Sunday, February 22, 2015

Log 172: Boy...the Things You Do for the Job (Episode 24, Season 1)

Well, cats and kittens, here we are at the most debated Adam-12 episode of the first season. It may even be the most debated episode of any season. The "Penny Lange" episode. The Zapruder film of the Adam-12 fandom, a small piece of cinema that has given rise to numerous theories. I've been waiting a long time for this one, so let's get to it!

Episode 24

The classic story of boy gets girl, boy can not lose girl (no matter how hard he tries), boy mysteriously makes girl go away.

Our story begins with Pete and Jim in the patrol car discussing their plans for their upcoming days off.
Pete is going sailing with a friend.

Jim and his pregnant wife will be painting their house. Remember, this is 1969 so that paint is probably chock full o' lead.
As they pull up to a stop sign, a sports car goes speeding past them. Pete chases after the car and turns on the reds, but the exotic car does not pull over. The speedster finally stops after Pete turns on the sirens. He gets out of the black and white and approaches the driver.
"Don't tell me I did something wrong, officer."
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Miss Penelope Lange or Penny, as she likes to be called. She has run a stop sign while doing 15 miles over the speed limit. She is also driving with an expired license and failed to stop when Pete signaled her.
She didn't stop because she thought Pete was just "putting her on". Anyway, she has a good reason for speeding. She was running late and had to get her poodle to the stylist on time.
It's not like she put anybody in danger.
"You almost hit two cars."

"Oh, poo, screeching their brakes like that. Trying to scare me, that's all."
Pete then commits a mortal sin, he asks Miss Lange if she has a business address.
"Business! Who works?"
Not Miss Lange, she doesn't have to. Her father's in oil.
Pete tells Miss Lange to wait and returns to the patrol car to get the citation book.
"Whadda got?" asks a curious Jim.
"I got a real cute chick who knows it and she's trying to dazzle me out of writing her."
When Pete returns to Miss Lange's car with a traffic ticket, she can't believe her ridiculously bespectacled eyes. Under her red beret, her brain is hatching a plan to get out the ticket. She comes up with the idea to invite Pete to dinner so they can talk about this silly ticket business.
"There isn't anything to talk over," responds Pete.
Miss Lange is aghast! Pete has refused her offer of a date and he wants her to sign the traffic ticket, the nerve. She eventually signs the ticket when Pete warns her that the alternative is jail.

When they are back in the car, Pete and Jim debate what motivated Penny to sign the ticket.
Jim thinks Penny signed the ticket because the word "jail" scared her.
Pete thinks she signed out of shock, she didn't know what to do when her charm and beauty routine didn't work.

Cut to four days later. 
Is that Penny's car driving past the station?

After his three days off, Pete returns to a noisy locker room. Once the other officers realize he has entered the room, their boisterous chatter comes to an immediate halt. Everyone stares at Pete and he instantly becomes uneasy.
"Did I forget my pants or something?" [Sadly, no.]

Walters, Brinkman, and Wells begin to talk about Pete as if he isn't there. They debate which quality Pete possesses that makes him so special. Brinkman thinks it's his gift of gab, Wells thinks it's his shaving lotion, and Walters thinks it's his baby blue eyes.
"He smells pretty!" exclaims Wells.
Pete doesn't understand why his brother officers are having a laugh at his expense.
Jim walks in and everyone wants to know if Pete has "cut him in". Nobody says what it is that Pete should have "cut him in" on, but they sure think it's funny.
Jim then hands Pete a package he found in their station mailbox. Pete unwraps the parcel and the other officers gather round to get a better look at the contents.
Everyone gets a good look at the contents of Penny's bikini.
["Oh boy."]
Jim finds all of this hilarious and has a hard time not cracking a smile.
Pete is upset, he did not tell Jim to find any of this hilarious.
Walters, Wells, and Brinkman recognize Penny right away. While Pete was gone, she was pestering the officers at the front desk. She wanted to know where Pete was, when he was coming back, and where he lived.

Before Pete and Jim hit the street, Pete has to do something. He needs to find Penny's address in the citation book so he can mail the picture back to her. While he addresses the package, a familiar sports car drives into the lot behind Pete's back. Jim, eyeing the car, suggests that Pete return the picture in person instead of taking the easy way out.
"Reed, how do you get so many bad ideas?"
"I don't think it's such a bad idea."
Pete tells Penny that he is not her type, he asks her to go away. She disagrees. He returns the picture to her. They drive off on their separate ways, never to cross paths again. So Pete thinks.
"Like the lady says, 'wanna bet?'"

