by Mr. Mike » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:48 am
I am going to break up the discussion of SOSF episodes into separate categories, because the whole thing is getting out of control. I may break what has previously been said up into a favorite episodes discussion and season one episodes discussion as well.
I think I'm going to just do one (or maybe two, ha ha) episodes a day. Binge-watching 4 or 5 is taking a toll on my health.
Here is the first one from season three:
S03E01 - One Last Shot.
Like in the season one finale, Leslie Nielsen plays a character who has a problem with booze. This time, he is a cop, Joe Landers, whose wife left him, quite likely because of his alcoholism, five years before. During a traffic stop Landers pulls over Frank Graves (Robert Drivas, the Son from Five-O's Vashon trilogy) who is suspected of participating in a robbery. When frisking Graves gets rough, Landers pulls out his gun and during the scuffle accidentally shoots and kills his partner of 13 years, Mel Shaffer (Jock Mahoney), who is standing nearby. Landers insists that Graves took his gun and shot Graves, but two witnesses from the nearby neighborhood tell the cops otherwise. There is excellent acting by all concerned in this episode, especially Nielsen's character, who gets so drunk he is close to collapsing by the end of the show. Stone has an idea what really happened during the confrontation with Graves, but is told by Landers to "butt out." Shaffer's widow Nina (Jacqueline Scott) knew of Landers' love of the bottle, but never said anything about it. Graves goes to see his brother Vinnie (Joey Aresco), formerly a member of the Grim Reapers gang, who tells him a gun is the only solution to his problems, but Stone and Keller show up and Graves is taken into custody. Landers becomes so unhinged by the finale that he believes that Stone is pursuing him in a witch hunt, so he goes to the station and shoots up the place including Stone's office. Fortunately Landers is subdued and ends up babbling in front of Stone and his late partner's son Corky (Rick Carrott), who is also a cop, and, ironically, was the one who came upon the original robbery which led to the misidentification of Graves at the beginning of the show. The show is full of interesting little touches, like the way Landers chews gum to cover up the smell of liquor on his breath, and the way he ends up on a street with a couple of bums as a Salvation Army band plays nearby at the end.
by Fred » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:16 am
One Last shot is a good episode. Nielsen is great in all his SoSF appearances.
Season 3 is the weaker than the either of the first 2 seasons.
For me, the only 4.0 quality episode is Mask of Death
3.5 list are:
The Programming of Charlie Blake
River of Fear
Honorable mention to Mister Nobody for having old man Vashon as a guest, but also because David Z. Hall or Zooey Hall briefly lived across the street from me when I was about 13, just before this episode was made)
by ringfire211 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:13 pm
I guess I'm the opposite of you, Fred. For me I think season 3 has more 4.0 episodes than any of the others. Just off the top of my head I could think of at least 5 or 6 episodes. In comparison season 1 only had the two - Act of Duty and Beyond Vengeance. I'm talking about episodes that I would include in my "series best" list.
by ringfire211 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:23 pm
Hey Mike, looks like you're really getting into this show, eh? You better be careful - it might just top KOJAK for ya!
One Last Shot is my favorite Leslie Nielsen episode and a strong season 3 opener! I love the way Nielsen unravels as the show progresses, until he goes completely bonkers at the end at the police station. Check out season 2's "Before I Die" as well - it's another fine Nielsen performance, again playing a troubled cop who is obsessed with nailing a mobster at any cost.
P.S. So what do you think of the chemistry between Malden and Douglas? How about all them "buddy boy's" he keeps throwing at him?? I think he mostly stops doing that by season 3 or 4, or if he does then it's pretty rare. It was definitely very frequent in the first 2 seasons. Not that it bothers me or anything. But it does sound kinda cheesy.
by Fred » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:44 am
So, yes. Stone calls Keller "buddy boy" over and over. I like it. I see it as Stone has taken Keller under his wings and is pleased with how his student has learned. To the point where it's a like father teaching his son about life. But maybe there was some undertone to the story. By the second half of the second season, "buddy boys" become few and far between before disappearing totally. Perhaps Douglas objected? I don't know.
