Sunday, March 29, 2015

Log 153: Find Me a Needle (Episode 2, Season 2)

Episode 28


Pete and Jim work to uncover the identity of the "Mulholland Mauler", a serial killer who has murdered five victims.  They also investigate the disappearance of  a young woman who may be the Mauler's latest victim. 

The Story:

Prior to roll call the officers mill about the assembly room. Reed and Malloy know this will not be a routine roll call when they see that the watch commander is accompanied by Sgt. Miller from detectives.
"Sergeant Miller," observes Reed.
"Something must be up," adds Malloy.
Mac begins the assembly by reading the crimes of the night. He announces that the sixth victim of the Mulholland Mauler has come out of her coma and is going to be alright. Sgt. Miller has just come from the hospital where he has interviewed the victim. 
Miller describes victim #6 as a 19-year-old caucasian female who was picked up by the Mauler while hitchhiking. Once she was inside the Mauler's car, he put a knife to her throat, shoved her to the floor of his car, then threw a blanket over her head. 

Mac continues the story, telling the officers that the Mauler then took her to Mulholland where he raped her and beat her to unconsciousness. Finally, he threw her down a ravine where she was found by two kids.
Pete and Jim listen intently to the description of the attack.
The victim has also provided a description of the Mauler and his car. He is a male caucasian, 5' 9", 165 pounds, with black hair who drives a 1962 dark green, four-door Plymouth. The men are instructed to investigate every car meeting that description, even if it is "upside-down in somebody's back yard".
All units whose area includes Mulholland Drive, including 1-Adam-12, are told to stay in that area during their watch, other cars will handle radio calls.
Pete and Jim will be spending their night on Lover's Lane.
(No, not like that. They'll be looking for the killer.)
Early in their shift, Pete and Jim spot a young, female hitchhiker. Pete parks the car to talk to her. The teenaged hitcher, Mary Gallagher, would rather thumb a ride than take the bus.
(Mary's classic outfit would not look out of place in 2015. Thankfully, her practice of hitchhiking would seem out of place today.)
She explains that catching a ride with a stranger is a more exciting than public transportation. Exciting or not, it's still against the law and Jim writes her a ticket. Mary is worried that her parents will kill her when they learn of the ticket. Pete reminds her of the true dangers that hitchhiking can bring.
"Is that all your worried about? What about the guy who picks you up? How do you know what's in his mind? You know, once you get in his car, he owns you. A knife or a gun, you do exactly what he says, all the way. And when he's finished, you might be too. Think about it."
As the clock approaches 10 pm, their night in the hills has been mostly quiet. Jim comments that they've seen only seven cars, two rabbits, a raccoon, and a dog. As soon as he tallies all they've observed, the count changes to eight cars; the eighth being a green, four-door, '62 Plymouth. Following the instructions from roll call, they stop the Plymouth.
After Malloy frisks the driver and inspects his license and registration, he asks to look in the trunk. The driver apathetically agrees to allow Pete access to the trunk.
"Look in the trunk, pick the car up and shake it. What do I care?"
As Jim keeps watch over the car's owner, the senior officer opens the trunk. Pete is alarmed by what he finds inside.

The driver explains that he uses the knife when he goes fishing and asks if there is a law against that.
"If what you're fishing for is young and female, the answer is 'yes'," responds Pete.
Since he is driving the same car as the Mauler and possesses items similar to those used in the latest attack, this fisherman is cuffed and driven back to the station.

In the detective's room Reed, Malloy, Miller, and MacDonald compare the knives recovered from the two suspects arrested on this night.

In addition to the suspect that 1-Adam-12 has brought in, Officer Brent has also arrested a suspect with the "right knife, right blanket, and right car". Malloy and Reed are confident that their suspect is the Mauler.

After their stop at the station, Pete and Jim return to their patrol on lover's lane. They approach a couple of teenagers necking in a parked car. Pete surprises the young lovers when he knocks on the rear of the car.
"How scared would you be if we weren't policemen, just a couple of big guys in the dark?"
Reed and an unusually sedate Malloy try to make the couple understand that they should pay more attention to their surroundings and less heed to their hormones. In the heat of passion they may not hear a killer approaching. 
"Cars have brakes, son, sometimes they fail. Same thing happens to people," cautions Reed.
"Nobody's against love, we're not. But a parked car up here is hardly the place."
They finally tell the amorous teens to move along and find a less dangerous location for their liaison.

Next, they happen upon a white Camaro with a flat tire. The driver is nowhere in sight, but Pete discovers a clue about the owner's identity when he peers inside the vehicle.
High-heeled shoes are found on the front seat. Pete surmises that the female owner wore these shoes to work and changed into flats on her way home.
Pete also discovers that the car has not been driven for quite awhile.
Reed runs the plates and reports that the owner is Dolores Grove. Pete hopes that Dolores has walked to the garage at the bottom of the hill, they head there to investigate. 

When they arrive at the repair shop, Dolores is not there. Instead, they find a friend of hers who Dolores was supposed to drive to a party in Oxnard over two hours ago. The girlfriend got tired of waiting and tried to drive her own unreliable vehicle to the party. When it broke down, she ended up at this garage.

She tells Pete and Jim that Dolores couldn't have gone to the party on her own, she didn't have the directions to get there. They tell the redhead about their discovery of Dolores' disabled vehicle and ask if she would have walked for help. Her friend finds the idea of Dolores walking laughable.
"Dolores Grove wouldn't walk a half mile if her life depended on it."
Hitchhike, yes. Walk, never. Reed and Malloy exchange worried glances, Dolores' life may depend on choosing walking over hitchhiking tonight.

