Season Five (1969-70)

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

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SEASON ONESEASON TWO

SEASON THREE, SEASON FOUR

SEASON NINE

For its fifth season, The FBI had its biggest behind-the-camera overhaul to date.

Charles Larson, involved with the series since its earliest days, departed the producer’s chair. His script for the first-season episode Slow March Up a Steep Hill established the Erskine persona. During his four seasons on the show, Larson was constantly tweaking and revising scripts.

For a replacement, Quinn Martin tapped Philip Saltzman. Saltzman had worked for a time as associate producer on QM’s 12 O’Clock High series and had been producer of The Felony Squad, a crime drama made at 20th Century Fox.

On QM shows, the producer’s primary responsibility was maintaining a flow of scripts. Saltzman had been a writer, so he likely did uncredited rewrites. However, he would never have a writing credit on the series, unlike Charles Larson.

Also brought on board as story consultant was Robert Heverly, who had written two fourth-season episodes. Heverly would emerge as the show’s in-house writer.

In the end titles, Ford Motor Co. supplied a white coupe. There was a problem, however. The viewer couldn’t tell if it was Efrem Zimbalist Jr. driving the car or not. Until now, Zimbalist had been driving Mustang convertibles. With the coupe, the actor’s face was in shadow.

Credits for the season

Executive Producer: Quinn Martin

Producer: Philip Saltzman

Associate Producer: Mark Weingart

Story Consultant: Robert Heverly

Supervising Producer: Adrian Samish

In Charge of Production: Arthur Fellows

Assistant to the Executive Producer: John Conwell

FBI Theme: Bronislau Kaper (as Bronislaw Kaper)

A QM Production In Association With Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc.

A QM Production In Association With Warner Bros. Inc.

Text and reviews (c) 2015 by William J. Koenig

115. Target of Interest

Writer: Warren Duff  Director: William Hale

Michael Weil, Sandra Davis, Eugene Moody et al

ESPIONAGE

The Philip Saltzman era begins with a play-it-safe episode.

A spy ring for the “Code Green” Communist country tries to blackmail U.S. State Department official Roger Vincent. But Vincent — distraught and upset — goes to the roof of his apartment building, pondering whether to kill himself or not. Michael Weil (Linden Chiles), his lead contact belatedly realizes what’s happening and tries to stop him. They argue and Vincent falls to his death by accident. Nevertheless, events are set in motion that brings the FBI into the case.

Vincent had gotten into financial trouble (which Weil helped to arrange), giving the “Code Green” country the leverage to blackmail him. The bureau has some information. The FBI knows that Rudolph Klahr (Eduard Franz) poses as “Code Green’s” cultural attache when he’s really an intelligence operative. The unnamed Communist nation is after details of a position paper how the U.S. would respond to various scenarios in the Middle East.

Erskine seeks the permission of Assistant Director Arthur Ward to go undercover as a State Department official. To make the ruse pay off, the inspector seeks the help of a double agent for the U.S. who’s posed as a Communist operative (Diane Baker). She wants to get out of the spy racket for good, but Erskine’s soft sell — we once again see hints of Compassionate Erskine — convinces her to play along.

This is a fine episode as far as it goes. At this point, the show is beginning to get into a rut with espionage stories (which usually rely on Erskine going undercover). However, the story provides the right amount of suspense and the cast performs professionally.

In Act III, there’s a rarity for the series — a “day for night” shot (i.e. an exterior shot, done during the day, but with filters in an attempt to make it seem as if it were night). The rule of thumb for The FBI and most QM shows was to actually film at night.  Meanwhile, Diane Baker has a gravity defying hairstyle that’s genuine for the era.

Gunplay: Almost none. In the climax, Klahr’s chauffeur fires at Colby. The FBI man returns fire, wounding the chaffeur. Erskine, being undercover, isn’t carrying a gun.

In the epilogue, it’s clear that Klahr is going to defect, rather than face a certain unpleasant fate if he were to be recalled to the “Code Green” country. The other conspirators, we’re told, were convicted and are serving time.

Once again, Richard Markowitz is on the job, providing a good original score. This is the last episode on the Warner Archive DVDs that includes the Ford Motor Co. logo in the main titles. GRADE: B.

116. Nightmare Road

Writer: Mark Rodgers  Director: Harvey Hart

Gerald Wilson, Lawrence “Jack” Collins, Carolyn Palmer

KILLING A FEDERAL OFFICER, UNLAWFUL FLIGHT, MURDER

This was the only episode of the series directed by Harvey Hart (1928-1989), who helmed a number of memorable episodes of Columbo. It’s also the fifth, and final, episode of The FBI to feature Robert Duvall as a guest star.

Duvall plays Gerald Wilson, a fugitive on The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. He has hooked up with Jack Collins (Burr DeBenning), who’s wanted on parole violation charges. In St. Louis, an FBI agent and a sheriff’s deputy are in the process of arresting Collins when Wilson bursts in and opens fire with a rifle.

Writer Mark Rodgers was one of the show’s stalwarts (he had 31 writing credits on the series). He also wrote three of Duvall’s five FBI appearances. Scripts by Rodgers at the very least tried to flesh out the villains and this story is no different. This episode includes Duvall’s meatiest part for the series. Duvall’s Wilson is a complete louse but the actor dominates every scene he’s in.

Erskine and Assistant Director Arthur Ward accompany the wife the gravely wounded FBI agent to St. Louis. The agent dies soon thereafter. The start of Act II includes a genuinely moving funeral scene. Director Hart also frames some interesting shots along the way. It’s a shame that Hart didn’t direct more episodes of the series.

Gunplay: Wilson shoots down two law enforcement officers, including the FBI agent who later dies. Wilson tries to shoot it out with FBI agents trying to arrest him. Erskine nails him with a single, right-handed shot. Presumably, Wilson survives. If he hadn’t, we’d have probably been told that in the epilogue.

The episode includes an original score by Duane Tatro. GRADE: B-Plus.

117. The Swindler

Writer: Andy Lewis  Director: William Hale

Robert Charles Pollard, William Fremont Quine, George L. Hoyer

FEDERAL RESERVE ACT, INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, MURDER

Robert Pollard (Peter Donat) is a brilliant swindler but his latest con game has gone awry. He swindled more than $80,000 from banker George Hoyer, who embezzled the money. Hoyer tries to force Pollard and his partner William Quine (John P. Ryan) at gunpoint to return the money. A fight breaks out and Hoyer is shot dead. The con men drive the body out into the country and try to make it look like suicide.

