Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Snarky's Ghost, Sep 12, 2017.
I have been meaning to check out Police Woman for a while, but I have yet to do so.
Angie wants you to dive right in...
One of those ridiculously compacted "minisode" videos of POLICE WOMAN, only this one features Mrs Scottfield, Atticus Ward, a John Parker score, and J.R. Ewing who takes another dunk in the pool -- only this one occurs at the L.A. marina:
Amazingly, instead of waiting 6 years to release the fourth & final season, they're only waiting 6 months, May 2018. Not that I'm all that thrilled by the prospect -- when the first episode is the best installment all season, that's not a great sign. They make an attempt at re-energizing Angie this season, but the show becomes infected with a dash of CHARLIE'S ANGELS-itis.
And the cover art is almost identical to that of Season 3:
Gee --- wonder what's happening here...?
Doris and Mary and Angie, obviously waiting, during a 1971 anti-fur campaign shoot (which also included Jayne Meadows and Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake). Is there some tension afoot?
No wonder Season 4 came out on DVD just six months after Season 3 --- it's a mediocre season already (well, they all were from S2 onward) but this is by far the worst home video release they've given POLICE WOMAN. The vast majority of episodes are ripped from blurry syndication prints. I've got old VHS copies I made from reruns that literally look better than this crap. It almost makes me more sympathetic to Season 4 than it deserves.
Appropriately, the worst picture ever taken of Angie Dickinson appears on the discs themselves, but it's uber-digitalized so it's barely recognizable as either the star or the snapshot itself.
Shame on Shout Factory. Or me. As I guiltily wonder if somebody read my various "S4 sucks" reviews online and decided just not to bother with giving us a decent re-mastering as a result.
Season 4 episodes:
'Do You Still Beat Your Wife?' Despite Dr. Joyce Brothers spouting the episode's title in one of her annual camp cameos as a physician of various persuasions, this is the best installment of the entire Season 4... A pre-'E.T.' Dee Wallace plays a naïve country wife being beaten up by her husband, a musician in a local dive where Pepper decides to go dance (she dances badly, which one suspects Angie's doing on purpose, as if satirizing her own image from the show) in order to make the bust. Meanwhile, the squad learns hubby's first wife disappeared five years earlier. Pat Carroll makes an appearance as a helpful neighbor and a friend of Crowley's with whom her late husband worked. And there's a comic subplot of Pete Royster being sex-stalked by an anonymous admirer, but the funniest part is when Bill grabs the abused wife's arm like he's going to hit her during a playground interrogation.
Solidly directed by Corey Allen, darkly-scored by Morton Stevens to enhance the sense of torment, there is minimal B.S. on display here, the fully-clothed disco jiggling from Angie notwithstanding. Just a straightforward domestic crime story, and the tone the show should have learned by now to stick to.
Pepper investigates a shadowy gun runner (Dane Clark in one of five guest appearance, a fact that makes it harder to buy his character here as "shadowy"), testifies before a grand jury on TV, sets herself up as a target, and even gets Joe Styles (Ed Bernard) shot and Nipsey Russell murdered. Adam West has a small role as an assassin more campy than Batman. Everyone waxes on about how tough and stubborn Pepper supposedly is, but it sounds more like the producers are editorializing about how their affable star still isn't quite affable enough for their tastes, which explains and reflects why they seem to have been punishing her for two years.
The episode's okay. It's got a vaguely silly vibe, but at least Pepper is doing stuff. And the office scene with an angry Angie and the fed (Monte Markham, his second guest appearance in the series) just after Nipsey bites it serves to remind us of Dickinson's strangely Lady Sampson characteristic pattern in which the better her hair, the more soulfully gritty her acting. It's weird, actually. As if the more beautifully put together and tightly-coiffed she is, the more fully her she is -- or, at least, the more fully Pepper Anderson.
A stock score mostly by Bruce Broughton, repeated ad nauseum this season and a composition thinner than what we came to expect from him on DALLAS, yet Morty Stevens gets the screen credit.
'A Means to an End'
Competent entry about Pepper and company investigating a series of overdoses on a nearby campus, especially after Crowley neglects to successfully save a comely coed from taking a PCP-inspired leap from a balcony. Pepper poses as a streetwise, limo-ensconced society matron out to score the highest quality junk she can. Along the way she saves an undercover agent (Karen Lamm, in one of several appearances on the show) working for the sleazy D.A. (HONEY WEST's partner, John Ericson, with whom Angie schemed to murder Robert Duvall 13 years earlier on THE FUGITIVE) by sleeping and shacking up with the pusher (Daniel Benton, the line producer's son in one of his several appearances on the show and would go on to script a S2 episode of DYNASTY) who's about to kill his sweetheart once her identity is revealed.