Pete and Jim return to the station shortly after 1am. Sgt. Miller reports that Oxnard PD checked out the party, Dolores Grove never showed up. The composite sketch of the Mulholland Mauler based on Victim #6's description is now complete. Unfortunately, it doesn't bear an overwhelming resemblance to either suspect. There is also a scratch or scar on the face of the composite sketch subject that neither suspect possesses. Malloy thinks this eliminates both men.
 Sgt. Miller explains that is not necessarily true. If Victim #5 scratched the Mauler, that  scratch would have still been visible to Victim #6. By now the scratch would be completely healed. 
Miller feels that both suspects are "hot" until Dolores Grove can be located. Unfortunately, finding Dolores Grove will be as a difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.
"Maybe we can find this needle, if we start with the guy that dropped it," theorizes Malloy.
Nick, the guy that Pete and Jim brought in, has agreed to cooperate. Miller asks him if he would like to take a ride back to the area of his car. The suspect agrees to go with them.

Back on Mulholland, they first take Nick back to his car and ask him what he was doing in this lonely area. He explains that he likes to see the lights come on in the valley.
Pete asks if Nick comes up here alone. Nick does not answer.

They then drive Nick to Dolores' car. When Sgt. Miller asks him if he knows who owns the car, Nick becomes enraged and snaps at the detective.
"I don't know!" shouts Nick.
More cracks begin to show in Nick's veneer when Miller asks if he would have given Dolores a ride. Nick answers, "I might." The detective then asks him if she was pretty. Nick just chuckles.

Their next stop is the ravine where Victim #6 was found. The officers ask Nick if #7 is down there, too.

 They ask him if the knife was in his hand. 
They ask Nick if the blanket was over her head.
Nick claims ignorance to their queries. As the tension builds, Nick decides that he wants to go back to the station. He doesn't want to talk anymore, nobody cares what happens to him.
"I'll agree with that. But right now, we're trying to find a missing woman before it's too late. We're pretty sure you can help us, Nick."
Malloy then challenges Nick to tell them one thing to prove his innocence. When he can't provide an answer, Malloy asks him if #7 is also around here. 
A defeated Nick nods in response.
They all get back in the car and drive until Nick tells them to stop. Reed and Malloy exit the car to look for Dolores, leaving Sgt. Miller in the backseat with Nick. 
Malloy finds a stray woman's shoe in the brush and yells to Miller, "Call an ambulance!". 
They soon find Dolores.
When Nick hears Pete's shout of "We found her!" he tries to justify his actions to a horrified Sgt. Miller.
"When they start to scream, there's nothing else to do."
In the ravine, Pete holds the terrified and injured Dolores. He tries to comfort her as she frantically tells him, "He tried to kill me".

In the closing scene Nick, Sgt. Miller, Malloy, and Reed watch the ambulance containing Dolores drive away. As Malloy cuffs him, Nick recounts the first time he killed a victim. He felt so awful, he tried to kill himself afterwards. Eventually, he stopped feeling bad about it. Nick thinks his lack of long-term remorse proves he's crazy.
"Doesn't it?"
 The End.

My evaluation:

This tense, almost-noir thriller is a complete contrast from last week's fun romp in the park. Adam-12 is never the same show twice and that is one of the reasons that I love it. The light-hearted, fun episodes are balanced by the darkly dramatic ones.

Nowadays it seems that we are treated to serial killer investigations every week on television. This episode, and the Dragnet 1966 pilot movie, feel like the genesis of the genre. Today's detective shows usually downplay the role of the uniformed officer in this type of case while elevating the importance of the crime lab. Here, the serial killer is found through good, old-fashioned police work. 

Most of the heavy police work here is done by Malloy and Miller with Reed observing his superiors at work. Usually, I'll "ding" an episode if I feel that it is too Malloy-heavy. But, since Reed is a rookie cop on his first serial killer investigation I feel that the portrayal of his role in the investigation is fair. I think any rookie would take a back seat to the more experience officers on this type of case.

I was thoroughly entertained by this story and the performances. Especially Milner's. Pete's interaction with every citizen in this story is different. He is firmly father-like with the young hitchhiker; confidently in-control with Nick; understanding with the teenaged lovers; and lovingly comforting with the injured Dolores. I give Log 153: Find Me a Needle the rating of:

Do you agree? See you next time! KMA-367


  1. Reed comments that they've seen only seven cars, two rabbits, a raccoon, and a dog.

    But do we trust him on those IDs? The cars, sure, and maybe the dog, knowing we can't depend on him where the raccoon is concerned, can we trust him on the rabbits?

    1. I had the same thought as soon as I heard him say raccoons. How can we be sure they are not opossums? Also, fun fact, "Nick" is the "Most Interesting Man in the World".

  2. I just saw Kent McCord in an episode of SeaQuest DSV. Apparently he's in a bunch of them.

    1. Where can one find episodes of SeaQuest DSV? I've seen a clip of him in this show, but never a full episode.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I've been watching them on Netflix streaming.

    2. Wait, what? Netflix has more than Adam-12, Dragnet, and Emergency!? I actually did looking this up as soon as I saw your comment and started watching an episode while I ate my breakfast. Thank you! I know what I'll be doing with my long Easter weekend!

    3. They've got The Rockford Files too, which I totally recommend.

  4. An interesting side note. This episode originally aired on 9/27/69, the same evening of one of The Zodiac’s more well known strikes.