Erskine and Colby are on the case immediately. Erskine is dubious about the suicide angle when he sees the supposed suicide note has been dated. A policeman also says it’s the first time he’s ever seen someone commit suicide by shooting themselves in the stomach.

Pollard and Quine, meantime, are onto their next target, in Ohio. Pollard poses as a consultant who’s lining up an industrial development. One of their targets is a bank, headed by Kate Burke (Vera Miles). Pollard seduces the spinsterish Kate to set up another swindle. But he shows signs of actually becoming emotionally involved.

Much of this episode depends on Vera Miles and Peter Donat holding your attention and they mostly succeed. William W. Spencer’s photography is a big plus, especially with close-up shots of Vera Miles. Kate becomes so involved she decides to run off with Pollard. In the end, it’s unclear whether Pollard was really in love with her or whether he just got swept up into playing a role.

Along those lines, there’s a nice moment in the epilogue where Kate tells Erskine her story and how she could have turned Pollard around. Erskine looks plenty skeptical. “You don’t believe me,” Kate says. “I didn’t say that,” Erskine replies. The expression on his face a moment before tells another story.

Gunplay: Pollard foolishly tries to shoot it out with FBI men led by Erskine. We see Erskine fire right handed. We cut back to Kate (who’s been locked in a house by Pollard) and hear another shot. Pollard survives the wound and is sentenced to life in prison. Kate goes to prison for embezzlement.

There are a number of familiar character actors in this story, including William Schallert (who gets guest start billing, along with Miles and Donat) as well as Ford Rainey and Bill Quinn. The episode has an original score by Sidney Cutner, which is very effective in the Pollard-Kate scenes. GRADE: B.

118. Boomerang

Writer: Robert Heverly  Director: Gene Nelson

Terry Shelton, Melinda Collier, Harvey George Windsor, Robert David Fleming

EXTORTION, KIDNAPPING

This is a classic example of the whole being less than its parts.

In this episode, we have a future Oscar winning actor (Jeff Bridges), a dependable character actor (Carl Betz) and a script by one of the show’s leading writers (Robert Heverly).

Nevertheless, the end product doesn’t match up with its component parts. It’s certainly not a lost cause, but watching the episode, you expect more and don’t get it.

In the mid- to late-1960s, a favorite on police/action shows was the alienated son of a rich father faking his own kidnapping. That’s the basic story here. In this case, Terry Shelton (Bridges) doesn’t know he’s been kidnapped for real.

Normally, kidnapping episodes gave Efrem Zimbalist Jr. the chance to show off the compassionate side of Erskine, but that’s not really the case here.

The main positives: William W. Spencer’s photography plus the season’s debut of the FBI helicopter. In the epilogue we’re told Terry Shelton (Bridges) was convicted but got off with probation. Jeff Bridges became the second Bridges to be a guest star, following Beau Bridges in Season One.

Gunplay: One of the kidnappers (Jon Beck) gets wounded when Terry’s father (Betz) fights with him. Erskine and the FBI men are able to apprehend the suspects without firing their guns.

The episode has a stock score. GRADE: B-Minus.

Here’s a preview of the episode, which Warner Archive uploaded to YouTube. It’s a scene from Act III:

119. Silent Partner

Writer: Jack Turley  Director: William Hale

Victor Berris, Carl Torrance, Steven Harber

JURY TAMPERING

In San Diego, Cosa Nostra boss Carl Torrance is on trial. The mob, however, doesn’t want to let a prominent officer get convicted. So Torrance lieutenant Victor Berris bribes a juror, Steven Harber (Robert Hooks). The jury is deadlocked and Torrance (Wesley Addy) is free, pending a re-trial.

However, things become complicated for Cosa Nostra. Harber calls the U.S. attorney (while not identifying himself), spurring an investigation whether jury tampering has taken place. Arthur Ward dispatches Erskine and Colby to lead the bureau’s investigation.

Other complications take place. Harber, who works at a gas station, is shaken down by his boss (Walter Burke) for half of his bribe. Torrance, while free, is under pressure from the Cosa Nostra “council” (the term “high commission,” which has been used in previous seasons isn’t mentioned here) to wrap things up. Erskine and Colby make headway in their probe.

The story line here is routine. The acting, however, elevates the proceedings. Cicely Tyson, as Harber’s pregnant wife, is the moral center of the story. At one point, Erskine and Colby question Harber. When Harber lies about how he’s come into money recently, the camera pans from the stern Erskine to an obviously distraught Mrs. Harber. This Cicely Tyson’s best moment, a great piece of acting without dialogue.

Gunplay: Erskine wounds one of Torrance’s goons sent out to get Berris, who’s now on the run.

The episode has a stock score which utilizes Season One music, some of which was composed by Bronislau Kaper. GRADE: B.

120. Gamble With Death

Writer: Don Brinkley  Director: William Hale

Harry L. Springer

EXTORTION

In Boston, John Springer has been convicted in a woman’s death despite protesting his innocence.. His brother, Harry, tries to extort Alexander York, the shipyard owner who Harry believes really is responsible. Harry (Michael Callan) intends to provide evidence to the authorities. But when his wife (Anne Helm) has a miscarriage, Harry is in need of money and decides to go through with the extortion for real. York (Simon Scott) has other ideas and hires a hitman to kill the extortionist.

The episode, at times, comes off as overly melodramatic. As usual, the QM gravitas keeps things in check before they too far out of whack. We get a bit a combination of stern and compassionate Erskine when the inspector — having saved Harry from being killed — lets him know that the bureau has heard from Mrs. York and York confessed.

Gunplay: Colby fires at the hitman (Barry Russo) so Erskine can work his way around to confront the hired killer. The hitman fires a rifle at Erskine, who nails the killer with a shot from his revolver.

The episode has a stock score that utilizes Richard Markowitz’s music from Season Three’s By Force and Violence (where, by coincidence, Barry Russo was one of the kidnappers). GRADE: B-Minus.

121. Flight

Teleplay: John D.F. Black and Robert Heverly

Story: John D.F. Black

Director: Gene Nelson

Walter Everett Hazlett

CRIME ABOARD AIRCRAFT, PIRACY, ATTEMPTED MURDER

Walter Hazlett (Tim O’Connor), a member of La Cosa Nostra who’s under a “death sentence” from the mob, hijacks a charter flight from Seattle to Jacksonville, Florida. Hazlett orders the plane fly on to Cuba. Peter Dennis (Ken Lynch), a Cosa Nostra boss, has ordered a hitman (Jonathan Lippe) to dispatch Hazlett — and if the hitman doesn’t succeed, he’ll be dead.

