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'Police Woman'

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Snarky's Ghost, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Well, perhaps I can lure MsTexas73 (I'll avoid using her preferred nickname for another few years) with a discussoin of the release of POLICE WOMAN's Season 3 DVD, effective December 2017.

    Before the old soapchat was murdered, our POLICE WOMAN thread became one of the longest-active threads on the site -- outlasting the actual series (which ran four years) by almost three times! With 100,000+ views!

    And at least the Season 3 DVD cover art is tons better than what they gave us for S2 -- although Angie Dickinson has now mysteriously become left-handed!:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    There are 23 episodes for Season 3 (the 1976-77 TV year).

    The Trick Book (Parts 1 and 2). A high-end madam (Dorothy Malone) who does her business in the same white brick hacienda at the top of the hill where most of L.A.'s mobsters seem to reside, is murdered in her bathtub, so Pepper goes undercover as -- shock! -- a high-end prostitute to find the madam's valuable little black book containing the names and "preferences" of her high society clinetele. When not lounging luxuriously by the pool to display her perfect middle-aged physique, Pepper sniffs around odd avenues and engages in some pre-DYNASTic "Emily Dickinson" literary referencing thanks to a script by Edward De Blasio.

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    And speaking of the pre-DYNASTic, Joan Collins is on hand (her second such POLICE WOMAN episode) as one of Malone's chic ladies-of-the-evening, a dominatrix appropriately named "Lorelei Frank". Well, of course she is. In fact, this was the first time I'd ever heard the term "sexual dysfunction" and delivered as only Joan Collins could.

    And you haven't really quite lived until you've seen I DREAM OF JEANNIE's Dr. Bellows wimpering description of his particular taste for sexual masochism.

    Meanwhile, lots of people who get their hands on the trick book keep getting knocked off, including a private eye (Jack Gilford) who could be Mark Zuckerberg's father.

    It's a leisurely, not bad installment, competently directed by Barry Shear, with a foreboding and mournful original score by Morty Stevens.

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    Tender Soldier. Tautly directed by Corey Allen, this is perhaps the best episode of the season, and has the tone and focus POLICE WOMAN should have maintained (before stumbling mid-Season 2 in a political attempt to squelch Angie Dickinson as demanded by the '70s feminists, and by producers who were mad at their star for refusing to drive an 18-wheeler --- "and they never forgave me," Angie confessed decades later). Here, Pepper is presented with just the right balance of vulnerability and experience, naïveté and wisdom, coquettishness and competence, which originally made the show work.

    A patrol cop (an incredibly nubile Mark Harmon, in his second appearance on the series, displaying that Scorpio Rising which makes him look so much like Tom Cruise) is shot down just before dawn in a Los Angeles neighborhood which turns out to be a hotbed for cult activity. Monica Dunlap (Cathey Paine), the daughter of a powerful California businessman, is arrested in a nearby safe house for the P.C.U., the People's Combat Unit -- remember, this is at the height of the post-'60s anti-establishment/Patti Hearst/SymbioneseLiberationArmy era, so it seemed timely in the autumn of 1976.

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    So Pepper poses as a mysterious counterculture activist/terrorist on the lam for years who surfaces in order to infiltrate the group.

    By the end, one wonders at first if the installment hasn't been mis-titled, until you realize the title in fact refers to Pepper herself.

    Or maybe Mark Harmon. I really don't know.
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    Trial By Prejudice. After all the flak POLICE WOMAN received from, in the parlance of the time, the "gay libbers" two years earlier following S1's excellent "Flowers of Evil" in which a trio of homicidal lesbians are murdering off the residents of a nursing home for their monthly cheques (to be fair, Pepper's line "I know what a love like yours can do to a person" didn't help matters, but back then, homosexuality was never portrayed in movies and TV as anything other than a creepy mental derangement -- even when the script was attempting to be panderingly supportive) this new S3 episode attempts to correct the political incorrectness of the former by establishing that Pepper ain't no bigot --- sort of.

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    During a midnight burglary Pepper and Crowley get wind of just as it's occurring, the crooks' lovely lookout (Carol Lynley, just beginning in her trek of increasing girthiness) gives Pepper a kiss on the cheek in the squad car and then starts screaming "rape!" (I thought women never lied about these things). Pepper is accused of, and suspended for, lesbian molestation of a female suspect, and with the department cowering over its image, it's up to Pepper and Crowley alone to defend Pepper's reputation and career.

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    Well, Pepper and Crowley and Crowley -- Patricia Crowley, that is, who was once Pepper's roommate at the police academy who'd had a major crush on her fellow cadet, and then moved out once Pepper suggested it might be "more comfortable" if she did so... Okay, so Pep's not quite as progressive as we'd like to believe. (In "Flowers of Evil," Angie gives a great speech -- "I know what a love like yours can do to a person" notwithstanding -- which suggests that it was her roommate in college who'd had the hots for perky Leann Anderson... I wish they'd have aligned these things, or at least have Pepper confess to Bill that she'd fibbed about where the attraction had happened in order to protect Lady Crowley's anonymity. But they don't. And who knows? -- maybe all Pepper's roommates can't keep their hands off of the bacharach table).

    Anyway, Pepper kills Lynley and gets arrested. Then she selflessly tries to prevent Lady Crowley, whose help has been enlisted by Sergeant Crowley, from testifying that Pepper ain't no lesbo and thus endangering Lady Crowley's new career where's she's in the closet out of necessity.

    Fairly daring for 1976 TV.

    Another good original score By Morton Stevens.

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    Poor, exhausted, dead-eyed Angie. Like one Crowley isn't enough...
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  3. Snarky's Ghost

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    In Sarah Who? we learn that Meredith Baxter still-Birney's roommate has been murdered at knife point, and that Baxter, a lady cop and the daughter of Sergeant Crowley's dead partner, may have been the intended target.

    The mousy girl who played Joan Crawford's abused daughter and Starsky and Hutch's mentally retarded friend who gets raped is now a rookie who queries Pepper as to whether or not Crowley and MBB are a romantic item.

    As they bury Sarah, the equally mousy dead roommate, a suspicious-looking man in period-funky garb looks on from a distance. At one point, Pete and Joe engage in one of the series' better car chases as they track him down: it's a young Edward James Olmos who, as it turns out, lost custody of his children due to Sarah's prosecution of him.

    Olmos has an alibi. It must really be MBB that the killer's after.

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    At first, Baxter seems sympathetic until we learn she's rude to waiters and service-people and that's why she deserves to die. The department captures the villain in a scene shot on a heartbreakingly beautiful Summer of '76 day down at the docks, though Angie is pushed to the back of the line and virtually shoved out of camera range so the men can do what men do: chase each other and beat each other up. But we've gotten used to that, haven't we?

    Jerrold Immel of future DALLAS fame provides his second, eerily forlorn original score for POLICE WOMAN.

    ------

    In a tip of the hat perhaps to HONEY WEST, Anne Francis guest stars in Broken Angels where she plays a brittle, burned-out, streetwise agent of the LAPD child abuse unit whose investigation into Robert Walden's beating up his offspring overlaps with the Criminal Conspiracy division's latest drug case. So Angie gets to wear a peekaboo evening gown. But scuzzy horse-addicted Walden has connections, so the call goes out to waste Afton Cooper's mom, a suspected alcoholic, and she's nearly blown up in a car after a staged accident. And then Pepper gets to shoot somebody.

    Yet it's Pepper's hair at the hospital which is the angel that's really broken in this one. And it doesn't survive.

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    Well-directed by Corey Allen, with a great jazzy score from Jerrold Immel.

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    -------

    In Brainwash, after a teenaged boy is found dead on the beach, Pepper investigates a shady but expensive rehab house for naughty kids who refuse to behave run by creepy James Olson. Judy Carne has a thankless cameo as a social worker. Inevitably, Pepper's ruse as an author is exposed when the photo on the back of her latest book looks nothing like Angie Dickinson, and she's kidnapped and held in mind-melting isolation until the boys can find her.

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    Good original score from Richard Shores (though supplemented by stock cues from other composers as they used to do until the musicians' union sued in 1980).
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  4. Snarky's Ghost

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    The Lifeline Agency. When Pepper and Crowley discover the wife of a fellow cop among the wreckage of a small plane crash, the duo go undercover as a dizzy rich couple out to purchase a black market baby. But the doctor running Buy A Baby Island recognizes Pepper from an earlier arrest, so she gets to shoot somebody else and Crowley drives a boat... An okay-ish episode, competently helmed by Corey Allen.

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    Tennis Bum. While working undercover at a resort, Pepper becomes romantically involved with a tennis pro and suspect (Alex Cord) who turns out to be an undercover cop his own bad self (which, for some reason Pepper must never know!). And Pep reveals herself to a nightclub singer (who actually delivers a horrible rendition of the unavoidably horrible lounge lizard classic "Feelings") to be a Virgo, after previously claiming to be a Scorpio and a Gemini -- so her horoscopic configuration apparently adjusts with each assignment, just in case she gets recognized... Slow episode might have worked better if Angie weren't so subdued and nervous... Good, windswept freeze frame at the end which seems to be lifted from the program they ought to be making.

    Bait. A series of campus rapes leads Pepper to give a clunky speech at a sorority house about how lounging around in your bikini by the pool might lead a pervert on, so don't do it. The pledge sisters all go to a window to verify that girls indeed lay by pools in bikinis and must be asking for rape to happen. (Wherever the line exists between political incorrectness and backsliding sexism, this series seems determined to menstruate all over it). And after interrogating a handful of suspects, Pepper, fully dressed, is confronted by the rapist in an empty building and suddenly forgets she's a trained police officer and just starts to cry. Thank goodness the men show up. But it's a case of climactic interruptus: after all that build-up, the thug is just shoved against a wall and collapses ... Flaws aside, the installment almost works.

    The Death of a Dream. Listening to the police radio back at the station as Crowley and the team transfer a former '60s militant whose followers suddenly try to free him from custody, Pepper then descends on the scene, is told to "shut up" and leave by Sgt. Crowley (even the ex-militant laughs at her hubris and humiliation by her boss) and then goes against orders and invades the motel where those well-armed followers are holed up, she's quickly captured, she narcs on one of the thugs who'd mercifully allowed her to run through an alley without shooting her, bombs are detonated, and Crowley and the department now have to save Pepper, too, in addition to several hostages... Decent episode, but why are they making Pepper so stupid? Good original score by Morton Stevens.

    For some reason, the bikini shots of girls on the walls of the van Crowley and the team is using to observe the motel in question have been blurred on the DVD prints in perhaps a gesture of latter day political correctness.

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    Father to the Man. A sassy preteen girl (Kim Richards) is picked up while walking home from school by the friend of her father whose head is blown up by a shotgun from a passing car, a shot intended for her dad. Pepper and company realize the murder is a case of mafioso mistaken identity, but that sassy girl just won't tell them where to find Daddy so the cops can protect him. The dialogue is pathetic. Interesting use of locations, but Angie just sits around quietly as Crowley says and does everything. Eventually, everyone winds up at the beach where the goons have the daughter, Pops is lured there in a stolen hatchback with a baby in the backseat in an unsubtle attempt at irony, a couple of guys get shot including Daddy, and Pepper embraces the girl and says something maudlin which doesn't work before the frame freezes and fades to black... A good example of how the show is now taking decent ideas and making flat, dumb and pointless episodes out of them. To be fair, the problem here is the lousy pubescent actress who sinks every scene she's in. Paging Jodie Foster.

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    Once a Snitch. Pepper's favorite informant since Patty Duke was knocked off, "the Black Widow" (Paula Kelly), makes her third annual appearance on the show when someone attempts to murder a new police chief (Berney Casey) in a nearby township -- a new police chief who'd unknowingly fathered the Black Widow's daughter years earlier. Unavoidably, Pepper and her pal pose as hookers and are promptly arrested by Ray Krebbs and Nick Kimball for no valid legal reason. Later, the ladies are saved by the squad before the local mobsters can dust them... A pale, dull redux of Season 1's sparkling "The Company".

    [​IMG]

    Even the actresses look bored.

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    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  5. Snarky's Ghost

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    Night of The Full Moon. In one of those '70s serial-killer-hung-up-on-his-mama entries, a series of elderly women are being strangled around the city and Pepper dons a grey wig to become one of them. After a close call with the killer, she eventually intuits that her female attacker may really be a dude in drag (fragile John David Carson, pretty as a woman already, and the highschool student Angie Dickinson earlier molested in Roger Vadim's PRETTY GIRLS ALL IN A ROW). And, yes, he's still mad at his mother for dressing him up as a girl until he got out of college. Once his girlfriend, KNOTS LANDING's Lisa Hartman so green she's yet to ungarble her on-screen elocution, catches wind that he may have an alternative identity, he takes her to the mountains to asphyxiate her there. (It's all very John Davidson, he of the similar name, from that infamous STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO episode, but less embarrassing somehow). The squad catches up with them and pull Carson off of Hartman without Pepper even given the opportunity to choke him in return. Back at the station, Pepper makes an unconvincing statement about the failures of rehabilition and Crowley tells her not to sweat it. She makes a weird face, perhaps basking in irony, and the episode ends.

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    Despite a dreadful timeslot change by NBC which pushed POLICE WOMAN's ratings way down, this episode was #3 for the week in the Nielsens -- so I guess M*A*S*H must have been preempted. Or perhaps people just like pretty men dressed as ugly women.

    "You have the right to remain silent -- while I choke this chicken..."
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    Bankers Hours. A kind of sequel to Season 1's highly-rated "Sidewinder" episode in which a battalion of army buddies kept knocking off armories for their weapon stash, now that those men are in prison, their wives start dressing up as men in cycle suits and begin knocking off savings and loans, the group led by fresh-faced Mariette Hartley (credited here as "Marietta" because ever since Columbia Pictures cancelled their contract with MGM Optics to do their post-production work and titles lettering, there've been a lot of sloppy errors, including misspelled names, now that Columbia is doing this stuff in-house). Being a woman, Pepper soon realizes these dudes are dames because one of them keeps adjusting her undergarments in the bank's security footage, and the jig is up. The episode ends with the gang around a bar table making a joke about feminists not wearing brassieres.

    It's all watchable enough.

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    Disco Killer. After a blonde club singer is shot and injured over crooked business issues, Pepper poses as the girl and hangs out with her meddling mom (Ruth Roman) when the two women are whisked off by mobsters. There is little attempt to make Pepper look like the daughter, and the mother even tries to blow Pepper's cover -- which doesn't prevent Pep from rushing up and nonsensically hugging her immediately after the police confrontation which frees them. Crowley calls Pepper a "spoiled sport" when she pretends to reject his pass in the final scene and the frame freezes... Meh.

    Shadow of a Doubt. Joe Styles comes under suspicion for having a role in his ex-girlfriend's murder in an alley, which winds up endangering he and his family. By episode's end, Crowley and Pepper agree to never reveal that Joe's old flame had essentially committed suicide because her hubby was a druggie... Pedestrian at best, although Brian Dennehy is on site to sneer appropriately.

    Richard Markowitz, who never wrote a single note for POLICE WOMAN, is inexplicably credited on this stock score episode.

    The Killer Cowboys. Although I think I'd have simply entitled this "Cowboys," and the flimsy gas station crime plot which plays out in the background is a rehash of the S2 "Blaze of Glory" redneck trio dynamic, this is otherwise arguably the best love story episode the show ever did... After turning down Crowley's nocturnal invitation for a drink because she wants to watch a music special on TV (is it Sinatra??), Pepper gets a call from an old boyfriend (Frank Converse) who nudges her into meeting him instead. He's a test pilot, taking her up in gliders to court her, revealing that his wife died a terrible death from cancer a couple of years ago -- they even put Pepper's theme song to words (and got an Emmy nom for their efforts!) "Leave Me Tomorrow..." And it's also apparent to both Pepper and Crowley that Converse has come back to reclaim Pepper... Quietly directed by Alexander Singer, the episode develops nicely, the melancholy romance which can only be revisited briefly as Pepper, whose relationship to Crowley is always fuzzily non-specific, realizes her airplane inamorato is still in love with his dead wife; Sergeant Anderson's choice is made more clear once Crowley is shot, his arm badly injured, during a gas station stake-out... For some reason, this organic, wistful little installment always feels like exactly when it was shot -- the winter of '76/'77 (well, southern California's winter) and, one suspects, most like Angie. And there is a hushed closing scene I like.

    It's so strange how a series could seem so reverential of its star, and yet so dismissively contemptuous of her at the same time.

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    Shark. Dead-in-the-water entry which typifies every listless problem with mid-to-late Season 3. Angie's okay, but it's a strictly by rote entry, blandly directed by John Newland, a story about loan sharks shaking down their terrified customers, with singer Jack Jones in his best Peter Lawford hairdo making a cameo. Pepper takes out a short term loan and then participates in a pointless car ramming showdown, followed by the unit giggling over Royster's vegetarianism in a bistro.

    This program sure doesn't feel like it used to... The episodes by mid-season, with rare exception, have become so bored with themselves, so lacking in focus or energy, Angie suppressed into a near perpetual whisper and blank expression, it's almost impossible to believe that it isn't deliberate.

