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T.J. Hooker (1982)
T.J. Hooker and Its Origins
Looking back over the various guest roles that William Shatner has played over the past couple of decades, there are two guest shots he made over the years that would indicate that he was the perfect choice for the role of Sergeant Thomas Jefferson 'T.J.' Hooker (incidentally, everyone, including his wife, calls him 'Hooker'...the only person to ever call him T.J. was Henry Darrow's character in "A Cry For Help").
First off, there's Shatner's 1971 guest appearance on Ironside, in an episode entitled 'Walls Are Waiting"...imagine a parole officer who's just like Hooker, and you have the Shat in this episode about a hard-ass P.O. who has a hard-on for pushers (due to his sister being an addict). When he receives several threats on his life, he suspects one particular pusher, and naturally, Ironside isn't so sure.
Fast-forward to 1975, and here's Bill on The Rookies, donning the uniform as yet another wacko veteran officer, the type of guy Sam Melville's Rookies character, Mike Danko, seemed to be always partnered with. In this episode, "The Hunting Ground", the cop played by Shatner is hunting down criminals on his off-time...emphasis on the word 'hunting'.
Watching both of these roles, you get the feel for the Hooker character...all that's missing are the constant references to 'maggots'...yes, in every episode, Hooker vows to 'get these maggots off the street!' I was always under the impression that 'maggots' was a substitute for a certain epithet that rhymed with it, and that ABC (and possibly Aaron Spelling and Columbia) were a little skittish about using *that* word too much.
Now to the series...while it's not the greatest crime drama ever, it certainly fits the action bill with Shatner jumping on the hoods of moving cars, sprinting after suspects, etc. And while Hooker starts out the series as an alcoholic hard-ass, he lightens up considerably during the show's run, becoming more of a friend to his young stud partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed). The requisite 'cute female' is Officer Vicki Taylor in the first season (April Clough), replaced by Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) for the remainder of the series. Their Captain is Stacy's Dad, Dennis Sheridan (Richard Herd), and near the end of the first season, Moondoggie, I mean, James Darren comes aboard as Officer Jim Corrigan.
The stories are naturally the usual Aaron Spelling cop show fare, with Hooker taking on pimps, pushers, crooked cops, etc. The villains are played by many of the usual cop show villain actors, like Don Gordon, John Vernon and Jonathan 'The World's Most Interesting Man' Goldsmith, to name a few. And let's not forget the manly power of the Shat...yep, even with the toupee and the paunch, he's quite the stud, landing beauties like Lisa Hartman, Cristina Raines, Kristen Meadows (very hot in a white swimsuit!) and Michelle Phillips, to name a few. Ladies' man Romano manages to score a few times himself, as do Stacy and Corrigan.
The series lasted a little over three seasons on ABC...if it had continued on the Alphabet Network, it would've turned toward comedy, as the last ABC episode featured Hooker getting a transfer to Chicago and being partnered with a jive-ass cop. The rest of the cast would've been gone. Instead, ABC canceled the series, CBS picked it up for their Crime Time After Prime Time feature, Hooker went back to L.A. with Stacy and Corrigan, but no Romano...Adrian Zmed had rightfully moved on to host Dance Fever. The CBS season was the final one.
Throughout the run of the series, Shatner and the rest of the cast deliver the action like clockwork. T.J. Hooker is a bit dated, sure, but for a good, quick action fix, it doesn't hurt to catch an episode now and then. Watch out, Maggots...Hooker's on the job!
It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt
Robert Culp is one of my favorite actors, whether he's a hard-ass (i.e., the Texas Ranger in Trackdown), the suave hero (I Spy) or the smart-ass sidekick (Greatest American Hero). There's also a dark side to Culp, the side where he's pushed and pushed and pushed to the point where he loses it and has to react. That was evident in his classic guest appearances on Columbo, and it's also used to great effect in Outrage.
