One last time!
Originally aired on May 9, 1981
Directed by David G. Phinney
Teleplay by Tom Sawyer and Robert L. McCullough & Michael Halperin
Story by Tom Sawyer
Grant frames Samantha, Angie and Stacks for a 2 million dollar bank robbery. BJ gradually uncovers that there is an investigation about to occur at SCAT and Grant may get in trouble. So, Grant, with the help of some strippers he has under his thumb, committed the robbery and is planning on running away with the money. BJ enlists the help of Lt. Steiger to help him stop Grant for one final time.
That's a whole lot of set-up for about two minutes of show
And yet, Stacks
I know that BJ and the Bear was one of the shows that the Moral Majority had the biggest problem with. This might be the episode they were thinking of. Lots of women in bikinis, strippers and a woman in lingerie near the end who actually tops all the other women that have been in every episode of this show in terms of "Holy Moley!" The whole time that this pulchritude is going on the episode is trying to make itself feel like it is the Last Episode. It is and it mostly succeeds.
It's a little tough to see...
But, the gals are watching themselves run by
This is one of those TV shows where the bad guy keeps getting away with it even when the good guy always wins. Lobo never got in more than a little trouble when he was on the show. Wiley and the Fox never got in trouble. But, surprisingly, Grant - SPOILER!!! - gets caught in the end. The final chase for BJ and his rig is against the small plane that Grant is trying to escape in. When he gets caught, definitively, it is a weird moment. It's not the sort of thing that happens in this show and, because this is the last episode, it is appreciated. I wonder if the strange writer credit has something to do with this. Maybe Tom wrote the original script with Grant getting away. Then, seeing the writing on the wall, Mike and Bob re-wrote it to bring that plotline to a conclusion. If the show had continued, Steiger could have taken Grant's place. Maybe? Maybe.
The episode itself is a decent ending to the series. It has a feeling of darkness to it that hasn't been here for a while. The stripper that Grant recruits has a definite sadness to her. Grant's exploiting of her comes of as maybe the sleaziest thing in the show since The Foundlings. Almost. The shot of her face as she takes off her top is significant in some way. I'm not sure exactly how but I know it is. Also, Cindy has a very final conversation with her father, Grant, which I found rather sad.. And, the fact that they can't get the gals out of jail (even with the help of Callie's Uncle Barney who's a lawyer) is a little disheartening. No one good has ever been in jail as long as the gals are here.
(Backdoor pilot for The Uncle Barney Show?)
Hey, its Deke!*
That's not to say that this is all doom and gloom. There are several scenes where Steiger and BJ set about making Grant look like the jackass that he really is. There's a bar where they rig everyone to pretend like Grant is a regular lush there. (I believe it is "Dino's Lounge.") Then, there's the WOW! lady at the motel who claims her and Grant meet up three times a week. It's a decent plan. It's slightly over-complicating things, though. I never fully understood exactly what they were up to as they simply catch Grant running away in the end. I almost feel like the "discredit Grant" plotline was meant to be written out of the final script but someone forgot.
Oh hell! It's Angry BJ
But, yeah, this last episode is kind of more concerned with everyone else and leaves BJ and Bear behind a bit. Technically, with the new format, this is probably where they should have gone with it. Putting BJ in the position of a character like The Virginian. He's omni-present but he isn't always physically present. That could have been the route for the show to go. There are so many lead characters, after all. Granted, this isn't the show I would have been terribly interested in watching but they gave it a shot here.
One last chase
Car v. Plane
And so, BJ and the Bear ends. In a very different place than where it began. But, BJ is still heroic and hunky. Bear is still goofy. The rig is still awesome. Sometimes they still do trucking stuff! But, the new format never quite gelled as it should have. So, possibly, this was as good a place as any to leave Mr McKay and his best friend, Bear. They'll keep having adventures and having good times. We just won't be able to enjoy them anymore. It's sad. But, all good things....
Goodbye, BJ. Goodbye, Bear. You were thoroughly enjoyed.
Steiger got the final freeze frame?