to do anything.

the prosecutor, (J. D. Cannon) wants to skip the trial and just let the guy die in jail without putting him through it. What Hill doesn't know is that there's a law that he can't profit from committing a crime: his family can't inherit the business, (the partner had no family). Ken Preston takes up his case and tries to prove him innocent, claiming he didn't know what he was doing and is not responsible for his own actions.

A decade alter, Arthur Hill was playing a lawyer himself on Owen Marshall. In October, 1962, Arthur Hill really made his name when he created the role of George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" on Broadway.
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The Defenders: The Iron Man (1962)
Season 1, Episode 25
One of the episodes that made this show famous
5 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This show made it's name by taking on controversial topics, although most of their episodes don't really fall in that category. For years the only peek we had of the show were pixel-challenged clips of this episode on You-Tube, (they seem to have disappeared but now there is the DVD).

The Prestons are asked to defend a neo-Nazi student who was making a speech on campus and a young man who started heckling him gets badly beaten up by the youthful Fuhrer's followers. The DA wants the boss and offers a deal to the guys who actually did the roughing up to be witnesses against their leader. The DA admits to Preston that his contempt for the leader, (Ben Piazza) has impacted his judgment on how to handle the case.

The Prestons themselves are being pressured by other clients to drop the case and Ken wonders why they are doing it. It all results in a dramatic hearing in the victim's hospital room where Lawrence demonstrates, even to the victim, that the speech in and of itself, was not the cause of his injuries and that to send the speaker to prison would be wrong, regardless of what he was saying. if we bend the law to lash out at those we disagree with, we are descending to their level.

The subject is right-wing extremism but it can easily be seen as an indictment of the reaction to left-wing extremism that was seen in the previous decade. The issues would be the same. Lawrence Preston achieves a victory of sorts when Piazza admits he's not sure of what to think about what has transpired and even thanks the court for being fair to him. maybe there is hope.
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The Defenders: The Hickory Indian (1962)
Season 1, Episode 24
Double Extortion
3 October 2016
George Voskovec, still another alumni of 12 Angry Men, shows up as the uncle of a pair of brother who run a business in the garment district. They have been threatened by an extortionist and Voskovec steals money from their safe to pay the gangster off, remembering what happened when he didn't do it when running in his business. His nephews refuse to prosecute but a state-appointed prosecutor insists on doing so to force Voscovec to testify against the extortionist. He refuses to do so to protect his family and is thus caught in between.

Lawrence Preston steps in to help the man. He's equally disgusted by both forms of extortion: the illegal and the legal. Complicating his situation is that the special prosecutor is his old law professor, who he has always venerated but now opposes, not just in court but, vehemently, in private discussions. it drives a wedge between the men. The old professor is played by Larry Gates, who was actually a year younger than E. G. Marshall but is made up to look older, (and do i detect an attempt to make E. G. look slightly younger to aid in the deception?)

One of the stronger episodes.
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The Defenders: The Crusader (1962)
Season 1, Episode 23
Small Towns
3 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Kenneth Preston is at a prison to talk to a client and sees a man, (Warren Stevens), break down after being denied parole. he claims to be innocent of assault and rape. Kenneth decides to to represent him on his own, with Dad on the sidelines giving advise. Other than Steven's emotional collapse, ken has nothing to go on or any reason to believe the guy is innocent.

But the whole thing unravels very neatly after a chance remark opens the way. it all ends in a dramatic, if informal hearing where the real culprit is identified and the victim's culpability revealed. The willingness of the people of a small town to believe one of their own and let an outsider take the blame is a key factor.

Two things I didn't understand: an affidavit from a psychiatrist who was treating the victim: doesn't doctor-patient privilege apply here? And why does the judge, after Stevens is shown to be fully innocent announce that he's being "pardoned"?
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The Defenders: The Empty Chute (1962)
Season 1, Episode 22
Preston without a parachute
2 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An Army captain jumps from a plane and his chute comes out broken because the lines have been cut. He dies and the man who packed it, (Michael Strong, (normally a bad guy), is blamed because he ahd a grudge against the Captain and had made threats. Motive and opportunity.

