Sunday, May 3, 2015

Log 103: A Sound Like Thunder (Episode 6, Season 2)

Episode 32

We finally get to meet Jean Reed!


Pete, Jim, and their ladies take a trip to a ghost town where they are terrorized by a motorcycle gang.

The Story:

This episode begins at the Central Receiving Hospital. Here's an article on the history of the hospital. It was razed in 2005 to make way for the new Rampart Station. The old Rampart Station stood in for Central Station on Adam-12, which means...nothing, I guess?
Anyway, Pete and Jim are at Central Receiving to drop off this old man who they picked up at the intersection of 6th and Alvarado. He seemed dazed and didn't know his name when the officers found him.
The old man is played by Ralph Moody, who I instantly recognized from his appearance in the final Dragnet episode. Mr. Moody was born in 1886 and began his showbiz career in 1900!

Hmmm, she looks familiar. Wasn't she married to Ed Wells in episode 22? Didn't Pete rescue her baby in episode 3? Yes and yes.
This old guy may not know his name, but Nurse Sassy-pants here knows him and he is not too happy to see her.  His name is Gus Archer and she recognizes him from the many other times he has been brought to Central Receiving. Gus lives with his daughter and likes to ramble, sometimes he gets lost on the way back to the barn.

Gus senses and an attraction between Pete and the nurse and doesn't hesitate to ask about it once she is out of the scene. 

He asks Pete, "Kinda like that gal? Don't you, boy?".
"Sir?", replies Pete, surprised by the old man's bold query.
"Takes a lot of figuring, don't it? Look, son, pretty girls are like rainbows: nothing to 'em. Take my advice when the chips are down, put your money on the homely woman. A pretty gal just ain't in it." 
Once Gus is stashed away, Pete and the nurse begin to discuss their plans for the next day. (The old man was right!) Pete's plan is to leave in the morning at the crack of dawn, have breakfast on the road, and be in the mountains by 10:00. They are going to Silver Lode, a ghost town that Pete wants to see before it becomes a tourist trap. (I guess Pete is worried that Silver Lode will end up like Calico.)
Jim joins the conversation, because he and Jean are joint Nurse what's-her-name and Pete on the trip. (Seriously, what's her name? No one has mentioned it yet and we're several minutes into this thing!). Mystery nurse asks Jim if it is a good idea for the very pregnant Jean Reed to make the trip.
"The doc said, 'no sweat'. Especially, when I told him we were taking an RN along."
Pete seems distressed by Jim's statement.
Jim, shut up. 
Now Nurse Hot-for-Pete thinks that she has only been invited for her medical skills, not for her sparkling personality. Jim doesn't see the harm in this and tries to confirm the extent of her obstetrical knowledge.
"You do deliver babies, don't you?"
"No, and I don't intend to start tomorrow."
Wait a minute. Didn't Jim just tell us in the previous episode that he learned how to deliver a baby at the Academy? So, he doesn't need her anyway.

Nurse I-ain't-deliverin'-no-babies wants Jim to tell Jean that she is out of her mind. Don't do it, Jim! If you tell Jean that the nurse said she is out of her mind, Jean will get mad and you'll wish you could join the other ghosts in Silver Lode.

The next scene opens with the Reeds' car arriving in Silver Lode. This place even has tumbleweeds!
Pete and what's-her-name (For the love of God, what is her name?!?) take off to explore the town.

 While Jim and Jean take a minute to make-out in the car. 
Geez, you two, get a room!

 While the couples explore the deserted town, they speculate on what life was like when this place was a bustling community. Jean thinks the residents must have had a ball here during the silver rush. Pete doesn't paint such a rosy picture of life in Silver Lode.
"I'll tell you what they had: lye soap, outdoor plumbing, bad food, and a mortality rate you wouldn't believe."
"Especially among infants," adds Nurse Sunshine.
(This is not something you tell a pregnant woman!)
They decide to check out the saloon.
Saloon? Let's go! Come on, Jim!
 (This is the worst pregnancy padding ever. You can see the shape of the pillow under her dress. Also, do the Reeds always color coordinate their outfits?)
Once inside the saloon, Jim tells Jean to be careful. He doesn't want the floor to fall through under her, she could break an ankle then he would have to shoot her.
Jean's a good sport and laughs at Jim's joke.
(If someone had said that to me while I was pregnant, I would have said, "You calling me fat?".)
Nurse Mock Turtleneck hesitates before entering the saloon. She has a funny feeling about this place. 
Pete comments,"Gus was right".
Which, I guess, means that she is pretty since she is acting frightened and therefore unreliable?

Pete then hears a rumbling noise in the distance. Nurse Oh-my-God-what-is-her-name-already! hears it too, she thinks it sounds like thunder. Pete is afraid not. He tells his date to go inside. He follows, then checks out what is happening from a window.
"Population explosion."
Pete tells Jean that she and Sally (FINALLY! It only took 5 minutes and 58 seconds!) should stay out of sight.
Two members of the motorcycle gang began honking the Reed's car horn and shouting, "Hey, come on out you squares!"

The situation escalates from taunts to vandalism when one of the gang members throws a beer bottle at the windshield. 

Another gang member shows the bottle thrower how real menacing destruction is accomplished.

If Jim wasn't angry before, now he's livid and wants to confront the gang. Pete's older, wiser, and calmer head prevails.
"Jim, what do mind losing most your car or your wife?" 
Jim would rather lose his car, he'll stay put.
One of the gang members finds Jean's sweater (I'm assuming it's Jean's since it's blue), now they are excited that there are "broads" to terrorize.

