Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BJ and the Bear S2 E14: Siege

Originally aired on January 19, 1980
Directed by Michael Preece
Teleplay by Michael Sloan
Story by Michael Sloan and Glen A. Larson

Siege! The Siege of Country Comfort! It has begun! And, you guessed it, B.J. and Bear have chosen now to return there and they get all mixed up with it! Faux-revolutionaries, mercenaries, the mayor, a group of gals that are sort of like cheerleaders and Markie Post! They're all here, Plus, Janet Julian! I'm in!

Hooray! (I think this is her last episode, though.)

Let me back up a moment. I overloaded that sentence with hyperbole to pull you in but now I have to bring you down a bit. I've watched every episode of B.J. and the Bear about five times over the past five years. I used to work from home and there were days when I would just play and play the show, sometimes focusing on it, sometimes letting it be background. That's where I grew a great fondness for it. Now, watching it closely for these posts...  I see some flaws here and there, as you may have noticed.

B.J. sings. Bear puts fingers in ears.
(I think that's all Bear does in this episode.)

I feel like the first season was really solid. But, this season is meandering and repetitive. In some respects, that is not a problem. It's that sort of show. But, in other respects, it's a big problem. The show doesn't have an identity. Most of the scripts feel interchangeable with other shows. I could have put the Duke boys in the last episode and it would have been the same. The fact that they introduced two new Sheriff characters to replace Lobo...  and both of them are gone now...  means that they don't know what they're up to either. Plus, Country Comfort? I'm fairly certain it's gone after this episode. They threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall this season and none of it stuck. I believe we are about to completely revert to first season-style episodes for the rest of the season. But then...  the third season changes everything.

 Men looking at Markie
What are we? Cheerleaders? A pep squad of some variety?

One of the things about certain episodes is that no matter how many times I watch them some things just don't sink in. Case in point: What are the bad guys up to in this episode? They take the hostages so the owner of the sports team (I think) that includes the cheerleader-type gals will bring them 10 million dollars. Why? They must have said. But, I sure don't remember. And who are all these women? They're attractive. They're in short skirts. Markie Post was crowned Queen of Something-or-other-related to them last year. But, who are they? Apart from hostages? And why, at the climax, does B.J. cause a diversion by driving his truck through the wall of County Comfort? It makes for a heck of an image but the truck is B.J.'s home. And, in the first season, I feel like he would have come up with something smarter. And, later in the season, I believe he does the same exact thing. (Granted, he does look wrecked as he stares at the rig in the wall. But then, Markie hugs him and all is all right.) The broad strokes of the episode make sense. I simply don't remember the details.

There you have it.
B.J. does look wrecked, though.
Maybe he's disappointed that he didn't come up with a better solution.
However, the day is saved.

Now, having said all that, this is B.J. and the Bear. We're not watching Back to the Future II. It doesn't have to make sense. It simply has to be entertaining. Is it? Well, it's OK. There is a hotheaded bad guy who straps a bomb to another guy. I was convinced that he was nuts. And, the head bad guy, played by Geoffrey Lewis, has a long conversation with B.J. about wars, which is almost interesting. (The gist being that B.J. was in Vietnam saving lives and became a P.OW. but this bad guy was a pure mercenary, fighting for whomever for money.) The ladies are lovely. It's nice to see Country Comfort one more time. But, apart from that... 

Desperate B.J.

There is a section of the episode where the hostages are separated. (I honestly don't remember why.) Half stay at Country Comfort with the hothead and the bomb and the mayor. The other half are put in B.J.'s rig and drive around. (The head bad guy and B.J. are up front.) Seeing those women in the back of the rig reminded me of The Foundlings. And it reminded me that this show seemed far less generic at one time. It was a flagrant mash-up of what was popular circa 1978 but it felt like it was building towards something. Now, sadly, it feels like it's treading water. Maybe shedding the Sheriffs and Country Comfort and having B.J. hit the road with Bear will open it up again...  at least for a while.

Hugs From Markie! (TM)

Postscript: I didn't give you all the plot of this. Well, not in so many words. Here you go. Country Comfort is sponsoring a beauty pageant of some variety. Those ladies are there, including last year's queen. (As I said, I don't fully understand the ladies.) The mayor is there. It's rehearsal night. Suddenly, a bunch of mercenaries/ revolutionaries take everyone hostage, including B.J. and Bear. They want 10 million dollars from a local rich guy who runs the team (or something) that involves the ladies. Will B.J. be able to free the hostages? Or will it all go to hell? (Hint: The Former) Tune into Siege! and find out.

I'm not sure what show this is from but...
Good Gravy!
Bye, Tommy.*
*Her character's name, by the way. I'm not saying goodbye to some random guy named Tommy.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BJ and the Bear: S2 E13 Fire In The Hole

Originally aired January 12, 1980
Teleplay by Sidney Ellis
Story by Richard Kelbaugh
Directed by Bruce Kessler

Lil is back! Pogo Lil that is.

Angry Lil with miner's helmet

You remember Lil, don't you? Lil!

 Happy Lil with Shotgun
Pouty Lil with some guy

She was feisty. She drove a truck. She liked B.J. A bunch of guys were after here for some reason or other. Sure. Lil! Well, she's back. And she now owns a gold mine! It's in the same location as Byron Quisenberry's Scream, which is cool. But, there are a bunch of jerks working for a rich jerk (whose name might be Mr. Cummings but, frankly, these jerks become interchangeable after a while) who want the mine, which is not cool.

Yes, I'm Evil. Why do you ask?

Luckily, B.J and Bear arrive to help. But, they've also brought Lil's dad who is a ne'er do well. Lil isn't so fond of dad. Dad wants to reconcile after being a jackass for years but Lil isn't convinced. (Frankly, I wasn't convinced either.) Around this time, the rich jerk and his co-jerks force Lil to sign over the mine to them. (And it's all Very Legal.*) So, it looks Lil is out of a mine. But, she's got her dad! (She'd prefer the mine.) (I'd prefer Lil.)

 Lil Face Drop

With the help of a lawyer, they learn that because the mine changed hands illegally, if they can take control of it for a certain amount of time, then the lawyer can do something that gets Lil the mine back. This mostly involves fistfights and explosions. In the end, everything's great again and Lil and her Pa are friends. Hooray!

Lil! I'm blushing!

I imagine the writers sitting around a table.
"Anyone have any story ideas? Richard?"
"Huh? What? Oh...  Lil could come back."
"Give me more."
"She owns a...  gold mine. Her dad shows up. She doesn't like him. Explosions? Fistfights?"
"Brilliant! I'll get Sidney on the teleplay!"

It is nice to see Lil back as I'm a big fan of Anne Lockhart. But, boy, this is by the numbers television. It's the first time I can think of where Greg Evigan looks like he's coasting through. The whole episode rests on Lil's shoulders and she acquits herself well but, whew!, we've seen this before and we will see it again.

It's the Scream Saloon!

It's not all negative. The episode does breeze along nicely. And, if you like rich, corporate men doing odd things (like breaking into Lil's bedroom on the site and forcing her to sign over the mine), this is the episode for you. I know corporate/ rich folks can be awful...  but do they do stuff like this? I could see a bad cop doing this but a CEO simply says "I want that mine!" and the threats start and the coercion begins. Huh? Really? It always strikes me as odd.

I told you there were explosions.

The rig looks real nice in this episode, gliding along the roads though the wooded areas. And then, as I mentioned, they wind up at the Scream location. There's a quick brawl in the main saloon where all the guys sleep. The one with the staircase that Lou the Final Girl sleeps under. That's cool to see. Plus, did I mention I like Anne Lockhart?

Lil and the Bear?

Fire In The Hole is an episode of a Glen A. Larson show at the point where, I believe, Larson has left and others have taken over from him. Now, to me, Larson is a thoroughly decent creator who comes up with fun, but entirely derivative, TV concepts that he carries through well. He's an OK writer who deals mainly in lots of cliches. But, in the right frame of mind, his shows are a joy...  if possibly kind of dumb. Now, having said that, one might imagine that the folks who take over from him might not quite be the same quality as he is...  and he's decent, not great. So, you can imagine that B.J. and the Bear is starting to meander onto some shaky ground. The show is still fun. However, the derivative scripts and the repetitive situations are beginning to overwhelm B.J.'s charm and Bear's shenanigans.

Three guys who are definitely Against the
All-Female Wonder Woman screenings

At least this episode has Lil. (Her dad's annoying, though.)

I'd like this spinoff to happen please.

*As in "Not Legal In The Slightest."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

One Minute With Night of Horror ends...

Goodbye, Night of Horror. May flights of angels sing you to your rest.

Episode 73 is up! Follow this link to listen...


Monday, May 8, 2017

Episode 22 of Eventually Supertrain is up!

Say goodbye to Danielle and her pals, Dallas and Scandal, folks. Our coverage of Cobra, sadly, ends with this episode.

However, Voyagers! and Police Squad! coverage continues. And, next time, a brand new old show joins the roster.

Please, follow this link and enjoy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Tribute To Erin Moran

Joanie Is The Best!

And Erin Moran was awesome.

Follow the link below to listen to my podcast pal Amanda Reyes and I paying tribute to her on Eventually Supertrain.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Searching For Bigfoot on Dan's Drive-In Double Feature #9

Dan's after Bigfoot! There he is! And, he is blurry.

Follow this link to listen to the new episode. You'll have a great time. trust me.

He's The Hairiest!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Episode 21!

Hey everyone! Precious, the world's cutest dummy, invites you to listen to episode 21 of Eventually Supertrain!


You Are Precious

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Here's Episode 20!

This looks like a job for Wildman!

Episode 20 of Eventually Supertrain is available for listening! Enjoy.

Wildman Ahoy!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Eventually Supertrain #19 is Here!

Episode 19 is here...  and we have begun our coverage of... I'm going to let you guess what the new (old) show is from that screenshot.

Trust me, you'll love it.

Go This Way

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dan's Drive-In Double Feature #8 is here!

Dan talks Demon Witch Child and Beyond The Door in an "All-Exorcist" ripoff episode!

Follow this link to all the other links...

This Link Is Possessed

Listen and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Black Tape Has Arrived! One Minute with Night of Horror 18-20

Don't let Jeff (or his friend The Black Tape) intimidate you! Follow this link to hear the next three episodes of One Minute with Night of Horror.

This link here

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eventually Supertrain #18 is here!

Episode 18 is up! And...  we say goodbye to Amanda (for a while, at least)...

Follow this link and enjoy.

This Link here

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dan's Drive-In Double Feature #7 Goes Speculating

Dan talks Overlords of the UFO (1976) and Bill Rebane's They (1974) on the new episode of Dan's Drive-In Double Feature.

Follow the link for listening pleasure...

Who are the Overlords of the U.F.O.?

Plus, that link will lead you to Eventually Supertrain and several brand new episodes of One Minute With Night of Horror.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Eventually Supertrain #17

Episode #17 of my podcast Eventually Supertrain is up and running!

Follow this link to get you all the short-lived TV show chatter you need.

17 Lies Ahead

Monday, February 20, 2017

Escape! (1971)

Hooray! The good folks at Classic Film and TV Cafe are hosting a Movie of the Week Blogathon! Follow this link to check out all the entries. There's a pretty excellent mix in there. And, I would like to throw my hat into the ring as I review one of my all-time favorites...

Airdate: April 6, 1971
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey
Teleplay: Paul Playdon

 Awesome credits? Check.

Cameron Steele is the world's best escape artist, circa 1971. He looks exactly like Christopher George. He has a kickass theme tune, composed by Lalo Schifrin. He has a sidekick in Nicholas Slye (Avery Schreiber). He owns a Magic Castle-type building called The Crystal Ball...  with Huntz Hall as the bartender! And, Mr. Steele has a knack for getting people out of spots that they shouldn't be in.

 The only logical face one can make when one gets
thrown into a river while tied to a giant rock

Welcome to Escape!

 This car has everything!

Back on the very first episode of the Made For TV Mayhem Podcast, I declared this to be one of my Top Three favorite TV movies (alongside The Night Stalker and Satan's Triangle.) I stand by that bold declaration. Escape is pure escapist (you like that?) entertainment of the highest order. It doesn't shirk on the excitement or the epic scale of the bad guy's plotting. In the first ten minutes, Steele gets tied to a rock and thrown into a river. In the last five minutes, he chases a crazy John Vernon (playing Charles Walding) over, under and around a roller coaster. (With stunts coordinated by Hal Needham, for Heaven's Sake!) In between these moments, Steele is suave with the ladies. Slye proves himself to be an art expert, master chef, police sketch artist, researcher of the first order...  and Avery Schreiber! Plus, there are shenanigans in an elevator shaft and so much more...