The bureau, led by Erskine and Colby, tries to find Hazlett’s daughter, who lives in Atlanta, but Cosa Nostra has already kidnapped her. The FBI must first save her and then use her cooperation to convince Hazlett to give up the hijacking. The situation worsens when a passenger tries to stop Hazlett and is gravely wounded.

This episode seems a lot like the Gene L. Coon-Charles Larson scripted Flight to Harbin in Season One, right down to the severely wounded passenger (Jason Evers in the Season One episode). It still holds the viewer’s interest. The writing credit makes clear that story consultant Robert Heverly worked over John D.F. Black’s script. We get a glimpse of compassionate Erskine as he seeks the daughter’s cooperation.

Gunplay: Bureau agents get into a gunfight with the hitman trying to kill Hazlett at the Jacksonville airport. On his second try, Erskine wounds the hitman.

The episode has a stock score, which includes Bronilsau Kaper music from Season One and Richard Markowitz’s music from Season Three’s By Force and Violence. Starting with this episode, stock scores include a credit for music supervisor John Elizalde, who was going through the show’s music library to find scores that would match the action. GRADE: B.

122. The Challenge

Teleplay: Donald S. Sanford and Mark Weingart

Story: Donald S. Sanford

Director: Jesse Hibbs

Paul Winters, Andrei Vallone

ESPIONAGE, MURDER

A Communist spy ring is seeking secrets from a major U.S. defense contractor. Spy ring operative Paul Winters (Fritz Weaver) is seducing Ruth Banning (Joanne Linville), the wife of a leading executive (Richard Anderson) involved with the Defense Department project.

A surfer stumbles across operatives of the spy ring coming ashore in Southern California and is killed. The incident spurs “Mr. Hoover” to declare this is now one of the bureau’s top priorities. As a result, Assistant Director Arthur Ward assigns Erskine, yet again, to go undercover.

At times, this episode seems a bit melodramatic, particularly in the pre-credits sequence (the surfer has a dispute with his girlfriend before stumbling across members of the spy ring coming ashore). The episode, however, is elevated by the work of director of photography William W. Spencer. At the start of Act II, Spencer gets to do a “day for night” sequence, which wasn’t the norm on this series.

Writer Donald S. Sanford was one of the leading writers of the 1960-62 anthology series Thriller, hosted by Boris Karloff. For whatever reasons, the production team felt the need to rework Sanford’s story, so associate producer Mark Weingart did a rewrite.

Gunplay: In the climax, Erskine nails Soviet bloc spy Vallone (Barry Atwater) with a right-handed shot. In the epilogue, we’re told the Soviet spy didn’t survive the wound.

Scenes with Fritz Weaver seducing Joanne Linville’s character (assisted by Spencer’s photogrpahy) help elevate the episode. The episode has a stock score. GRADE: B.

123. Blood Tie

Writer: Robert Heverly  Director: Virgil W. Vogel

Richard Arthur Kriton, Maximillan Kerry, Francis Wanderman

THEFT FROM INTERSTATE SHIPMENT, ATTEMPTED MURDER

In Newark, a robbery of a fur shipment goes bad. One of the four gang members is killed. A policeman is seriously wounded. The robbers were forced to abandon the truck with the furs because one of the tires was shot and went flat.

The surviving robbers scatter. Ricky Kriton (Scott Marlowe) goes to Seattle, where his older brother Neal (Michael Tolan) is a general manager of a pharmaceuticals company. Neal Kriton decides to give his brother another chance, arranging for him to work in the company’s warehouse. But Ricky is a hothead and has trouble getting along with his supervisor. Also, the younger Kriton can’t change his ways. He sets up another robbery, this one of drugs from his brother’s company.

This episode tries hard to build out the Kriton brothers as three-dimensional brothers. It doesn’t always succeed, however. Ricky Kriton punches out his supervisor, but it seems a little too quick. So much effort is paid on that side of the story, the regular cast gets short changed.

Gunplay: Quite a bit, both in the pre-titles sequence, where the botched robbery occurs, the Act IV, when the pharmaceuticals robbery is attempted. Neal Kriton shows up. Max Kerry (Robert Doyle), one of the robbers tries to shoot him. Ricky shields his brother and is fatally wounded. The only shot from the good guys is when Erskine fatally wounds a gunman recruited for the pharmaceuticals caper.

The episode has a stock score that includes a fair amount of Richard Markowitz music from Season Two (Act III) and Season Three (Act IV). GRADE: B-Minus.

124. The Sanctuary

Writer: Anthony Spinner  Director: Jesse Hibbs

Nate Phelps, John Carl Winslow

BANK ROBBERY, MURDER

Nate Phelps (Billy Dee Williams), a former pro football player, and John Carl Winslow rob a bank in Bakersfield, California. Phelps kills a policeman during the robbery. Erskine, already in the area on another assignment, takes charge of the investigation.

While on the run, Winslow is apprehended after injuring himself. Phelps, along with the $50,000 taken in the robbery, makes it Los Angeles and his old neighborhood. He intends to hide out until he can find a way out of the country. That proves harder that he thought. Because of the killing, Phelps is so hot nobody wants to tell him. That forces Phelps to try and cut a deal with “the Broker,” a well-connected criminal, who double crossed Phelps in the past.

Writer Anthony Spinner had returned to the QM Productions fold after producing the final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. during the 1967-68 season. For the 1970-71 season, he’d produce QM’s Dan August series.

With this episode, Spinner’s script takes things in a different direction for the show. Most of the story takes place in low-income areas of Los Angeles, Erskine and the other FBI men stand out with their J. Edgar Hoover-approved suits.

The guest cast is predominantly African American, including Lola Falana as Phelps’ girlfriend. Instead of LA SAC Bryan Durant, Erskine and Colby work with Special Agent  Harry Dane (Booker Bradshaw), who grew up near Phelps’ neighborhood.

Gunplay: A lot, mostly by Phelps. Besides the policeman, Phelps fatally shoots the Broker and wounds a thug who works for the criminal. Phelps is wounded by the thug. Erskine doesn’t fire his gun.

Duane Tatro provides a good original score. For 21st century audiences, some of the dialogue will seem dated. Still, it’s an interesting change of pace for a series that, by this stage, didn’t often attempt it. GRADE: B-Plus.

125. Scapegoat

Teleplay: Robert Heverly and Edward J. Lakso

Story: Edward J. Lakso  Director: Don Medford

Harley Earl Garnett

CRIME ON A GOVERNMENT RESERVATION, MURDER

This is the second of two episodes with Harrison Ford, this time as a man wrongly convicted of murder (the scapegoat of the title). It’s mostly, however, a chance for Michael Burns to play yet another troubled young man.