At the end of their shift, Reed and Malloy are back in the locker room. Wells is there, too, and he is no longer in a jovial mood. He has not had a good night and he blames Malloy. 
During his shift Wells has had to respond to three calls from Penny Lange. The third time he was at her house Penny was so unhappy to see Ed Wells again that she started yelling at him. She complained that she was sick of the whole police department and only wanted Pete Malloy to answer her calls because he is the only cop she has any confidence in. 
Pete asks if Penny seemed interested in Ed. He hopes that she will transfer her affections to the shorter, blue-eyed officer.
Sorry, Pete, your problem isn't going away that easily.
Reed asks if Ed has any ideas to help Pete get rid of Penny. Ed is not interested in helping Pete with his conundrum. He's too angry to help.
"If this keeps up, you're liable to lose a few friends," observes Jim.
"Or my mind," responds Pete.
The next day Pete and Jim meet up in the coffee room. Pete has just returned from court where he saw Penny Lange paying her traffic ticket. Somehow, Pete avoided running into Penny.
"I ducked into the men's room until after she left."
Reed thinks this is too funny.
"That's what I call 'facing the issue'."
Reed thinks that Malloy is being chicken. Malloy thinks he was being prudently cautious.
"I call it 'avoiding trouble', smart guy."
It seems that Penny has turned from lovestruck admirer to full-blown stalker. Last night she was waiting for Pete outside the station and tried to follow him home. He finally lost her after thirty minutes when he pulled into a drive-in theatre. Reed still thinks this is amusing and makes another joke about the situation.
"Hmm, police experience sure comes in handy."

["You're not funny, junior."]
We next see the boys in the black and white at 11:00 p.m., it's nearing the end of their shift and there haven't been any calls to Penny Lange's address. They receive a call of 507, radio, at 1216 Bouchard Street, apartment 1401. Thankfully, it's not Penny Lange's address.
1216 Brouchard Street is swanky, no dark brown walls here.
They speak to the Resident Superintendent, Milton J. Prendle, about the noise complaint. He tells them that a new resident on the 19th floor has been playing her stereo very loudly. When he tried to talk to her about it she told Milton that he would have to call the police if he wanted the loud music to stop.
 The snooty Mr. Prendle advises Pete and Jim to be tactful and discreet because they only cater to "top drawer" residents in this building. He also demands that they park the black and white in the back if they ever come back.
"It just doesn't look good," he says with a flourish.
In the elevator Pete and Jim mock Mr. Prendle's snobbery.
I hope this scene in the elevator with Pete and Jim making fun of Mr. Prendle doesn't get cut out of re-broadcasts. They're just two co-workers blowing off steam after dealing with a jerk in this part and it's great.
As soon as the elevator stops, the canned "Jack Webb Official Generic Psychedelic Rock" music is heard emanating from apartment 1902.
Pete's pained expression speaks for all of us.
Can you guess who is the new tenant in 1902? 
"Oh boy," groans a fearful Pete. While a shocked Jim stands with his mouth agape.
Ed Wells will no longer have the privilege of responding to Penny's calls. After figuring out the reporting district for 1-Adam-12, Penny has moved to a new address. Now Pete will be dispatched to her aid. He wants to know how Penny knows his unit number and reporting district. She'll be more than happy to tell Pete...over dinner. He explains that he can not go to dinner with her, they are not allowed to fraternize. Penny thinks that just silly, who says what Pete can do on his own time?
"I do."
Pete then tries telling her that he is just not interested. But, Penny persists and asks him out again. Pete gets more irritated and direct with her. This still does not deter Penny. She tells Pete that she finds him tough, but also "positively fascinating". That pushes Pete over the edge.
"Now you listen to me and listen good. This act of yours is about as subtle as a neon sign."
"You see, Miss Lange, I don't like you. And what's more important, you turn me off. But good."
Pete and Jim go back to work as Penny's devastated expression turns into a devilish grin.
Oh, no. What is she thinking now?

The next day, Mac wants to talk privately with Pete. He tells Pete that the "Penny" problem has made it all the way up to the captain, it was even mentioned at the latest supervisors' meeting. Mac advises him to put an end to this. Pete is confident that he did put an end to it last night when he laid it on the line for her. Just as Pete is giving Mac his guarantee of a Penny-free future, Walters comes in to tell Pete that someone wants to see him out back.
He also tells Mac that he won't want to miss this.
They join the other officers in the parking lot.
This guy wants to see Pete.
He has this for him.
It's a gift.
Pete's not happy.
Not happy at all. He tells the car salesman to take it back. 