Preston's situation is complicated as the prisoner asked for him after reading about him in a magazine and he is displacing a veteran Army counsel, (Chester Morris), who agrees to help but is resentful and questions Preston's tactics.

the biggest problem is that they really need an alternative suspect and there doesn't seem to be one, until they realize who else could have cut the cords.

The solution seems obvious before it's finally, slowly revealed. This series is more about drama than surprises. As always, it's fun to see noted actors early in their careers and it took a while to realize that one of the witnesses is a young Jerry Stiller.
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The Defenders: The Point Shaver (1962)
Season 1, Episode 20
Dome things never change
30 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
There were several scandals involving "point shaving" in college basketball in the 1950's and early 60's - the practice of winning games by less than otherwise possible margins to win money for gamblers who but against the point spread, rather then the winner.It happens at the Preston's mutual Alma mater "Rockford"

First they have along conversation with the University president about college athletics and it's inherent corruption, which leads to players deciding to break the law. They make all the same arguments we hear today. Universities have to keep the alumni happy and interested in the schools so they build spectacular facilities and offer players illegal inducements to come to college. they make millions but beyond the inducements, the players never see any of it because they have to remain amateurs. They get resentful of everybody making money off their efforts but them and are vulnerable to bribes from gamblers.

The same things are being argued about today. Players are perhaps less likely to shave points because they hope for lucrative NBA careers but the potential for further scandals still exists because the system itself continues to be corrupt and to teach the wrong values.

The episode has a nice turn-around at the end where you think one guy is the culprit but someone else is. However the hearing features too much information we haven't been presented with or even hinted at to be effective. Alan Hewitt gets a juicy role as the Senator conducting the hearing and gets all the best lines.
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The Defenders: Storm at Birch Glen (1962)
Season 1, Episode 19
Reforming attitudes
29 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A boy in a reformatory tries to escape and is found with his skull crushed. The gang the boy was part of all inst that he told them that their supervisor, played by James Broderick, (Matthew's Dad), was responsible. The Prestons have to defend him and find not only that he didn't do it, (despite a violent past), but neither did the guy they thought might have done it - or the next guy. it turns out to be someone do wasn't even apparently involved.

The show isn't just a whodunit. It examines the causes of juvenile delinquency and creates sympathy for a boy who appears to be the villain. It also examines the attitudes of the surrounding community towards the kids, whom they don't seem to want in their neighborhood.
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The Defenders: The Search (1962)
Season 1, Episode 18
Law and Justice
29 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Donald Trump said in the recent debate that "wanted law and order". So do I. It was a good show that never should have been canceled. Of course that wasn't what trump was talking about. What he was talking about has been available in many countries. I prefer Law and Justice, which is what this episode of The Defenders is about.

A man walks into a police station, (where he talks to Al Lewis of Car 54 Where Are You? which had debuted in the same year), and confesses to a murder for which another man has already been executed. His account of the crime is specific and accurate and it soon becomes apparent that the ultimate miscarriage of justice has taken place: an innocent man has been "murdered" by the state while the guilty man, (now succumbing to his guilt), has gone free.

This has a devastating impact on four key figures: the Prosecutor, (Jack Klugman), the judge, (Judson Laire) and the attorney (E. G. Marshall as Lawrence Preston). Preston and the prosecutor re-investigate the case trying to find where they went wrong. They go around and talk to the deceased defendant's wife, who just wants them to go away, the witnesses and the jurors, (one was certain of guilt after the prosecutor's case, and didn't listen to the defense: another one felt he was innocent but couldn't stand up to the other 11 jurors). They also do a lot of philosophizing about their profession.