Burns had appeared in Season One (The Forests of the Night). At that point, Burns was just starting to get on the radar of casting directors needing disturbed young men. By the time this episode aired, Burns had played “Blue Boy,” a teenager on LSD, on the 1960s Dragnet series. And sometime later, he’d be on Hawaii Five-O, as an even more disturbed character who shoots at motorists with a high-powered rifle.

Here, Burns is Harley Garnett, son of a well-to-do woman (Nan Martin) in Connecticut. He stalks Karen Blakely, including sabotaging her car so it will break down. Harley offers her a ride, then drives her off the road into what seems like a secluded area. Karen initially keeps her cool, appears to play along, then bops Harley. Unfortunately, she can’t resist the temptation to gloat and laugh at him. Harley revives and kills her with his bare hands.

Harley doesn’t realize he’s on a U.S. missile range. Because the crime took place on government property, the bureau is called in immediately.

The fact that another murder case with the same M.O. took place, even though there was a conviction, interests Erskine. He travels to a prison, where Everett Giles (Ford) is serving time for the earlier murder. The FBI inspector “doesn’t disbelieve” that Giles may be innocent but knows more investigation is needed.

Meanwhile, Harley gets blackmailed by Geri Coates (Brenda Vaccaro), who had a fender-bender accident with Harley the night of the most recent murder. Geri, though, underestimates how disturbed Harley really is and more violence is possible.

Gunplay: None.

The weakest part of the episode is the pre-titles sequence. Karen Blakely’s gloating is overplayed. The point is to establish that Harley freaks out when people laugh at him. But the scene comes across as clunky. The rest of the episode is a decent procedural. Erskine does get to register a great look when Harley has his final meltdown in Act IV. Erskine also looks genuinely pleased to inform Giles he’ll soon be a free man in the epilogue.

High points include Gerald Perry Finneran’s photography. Here ‘s he’s billed just as Jerry Finneran. He’s subbed for regular director of photography William W. Spencer. Also a big plus is Richard Markowitz’s original score. His powerful music after Harley kills Karen in the pre-titles sequence almost makes you forget the clunky depiction of the killing. GRADE: B-Minus.

126. The Inside Man

Teleplay: Mark Weingart and Norman Hudis

Story: Norman Hudis  Director: Gene Nelson

Harold H. Casey, Frank V. Sawyer

INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, MAJOR THEFT

Frank Sawyer (Lawrence Dane) and Harold Casey (Clyde Ventura) are robbing diamond salesmen, thanks to inside information provided by Keenyn Gray (Lloyd Bochner), who owns a New York diamond business. Gray is providing information about the movements of his competitors to the robbers.

The FBI is called in when evidence points to how the diamonds in the most recent robbery, which took place in Los Angeles, almost certainly moved across state lines. Arthur Ward assigns Erskine to supervise the case personally.

The Los Angeles robbery has shaken Martin Abrilev, one of Gray’s competitors. Two of his salesmen have been robbed and one was killed. Abrilev decides to go to Belgium to bring back his firm’s newest shipment of diamonds himself, rather than risk anyone else’s life.

Meanwhile, Gray sees one of his own salesmen fooling around with his wife at a party, Gray provides information so Sawyer and Casey can rob him. Gray instructs the robbers to hurt the salesman. However, during the robbery, the salesman tries to stop the criminals with a gun. A fight breaks out and the salesman is shot fatally. Now, things are getting hot, but Gray wants the criminals to rob Abrilev when he returns from Belgium.

The episode is a basic procedural, with a few flourishes. When Erskine interview Abrilev, the inspector demonstrates he can speak French. This will come in handy during Act IV. Meanwhile, Casey talks about him and Sawyer eventually buying a ranch together and exiting a life of crime. What’s more, the FBI helicopter is back in action. We see Erskine with a pilot who likely is veteran pilot James W. Gavin.

Gunplay: After a couple of episodes without having to use his gun, Erskine fatally wounds both Sawyer and Casey during the climatic scene at New York’s Kennedy airport.

The episode has a stock score. GRADE: B

127. The Prey

Writer: Don Brinkley  Director: Jesse Hibbs

Carl S. Beaumont

TEN MOST WANTED FUGITIVE, INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, MAJOR THEFT

Carl Beaumont (Steve Ihnat) and his accomplice, Irene Galloway (Joanna Moore), perform cons on well-to-do elderly people. Beaumont has stolen a rare coin collection from the very ill Ellis Pierson in Phoenix. Beaumont leaves Pierson to die but the collector lives long enough to talk to Erskine and Colby.

The next target of Beaumont and Galloway is Sarah Whitaker (Mildred Dunnock, who gets special guest star billing), a semi-reclusive woman in Colorado.

Solid procedural episode. The main highlight is Steve Ihnat’s performance. As usual, Ihnat dominates the proceedings and draws the viewer’s attention when he’s on screen. Mildred Dunnock (1901-1991) is fine as the intended victim. She’s initially very crabby, but Irene, posing as a nurse, manages to draw her out of her shell. By the epilogue, Dunnock’s Sarah Whitaker acts considerably younger.

Gunplay: Erskine, uncharacteristically, requires three shots to wound Beaumont.

The episode has a stock score. GRADE: B.

128. Journey Into Night

Writer: Robert Heverly  Director: Virgil W. Vogel

David Mark Starret

ESCAPED FEDERAL PRISONER, INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY

David Starret kidnaps his son, Clifford, from his foster parents, unaware the 12-year-old boy has leukemia. By the time the escaped federal prisoner finds out, he has begun a cross-country trek. Erskine and Colby coordinate the bureau’s pursuit which begins in New York state and ends up in Texas.

Starret primarily is a master check forger, who’s able to use charm to con people. However, he can be dangerous when cornered. Guest John Vernon often played gruff, reprehensible villains. Here, he gets to use more of his acting chops, especially in a scene in Act II. Starret and Cliff (Michael Kearney) boy stop off out in the country. The criminal explains to his son how he always had too much, and too much seemed to come easily.

Things don’t go well for Starret. In New York City, a former girlfriend was supposed to be holding $8,000 for him. She and her current boyfriend have spent it. The boyfriend attacks Starret with a knife. Starret defends himself, but kills the boyfriend in the process. By Act IV, he’s in a small town in Texas. He’s talked himself into a high stakes poker game and wins $18,000. The owner of honky tonk hosting the game (Dabbs Greer) is more than a little shady and has his thugs go after Starret.