Based on a true story, Dr. Jim Kiler (Culp) moves into a fancy-schmantzy cul de sac with his family. Almost immediately, the good doctor is nearly run down while jogging with his dog by a gang of reckless teens. Jim files a police report, but nothing comes of it. The teens immediately begin a campaign of retaliation against Kiler and his family. Eventually, he takes his complaints to the town's mayor, which angers the parents of the punk kids, and not long afterward, Kiler does indeed press charges against the kids, one of whom gets a slap on the wrist due to Kiler speaking on his behalf. Throughout all of this, the vandalism gets worse and worse. Eventually, these punks lure the Kilers' lovable sheepdog Oliver into the street with a treat...then brutally run the defenseless animal down!
The moment that finally pushes Kiler to the brink comes after they hire a black housekeeper, a no-nonsense woman played by the great Beah Richards. She REALLY is willing to not take guff from a bunch of punks and turns a hose on them. Not long afterward, a rock is thrown their window, and she is struck and seriously injured. Now Culp is finally pushed to the limit...and it's HIS turn to break windows, flood houses with a hose and end the whole thing with a huge explosion of a hot-rod car. As he's walking away from the explosion back to his home, a disclaimer tells us that no charges were filed against him, nor were there any more incidents of violence.
Culp, as always, delivers a great performance, but he gets a great deal of help from a great supporting cast. Frequent guest star Marlyn Mason shines as Culp's more level-headed wife, who tries to talk some sense into one of the boy's fathers, only to have the lout get in her face (this leads into a memorable scene where Culp punches the guy out. He's played by Mark Lenard, best-known for playing Spock's dad on Star Trek). Beah Richards is great in her usual no-nonsense type role. There are also a number of familiar faces in small roles, such as Ivor Francis, Don Dubbins, Ramon Bieri, Philip Pine and Nicholas Hammond.
Outrage is definitely a classic in the 'vengeance film' genre. I most certainly do recommend seeing this movie.
Just One More Thing...
Over the years, TV viewers have been treated to various 'whodunits', ranging from the early '50s version of Ellery Queen on down to the early 2000's version of Nero Wolfe. I will admit, I enjoy a great whodunit as much as the next guy, but sometimes you need to turn a mystery around on its ear, usually with a twist in the format.
Columbo delivered that twist. In almost every episode (they did one pure whodunit in the original NBC run and one or two in the later ABC episodes), we see a killer go to elaborate means to commit the crime (or in the case of an accidental killing or crime of passion, to cover it up). The planning, the method, the cover-up...everything looks perfect. You might even say that you've seen the perfect crime.
And then along comes LAPD Homicide detective Lt. Columbo, rattling onto the scene in his rickety old car that looks like it would fall apart if he slammed the door. Columbo himself looks like no detective you've ever seen, wearing a rumpled raincoat that looks like he sleeps in it every night, a mop of unkempt hair, and an everpresent cigar in his mouth. Just from looking at him, you wonder...this is the lead detective on the case? He looks like he couldn't detect his way out of a paper bag!
Ah, but appearances are very deceiving, my friends, for under that messy exterior lies a very keen mind, a mind that notices oddball things that other cops may overlook. That, plus his bulldog-like determination, is what gets the job done. Once he figures out who the killer is, Columbo becomes the pesky cat, and the killer is the mouse, who tries hard to cover his or her bases, but the ubiquitous Lieutenant is there, usually to bring up something he forgot to mention the first time around. The villain naturally becomes annoyed with the bothersome detective, but Columbo eventually wears the killer out with his determination. He always finds the tiniest flaw in the killer's machinations.
Between the killer's 'perfect crime' and the 'how's-he-gonna-figure-it- out' format, Columbo is always worthwhile viewing. Stick with the original NBC episodes. The later ABC ones are merely OK, though they do occasionally feature villain actors from the original series.
You Think You Know Why...
First off, let's address the issue of showing the killer at the beginning. Yes, Columbo did this, but so did other classic shows like Hawaii Five-O and Cannon, to name a couple. So what makes Motive different?
Simple...the idea of this crime drama is to figure out WHY the killer did what he or she did. It's an interesting play on things...the episode starts out with two different sequences, one ending with the word 'killer' appearing on screen, the other ending with 'victim'. The sequence with the killer usually portrays the person in a positive light, and conversely, the 'victim' sequence may portray that person poorly, creating a sense of sympathy for the killer and maybe a non- sympathetic light for the victim. After the two detectives, Angie Flynn (Kristen Lehman) and Oscar Vega (Louis Ferrara a/k/a Justin Louis) show up and launch the investigation, then we see events unfold as to just how the killer and victim wound up on a fatal trajectory. We gather all sorts of info and see all sorts of obvious motives, but quite often, the real motive for the crime comes out of left field. The motive is quite often something unexpected.
This is a Canadian-produced series, and I enjoy the way they tell stories. Between this show, Flashpoint and Rookie Blue, I'm beginning to think that our neighbors to the North are writing better cop shows than we are.
CHiPs: The Spaceman Made Me Do It (1982)
Plan Nine From CHiPs (or, Did the Spaceman Make Us Write This Episode?)
One of the biggest problems with CHiPs, especially in the later years, was its need to be 'trendy'...episodes had to be written around the latest pop culture fads, and you know you're in trouble when that's the direction in which you have to go. So instead of sticking to car chases, speeders, etc., we have an episode here about a girl who claims that an alien commanded her to commit a robbery...you read that right, an alien commanded her to commit a robbery.
This episode, by the very nature of the need to be trendy, seems to be CHiPs' need to cash in on the E.T. fad, yet for me, it seems to come off as a lost episode of Project U.F.O., the boring and largely condescending 'sci-fi' series from Jack Webb, which pretty much pooh- poohed alien sightings as nonsense, under the guise of an Air Force project. Lo and behold, this episode's writer, Donald L. Gold, did in fact write for that series! (For the record, director Winrich Kolbe would go on to helm any number of episodes of the various Star Trek permutations, so he also would have additional experience with aliens).
The plot, such as it is, finds Ponch and Bobby on night duty when they have to answer an alarm at a jewelry store. They engage in a car chase with the perp, only to discover that the culprit is a preteen girl. She claims that an E.T. (and she does say E.T., not alien, not spaceman, but E.T.!) commanded her to steal the jewels.
Now if it had been crooks posing as aliens, that would've been bad enough...but when we get to the climactic scene...we don't know WHAT it is! As they save her from the aliens, they're looking at it too...and they don't know! Bobby asks Ponch what that was, and Ponch says "Bobby...it could be whatever you want it to be", while I, the viewer, am yelling 'WHAT THE *&#% WAS THAT?'
Five minutes later, when the end credits were finished, I repeated that sentiment. The only other question I have is, Who should I sue to get that hour of my life back, the hour I wasted watching this?
Oh yeah...there was a secondary plot, about thieves that stole bags from visiting Oriental tourists. I'm glad that was part of the episode. It was a nice respite from the head-scratching rest of this mess.
CHiPs: Force Seven (1982)
'Force' Yourself to Watch...or Better Yet, Don't!
Once again, CHiPs tries their hand at a spin off episode...only this time, it's even worse than their previous spin off attempt, Mitchell and Woods. At least with the previous episode, there was some sort of connection between the main characters and the episode's 'stars', which isn't apparent here.
Because this is CHiPs, we have to work Jon and Ponch into the action somehow. The episode begins with their pursuit and bust of a 'deuce' (drunk driver). They get the guy to exit the car, with all the usual attitude of course, and then Jon notices a folder that drops out of the car...specs for a missile, one that just happened to be hijacked a week earlier!
All of a sudden, our two heroes are gone--missing from the scene until the very end. We see a blond LAPD officer entering a mysterious building, where he's encountered by a man dressed in a karate uniform. That man is Lt. John LeGarre, played by football-star-turned-actor Fred Dryer, and he leads the Force Seven team, a team of cops that are martial arts specialists. The young officer is Rick Nichols (Tom Reilly), a major league screw-up who's getting a new lease on live via Force Seven (and due to having major martial arts skills). LeGarre manages to cure Nichols' attitude problems by besting him in a karate fight and showing the kid that he has a LOT to learn. We also meet the other members of the team: Cindy, the eye candy (played by Donna Benz, whom some folks may remember from a few Hawaii Five-O appearances) and goofball Sly (Tony Longo, who's played more than his share of goons...here he's just goofy, with an equally goofy ventriloquist puppet to match).
Their mission is to find and disable the missile...using only their martial arts skills...NO GUNS! Ultimately, they find the missile, and the main villain, Nakura, who's responsible for the loss of LeGarre's eye. He's played by John Rhys-Davies, obviously between movies and doing the part for the money.
It's all boring martial arts claptrap that went out with Kung Fu, not even having the camp value of the cheapest of martial arts movies. If they had it so the dialogue was out of sync, it would've been perfect. I also kept expecting David Carradine to show up from behind a piece of scenery and snatch a pebble out of Dryer's hand, but alas, that didn't happen! Maybe it's worth watching to see a subdued Dryer (as opposed to his more famous role on Hunter) or Donna Benz, but not much else.
I should also add...Robert Pine turns up in the final scene with Jon and Ponch, so he doesn't emerge unscathed from the wreckage. Fortunately, none of the regular officers appear. I assume they were rightfully happy to distance themselves from this crap.
CHiPs: Breaking Point (1982)
CHiPs Goes Philosophical!
At this point of CHiPs, here's what you can expect from your average episode...multi-car accidents (mainly of which look implausible and avoidable), some sort of crime (usually of the theft variety), romantic entanglements, maybe a wayward kid or two, solving all the problems/issues, smiles at the end. AHA! But would you ever expect an episode where one of the main characters has an existential crisis, especially when that character is the normally vapid hunk Ponch?
Jon and Ponch are going about their duties and having one of their normal discussions as they ride, talking about the upcoming visit from Ponch's sister Patti (played by Maria O'Brien, daughter of the great Edmond O'Brien), when they become involved in one of the requisite car chases that the show is known for. This time, not only does the driver get away, Ponch winds up losing control of his cycle and crashes through the door of an antique shop...right into a curio cabinet, which lands on him, leaving him showered in broken glass.
Now our normally macho hero is experiencing that crisis...why does he do this job? Is it worth possibly giving his life? He gets on his bike very gingerly, very reluctantly, as he contemplates whether or not it's all worth it, and his sister offers encouragement. BUT WAIT! Sister Patti is going through a similar crisis...she's the top student in her nursing class, but now she wants to be a model! Ponch is of course shocked by this revelation, and he tries to walk her through it while going through his own situation. How do they manage to resolve things? By doing what they do best...being a cop and being a nursing student, teaming up to save a man who collapses. Everyone on the scene thinks it's a heart attack, but Patti knows it's heat stroke and takes charge. She and Ponch save the man, and Ponch finally gets what it's all about and is able to straighten out his sister.
Hey, no one expects CHiPs to handle Sartre or Kafka, but for a series on life support to do such a weighty episode, they deserve all the props they can get. The family dynamic in this one is also a huge plus.
And let's not forget the last few minutes when Ponch retakes his cycle. Most of the last scene consists of Estrada riding around on his bike all by himself...I'm sure that Mr. Pearly Whites got a huge ego boost out of having some camera time all to himself!
CHiPs: Mitchell & Woods (1981)
Mitchell & Woods
The genesis of this (thankfully) failed spin off of CHiPs lies in the earlier two-part episode "Ponch's Angels", in which Melanie Mitchell and Paula Woods are trainee CHP officers serving under Jon and Ponch. The blonde Mitchell in that episode was played by Trisha Townsend, in what was inexplicably her only acting role...that's right, she seems to NEVER have acted again after that. Brunette Woods was played by Barbara Stock (later on Spenser: For Hire), while Cindy Morgan of Caddyshack fame played Ponch's girlfriend-of-the-moment Jennifer.
Fast-forward to this episode...Cindy Morgan is back, though now she's filling in for MIA Trisha Townsend as Melanie. Barbara Stock is also absent, as model/beauty contest winner Jayne Kennedy has taken over the role of Paula. These two CHP officers have switched jobs...they now have joined the Ocean City Police Department as detectives.
So now they've went from hanging with Jon and Ponch to the standard motley crew of detectives that seem like rejects from Hill Street Blues. Initially, their Lieutenant gives them a stack of files with routine cases of arson and robbery, but then a case falls into their laps-- LITERALLY--when a hunky guy enters the station, saying he wants to report a murder (his own), then falls dead from a gunshot wound. In what seems like many head-scratching moments in this episode, the dead guy just happens to be a classmate of Mitchell's, the guy she almost went to her prom with! They manage to convince their tough Lieutenant (who turns out to be quite a paper tiger) to give them the murder case.
From there, the two neophyte detectives embark on their own trail of mayhem as they investigate the murder. They cause a multi-car accident (hey, what would CHiPs be without at least one per episode?), immobilize a biker gang with full cans of garbage, punch out a rich bitch (albeit accidentally) and leave an obnoxious gigolo handcuffed to a brass rail. All the while, we hear the characters narrating the episode as if this is supposed to be a Raymond Chandler novel, but instead of resembling The Big Sleep, it just might put you into one.
From watching this, it's hard to believe that a mere two seasons ago, CHiPs was one of the hottest TV series in the country. Certainly, the series took a major decline, but this is definitely one of the lowest of the low points. At least the girls are nice to look at. And what about Jon and Ponch in regards to this episode? They appear at the beginning (to hassle what they assume are their wayward charges), the middle (to give them advice and the name of an informant) and the end (for the inevitable wrap-up). Fortunately, for Robert Pine and the other regulars, their characters don't appear in this episode...one can only assume that, if they watched the finished product, they were most grateful.
CHiPs: Valley Go Home! (1979)
Can This Feud Jive...The Beach Is For EVERYONE!!
In this episode, it's beach duty for Jon and Ponch, but as with every episode set on the beach, it's not all surf, sun and babes...this time around, it's a turf war between surf dudes (three goofy blond guys straight out of Central Casting) and Latino kids from the Valley. The surfers seem to be the aggressors here, acting like they own the beach and the poor Valley kids have no place there. The Latino kids, replete with the requisite painted van (which every Chicano character in movies and TV seemed to drive back then), accidentally damage the headlight of the surfer's refurbished ambulance, leading to the first of several car chases. Ponch catches up to the surfers, and that brings out his lecturing side, telling these bozos that the Valley kids have just as much right to the beach as anyone and also exploding when they call Ponch the Valley kids 'Bro'.
Does that get through to them? No...next time it's the surfer dudes doing the damage when they spray-paint the Latino kids' van, and it's another chase. While all this is going on, someone's stealing car stereos, including those of both groups of kids as well as Jon, and each side is accusing the other of the thefts. We then see another chase, this time the surfers are chasing the Valley guys on foot after seeing them grab their surfboards. They bump into a number of people, including a little girl flying a kite...she loses the kite, the kite lands on the window of a moving car, causing a five-car accident. Finally, the two groups become involved in a bumping incident on the highway, which results in both groups' cars overturning and some of the guys injured. Ponch believes that a couple of days in jail will cool them off...when the officers return to the beach, the surfers and Valley dudes are hanging out together. The jail time did help...not to mention Jon and Ponch finding the real stereo thieves.
And of course, Jon and Ponch do find time to go catamaraning with a couple of babes that Ponch saved when their car was out of control!
Valley Go Home! is one of the better CHiPs episodes in my estimation...sun, babes, action...what more could you want? My score...9 out of 10.
The Commish (1991)
Welcome to Tonyland!
An unsung gem from the waning days of Stephen J. Cannell's production company, the big draw of The Commish nowadays is definitely Michael Chiklis. Now best-known as tough guy Lt. Vic Mackey from the lauded FX drama The Shield, it's intriguing to see Chiklis in his earlier series, playing a cop who's the polar opposite of his Emmy-winning Shield character.
The show centers on small-town Police Commissioner Tony Scali, who leads the force in Eastbridge, New York (based on real-life Rye, N.Y., Police Commissioner Tony Schembri, who collaborated on a few scripts for the series). As another poster stated, Eastbridge could easily be the Mayberry of the North, but considering that violent crime can and does happen there, one could also make comparisons to Cabot Cove, Maine or Sparta, GA., two other seemingly sleepy TV towns where trouble often lurks in the shadows.
Most of the time, though, it's petty crime and petty incidents that take up the time of Tony and his quirky force of officers...they're just as likely, if not more so, to help an old lady whose son stole her dentures (as part of a bigger plot to force her to move into a nursing home) or break up a fight between two guys dressed in chicken outfits, as they are to investigate a murder or a drug deal. Also, Tony's home life takes up a good deal of some episodes...he has to help his son get a date or coach the kid's basketball team, he supports his wife in their efforts to have another child...it's little things like this that lighten the mood and make The Commish more than just another shoot-'em-up.
Commissioner Scali is truly a different cop...unlike Chiklis's later character of Vic Mackey, who was more of a criminal than the criminals he pursued, with his brutality and disregard for suspect's rights, Tony relies on wit, charm and good old common sense to solve most problems...but that doesn't mean he doesn't get mad...far from it. He can yell with the best of them if the occasion warrants. Tony Scali might be a kind, sweet man, but he's nobody's pushover.
If Tony is Andy, he needs a Barney. For most of the first season, Irv Wallerstein (Alex Bruhanski) fills that role, until he's killed while working undercover, prompting one of the biggest bursts of anger from the normally-calm Commissioner. After solving Irv's murder, Tony takes on 'visiting' L.A. detective (and high-school buddy) Paulie Pentangeli (John Cygan) as a sidekick. Cygan fills out the season, then disappears to make way for Detective Cyd Madison (Melinda McGraw) for a couple of seasons, then returns to stay for the fourth season and the TV-movie follow-ups. And at home, he has the support of his beautiful and devoted wife Rachel, played by the underrated Theresa Saldana, who sadly seems more remembered for being brutally attacked by an obsessed fan that for any acting roles.
The Commish is definitely a great, lighter cop show if you want to see a cop that favors brains and charm over weapons. My rating...8 out of 10.
Burke's Law (1994)
OK Revival...But Not Great
This was my first exposure to Burke's Law...I had never seen the original until a few years ago (I could tell you why I passed up opportunities in the past to see the original, but it's a ridiculous reason not to watch a TV show, you'd laugh, I'd have to kill you, and I really don't want to do that). I did, however, watch and enjoy other shows with Gene Barry (Bat Masterson, Name of the Game, even The Adventurer), so I was looking forward to seeing the still-dashing Barry race to the scene of the latest homicide in the flashy Bentley (and yes, it IS a Bentley and not a Rolls, as one episode in this series makes a point about it). I found out that Aaron Spelling was trying as early as 1981 to get Barry to reprise the role.
So...what do we have here? A lot has changed in the almost-30 years since the original series ended...apparently, Amos quit the spy business (which is what he was involved in when the series was canceled midway through the '65-'66 season), returned to the force and worked his way up from Captain of Homicide to Chief of Detectives. We're also led to believe that he gave up his freewheeling bachelor ways, settled down, got married, had a child, became a widower (one of the most poignant scenes in the series occurs when Amos and his son visit the grave of his late wife, Sarah, at the end of one episode). Speaking of his son, Peter (played by Peter Barton of Powers of Matthew Star and The Young and the Restless) is a real chip off the old block...he's handsome, quite a draw for the ladies (just like his old man), and most importantly, he's a cop as well, and is his dad's sidekick, doing all the physical stuff that Tim Tilson and Les Hart did in the original series.
The series in itself features the same quirky murder mysteries that the original did...a hated fashion designer killed by a tiny arrow from an ice sculpture, a 'celebrity' lifeguard drowned in his own pool, a temperamental tennis star named Spider being fatally bitten by a black widow spider, to name a few. One story, Who Killed Alexander the Great?, about a magician who goes into an airtight coffin in a pool very much alive but is dead from a gunshot wound when the coffin is opened, was lifted from the original series (where it was done as Who Killed Merlin the Great?). The episode's writers, Richard Levinson and William Link, also used it as the pilot for their short-lived magic/detective series Blacke's Magic. The new version adds a couple of interesting tweaks, but on the whole, cannot compare to the original.
And that is what seems to be the case for the entire show...there are interesting story ideas, but once you've seen the original (which I finally did), this is an awful pale comparison. Occasionally, you will see folks who guested on the original series dusted off to make an appearance (Rita Moreno, Anne Francis, Edd Byrnes, Marty Ingels, Frankie Avalon), but mostly it's a huge sea of familiar TV faces, including some of Barry's fellow action stars (Mike Connors, Robert Culp, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), stunt casting (Downtown Julie Brown, Dusty Rhodes) and a heaping helping of Spelling's 90210/Melrose Place gang. It seems like one of those kids is moonlighting in every episode of the show, including not one but TWO appearances by Tori Spelling, one of those an uncredited cameo.
And to the poster who mentioned people like Hugh O'Brien, Richard Crenna, Karl Malden, Patrick Macnee, Barbara Bain, Peter Lupus and Karl Malden...what show were you watching anyhow? I saw every episode of this series, and I can tell you, unless they were cleverly disguised as scenery, NONE of those actors appeared on Burke's Law! And while Carolyn Jones (the former Mrs. Spelling) did appear on the original series, it would've been some trick if she appeared on this version, as she'd been dead for a decade by the time it debuted.
Final thoughts...it's OK viewing, fun to see 75-year-old Gene Barry still looking dapper and dashing off quips and Mary Worth-like advice to everyone he meets, but the original, in glorious black-and-white, is still the one to seek out for all-star casts having a ball with quirky mysteries. My grade...6 out of 10.
Ironside: Due Process of Law (1968)
The Evolution of Mark
Quite possibly, no character in the history of television evolved as much as Chief Ironside's assistant, Mark Sanger. While he did grow considerably as a person under Ironside's tutelage, Mark certainly still had a lot to learn about himself and the law. As episodes like this and the earlier Memory of an Ice Cream Stick demonstrate, Mark was somewhat of a heedless and headstrong young man whose refusal to listen to the voice of reason (Ironside) got him into serious trouble.
In this episode, Mark takes a date to a party thrown by Dwayne 'Dobie Gillis' Hickman. Ironside needs him back at the office, but Mark's friend says she'll be OK there by herself...which isn't the case, as the next morning, she's found dead in the bathroom in a city park, a heroin needle in her arm. The girl's father appears at the scene, and his words echo in Mark's head: "Is THIS how you bring your dates home, Mark?"
Mark immediately suspects another party guest, Joe Fenway (played by Burr DeBenning, a frequent-flier in many cop shows from the '60s to the early '90s), whom he knows to be an addict. He physically attacks Fenway outside the police station, then breaks into his apartment where he finds a drawer full of syringes. Ed catches Mark in the act and angrily informs him that the syringes can't be used for evidence. Finally, Mark pays Fenway yet another visit...this time, he's found standing over the addict's corpse, holding a bloody barbell, after he ignored Ironside's warnings.
Naturally, Mark is arrested for the murder. Ironside visits him, but all Mark can say is, "What about MY rights? Where's MY lawyer?", and the Chief angrily lets him have it but good!
Eventually, Mark is released and is with Ed when they go to bust the real killer. Ed gives Mark his gun just in case. When the real killer is led past Mark, the camera cuts to the gun in his hand, then back to Mark...he allows Ed to lead the prisoner away, finally understanding what Ironside was trying to tell him.
Mark grew considerably each season, becoming a law student in the second season, participating in undercover missions in the third, becoming a cop in the fifth season and earning his law degree in the sixth season...but he wasn't done. Years later, in the Ironside reunion movie, he had become 'Judge Sanger'...which Ironside sarcastically called him in this episode!