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    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  6. Snarky's Ghost

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    Probably the best episode from the last half of Season 3 -- and not because of anything they let Pepper do -- 'Solitaire' is tightly directed by the show's line producer, Douglas Benton. Opening quite believably in New York, a cop is killed in a liquor store hold-up, and his partner (Eugene Roche) follows those killers to Los Angeles. But while transferring the captured gunmen, a bomb explodes in the L.A. airport, and Pepper's squad has the additional task of tracking down the bomber, and recollaring the killers. They rough up a local radio guy (Corey Allen) for his anonymous tapes from the bomber, and they use those tapes to locate the culprit: an elderly man angry that the airport is expanding by buying up surrounding neighborhoods via imminent domain and forcing out the poor. Pepper is left to interrogate the bomber about where his last explosion, ready to blow, has been set, as the guys run off based on a report that the NYC gunman has been sighted at the airport once again.

    To get a sense of the contrast between early Pepper and current Pepper, and how they've squelched Angie Dickinson, compare her lame interrogation scene here in S3's "Solitaire" to the one she has at the end of S1's excellent "Flowers of Evil" (about the trio of killer lesbians). That clearly, unequivocally, shows you the problem. {EDIT: not having viewed this scene in years as it's usually cut for time in syndication, and seeing it now on DVD, I realize now it's nowhere near as lousy as I'd always remembered it}.

    Pepper arrives at the airport just in time to get a horrible close up, yell "listen to him -- there is a bomb!" and follow the show's standard pattern of having her glean an investigative clue or lead only if, once she relays it to Crowley, he's already figured it out in her absence and is three steps ahead of her.

    The NYC cop allows himself to be blown up while he has his partner's killer cornered by the airport lockers, and the cop's wife (Diana Muldaur), who's been calling from New York for days, thinks she knows why her husband is dead: he was diagnosed with cancer recently, with only a few short months to live, and at that time New York cops and their surviving family couldn't collect a pension if he dies off duty and before retirement.

    The call from The Big Apple widow now over, Angie, to her credit, hesitates in the middle of her sudsily clichéd line to Crowley about feeling like she's a better person for having briefly known the dead cop; it's a false and maudlin quip, the actress realizes it, and almost pulls it off as a result. The Catholic duo go out to light a candle for Roche.

    Solid episode which nevertheless continues the belittling of its star.

    Excellent original score by Morton Stevens.

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    Bondage. Adequate story about a murdered young woman, found by Pepper and Crowley while out riding horses, whose remains are identified as those of a kinky porno actress. The cops determine she was not the victim of a snuff film beating (her S&M studio apparently have a lousy special effects department) so Pepper naturally volunteers her services as the dead girl's de facto replacement to figure out what happened to her --- while preparing to appear in a roman orgy, Angie Dickinson is permitted to toss a chair thru a window before she has to perform sexually, and runs thru the woods at dusk in only high heels and a silky, shorty, see-thru négligée. Just like real cops do.

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    Silky Chamberlin. Con men relieve Bill Crowley's gullible uncle of his life savings, so Crowley and Pepper set up a sting in this tongue-in-cheek episode -- the one which got Cheryl Ladd cast on CHARLIE'S ANGELS within 24 hours of Aaron Spelling viewing this POLICE WOMAN installment right after Farrah Fawcett announced she was leaving ANGELS after only one year.

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    Written by producer Douglas Benton and story editor Ed de Blasio, and directed by top-notch Barry Shear, this episode has spin-off wannabe all over it. But the casting of Ladd's male partner is boringly typical of hetero male executives' judgment, and so, much like "Task Force" a year earlier (and TONI'S BOYS three years later) it didn't stand a chance of being picked up. Leaving Aaron Spelling to pick out James Darren and Miss Ladd and add them to his shlock caravan.

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    Deadline Death. A redundant title (I would have simply called it "Deadline"), a teenaged boy (Ike Eisenmann) goes after the killers who blew up his father, a reporter, with a car bomb. Crowley and Pepper take the boy in, despite his being ordered to a child care institution ("You'd never believe what goes on in those places," Crowley bemoans to Pepper) and the duo wind up suspended for that and for driving their own squad car into a ravine while chasing an arsonist.

    Pernell Roberts pops up in one of those slimy, vaguely Hitlerian roles he took on after leaving BONANZA. And the boy's final scene places his face between Angie's glowing bosoms.

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    And so much for Season 3.

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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  7. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Working backwards, this was the Season 2 (the 1975-76 year) DVD cover released five years ago:

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    Pretty mediocre cover art and, unsurprisingly, nobody seemed to like it.

    I always liked my "alternative" S2 DVD cover art better, were it to have a tad greater resolution (but I need to place a revolver in her hand, don't I?):

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    The episodes:


    "Pawns of Power" looked better on DVD than I'd ever seen it, although I hadn't seen it in ages. The episode has a crisp, clean, authority-over-itself kind of vibe that feels very much like a continuation of the latter half of Season One.

    The story starts out with Pepper undercover as a dealer/waitress in a casino on wheels --- in the back of an 18-wheeler (a scenario I hadn't seen before, and which STARSKY & HUTCH used again two years later) run by Eddie Diamond (Robert Goulet, who warbles not a note)... I find myself wondering if this was the episode in which Angie refused to drive a tractor trailer, as it seems the ideal opportunity.

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    The game is busted and Pepper gets caught in an estrogen-fueled brawl after going to jail. And the team learns from snotty Justice Department stooge Mr Moulton (Roddy McDowall) that one of their informants was killed that night by a mafia don (Syndey Chaplin, one of Charlie's sons) head of the west coast Masseria crime family.

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    To have been the best-liked guy in Hollywood, the double-phallically named Roddy McDowall plays an effectively high-handed bitch, barking orders condescendingly to the paeon locals, with no regard for the welfare of his pawns (hence, the installment's title, one supposes).

    Also, in the same episode, on the chart of Chaplin's crime syndicate are photos of the show's producers!

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    If they're killing informants, Pepper doesn't want any part of continuing the dangerous investigation. But McDowall forces her into it, using a former acquaintance of Pepper's named Teresa, who has slid into a life of prostitution, as the new snitch to replace the dead one... Gently coerced by Goulet into driving 400 miles to San Francisco to make a drop, Pepper deliberately gets a ticket so she can have the motorcycle cop who pulls her over inform Crowley back in Los Angeles where she is and what she's doing.

    After which, back in L.A., in his paneled mansion livingroom -- decorated all plush 1975 orange-orange-orange, kingpin Masseria has her slapped around for getting that ticket. But decides to let her live, for now, since the drop in Frisco went down without a hitch.

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    What's most interesting about this episode is that scene between Bill and Pepper in the darkened bedroom after she chews out an impervious Roddy McDowall for his ruthlessness. It's an odd moment for the show actually, and seems suspiciously apparent that someone is editorializing in the script, however obliquely, on the politics behind the scenes as Season 2 began filming ("It's all downhill from here, honey..."), the pressure from executives to subdue the show's lead character and the reported "downright unhappiness on the set" as a result.

    Whatever the impetus for it, brief as it is, it's one of the finest scene of the entire series. Certainly, it's the most intimate, in a strange way.

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    As Season Two commences, the series' mojo has not yet been stolen. At least not completely. The standard organized crime/Italian mobster motif of POLICE WOMAN has yet to feel tired or like a default setting for the plot. There is still an urgency, a sense of gravity to the drama, and Pepper's welfare-at-risk hasn't become a contrivance. All set to a new score, clearly by Morton Stevens in all his HAWAII FIVE-0 glory.

    But back to work. And Pepper gets caught phoning her hooker pal, Teresa, from the new casino location, and both ladies wind up in Chaplin's deadly mansion basement, only this time it's Teresa who gets the crap beaten out of her.

    Crowley and the police force move in on the mansion to save the women, and so Chaplin (having lost favor with the family back east and aware the bust is about to go down) tricks Goulet -- after a metaphoric squabble about too much oregano (there is no such thing, by the way) in the salad -- into leaving first through the front door, getting Goulet killed in the process. And no wonder. The front door looks completely different on the outside than it does inside. The disorientation would render any kingpin deposed.

    Back at headquarters, a furious Pepper submits her resignation, but is talked out of it on promises of teriyaki steak, mai tais, and fried shrimp by Crowley who also says something provocative about a fortune cookie.

    Ah, good ol' Angie... always the party girl.


    -------------


    "The Score" opens up with an angry, middle-aged landlady using her pass key to enter an L.A. apartment from where psychedelic music is blasting in the middle of the night.

    Given how he turned out, it's unsettling to see Barry Crane, the veteran producer/director of such shows as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, get his title card over the shocked face of the landlady in haircurlers peering through the doorway at the death scene inside. It's eerily reminiscent of the Season 1 episode, "Requiem For Bored Wives," featuring that other doomed Crane -- Bob -- who finds his TV wife dead in a similar fashion as he himself soon will in real life.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper forgoes a scheduled hairdresser appointment (talk about prescient moments of doom!) to interview the roommate of the young man who died, a victim of deadly "speed." Lovingly pawing his partner's belongings, the surviving roommate goes to the door and lets Pepper in. I hadn't seen "The Score" in quite a while, and had never realized that the blond dude Pepper interviews was the boyfriend of the male decedent. Funny, it's so obvious now that that was their intention, but all the hints never registered on me as such until receiving this DVD.

    Back in the day, y'know, you just couldn't be too obvious about this sort of thing. Not in 1975 television. We all remember what happened when three evil lesbians went to town on "Flowers of Evil" a year before... Sure, he's not homicidal like they were, but this is a guy!!

    [​IMG]


    Angelic Pepper, sympathetic in a tight yellow shirt, politely seduces the boy, validating him and his loss with her breathiness and brown-eyed look of love.

    The LAPD lab lady informs Pepper and Crowley that the deadly speed which is wiping out users all over town is too rich; it's uncut, and the purity fatally overloads the system.

    [​IMG]

    The team hits the streets to locate the supplier, forcing Pepper to don a midriff shirt and curly brown wig so a black man in clogs named "Astro" will sell her some chemicals. He asks her astrological sign, and Pepper responds "Gemini" (at last count, Pepper was a Scorpio, a Gemini, and a Virgo -- the latter two, only undercover).

    [​IMG]

    Perhaps due to Barry Crane, there is a somewhat organic, not overly-produced, flavor to "The Score" and it's what most of Season 2 should probably have been like. As such, portions of it feel very Summer '75.

    Turns out that the teenaged girl (who looks about 35) of the meth lab trio who are producing the lethal junk is getting nervous, guilty about the increasing deaths that they probably have caused. She can't handle it. After calling her somewhat stereotypic, rigidly mousy, Bible-thumping sister in a tight brunette bun in San Francisco (San Francisco???) who rebuffs her with the recommendation that she "pray, if you haven't forgotten how!," the girl slashes her wrists, later found by a motel manager.

    Crowley takes Pepper's usual role of lending a sympathetic shoulder and ear to the surviving sibling in a scene which still looks and feels a lot like Season One (in part because it's set to an ethereal musical cue by Richard Shores, although screen credit for this stock score episode goes to Jerrold Immel). There's no real reason for Crowley to be doing this, except that Pepper seems to want to avoid dealing with familial grief, and Earl Holliman needs something else to do.

    [​IMG]

    Quite improbably, Pepper decides to pose as the prim and puritanical sister -- if that sister were also a heaving slut -- to infiltrate the lab and the distributor. So she slips into her biggest blonde shag hairpiece they occasionally pretend is her real hair and charms her way into the heart of the lab's surly boss (Michael Constantine, fresh from ROOM 222 respectability at the time) and guides him to an airport locker to find the lost batch of speed the tormented girl mailed to the police department just before offing herself.

    Every stash in the '70s is held in an airport locker.

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    Now believing that she can help increase production with her wily fundamentlist ways and graduate degree in pharmacological chemistry from Oral Roberts University, Constantine takes Pepper (and the squad, listening to their dialogue from a microphone between Angie's breasts) to the meth lab's secret location in the valley. Unfortunately, a remaining member of the lab trio knows from photos what the sister looked like. And Pepper doesn't match the photos. Protesting not entirely convincingly ("...I'm Betty...!!") Pepper finds her wig pulled off in easily half-a-second by one of the thugs.

    Her cover mysteriously blown, the squad moves in and surrounds the lab, exchanging gunfire with the crooks. Inside, Pepper pulls the old bullsh!t TV scam of jumping through a closed window, the audience expected to pretend that no one is sliced to pieces when they do so. It was a dumb convention, a cliché, even then, and they shouldn't have done it... What's wrong with an open window -- or maybe a half-assed boarded window??

    But, no. Angie's stunt double propels herself through the breakaway glass, just in time for Pepper to escape the conflagration when the drugs and ether and bunsen burners inside erupt into a ball of hellfire and damnation, appropriately.

    Horrified he may be out of a job, Holliman rushes the flaming shack. But have no fear: Pepper appears in adorable pigtails from behind the flaming structure, giggling engagingly, "Hey, sourpuss!" and he hugs her violently, yells at her to never do that again, and exits the frame. Leaving Pete to untie Pepper's hands in the episode-ending freeze frame set to cutesy music.

    As if people weren't burning to death in the house behind them even as they guffaw. It's a decent if by-the-book entry, but ends on an obviously wrong note.


    "Miss an appointment with my beautician -- are you insane??"
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    ------------


    'Paradise Mall' The third episode of Season Two, the ironically-titled "Paradise Mall," gives us one of the earlier motiveless-psycho-on-the-warpath-killing-foxy-babes plotlines which became so ubiquitous in '70s television before the medium developed a sociological curiosity about the humanity of the maniac.

    Up through the end of this decade at least, they're all just whacked-out horndogs rebuffed by another hot chick. Oh, and their mother probably messed 'em up --- if the script even gets into anything that personal.

    [​IMG]

    Helmed by Alvin Ganzer -- for a while, one of the show's better directors, "Paradise Mall" is the series' first fully-macabre installment (I'm not sure S1's "Warning: All Wives" really qualifies) complete with creepy music courtesy of DALLAS' Jerrold Immel, and close-ups of the killer's face with only the eyes illuminated by a narrow band of light.

    A wedding gown boutique is robbed in the middle of the night and a number of bridal veils are taken, followed by various bodies of young blondes popping up dead around the city -- one washes up under the boardwalk at the beach -- all the corpses donned in those veils.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, one of the detectives working on the case, Tom Foley (James Wainwright), learns his own wife is a victim of the killer. Turns out she was having an affair, his long work hours to blame. He feels responsible for what happened to her, his neglect leading to her death, and confesses his sense of guilt to Pepper over cocktails in their old stomping grounds at Barney's.

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    It's difficult to watch this episode without thinking of that THE FUGITIVE episode from eleven years earlier, the one in which David Janssen's Richard Kimble is hired by Angie Dickinson in her evil plan to set him up for the murder of her brother, Robert Duvall. Much of "Paradise Mall" appears to be shot in the same locations, the same pier, carousel chases and all.

    It's also difficult to not think of that old TWILIGHT ZONE episode, "Nightmare as a Child," in which a female character called "Helen Foley" whom Rod Serling named after his real-life gradeschool teacher (and has the same name as Detective Foley's doomed wife) has emerging childhood memories of her mother's murder at the hands of a mysterious stranger --- a TWILIGHT ZONE directed by none other than Alvin Ganzer. And given that this POLICE WOMAN entry was filmed only a week or two after Serling's 1975 death, one assumes it's a deliberate tip of the hat.

    On the trail of the crazed Paradise Mall killer, Detective Foley (Wainwright) roughs up one scruffy-looking suspect (Gavan O'Herlihy) who, despite his seedy, goofball exterior, turns out to be nobody's fool.

    [​IMG]

    While interviewing strippers in their club at the pier, Pepper -- in a protective wig which is, inexplicably, blonde -- catches the eye of handsome, wiry Bruce Boxleitner, an embittered fry cook who works in a nearby greasy spoon. He pops up in the backseat of her car (why lock your vehicle and wear a brown hairpiece just because a crazed lunatic is killing lady towheads in the middle of the night??) and pulls a switchblade on Pepper, confusing her for the blonde girl who he thinks jilted him, forcing her to drive somewhere... But before they can get far, Wainwright -- whom Crowley ordered off the case -- pops up out of nowhere, saves Pepper from the murderer, and shoots butcherknife-bearing Boxleitner before Bruce can blade another babe.

    But not all is what it seems. O'Herlihy, half-lit, wanders into the police station while Pepper is there late, apparently composing her reports, and tells her that Wainwright, while tossing him around, had gotten the number of missing bridal veils wrong by exactly one... He's figured out that Wainwright killed his own wife, and is letting Pepper in on the scam.

    Gently confronting Wainwright in his apartment, Pepper learns that he'd known all about his wife's affairs, had struck her during a fight, killing her accidentally, then pinned the blame on the bridal veil killer... Excusing himself to change clothes before his arrest, he slips into his bedroom as Crowley arrives, Pepper making the common error of cops when arresting one of their own of not confiscating his weapon first.

    [​IMG]

    Crowley bangs on the bedroom door and then, gun drawn, he and Pepper burst in to see ..... Wainwright ..... holding his holstered service revolver, deep in thought, sitting beside his and his wife's wedding photo (which appears to have been taken last Tuesday), pulling the weapon out. And the frame freezes on Angie and Earl, who seem to relax once through the door.

    Say, what???

    This scene reeks of something being switched. Everything about the scene seems to be leading to his off-camera suicide. And yet it ends in a ridiculously ambiguous, sell-out kind of way... Given the pressure on the show from the network at the outset of the filming of Season Two, had the NBC brass become that paranoid about any additional controversy POLICE WOMAN might generate? How much of an edge did they now want this once-edgy show to avoid? You'd seen suicides on television occasionally even then, if not often, but networks have irrational, quixotic judgment when they're trying to avoid the negative attention of various pressure groups.