Anthony Eisley returns as New York SAC Chet Randolph and an FBI helicopter is deployed in the climax. The epilogue is appropriately somber. While unstated, it’s strongly implied that Cliff isn’t likely to live long enough to see his father get out of prison.

Gunplay: None.

The episode has a stock score. The scenes between David Starret and his son, which take a while to build up, elevate the proceedings. GRADE: A-Minus.

129. The Doll Courier

Writer: Gerald Sanford  Director: Herschel Daugherty

John DeBecker, Eric Linler, et al

ESPIONAGE, MURDER

An espionage ring has targeted a new U.S. satellite system. It is being constructed at three different plants in the United States. The spy ring has found ways to get photos from each site. A courier is collecting the photos and putting them in a rare doll that is to be shipped to Europe.

The bureau is called in when one member of the spy ring turns up dead. He began as the courier, but was eliminated after he began negotiating with the Chinese to turn the photos over to them. Erskine heads up the bureau’s investigating, going from Portland, Oregon, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to New York City.

One key figure in the investigation is Eva Bolen (Viveca Lindfors), owner of a New York doll shop. The doll being used by the spy ring was last photographed in her shop. She’s an immigrant from Europe. The question is whether she’s part of the espionage operation or not. Her entire family was “wiped out” during World War II, except for a nephew, Eric Linler, who only recently came to the United States.

It turns Linler (Robert Wolders) isn’t her nephew and is really Jason Keller, organizer of the spy ring. The question is whether Erskine can put all the pieces together before the satellite system photos leave the country.

Writer Gerald Sanford, by this time, was the primary supplier of espionage stories for the series. He manages to recycle two names from two previous episodes he either plotted or scripted. Jason Keller is similar to Clay Keller, a spy from Season Three’s Counter-Stroke. Clay Keller was played by William Smithers, who’s also a guest star here as the second courier. Also, one of the companies that makes part of the satellite system is called Colton, which was also the name of a company in Season Two’s The Camel’s Nose.

For the second consecutive episode, Anthony Eisley appears as New York SAC Chet Randolph. Trivia: At the start of Act II, Assistant Director Arthur Ward emerges from what’s supposed to be the federal building in Oregon. It’s the same exterior set that was used in the Batman television series as the exterior of Gotham City Police Headquarters. (While Batman was filmed at 20th Century Fox, that exterior is on the Warner Bros. lot.)

Gunplay: Both Erskine and Colby simultaneously shoot at Linler/Keller in the climax. Linler/Keller appears to have only been hit by one of them. My money’s on Erskine.

The episode has a stock score, which includes Richard Markowitz music from Scapegoat, earlier this season. The epilogue has a nice scene that bumps up things. Erskine talks to Eva Bolen about how her real nephew almost certainly is dead. Eva admits how the nephew’s appearance was too good to be true, but how someone in her position would look past that. We get a touch of Compassionate Erskine in the scene. The last shot is Eva crying. GRADE: B-Plus.

130. Tug of War

Teleplay: Mark Weingart  Story: Anthony Spinner

Director: Don Medford

Aaron Taylor, Milo Pike

ORGANIZED CRIME, INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, MAJOR THEFT, ATTEMPTED MURDER

Cosa Nostra chieftain Aaron Taylor (Don Gordon) wants the mob to invade the world of high finance. He’s gotten his hooks into stockbrokers across the country to force them to steal stocks that can be fenced by using them as collateral for bank loans.

In Chicago, one of the stockbrokers tells Taylor he’s had enough after delivering 800 stock certificates. Taylor tells the stockbroker everything is OK, but has “trigger man” Milo Pike shoot him. The stockbroker survives but is unconscious and unable to help investigators.

Erskine heads up the bureau’s investigation. Meanwhile, Taylor is still selling his Mafia higher ups on the scheme. Cosa Nostra leaders are skeptical, but a major meeting is planned in Detroit to discuss it. Presumably, this gathering involves the High Commission but this isn’t explicitly stated.

The next target is the racket is Val Palmer (Barry Nelson), a widowed San Francisco stockbroker. Taylor is using his girlfriend Meredith Schaeffer (Michele Carey) to seduce and con Palmer into stealing more stock certificates. Palmer, straight laced his entire life, has fallen in love with her.

Erskine and Colby travel from Chicago (where the original stockbroker occurred and where Taylor is based) to Los Angeles (where a fence is applying for a loan using stolen certificates as collateral) to San Francisco in their investigation.

In Chicago, the intrepid FBI agents uncharacteristically let Pike get the drop of them but quickly recoup and bring him into custody. Pike gets off on $50,000 bail but gets “hit” to keep him quiet. In LA, the bureau apprehends the fence with the stolen certificates, which includes a bath Val Palmer stole in San Francisco. Everything comes to head in San Francisco.

Viewers in the 21st century will probably find much of this episode quaint, primarily physical stock certificates (in those pre-electronic days) and teletypes. Meanwhile, we also get to see two of the semi-regular SACs: Dean Harens’ Bryan Durant in LA and Lew Brown’s Allen Bennett in San Francisco.

In Act IV, there’s a nifty piece of stunt work by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s double. He’s running, jumps atop a deck table and then over a fence, all in one smooth action.

Gunplay: Erskine shoots Taylor in the knee with a single right-handed shot.

Music supervisor John Elizalde, in compiling the stock score, dips into his own music from Season Three’s The Dynasty and Richard Markowitz’s music from By Force and Violence, also that same season. As usual, director Don Medford keeps the QM gravitas humming. GRADE: B.

131. Fatal Impostor

Writer: Anthony Spinner  Director: Jesse Hibbs

Victor Kiley, Rick Davis

UNLAWFUL FLIGHT, MURDER

Victor Kiley (Gerald S. O’Loughlin) is on the run after barely escaping capture. He ends up abducting a widow and her 16-year-old son (Norma Crane and David Cassidy), who are returning to the area after to take possession of a farm she’s inherited.

Erskine and Colby coordinate the bureau’s manhunt for Kiley. The trail leads to the farm where Kiley — wounded from the shootout he escaped from — is holed up with the woman and boy and preparing to flee to Canada.

A basic procedural. The presence of soon-to-be pop star Cassidy is more of a trivia point. There’s a subplot about how the mother still babies her son while he has more guts that she realizes. This comes into play with the climax.

Gunplay: It all occurs in the pre-titles sequence where Kiley and an accomplice are in a shootout. Erskine apprehends Kiley without drawing his gun.

Trivia: We see an insert shot of Erskine’s business card. He’s written a note to the mother saying he’s there to help.

The episode has a stock score. Carl Barth receives a credit for directing the second unit. GRADE: B-Minus.

