Sunday, November 23, 2014

Log 122: Christmas: The Yellow Dump Truck (Episode 13, Season 1)

Episode 13

This is the Christmas episode. It has everything that makes a Christmas episode memorable: adorable children, comic drunks, stolen vehicles, arguing couples, and wassail. Plus everything that makes an Adam-12 episode memorable: Sgt. Miller, LAPD outerwear, recurring minor characters, Malloy's soft side, and a Tom Williams cameo!

'twas the night before Christmas when all through the station, not an officer was stirring not even one on probation; 
the bags of toys were stacked by the wall with care, in hopes that end of watch soon would be there;
None of the cops were stirring because they were all in the assembly room listening to Sgt. MacDonald reading the crimes of the night.
Merry Christmas, Reed fans!
The bags are filled with toys that the officers are delivering to needy families.
 Reed and Malloy's first stop to deliver toys is the Ward home, where they share a comically endearing scene with Harvey.

Hi, Harvey.  I made one of those, too. Pete wouldn't let me hang it in the car, though.
So, you want a yellow dump truck for Christmas.
 "What would you do with that?"
"Put stuff in it and raise up the back and dump it out!"
"Even you oughta know that," Malloy tells Reed.
Malloy tries to convince Harvey that there are other good toys, but Harvey makes it very clear that he only wants a yellow dump truck for Christmas. Unfortunately, no yellow dump trucks were donated in the toy collection.
Mrs. Ward does not the children to see the gifts being brought in the house. She asks Pete and Jim to meet her at the supermarket in an hour, then they can put the presents in the trunk of her car.
Is that a piece of hair on her shoulder?  
Reed can't stop staring at the thing on her shoulder, either.
Reed really wants Harvey to receive the coveted yellow dump truck, he even offers to buy one with his own money. But, Malloy emphatically says, "no".
"No, we're not gonna buy Harvey a yellow dump truck."
After delivering more bags, Malloy tries to explain why he doesn't think its a good idea to buy a yellow dump truck for Harvey.
" can't let yourself get all bent out of shape, every time you see somebody unhappy on this job. Get involved up to a point. Beyond that, you'll go screaming up the walls," says the leather-clad senior officer to the rookie who is wearing a cloth jacket.
 "Yeah, I guess you're right," Reed reluctantly replies.
In the car, Malloy's conscience is as heavy as his leather jacket. Through Milner's fine portrayal you can see that the officer is torn between his heart, which is telling him to get the dump truck, and his training, which won't allow him to get personally involved. Both officers then try to convince each other that they should not buy the dump truck. They both half-heartedly agree that Harvey will be happy with any present he opens on Christmas morning. 

"Like you said, you can't let yourself get involved."
"That's right. If you do, you'll break your heart twice a day."
Did you see that weird shadow on the dashboard? I wonder what it could be. 

Pete says he is dead-set against buying the dump truck, but his face tells a different story.

His true conviction is revealed by his next stop.
Oh, Pete, you ol' softy!
"Reed, can you spare about three bucks?"

"Yeah, but I thought you said..."
Pete's is not proud of what he is about to do.
"Lemme have it," he shamefully tells Reed.
Pete grabs the money and quickly exits the car, before he can change his mind.
Leaving Jim to chuckle at his display of human emotion.
In the next scene, Pete and Jim meet Mrs. Ward at the supermarket to deliver the gifts.
Well, Reed delivers the toys. Malloy just walks from the squad car to Mrs. Ward's car empty-handed. See the gold Mustang in the background?

There it is.
Mrs. Ward is overcome with emotion at the officers' generosity.
Now the gold Mustang is behind Mrs. Ward. This car can be in two places at once, it must be a Christmas miracle.
When they are back in the car, Reed lets Malloy know that he is confused by Pete's change of heart.
"Pete, you know, sometimes you really confuse me."

"Well you don't believe everything I tell ya, do ya?"