The only thing I didn't care for in the episode, (besides the distracting appearance of Mr. Lewis), is that in the end, they find out justice was done after all. I think the story would have been more powerful if they'd left the lady blind.
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The Defenders: The Bedside Murder (1962)
Season 1, Episode 17
"We deal in truth"
27 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Lawrence Preston is brought into a case by an old friend who is a civil attorney, (Alexander Scourby). A doctor, (Sam Jaffee, who began playing Dr. Zorba on Ben Casey this season), has had an elderly patient die after she created a will leaving him $100,000 as her long-time care-giver. Her excitable son, (Barry Morse, with a toupee), is certain the doctor killed her and Murray Hamilton, the latest in a long line of ADAs, is prosecuting the doctor for first degree murder.

Preston finds out his old friend Scourby has fallen for the doctor's nurse, whose husband won't divorce her unless she pays him $50,000 to do so. Scourby is also a long-time care-giver on the legal side and will also inherit $100,000. He also wrote into her will a late change requesting a quick cremation, (which would make an autopsy impossible)- and didn't tell her about it. Preston painfully and reluctantly brings this out in court with Scourby and his unknowing current wife in the gallery.

Afterwards, Lawrence regrets what his profession and his required loyalty to his client makes him do sometimes. Kenneth tells him "At least we deal in truth".
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The Defenders: The Best Defense (1961)
Season 1, Episode 16
One angry man
25 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The show rebounds strongly from the silly "Gideon's Follies episode with this visit to the murky world between legal ethics and true morality.

It's another reunion between E. G. Marshall and a member of the cast of the 1957 classic "12 Angry Men". Martin Balsam played the jury foreman in that film, which helped to inspire this show. there he was a gentle man who wanted everyone to get along and to edge the proceedings forward as best he could. Here he's racketeer and a drunk who has been accused of bumping off another crook during a time when he was sleeping off a drunken spree at a "rest home".

An old colleague of Preston's, (Edward Andrews) is now working for Balsam but cannot defend him as he's been disbarred.He convinces the reluctant Preston to defend the guy: whatever he's done he didn't do this and every man is supposed to get a competent defense.Then the whole thing begins to unravel in the middle of the trial and Preston has unwittingly suborned perjury. he wants to withdraw from the case. Kenneth wants to go to the DA but that's a violation of ethics because that's not in the best interests of his client.

Ken goes out to find another way to prove their clients innocence, resulting in a rather wonderful twist at the end.
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The Defenders: Gideon's Follies (1961)
Season 1, Episode 15
Preston's Law
25 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
They decided to a semi-comic episode to lighten up the show a bit. I don't think the show needed lightening up. (I don't remember a funny Perry Mason episode.) This one actually comes off more like an episode of "Burke's Law". A good episode of one show doesn't necessarily make a good episode of another show and "Gideon's Follies" proves it.

A bunch of rather shallow upper-class women show up for a party at a rich man's apartment. They are greeted by his elderly butler and his attractive young new wife. They are, in fact, his old wives and are the only guests. They go on a treasure hunt which leads them to the dead body of the rich man. The new wife was the only one there at the time of death and is arrested. Lawrence Preston to the rescue!

He is convinced that his client isn't the only wife who had a motive for murder and he and Kenneth go around interviewing each of them, as in Burke's Law. Each is an eccentric of some type and are played by celebrities of various magnitude, (Julie Newmar, Eva Gabor, Zora Lampert, Gloria De Haven, etc.) Preston eventually decides that a trial with these ladies would be a circus so he holds a party instead! The Prestons then use party games, including charades to get the silly women to reveal more and more of themselves and their story so he can piece together who really did kill the old guy. It's just what Amos Burke would have done.

But on the Defenders, it just seems like an episode of the wrong show.
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The Defenders: The Prowler (1961)
Season 1, Episode 14
The Dance of the Seven Veils
23 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A husband shoots a prowler who turns out to be his wife's ex-husband. Lawrence Preston doesn't think the grand jury will indict but when they do, he suspects there's more to this tale than he's been told. Kent Smith, as the husband and a very young Elizabeth Ashley as the very young wife tell him firs tone story, then another before finally revealing the truth.

Zora Lampert makes an appearance as a surprise witness - the second wife of the deceased who accompanied him to the scene and has some apparently vital information about what transpired.