132. Conspiracy of Corruption

Writer: Mark Rodgers  Director: Don Medford

Peter Freeman Griffith

VICTIM — CIVIL RIGHTS

Peter Griffith, a ranch foreman, has been shot. The primary suspect is a sheriff (James Olson) with whom the foreman has clashed with in the past. The weapon used to shoot Griffith is one of the rifles in the sheriff’s office. Another man surfaces as a witness against the sheriff.

Because of the possibility a law enforcement officer was involved in the shooting — a violation of federal civil rights statutes — Assistant Director Arthur Ward assigns Erskine and Colby to the case. Despite the evidence pointing toward the sheriff, the inspector’s “Stubborn Erskine” persona surfaces.

Despite pressure in Washington to wrap up the case quickly, Erskine looks closely at the possibility that prominent rancher Clifford Wyant (J.D. Cannon) — who has also clashed with the sheriff — is really behind the shooting.

At one point, there’s a slip up. The rifle used to shoot Griffith is referred to by Colby as “the murder weapon,” even though Griffith hasn’t died (he’s in critical condition and unconscious).

The scenery in the episode is spectacular. Filming took place at the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation at Palm Springs, which is noted in the end titles.

Gunplay: Griffith’s shooting occurs in the end titles. Wyant’s daughter (Katherine Justice) is depicted as shooting at a cougar that has killed Wyant livestock. But Erskine subdues Wyant without using his gun.

The episode has a stock score. Fred Mandl substitutes for William W. Spencer as director of photography. GRADE: B.

133. The Diamond Millstone

Writer: Robert Heverly  Director: Robert Douglas

Victor Amazeen, Billy Jack Lyle, James Tate

INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, MAJOR THEFT

Jack Klugman, not seen in the series since episode 2, dominates this story as veteran thief Victor Amazeen.

Amazeen and accomplices steal a famous diamond from a rich woman in Palm Beach, Florida. One of the thieves manages to accidently shoot himself, and is wounded seriously in the process.

Amazeen is smart, cunning and knows his accomplices, led by Billy Jack Lyle (Daniel J. Travanti, here billed as Dan Travanty) are greedy and more than willing to kill him to get the diamond for themselves. For Amazeen, this is the score of his career. He’s prepared to deal treachery — and before the episode is over, he’ll deal with a lot — to get what he wants.

Because the diamond is so famous and there are signs the stone has been transported across state lines, the FBI is involved almost at once. Assistant Director Arthur Ward, in a meeting at bureau HQs attended by Erskine and Colby, makes clear this is a top priority for the law enforcement agency.

Klugman makes the Amazeen character his own. He’s always watchable. Even when it seems like someone has Amazeen at a disadvantage, the viewer can sense the thief’s mind is always working. It’s established that Amazeen has a heart condition. At the end of Act III, Billy Jack forces Amazeen to drink a lot of alcohol, figuring the older man will be incapacitated. At the start of Act IV, a hung over Billy Jack tries to find Amazeen, only to discover a note in his pocket. “Drinking is an art, kid.” It’s one of the best scenes in the episode.

Gunplay: There’s the accidental shooting of Amazeen’s accomplice in the pre-titles sequence. The bodyguard of a potential buyer for the diamond fires off a shotgun. Amazeen gets off a shot at Erskine in Act IV. But Erskine and the FBI men don’t fire their weapons.

The episode has a stock score that includes music going back to the first season. Klugman’s performance elevates the plot. GRADE: B-Plus.

134. Deadly Reunion

Writer: Warren Duff  Director: Jesse Hibbs

Matthew Bernhardt, David Hermann, John Stone, et al

ESPIONAGE

It’s Old Spies Week at The FBI. This episode’s guest cast includes Alf Kjellin, John Van Dreelen and Dana Wynter, all of whom played roles in previous espionage stories on the series.

Matthew Bernhardt, a Soviet Bloc spy, attempts to recruit his nephew to participate in an espionage operation. However, the bureau has Bernhardt and the nephew under observation. Meanwhile, another Soviet Bloc spy tries to kill Bernhardt. That operatives gets away but Erskine, Colby and other FBI men apprehend Bernhardt.

This turn of events plunges the bureau into a complex investigation. The FBI is after a spy with the code name of Buchanan. It turns out Buchanan (Kjellin) wants to defect to the U.S. But first, he wants to get his estranged wife (Wynter) out of East Berlin.

Erskine goes undercover and travels to Berlin, taking the place of the nephew. Buchanan’s wife is assisted by another man (Van Dreelen). However, Erskine and the bureau are, to a degree, flying blind, unaware of the real motivations of one of the key players.

This is one of the best espionage story lines of the series. The art department, headed by art director Richard Y. Haman and set decorator Hoyle Barrett, do a good job on a television budget of making the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank, California, look like Berlin. Meanwhile, there are enough action sequences that Carl Barth gets a second unit director credit.

Gunplay: The nephew is wounded by gun fire in the pre-credits sequence. Erskine, however, is able to take control of the situation in Act IV without firing a shot.

The episode has a stock score, expertly assembled by music supervisor John Elizalde. The episode grabs the viewer’s attention from the start and doesn’t let up. GRADE: A.

135. Pressure Point

Teleplay: Robert Heverly Story: Peter Allan Fields

Director: Don Medford

Martin Rawll, Jack Lee Lutcher, Scott Rogers

INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF GAMBLING DEVICES, ATTEMPTED MURDER

Scott Rogers (Fred Beir) plans to open an illegal casino in Detroit that’s backed by La Cosa Nostra. Rogers, however, wants to become a member of the criminal organization. He bribes Martin Rawll (Frank Marth), a lieutenant for Cosa Nostra boss Nolan Crist $50,000 to sponsor him. That’s a major no-no, because Cosa Nostra memberships aren’t supposed to be bought and sold.

At the same time, Rogers’ down-and-out former partner, Phil Garrett (Gene Lyons) shows up, seeking a handout. Rawll decides the alcoholic and broke Garrett is too big a risk. Garrett is shot and left for dead in an alley. The bureau is brought in after a note that Garrett wrote and is addressed to the FBI is found on him.

Erskine and Colby travel to Detroit, where they’re assisted by SAC Douglas Parker (played here by John Kerr). Thanks to an informant’s tip, agents intercept a shipment of gambling equipment and Rogers is arrested.

Mob boss Crist (David Opatoshu, here wearing a hairpiece) is none too pleased. Crist already was cool to accepting Rogers as a member. He decides that Rogers should take the fall. Now, Rogers is the potential threat and La Cosa Nostra decides he should be eliminated.