The real star here is Morton Steven's terrific original score.
Regrettably, the story's borderline legitimacy is neutralized by a final hospital bedside scene where the featured pair of addicted teens assure Sergeants Anderson & Crowley that they have now been sufficiently informed and educated about what "drugs can do to our bodies" and Pepper gets a freeze frame as she gives them a thumbs up.
'The Inside Connection'
Crowley sits on Pepper's Parisian sunglasses and smashes them, then promises to replace them with a comparable item. The duo dives into yet another drug case involving horse racing (a metaphor?), jailhouse hymnals stuffed with narcotics, an ex-shoplifter Pepper once talked into joining the force sent undercover prematurely to The Big House where she's killed by Jayne Kennedy, and then Pepper herself winds up in the slammer and manages to unconvincingly fight off the entire prison population once she provokes a fistfight with Miss Jayne, evil crime lord Fernando Lamas behind it all. Charming Henry Darrow is on hand as a panicky go-between.
The episode closes back in Crowley's office as he presents to Pepper an acceptable knock-off replacement for her doomed sunglasses, gives her a kiss, and she turns to go home, a cluttered, dumbish episode suddenly delivering an unexpectedly poignant freezeframe moment, as if the camera briefly and inadvertently caught a whiff of the real Angie and the real '70s just before fading to black.
Comic and bad celebrity impressionist Rich Little saves Afton Cooper from a pair of roadside rascals after her vehicle breaks down, only to kill her himself after recording her voice and pleads for mercy. Sergeant Crowley picks up Catherine Bach from a city sidewalk as she's thumbing for a ride to Hazzard County, frightening her as he tries to sternly warn her that she shouldn't be soliciting free rides from strangers because two teen girls are missing who were last seen at the street corner she was on. Pepper then brilliantly informs him that "you can't pick up hitchhikers!"
Several more girls are assaulted and killed the same way, but one of them managed to toss the maniac's tape recorder into the nearest lake as she fell to her death from his moving Lincoln Mark V, back when full-sized cars were the size of land yachts. The salvaged tapes are drenched but reveals Rich Little's voice, and we're hoping it's not his worst Edith Bunker impersonation; the tire tracks reveal the likely make of his luxury vehicle. But there's a twist: he has a twin brother and they've both got the same make of Lincoln. The cops ponder which sibling might be the guilty party, as if they're no closer to catching him now.
Investigating at his place of business, Pepper sees the likely car in question in the company parking lot, gets down on her knees to locate a ripped piece of fabric belonging to one of his victims (or it might be a pipe used to push exhaust fumes into the car to subdue the girls, I'm really not sure) and all you can think is: "oh, Angie, those white slacks of yours are going right into the washer with a quart of bleach..." The shift-ending horn blows for all the employees to leave the factory, Pepper strolls back through the plant's giant boiler room, she's stunned when one of the damning audiotapes begin blaring from the intercom system, and then the mustachioed psycho jumps down upon her from a steel beam, instigating one of those frenetic fight scenes in which Angie's stunt double appears to be wearing a Marilyn Monroe wig the prop department picked up in Spencer's Gifts at The Grove.
Crowley and the plant's security guard show up just in time to guarantee Pepper doesn't work up a sweat defending herself, and the duo later share an ice cream cone and comment on the nearest teenaged lovely getting into a big car which might wind up being her coffin.
Written and directed of course by David Moessinger who does "dark" and "dumb" simultaneously.
"The Buttercup Killer"
An unusually stylized episode for this point in the series' run -- one directed by Michael Mann in order to prove his cinematic skills to NBC to secure a network series job he's after (Mann would later jokingly assert that "Angie Dickinson taught me everything I know") -- a homicidal nun limps from one murder to another like an injured Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, photographed in blurry fisheye lens (which, in this case, is not due to a bad DVD print -- in fact, this copy is actually pretty good) shooting members of the same Greek family, one by one, and leaving a tiny yellow anemone behind. Pepper at one point gets knocked over the head by the assailant with a bad habit, and in the concluding hospital scene in which the killer's identity is revealed, the girl who almost becomes the final victim bleats some final line about his motive which, even after 41 years, I still can't quite make out. Something happened in The Old Country the killer was still vengeful about, I'm sure of it.