During the first episode (a double episode story) of the last season, both Douglas and Richard Hatch appear as Douglas passes the baton over to Hatch after making the decision to leave the show when he hits it big on the big screen producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In that season 5 episode, Keller gets ambushed and shot in the heart. To the point where it looks like he would die. Stone is at the hospital, totally losing it emotionally, and pleads with Keller to pull through and calls him buddy boy one final time and the first time in years. A scene that almost brings me to tears. A great SoSF moment. All built up from the relentless first season buddy boys.
by Fred » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:54 am
I do like season 3. I just like 1 & 2 better. But I will offer this. Season 1 has two klunkers in my opinion and they're back to back. "Shattered Image" and "The Unicorn". Shattered Image is just plain awful to me. Season 3 is solid enough that I don't see any "klunkers" that year. Nothing under 2 stars.
I think season 4 drifts off a bit, but maybe my all time favorite (throwing sensibility aside) is from season 4. The Maurice Evans (Zaius from Planet of the Apes, close your eyes and you hear that same voice) episode, School of Fear. Not at all to think that what happens could really happen, but if you push that aside, it's a powerful message about society and one man's misguided actions to correct the failings of the younger generation.
by Mr. Mike » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:41 pm
S03E02: The Most Deadly Species
Johnny (Larry Manetti, later of Magnum, P.I.), son of mobster Murray Brennan (Barry Sullivan) is abducted and murdered. His body is dropped off at a funeral home with instructions to bury it in a coffin underneath another stiff. Stone figures that this hit is the opening salvo in what might turn into a gang war. After a hard day's work, Keller returns home to find his neighbor Anderson, an architect, has moved out because of "unexpected trouble in his family" and has sublet the place to Sydney Bruce (Brenda Vaccaro), a babely "decorator." Keller gets involved with her and they end up "doing it" for a couple of days. (Douglas and Vaccaro were involved in a romantic relationship around the time the episode was filmed.) It doesn't take us long to find out that Sydney is a hitman (or woman) who offers her services to Brennan to find out who killed his son. Information from Keller leads her to Lloyd Davies (James Luisi), who tells her that he was contracted by Charley Albanese (Steve Sandor), another local gangster, to knock off Johnny. Sidney shoots Davies dead. The usual investigative work leads Stone (minus Keller) to find out that the person they are looking for is a woman named Sally Banning who once lived with a "torpedo" back east and became very proficient at his business after he was knocked off, taking revenge for his murder and later turning into a professional killer herself. The cops tail Albanese, but they are too late, because Sidney shoots him dead too. Keller finds Albanese's body and then gets a big surprise when his new inamorata is revealed to be the person they are searching for. The business about Sidney moving next door to Keller is far-fetched. Did she do this intentionally just to pick his brains? It seems a very peculiar coincidence that Anderson decided to suddenly move out of the place. Did Sidney murder him or something? How she manages to track down Davies is difficult to understand given the limited information that Keller tells her in a pre-coital chitchat as he explains what a typical day at work is like. Barry Sullivan is largely wasted, and after he pays off Sidney disappears from the episode. Keller's place is at 289 Union Street (thanks to Fred for sleuthing); when he and Keller drive down the hill further and turn right, this street actually doesn't go anywhere -- it is a dead end.