Erskine and Colby arrive just in time to prevent a hit on Rogers and his family. Now, the bureau works to tie Rawll and the Cosa Nostra to the gambling equipment. Crist also discovers Rawll took a bribe and now Rawll is slated for execution. Desperate, Rawll seeks out Erskine, just as Cosa Nostra hit men close in.

Once more, we get a WASP version of the Mafia. Opatoshu is very good, underplaying his part. His Crist comes across as cagey, his mind always working the angles. The writing credit indicates that story consultant Robert Heverly worked over whatever story Peter Allan Fields contributed.

Gunplay: Erskine handles his gun a lot but only fires it once, wounding one of the hit men coming after Rawll.

The episode has another stock score, including music from early seasons as well as Richard Markowitz music from this season’s Scapegoat. GRADE: B.

136. Summer Terror

Teleplay: Gerald Sanford and Mark Weingart

Story: Gerald Sanford  Director: Michael O’Herlihy

Alex Drake and Beau Thomas Manley, EXTORTION

This is a paint-by-the-numbers kidnapping story for the first three acts, salvaged by a tense fourth act.

Alex Drake and Beau Manley (Joe Don Baker and Mark Jenkins) kidnap Mary Ann Lowe (Pamela McMyler), grown daughter of rich Washington businessman Phillip Lowe (Lin McCarthy).

She was headed to work at  camp in the Anironacks for “kids from the ghetto.” They pretend to be camp employees who are there to take her to the camp from a bus station. Instead, they whisk her away to a cabin they’ve rented.

Phillip Lowe is a good friend of Assistant Director Arthur Ward. Thus, for a change, Philip Abbott is liberated from sitting at Ward’s desk and gets out into the field to be actively involved in the case. It’s a nice change of pace for the actor and a way to make greater use of Abbott.

On the other hand, we see a lot of 1960s-’70s cliches. Kidnap victim manages to work her bonds free. Kidnap victim runs away. Kidnap victim gets recaptured by kidnappers. One of the kidnappers is creepy (Joe Don Baker in this case), looks forward to killing the kidnap victim once the money is collected.

On top of that, Beverlee McKinsey as Cathy Wheaton, an accomplice of the kidnappers, at times overacts. Wheaton is a hairdresser who works on Mrs. Lowe’s hair weekly. (This is how the kidnappers found out about Mary Ann’s schedule.) Wheaton says if she has to perform one more shampoo for the “spoiled cows” who come to have their hair done, she’ll scream. McKinsey in this scene, desperately needed to dial it back a notch or two.

Still, a combination of the QM Gravitas and director Michael O’Herlihy (one of the best directors on the original Hawaii Five-O series) still set up for a good Act IV. The accomplice has been taken into custody because she dropped the briefcase with the $250,000 ransom. Ward and Erskine question her intently. Director of photography William W. Spencer lights Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s face in such a way you know Erskine means business. Act IV also sees a cameo by the FBI helicopter, but all it’s used for to get Erskine and Colby up to the Adirondacks from Washington.

Lin McCarthy, a dependable guest star, delivers his usual solid performance. I wonder he felt deja vu with this part after playing the father of a kidnap victim in a 1966 Mission: Impossible episode. Joe Don Baker is suitably creepy, and does the best with what he has.

Gunplay: None, really. Joe Don Baker shoots at some cans for target practice. But in the climax, even Baker’s character (not the sharpest knife in the drawer) is smart enough not to shot at several FBI agents, including Erskine and Colby, with their guns drawn.

The episode has a stock music score. It’s only 1970, but we’re starting to lose the Bronislau Kaper musical template for more of a ’70s sound. GRADE: B-Minus, thanks primarily to Act IV.

137. Return to Power

Writer: Mark Rodgers  Director: Don Medford

Peter Joseph Tenny, Frank Di Mirjian

ORGANIZED CRIME, ASSAULT OF A FEDERAL OFFICER

After being somewhat oft-kilter last episode, the series is back in fine form with an organized crime story with Cain and Abel overtones.

Peter Tenny (Christopher George), after living abroad for two years, illegally re-enters the country to try to regain control of his New England La Cosa Nostra family. It’s now headed by his half-brother Vince Manyan (Peter Mark Richman, here still billed as Mark Richman) and Larry Bender (Anthony Caruso).

Manyan and Bender have been skimming proceeds for themselves. Tenny’s father, however, once saved the life of the family counselor, Andy Fall (Ernest Sarracino). Tenny calls in that debt, forcing Fall to take records that demonstrate the skimming. The Cosa Nostra High Commission has a meeting scheduled in Chicago and Tenny intends to present the records there.

The Manyan-Bender forces have their own plans, including bringing along Tenny’s girlfriend, Maria Pierce (Lynda Day) to Chicago. They’re more than ready to kill her to thwart Tenny.

The bureau becomes involved shortly after Tenny’s illegal border crossing, which including an assault on a federal border patrol inspector (John Carter, who’d be a regular on QM’s Barnaby Jones series). The FBI does come across as a well-oiled machine in two sequences.

The first takes place, in a Mobile, Alabama, bar, where agents arrest the man who brought Tenny into the U.S. We see the agents quietly have patrons and employees get out in such a way the suspect is caught unaware. Later, in Act IV (with LAX substituting for Chicago’s O’Hare airport) pull the same thing off on a much larger scale before arresting members of the warring La Cosa Nostra factions.

For the second episode in a row, Assistant Director Arthur Ward goes out into the field, this time to personally supervise the O’Hare operation. Erskine and Colby, while the featured agents, are still shown to be part of the well-oiled machine.

Gunplay: None. This is a case where the threat always is present but in the end is headed off.

The guest cast is solid. This episode aired a few months before Christopher George and Lynda Day married. Meanwhile, director of photography William W. Spencer, always good at lighting actors for closeups, comes through spectacularly for Lynda Day.

The episode has a stock score, including Richard Markowitz music from Season Three’s By Force and Violence in Act IV during the O’Hare sequence. GRADE: A.

Trivia: Starting with this episode, the end titles say, “A QM Production In Association With Warner Bros. Inc.” It had been Warner Bros.-Seven Arts since early in Season Three. The Warners name in the end titles would still change a few more times during the run of the show.

138. The Dealer

Teleplay: Don Brinkley and Robert Heverly

Story: Don Brinkley  Director: Jesse Hibbs

Barney Simms, Frank Brokaw, Norman Whitehead, David Osborn et al
THEFT FROM INTERSTATE SHIPMENT, ATTEMPTED MURDER

Barney Simms (Edward Binns) is a successful businessman who has enriched himself by being a dealer in stolen goods. He wants out but Frank Brokaw (Vincent Beck), the leader of a New Orleans-based hijacking ring, won’t let him.