Even the great Jo Van Fleet pops up.
Obviously, one of the more unique, and better, episodes of the season, even though people don't seem to like it much because it's too different.
An original, appropriately eastern European score by Gerald Fried.
"Merry Christmas Waldo" (with no comma)
Lloyd Nolan is hitting banks dressed as Santa Claus, and delivering money and gifts to the poor as the squad tries to catch him and make Scrooge jokes at Sergeant Crowley's expense.
A benign, sweet-natured little Christmas episode, and one of the year's less offensive installments.
There's an original score from Morton Stevens.
It's hot and the air conditioning keeps going out in the police station. A street thug threatens Pepper while she and her co-workers drag him into a prison cell, making her wonder why the guys always seem to take their rage out on women, if there's one around. Then, frustrated that their latest drug bust (Nehemiah Persoff) has already made bail before they can finish their drinks at Vinnie's, Pepper leaves the bar and almost gets run over in the parking lot, but, being a good cop, she just goes home and doesn't tell anybody about it until later. When she finally does, Bill is rightly pissed, and Pepper reacts with a defensive shrillness which seems even less professional than her waiting 12 hours to report the attempt on her life. When she almost gets blown up and shot while visiting her snitch named "Napoleon" (Danny DeVito) Crowley picks up the diminutive informant and appears to sodomize him all the way back to the station. Then the stalker gets into Pepper's apartment, wakes her up, she knocks the knife from his hands, dives for the .38 police special inside her nightstand, fires away as he slips out thru the sliding glass door in her bedroom, and you know it's all done in a very convincing manner. Heh. Even under protective custody, her car blows up with a talcum powder bomb. Eventually re-arresting Persoff and assuming he's the faceless villain, Pepper takes a few days off at Crowley's recommendation and spends the weekend at a friend's mountain cabin with no phone. Big surprise -- the real crook follows her there and tries to shoot her in the woods, only he's Richard Schaal, seemingly too young (let alone recognizable at that time) for the mysterious culprit part he's playing: an elderly A/C repairman embittered that seductive Pepper once arrested his son for rape, that son recently beaten to death in prison. Back at the cabin, Pepper has a drink with the boys, suggests they all thank the good-looking park ranger who saved her in their own special and individual ways, and she then makes a funny Freudian voice which Crowley criticizes and the episode ends.
It's okay, this one, but there's no question -- in keeping with the entire Season 4 as a whole -- that we've drifted into Late-'70s Series TV Territory where nearly every show feels like it's being produced by Aaron Spelling even when it's not.
An acceptable original score from Bruce Broughton, but it's tracked waaaay too much throughout this season.
An eager young cop (Michael Burns) joins the squad, but he puts off Crowley and his co-workers for his cocky, hotdog attitude -- all except for Pepper, who is convinced he'll grow out of it and become a useful investigator. But when a corrupt and powerful lawyer (drunken comic Foster Brooks -- as this season the show seems determined to hire as many B-level Vegas acts as possible.... and yet CHARLIE'S effin' ANGELS get the Rat Pack??) and his co-conspirator (songwriter Paul Williams) get caught in a scheme to shake down criminal suspects for cash to buy off the charges against them, the evil pair try and pin their schemes on the young cop who's been using Williams as his all-too-effective snitch.
Pepper gets one of her only kick-roll-and-fire kind of Starsky-&-Hutchinsonian moments when she goes to bust Williams for murdering a client who'd figured out the scam, so he knocks her down and draws a heater from his desk drawer.
Burns was one of the better child actors of the '60s (although DRAGNET's Blue Boy would never prove it) and matured into an affably interesting second lead whose career never grew beyond the '70s cop show guest star junket (except for a notably weird Altman film with Sandy Dennis which I rather like) so he quit the business right after this episode and became a professor; he played graspingly nerdy, paranoid competence pretty well, and he does so again here.
Despite the unavoidably LOVE BOAT era silly vibe of the season, this is still one of the year's better installments. But then, the first half of Season 4 isn't as pathetic as the upcoming second half. They seemed to be trying to avoid sidelining Angie this year as they'd done so much in the two previous seasons, but that doesn't prevent POLICE WOMAN from still becoming too stupid, and that's well on its way...