    Almost everybody I know who's seen this episode winds up with the same instinct about this final moment: it's just weird.


    Another point of curiosity is that "Paradise Mall" (along with two other early S2 episodes) has a new, dynamically funky orchestration to the opening theme. It’s fabulous, and markedly different. It sounds orange and purple...



    But they quickly dropped this, too, after only three episodes, reverting to the original opening theme orchestration from Season One... What gives? While the original S1 version of Morton Stevens' POLICE WOMAN theme was great and basic, why were they so afraid to switch it to something new for Season Two? Especially when it was such a hot, effective new spin on the tune? If it had been weak, then one could understand the decision.

    Yet it seems another example of how the show was both afraid to go forward and yet forced to leave its best elements from its first year behind.

    ------------

    In "Pattern for Evil" (the show likes the word "evil" in their titles) the brutalizing of fashion models and sabotage of haute couture inventory signal an attempted organize crime takeover of the industry on the west coast.

    It also signals an opportunity for Pepper to show off her perfect middle-aged physique.

    [​IMG]

    Free-lance Pepper is soon hired by the Tibbets, a nice couple from "the only Carolina" but who play their cards close to their chests.

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    On her breaks, Pepper wanders around High End Model High Rise in L.A., cracking jokes about Pete's vegetarianism and calling him "Mr Okra" whenever a suspicious-looking guest star spies them together and wants to hire her... Apparently, trolling the food court is how you get work in California.

    [​IMG]

    At her apartment, Pepper uses Pete as a live model for a new gown "because we're the same size" and the viewer has to look away from Pete's crotch, clearly not the same size at all. Bill says that if his ex-wife "looked that good, I wouldn't have divorced her!" and everybody laughs.

    Having overheard a tense phone exchange with the Tibbets ("...it's New York") Pepper intuits this may be where the trouble is coming from. So Crowley and Joe Styles hop a jet to The Big Apple and as soon as they're met by the NYPD at the airport, blow Pepper's cover by bragging that they've got her "duked in" as a model back in Los Angeles. They are overheard.

    It's snowing in Fun City, and the mostly interior scenes are fairly convincing. Bill and Joe hover around a desk in a shabby, crowded office and make macho jokes and KOJAK dialogue with the locals. There, they learn that Pepper's boss, Mr Tibbet, is the grandson of aging east coast mob boss Gregory Essex, the younger man wanting no part of the family business after being shot in the leg a decade earlier during an assassination attempt on his grandpop, the godfather of gourmet garments.

    Unfortunately, armed with this data, Pepper and Pete make the error of requesting the Tibbets' presence for a police station interview, to see if they're knowledgeable about any of the recent rash of crimes; tight-lipped, the couple suggest their lawyer be contacted instead, and then leave. But it's too late. Their visit to the cops does not go unnoticed -- and a mafia thug follows them out of a parkinglot and chases them down, attempting to careen them into the L.A. sewer system.

    [​IMG]

    It's a pretty dramatic action sequence for TV at the time, although imperfectly edited (we see the Tibbets' rear window having been blown out with a shotgun before it's actually blown out with a shotgun) and once the hitmen succeed in hitting the gas tank and the car explodes, Mrs Tibbet (who is driving) turns into a heavy-set, middleaged man with hairy arms, gloves and a wig, the doomed couple flying into a concrete crevace of untreated waste and death.

    But enough poetry.

    Well, Mrs Tibbett isn't quite dead yet. Burned from head to toe and in an oxygen tent, she tells Pepper whatever she can about the filthy business, their estrangement from Grandpa Essex, and even identifies the driver of the other car as a heavy who'd visited their shop on several occasions menacingly. Once outside of the wife's hospital room, Pete informs Pepper that the husband has succumbed to his traumatic wounds, leading Pepper to moan that's she's now got to go back in and tell Mrs Tibbett that hubby is dead (I think I'd ask the doctors first, Sergeant Anderson).

    Pepper foolishly goes against Crowley's orders and goes back on the job. But it's her unit co-workers who once again blow her cover when Pete calls in the middle of a private client showing (Pepper does a good model "spin" in her tangerine chiffon ensemble) to tell her that the creep they're looking for -- an ugly, obese and kinda homo-looking dude (that's the pattern for evil which tells you he's the bad guy from his first scene) who works with Essex's crooked lawyer who has taken over the family enterprise -- is now one of Pep's new bosses.

    Naturally, the creep in question is listening in on the phone. He confronts her in the changing room, and Pepper makes stilted accusations, "dumb questions from a dumb cop?," which frankly kinda are. With the new restrictions on Angie's vocal delivery, much of the edge is gone, so her comments do indeed sound kind of silly.

    But she looks fab, so who cares.

    [​IMG]

    One of the things I like about this reasonably tight episode is all the 1975 orange. Orange-orange-orange. Even the highrise hallway which the ugly thug forces her down at gunpoint is striped multiple shades of orange, with a passing extra dressed in an outfit to match. Pete and his team arrive just in time to chase Pepper and Mug Face around one of those sunstreaked L.A. rooftops the series seems so fond of, the audience asked to ignore the fact that Angie Dickinson looks like she could disarm and wrestle Mug Face to the floor in about three seconds by herself.

    [​IMG]

    It's like asking us to believe that Blake Carrington could easily rough-up and ravish linebacker Linda Evans against her will and with little force. So it's all suspension of disbelief.

    And, again, she does look fabulous: orange dress, golden hair, yellow sunshine, Angie in full-hyperventilation mode so you'll know she's scared, Pete in an fuzzy orange suit trying to save her from Mug Face.

    One thing that doesn't look so good are the cops accompanying Pete, who look exactly like extras who just got a non-speaking bit part on this week's show, unconvincing in their spontaneous regulation firing poses.

    When Pepper sees Pete with a high-powered rifle aiming from a nearby spire (Charlie Dierkop really does look like he might fall to his death at any moment) she's suddenly imbued with the moral conviction to push her assailant away, presumably to make the way clear for Pete to shoot -- which Pete does, but her heroics seem a bit late and probably weren't necessary as Mug Face was clearly in Pete's crosshairs anyway.

    But it's drama.

    Later at LAX, Pepper and Royster meet Crowley's and Styles' plane, at which point Joe makes jokes about Pete being a cross-dresser and Crowley makes jokes about Joe Namath's predilection for pantyhose. And Pepper puts on a funny hat.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  8. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    'The Chasers' (but perhaps they should have called this one "The Perils of Pepper").

    On her way to Scottsdale, Arizona for vacation, Pepper briefly calls Crowley from a pay phone to taunt him with again not telling him her destination for fear he’ll follow her.

    Seconds later, Pepper "foils" a purse-snatching by getting knocked-down in a parking lot, falling into a fountain pool, and her obvious stunt double getting hit by a truck and collapsing on the pavement.

    On vivid DVD, it’s more evident that the shoppers at I. Magnin’s are bemused at the brouhaha --- Angie Dickinson from TV wrestling a teenaged boy over a handbag.

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    I recall Angie discussing with Johnny Carson on THE TONIGHT SHOW the filming of this moment, when a passerby who thought it was a real crime chased the boy down and retrieved the purse, and they then had to explain they were shooting a movie. Angie being Angie, she swooned to Carson, “...and we just luvvvvved him for it!”. But how embarrassing!

    A gang of insurance swindlers, “ambulance chasers,” led by Ida Lupino and Ian McShane, when not trolling emergency rooms, spend their free time around their office belittling an aging, alcoholic lawyer (Edward Andrews) who helps them with the legal dirty work. They also agree that Roman Washington (Paul Benjamin) the guy who considers himself “the Leonardo” who sets up the fake car wrecks they rely on to pay the bills, be denied his request at full partnership in their little criminal agency.

    They seem rather ugly people.

    In the hospital with a rag on her head and having regained consciousness, Pepper overhears the ambulance chasers pressuring other patients on the ward to sign with their firm, then acts clueless when Hilda Morris (Lupino) sets her sights on her.

    Out of the hospital, Pepper is awaken early one morning with the sound of something breaking downstairs, followed by the whirr of the vacuum cleaner. Descending her townhouse steps with her service revolver drawn, she finds Bill, making himself to home. Refusing to leave, Bill sets her down on her own couch and offers her a breakfast of sugar cookies and bad coffee, ostensibly to discuss what they’re going to do about the insurance scammers –- but he’s really just trying to find out where she’s going on vacation (if she ever gets to go at all).

    Was there really enough cause to mount a major investigation at this point?

    Regardless, this scene can be overheard in the background during a night scene in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Which is nice.

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    Pepper arrives at the L.A. mall office of Mr Markson (McShane) and charms him into instantly telling her all his secrets, she’s just so frikkin’ attractive. Much to Lupino’s warranted chagrin. And, just as fast, a security guard quite unconvincingly blows Pepper’s cover in the parking lot by insisting he hadn't seen her since he retired from the force--- all within earshot of repressed and bitchy Ida.

    Exposed but seemingly unaware, Pepper still thinks she's undercover despite being told by the suicidal lawyer that they're onto her. And, in 1970s TV cop tradition, the revelation that she's got a badge doesn't guide the crooks to get out of town but instead to kill her with a drum of gasoline in the trunk of a car, despite the additional legal scrutiny this would invite. When she tells the driver, Washington, they're being set up for death, this being a ‘70s cop show, he simply pushes her out the car door onto the street and then angrily drives into oblivion, intent on completing is assignment.

    [​IMG]

    After being scraped off a side street where she was dumped, Pepper joins Bill and the squad as they chase Washington onto the highway where, instead of causing the planned fender-bender, Washington (and the two bums in the backseat) find themselves exploding into smithereens after tricking a couple of dithery little old ladies in a station wagon into back-ending them.

    Washington having threatened to take his telephone tapes to the authorities if not given a full partnership, Ida and Ian had hoped to kill two birds with one stone with this accident. But Pepper has escaped.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper then goes to Washington’s apartment to inform his wife Myrna (Vivian Bonnell) of the disaster, that very same minute the new widow coincidentally en route to the police station to tell the cops all about her dead husband’s activities (and those of his homicidal friends). Once entering Mrs Washington’s home, Pepper promptly gets shoved into a closet and the room is set on fire by a stooge from the firm in search of Washington’s revealing tapes.

    But fear not: Crowley being Crowley, he arrives just in time, shooting the arsonist, and breaking Pepper out of the closet in the back of the smoke-filled room. He then has time to bake a cake over the flames, he's just so able-bodied.

    Mrs Washington then meets Lupino in the darkened mall, intent on exchanging her late husband’s stack of audio cassettes for 10,000 dollars cash. Never generous by nature, Lupino instead knocks Myrna over the head, grabs the tapes, and then starts shooting at any badge that moves; Pepper being Pepper, she has no gun.

    It takes an unconscious person on the floor, Myrna Washington, to stop near-elderly Lupino by tripping her and causing her to fall. The brittle con queen is promptly arrested, but not before Mrs Washington gets a few licks in.

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    Pepper and Crowley show up at a fancy restaurant (this is the ‘70s, so "fancy" means no paper napkins) and arrest McShane who’s dining with a Senator, a close personal friend. Weaseling out of buying Pepper dinner, Crowley makes a joke about his wearing a bikini, and the show ends.


    This is the first episode where I remember thinking that something was now wrong with the series.

    Barry Shear is one of their better directors and it's still breezy enough, but the Pepper-As-Incessant-Victim pattern is now arising –-- yes, there are plenty of taut action sequences, but all of them serve to diminish Pepper in some way, deliberately or not: the initial purse-snatching scene doesn’t make her look all that accomplished, but any arising issues about her competence are accentuated by her later being shoved out of a car effortlessly when she proves unable to articulate just why the impending planned accident is “a set up,” immediately followed by her need to be helped off the sidewalk by Pete (who has to jump out of another car to do so) though she’s essentially uninjured; and then there’s her foolishly-easy imprisoning in that apartment closet, unable to fight off her assailant almost at all, as she’s dragged thirty feet from the front door and spends what seems like several minutes yelling, “Let me out –- let me out of this place!!” sounding more like an indignant housewife than the professionally-trained police officer she supposedly is, with only Crowley, emerging from the patrol car several floors below, to save her from the flames after noticing smoke billowing from a window he correctly assumes from experience must be Pepper’s present location; and finally, that night fight at the shopping pavilion, during which Pepper never draws her weapon at any point, despite Ida Lupino spraying the architecture with hot lead –- even shooting directly at Pepper herself.

    Any one of these might be tolerable in a single installment – but all of them??

    Is this the tough, raspy-voiced, steely lady cop –- coquettish but capable -- from the previous season?

    As the undercover officer, it's reasonable that she might sometimes need to be extricated from some sticky sting operation once her identity is discovered. But guilelessly stumbling into one vat of acid after another and displaying no propensity whatsoever for self-defense just undermines the drama and insults the viewer as much as it does Angie.

    Vulnerability is one thing; complete helplessness is another!

    -----------

    "Cold Wind"

    Easily one of the better episodes of Season Two is “Cold Wind,” moodily directed by Alex Singer and one of those mature psychodrama entries which the show does well and should have defined this year more than it did.

    This is also one of only three episodes (two on DVD) which uses the new funkadelicious version of the opening theme composed for Season 2 but which was quickly discarded, that regrettable decision a metaphor for other creative problems and conflicts in the show as S2 set sail. (Yes, the original Season 1 version of the theme was terrific, but its use subsequent to the first year has always felt anachronistic.)

    “Cold Wind” begins at the Valiant Beverage company late at night when two employees are shot from cover by an unseen sniper. Quickly on the scene, Pepper and the squad begin asking around about the victims, who the suspects might be, the bitter strike dividing the workers.

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    An agitator named Ganz (John Quade, who looks like he must be related to Randy but apparently isn’t) who has issues with the two dead men is interrogated, but his alibi clears him in the killings.

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    One employee who neglected to show up for work the morning after the murders is Mort Barker (Kenneth Mars) a vulnerable, roly-poly mess of a fellow with a safety pin in his black horn rimmed glasses; he resists arrest and stammers through an excuse when Pepper and Crowley question him, until admitting he was out late the night of the killings, gambling –- an addiction he’d been treated for, and one he’s convinced his wife will leave him over if she finds out he’s again fallen off the wagon.

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    Barker’s story is not unbelievable, but he blubbers so much, Crowley feels compelled to hold him overnight -– guaranteeing his wife will indeed learn the truth.

    As incongruities build up in his story, Barker ties his hands behind himself in his jail cell and hurls his hulking frame off the top bunk and onto his head. On-screen suicides seem big this year on POLICE WOMAN. (Why, then, the odd sanitized closing to “Paradise Mall”? Perhaps it was because that one was a respectable cop we kind of knew?) Although Barker survives the fall -- for a while.

    The next suspect employee who also never showed for work the day following the shootings is Stuart Borchers (Daniel Benton, son of the show’s line producer who would appear in three additional episodes, though never as notably as in this one). Interrogated by Joe Styles, strange and wiry Stuart coolly claims his innocence, expresses a repulsion for killing, and even his polygraph testing is suspicious but inconclusive. Yet he chortles on about his favorite book, ’Le Vent Froid’ by Baudelaire.

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    Ralph L. Kelly is credited with writing “Cold Wind” but one has to assume that story editor Ed de Blasio is heavily influencing the script. This is not the first Baudelairian referencing the show has done, and there’s lots of pretentious Parisian chatter.

    Pepper reads the book at home in the nude and convinces Crowley that although Stuart Borchers has no obvious motive, he is the boy to look into.

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    Seated next to Stuart in his art class the next day, Pepper (with one of those names she uses, “Tessa”) gently charms the kid, and they wander somewhere off campus to have lunch.

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    During their flirtatious chatting over uneaten sandwiches, Pepper reveals she has a brutal ex-boyfriend, Bill, who beats her and whom she’d sometimes like to kill. She then brings up this book she once read which describes a gun murder “almost sensually” but she can’t remember the title. Unsuspicious, Stuart offers up ‘Le Vent Froid’ and Pepper pretends to be impressed that he could actually read it in French.

    It’s a good scene, the moment in the bistro, vaguely unsettling and scored with pensive psychiatric disturbance by Gerald Fried. The actors are good, too: this is the kind of scene Angie Dickinson excels at -– creating the illusion of casual intimacy while she plants seeds and extracts data, an instinctive femme fatale (more French!!); Daniel Benton, too, is well cast, believably communicating that focused, demented sexuality so common to caucasian males under age 25. They don’t go into much detail, but you know he’s a perv... He recommends she buy a gun, but Tessa admits she can’t because she’s been busted for possession of marijuana (“Who hasn’t?” she shrugs philosophically) and because “you can’t scare Bill...”

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    Eventually meeting for dinner in “a nice dump” Pepper and Stuart’s latest meal is interrupted by boyfriend Bill who, presumably stalking her, shoves Stuart back into his chair, claims he makes Pepper “heave all the way to the bedroom” and, despite her protests, whisks her off as she apologizes helplessly to her young dinner companion.