"Pretty much, yeah."
"That's right, you should. Except when I'm talking through my hat!"
Before they stopped at the toy store, Malloy had told Reed a story of a childhood Christmas when he was happy despite the fact that he received a sack of marbles instead of the air rifle he really wanted. The truth is that Malloy was disappointed when he saw that "crummy sack of marbles". In order to save Harvey the sorrow of not getting what he wants, Malloy decided to buy the dump truck.
A green car then careens around the corner and cuts their conversation short.
"Pete, look out!"
There's that Mustang again! Three times in one episode!
"You in the green Chevy, pull over to the curb and stop."
"Pull over to the curb and stop."
"Hit your brakes!"
Well, he did pull over the curb. Up and over the curb.

"What seems to be the trouble?"
I have a feeling that the next scene will be at the station.

Reed asks, "Mr. Haines are you sick or injured?"
Mr. Haines answers,"I'm not sick, I'm smashed!"
That's future Adam-12 producer Tom Williams playing the drunk at the breathalyzer. Since his character and Mr. Haines are both wearing suits and ties, I'm guessing that this takes place during the time when one could get smashed at the company Christmas party and no one stopped you from driving home.
Walters and Brinkman arrive with a drunk of their own to book.
Senior Officers Malloy and Walters have leather jackets. 
While neophyte Officers Reed and Brinkman have cloth jackets. Do the newer officers not make enough to be able to afford the leather outerwear?
While Reed and Malloy are escorting Mr. Haines to the jail, they see Mrs. Ward at the station. She is there to file a report because her car was stolen. She stopped on the way home to get a Christmas tree and her car was stolen near the tree lot on Sixth and Van Arden. To make matters worse, the toys were still in the trunk.
"Hey lady, Merry Christmas!" shouts Mr. Haines.
"Mr. Haines, your timing is lousy," comments Malloy.
After they are through with Mr. Haines, Pete and Jim visit Sgt. Miller to see if he has any information on car thiefs in the area of Sixth and Van Arden. He doesn't have any names or descriptions he can give them, but does give them a tip on where they have found stolen cars dumped in the area recently.
When Reed and Malloy enter the detective room, Sgt. Miller is on the phone with his wife discussing a problem with the Christmas tree. It's a fun little scene. 
Have I mentioned that I adore Sgt. Jerry Miller as portrayed by Jack Hogan? According to IMDB, Hogan lived in Hawaii during the 1980's and was a casting director on Magnum P.I.! Also, he was born in 1929 and is still kicking!
Pete and Jim take to the streets in order to search for Mrs. Ward's stolen car. They aren't having much luck and are discussing where they should go next when a call for a family dispute at 2641 West Van Arden comes over the radio. That address sounds very familiar.

Oh my God! It's the Beuhlers from episode 4! I really have to give Mark VII productions a hand for their attention to detail here. Most of the characteristics about this couple are the same in this episode as when we first met them nine episodes earlier. Their address is the same, the same actors are playing the parts, the "house" and most of the decor is the same. The only difference I spotted is that the room was painted a different color in episode 4.

Mark VII didn't have to do all of this, back then who would have known if everything about the Beuhlers in this episode was different from their original appearance? There were no DVR's, DVD's, or Netflix to watch the episodes back to back and compare. There were no iPads to make screen caps. There were no blogs or social media to discuss all of this.

This time around the Beuhlers are fighting about money.
Mrs. Beuhler is trying to be frugal, at Mr. Beuhler's request, by planning an inexpensive Christmas dinner and using a fake tree. She is upset because Mr. Beuhler then spends money on an expensive, fourteen-pound, mail-order ham. She wants him out of the house and has been throwing his clothes out the door. Most of the scene consists of these two yelling at each other, but there are some highlights.

