Friday, May 6, 2016

B.J. & The Bear S2 E2: Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers, Part II

Originally aired October 6, 1979
Directed by Christian I. Nyby II
Written by Michael Sloan and Glen A. Larson

"I love you, B.J. ...  I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..."
"It's OK. You can love me."
"I can?"

BJ, Snow White and all those kids
(Where did those kids come from?)

Part 2! That satisfies my questions at the end of the previous review. This is the second of a 2-part story. I had thought if all the Country Comfort characters, along with Sgt. Wiley and the Fox, came back in this episode but under a new title, the season would now be following this huge cast getting in adventures every week. But, "Part 2" means that the show might still have the semi-anthology format of Season 1. The season, itself, will reveal whether this is true.

 BJ, Bear and Bullets

This episode begins (well, it begins with 4 minutes of recap including an interesting moment I missed when I watched the previous episode*)...  It begins immediately following the previous one. Still at Country Comfort. BJ and Hammer have washed all the mud off. Hammer will stand by his bargain. So, the viewer thinks "Hmmm, why not include this scene at the end of the previous episode? Why put it at the beginning of a new one?" All is revealed rather quickly.

The Fight.
Wiley lifting The Fox

Sgt. Wiley and The Fox show up. Wiley gets the news about the fight. And, Hammer says, more or less, "Don't talk to me. Talk to Riker." Riker? The semi-psychotic, poorly mustachioed second-in-command of the Highballers? Yes. It turns out that only Hammer is going to stop bothering the ladies. For the rest of the jerks, it's business as usual. Sigh... And then, we get more of Wiley and The Fox arguing, more of the Sheriff being dopey. About 17 minutes in, this reviewer realized that he was re-watching Part 1 but he wasn't. It was Part 2. They were just doing the same thing over again.

 Wiley And The Fox

Examples: Snow White is going to lose everything if she doesn't get a haul. B.J. helps her get a government-related load. Riker chases her down and harasses her. Just like Hammer did to B.J. in the first episode. Then, in one of the funniest scenes, Wiley and The Fox get into a full on brawl on a dock. B.J. intervenes. He gets arrested and Bullets, the head of Country Comfort, is shown bailing him out a few minutes later. B.J. was arrested and bailed out in the previous episode. How many times can you be arrested and get out on bail within a few short days? (Granted, this could be Wiley being wily.) Then, near the end, a convoy of lady truckers, with BJ and Snow White at the front, gets diverted by Wiley onto a suspicious route.

 Looking good on the phone

Now, the bail thing is left hanging. Does BJ have to go to court twice? The Riker chase bit has a zing at the end, which the first part lacked. But, it is still the exact same sort of scene. And the re-routing of the convoy even has BJ saying "Again?" This made me think of the way a lot of Saturday Morning cartoons (especially Hanna-Barbara ones) would structure their shows. The heroes would meet the exact same villains every week (Drak Pack). The only change would be in the bad guy's MO. Everything else would be the same. I thought, for a moment, that this might be where BJ and the Bear is going...  We'll see on the next episode.

There is as little character development here as there was in the previous episode. But, we know the characters (as well as we'll know them) now so I was able to focus on the revolving nature of the story. Sometimes it revolves within the episode. BJ is called about a government haul. He gives it to Snow White. The next day, another government agency (the one from the TV movie) call him to haul some old money to the furnaces. That employs BJ and all of Snow White's gals. It's a strange bit of plotting because the contents of the first haul dismantles Riker's truck. (I'm trying not to spoil.) Then, the writers go back to a plot thread from the first BJ adventure to provide a conclusion for this one. But, both of these hauls are government-related. It's so convenient that BJ gets these calls so close together that it's almost ham-fisted. The writers may have seen this was odd plotting because BJ goes out of his way to make sure everyone knows that the government agencies don't know about each other. Still weird, though.

 Show White attempts to re-create the opening credits ending
It was better with the billboard

Then, there's the big ending. SPOILERS! Riker and the Highballers hijack the ladies' trucks, filled with old money, with the help of Wiley and the Fox. But, BJ and Hammer are on top of it and help save the day. Except we're not sure why Hammer is there. (A dubbed line from Wiley semi-explains it.) The whole ending becomes a little confusing. Possibly I'm watching a syndicated version and a moment or two is missing. But, it's weird because they spend 3/4 of the episode repeating the previous one but then botch the explanation of the ending. It's easily figured out but not clear in the actual on-screen dialogue. (My episode might be edited. BJ tells Snow White that they have the old money contract. The show cuts immediately to Honey and Riker (apparently they're a couple(!)) and she blabs about it. Trying to find out the details, Riker becomes threatening and semi-violent in a kind of gross scene.)

Guys are jerks

There are a few problems with this episode. Wiley and The Fox get a lot of time to themselves. Does this mean they'll be regulars throughout the season? I can answer that but I'll let it hang there for the moment. The lady truckers, apart from Snow and Honey, do not get developed at all. There's the whole Repeat The Plot thing. (Which might work if this episode had a brand new title and the show was going to repeat itself like this ad nauseam.) It feels like they wanted to start the season big but didn't quite know how. Then, there's the problem with Bear. Bear does nothing here. He drinks a bit. He's there for a gag or two but they've got zero for him to do. Possibly because there are so many supporting characters.

 If it's Glen A. Larson, it'll explode in the end

Now, it sounds like I might have hated this episode. No. It's nicely paced and far too charming and fun to hate. But, that doesn't mean it can't be disappointing. It's not the BJ & The Bear I signed on for for the first season. I understand that things change. I'm willing to carry on. We've got another 19 episodes in Season Two. Let's take this journey together and see where we go. You can travel with Snow White. I'll go pick up Honey.

 Hey You! Keep Watching!

* In the recap of Part 1, there is a moment I didn't mention in the previous review. Wiley is arresting BJ. He stops and says, something like "Red rig. Young man with a leather jacket. Traveling with a chimp. You're the legendary BJ McKay." Yes! The popularity of BJ's first season has followed him into the second. Love it!

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