by Mr. Mike » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:51 pm
by Mr. Mike » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:37 am
S03E03: Target: Red
Bill Bixby plays Jerry Schilling, an assassin-for-hire who intends to knock off Su Ma Sung, leader of a Chinese trade delegation which is heading to Washington, D.C. after a stop in San Francisco, the first such organization to come to the United States. Schilling, who has been bankrolled by General Robert West (Andrew Duggan), a right-wing crackpot and decorated Korean war hero who hates "Commies" with a passion, is using a custom-made rifle which is capable of hitting targets at a great distance and uses special bullets which cause a relatively large explosion. Schilling knocks off Emile Kestler (Curt Lowens), the guy who created the rifle and clues from Kestler's place start Stone and Keller on a cat-and-mouse trail after the hired killer. Schilling almost gets caught when he flees from his hotel and goes to a bar where he meets a hot looking blonde hooker, Kimberly Young (Cheryl Miller). He uses Young to help him escape from the cops who are close on his tail. Later, when she looks at his passport, he kills her by breaking her neck. (The passport reveals he is using the the alias Peter Dunne, who was born 3-24-30, is 5'8-1/2" tall and was born in "Kenosh" (Kenosha, WI?).) Schilling shaves off his beard and dons a nun's costume which he has stored in a safety deposit box near Saints Peter and Paul's Church, 652 Filbert Street. He positions himself high up in one of the church's towers to kill the Chinese officials. In the nick of time, Stone and Keller arrive at the bank and quickly figure out what is going on. They climb up into the tower and Keller shoots Schilling dead at the very last second, foiling the killer's aim so that a car on the street behind the one containing Su Ma Sung explodes. There is a scene in a hospital where Schilling's young son who suffers from brain damage is staying. Not much comes of this, other than Schilling telling his wife Myrna (Linda Marsh) that they produced an "it," which seems designed to emphasize the fact that he is a very nasty guy. (Marsh's part is brief.) The bank near the end of the show is located because Young, the hooker, had a receipt from the safety deposit box taken from Schilling's pocket clutched in her hand while she was being murdered. (The box was registered under the name of Charles Pine, 2610 Kam Street, San Francisco 94133). Surely the detail-obsessed Schilling would have seen this! The whole business with the nun's costume is hard to take, because it's in a shoebox which is placed in the very large safety deposit box, including the nun's shoes. Also -- why does Schilling remove the nun's costume when he gets high up in the tower? Surely he would want to be wearing this when he escaped from the place after finishing his job. At the end of the show it strikes me that the district attorney is going to have to work very hard to make a case against General West.
by ringfire211 » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:59 pm
Fred, interesting write-up on the buddy boys. Yes I do see it as a father/son relationship and I understand why he calls him that and that it's a term of endearment. It's just that somehow that word always seemed kinda corny to me. Even old-fashioned. Maybe it's because no one uses it anymore. But when I used to watch the show it struck me even then that it sounded old-fashioned, even for the 70s. I expected to maybe hear it on BONANZA or something set in the 1800s but somehow it felt out of place in the 70s. I dunno. Or maybe Stone is an old guy so he still thinks it's cool. In any case I don't have a problem with it. If anything it's now a sort of signature of the show. FIVE-O has book-em-Danno, STREETS has buddy boy.
You mentioned the season 1 clunkers "Shattered Image" and "The Unicorn", neither of which are clunkers for me. Both are solid enough episodes. The former even has a personal connection for Stone with the Barbara Rush character, which is an automatic plus. Any episode that has a personal connection for our heroes already can't be the worst episode. The clear clunker of season 1 (and the entire series) is "A Trout in the Milk". Major snoresville! I do like the name Yale Courtland Dancy but that's about it.
As for season 4 I'm in complete agreement with you regarding "School of Fear". As preposterous as the idea is you can't help but love it! And talk about ORIGINAL!! I can't remember any other show before or since that used this type of idea. It's a completely absorbing story! My other favorite from season 4 is another school-themed episode - the excellent "Most Likely to Succeed".
by ringfire211 » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:47 pm
Season 3 continues with another very strong episode - The Most Deadly Species. In fact it's even better than the season opener with Leslie Nielsen. An easy 3.5 in my book! I love the twist with Sidney the assassin being a female, and Keller's neighbor/lover to boot! I'm not saying I was completely surprised by the twist but I still thought it was cool and well done. I agree that there are some questions as to her moving in next door to Keller but that's a minor issue. Overall it's a top-flight episode. Brenda Vaccaro is very good!
