Tuesday, August 7, 2018

BJ and the Bear S3 E8: For Adults Only

Originally aired on March 10, 1981
Directed by Daniel Haller
Written by Tom Sawyer

Hatsie and Fred Tipton are having their home foreclosed and are being forced to move into a retirement community. BJ is sent to help them move. But he's taken hostage by the Tiptons, who are big on ordnance. The situation is eventually diffused. The Tiptons are sent to the community. BJ befriends them. Apparently, a lot of older people in the area are being foreclosed upon and forced to move to this place. It's a grand and over complicated scheme that, of course, features Captain Grant heavily. It also features some sort of illegal porno ring on the grounds of the community itself. BJ helps the Tiptons get some missing money back, stops the porno ring and gets everybody their houses! (If I'm remembering everything correctly.)

 It's The Tiptons!

Does BJ ever get a haul that doesn't
involve something like this?
If so, I don't wanna know!

Let me start with this: I really enjoyed this episode. It felt like first season BJ and the Bear to me. BJ is doing a job on his own when he gets mixed up in somebody else's business. There are crooked cops, crooked businessman, people who need saving, crazy car chases and everything is all right in the end. Grant and Steiger are featured in this one but they're not annoying. The seven lady truckers are all underused here (or not used at all) but it's OK. This sort of episode really doesn't fit this format anymore. If they're introducing all these characters and having BJ settle down, that should be the focus of episodes. They should be getting developed as episodes go by. This episode has another agenda. And it's fun.

Guess which one is the porno director and
which one is the businessman whose name I've forgotten

The Tiptons are annoying at first. But, they grew on me. BJ seems taken with them. They probably remind him of his parents. (Hey, do you all remember BJ's sister? Yeah, I don't either.) There is a scene where they are trying to bust into some business/ government guy's office to get back $23,000 that was taken from them for nefarious reasons. (They wind up with a lot more. Grant's slush fund, in fact.) Fred rigs an explosive on the lock and it blows the door of its hinges. The smoke and the chaos and their reactions are actually funny. (Maybe not laugh out loud but certainly worth a smile.) Plus, their reactions in BJ's truck during the final chase are great.


The final chase is a really nicely down one between lots of cop cars and BJ's rig. But, instead of out in the middle of nowhere as per most chases on this show, it's on the streets of Los Angeles. It looks like it's somewhere near LAX or the beach. And it's really nicely done. There's plenty of Lobo-style car crashes, which I missed. It always astounds me how quickly that big rig moves. There are some rather harrowing moments with every vehicle hurtling around through the busy city. And then there's the train scene. The chase is running along some train tracks with a train approaching. In one shot, the rig shoots across the tracks and the train just misses it. It's a great shot. I watched it several times. Best moment of the episode.

I love a good car chase

There are two drawbacks to the episode, which, frankly, you may not consider drawbacks at all:

1) It's one of those episodes that starts of by setting up its world and the situations in it very slowly, regardless of hostage situations. Most shows of this time (well the 50s through the early 90s) did episodes like this. The Tiptons are being evicted. BJ shows up and gets involved. We learn about everything going wrong. Things begin picking up the pace. Moving faster and faster towards the end! BJ is great but at this point his character has kind of stagnated. He's not like Jim Rockford who will be sarcastic or have something funny to do to keep the interest while the story is building. He's not like Columbo with all his quirks and special style. BJ is a good looking heroic guy who has some brains and brawn. And that's it. So until the story really gets going (by about halfway in) one might find the episode a touch dull. The second half is anything but dull, however.
Hey! You forgot to use a lot of us in this episode!
And wait, there are seven of us, right?

2) The plotting in this is wayyyyy too overcomplicated. Real estate grabs, evicting elderly couples, slush funds, strange retirement communities, illegal porno rings, confusing government officials and businessmen plus the appearances of the seven lady truckers on occasion. It's too much. It's unnecessary over-plotting. I watched it twice and still feel like I missed something. When you watch it, just remember who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Keep your focus strong. In the end, every little thing will be all right.
Focus on the big red rig

I have to ask something about the porno production and BJ's response to it. BJ and Stacks sneak in and see what's going on. Then, they leave and BJ incorporates shutting the production down into his elaborate plan. OK, fine. Earlier, however, the director says to Grant that he's been forced to hire "teenyboppers" and if they get caught it's a felony. So, the implication is that they're using underage performers.* That needs to be stopped. Immediately. Why does BJ leave then? I know he's got a grand plan but if there are underage performers in there, they have to be saved. A hero shouldn't be leaving people in distress like that because his plan hasn't fully coalesced. I'll give BJ the benefit of the doubt here. I will say that there are too many people for him to take care of by himself. He makes a decision and his plan is the best way. (Why didn't he call the police then to help the "teenyboppers"? Knock it off, Dan. Benefit of the doubt!)

Shouldn't this be more fun for everyone?
Or, in fact, anyone?

Overall, a fun episode. It gets better as it goes along to the point where you forget that it starts off kind of just OK. Pardon the vagueness of some of my plot points here. The moment I started to feel confused, I just turned off my mind and went along for the ride.

Oh, in case you were wondering: Stacks does almost end up in the porno. BJ saves the day.

Well, here's another nice mess he's gotten her into

*What is going on with that scene where two of the (I imagine) "teeny bopper" actresses pull up to the porno building and leave their car dressed only in lingerie? They look like they're waiting for Benny Hill to run by. Is that meant to show they're young and naive? Frankly, it looks like the most gloriously gratuitous cheesecake the show's ever given us.

I don't get this scene
Ohhhhhh, now I do...

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