Like Malloy telling Mr. Beuhler to "knock it off now".
Beuhler tells Malloy that he was so upset he threw the ham in his wassail bowl.
Malloy asks, "In your what?"
Beuhler answers, "My wassail bowl."
The look on Malloy's face when he tells the Beuhlers to go ahead and open their gifts. 
Mrs. Buehler's dress, which is fashioned from a textile that has a large-scale plaid pattern. It is simply constructed with a minimum amount of seams. In order to keep the pattern uninterrupted, there are few darts and it has kimono sleeves. (Can you tell I was a fashion design major?)
Just as before, the scene with the Beuhlers ends with them reigniting their argument.

In the car again, with Christmas Eve drawing to a close, the Ward children are foremost on Reed's mind. He won't be able to have a good time tomorrow if he knows the Wards are not happy.
"That's what happens when you let yourself get involved. You should've listened to me."
(I should've listened to you!?!? Excuse me?) 
"I should've listened to me."
 No time to argue about who should have listened to who, the radio breaks in with a dispatch that 1-Adam-43 is in pursuit of Mrs. Ward's stolen vehicle!
"Suspects in custody," reports the radio dispatcher.
"Hey, that's just great. The Ward kids'll have a good Christmas after all," exclaims Reed.
Not so fast, Reed. The presents are now stolen property and the detectives may want to impound them as evidence. Looks like another visit to Sgt. Miller is in order. (Oh, goody!)
Pete and Jim start to ask Jerry if the toys have to be kept as evidence when Walters and Brinkman arrive with the suspect and the toys.
The thief admits that he stole the car, but he did not know about the toys in the trunk.
"I mean, you gotta be a real creep to steal toys from kids, especially on Christmas Eve."
(What is up with this guy's eye? The burst blood vessel, or whatever is going on, is not mentioned during the scene.)
Reed argues that the toys can't  be evidence if ol' bloody eye never had any intent to steal them.
After quickly questioning the suspect on what he meant to steal, Sgt. Miller agrees that the toys are not evidence in the crime.
"Go on, get 'em outta here. We got enough work to do," states Miller.
"Anything to oblige, Jerry," answers Malloy
Malloy and Reed leave to deliver the toys to the Wards.
The End

But, I must point out something strange in the credits.
"Mrs. Hirsch"? Who is Mrs. Hirsch? I don't remember any Mrs. Hirsch in this episode, am I losing my mind? This must mean there was a scene cut from this episode. I wonder what happened in that scene.
In case you can't tell, I love this episode! There are so many reasons why I love it, most of which I have already covered; but there are two more reasons why it is among my season 1 favorites. First, it is a Christmas episode that does involve any supernatural Christmas magic. No mysterious reindeer hoof-prints in the snow, no hint of Santa Claus, no mention of Christmas miracles. I hate that crap and I'm glad there is none of that here.
 Second, there is a bit of a role reversal with Malloy and Reed. Usually, it is Reed who talks too much in the car trying to convince himself that, for example, it is just a little dent or that everything will be alright with Jean after Stenzler is shot. In this episode, Malloy is the one going on and on about why they should not buy the dump truck while Reed gives short, clipped responses to Malloy's reasoning. It is also Reed instead of Malloy who uses his knowledge of the law to solve the problem at hand.
Of course, I'm going to rate this one:

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments. Oh, and follow by e-mail! I've now figured out how to add that gadget to the page.
See you next time! KMA-367


  1. This is probably my favorite S-1 episode, alongside "It All Happened So Fast." (It is also my favorite of the three Christmas-themed episodes, although the other two are good.) Since S-1 was released on DVD I've made a habit of watching 'Log 122' on Christmas day every year.

    I like the background revealed about Pete in his dialogue. His childhood was probably during The Great Depression, meaning the presents were understandably a small-scale affair. Also, I believe he mentioned his father being away during "the war," inferring WWII when everyone's son, brother or father was away in the service. (I suppose Pete also could've meant that presents during the war years were affected by rationing and a general lack of money, too.)

