Thursday, July 6, 2017

BJ and the Bear: S2 E19 The Girls on the Hollywood High

Originally aired on February 23, 1980
Directed by Bruce Bilson
Teleplay by Glen A. Larson
Story by Glen A. Larson and Ron Friedman

 A little teaser:
Guess who that woman is staring at BJ


Did you know that trucker B.J. McKay has a sister? Did you know her name was Shauna? Did you know she was a film student in Los Angeles? Did you know B.J. and her talk at least twice a week? Did you know she vanished after being last seen with her best friend at an entertainment lawyer's coke party in the Hills?

BJ's sister's best friend
(She's not well)

I didn't. Not until I watched this episode. It sounds like 100% Grade A Bologna to me. But this next statement might be the most surprising. (Well, possibly.)

 Is that BJ's sister?
Oh yes! That's BJ's sister all right

Did you know that this episode is a backdoor pilot featuring the two detectives from The Eyes of Texas




But not quite the same two detectives. I'll explain it a moment, although I did mention it briefly in the previous review.

Things don't get less confusing

This episode starts off really shambolically. About five minutes in, I thought "This is going to be a train wreck." Why? Voice-over from  B.J. over the first two scenes. The opening scene is at the Hollywood party where a young woman overdoses and dies while in the presence of a "big Hollywood director." The lawyer who is throwing the party and a goon dispose of the body. But, B.J.'s sister sees what's going on and they kidnap her.

 BJ's kidnapped sister
Kidnapping goon

That's fine and dandy. But, B.J. talks over the first half of it. He tells us what we're seeing rather than allowing us to just see it. So when it cuts from people partying to a gal on the floor dying, it feels like we're watching a recap. And, it feels like we missed a scene introducing the dead woman and her friend who turns out to be B.J.'s sister. The setup is missing, replaced by didactic voice-over, which gets worse.

Lawyers and Goons
A winning combination

The next scene is at the Detective agency where Heather and Carolyn (or Caroline, it's tough to say) work in Texas. Before the women arrive, B.J. is seen talking to Eve Arden and Michael Pataki, who run the place. But, the voice-over continues. It tells us what's happening in the scene, instead of letting the scene happen. (It's like the cop's voice-over in Frozen Scream.) When the women walk in, the voice-over stops and never happens again. However...  when the women walk in, as you can see from the screenshots above, one might become confused.

This was on my copy
I'm not sure what it has to do with BJ's sister

First, however, what the hell's up with that voice-over? It's never happened before, it never happens again. It's very sloppy and bad storytelling. My guess? This episode was originally meant to run longer. It originally began spending some time following two young women in film school. They end up at the party. The events we see occur. Then, the "B.J.'s sister" reveal happens.

Good times at the detective agency
Hey! Arden and Pataki!

Followed by some time spent with B.J. as he tries to get hold of his sister. He can't. So, he goes to hire Heather and Caroline. (I would ask: why? I don't remember them being the most competent detectives. Heather was sassy and headstrong. Caroline was slightly ditsy and played the "I'm hot" card a lot.) That's when we see him at the agency.

Meeting the ladies again
(Or, at least, some ladies)

Maybe it was meant to be in a 90-minute slot. When Larson found out it would be 60, he cut down everything prior to the gals' arrival to the barest minimum? That is a guess. It does explain it pretty well though. I'm hoping he didn't actually write it this way because it is very sloppy.

The last of the problems is with the women themselves. In Eyes, Heather was blonde and a bit of a con artist. She was also presented as being kind of a Plain Jane. Caroline was brunette and attractive. She was the one you had dance in a bathing suit to distract bad guys. When the two women enter the detective agency and B.J. greets them warmly with hugs and kisses, something is askew. There is a brunette and a blonde. But, the blonde is Heather Thomas...  and she's Caroline who was the brunette from the previous episode. And the brunette is the blonde from the previous episode with a dye job. Plus, Caroline's sexuality is never used to their advantage. She's presented as a no-nonsense straightforward gal. (In fact, apart from Pataki's character, the fact that they're women never really comes up.)

We're confused too but we got over it

It's all very confusing and Rebecca Reynolds looks so different that it took me two viewings to connect her to the previous episode. I'm not sure why they did this and it makes a very confusing episode opening even more so.

Take deep breaths and enjoy Pataki's wardrobe

However, once the investigation begins, things get better and better. We already know what the bad guys are up to. (They've got Shauna at a Malibu Beach house. If she doesn't agree to keep her mouth shut, they'll kill her.) So there is no real mystery. Just the investigations from the detectives. They meet up with Stuart Pankin who is shooting some porn. (He's not playing the same character here that he played in Season 1. More confusion.) They run into a cop car twice and eventually recruit his help. In a completely surprising scene, they go the L.A. Coroner's office. Heather watches some "Jane Doe" videos to see if they can find Shauna or her friend. The coroner on the video is Sam from Quincy! What? Quincy and BJ and the Bear take place in the same universe!

Sam!

The contrasting styles of the detectives works nicely to keep the investigation moving. There are two nice twists in the second half that honestly surprised me. As it draws to a close and Shauna's end draws near, things do get tense. I applaud the show for pulling itself out of that morass that it almost got lost in early on. Eve Arden doesn't have much to do. (And, she's always Miss Brooks to me.) Pataki gets a minor subplot that would have certainly been developed if it went to series but here ends up getting in the way a bit. However, at the end, B.J. and his sister (?) are reunited. So that's a good thing.




A little break for
Wacky Fun With That Cop

I hope Heather and Caroline had a lot of fun adventures. I would have watched the show. (Although, why B.J. went to Texas to recruit two detectives to go to Los Angeles, when he could have just hired an LA detective stymies me. But, some days, I get stymied easy. I need some B.J. voice-over to lead me out of this.)

"Dan finished his review and decided it was time to put up the results. But first, he posted a few more screenshots from the end of the episode. Then, he put a caption on them."

Thanks, BJ. Does your sister have a boyfriend?

 Rescuing Shauna
 Shauna in the trunk!
Never have two people been so happy to find a
live body in the trunk of a car
Bye, Ladies.

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