Sandra Dee is a mom who's obviously too blind to find the refrigerator -- she looks absolutely emaciated here. In her desert home, Pepper is protecting her after Dee's husband (yes, it's actually Tab Hunter) is kidnapped by thugs following a lame car chase. But, being in the desert, Angie's also got big dark sunglasses, so when the mob shows up to grab Sandy (who's inside), they mistake one for the other, snatching and then chasing Pepper into the yucca, baby in tow.
It's an okayish episode. Yet Dee's innate sadness inadvertently keeps the story and by rote action almost grounded (I've never found Virgil W Vogel much of a director beyond just telling the crew where to place the camera).
An attempt to flip -- and cannibalize -- the plot from "Target Black" three years earlier, this new entry sees Pepper forced by the department into protecting a campaigning rightwing politician (Laraine Stephens, the wife of executive producer David Gerber, in one of her numerous appearances on the series) whom Pepper knew from highschool (Stephens is 10 years younger than Angie) as an unscrupulous classmate. Eartha Kitt pops up as a prostitute for no real reason other than the obvious Catwoman jokes, one supposes.
The anti-fascism message in the script is overly obvious. But in the era of Trump, I guess it can still stand to be repeated. Even in this puerile a fashion.
In what may be the last really decent (and therefore aptly titled) episode of the series, while the squad is investigating the suspicious death of a race car driver who's also a friend of Joe Styles, Crowley's fragile ex-wife Jackie (Bibi Besch) returns to town with a designer's degree and a promise he can soon drop the alimony payments. (In Season 2's "Pattern for Evil" Crowley calls his ex "Mary Ellen" -- so perhaps he's been married and divorced twice, which would explain the perpetual scowl on his face and generally bad attitude).
Pepper quickly suspects that Jackie's return is not so casual and intuits that the woman appears to be having chemo treatments; she has leukemia, and it's terminal. In an era like the '70s when cancer, so often "leukemia" for some reason, really was the TV disease of the decade and endlessly pimped for easy sentiment and hollow melodrama, it's commendable that this episode makes it work via understatement (much as it did in "Solitaire" last season).
Good, low-key original score by Morton Stevens.
After sidelining and weakening Pepper from mid-Season 2 thru Season 3, there seems to be an effort for Season 4 to re-acknowledge that she's the title character (in lieu of Earl Holliman donning a skirt, but then his private life should be nobody's business) but Angie is now so accustomed to playing a secondary role in her own show that the attempt to place the camera back on her doesn't entirely work. For one thing, that focusing, charismatic purr from Season 1, evident in nearly every scene during the series' freshman year, deepened her delivery and gave her dialogue a gravitas long-since replaced by a higher-pitched warble which Pepper only used to use to be funny or when undercover and pretending to be confused. So now that the lower, diva voice has been removed (and Angie never got it back, even after the show was over, damaging her career) you listen less to what she has to say, no matter how smart or plentiful her dialogue may be. And that makes it hard for POLICE WOMAN to get its mojo back, let alone navigate around the silly, tacky vibe most shows have taken on by the latter part of the '70s where even sitcoms like ALL IN THE FAMILY and MARY TYLER MOORE have given way to dizzier entries like THREE'S COMPANY and ALICE, and when goofy programs like LOVE BOAT and FANTASY ISLAND can constitute a hit line-up.
Somebody neglected to tell Angie "you can start acting again."
'The Young and the Fair'
In yet another installment cannibalizing an earlier episode (in this case, S1's "The Beautiful Die Young), we see little Charlene Tilton, five seconds before being cast as Lucy Ewing, pop up in the very first scene playing a girl named .... Clemmons ... and promptly gets murdered as we hear an obviously looped scream and a suitcase lid obscures her face from view. Director Corey Allen does what he can with the white slave trade script, so the end result is not all that awful, but we get Pepper posing as a teacher playing student to dashing middle eastern professor (Rossano Brazzi) who is suspected to be involved in shipping young teen girls to parts unknown -- or killing them when they don't cooperate -- yet he turns out to be heroically trying to crack the ring who are. And then there's a scene where Pepper steals a vehicle in order to chase down the bad guys, her arms flailing and mouth wide in startled terror as she eventually smashes into an assailant's car on an airport tarmac, all in performance of duty, although her demeanor suggests she doesn't remember she's been a trained cop for several years.