    Darkly enraged at his treatment, Stuart cuts art class the next day or so, but shows up afterward to take Tessa on a little ride, the guys from Pepper’s squad in their shadow. Arriving at the home of his kindly, professorial firearms supplier for whom he occasionally gardens, Stuart obtains a pistol for Tessa to protect herself “from rapes and stuff.” But before the transaction can be completed, Pepper’s cover is once again blown by her co-workers: Stuart glimpses Pete in the bushes rushing past the sliding glass door, finally recognizes what’s been going on –- and so Stuart starts shooting. Pepper dives over a desk, the Geppetto-like gun dealer dives behind a wing chair, Pete throws some lawn furniture through a window, Pepper takes cover in a nearby bathroom, Bill comes barrel-rolling over a hedge --- and Stuart fires away at all of it.

    It’s a pretty decent pandemonium action sequence, ending in Stuart squealing like a pig in pain in the chrysanthemums he’d planted, having been shot in the leg by Crowley.

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    Joe Styles chides Geppetto for his “ridiculous” trading guns with kids. And in an ambulance, delusional Stuart asks Pepper not to let them show his body on TV if he dies –- but there’s no guarantee she can pull this request off since she seems unable to even prevent her own indiscreet hair pin from appearing on TV when it wasn’t supposed to be in the frame.

    The case closed, back at the station Pepper and Crowley find Mort Barker’s angry wife in Bill’s office; they apologize pleasantly for Mort’s suicide attempt, but Mrs Barker is inconsolable: Mort began hemorrhaging again last night and died. She leaves in an accusatory huff, Crowley hardens, and Pepper returns to her desk in a cloud of ambivalence and diffused lighting.


    -----------

    Silence.

    Glenna Burns, an angular blonde in the form of Joanna Pettet, gets off the plane at LAX and takes a cab to her brother in law, Julian Lord's (Robert Webber's) house. She's looking for her sister, Beth, missing six weeks.

    In his study, there's the woman's portrait, looking suspiciously like a brunette version of Pettet --- they are sisters after all.

    Mute from a childhood growth and resulting surgery, the sister can only communicate thru sign-language which just makes her creepier (No Offense, Anybody). Her brother-in-law's secretary, his lover, makes their relationship obvious by her unsuspecting, "Darling!", as she enters the study (this was written by DYNASTY's darling Ed DeBlasio, remember), and Beth's sister leaves in a huff.

    While in the middle of another fur-heist investigation (a glamorous crime) Pepper gets drawn into the case of the missing sister as Pepper, mistress of all trades, can read signing. After jiggling down a corridor enthusiastically at the LAPD.

    [​IMG]

    When the blonde sister, Glenna, winds up stabbed in the shoulder in her hotel room and found by a maid, she claims her brother-in-law is responsible. In interrogation by Pepper and Crowley, the brother-in-law irks the pair by calling the mute sister "pathetic" (which offends Pepper's sense of political correctness), and questions Crowley's authority and competence (which offends Crowley's ego, always a mistake). The brother-in-law denies responsibility for the stabbing.

    [​IMG]

    Glenna leaves the hotel (a stabbing can really ruin your visit) to stay in Pepper's apartment. Despite having a couch that pulled out into a bed for Ruby Dee months earlier, it wont for Miss Pettet, even though it appears to be the same piece of furniture. But before they can escape the hotel lobby, a cute, tiny ginger boy with a dubbed voice and a collie stops both women to inform them how pretty they both are; structurally, the scene occurs so Pepper can wind up with Glenna's phone bill haphazardly, but the moment is so quease-inducing, it threatens to undermine the mood of the story (the scene was cut for time for ages in syndication, and I'd forgotten about it, so it's a shock to see it sandwiched between the interrogation of her brother-in-law and the next scene at Pep's apartment).

    On Pepper's all-purpose, morphable terrace, Glenna reveals letters that sister Beth wrote her seeming to implicate the brother-in-law in something unwholesome. These lead the squad to find a decomposed, decapitated body buried in Northern California they think may be the sister, Beth.

    [​IMG]

    During an inquest, Lord's secretary admits to the "most flagrant love affair" with her boss, lip trembling in excessive shame the entire time; Beth's ladies-who-lunch buddy volunteers private conversations in which Beth confessed wanting to save her marriage yet feared for her life; and the pompous D.A. verifies that Robert Webber sometimes has the opportunity to use lye ("lye", the D.A. repeats, expecting the homonymn/homophone's double-meaning to settle in) in his business, the substance used to speed up the body's decomposition.

    [​IMG]

    Webber looks pretty guilty, until Pepper, at home with Pettet downstairs on the couch, gets a call from Crowley: the forensic lab has determined the body is that of an elderly woman much older than Beth. That, and the hotel phone bill revealing a call to Glenna's native Nova Scotia, prompts Pepper to dial the number... The fussy Nova Scotian housekeeper in brades is irritated by the late-night call. And when Pepper asks for Glenna, she's informed Glenna died six months ago but that her sister, Beth, is out in California.

    Or vice versa. I get confused.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper smells a rat, and goes downstairs to find the sister off the couch doing midnight dish duty. Pepper realizes that the sister is, indeed, Beth herself, and has dyed her hair and adorned contact-lenses and probably had surgery in order to pull the ruse...

    Pettet/Beth remains silent to keep the mood going.

    Pepper explains everything in a 3-minute monologue, including Beth's jealousy over Julian's secretary and the likelihood that Beth just killed an old woman in northern California who answered an ad for a maid, in order to provide a dead body.

    [​IMG]

    Unable to coax her to put down the loaded gun she's had stuck in Pepper's face for several minutes, Pep jumps her, they fall behind the couch; the gun goes off, and Pepper gets up --- then promptly collapses in a louder thump than you'd expect skinny Angie to make.

    The guys get there and receive an improbable call from the airport revealing that the sister's flight out will be delayed by a few minutes. Everyone recognizes this as the unlikely plot device it is and they rush for LAX, leaving wounded Pepper behind.

    Why not have Pepper receive a call that Pettet's flight has been cancelled, or changed? That's unlikely enough, but why try and convince us that people actually get phonecalls at their homes from airlines telling them their flight is a few minutes late?? I mean, it only takes two seconds to think of a better reason to have the call come in.

    At the airport, Bill, Pete and Joe spot Joanna Pettet and chase her down, knocking down travelers as they go -- but only black ones, so it must be okay. Upon catching her, Crowley pulls the fake scar from Pettet/Glenna/Beth's throat, thus permitting her to scream.

    At the hospital, the gang makes jokes about Shelley Winters, and Sergeant Crowley flirts with a common-looking nurse. In mock-rage, Pepper throws a bouquet, manhandles an oversized bag of popcorn, draws a pistol from her holster, and practices with her drill team baton -- all within a matter of minutes, her right arm showing no limited range of motion whatsoever despite having a bullet removed from it only hours earlier.

    But that's why she's Police Woman.

    It's a pretty good installment, with a nice, slightly macabre, Poe-like flavor. It seems the producers were going for more of a film noir tone (although the cinematography looked a bit more noiresque in early S1) with a focus on mystery and atmosphere. That's a good idea and can focus a show, and it could have effectively replaced the toned-down sex angle from the previous year. But they didn't seem to quite keep it up, which is unfortunate; after all, "Silence" and "Cold Wind" were two of the better entries from Season 2.

    airdate: 24 October 1975 (not December, as it was moved up)



    -----------


    'Blaze of Glory' (or is it 'Shooting a Star'?)


    Originally scheduled for a Friday 24 Oct 1975 airing but delayed to 11 Nov 1975 because, as a strong episode, NBC decided to broadcast "Blaze of Glory" as only the second segment of POLICE WOMAN to air in its new, somewhat unfortunate Tuesday night timeslot against M*A*S*H.



    While trolling the streets of L.A. as, what else?, a United States senator, Pepper is kidnapped from a bank during a hold-up by locally infamous crook, Vern Lightfoot (Don Stroud once again, reminding the modern viewer very much here of Stephen Dorff).

    Pepper, under the guise of "Myrtle," immediately charms animally-magnetic Vern and his half-brother, Charlie Joe (Bill Lucking) with gushing praise ("...wait till my friends find out who picked me up!!" Pepper howls to their delight), but has less luck with Vern's sexy, hayseed girlfriend (Nellie Bellflower), jealous that this no-account hooker Vern seems so fond of has tagged along for a ride.

    [​IMG]

    Much of the entertainment of the episode comes from Pepper's and Bellflower's rivalry and petty bickering, once the foursome switch from their getaway car to a van during a carwash, the van crashing thru a police barricade at one point, Pepper "accidentally" falling against Vern and preventing him from shooting a cop at the roadblock.

    [​IMG]

    The action set mostly to a hillbilly music score composed by Billy Strange.

    Meanwhile, Crowley and Pete leave an injured Joe at the scene of the original crime, in hot pursuit of hot-pantsed Pepper and her trio of outlaws.

    Once he gets Bellflower and the brother he verbally abuses to run into a roadside shop to pick up some junk food, Vern closes the van curtains and puts the move on Pepper, her attempts to slither out of his clutches by re-opening the flesh wound he received during the hold-up successful --- until Vern goes rifling thru Pepper's purse and finds her handcuffs.

    No gun accompanying them, I always wonder why Pep never claims the cuffs are for her kinkier customers, because Vern instantly realizes that "this fine hooker lady" is in fact an undercover cop "all dressed up to look like a human being", striking Pepper across the face. Hyperventilating with bravura as Angie always does once her true identity is discovered, she makes the mistake of telling Vern, when he accuses her of laughing at him behind his back, that she actually thought he was "kind of sad."

    [​IMG]

    Now realizing that they've got a hostage the police may actually care about, the gang "buys" another vehicle off a pots-and-pans peddler, a station wagon, and heads deeper into the desert, Pepper talking them out of killing her beside the road with the assertion that the police helicopters will swoop in from their present height of 5000 feet and attack if Vern kills her.

    Eventually, their car overheats amongst the yucca and, Pete and Bill right behind them, the two brothers and Pepper head away from the road on foot, leaving Vern's girlfriend -- in Pepper's hula hoop earrings -- with the defunct and steaming station wagon.

    But as Crowley and Royster show up and start questioning the passive-aggressive Bellflower who has only jelly beans to offer them, a shot rings out nearby: Pepper has fallen, is being taunted by a rattle snake under a rock, and Vern and his brother get into a fight over who's a "dummy" and Vern's magical-thinking Dillingeresque fantasy of going out "like a shooting star." In response to the gunshot, Crowley quickly shows up, shoots the snake, is in turn shot by that snake Vern Lightfoot, and then Vern -- aiming for Pepper -- is blown away unexpectedly by his cuddlier half-brother Charlie Joe, Charlie Joe picking up Vern's not-entirely lifeless body and carrying him into the sunset, a country-and-western ballad composed for the episode warbling plaintively in the background in a most mid-'70s kind of way.

    [​IMG]

    Aptly-named (because I think of this as the before-and-after episode of the series, the line in the literal sand for the "real" POLICE WOMAN" of Season 1 and early-S2, and what emerged once the show moved to Tuesday in the States, just two months into the second year), "Blaze of Glory" is perhaps the Season 2 entry most reminiscent of Season 1 in tone because, since Pepper is undercover as a call girl for the entire segment, they actually allow Angie to infuse all her dialogue with her usual, focusing charisma throughout.

    It's just a very taut, likeably playful chapter.

    And the show would never be quite the same again.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    As POLICE WOMAN moves from its cushy Friday night 10pm timeslot where it enjoyed a good complementary energy with lead-in series THE ROCKFORD FILES for 14 months, NBC, fueled by the fact POLICE WOMAN had been hitting #1 for the week off and on that previous summer, rewards the show by dumping it in the network's worst time slot of that era: Tuesday night at 9pm, with no lead-in or lead-out (that anybody's watching) and directly against M*A*S*H over on CBS, and ABC with its 8pm lead-in of HAPPY DAYS and, in a few weeks, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY which will both be headed to #1 with a bullet in the Nielsen ratings.

    Effective November 1975. Naturally, the ratings will slide, although POLICE WOMAN manages to do adequately well despite the horrendous move. But the biggest problem will be the trouble brewing behind the scenes where the decision seems to have been made to tone down the show, and increasingly constrain Angie. The charisma that first made Pepper so mesmerizing is flipped off like a light switch somewhere during the middle third of Season 2.


    Farewell, Mary Jane ... Narco can't catch crazy pilot Bill Klein (W.L. LeGault, in his second of three episodes) who's flyin' in the dope, so they ask the Criminal Conspiracy Unit for help, forcing Pepper to forego yet another hairdresser appointment.

    [​IMG]

    Their first attempt to nab ultra-cautious Klein in the desert is foiled by the impatience of seemingly rookie uniformed officers, resulting in the replacement pilot, there to sniff out any possible dummy run situation, and then deliberately driving his propellers into one of Klein's deputies he assumes is guilty of facilitating the set up with law enforcement.

    [​IMG]

    Crowley and Pepper then enlist the reluctant assistance of a hunky race car driver, Sam Elliott, threatening his NASCAR career if he doesn't comply. Sam sets up a meeting between Pepper and Klein's #2 man (Geoffrey Lewis) who goes for the deal, but only if Pepper and Sam Elliott can put all the money for the deal up front, forcing Crowley to go to the feds -- which everybody always hates to do in '70s cops shows -- for additional funding.

    [​IMG]

    While snooping in on Pepper's meeting with Elliott and Lewis, a barely recognizable waitress played by Loni Anderson serves a horny Crowley coffee or something.

    While waiting to make the meet and hanging out at a desert motel in Room One ("...that's right," Pepper informs the villains by phone, "right next to Two") she inevitably flirts with Elliott and then saunters to the soda pop machine where she's promptly kidnapped at gunpoint by Klein as collateral, Sam convincing Crowley that the deal is still set and everything's fine.

    They all drive further into the badlands to prove to each other they've got the junk and the cash, and Klein is careful to get nowhere near the merchandise. First chance they get out of sight of the pathological pilot, the unit busts Geoffrey Lewis as a tough-but-nervous Pepper pulls a gun on him -- but given where the series is headed nowadays, Crowley still has to save her by shooting some wily loader listening around the corner of an 18 wheeler.

    [​IMG]

    On the return to Klein's isolated camp amongst the yucca, the squad is oblivious to the crooks' unspoken code of driving back with the lights on at high noon if the drop went down correctly. So, headlights off, Klein knows he's in trouble, threatens to whack our Sergeant Anderson, so Crowley shoots Klein between the eyes with a high-powered rifle from a discreet distance.

    Well, that was easy.

    Pepper and Sam Elliott have a steak dinner date when the boys show up uninvited with the good news that they've found someone who'll sponsor Sam's racing car; he jokes that their jobs is a lot more dangerous than his, and Pepper gets a goofy freeze frame close up.

    Decent episode, snappy original score by Morty Stevens.

    ---------

    Above and Beyond.

    [​IMG]

    During a nighttime liquor store stake-out, a robbery goes down and Crowley thinks he recognizes one of thieves as a hood who's on parole. Crowley calls the parole officer who has the suspect on his caseload, but before the P.O. can make the meet, his brains are blown out from a gunshot coming from the backseat of his car.

    Naturally, his various parolees are all under suspicion, so Pepper joins the deceased officer's group as an out-of-towner and tries to nonchalantly sniff out the members and see just who might have been involved in the murder. Mostly, she's drawn to a suit-and-tie parolee (Peter Brown, who was also in "The Gamble" pilot on POLICE STORY) the suspect who may be planning a heist of some sort -- a heist the dead officer may have become aware of and which makes Brown the main target of the investigation.

    Though living in a flea-ridden flop house, Pepper has a quiet lunch with Brown and charmingly tells him "you can't afford me," but he assures her he can and soon will.

    [​IMG]

    After agreeing to soon join Peter Brown in Mexico, she's spotted chatting with Crowley on a gorgeous day, so Pepper is kidnapped by Brown's partners anticipating their own well-planned jewel theft; she's driven to a remote warehouse with a bag over her head where she is interrogated by Brown and his pals about why she was talking to a police sergeant like Crowley. Pepper fields the inquiry well, and claims someone had reported seeing she and Brown together because parolees aren't supposed to socialize with each other away from their weekly meetings with their P.O.

    [​IMG]

    But Brown and his buddies aren't going to Mexico at all -- they're going to hell in a jewelry basket: their bloody bodies are found in a van, shot from behind, outside the place they'd just robbed the night before. There's no loot left among them, but Pepper finds a unique, non-local cigarette they are quickly able to tie to the parole officer's son (Andrew Parks) home from 'Nam and just not quite right in the head. Crowley and the boys bust the kid as his mother and Pepper look on like ladies in distress, and the embittered son later confesses he'd been following around the thieves, well aware of their crooked plans, killed them and took the stash after they'd completed the job, and -- oh, yeah -- he killed his dad because he'd been neglected all those childhood years his father had worked his endless hours with his parolees.

    I always wanted the homicidal offspring to be a brittle W.A.C. sergeant who reveals daddy and his parolees molested her on a regular basis, during camping trips, etc... But I guess nobody really thought of that.

    Pepper then gets a cute parolee, Maxine (Jonelle Allen, the first person Pepper ever killed the last time she appeared on the show) a new job as a cop, and the unit escort her out the door and off to Vinnie's, all set to cutesy music.

    Since Alexander Singer, one of their most atmospheric directors, is running the show here, I shouldn't be surprised that there are details I didn't catch previously -- subtle, artful elements in an entry Singer clearly intended to be low-key, moody, subdued. But given that the series is now slipping into its own parallel era of paint-by-numbers, repressed blandness, those subtle, artful elements are almost lost on the viewer.

    ---------
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  10. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    In 'Glitter with a Bullet', a volatile glam-rock star (John Rubinstein) sees one of his bandmates in The Chromium Skateboard keel over of an overdose during a recording session. His death is suspicious, so Pepper poses as an east coast Rolling Stone-style reporter and interviews Rubinstein on his lush L.A. estate where a Hilton or a Colby might look appropriate.

    But have no fear -- on the inside of the mansion they're all back in the Columbia studio set with the curved staircase and the paneled living room we see almost every week, with precious little attempt to disguise it or redress it.

    She attempts to seem knowledgeable and hip by convincing the pop idol that she recognizes the classic jazz number he's playing on the saxophone -- or was it a tuba? -- and that she also knows whose 1948 version of the piece he's reprising. But the moment just doesn't work; she could have pulled it off easily in Season 1, but with the new suppression of her focused and knowing purr, she stumbles through line like an Angel that Charlie might later hire.

    [​IMG]

    Rubinstein doesn't like Pepper's intimations that he's being taken advantage of by his entourage and dumps her in a canyon leaving her to saunter back to civilization in high heels, but as his peers keep getting knocked off, it becomes abundantly clear that his manager and his girlfriend (Frank Gorshin, Robbie Lee) have an agenda -- one that involves cutting Pepper's brake lines when she starts asking too many questions, causing Pepper to overturn in virtual slow motion (because she's driving so leisurely any speed bump could stop the car).

    Only bruised up, Pepper joins Crowley to bust the culprits, but while he goes looking upstairs at Pop Star High Rise, Pepper discovers the slimy agent and even slimier girlfriend in the recording studio downstairs trying to coerce a strung-out Rubinstein to sign some papers you know he shouldn't be signing.

    Since Pepper is now a canary in the criminal mine instead of an actual police officer, she nervously picks up the phone in the studio's control center fully in view of the creeps in the sound booth. Does she duck down while calling Crowley upstairs so she won't be seen? Does she actually make the bust herself? Not hardly. She just sits there tapping her fingers, mumbling for Crowley to answer the phone, and hoping Gorshin's peripheral vision won't be operative for another few minutes. Of course, Gorshin sees her within seconds of Crowley taking the call, and the crooked agent forces her at gunpoint to join them in the sound booth. Pepper lamely demands the music man to stop singing those papers, Crowley soon arrives and busts the baddies, and Rubinstein has a drug fueled seizure and collapses.

    Surviving his medical emergency, Rubinstein lounges on his lawn playing a lazy sax, while Pepper gives him tips about how handle a musical instrument and to manage his career. And all is well.

    [​IMG]

    ---------

    "The Purge"

    Crowley and the team try busting a truck heisting operation, but it's a dry run. Perturbed they've been outsmarted by the crooks in the very first scene of the episode, Crowley goes sniffing around the premises and gets assaulted in a darkened lavatory by a tall assailant with an unusually wide stance, but when the sergeant fights back with the butt of his revolver, the lights go on and there's the lifeless body of a little 15-year old boy on the tile floor.

    Yeah, yeah, we've all heard that story before.

    Once again, this seems like a prime opportunity for Angie to drive an 18 wheeler like she claims the producers never forgave her for refusing to do. Or was that earlier in "Pawns of Power" about secret traveling casinos, or perhaps back in Season 1 in "Bloody Nose" about truck hijackings? Or maybe an entire episode they never made? We just don't know.

    [​IMG]

    The dead boy turns out to be the nephew of the mobster bastard named Basterie (Rick Jason) they're investigating, and Internal Affairs gives Crowley a hard time, especially because the bust was fruitless. Unwilling to sit by passively, Crowley gets caught staking out the kingpin and promptly gets suspended.

    Pepper's efforts to obtain a warrant against the mafia don fail when a pompous judge turns her request down, and she wonders why she always thinks she's so much smarter than everybody else in a speech to Royster one wonders might be the brass editorializing about Angie Dickinson and not Pepper about Pepper. (Since when does Pepper think she's smarter than everybody else??) So I guess those producer really wanted Angie to drive that truck!

    [​IMG]

    So she approaches an experienced fence (David Huddleston) who wants his old partner sprung from the slammer in exchange for his setting up a sting to prove that the unit's actions against Basterie were valid and that they'd had reason to be there the night the innocent boy died, and thus clear Crowley of suspension and even possible charges.

    It works, the bust goes down, and everybody's happy that Crowley got his little badge back. But Bill confesses on his apartment balcony to Pepper that his accidental killing of that teenaged boy has changed his view of his job and his life permanently.

    Pepper gives him one of those silent gazes which might be soulfully sympathetic or could just mean she hopes he'll shut up.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    “Don’t Feed the Pigeons” starts out at the police station, a little old lady -– or television’s raging falsetto stereotype of a little old lady -– devastated that bunco artists have swindled her out of her life savings, reports the crime to the squad. Pepper knows that this is likely a death sentence for the old lady, if things follows their usual pattern.

    [​IMG]

    In the Partridge Family’s redressed house, two patrolmen with badly dubbed voices break in on the insistence of a neighbor (Jeanette Nolan, who herself has made a career out of playing ragingly stereotypic little old ladies) only to find the geriatric corpse of another victim lying under her pet parrot.

    Pepper, Joe and Pete try to explain to the surviving daughter about how the “pigeon drop” scam works: fake old ladies meet on a park bench, pretend to find a wallet full of money and lottery tickets, and convince a real old lady to empty her bank account in order to match the funds and then collect on a reward... It all sounds pretty stupid, but that’s why they target the vulnerable elderly... The daughter (Arlene DeWitt) points out that her late mother didn’t fall for the crook’s routine, but Pepper informs her that the killers got access to her mother’s bank account anyway, and even stole a brooch off her body.

    [​IMG]

    The gang stake out a local park and monitor several such occurrences while deciding what action to take against the con artists.

    The park really does look nice: sunny, green, church bells tolling on the hour ...

    [​IMG]


    Pepper stops the two female scammers in the park and threatens to scream for a nearby patrolman (Joe Styles, in a uniform) if they don’t hand over the bundle they’ve just looted off another aging patsy. Envelope in hand, Pepper writes her name on the parcel, dumps it in the nearest mailbox, and is taken by the nasty ladies to their leader, hunky Benny Bates (Erik Estrada, pre-CHiPS) in ‘70s gold chains and disco shirts unbuttoned to his navel; Pepper demands entry into their little operation, and when her overtures at partnership are refused, one of the two girls is mysteriously busted on a parole violation and a hole is left in Benny’s team. Dee, the surviving bunco babe (Vonetta McGhee) balks at the idea, but Benny, charmed by Pepper’s moxy and sex-appeal, agrees to take her on.

    Suspicion regarding their partner’s recent arrest is present. But not enough.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper allows Benny to drive her to her “adult” motel room, rebuffing at the door Benny’s advances under the pretense that she’s not interested in a man “who nickels and dimes little old ladies” and then suggests something homoerotic about him going home and “rubbing two sticks together” but I’m not sure what it meant. Entering into the motel room once Estrada drives off, Crowley asks Pepper, “Who writes your dialogue?” and she responds “Whoever it is, remind me to send him a check...” which must mean Ed de Blasio brought Angie something nice from New York and compensation keeps slipping her mind so he’s putting it into the script. But then, who knows?

    Perched upon a water bed, Crowley suggests he visit The Church of Otto Otterman, run by Otto Otterman (Henry Gibson, post-LAUGH IN, in what seems an unnecessary cameo). And not-so-pious Sister Clara (Joyce Jameson, sitting in for Joan Blondell) is tapped to help the squad scam the scammers.

    [​IMG]

    Sister Clara, unable to hide her relish for a set-up, almost blows her cover repeatedly by going off-script once the pigeon drop goes down. Pepper coughs, Dee looks rightly suspicious, and Pepper calls it off “before Dee does too much heavy thinking” and then cleverly blames Dee for the failure before storming out, demanding that Benny “call me when you know what you’re doing!!” Meanwhile, Crowley soothes Sister Clara’s guilt over her own incompetence with the sympathetic concession that, “It’s difficult for you to go straight, I know that..."

    [​IMG]

    This time, the Criminal Conspiracy Unit turns to Jeanette Nolan for assistance, the show refusing the impulse to put Angie in support hose and a powdered wig (at least until next year’s “Night of the Full Moon”). A willing victim, dithery Nolan hands over the bank account supplied to her by the cops, and, having collected the tidy sum during their latest pigeon drop, Pepper rips the missing brooch off of Dee’s collar and leaves her in the dust of her big, black luxury car.

    Appalled, Dee naturally calls Benny Estrada from a pay phone to inform him of recent events; Benny hops in his vehicle pronto and, en route to the park, passes Pepper. A decent chase ensues through the streets of L.A. as the pair goes canal bridge hopping, ending up with Pep crashing into a parked car and Benny grabbing the loot away from her through the open passenger window, Benny then chased on foot by Pepper’s male choral trio. He falls three stories from a wooden banister for little reason except it’s time to end the scene.

    [​IMG]

    Back at headquarters, facing murder charges, Dee expresses concern only for herself as per her criminal personality. Pepper and Crowley get a freeze frame in the hallway after he informs her that she’s going to turn him “into a basket case” what with her feminine emotional involvement and whatnot.

    (For those keeping score, in '70s tradition the “Music by” title card has little to do with who wrote it: Richard Shores gets screen credit, but the only musical cue in the entire episode he composed is the freeze frame. Such practices were outlawed by the guild by 1981).

    ----------


    Roughly midway thru Season 2 is the seemingly blandly-titled “The Hit,” one of those David Moessinger written & directed episodes like S3’s “Bait” which aim for a darker tone (although S1’s “Ice” hardly fits that description).

    On a rooftop during a routine surveillance, Pepper and Crowley catch Pete and Joe listening to a local boxing match on the portable radio. Tony Harper knocks out his opponent, but two mobsters –- real life ex-cops Eddie Egan and David Toma –- aren’t pleased as they watch the fight from that same walnut living room where all well-moneyed POLICE WOMAN crooks seem to live (with the usual lack of effort to disguise it). Egan, California bookmaker Jack Ballard, had made a million dollar bet on Tony Harper that Harper would take a fall in the ring, and now that Harper has refused to comply, Ballard calls in rumpled hit man Benny Hummel (Harris Yulin) to knock off the fighter in retribution, Hummel posing as a yard man with a loud lawnmower who shoots an irritated Harper at dawn.

    Captain Parks tells the unit they need to investigate and can drop their present case to do so, leading Pepper to chirp in relief, “If I had to climb that ladder one more time, I would have to asked for flight pay!”

    It’s a harmless line, but now, in Pepper’s Season 2 mouth, it’s a little too harmless: it’s just dead, the line. One can imagine how engagingly Angie would have delivered the comment the previous year, when she was absolutely mesmerizing in every single scene she was in, on the street or around the squad room; now, however, she almost sucks the life out of many scenes because they've sucked the life out of her, the brass’s insistence that she tone down her inflection at all times (so as not to be perceived as too sexual and, hence, degrading to women) leaving Angie in a neurotic no-man's-land, now unsure of how to play a scene.

    She’s officially a secondary character in her own series: apologetic demeanor, nervous glances, deliberately weakened delivery of her lines, the unit mascot who placidly watches the guys around her do very important things.

    Pepper and Crowley arrive at County General Hospital and confront Harper’s wife (Conny Van Dyke, who played the doomed women’s prison con the previous year in “Fish”) who is offended at the suggestion that her sweet boxer husband would ever “fix” a fight, despite the fact that he obviously didn’t fix it at all, which is why he’s lying semi-comatose in the next room –- room # 801, Aces and Eights, the dead man’s hand.

    Hummel arrives home to his unhappy household, a brittle and embittered wife (Fay Spain, who played the dykeyest of the homicidal lesbians in last year’s ”Flowers of Evil”) and a vulnerable teenaged daughter (Amy Irving, pre-CARRIE and pre-Speilberg) who the mother browbeats, literally. She hits her physically...

    Hummel gets a call from mobster Ballard: the boxer is still alive, and needs to be finished off in his hospital bed.

    But when the assassin arrives to complete the botched job, he finds his mark a helpless vegetable, unable to walk and talk, and with not even a guard on the door because, as the nurse (Maddie Norman, who played Bette Davis’ maid in WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?) points out, “What’s left to guard??”

    [​IMG]

    Pepper and Bill drop in at some dive called The Four Boar to speak with Dave Fisher, Tony Harper’s brother-in-law, to follow up on a lead that the two men, in business together in the failing restaurant, may have taken loans from bookmaker Ballard to keep their enterprise afloat. He denies any such scheme, but the visit isn’t pointless in that Angie looks really stacked in a tight yellow outfit... At any rate, our duo pay another visit to Mrs Harper at home who denies that her husband has been gambling for a year or was into someone, possibly Ballard, for substantial sums of money.

    [​IMG]

    At the station, Crowley gets a call from the brother-in-law (as Pepper watches from the doorway, dithery as if she somehow shouldn’t be there) who’s found the bookie’s phone number Tony used to call when he wanted to place a bet. Turns out the bookie is a fat guy (Cliff Emmich) who cleverly uses a laundramat to launder money.

    Meanwhile, back County General, the hit man returns again intent on finishing off Harper, explaining to the unresponsive former boxer just why exactly he brought about his own shooting by refusing to kowtow to Ballard’s demands. But before Hummel can complete the job, Harper’s wife walks in unexpectedly; Hummel claims to be a doctor just checking her husband’s chart, and then wanders out. The wife senses something is wrong, but is distracted by emotion from the sight of her three-quarters dead husband, eyes twitching in semi-conscousness.

    [​IMG]

    The squad busts “Moby” the fat guy, and promises to protect him from Ballard if he agrees to testify to a grand jury that Harper owed Ballard money. Understandably reluctant, Moby only agrees if Pepper will be his protection, leading to the inevitable scene of sweaty Moby in an undershirt putting the verbal moves on Sergeant Anderson. She rebuffs him promptly, and her only duty for the episode is quickly completed.

    [​IMG]

    Indeed, Hummel is sent out to kill Moby. So, while enjoying a tense Tahitian meal in public with the obese bookie, Pepper asserts that "I am not a 'broad'!" and then is foolishly lured away from the table by the hit man posing as a cop -– Crowley overhears the impending disaster on his car radio and rushes across the street and into the restaurant. Moby is shot, Hummel rushes out the back door of the restaurant, Crowley chases him, and Pepper stands there like a dullard, unable to figure out what’s just happened or how to act on it.

    God. Why are they doing this to her?!?

    [​IMG]

    At the hospital, Hummel’s second would-be victim admits to Pepper and Bill about being "grateful" for the first time in his life for being fat (as that was likely the reason the shooting wasn’t fatal). They mention in an aside that the hit man will likely show up again, but that of course he shouldn’t worry about it, despite -- or perhaps because of -- everybody's recent efficiency record.

    Upset that another murder has been messed-up, Ballard calls Hummel and tells him to finish off Moby at the hospital or Hummel’s daughter, Amy Irving, may wind up finished off instead.

    In one of the better scenes (and the only one with a musical cue from Richard Shores, although Shores receives composer screen credit for the entire installment), Hummel shows up in tearful Irving’s bedroom in the middle of the night, gives her a bundle of cash, and tells her to leave town immediately. Thus getting her away from her abusive mother, and the guns of Jack Ballard.

    [​IMG]

    Undercover as a nurse, Pepper (in a hot pair of ‘70s teardrop sunglasses) and the team await the hit man’s arrival. Pete spots the likely culprit in the lobby, and Pepper monitors the killer’s advancement up the elevator, keeping the gang informed by phone and walkytalky.

    [​IMG]

    Much to their surprise, Hummel ignores Moby’s floor and, as Pepper realizes at the last moment, he heads right for poor Tony Parker’s room. In one of the slightly creepier scenes, Hummel again breaks into a monologue to rationalize his actions, this time to explain to helpless Parker that he is there to put the boxer out of his misery once and for all.

    Even some hit men have a moral code.

    Two shots ring out from Parker’s room, followed by a ‘thump’ as Crowley bursts in to find Parker shot to death and Hummel, with a bullet thru his brain, in a pool of his own blood, on the floor beside Parker's bed.

    Two hits, two kills. “A perfect score,” Crowley surmises.

    [​IMG]

    The episode is solid. But with Angie’s charisma surgically removed, it all seems to have happened in a vacuum.
     
  12. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I've always found the title to "Angela" interesting -- a story where the innocent woman becomes the ultimate victim of the powermongering amongst the men. (And right on the heels of Crowley's odd "it's all down hill from here, honey" speech in "Pawns of Power").

    In "Angela," Pepper and the team become concerned when they find out the young cop they're working with (Scott Hylands) is dating the daughter (that's "Angela") of a mobster the department is trying to put away for heroin smuggling and distribution -- and the cop rightly comes under suspicion when the evidence, several kilos of smack, disappear from his car on the way to court.

    An episode that didn't originally work all that well for me, it's interesting seeing this again. My view then was that the demoralized producers, chastised about the sensational tone of Season 1 and a too-sexy Angie, were now just churning out installments by mid-Season 2, apathetically and lazily. In review, however, and removed from my lasting sense of disappointment regarding the series' dissipation of energy, I can now see that, as was the case with "Above and Beyond" and other episodes from the same period in the show, the bosses are actually trying to compensate for the new restrictions on POLICE WOMAN by making "Angela" deliberately low-key and thoughtful -- even if the effort doesn't entirely work because the reining in of Angie's charisma, previously the psychic glue of the series, has gone too far.

    That said, Angie has one of her finer moments during a scene in which she goes to the hospital to convince the mobster's daughter, a nurse, that her father is indeed a mobster -- and one who has just framed her boyfriend for heroin possession by having his goons plant the junk on the young cop's car in order to destroy him... The effectiveness of the scene is from understatement, and Angie is convincing as she gently prods the girl into reluctantly realizing that her dad's a heel, elaborating on the kingpin's sordid criminal history. And the writing mostly supports her... This is the focused, intelligent, seasoned Pepper which, if need be, should have replaced the endlessly coquettish one from the previous year. And if they had done this consistently (instead of edge her out of frame, or make her almost dizzy) then the de-glamorized Pepper Anderson might have seemed like a natural evolution in the character and the show.

    [​IMG]

    And the scene's integrity receives an exclamation point when, after Pepper tries to rub the traumatized girl's head to soothe her (as so often happened on TV back in the day) the girl instead slings Pepper's presumptuous hand away and snaps, "Don't touch me!" before exiting. As would any normal person in an identical situation.

    The somewhat surprising tragic ending to the episode is also intentionally underplayed -- which, in this case, is a plus; Angela the ultimate victim of the wrangling between cop and crook, Daddy and boyfriend when Daddy bombs her boyfriend's apartment and she's obliterated instead.

    Although I always want to cast one of Angie's rat pack pals in the role of the mobster in "Angela." But never mind that.


    Actual airdate: Dec. 16, 1975, despite listings which insist it aired in late Jan. '76.


    ---------


    "
    Incident Near a Black and White" is about the shooting of a patrol cop during a barrio rumble, is a good idea for an episode. But the script is weak and the guest actors are worse (does a latino accent really disguise a lack of acting ability to the caucasian male executives??)

    To be fair, the dead cop's pasty white girlfriend seems to talk -- and moan -- like a small child throughout the entire thing, her dialogue seemingly dubbed all the way... Angie has a potentially good moment when she quotes a Bible passage back to a stuffy police commander, but, with the new restrictions on the way she speaks, Angie can no longer sell it without it sounding like she read it in the script that morning, and still hasn't quite memorized it.

    It's not Angie's fault; she's been punked by the brass: the almost idealized, worldly woman she was in the first year has been reduced to a nice, dithery, nervous-in-every-scene lady who occasionally gets to say something if she behaves and promises to say it apologetically.

    The best moment of "Incident" comes when Crowley and Pepper in uniform respond to a domestic dispute in the ghetto -- it's so '70s, and it's as comforting as it is kind of funny.

    [​IMG]

    They've figured out the sniper is a white, middle aged, ex-youth counselor with some major identity issues, so as soon as Pepper sees someone who fits that description, she shoots him to some boring tune the asleep-at-the-wheel music editor picked out.

    Angie says something about wanting to get out of her jeans, and Crowley agrees.

    [​IMG]


    --------


    Oh, and then there's "The Melting Point of Ice." (Another episode with the word "Ice" in at as a euphemism for diamonds?) Not the best script for Shimon Wincelberg (a good writer ordinarily) but it has some nice possibilities which seem sabotaged by the listless direction from .... Robert Vaughn??

    Anyway, Pepper and Crowley go undercover as construction site sandwich makers in search of the stolen diamonds -- so Pepper gets to flirt for a minute.

    But it's by rote, as most of Season 2 has become by this point.

    And despite Angie's earlier refusal to drive an 18-wheeler, she admirably accepts the duty of guiding a food van.

    It all ends back at headquarters when Pepper and Crowley say something provocative about how cheese is made.

    Yawn.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  13. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    One episode from latter Season 2 I like slightly more than I originally did is "The Pawn Shop." It's not great-great, but it's watchable enough... Diane Baker plays a high-end art thief who is stern and brittle as only Baker can be, and Joan Collins, sans British accent, the semi-common former B-movie queen who's Baker's latest victim.

    "The Han dynasty --- and that tart used it for flowers...," Baker snipes as prognosticatively as she does contemptuously about Collins' belongings she's just stolen and Joan's treatment of them.

    [​IMG]

    My memory of this episode is that Angie, newly subdued by the Squelch Angie Directive, had bad hair, bad lighting, and was permitted only the most routine delivery of her dialogue... It doesn't hit me so strongly now as it did eons ago, but it's hard to believe they didn't use -- or obtain -- another reading from her of the line, ".... Don't you try and buy back insured items at a fraction of what you're supposed to pay out?" to an insurance executive just before the squad opens the pawn shop designed to draw in Baker and her team of burglars. Dickinson stumbles through the sentence, and they used it anyway.

    Was no one minding the store --- as it were?

    And then there's the unfortunate subplot of the "cute" little neighborhood kid, Ricky Segall, who's bringing in stolen goods from his house to buy his mother a necklace from the shop Pepper and Pete are now running. Is the kid is the son of a TV executive? He must be, given how many Columbia TV shows he was shoe-horned into during the early-to-mid-'70s; anyway, the boy adds to the endless "you're so pretty!" dialogue the show and its guest stars continue to throw at Pepper every three minutes, despite the simultaneous movement to de-glamorize her... So the show really is at neurotic cross-purposes at this point.

    However, there is a nice, almost-stylish scene at an art show between Angie and Diane Baker, the two sizing each other up, the repartee clever; the moment -- and Angie herself -- most reminiscent of early-Season One (a period in the show which otherwise feels very far away by now).

    [​IMG]

    The most amusing thing, needless to say, is Joan Collins. In full early-Alexis mode, a state of mind further enhanced by the fact that future DYNASTY head-writer (and PW story editor) Ed de Blasio is obviously writing her dialogue, she seduces (apparently successfully) Sergeant Crowley and his "lily white body" after he shows unusual vulnerability in his embarrassment that an actress he so reveres is making a shameless play for him... This is strictly the Alexis of DYNASTY's Season 2, full of pretense and flirty affectation and hoity toity cultural references and mysterious past liaisons -- and yet, much like that early-Alexis, infinitely more likeable and charming because she knows she's not presently at the top of the heap.

    Few people could seem both so very '70s and yet so very '80s as Joan Collins.

    Then Crowley escorts Collins (her name is "Prudence" in this) to a high society Hollywood party where Pepper, still undercover as a fence for stolen property, calls Joan "ugly" and Crowley responds "you get used to it." It's cute. And, truth be told, despite Joan's melodramatic silliness and already-excessive make-up, she is indeed gorgeous. (Angie, on the other hand, looks matted down like a mop in an evening gown).

    [​IMG]

    An irritation in the episode comes from the fact that the interior for the house used as Collins' mansion is that same stupid studio set with the curving staircase they've used in every other episode since the series began. Up until now, that was okay -- "old TV" being what it was in the pre-DVD age. But even in 1976, this seemed like one appearance too many. The jig was up. It's the same damned house and we know it. They can't fool us any more! ... What's worse, they use the set for two different scenes set at supposedly two different locations: Joan's house and the house hosting the party she later attends with Crowley.

    Jeez! For a highly-rated TV show, couldn't they spring for the expense of filming at a real home in Brentwood or something??

    Anyway, the final humorous occurrence comes when Diane Baker takes Pepper out on a nighttime burglaring test run, and, to assess the legitimacy of her skills, forces her to pick out "the finest piece" on the shelf of a mansion some rich person lives in but is presently away on vacation; it's humorous, because Pepper goes right for the tackiest Hummel figurine, and in so doing promptly blows her cover.

    Ah, television.


    ------------


    Coming into the last half dozen shows of Season 2, there is "Wednesday's Child" featuring Paula Kelly reprising her role as Linda Summers, AKA: 'The Black Widow,' (first introduced a year earlier in perhaps the best Pepper-does-the-town installment of them all, "The Company"). In this new one, Edd "Kookie" Byrnes plays, somewhat improbably, a cat burglar who scales up the side of uptown apartment highrises and relieves the spoiled wealthy widows of their expensive jewelry, that jewelry then turned over to Robert Loggia... After Summers sets up Kookie with Pepper, resulting in the early nabbing of the burglar, the team decides to go after Loggia and the top guy buying the hot stones in San Francisco.

    Angie gets to wear a pretty frock to seduce Loggia.

    [​IMG]

    Once this sting is achieved, however, the cat burglar and Linda are targeted for revenge -- and to prevent their testimony, Linda's tiny daughter is kidnapped by the cackling cad who'd supposedly sired her. Such an ugly business.

    The episode is okay, a little tighter than I'd remembered. But I find myself increasingly irritated with the tired choice of musical cues, that same "DOO daa doo DAA doo" composed by George Romanis the previous season but re-used ad nauseum, regardless of who's getting screen credit as composer on these stock score installments.

    But there's a lovely scene at the beach with seagulls when Pepper and Linda match stories about their special relationships with their secret children: Pepper's no-longer-seen sister, and Linda's out-of-wedlock daughter.

    The good guys prevail and the daughter is saved, but the closing moment with Pepper telling Linda in court to "go get 'em, friend" (or words to that effect) is really anemic.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  14. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    A good comparison between Season 1 and Season 2 can be gleened from watching S1's "Blast" with Robert Vaughn as Pepper's dance hall boss alongside S2's "Generation of Evil" with Robert Vaughn as Pepper's Vegas dance hall boss.

    That says it all.

    But I'll keep typing anyway...

    In this new one, David Opatoshu plays an aging gangster whose graying hair keeps getting darker and lighter depending on mood (this is the '70s, remember, era of pet rocks, lava lamps and mood rings). Opatoshu's grandson, Greg Brady, is kindapped in the first scene and the squad moves in to find him, the only choice allotted to them is having Pepper jiggle nearly naked in Nevada on the strip in Vegas -- the Los Angeles hotel ball room we've seen in so many shows and movies doing an adequate job of mimicking a more downmarket Las Vegas casino lobby. (A tad more stock footage of Sin City would have been nice).

    While Pepper uses her powers as Most Attractive Woman Ever Born, muted as they may be for Season 2, to woo and weaken casino owner Robert Vaughn (I always re-cast him in my head with John Forsythe, but that's just me) the mobster who they suspect kidnapped Greg Brady, Pete and Bill try and keep tabs on fidgety Opatoshu in California who himself keeps taking phonecalls from the kidnappers at a public phone under a huge clock whose "Bulova" brand name has seen its "L" and "O" turned into "E" and "Q", respectively, in order to avoid giving anybody's product a free plug... Although I don't know anybody who ever bought a watch from "BUEQVA", but whatever.

    In Vegas, Pepper joins a revue where the girls wear glittery one-piece outfits and wave colored kerchiefs (which are probably a signal for "help!"). Angie Dickinson once complained in a Season 1 DVD audio commentary that her go-go moves in "Blast" were "awful!" compared to the other girls with whom she shared the stage -- girls who really could do it and do it well. But in "Generation of Evil" they apparently decided to avoid this problem by hiring dancers who can't seem to dance almost at all... At the very least, they're dreadfully out of sync.

    [​IMG]


    Eventually, after getting the stereotypic Italian mother-running-a-bistro to dump spaghetti on Pete's head as a distraction, Opatoshu escapes surveillance and makes his way to Vegas where Joe, acting as bartender, pulls a gun on him and forces casino security to help him remove the hood from public view.

    [​IMG]

    As Pepper watches their sting operation about to go up in smoke, she uses Vaughn's executive phonebooth in the lobby to trace the origin of the calls he's been taking there from the kidnappers. Unfortunately, somebody behind the camera thought having a ditz on the other end of the line who's thrilled that "the police want me to run a tracer!" would help sell the plot contrivance they have in store when, against instructions, the ditz calls back and bleats away for "Sergeant Pepper Anderson -- she just used this phone!!" into the ear of none other than Vaughn himself, blowing Pepper's cover immediately... It's a stupid vignette; such a mistake on the part of the phone operator would have been far more believable if she'd simply been a semi-gruff, all-business, been-there-done-that-and-I-don't-care kind of person. But instead, they give us an Aaron Spelling moment.

    It's hard to believe this entry was helmed by Corey Allen, who would become one of POLICE WOMAN's better directors; but it's his first episode, and the set politics were weird in Season 2, so we'll just have to forgive him.

    What's so odd about what they've done to Pepper this season is that we're denied her seductive purr even when she's playing a hooker or a showgirl! Okay, they toned down her inflection during expository dialogue in the squad house -- but she has to be made to seem less whore-y even when she's playing a whore?!?

    [​IMG]

    And that trademark purr was important. What the producers and network executives didn't seem to understand about Angie Dickinson (and her detractors no doubt didn't care) was that the sexy thing and the tough thing in Angie comes from the same place in her brain: suppress one and you lose the other... That enigmatic purrrr, so controlled and deliberate and so present in Season One, wasn't merely a "sexy" thing from Angie. It had a consciousness. It had an irony. It was the moral compass of the show. That purr told you everything about what Pepper was thinking, what she wanted the bad guys to think she was thinking, and the inherent contradictions between the two.

    That purr provided the dramatic tension, deepened the subtext, guiding and correcting essentially every scene she was in.

    That's some purr!

    But no more. The purr was gone. Excised from Angie's performance, even when slutting around in a slinky 'screw-me' get-up.

    Anyway, the closing scene in "Generation of Evil" is much poorer, weaker than it should be: now that the grandson is safe in a L.A. hospital, Opatoshu can't understand why Greg Brady rebuffs him because "your love almost killed me, Grandpa" and then wanders off down the hall hand-in-hand with his girlfriend. And when Pepper turns to the confused mobster and offers the would-be chastisement, "You lived your life your way -- now your grandson has to live his..." the line falls flat because Angie is now being coached into delivering all such dialogue apologetically, nervously, like she doesn't really mean it.

    Then, she and Crowley turn and walk down the hospital corridor together to get their freeze frame.

    If she'd delivered the same line in the same scene the previous season, the stinging rebuke would have resonated down the hall after them. But no more.


    ---------


    In "Double Image," Catherine Burns goes on about how "ugly" she is, who, along with her girlfriend who looks like Linda Day George (but isn't), is shaking down some mob guy (Dane Clark) over homemade 8mm sex films...

    "Double Image" also has the kind of California seaside locations which seem so 1976. They must've done them a lot that year.

    Pete Royster gets some of the best -- and only -- personal scenes he would ever have of the entire series, as he falls for Burns' character, despite her being an extortionist whose partner was murdered via a butcher knife. Their mutual bond is presumably based on being funny-looking but oddly appealing.

    Except that she's bat$h!t crazy. Which messes up their scene, baby.

    [​IMG]

    There is a nicely leisurely flavor to this installment and much of the end of Season 2 which is kind of relaxing, the series' inner conflicts from mid-season having been gotten through (how successfully is a matter of opinion). The show no longer seems to be actively suppressing its star, but it -- and she -- is different than what it once was. Perhaps it's just a sense of resignation.

    [​IMG]

    At any rate, it's easier to watch. Even though Pepper's beach bluff bout with a faceless thug results in yet another "saving" via Crowley despite his having been kicked down a dune moments earlier.

    Richard Shores is given the "Music by..." screen credit, and yet he didn't write one note of it.


    --------


    Then there's "Mother Love" with guest star Donna Mills, refining the babynapping skills she will have perfected almost a decade later in KNOTS LANDING.

    She gave birth to a baby girl 6 months ago, and post-partum denial has been tough. She swipes the baby away from its current mother (who foolishly left it with Mills in a mall shoppe) with the intention of reconnecting with her soon-to-be-released-from-prison main dude and the father of the infant...

    [​IMG]

    Nothing wildly dramatic happens in this by-the-book story except for redneck Mills stabbing her trampy housemate and then pushing her equally redneck hubby off a cliff when he attempts to extort 15,000 dollars from the grieving adoptive parents in exchange for the return of the child. Hubby's fall manages to be both shocking and a little funny. Especially when they later find his body aloft in a tree at the base of the cliff.

    The squad chase her around a winding mountain road. And then Mills stops running once Pepper and Crowley manage to get in front of her. Which doesn't entirely make sense, but it's time for the episode to end.

    ---
     
  15. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    The grand finale to Season 2 is a two-parter entitled "Task Force" (everywhere on the Internet and on the DVD packaging, the show is listed "Task Force, Cop Killer" but I'd never seen that until a couple of years ago -- perhaps that was the title on the original script, but it never appears on screen).

    It's about an italian opera singing morotcycle cop who, predictably, falls for Pepper. James Darren is cast as Rick Matteo, and one wonders if Aaron Spelling was watching this in reruns when he decided to add Darren to cast of impossibly cheesy T J HOOKER in the '80s. Or if NBC came up with the idea of putting some metal between the legs of Erik Estrada after viewing this, the episode so smacks of spin-off intentions (and I think it was indeed considered as such).

    Cop-happy Elvis Presley seems like ideal casting, but Colonel Parker would never have allowed it.

    As two-parters go, it's really not bad, giving POLICE WOMAN a badly needed jolt of energy just as the hit-and-miss frustrations inherent to the second season grind to a halt. Like many two-part segments in TV during the '60s and '70s, there is only enough plotline to really warrant a single episode, but "Task Force" seems to validate the extra length by having just enough chutzpah, cuddling, biker menace and lots of shots of cycle-cops riding thru the streets of 1976 L.A. accompanied by a partly new score by Morty Stevens which sounds like some military thing an American highschool band would play at Homecoming.

    [​IMG]

    The plot follows Pepper's inadvertent enlisting in a new female-friendly biker cop unit formed to ward off civil suits after she's duped by the evil feminists on the force into signing a petition. (Crowley, misogynist oinker 'til the end, seems highly amused that one of Pepper's fellow police women actually has a lawyer who's a woman).

    There's a lot of excitement as the new co-ed unit congeals, with many scenes of off-hours group comradery and "natural" macho repartee which today seem insufferably trite; it's harmless, if a bit retro-pathetic.

    Matteo (Darren) saves Pepper's life from a stupid near-fatal sky-diving plunge in the very first scene! That's how you know they'll be a couple. Indeed, he's soon serenading her by the pool, instructing her on proper chopper etiquette, canoodling by the couch since there's no fireplace in Pepper's apartment.

    This once all seemed so nostalgically romantic in a '70s way. (I tended to associate it closely with that episode of STARSKY & HUTCH's Season One in which Starsky finds the girl he'd had a crush on in middle school who'd grown into a famous model before winding up an alky on skid-row and a victim of petty thieves who aim to kill her as a witness to their crimes... The episodes aired weeks apart in Spring 1976 and were both heavy on the romantic Hawaiian-sounding guitar in the musical score).

    [​IMG]

    Then there's Bobbo Olchin (Don Stroud, in his third and fourth appearance on the show) a Manson-like biker gang leader, one whose black leather jacket sports the logo "Hell's Pussycats," more ominous for its cuteness, and who is assumed to have kidnapped the teen daughter of a California industrialist and either killed her or, worse, turned her into one of his shameless whore-devils.

    One has to remember that this aired at the time when HELTER SKELTER (the original, then-shocking TV movie revisiting the 1969 Manson family murders) and Patty Hearst and the Symbianese Liberation Army and other '60s radicals on-the-run were the objects of big, creepy, scandalous media focus post-Vietnam and post-Watergate (and something alluded to again in the top-notch "Tender Soldier" episode of POLICE WOMAN early in Season 3).

    And through it all, there are various subplots of the fetishistic sort that POLICE WOMAN liked to toss in back when such stuff was still considered risky television fare, including Charles Haid (pre-HILL STREET BLUES) caught by James Darren whacking outside Pepper sliding glass door (which leads alternately to an apartment walkway, an enclosed patio, or an open woods dependant on story needs). You know Haid is a loser because he's fat, lives with his mother Rebecca Wentworth, he failed to make the cut during the biker unit training quiz, and everybody's nice to him because it's T.V.

    And after Officer Matteo is later run down in a sidewalk phone booth (a crash he couldn't possibly survive in real life) by a wildly painted van, the search for a motive leads them to recall Haid's night-spunking of Pepper's window; Pepper enlists the aid of the department psychologist, played with her usual uninentional campiness by Dr. Joyce Brothers in one of several appearance in the series, who informs the beautiful Sergeant Anderson that "... any sexual perversion is that serious!". Armed with this insight, Pepper and Crowley then interrogate a sobbing Haid who comforts them with the assurances that he had been in the bushes masturbating to Pepper and not to James Darren. And everyone is relieved, 'cause that's almost normal.

    [​IMG]

    Now that puts the suspicion back on the criminal biker gang and Bobbo Olchin's ex-lieutenant, Comet (played Gerald McRaney who displays a smarmy sex appeal soon lost with his youth) as to who may have run down Officer Matteo and also shot to death another cycle cop who went nosing around the gang's hideout at Sugar Ranch (more shades of Manson imagery).

    Eventually, Pepper finds the long-lost, kidnapped teenaged heiress who's now drugged-out and homicidal and snickers like a rat very effectively; the girl has become Lady Renfield. There's a good, slightly creepy scene at the ranch when the girl pulls an axe on Pepper, and Our Lady of Bacharach spins around -- weapon drawn -- with some competence before the inevitable slapping down at gunpoint by a man, her immediate penance for showing any ovarian-fortitude at all.

    Remember, this is still Season 2.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, the weather is gorgeous and feels so very Spring 1976 (okay, technically it was filmed in February... but it's California).

    They place Pepper on a motorcycle and the cops chase her and then something blows up, leading to Pepper's bedside rejection of James Darren's various proposals. And there is a nice, light-hearted moment at the hospital elevator when Bill still thinks Pepper is headed to Italy with Matteo which is basically ruined by some pretty dodgy vocal looping.

    But it was a good way to close the year.

    BTW: "Task Force" won an Emmy nom for sound-mixing (all those "vrrooom-vrrooomm"s, I guess, because the vocal dubbing is atrocious).

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  16. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Going back to the very beginning...

    [​IMG]


    Gambling on a pilot

    Filmed in February 1974 and broadcast the next month, "The Gamble" was the final episode of the first season of POLICE STORY, a critically well-received anthology series which tried to bring an element of reality to the weekly TV cop show.

    Angie Dickinson is cast as "Lisa Beaumont" (I've rationalized that "Beaumont" is Pepper's married name) a relatively inexperienced LAPD officer who gets her first assignment away from the juvenile division that so bores her. The first scene has Angie entering the vice squad area and, going by her expressions, one is given the impression she is steeling herself to the "gritty" repartee amongst the squad as she heads for Sergeant Crowley's office. But it’s 1974 television, so there is none.

    Upon her knocking on Crowley's door, Joe -- only his name is "Casey" here (Ed Bernard), opens it up, looks her up and down approvingly, and ushers her in where she meets a Crowley played by Bert Convy and not Earl Holliman (I've rationalized they're just Okie cousins). Once seated, Crowley warns Lisa that vice is no picnic and lays on her some of that this-scene-is-tougher-than-anything-you-can-even-imagine-honey type of jive dialogue which seems so, so very early-'70s .... though not before pointing out that Lisa "got to the academy a little late, didn't you?" in acknowledgement that Dickinson, jaw-droppingly gorgeous though she is, is actually 42 years old at a time when 42 was considered the storm door to The Chamber of The Dead, especially for women.

    Angie handles the moment in classic pre-1975 Angie fashion: she's personable and receptive, but has her boundaries and communicates them clearly and quickly. Her editorializing 24/7 purr is fully in action, her accusatory gaze offset by warmth and a certain God-she's-so-friggin'-sexy thing going on which makes a star but few stars ever have.

    After showing Lisa/Angie and the crew about gambling tables and the rigged, percentage dice the illegal casinos prefer, Crowley and Casey-Joe and Pete Royster (Charles Dierkop) drop her off for her first prostitution bust, but not before the three men take the opportunity once again to assure Angie that her "2 1/2 years" of desk experience gives her no idea of the horrors she will face playing an undercover hooker, throwing around various street-jargon terms which sound criminal and authentically pervy but you're not entirely sure (although I think I may know what a “string of pearls” may be). Knocked down a peg or two outside, Angie is welcomed into a swanky sex suite by a chic French madam who surprises her immediately by having a john on hand in the back who is prepared to give the new girl a test run. Bashful and almost giggly, the mustachioed businessman emerges, and Lisa gets him to tell her what he wants from her and how much he'll pay (in whispers, of course). Angie busts him and, fortunately, no one really resists arrest, other than the madam making an embittered observation about Lisa not being a virgin.

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    Over drinks, Convy-Crowley, Pete and Casey-Joe pull rank one more time by pointing out that Lisa's sheet says she's single after she admits to having married Burt Bacharach in Las Vegas, her prophetic explanation for the discrepancy simply, "...divorced...," rightly resenting the intrusion. Again, it's Total Angie: inviting and dismissive simultaneously, she's generous of spirit but draws the line and gently demands you respect it.

    It makes you watch her.

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    Convy shows her how a trick deck of cards works, and tells her to look out for a mobster named "Carl Vitale" (Joseph Campanella) once they send her out casino-hopping, instructing her to "make him like you."

    Well, Angie knows how to do that.

    [​IMG]

    In no time, Angie's hovering-over-a-bar-bourbon routine is successful and, in a moment uncannily reminiscent of a scene from POINT BLANK, she enters a high-rise lobby to ride the elevator up to an illegal game. Sure enough, she meets Campanella as well as poor little rich boy, Peter Brown -- the latter of whom Angie promptly takes her microphone off for and jumps in the sack with. Off-camera, of course.

    So shocking!

    Casey-Joe then finds Angie on her lunch hour at a playground tending to her autistically nonverbal, way-younger sister, played by the producer's daughter, and tells her Convy-Crowley wants her for a meeting back at the station. Once there, she gets raked over the coals yet again, this time for being late while she plays social worker, until she explains that one of those special needs kids is her sibling. “I’m sorry,” Convy offers conciliatorily; “Don’t be,” Angie rebuffs the gesture.

    That same evening presumably, in another slinky gown and in an uppity restaurant in the sky, Angie is serenaded by composer Richard Shores on the piano and Joe Campanella's tonsils which warble a Bacharach tune while the guys in her squad cackle at the other end of the surveillance radio about how much worse a singer the mobster is than actually applies. At one point, when Lisa gets too curious too quickly about where Vitale plans on taking her, he comes close to breaking her wrist and calling her a hooker.

    At this point (and throughout Season 1 of the subsequent series) the motif of Angie as underdressed femme fatale is not yet a joke; there's nothing absurd about it, and it totally works. Perhaps because its introduction is still logical, and because the actress is still permitted to play it with relish.

    Out on the town, Campanella indeed takes her to a shady casino which is actually that same Columbia stage set with the curving staircase better camouflaged than usual. Playing the tables as if the novice she isn't, this is the Angie Dickinson we love: sly and edgy observer underneath, guileless and spectacular party-mad Ho-Mama on the surface.

    It would appear this is the sexiest woman ever born.

    Regrettably for Peter Brown, his inheritance is in a trust fund, and he can't pay his ever-piling gambling debts. So Vitale's men break his legs.

    Showing up at the hospital unexpected, Lisa tries to convince Brown to talk to the cops or at least tell her who busted him up, but he demurs, telling her to "forget it."

    The Brown Eyed Angel responds with hushed sincerity: "I won’t forget it."

    [​IMG]


    Bouncing around Los Angeles from one casino to another, Lisa resists Vitale’s amorous advances under the guise that his goons shook her up earlier when they introduced her to their in-house mortician. But she is not able to use the same excuse when Vitale pressures her to go upstairs and entertain aging Tucson godfather (there are godfathers in Tucson??) who’s taking a liking to her (Jay Adler, brother to Brando’s despicable acting coach, Stella). In the kingpin’s boudoir, Lisa neglects to turn down the stereo interfering with the reception for her stealthily concealed police microphone, but begs off the randy thug-boss’s seduction by confessing to having “a social disease” -– that’s period code for “V.D.”, which was the period acronym for what we today call “S.T.D.s” (although she neglects to specify exactly which infection is keeping her from Don CreepyOne’s love).

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    The mobster instantly exits the room to narc on her, Lisa unable to turn off the blaring music before Campanella bursts in, rightly demanding to know what kind of prostitute turns down hundreds of dollars “for a few minutes work” (in her defense, at his age, a few hours is more likely) belting her across the mug. (“I’ve been punched around by some great-looking guys,” Angie taunts Gloria Steinem in the DVD commentary).

    Wait just a second… Married in Vegas? Autistic daughters? Suave mob-connected crooners who slap up babes?? Was this script really written for Karen Black??, because it’s got Angie’s DNA all over it !

    Lisa fesses up to her actual career choices, and talks Vitale into not killing her under the pretext that, if he does, the department will see to it that he “never even makes it to the station” upon arrest. She then negotiates his sentence and the squad guys bust in belatedly to cuff the crook who then feeds her the line, “What kind of woman are you??” as he’s escorted out of the room, allowing Angie to respond, “Not your kind, Carl…!”

    [​IMG]

    Reportedly, the rushes looked so good on “The Gamble” that the make-up people told Angie that there was already talk of this going to series before they’d finished shooting it, although the schedule for such a project was something the actress had little interest in. But it’s no wonder executive producer David Gerber saw the potential for a spin-off: Angie Dickinson’s charisma just oozes off the screen --- fluffy, kittenish, smoldering, layered, ironic and tough… They’d need to re-cast Crowley with an earthier actor, of course, and re-name the lead character something a tad kitschier like “Sergeant Pepper” (any lawsuits from Apple Records would generate fabulous publicity!). But how could it lose? Angie would go from the relative career obscurity she was in during the Spring of 1974 where she was signing to do Roger Corman nudie exploitation films like BIG BAD MAMA and screaming over the phone at the Oscars show producer for neglecting to invite her to deliver an award with her husband (“I got on the show, but I was embarrassed for the next 28 years…”) to starring in a series which would become one of the top shows on the planet by 1975 and would change television and real-life law enforcement as few programs ever would --- and yet today remains almost completely unknown to younger generations of television viewers: POLICE WOMAN.

    Oddly, along with the feminists (who seemingly cared not a whit about the seismic wave of applications from women around the country for law enforcement jobs because of the show, instead insisting for years that POLICE WOMAN had been “degrading to real life police women”) former cop and POLICE STORY creator Joseph Wambaugh bashed POLICE WOMAN continually for making Angie invulnerable and overly-focusing on her sex appeal --- an ironic assertion given that she gushes and heaves in a peekaboo skirt through nearly every scene of “The Gamble” episode.

    She’s dressed a far greater percentage of the time on POLICE WOMAN.

    _______________________________

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  17. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    The gamble really begins...

    [​IMG]

    The very first episode of POLICE WOMAN to air 13 September 1974 is the ironically titled, “The End Game,” so chosen because NBC thought, probably correctly, that it best reflected what the new series would be.

    It opens without background music, the Criminal Conspiracy Unit –- Bill Crowley (now, Earl Holliman), Pepper, Joe and Pete --- cruising the seedier back streets of Los Angeles, intent on making a prostitution bust. The dialogue between the officers is, for the time, rather edgy and glib, when television was beginning to step away from the DRAGNET-ian “Yes, ma’am; just the facts, ma’am” Old School image of the straight-laced cop and instead portray them as irreverent and human. In this first scene from “The End Game,” the squad makes several snickering jokes among themselves blurring the lines between crooks and criminals, particularly in regards to pimping and procurement.

    Soon, however, the team is distracted by a radio call for all nearby units to assist in stopping a bank robbery in progress. Shotguns blasting from the thugs inside, a patrolman struggles on the sidewalk with an obviously fatal abdominal wound as Pepper and the team descend on the site, the passing traffic seeming to suggest that the department hasn’t had enough time to seal off the streets or the producers had been unable to get the proper permits to do so…

    [​IMG]

    CCU exchange shots with the gunmen and Crowley drives the squad car up onto the sidewalk to protect the dying officer --- who then asks gorgeous Sergeant Anderson to hold him to her bosom --- from any further gunfire. The uniformed cop expires, but presumably happily.

    [​IMG]

    This is a rawer moment than most cop shows had given the audience up until then, and it seems to suggest that POLICE WOMAN isn’t going to distinguish itself only by the novelty that the star was female: this is going to be the kind of hardboiled show that DECOY with Beverly Garland and HONEY WEST with Anne Francis --- and GET CHRISTIE LOVE then bombing on the other network --- never managed to achieve.

    [​IMG]

    Back at the station, a tearful Pepper takes a swig of something from out of Crowley’s file cabinet --- had they originally planned to make her a situational alcoholic? --- and she’s quickly discovered and taunted by an unsympathetic Royster and Styles, in one of those early they’d never-do-this-sort-of-thing-later kind of moments in which seasoned co-workers appear to be attempting to toughen up the rookie. Crowley appears and is a tad kinder, but assures her that the bad guys don’t take the kind of time off that Pepper is now requesting in her grief.

    And indeed they don’t, as this multicultural co-ed battalion of bank-busting bastards are at it again: they hit another savings and loan, and before their job is complete, one of the female felons obliterates with a shotgun an aged teller for simply looking like she might have hit a silent alarm.

    And they kidnap another teller (Deirdre Lenihan) just for good measure.

    Back at headquarters, Pepper and Crowley attend a meeting addressing this new string of robberies. The commanding officer (Bill Williams) points out the unnecessary (“… the troops are mean…!”) and adding that the thugs in question carry out their jobs “with almost military precision.” One wonders if that’s a veiled reference to the new show itself, as there seems the deliberate effort to be tough and no-nonsense –- tight plotting, tight scene construction, and no B.S.: a very macho cop show about a very feminine cop.

    That’s a good mix, an excellent plan. Of all the crime dramas on the tube at this time which would seem to fit the “military precision” description, only HAWAII FIVE-0 qualifies, and the producers of POLICE WOMAN even went so far as to procure the talents of FIVE-O’s Emmy-winning theme composer, Morton Stevens (at least, after Angie’s husband, Burt Bacharach, presumably held his Oscar and a Grammy in the shape of a crucifix to ward off the offer).

    In any event, POLICE WOMAN feels like a movie.

    In the shadow of evening, the brutal gang tosses the bound and gagged teller from their moving car, and she lands in a garbage pile. Why they didn’t kill her? We don’t find out, but Pepper and Bill question her in the hospital about her abusers. She claims to remember little of the dialogue, the faces involved, the events. Intuiting something uglier, Pepper asks Bill to let her stay for a bit, and once he’s out of the room, she focuses in on her suspicions that the young teller was raped, still a rare enough TV crime in 1974 that even hinting at it could raise the audience’s collective eyebrows.

    [​IMG]

    Correct in her assumption, Pepper assures the girl that the issue of the rape is their secret for now but concedes “it may have to come out in court later.” Yet Pepper says it so angelically, it’s almost soothing. And at least it’s honest.

    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, the vicious thieves move in on the home of a local bank manager, holding his wife and kids captive unless he goes to his place of business and brings home $100,000 in a brief case. This is ‘70s television, of course, so the financial institution’s president permits this with cheerful good will --- which seems unlikely in any year.

    The man returns home with the money and the creeps leave, but not without him in tow as a hostage. “What do you think we are --- animals?” the gang leader (Paul Burke) taunts him when the man thanks them for allowing him to hug and kiss his wife and kids goodbye.

    You know all this isn’t going to end well.

    Pepper and Crowley arrive at the bank manager’s home. Pepper charms the children and finds a casino chip in an ashtray and Crowley learns from the wife (Linda Dano) that the hoods were looking for different channel numbers on the TV while they’d waited for her husband to bring home the cash. Finally the husband arrives home once again, released and unharmed.

    Back at the station, and over drinks at Vinnie’s later on, Pepper and the team decide Vegas is the place to head. So Pepper and Bill hop a plane to Nevada where the locals have cornered some of the thugs in a motel on the strip. Shots are exchanged and most of the crooks escape --- except one whom Crowley shoots to death, and who only hesitated in making his exit out of concern for his lame german shepherd.

    Even murderous malefactors love their pets.

    [​IMG]

    The computer implausibly decides the odds on which local L.A. bank is the likeliest next target, so that’s where CCU sets up camp: Joe works the front counter, Pete runs the sandwich truck in the parking lot, Crowley flirts with a tawny Texan teller and Pepper pretends to be jealous, then makes her usual jokes about dating movie stars whom Angie Dickinson actually knows. Pepper then admits that playing sitting duck for the clan of killers is a bit creepy --- and it kind of is; the tension builds and becomes increasingly real.

    On the second or third day staking out Western Mutual, Pepper introduces herself to an employee previously out on leave; immediately, the girl recognizes the mug shot of one of the two female bank robbers, Laurette Blake (Jonelle Allen), who’d recently come in and put in a bogus application for a loan. This revelation sends everyone’s antennae skyward, but there’s not much time to ponder its potential ramifications: the evil villains have just pulled into the driveway outside.

    [​IMG]

    Once inside, the outlaws hold court while the employees and customers take their instructed positions against the wall, including Pepper, Bill and Joe.

    As the crime goes down, Laurette Blake saunters arrogantly around the floor of the establishment, casing the joint and even taunting the employee who’d taken her application only days earlier --- that is, until Miss Blake sits down, sawed-off shotgun across her lap, and suddenly becomes unglued when she sees her own paperwork on the girl’s desk.

    [​IMG]

    Wasting no more time, Pepper whips out her own double-barreled firearm hidden discreetly behind a file cabinet. Both women in red, it’s an abrupt dual to the death. And before the curvaceous crook can effectively respond, Pepper blows her back to hell.

    [​IMG]

    Joe is winged (shoulder injuries on TV used to be treated as if they were the equivalent of a bloody nose) but the nasty gang has finally been collared. Bill then observes what remains of Laurette, draped motionless over the back of the chair, her bloodied bosom pointing to the stars.

    Crowley assures his relatively neophyte underling that this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day in the life of a police officer. But Sergeant Pepper Anderson, turning away from the carnage and nearly paralyzed with duty’s remorse, responds gravely: “Maybe someday … some time … I’ll be able to accept that.”

    [​IMG]

    This dynamic, crackerjack series seems destined to fly. Period reviews of this episode were good, even though TVGUIDE doesn't hold out much hope for the show's success.

    By January, POLICE WOMAN would be hitting #1 for the week.

    __________________________

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    [​IMG]


    'Warning: All Wives'



    The first episode actually shot for the new POLICE WOMAN series is “Warning: All Wives,” written by story editor Ed De Blasio. The installment opens up on an exterior shot of the anonymous “Memorial Medical Center” building with composer Pete Rugolo’s jazzy take on Morton Stevens’ theme tune for the show. We see Elinor Donahue (of FATHER KNOWS BEST ‘50s iconography) smooching with her husband just before she leaves; he’s having an operation, and they promise one another sex upon his release.

    Turns out Donahue is the first wife who needs to be warned. Later, while hanging a banner in her living room in anticipation of her husband’s return home, an off-camera voice begins screaming at her to take off her blouse and to dance in her bra. She reluctantly complies, a brassiere still a shocking thing to see on TV in 1974 –- especially when it’s Elinor Donahue. For someone so terrified and clearly staring into the Face of Eternity, her pre-mortem rug-cutting displays an unexpected chutzpah: she’s about to be slashed to death, sure, but that’s no reason to boogie without sincerity.

    Vinnie’s, the bar the entire LAPD seems to frequent, makes its first appearance in this episode, with Earl Holliman's Sergeant Crowley less soft or polished than Bert Convy. Anticipating chemistry from a distance, Angie helped handpick Holliman as Convy’s successor --- and while that word, “chemistry,” tends to be obnoxiously over-used when describing two actors cast together, sometimes it does indeed apply, and Miss Dickinson and Mr. Holliman seem to have it; it’s an intelligence and an innate yin-yang awareness of each other which helps the scenes gel in a way they otherwise might not: Holliman’s Clint Eastwood face and natural authority, and Dickinson’s instinct for coquettishly prowling and navigating around his and everyone else’s expectations will become the dynamic which defines this show immediately --- at least during the first season…

    [​IMG]

    The growling boss both enamored and strangely contemptuous of his vulnerable, melancholy-but-upbeat feminine underling. It’s not Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty; it’s Lou Grant and Mary Richards.

    Crowley informs the team in Vinnie’s that another woman has been found raped and slashed to death. “I wonder what kind of freak we’ve got this time,” Pepper queries as if Crowley hadn’t just told them what kind of freak they have this time.

    After talking with Donahue’s grieving, still-hospitalized widower, Crowley and Lieutenant Marsh (Val Bisoglio) hold court in Crowley’s office, Pepper making the very to-period TV observation that a single girl gets to the point she can tell a killer rapist on the other end whenever she picks up the phone. Pepper also learns in this meeting that she’s going to be the rape bait, as per viewer expectation.

    [​IMG]

    At this point in the series and for a few months, POLICE WOMAN will be photographed in film noir style, or as that style could be manifest when shot in color: deep shadows, sun-streak rooms with venetian blinds cascading across the walls, Angie gently lit and soft-lensed just exactly to the correct degree… It’s a look and an approach to filming that seemed to come back into vogue on the cusp of the ‘60s and ‘70s and is terribly effective for mood and focusing the drama, and yet Hollywood tended to repeatedly forget about it; it would be gone again by mid-decade when flat-lighting would return to series television.

    It works so well for POLICE WOMAN in particular, that the show should have hung onto it even as the rest of the industry was forgetting it again.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper shares a brief scene with her autistic daughter, Cheryl (Nicole Kallis, who was young enough to be attending school with Angie’s real life daughter, Nikki) and then finds her way to the hospital where her hubby, Crowley, has already checked himself in and sent himself flowers. He and Pepper makes small talk with two aging nurses (Martha Scott is one of them) who warn Pepper to be careful with a maniac on the loose.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper then posts a 3x5 ad on the hospital bulletin board to sell a dog and therefore establish herself as bait, while Joyce Bulifant bids adieu to her patient husband and then drives into oblivion, the killer’s next pawn.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper makes herself seen around the hospital, making love with her eyes to all staff and passersby, becoming nervous as she arrives home, paranoid she might have been followed. Illogically, she neglects to lock the apartment door behind her before calling Crowley from her home phone to find out if he’s placed anyone on her tail; even more illogically, he says, “no.” No matter. The suspicious car contains only young lovers who fondle each other on the sidewalk outside her window.

    [​IMG]

    Crowley requests audience with the hospital phone operator (Joan Darling) and asks her to listen in for odd conversations; when she refuses out of professional integrity, he charms her with their shared Italian background in a scene they’d only attempt (and ever expect to work) in the 1970s. And with all that talk of pasta and Rigoletto, she is helpless not to comply.

    It's a moment terribly clichéd and transparent to the modern eye, but it's done with such innocent appeal it evokes rather sweetly the small-screen flavor of that era, its attempt to embrace ethnic-ky stuff and get around plot complications simultaneously.

    Pepper shows up later to report on the “kinky” garage ticket taker, Fred Asher (Don Stroud), a too-obvious suspect who puts the moves on all the hot babes. Like Pepper.

    When Bulifant’s body is found in a local park and Pepper’s puppy ad disappears, Pete and Joe show up at Pep’s apartment to tell her, once her joke about Steve McQueen taking a shower upstairs is over, that they’re staying the night. So why, then, leave her completely alone when she flirts with leering Stroud and rides with him all the way to her apartment the next afternoon? Anyway, she invites him in, dances alluringly with him, excuses herself to comb her hair, tells him (looking more like a smitten puppy himself than a psycho killer) to leave when he follows her into her bedroom as she clearly intended, and then, rookie that she is, pulls a police revolver and sticks it in his gut once he starts nibbling on her neck. “What the hell is that?!?” he squeals reasonably... Poor guy. He wont be scoring tonight, unless its with Bubba in the county municipal complex.

    [​IMG]

    Fred Asher has a solid alibi, so Pepper continues wandering the halls in her provocative getup until Martha Scott stops her to small-talk and to assure her that her grandson with “his ‘problem’ ... doesn’t get ‘that way’ ---- any more..." Edward de Blasio said the following year that he wouldn’t have written this script later because the series had “become more sophisticated.” Well, one would think so, as the revelation here comes all too giggle-inducingly easy. Almost like an Aaron Spelling device. But then, the hour is nearly up.

    The grandson’s shrink show up, explaining to the unit that Mama Was a Whore and that’s why the kid’s dun gone krazy.

    Now that we realize the grandson, Martin (William Katt), is the killer, he instinctively now knows to show up at the hospital midday to grab Pepper and pull her into an elevator at knife point, Angie setting her acting button on: ‘hyperventilation/fear’. And she’s pretty good at it.

    [​IMG]

    Benign pre-CARRIE towhead Katt seems the unlikely choice to play a babe-slicing nut job, but one guesses that’s the point: this cutie is no Richard Speck.

    In a mad search for Pepper, now missing, Pete Royster informs Crowley that a nurse saw Pep and whack-monster Martin on the elevator, “...and she thinks it was going up.” (Angie Dickinson and Earl Holliman have major fun with this line on the DVD commentary). In the boiler room, Martin tells Angie what a skank she is --- just like his dirty mama --- and turns on some music (which sounds suspiciously like the theme song) and demands that she dance, while Angie tries to look terrified, sympathetic and slutty all at the same time. And, again, she’s pretty good at it.

    Making their way up to the kind of sun-drenched rooftop that seemed so commonplace to the first couple of years of POLICE WOMAN, the golden-maned pair wait for Crowley and the squad, helicopters circling overhead. Crowley tries to make a deal with Martin who refuses the offers, so Pepper takes a dive onto the roof tar, Martin slices the strings of her flimsy top as she does, and Pete shoots William Katt off the roof of the high rise and he falls to his death, 200 feet below.

    [​IMG]

    Scrambling to keep her boobies off-screen (hard to believe this was titillating for TV ~40 years ago) Crowley places his jacket over her shoulders. Everybody gets a close-up as the sun goes down, and the episode ends on the master shot: Pepper braces herself against a wall in relief.

    Her first filmed assignment complete, this show looks like it has serious promise: the right casting, the right look, the right tone, a cozy Friday night timeslot right after THE ROCKFORD FILES…

    What could go wrong?

    --------
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
  19. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    In The Beautiful Die Young, we catch one of the only glimpses we'll ever get of Pepper's autistic little sister, played by the producer's daughter and, at that moment, going to school with Angie's real-life daughter, Nikki. ("We get away with everything in television," Angie chortles on the DVD commentary for another episode).

    A telephone complaint from an anxious mother leads the police to investigate the Classic Modeling Agency, run by slimy Ted Adrian (and who does 'slimy' better than William Windom?) but the agency is actually a front for his business of supplying young girls to the porno houses and overseas white slave trade.

    [​IMG]

    Pepper and Crowley use a young cadet trainee (Kathleen Quinlan) to go undercover as a young model receptive to doing local porn in order to get close to Adrian's business, but only after Pepper determines that Olympic cutey Cathy Rigby just "looks too young" for the job... Huhhh?

    Meanwhile, as Adrian's partying with and attempting to seduce a naive 16-year old (Karen Lamm), the teen has a cocaine induced heart attack and he finds himself sawing her remains into pieces and dumping the corpse into a laundry bag and a trash bin on the far side of town.

    Pepper meets Huggy Bear in a seedy bar while wearing her bull dyke hooker outfit and a big chocolate wig to score some backstreet scoop on what's goin' down in the big city.

    [​IMG]

    Now armed with all the skid row data she could possibly need, Pepper then poses as a white slave trader from Japan named, of all things, Mignon Downs, and in the market for some "young, dumb, very pretty American" fresh female meat. After perusing his farm of dazed and drugged-out beauties, Adrian and Pepper retire to his house for a drink. Unfortunately for Sergeant Anderson, Adrian takes a call while she's sniffing around the chainsaw in his basement when he learns that the real Mignon Downs is in a Chinese prison.

    Uh oh.

    Adrian finds her in the cellar, locates her badge inside her purse immediately, ties her to a S&M piece of equipment he identifies as "a virgin's kiss" with little effort, and the squad bursts in and kills him.

    The episode ends back at Pep's apartment with her draped in the luxurious fur she doesn't have to return to LAPD's properties department until the morning, and makes a joke about tossing a salad in it. And she is, indeed, holding a huge bowl of salad -- which is how they probably got by the censors with that line.

    It's all shot in color noir a la the early-'70s -- a style I still think works incredibly well for almost any drama, but would go out of fashion within months. And of all the shows that used it, I thought POLICE WOMAN was one series which should have held on to it. It just fit it so well.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  20. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    As "Fish" opens up, Investigators Royster and Styles are supposedly protecting a witness set to testify against kingpin Maury Ziegler, but playing cards in front of an open window is no way to keep a sniper from putting the witness in his crosshairs, so the narc is shot and killed.

    The next day the gunman is cornered in his hotel room by Pepper and Crowley who kick in the door and then blow him away --- well, Crowley does... Pepper doesn't fire at all, as if she's decided to wait and see how it all turns out before taking action... No matter, Pepper's demeanor is still all business at this point, so you hardly notice that her revolver isn't smoking. On his death bed, the killer confesses to Pepper that Ziegler hired him to make the hit, and once Ziegler's girlfriend (Conny Van Dyke) gets busted trying to ditch the murder weapon in the bay, Pepper goes undercover as a tough prison mama presumably for the first time in order to schmooze the girl into testifying against her powerful boyfriend -- but not before Sergeants Crowley and Anderson can receive a dire warning from totally credible prison psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers who informs them, "it could be fatal."

    Armed with this insight, Pepper slithers into jail and acts all 8th grade gym class. Convincing her cell mates she's a bad ass mothah who'll kick your butt into the San Fernando Valley if you try and mess with her, Pepper befriends the mobster's moll and tries to coax her into turning state's evidence on Maury Ziegler, who looks and talks a lot like Punk Anderson.

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    The girl is terrified to testify -- and she won't have to, as the mob boss orders his former squeeze poisoned via a drug overdose by one of their fellow cons, butch babe Jo Enders (Marian Mercer).

    Pepper suspects Jo is behind the murder, warms to her, and informs Jo that they're both getting sprung from the slammer at the very same time. Pepper is just delicious enough for Jo to ponder taking her to Mexico with her, as Jo has suddenly come into some major cash.

    Pepper says "sure," rebuffs her pimp (Styles in a 'fro and a '70s groove ensemble perfect for a Cadillac with fuzzy interiors) at the prison exit, and hops in the back of the car sent by Ziegler to pick up Jo and whisk her out of the country --- only once inside, Pepper, fully aware of how Jo obtained her fresh thousands, coolly demands twice the payment or they go to the cops.

    Jo is horrified, and Pepper gives her a comforting backseat wink which seems intended to assure her they won't both be killed within minutes.

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    Once they're driven to Ziegler's pad, Pepper happily pockets the funds she'd demanded, but the mafia don insists she call the "girlfriend" Pepper claims will go to the police if Pepper doesn't touch base by 5pm. Sergeant Anderson dials the correct local time, the ruse fails to deceive the clever and wily man, Pepper gives one of those "oops-I've-been-caught" expressions that work so well on TV, and then she and Jo are escorted away to be dumped into a convenient ravine, Jo shrieking in terror as they go.

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    But it's all part of the plan. Crowley and the squad show up, and they have one of those cartoonish, good-clean-fun types of shoot-outs that STARSKY & HUTCH would soon make a weekly tradition where people dive over hedges and fire weapons from the hoods of cars and grown men explode into spontaneous human combustion for no particular reason as women look on agape or scream from nearby. Crowley crashes his vehicle into the hoodlum's escaping sedan, and is knocked unconscious.

    Back at the station, Crowley, his forehead bandaged and their official reports completed, invites Pepper to an evening of watching old '50s women-in-prison movies on TV at home, and she acts all put-off by the suggestion but follows him out the door. I always expect her to smack him on the butt with her purse, but she doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017

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