So, it would seem that last night's confrontation only made Penny more determined to win Pete's heart, by any means or cost necessary. This has gone on long enough. Pete needs to come up with a plan to get rid of her, for good, and fast.
He has some coffee to clear his head.
He then asks Mac for tomorrow night off. Pete's request is granted. 
Mac hopes whatever Pete has planned will work.
"You can count on it."
He then hurries to the phone at the report desk. Jim catches up with him as he begins dialing. He asks Pete what he is going to do. Pete replies that he is desperate.
Jim asks him if he is going to transfer and looks way too happy about this possibility. Way too happy.
What Pete has planned is worse than transferring. He's going to take Penny out on a date. 

The next day, Pete and Jim are back on patrol. Jim can't take the suspense anymore, he asks Pete how it went last night.
"How did what go?"
Jim is not in the mood for games and presses Pete for answer. 
"Your date, with Penny Lange," he asks.
"Oh!"answers Pete dramatically.
"Well, there isn't much to tell. We had dinner, caught a show, went dancing. Oh, she's  a good dancer.  It was a date, you know. You must remember what they were like." [Good Lord, dinner then show then dancing. How long was this date?]
"And that's it?"
"That's it." 

"Oh, there's one more little thing."
"She's not gonna be a problem anymore. Not at all."

The End

If you're like me, this is where you screamed at the television when you first saw this episode. You probably shouted something like, "What?! That's it? What happened?!?". You may have then Googled "Penny Lange" to find out what others thought of this episode and their opinion on what happened during Pete and Penny's date. You probably read a lot of theories from the ridiculous to the plausible. You may have even asked show producer, Tom Williams, through Facebook if he knew what happened. You then found that he wasn't spilling the beans, either. Finally, you might have formed your own idea but were still frustrated by the ending of a 45-year-old cop show.

So, here are some of the thoughts I've read on how Pete sent Penny packing:
1. Pete was a perfect gentleman on the date. Penny was horribly bored and lost all interest in Pete.

2. Pete took Penny to places that he could afford on a cop's salary. She did not enjoy "slumming" it and told Pete that it wouldn't work out.

3. Pete, knowing that playing hard to get didn't stop Penny, decided to play extremely easy to get. He came on extra strong, maybe even proposed marriage. Penny realized she really didn't like Pete, she just enjoyed the challenge. Now that that was gone so was her attraction to Pete.

Those all sound pretty good, any one of them could have happened.

Here's what I think, whatever Pete did to get rid of Penny, he's not proud of it. That's why he's reluctant to tell Jim about the date. His final declaration makes it very clear that he will never discuss this subject again. There is also something ominous about that look he gives Reed at the end. And Reed's smirk in the closing shot hints that he knows what Pete isn't saying. That look at the end makes me think that something more salacious than a boring date took place.
I think something like this happened:
Pete finishes combing his hair in the mirror and sets the comb down on the dresser. He takes a deep breath to prepare himself for the task at hand. He then walks over to the bed and places a large, freckled hand on the sleeping figure wrapped in a sheet.
"Mmmm...Good morning, Pete. What's for breakfast?" purrs a sleepy Penny as she stretches and rubs her eyes.
"Miss Lange...," he begins.
"Penny, Pete, Penny. I would think we're definitely on a first name basis now," She corrects him as she props herself up. 
"Look, Miss Lange, we were on a first name basis last night. But, that's all over. You got what you wanted and now I'm going to get what I want. Which is for you to leave me alone, permanently."
Penny sits up and covers her naked form with the sheet.
"Oh Pete, now you don't mean that," she coos.
"I do mean it. When I asked you to leave me alone before, I didn't have any way to make it stick. Well, now I do."

Penny's smile fades as she begins to remember the details of the previous night.

Pete continues, "Had a few too many cocktails last night, didn't you? Well, do you remember when I told that I regretted returning your picture? You agreed to a private photo session, in a lot less than a bikini."
He goes over to the dresser and takes a camera out of the drawer.
"I'll be taking this film to the station today. The lab will develop it for me and make as many copies as I need. If I hear from you again, a set of those copies will wind up in the hands of Mr. Douglas Lange at Pacific Petroleum."
"How do you know..."
"You're not the only one who can do detective work, Miss Lange. We'll see how long daddy continues to pay the rent on your swanky pad once he gets a load of these."
Penny is speechless, she knows the game is over and she has lost. She may love Pete, but she loves daddy's money more and she won't risk losing that.

"Now, get dressed and get out," says Pete as he leaves the bedroom carrying the camera.

Now another theory that would explain Pete's expression in the last scene is that he just straight-up murdered Penny. He's a cop, he would know where to hide the body. That seems a little far-fetched, I don't see Pete going to that extreme. But, who knows? How much do we really know about Pete Malloy, anyway? Who even knew he was going to college?