"The Human Rights of Tiki Kim'
A rather odd episode, not quite as awful as I had remembered it, in which Pepper -- her blonde hair suddenly silver without explanation -- takes an interest in the welfare of a tiny Korean girl after the Korean mob (led by Philip Ahn in his last role) tries to put muscle on the neighborhood by extortion and murder. An immigrant organizes a neighborhood association to fight them, so the gang targets the honest man's 8-year-old niece for kidnapping, with the price for her safe return being that he remain silent. They then arrange for her to be "adopted" and sent back to Korea by a native family they've hired, using their Washington connections to threaten her uncle with arrest for violating immigration laws if he, Pepper, or a friendly journalist interfere.
The episode is admirably played straight until the ridiculous wrap up. And Angie's scenes with the little girl never quite work.
At least the DVD copy is fairly clean.
In an episode I've long made fun of as a prime example of how stupid POLICE WOMAN had gotten in its slow and painful descent, an apparently impotent psycho-pervert (Edward Winter, always scene-stealing fun as a maniac) named "Charlie Hollis" (there's also someone name "de Lorca" so I'm assuming writer David Moessinger, master of the moronic macabre, had been watching a lot of Bette Davis murder movies from the '60s that week) is pulled over by Crowley for sweating and looking suspicious, Crowley engaging in an illegal search of the trunk of the man's car where he finds a mutilated woman who soon dies after she's rushed to the hospital.
The show pushes too far an improbable point that the unwarranted search would completely exonerate the killer and result in his immediate release (obviously, in real life, such a morbid "find" would wind up trumping any issues about the technical legality of the search ---- it just would). With department pressure on Bill Crowley to ease up on the killer, his wife (Juliet Mills) suddenly decides to call Pepper and invite her over to the home she keeps with her nutty husband to confess her fears that he's dangerous and might indeed be a serial killer. During the exchange he overhears from the other room, the hubby screams like the whackjob he is and rushes the two women with a butcher knife. Pepper dings him with her purse, conveniently dropping the pocketbook containing her firearm as she does, and she and Mills dash outside to enclose themselves in the poolhouse -- which leads to arguably the dumbest fight scene in the history of television this side of Captain Kirk vs. Gorn: Hollis recites some lovely poetry, nursery rhymes he's altered to sound more threatening, as he smashes the window of the poolhouse, Pepper then smashes a potted plant over his head, sticks her own head out through the broken window to see where he might have fallen, and he then reaches up and grabs her by the neck in order to pull her outside, Angie in her trademarked wide-mouthed expression of shock all the way. Then Edward Winter rolls around on top of her by the pool for what seems like hours in an effort to not injure Angie Dickinson and her stunt double.
Crowley and the gang get there just in time to see Winter stumble into the pool and tread water, cackling all cray-cray just before Angie gets her freeze frame even though a master shot seems a more appropriate way to close this episode -- only I'm guessing most of the actors walked off the set before they'd finished the day's shooting so the crew had to work with what they had.
What a mess.
Ironically, the later, lesser episodes of Season 4 seem to have the better prints on this DVD package. 'Sons' is one of those lame -- though not quite as awful as I remember it -- installments from near the end of the series which just kind of sits there, the by-now lowly-rated show seemingly realizing that its days are numbered and they're just phoning it in.
A rookie cop is new on the beat in one of the most dangerous areas in town, his making the effort to become acquainted with the neighborhood. But once lured into a trap by a local motorbike gang (which includes Freddy Krueger!) and severely beaten, the folks on the beat don't exactly come to his defense -- except for a café owner (Theodore Bikel) whose son is murdered as a result. Sergeants Crowley and Anderson try to investigate the deaths, but face a wall of silence from the frightened or contemptuous locals. Finally, Pepper and Bill wind up in the woods chasing the leader of the strange and homicidal gang, Pepper gets predictably grabbed from behind and taken at gun point back to her car whereupon Crowley emerges from the back seat to choke the thug as Pepper looks on in stunned, wide-mouth silence, paralyzed by the drama for what seems like five or ten minutes, before finally grabbing the killer's gun and then pleading for Crowley to show the cycle psycho some mercy by not strangling him too hard.
But there's still time left to have a scene where the grieving father tells Pepper how wonderful she is, and she smiles tentatively, as if more compliments may be coming and she doesn't want to be rude and leave prematurely.
Pedestrian, anemic, feels dumb.