After this development Pete orders Sally and Jean to hide on the floor behind the bar. Before she takes her place on the dirt floor, Jean declares that she refuses to have her baby in a saloon. 

Outside, the destruction of the Reeds' car continues. The leader of Satan's Sinners shoots open the trunk and the gang begins to wreck their picnic lunch. 

While most of the Sinners are busy with the picnic basket, one of them is in the car searching the glove compartment. What he finds brings a new exhilaration to the destructive glee of the Sinners.
Those are handcuffs he's swinging around on his finger. They'll now have "off-duty fuzz" to torment, if they can find them.
The Sinners now organize. Some of them take off on their bikes to block the roads out of town, some of them stay with car, and some of the begin their search for the fuzz and the females.

Pete and Jim spring into action and stakeout on either side of the saloon entrance.
This is no time for a windbreaker!
Oh, Jim, white sneakers with brown pants? Take a fashion tip from your partner, your shoes and pants should at least be similar in tone.
While they are waiting for the gang to enter the saloon, Pete advises his partner to keep his trigger finger relaxed. He tells Jim that "up to now you've got no good reason not to". 
I love this bit of advice from Pete. The gang has only destroyed Jim's car, a material possession, it's not worth shooting anyone over.

From their hiding spot on the floor of the bar, Jean and Sally discuss how things don't change much over time. Jean thinks it's funny, when the town was alive the bad guys rode horses now they have found a newer and faster way to get around.
Jean's comment reminded me of "The Time I Met Kent McCord™". He commented that the stories on Adam-12 are still relevant today, only the technologies have changed. 

Bach (pronounced 'batch') here takes a moment to think where the visitors could be hiding.
Bach then rides his bike into the saloon where he is promptly captured by the two off-duty officers.

After Jim searches Bach and confiscates his gun, Bach yells to his cohorts outside and lets them know that he has been nabbed. Upon hearing this the other gang members decide to surround the saloon.

Without his handcuffs, Jim uses his belt and Bach's to restrain the prisoner. While he is tightening the belt around Bach's ankles they hear more gunshots.

Jim asks Pete, who is stationed at the window, what the Sinners are doing.
"They just put your car out of it's misery."
Bach warns that his compadres will have the saloon surrounded in one minute and asks Pete and Jim if they want to make a deal. Pete is only going to make a deal with Bach on his terms.

"Alright Bach, we're through playing cowboys and Indians. You call it off before somebody gets hurt." 
Bach wants Pete's gun in exchange for calling off his gang. Pete wants Bach as his prisoner and he wants the "mangy crew" right along with him. Bach then tells Pete that he and all the other "squares" are as good as dead.
"Maybe so. But, I promise you something. You'll go first."

Bach believes Pete and asks to be untied so he and the gang can "split". Pete's not letting him get away. When they leave, they'll be taking Bach and his friends straight to jail. Bach decides he's not going to call off the gang if Pete intends to make them prisoners of the law.

At this point Pete tells Sally and Jean to come out. When they emerge from their hiding place, Sally informs Pete that there is someone moving around out back. Jim goes to check it out. 
Jean lets Bach know that he will be sorry if she has her baby in the ghost town. Bach is upset that nobody likes him. 
The biker who was out back has "headed for the timbers". 

Sally then spots another one of Satan's Sinners across the street from the saloon. Pete runs to the window and the baddie shoots at him. Pete fires and hits the guy in the leg.
Take that pig!
Ow! He got me in the leg!
Evil will never defeat the yellow sweater of justice.
 After that exciting confrontation, we next see everyone standing around while Bach plays the harmonica. Jim is watching the back door, Pete is watching the front, Sally is watching Bach, and Jean tries to figure out how months past her due date she is carrying this child.

I should shoot you just for playing the harmonica so badly.

Let's see I was 3 months pregnant in the pilot, that was September 1968. It's now November 1969. I may say that I don't want to have this baby in a saloon, but the truth is I'll have it anywhere! I don't care, just get this demon child out of me!

He's a terrible harmonica player. If Sally shot him, I would help her hide the body. We could stash him right next to Penny. How do you think I know about this ghost town?
It's been awhile since we've been treated to a good, old fashioned Joe Friday-esque speech. Mark VII did something different in this episode and had a woman, Sally, deliver the speech to Bach.
The speech is all about how Bach may act like a smart, tough guy, but really he's not. It's all an act to impress his buddies in the "psychedelic sewer". She uses his harmonica playing and nickname as metaphors for his ineffectuality. He can play a few bars, but that's all he knows. He can paint "Bach" on his bike, but neither he nor his buddies are smart enough to pronounce it correctly.
When Sally's lecture is over they hear some of the Sinners shouting from across the street. They are waving white handkerchiefs of surrender and want to call a truce with Pete and Jim. The bikers want Pete and Jim to come in the street. When will these guys learn, Pete Malloy does not obey criminals?
"Move inside or take a bullet! Make up your minds."
After they "rap about it" the two Sinners decide to come inside the saloon. However, once they are in the building, one of them swings at Pete.

That's the end of truce. Pete and Jim have just caught two more members of Bach's "mangy crew". 

Jim finds a knife on this guy and Pete finds a gun on the other one. These two "stupid animals" had said they were clean.
Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.
Pete then hears the familiar sound of motorcycles, but this time they are leaving town. Bach now knows he and his gang have lost, he admits defeat. 
"Lend me your white flag."
But, the excitement is not over! