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."