    Harvey's so-called "Heavy Duty Dump Truck" is a generic version of Tonka's wildly popular "Mighty Yellow Dump Truck," - according to the NY Times in 2000 that one model accounted for $15 million in sales. (I received one for Christimas in '78!)

    As far as the officer jacket differences - Pete and Jerry came on the job when leather was still the standard-issue. They were 'grandfathered' when cloth became the new style later in the decade. I think it was soon thereafter in the season (or in S-2) when Pete's jacket is destroyed and his replacement is cloth.

    Rita, are you related to 'Mrs. Beuhler'? I see a resemblance.

    "Switch to Tac-2"

    1. Thanks for the info on the jackets. For such a warm climate, I'm amazed at the variety of outerwear the LAPD has.
      My brother had one of those Tonka dump trucks, he probably got it the same year you got yours or close to it!
      I wish I were related to Reba Beuhler! Oh, the stories she would have!

  2. Okay, this episode is playing today on MeTV, and I have to say, I found the "Conveyor Belt"/"Assemply Line" of funny drunks really disturbing.

    Did we really think drunk driving was that funny back then? God knows, my dad, an alcoholic, killed way more than his share of classic Mustangs, crashing drunkenly on his way home -- he never hurt anyone but himself, and himself not seriously, thank goodness -- but I would have been maybe nine or ten when this episode aired, and I have no memory of the emotional and social weather, so seeing that was really, really disturbing.

    1. I don't know if the assembly line of drunk drivers in this episode is including for comedy or to show what many PD's had to deal with around with the holidays.
      It is interesting to watch the show and see how our attitudes about some things have changed (treatment of women, drunk driving) while so many of the problems in the world have not (drugs, violence, etc.)

    2. Warning - opinions to follow

      It's dated comedy (drunks are always funny! *sigh*) . . . but it is a good example of depicting the DUIs that spike during the winter holidays from Thanksgiving eve to New Year's.

      From recent experience, I took in a drunk driver to our county processing center just prior to 3 a.m. on the Black Friday overnight. There were two cases immediately before mine and before I departed four more arrived, and two more within ten minutes after that. (This is only depicting 2:45 to 3:15 a.m. -- there were even more before and after that.) The 'assembly line' looked similar to the scene in 'Log 122' except the male-to-female ratio was about equal and the ages were 20's/30's range and not all middle-aged businessmen.

      Drunk driving is taken more seriously since the 80's onward (with the laws / penalties), but the numbers never feel like they're on the decrease.

      Everybody be safe this holiday weekend. Peace.

      "Switch to Tac-2"

  3. I was so excited to see the leather jackets in this episode!

    I loved that the old salts (even though they had less than 10 years on the job, evidenced by their single hash mark on their lower left sleeve) wore the old school horse hide jackets, and the boots wore the melton wool jackets. Both types had been in use since the 40's, but the leather was being phased out by the mid 60's, and new recruits wouldn't have had the option of purchasing them anymore. (LAPD doesn't issue uniforms, they cut you a check for your uniform allowance, and you're responsible for purchasing your authorized uniform items).

    I have a picture of an LAPD officer wearing one in 1968, so the timeline is accurate for the show. Later on we'll see the guys wearing the "Ike" jacket (adopted in 71), which looked sharp, but was not warm, or comfortable, and was quickly relegated to dress uniform use only, and replaced by the shiny nylon jackets with the fuzzy collars.

    L.A. Copper

  4. Just starting through this series but already I find it interesting that African-Americans are always portrayed positively (e.g. Mrs. Ward in this episode). The African American characters are either fellow officers or respectable citizens, and to date they have not arrested a single African American suspect. Does this really reflect reality? I guess political correctness was a thing even in 1968.

    1. I don't know if the ratio of black suspects to white suspects on the show mirrored 1968 reality or not, I've never done the research. As you watch the series you will see that they arrest not only whites, but also African American people, Latino people, Native American people, Asian people, and others.

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