Guess which one is the evil brother

What's the movie about, you may be asking? If I were waggish, I'd say about 70 minutes. But, I'm not that type...  and yet I'm not terribly interested in maneuvering through the plot because it's all MacGuffin to allow the fun to flow. Here's a brief rundown, however: Steele is contacted by a Dr. Henry Walding (William Windom, a year after appearing in one of my favorite films Brewster McCloud). Steele meets Walding...  but Walding is instantly kidnapped and Steele is tossed in a river. Investigations begin! Steele talks to the doctor's daughter, Susan (Marlyn Mason). Slye goes to talk with the doctor's deceased brother's ex-wife, Evelyn (Gloria Grahame, one year after appearing in the Tayback-filled Blood and Lace).

 That top may not be the height of fashion
but it's the height of something

Dr. Walding and his brother, Charles, were working on some sort of synthetic life form. When, apparently, the doctor set fire to his lab, killing Charles. But, Charles is not dead. He is living under an amusement park called Happy Land. (You access his underground lab via the Funhouse.) He kidnaps his brother because he needs the final ingredient to create this faux-life, with which he will enslave the world! Can Steele stop the evil Walding and save the good Waldings? Will the Earth become enslaved to John Vernon? Tune in to Escape and find out...

 Discovering your insane brother has his own underground cave...
and a viral organism with which he will enslave humanity

I would like to publicly declare something that I've actually said a dozen times but in regards to horror films and exploitation films, not TV movies. The 90 minute time slot TV movie is the best time for these features. (Unless, you're going bold like The House On Greenapple Road.) After commercials are excised, they're all around 70-75 minutes. Perfect length. A bit over an hour. They don't overstay their welcome. There's little padding. It's good times. Escape is the perfect template for this.

 The Crystal Ball
 Featuring Huntz Hall

Steele and Slye get thrown into this strange adventure. They gradually uncover piece after piece of the puzzle. (One involves the great Lucille Benson as a tattoo artist!) Plus, there's some very elegant (or convenient, I chose elegant) plotting in the second half. Steele learns that one of the thugs that attacked him works at Happy Land. So, he goes there to investigate. Susan is kidnapped by Evil Walding and taken to Happy Land. So, when Steele maneuvers his way into the hideout...  Susan and her father are already there! It saves a lot of time. And then, they put him in a straitjacket and hang him upside down in an empty room.

 Hanging out in the elevator shaft

The acting is excellent across the board. Christopher George is always awesome. They're not trying to reinvent the wheel with his character here. He's exactly the suave, brave kind of guy you expect him to be. And the world is better for it. John Vernon always gives good evil. William Windom is shaky and worried. Marlyn Mason may look like she's wearing a conglomeration of doilies on her chest but she's smart and...  most important...  Steele likes kissing her. Avery Schreiber is great as his character constantly keeps having new talents revealed.

 Important colored bulbs, especially the green one

I'm not going to go on too much longer. If you like fun adventure with a bit of sci-fi thrown in and some cool action scenes, Escape is your movie. The closing sequences are particularly well done. (Credit the power of The Moxey on direction and the Needham stunt-work.) The end begins in a stuck elevator with a treacherous climb up a cable. The end ends with Steele chasing Evil Walding through Happy Land and ending up on a roller coaster...  with at least two shots that will make you gasp or yell "Woah!" I don't condone running around on roller coasters....  generally. This film will make you want to climb all over one.

 If you've got time to threaten the world,
you've got time to ride the merry-go-round.

Evil Walding taking a snooze in the roller coaster car

I love Escape. I have watched it around ten times. It brings me great joy. It was a possible pilot for a series that never happened. That's sad. But, it's OK. Sometimes you only need one adventure to know how awesome a character can be. If you need me, I'll be down at the courthouse changing my name to Steele...  Cameron Steele. The Second. Don't tell my wife. I want to surprise her.

 This film has everything

One final note: Escape has something in it that I thought I had thought of but I've also seen it on a BJ and the Bear so my idea seems less original. The baddies keep people captive in a lovely series of rooms. However, the rooms are actually sets they've constructed within the underground caves to fool the captive people into thinking they are somewhere else. Steele (with the coolest fighting style ever) crashes though a window of a nicely designed living room and winds up in a cave next to a giant movie light. I had someone held captive in an old house that was actually a mock-up within a castle in my novel Diary of a Nude Man. We all have a good time here.

 I thought I thought of this!