Of course, I think this is one of the best episodes. An angry, irritated Pete always makes for a good time. Also, Jim takes such pleasure in Pete's annoyance that you can't help but love this one.

 Do you agree? What do you think happened to Penny Lange? Don't hold back, I want to know!
See you next time! KMA-367 


  1. As you know, I have a different theory, which I love to share.

    That wasn't their last date. They had a total of five. Pete worked overtime on being as aggressive and crass and classless and obnoxious as possible. "Catching a Show" meant gory, subtitled Martial Arts movies. "Dinner" meant a hot dog stand. Dancing... Well, don't ask.

    Every date, Pete's behavior was more and more boorish, but Penny, stubborn and smarter than he gave her credit for, hung in there. Finally, on their fifth date, she confronted him: "I know exactly what you're trying to do, Petey-boy! You think I'm buying this act? You think I'm that dumb? Oh, poo!"

    So he did.

    1. Oh good, I was hoping you would share your theory. Pete acting like a boor and taking her to unrefined and tactless establishments is a good theory. I do believe none of that would turn her off. The last bit of you idea would certainly explain the looks Pete and Jim exchange at the end.

  2. I've been looking forward to your blog on this episode. I love this one, and I especially love that it leaves us all hanging at the end. I don't think he killed her, but whatever he did, he was a very, very bad boy. I think your theory is a really good one. Blackmail would totally make sense.

    1. Whatever Pete did, it was so bad that 1969 audiences had to be shielded from it.

  3. Loved this recap. Loved your theory
    I figured that Pete turned out to be King of the Superfreaks and did things to Penny she never imagined and never wants to remember. That's why Reed smirked the way he did. Cops gossip and they all know exactly what Pete is into.

    Either that or he murdered her.

    1. I am sure Pete gave it to her, but good.
      Also, we were talking about Gary Crosby popping up in other shows a few weeks back. Well, I was watching an episode of Hunter this week and guess who popped up as the officer working R&I?

  4. I know we're left to draw our own conclusions, but I don't like the idea of Pete blackmailing her. That seems beneath him, even if he were desperate to be rid of her.

    I've tended to believe that they slept together. I think that's why they don't actually show what happened; they couldn't by the standards of 60s television. Alternately, the producers decided that they couldn't come up with a satisfactory solution and just let the viewers resolve in their own minds.

  5. I agree with Thomas. I think that Pete did sleep with her, but at her place since he tried so hard to keep her from learning where he lived. I also think that he made the experience so disappointing for her that she decided to cut her losses. In other episodes we've seen Pete be very considerate to the women he was seeing- for example, dropping off Judy's dry cleaning and offering to cook dinner for his girlfriend when she was ill.

    1. Even if we don't agree on what happened during Pete and Penny's date. I think we can all agree that this is one of the best episodes of the series. I love that it still sparks debate. I'm happy anytime there is a discussion about Adam-12.

  6. Hi Rita--I enjoy your blog (and Adam-12, naturally!). I thought you might like this piece I wrote for my radio station's blog a few years ago:

    1. Dave, that was brilliant! I didn't catch on to Lynette's better known identity until she got to the part about the 80-year old blind man at the ranch. Helter Skelter is one of my favorite books and two-part TV movies so this cross-over was right up my alley. I have visited your blog before, I'm honored that you like mine!

  7. This episode drove me crazy, but it was a good episode.

    She came off as a "badge bunny". Their first encounter with her is a "badge bunny" tactic. And that would be speeding past to get their attention, then ignoring any directive. Although, I think she is the kind of "badge bunny" who racks 'em up, but is not looking for a permanent relationship.

    I do think they went on a date and then he gave it to her good.

    1. I agree, she wasn't looking for anything permanent. I don't think Penny is a girl who can be tied down.
      I also agree that he gave it to her good. hee hee

  8. Sadly, Ahna Capri died on Aug. 9, 2010. According to the "Hollywood Reporter":

    "Her death was the result of an auto accident in North Hollywood on August 9, in which a 5-ton truck driven by a 22-year-old female driver collided with her car. She was in a coma on life support for 11 days, and passed away with family members at her side."

    Interestingly, her younger brother, Peter Robbins, was the voice of Charlie Brown.

  9. Oh, I love the theories. Here's mine: Penny sleeps with the fishes; Pete got her into bed and when she saw just how -- ahem -- manly he was, she screamed in fear and is still running to this day; alternately, he got her into bed and she saw how UNmanly he was and laughed him out; Pete's really an alien and his equipment scared her off; Pete came out to her & introduced her to his secret boyfriend -- he's way too butch to be for real. ;-)