'Murder with Pretty People'
Almost charmingly breezy entry about a war raging in the world of high-fashion modeling agencies between John Paul (Dennis Cole) and his imperious rival, Liz Adams (Anne Francis). When Liz is killed before the first commercial break, Pepper misses a trip to Hawaii to go undercover as a model with "the best portfolio I've seen in months" and no mention of the fact she's pushing 50. She soon finds out that there is more than one person who'd had reason to want to see the strident Liz Adams dead -- except for John Paul's jealous girlfriend (Morgan Fairchild) who oddly insists Liz was nicer to her than she actually was. Allan Carr has a couple of scenes to drive home the disco sleaze factor. Ultimately, Pepper winds up in a hotel room with one of Liz's aging castoffs (Julie Adams) whose crow's feet have driven her over the edge of sanity -- Pepper assures the woman that if she looks into her mirror she'll see she's still beautiful. She does as she's told and the bust is made.
It's all kind of funny. And I always find myself looking around for Faye Dunaway and her crystal ball.
Crowley goes undercover as a supply teacher and Pepper as a nurse's assistant at a high school being terrorized by a band of spoiled, well-to-do students -- which includes a young Debra Winger, as cocky as you'd anticipate -- whom the principal refuses to take official action on for fear of the negative publicity or angering the band's wealthy families, despite the staff being beaten and raped on a near-daily basis and the pupils routinely shaken down for their lunch money. The nasty-kid dialogue is as ripe and cheesy as one tends to expect from these kinds of stories, the menace kind of laughable and trite. But it's TV. In the '70s. Very little of what happens feels very organic or rings true, with much of the problem being that the teenaged boys are at best mediocre actors; the girls are much better.
The script is by the line producer's son, Daniel King (Benton).
'A Shadow on the Sea'
After two seajackers murder a honeymooning couple on their yacht, and whom seem willing to steal and kill even more to set up a smuggling operation, Pepper, donning a series of colorful hair scarves throughout the story, enlists the aid and an old, drunken sea dog (Forrest Tucker, perfectly cast, obviously) whose rusty anchor got stuck in the ocean bottom years ago, and a detective and old flame (Michael Parks) who lets himself into Pep's apartment (he still has a key) and tells her -- and Crowley -- that Crowley isn't treating her right.
Many of these late S4 episodes I haven't seen in years and years, as it's the section of the series I like least and haven't watched very much. At the time, they struck me as unbearably cartoonish or lazy or excessively tired with Angie near-comatose and in general just very difficult to sit through, especially in comparison to the snappy, resonant first season (which are like completely different programs, frankly). Today, however, when taken on their own and not in any context related to the earlier versions of the series, some of these late-S4 episodes at least come off now as a little more interesting than they once did. And "A Shadow on the Sea" is one of them. Listless? You betchya. But there are interesting subtexts to be sniffed, including Crowley's and Angie's beloved Michael Parks' lowkey rivalry over Pepper's affections. And the sense that POLICE WOMAN seems resigned to closing up shop any day now.
An ex con woman (Jacqueline Scott) happens to work as an executive secretary for the investment company of Mr. Saunders (Craig Stevens) and she one day calls Sergeant Crowley's unit and anonymously advises them that her office is about be robbed. Despite being middle-aged and wee bit paunchy, Kathleen manages to seduce every man in sight -- even making a play for Crowley -- although he begins to figure out the she's somehow right in the middle of this baffling case. Meanwhile, Pepper is in and out of court and carrying around a homicidal candlestick Ed de Blasio is planning to use on Roger Grimes.
'Flip of a Coin'
When the department decides to cut one of the investigator positions from the Criminal Conspiracy Unit, Joe Styles ends up being transferred to another section where he is assigned night shift duty. But when wealthy Joslyn Westmore is being kidnapped and held for ransom, Pepper and Crowley discover her husband (Gary Collins), a board chairman of a large company, has a chauffeur who is a dead ringer for Styles. (Is that racism??) So Joe returns to the unit to pose as the rich man's driver in order to deliver the ransom and hopefully save the young woman. But the case is complicated for Joe when his wife, Harriet, learns she might have breast cancer, which gives the usually politically-incorrect Pepper the opportunity to recite one of those TV speeches so common from the '70s onward that a man can't possibly understand the fear and devastation that comes from a breast cancer diagnosis because it's the one cancer men aren't likely to get.
