Monday, May 9, 2016

BJ And The Bear S2 E3: Cain's Cruiser

Originally aired on October 13, 1979
Directed by Christian I. Nyby II
Written by Robert L. McCullough

(As always, for some reason, I can't the screenshots to stop stretching. Sorry about that.)

Note: There is a new trucker introduced here named Frenchie. He wears a beret.

Second note: I believe Glen A. Larson was given a set of "Comedy Incidental Music" albums for a birthday. And, to possibly save some money, he had the editors score this episode and the two before it with tunes from those records. The wacky music here really has gone through the roof. Almost everything is scored with "wah wah wah" or dippy music...  even moments that shouldn't be "wacky."

 Erin Grey in the Proto-KITT

Erin Grey plays Samantha, an engineer who has designed the most technologically advanced, indestructible police cruiser. It's sort of KITT from Knight Rider but it looks clunkier and it doesn't talk. But, it does everything else. It goes through brick walls. It goes very, very fast. It can monitor tire pressure, vital signs and heartbeats on the people that it follows...  But, it's very expensive and the company who made it needs to sell one now. So, Sam and Mr. Morley, the company rep, go to Bishop County, where the police force is run by the notorious Captain Cain, played by Ed Lauter.


Cain is a 100% by the book officer who overspends hilariously to make sure his county has the finest everything. He is continually harassing the truckers who go through his county, including a young man name B.J. and his best friend Bear. He's also after a trucker who is hauling illegal aliens up "from the Gulf." (The episode keeps calling these people "aliens." My wife expected to see actual X-Files-style aliens. Their terminology may be very topical but it's slightly misleading.) He signs a lease on the Super Cruiser and begins Super Harassing the truckers, including Frenchie, a guy named Cooper and Tommy, the only one of the "7 Lady Truckers" who remains from the season opener.

 Super Car, outside and in

Yes, Country Comfort is back! And they still play terrible Eagles-esque soft rock all the time. (At one point, BJ says "Bear's favorite tape" and pops in The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975. Bear is a chimp though. So I don't expect him to have good taste in music.) Bullets shows up. As mentioned, Janet Louise Johnson's character Tommy shows up. But, that's it. All the other characters are new ones that we won't see again. That seems a little odd to me. Out of the--  how many? 10, 12--  however many characters they introduced in the last 2-parter, only Bullets and Tommy are back? It seems odd.

 At the Country Comfort hot tub
 "I was just in a hot tub with Erin Grey!"

Cain is clearly ruthless when it comes to ticketing these truckers. In fact, he has to be because the county doesn't have the budget for the cruiser so everyone has to increase their ticket quota. Sam becomes disgusted by Cain and goes to visit BJ at Country Comfort...  in the hot tub...  in a bikini. BJ has great times. A lot of great times. They arrange an elaborate scheme to get the cruiser from Cain and catch the trucker hauling the "aliens." And it is one of those epic chase sequences where they break about 20 or 30 laws but everything's fine in the end. I'm going to refer to the law in these scenes as being "Larson's Law." You're under his jurisdiction now. And things are illegal until they're not.

The episode is pretty standard BJ and the Bear fun. It has action, beautiful women, mean sheriffs, good looking BJ and lots of shots of cars and rigs on dusty, dusty roads. Cain is a formidable character who may be incredibly overzealous but, unlike Lobo and Wiley & The Fox, he's not doing anything illegal. I applaud them trying to top load as many Lobo replacements as they could in the show. Is it repetitive? Well, yes. of course it is. Could it all be the setup for something bigger down the line? Possibly.

 Popsicle Time!

To me, the most fascinating thing about this episode is the geography of everything. So...  BJ passes through Bishop County a lot. Mention is made of the "aliens" coming up from the Gulf. Cain says that a truck filled with the "aliens" was spotted near New Orleans and is going to be passing through Bishop County. So, apparently, Bishop County is near New Orleans. But, Bishop County is a desert-like, dusty place, which doesn't fit being near New Orleans. It looks more the Southwestern United States (maybe in the Los Angeles area). On top of that, the truckers are all able to get to Country Comfort very easy at the end of the day. So, Country Comfort is near Bishop County, which might be near New Orleans.  And, Wiley & The Fox's jurisdiction is near Country Comfort also because they visit the truck stop at the start of the previous episode.

 All's well that ends with cuddles

They go out of their way to be unhelpful on this, apart from the mention of New Orleans and the Gulf. When Tommy is given a ticket, she holds her thumb over the address of the courthouse. So, this is conjecture. It seems odd thought that the past three episodes take place, apparently, in such close proximity. In Season 1, BJ and Bear seemed to travel all over the country (except when they kept ending up in Orly County). Now, things have apparently changed. I'm interested to see how the rest of the season will play out. Is this nitpicking? Sure. Is that the point of doing reviews like this? Absolutely.

So, we have a new Sheriff on the show. We see some reoccurring characters. And, Bear gets to do some stuff here, well, mainly he plays pinball and gets to kiss a lady at the Country Comfort bar. Bear has great times too.

End it with some Erin

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