The best part of it is watching Preston lecture his client about lying to your lawyer and dueling with him, (while Ken duels with his wife), to get to the bottom of things.
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The Defenders: The Attack (1961)
Season 1, Episode 13
One of the great "Defenders" episodes
22 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is the kind of Defenders episode you'd show a friend who had never seen the show to see what it was like at it's best and how it gained such a superlative reputation.

Richard Kiley is a police officer who comes home to find that some one has 'attacked' his 5 year old daughter. It's not made explicit but it's strong implied that she's been sexually abused as well as assaulted. She says "Steve" did it and an enraged Kiley goes after Steve, a local teenage "punk". A friend of Steve's, played by Martin Sheen in his first TV credit, (this was one of many "teenage punk" roles Sheen had before he graduated to slick crooks and eventually to the White House- is this a great country or what?), ties to stop him. Kiley barges into the apartment of Steve's family, finds him in his room and shoots him as his mother watches.

The Prestons get the job of defending him. Kiley is sure everyone will understand what he did and he'll get off. Lawrence Preston is non-committal but confides to Kenneth that he thinks Kiley should be found guilty but everyone deserves the best defense he can get. Pleading temporary insanity doesn't seem like it will work: Kiley insists that he was sane and everyone who saw him agrees. Preston must play on the jury's sympathy when he himself has none for his client.

Meanwhile Kiley is unforgiving of his wife for letting their daughter leave their apartment and wind up on the roof where the assault occurred - until he finds out he's made a far greater mistake.
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The Defenders: The Locked Room (1962)
Season 1, Episode 21
12 Angry Men meet Rashomon
21 September 2016
The genesis of this show, (beyond the 1957 "Studio One" pilot), was Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men, also done on Studio One in 1954 and made into a well-remembered movie in 1957. In it, a jury examines and debates the guilt or innocence of the accused and their personalities, prejudices and backgrounds influence their viewpoints

Another famous movie of the 1950's was the Japanese film Rashomon, (1950), in which three travelers give different versions of a tragedy in which a man, traveling with his wife is supposedly murdered by a bandit. In one version the bandit wins a fight with the husband, in another the wife stabs her husband and in the third the husband committed suicide because of his wife's infidelity with the bandit. We are left to decide what really happened - but we don't know. Are we really adequate to judge the actions of others?

In this episode, Viveca Lindflors is accused to shooting Inga Swensen in the presence of her husband, Zachery Scott. Their story is that she thought there might be prowler in a neighborhood where there had been some crimes recently and shot at someone in a darkened room. No one else knows what really happened. We see the crime re-enacted as various jury members imagine it. The wife is cruel and dominating, she's drunk, she's jealous and angry. The husband is conniving. He's weak. he's rebellious against her domination. The girlfriend is sweet and innocent. She's drunk. She's a gold-digger. The wife shoots her. The husband shoots her. She shoots herself. We never find out what really happened.

After the verdict, Kenneth Preston asks his father what he thinks actually happened. After much prodding, he says he doesn't want to know and didn't want to, as it would not have changed his defense.
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The Defenders: Perjury (1961)
Season 1, Episode 12
Lawrence Preston gets sandbagged
20 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It seems a simple case. A man is identified as a murderer by a witness. A friend of his says the guy was with him at the time, driving to Connecticut. The prosecutor then trips the friend up and he admits he was lying but then announces that the defense attorney, Lawrence Preston, told him to lie. The bug-eyed look in E. G. Marshall's face is priceless.

He chooses his hot-headed son Kenneth to defend him, a risky proposition in more ways than one. But Ken comes though, winning the case with a deft court-room maneuver.

As always, once of the fascinations of this show is to see legendary actors early in their careers. In this case it's Robert DuVal as the perp, who "wants the world to share my misery" and Robert Loggia as his foolish friend. Malachi Throne is the prosecutor this time around.

This show is sometimes compared to Law & order. one of several differences is the court rooms they use: the one In L&O is much prettier. But maybe a drab court room contributes to sober deliberations.
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