By episode's end, after a black officer snarks that you don't kill a black man by hitting him over the head (ahhh, back in the day when we thought we were post-racial and could make jokes like this) Pete Royster also makes a joke that Styles' beard makes him "look like Benji" and Pepper erupts in hysterical laughter and gets the freeze frame with Crowley.
'Good Old Uncle Ben'
Investigating a murder connected to stolen beef and cattle rustling, Pepper enlists the expertise of her beloved uncle (Keenan Wynn, who got an Emmy nomination for this episode) now an elderly cattle rancher who faces mounting financial hardship due to the dialysis treatments his wife (Bettye Ackerman) desperately needs. Unbeknownst to Sergeant Anderson, Ben is already part of the criminal enterprise, but once he's forced to gun down a low-level assistant rustler who's begun robbing the robbers and intent on going into business on his own, Pepper's uncle, in self-disgust, calls Crowley and helps set up a sting operation to bring down his homicidal partners.
Flawed but not a bad episode on which to close the entire four season POLICE WOMAN series, the producers still can't miss one final opportunity to de-ovary the slinky title character when a shoot-out at a steak house restaurant in which three people fire five shots at one another nevertheless at no point results in Pepper, her weapon drawn, pulling the trigger of her .38 police special at all.
At least Uncle Ben's death scene is minimalistically well-played by Angie, Keenan and Earl, set to a plaintive Jerrold Immel musical cue from the stock drawer.
And the show ends, the shadow cast by its first season over the three subsequent years and their largely, if-not-entirely, wasted potential dark and deep. The series was a huge hit initially, became the first successful American drama series to feature a woman in the title role, ushered in the sexy TV crimefighter genre of the late-'70s and, more importantly, influenced a generation of women to join their local police departments. But the feminists disliked the program -- sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly -- and the dwindling viewers were left frustrated by an ambivalent taste the show left in their mouths regarding the near-constant constraints placed on the star -- at least after Season 1.
A woman? As a cop?! What's next, wearing pants?
This is outrageous and I won't stand for it!!!!
In browsing casually through this Police Woman this morning, it had been do some minor research on Wikipedia. According to their website, the critical response was rather positive, but the ratings slide drastically after its second year.
In saying that, I did not see any reference to the mid-sixties show Honey West, starring Anne Francis. Although I couldn't be precise, I'm sure I vaguely remember that the former influenced the latter. I could very well be way off base here, but I do remember the two shows having some kind of connection in influence.
The show was well-produced by the standards of the time in Season 1, POLICE WOMAN, and Angie was allowed to actually act it in the beginning, although her performance was of the charismatic diva style --- initially. She got a Golden Globe for the first season (she later said she was surprised to win because she knew the show "wasn't that well written") and it even hit #1 for the week in the ratings a couple of times that first year, doing the same in other countries.
But shortly into the second season, due in part to feminists' complaints that Angie's character was too sexy and "constantly playing at whoredom" and therefore "degrading to real police women" (although the show actually created a significant uptick in female cops) the network pressured the show to tone down every aspect of Angie's demeanor, including how she walked, talked and spoke around the squad room, all of which left Angie in a kind of neurotic No Woman's Land about how to play a scene. Now robbed of its star's full star quality, the show began to kind of slide, Angie incessantly suppressed at every corner from mid-S2 onward... Also, a simultaneous bad timeslot change to Tuesdays against MASH didn't help the ratings. And then they kept moving it, which caused an increase in the speed of the show's tumble.
No, the private eye program HONEY WEST (which I mention on the first and second page of this thread and of which I even posted a picture) didn't really influence much of anything because it was cancelled after its first year in 1965. The first attempt at a female cop show was Beverly Garland's DECOY in 1957, but it also didn't make it, likely because it was syndicated. (Both became cult shows because they were the first to try).
Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg in THE AVENGERS circa 1964, is generally regarded as television's first fully liberated woman. But she was part of a team, and preceded and followed by other competent lovelies. Same with Barbara Bain in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.
So POLICE WOMAN in 1974 was the first successful female cop show, and in fact the first successful primetime America drama series to feature a woman in the title role.
I loved the first season; I banged my head against the wall repeatedly during S2 thru S4, even to my being relieved once they'd cancelled it.
Amazing. Not a comment nor a "like" and yet the above thread has 7,000 views.... Who's looking at it, I wonder??
I turn to actress Angie Dickinson for cheeseburgers and stories from her golden past
By Chris Erskine
Jan 26, 2019
She sits backlit by the sun — on purpose, you know, because legendary actresses just seem to know the right way to slide into a restaurant booth.