With Target: Red it gets even better!! We're in 4.0 territory here. I'm a sucker for assassins/espionage, that sort of thing, and this is a rare case of SOSF getting into some high-level shenanigans which could have international ramifications. FIVE-O of course dabbled in this sort of thing on a regular basis. Bill Bixby is well cast as the cold-blooded assassin suffering from PTSD (essentially a remorseless machine) who is out to kill a visiting Chinese "commie" dignitary. Most will recall Nixon's historic 1972 visit to China, which was the beginning of the thawing of relations between them and us. This episode aired in 1974 so this thawing was in full swing. Obviously many didn't take too kindly to this, as shown here by the zealous "anti-commie" retired general played by Andrew Duggan. The race to stop the assassin is very suspenseful, as is the finale atop the church tower. This is easily one of the series best episodes. It even opens at Candlestick Park during a Giants baseball game! Season 3 just gets better and better, doesn't it?
P.S. Bill Bixby returns in another excellent episode in season 4's "Police Buff", where he essentially plays the role that Anthony Zerbe played on FIVE-O in "Mother's Deadly Helper".
by John Chergi » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:17 pm
I'm inclined to place The Most Deadly Species in my Top 10 Streets Of San Francisco. There's plenty to enjoy about the episode. It's one of the 1st hit woman episodes. There also was a great chemistry between the actors Mike Douglas & Brenda Vaccaro. Sydney was a smart name choice as it could be a man or woman. I really don't blame Steve for falling for Sydney. She was attractive and probably provided great sexual satisfaction. There was no way he could know she was a hit woman.
Mask Of Death would be Top 5 episode in Streets Of San Francisco. Murder and Suspense plus an incredible performance by John Davidson. He's Ken Scott an impressionist mostly of female actresses that I remember at a nightclub type of setting. It seems these different impressions don't stay on stage with him but bleed into his regular life. They start consuming him. Just a mesmerizing episode start to finish! JC
by Fred » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:55 am
Not for the first time, we disagree. That's perfectly acceptable. I'm not a fan of Shattered Image, but I like A Trout in the Milk. And now that Mr. Mike has researched that episode name, it makes the episode even better. There is almost no actor like Roscoe Lee Browne. He brings a Shakespeare type portrayal into these dramas and somehow makes it work.
And I still think No Blue Skies is one of the best 5-O first season episodes!
by ringfire211 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:01 pm
I agree that Roscoe Lee Browne is a very fine actor. And what a voice! I even think his performance in "Trout" was good. I just wish he had been cast in a better episode, not that clunker.
Nope, "No Blue Skies" was a low point in season 1 (mind you it's nowhere near as bad as "Trout"), right alongside "Not That Much Different".
P.S. From now on I'm calling it "To Hell With Trout in the Milk" - in honor of the Five-O clunker whose title it homages.
by Mr. Mike » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:57 pm
S03E05: I Ain't Marchin' Anymore
Original air date: October 10, 1974
Director: Paul Stanley; Writer: Albert Ruben
After Robert Zahn (Jack Stauffer), a decorated Marine who went AWOL from service in Vietnam during R&R in Hong Kong in 1969 and later fled to Canada, returns to San Francisco and is shot dead, Keller goes underground to try and find his killer. Keller gets help from the sympathetic Dr. Benjamin Blakely (Joshua Bryant) who is in touch with several local draft resisters and evaders. Keller is blindfolded and taken to a location in the middle of nowhere which is owned by the also-sympathetic Ron Harris (Michael Burns), who returned to the States after he was wounded in Nam. `This episode is pretty suspensful, because it is likely that Keller will be unmasked, which is what happens when he leaves the hideout and is followed by Vale (Don Stroud), one of the other men staying there. Keller, fearing he will be killed, reveals he is a cop and accuses Vale of murdering Zahn, but it turns out that he was actually knocked off by Harris, whose real name is Randall and who fragged a lieutenant in Vietnam, an action to which Zahn was the only witness. Stone gets information from Zahn's girl friend Kathy Hollander (Renne Jarrett) as well as the military and Blakely which helps him track down Keller's whereabouts. Stone and the cops arrive just in time as Zahn is trying to run over Keller with his truck. I find it hard to understand, considering how many draft dodgers there were during the Vietnam War (more than 200,000 by one estimate), that the doctor seems to be a main conduit to them and the few that Keller ends up with contain the one responsible for the murder of Zahn. The show begins with the stern-voiced announcer saying that the show took place during the spring of 1974 because on September 16, 1974, President Ford announced an amnesty for those who had abandoned the military, less than a month before the show was broadcast. Douglas was 29 at the time the show was filmed; whether he looks too old for the part is debatable. James MacArthur was the same age when he pretended to be a draft dodger in the 1971 Hawaii Five-O episode To Kill or Be Killed which has the same director as this one. Zahn's girl friend says the term "R&R" means "rest and rehabilitation" which does not jive with the normal definition which is rest and recuperation, rest and relaxation, rest and recreation or rock and roll).