After the hijack ring’s latest heist, the bureau enters the case. Colby is sent undercover to the shipping company in New Orleans, with a cover identity (an ex con who’s changed his identity), designed to attract the interest of the gang. This gives William Reynolds more screen time than usual.

Simms has an interesting background. His father was “a deaf-mute,” and Simms himself was taunted by school maters because of it. This motivated him to be richer no matter what it took. This back story also explains why he hired Lobb McCoy (Roy Jenson), also hearing impaired and unable to speak, as an assistant. “The world’s not fair to people like you and me,” Simms tells McCoy at one point.

Things heat up when the hijacking ring suspects Colby isn’t genuine. The FBI man is lucky to survive an attempt on his life. Meanwhile, Erskine is now undercover as the driver of a shipment being targeted for the next heist.

Edward Binns, another dependable guest performer, is solid here. The main surprise is Roy Jenson, who normally played thugs. Here, Jenson is a sympathetic figure, but he’s more than ready to engage in rough stuff to protect Simms. In Act IV, Assistant Director Arthur Ward yet again gets away from his office desk, this time flying down to New Orleans to visit Colby in his hospital room.

Gunplay: Simms fires a shot at Browkaw in Act IV. He’s apprehended by Erskine and other agents before he can do more than that. Erskine and the G-men draw their weapons a lot but don’t fire.

Music supervisor John Elizalde assembles a more-traditional sounding stock score than in Summer Terror, two episodes earlier. The final shot of this episode centers on Simms’ distraught wife and grown daughter, who were unaware of his double life. GRADE: B.

139. Deadfall

Writer: Robert Heverly  Director: Don Medford

Ronald Brimlow, Frank Morris Moonan, Shelly Brimlow, Arthur Cody

KIDNAPPING, BANK ROBBERY, TEN MOST WANTED FUGITIVE

This episode is a kidnapping story that starts off strong, throws in some twists but takes a detour that threatens to drag things down.

In the pre-titles sequence, a woman is abducted from a house in New Jersey by Ronnie Brimlow (Wayne Rogers), who is on the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted List. The kidnapping is witnessed by a little girl (Erin Moran) who was looking for her cat and sees the whole thing.

Except a key detail of the girl’s story is wrong. The woman who actually lives in the house hasn’t been kidnapped. This sends Erskine and Colby for a loop until they determine the victim is the woman’s sister, Mary Cochella (Zohra Lampert). Her husband Fred (Paul Picerni) is in charge of the box office for a sports arena where an exhibition basketball game is being played. The point of the kidnapping was to pressure Fred Cochella to give the kidnappers the box office proceeds.

Other members of the kidnap ring include Brimlow’s wife (Anne Francis) and the very tightly wound Frank Noonan (Robert Drivas). Frank pays way too much attention to Mary and also has ideas about knocking off Brimlow and taking over. All in all, it’s a volatile mix.

The story proceeds just fine through Act II. In Act III, however, things go awry in a pivotal scene. Noonan is sleeping, so Mrs. Brimlow decides to untie Mary. The two begin to chat. And chat. And chat. The purpose of the scene is to make the characters more three-dimensional. That’s admirable. But the scene goes on too long and almost becomes parody. Thankfully, Noonan wakes up, overpowers Mrs. Brimlow and gets the story back on track.

After that, things are again tense. Erskine takes the place of Fred Cochella. He’s without his gun, but is wearing a homing device so other agents can track him. When he arrives at the hideout of the kidnappers, Erskine has more than he bargained for as the barely under control Noonan is calling the shots.

In a cast of familiar guest stars, Robert Drivas dominates. Drivas was always good playing characters wound too tight. His Noonan is wound even tighter than most, even by Drivas standards. Great scene where Drivas is starting to figure out  Erskine isn’t Cochella. Erskine is appropriately stern with Noonan, even showing him the homing device.

Gunplay: None. Erskine subdues Noonan in a fight, although one of his punches doesn’t connect despite the punching sound efffecting.

Much of the episode’s stock score consists of Richard Markowitz music from Seasons Two and Three. GRADE: B,  but the grade would have been higher had it not been for the problematic Act III scene.

140. The Quest

Writer: Mark Weingart  Director: Philip Abbott

Walker Graham Carr

CRIME ON A GOVERNMENT RESERVATION

Co-star Philip Abbott makes his directorial debut. He would direct eight episodes for the series. To make time for his directing duties here, he has only one scene in Act I as Assistant Director Arthur Ward.

Abbott does throw a few visual flourishes. Abbott takes a page from Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai, with a climatic scene taking place in a fun house hall of mirrors with guns going off. Abbott certainly wasn’t the first director to do a Welles homage. Others include Blake Edwards in 1967’s Gunn.

Erskine and Colby are in pursuit of Walker Carr (Earl Holliman), who has fled a mental institution. Carr was convicted of the death of his wife, even though no body was found. Carr desperately believes his wife still is alive and the tile refers to his quest to prove it. Carr also has major issues with his rich father Austin (Larry Gates). The pair seemingly can’t talk for more than a few minutes without an argument breaking out.

The father put an ad into a newspaper seeking information about the whereabouts of Walker Carr’s wife. A cab driver (Richard O’Brien) claims to have seen her but wants $10,000. Austin Carr arranges for his attorney to supply the funds. But the lawyer refuses to hand over the funds when Walker Carr comes to collect. A fight breaks out and the attorney is wounded.

Walker Carr forces the cab driver to take him to a fair where Barbara Carr supposedly is. It all turns out to be a con and the mentally unstable Walker chases after the cab driver. By now, Erskine and Colby are hot on Walker Carr’s trail, leading to the climatic scene at the fair’s fun house. The shock of events forces Carr to remember that he, indeed, killed his wife. By episode’s end, Walker Carr is back at the mental institution and finally starting to make progress in his treatments.

Acting wise, this episode mostly is a showcase for guest star Holliman, who comes across as genuinely troubled without resorting to cliches. He’s particularly good when Walker Carr finally remembers what really happens and is forced to give up his fantasy that the wife is still alive.

Gunplay: Besides the wounding of the lawyer, Walker Carr shoots several times at the cab driver but misses. Erskine and Colby take Walker Carr into custody without firing their weapons.

The stock score includes music going all the way back to Season One. Anthony Eisley returns as New York SAC Chet Randolph. Carl Barth gets a credit as second unit director. GRADE: B-Plus.

 

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