The good news (for a change): Angie Dickinson is back eating cheeseburgers at Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake. With me. Will wonders never cease?
Apparently not, for we’ve been pals for some time now — me, the gap-toothed goof from the Midwest and her, the Burbank beauty who used to pal around with Frank Sinatra, once bought an Alfa Romeo while visiting Rome, and knew pretty much — by virtue of her fame and buttery shell — all the most-prominent figures of her time, including a certain auburn-haired Roman Catholic president.
Yeah, we’re an odd couple, self-medicating with classic cheeseburgers and sharing a love of movies. And Lee Marvin stories. And the vagaries of an American life.
Look, I like sassy old stars the way Miles Davis liked Harmon mutes, to an inexplicable level but with some great results. Young people are so gross to me. I mean, look at your typical newborn, glazed in some form of apricot jelly and crying.
Instead, give me a person of a certain vintage. Someone who’s been a few places, had her heart broken a time or two. Someone with a sense of success and failure, humility and chutzpah. Someone who’s lived a little.
“Of all the men you’ve met …”
“Just put Sinatra off to the side,” she said. “You can’t compare.”
“Better than me?” I tease.
“Just leave him out of the conversation,” she says with a wistful smile.
Among her other observations at this leisurely lunch at the historic 24-hour diner on Riverside Drive:
“I used to learn my lines on the toilet, in the car, at dinner. I was in every scene of “Police Woman.”
“Lee [Marvin] got shot in the butt in the war. I don’t think he was ever the same.”
“Anybody can be a drummer.”
At 87, she lives on top of the world now, in the tiara of Beverly Hills, but it may as well be the moon. The sightlines stretch from Zuma to Orange County, and she marks the season by where the sun skinny dips into the sea each night.
But she’s not lost in the good old days. She still loves movies, and sees all the current ones. Adored “Roma.” And in her opinion, “Green Book” is not only the best flick of the year, but one of the best ever.
I question whether there are too many earnest-but-leaden art house movies in the Oscar mix today.
“The thing about popular entertainment … ,” I start to say.
“Is that it isn’t very entertaining,” she finishes.
She remains a golden girl from a golden age, having appeared in more than 60 feature films, including “Rio Bravo,” “Dressed to Kill” and the original “Ocean’s Eleven.” On television, as “Police Woman,” she became the first woman to front a police drama, earning three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win.
She was on stage at eight Oscar ceremonies and flirted with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” countless times, carving out a persona as a “thinking man’s sex symbol.”
Back East, we’d watch her and Carson on snowy nights — notice the tans, the West Coast twinkle — and think, “Yeah, it’s sure different out there.”
Watching “The Tonight Show” then was like climbing into a leather booth at Musso & Frank. We’d stay up extra late just to see a certain star.
Does that ever happen anymore?
But I digress. To me now, Angle is more friend than celebrity. A survivor herself, she helped me through a tragic year, sent me notes and xxxxx’s and oooooo’s in the most-difficult weeks.
“My dad so loved you,” I told her once.
“You don’t understand,” I said. “You almost broke up my parents’ marriage … from 3,000 miles away.”
She smiles because she knows I’m teasing. And because fans have flattered her forever, not because of her appearance — that sort of glow grows like lemons out here. But because she is witty and wise and youthful and grand.
Her hair is starting to thin, but it still has that million-dollar flip in front, sort of a cowlick, as if her bangs are wearing a sardonic little smile.
In watching her, I’m reminded that stars have this thing about them — a jauntiness, a strength, an intangible aura. But not a coat of armor.
Like me, Angie knows parental anguish, having lost her beautiful daughter, Nikki, far too soon. It crushed her but probably also made her even more empathetic, thoughtful, a treasured friend.
And, not to be overlooked, the girl really loves cheeseburgers, and chocolate shakes thick enough to chew … all the important joys she first learned as a teenager at drive-ins like this.
Here at Bob’s Big Boy, the manager lingers at our booth but doesn’t fuss. Patrick Wayne, the Duke’s kid, still comes in here a lot, he says, and the Beatles once dined at that booth in the corner. At one point, nearly everyone has eaten at this glorious landmark near Warner Studios.
But Angie keeps coming back. That’s the difference. And she keeps smiling and sharing her amazing stories.
Yeah, it’s sure different out here — the tans, the twinkle. And in wondrous little asides you might never expect.
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