Randall is arrested and taken away. Stone asks Keller some questions like what happened to the other people (Keller: "There was more of them than there were of me"). When Keller asks if the doctor will face charges, Stone says that the FBI will take care of him: "I'm in homicide, remember. That other war, that's for a different department."
by Mr. Mike » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:01 am
S03E06: One Chance to Live
Original air date: October 17, 1974
Director: Seymour Robbie; Writer: David Friedkin; Music: Billy Byers
Martha Howard (Joanne Linville) is a lonely, middle-aged woman who talks like someone reciting bad poetry. She is being stalked by Bobby Nelson (Steven Keats), a psychotic loner who, according to his landlady, has mommy issues and often locks himself in his apartment and screams a lot. Nelson is upset because Howard got him fired from his job at a florist when she complained he wasn't handling flowers being delivered to her very well and he then started insulting her. The flowers were coming from Howard's boyfriend, a big shot Canadian politician named Brian Downing (Edward Mulhare), who she had a passionate affair with some time ago. Downing is back in San Francisco, but he has come with his wife Edith (Pippa Scott), who spies on her husband and Howard at a restaurant. Later, the wife has an awkward conversation with the former mistress when she tells her to butt out of her and her husband's lives. Based on a couple of calls to the cops in the past, Stone thinks Howard is nuts, describing her to Keller as "not exactly a centerfold" when he hears about her affair with Downing. Keller is more sympathetic. He pursues and busts Nelson when she finds him in her apartment. Later, however, assistant D.A. Capiello (Paul Cavonis) handling the case refuses to prosecute because of identification issues (but Nelson must have left his fingerprints all over Howard's place, because he was wearing no gloves -- duh!). Nelson starts to make an issue of Keller harassing him, and even taunts some thugs to beat him up so he can accuse Keller of brutality. When he shows up at the station with his slimy lawyer Tomlin (Woodrow Parfrey), no one bothers to make an issue of whether Keller has bruises on his hands or elsewhere, though. At the end of the show, Howard decides to get out of town, but Nelson trails her to the airport, followed closely by Stone and Keller -- presumably Howard's apartment is close to SFO. Nelson lures Howard to the "flight deck" where you watch planes take off (she thinks it is Downing who has paged her) and tries to throw her off the roof. At the end, it's pretty ironic that Stone is the one who wounds Nelson as he tries to escape (accompanied by some jazzy music) because he has been nagging Keller throughout the whole show to do everything with Nelson "by the book." Dazed, Nelson wanders off the roof and plunges to his death below. Howard uses some unusual answering machine to tape conversations which, in her lonely state, she listens to over and over. It uses tape similar to reel-to-reels. It's pretty funny when Keller recognizes Downing when he comes to Howard's apartment because she previously said that he was her "brother," trying to hide their connection. Keller says that he has seen Downing the politician making speeches, which is far-fetched, considering Americans' typical dismal ignorance of just about anything Canadian! A Seaside Cab with the bogus phone number of 555-9837 is seen. Overall, I thought this was a pretty awful show.
Stone and Keller, who must be on the night shift, like at the beginning of the show where Stone talks like he has been drinking, see Howard going into a movie theater alone and reflect on loneliness and what Howard said earlier, that "Solitude is a welcome caller." They are paged by dispatch to deal with another crime, a "916."
by Mr. Mike » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:06 am
These reviews are becoming far too long! I can see myself redoing the Season One reviews just like I did with Season Four of Kojak...
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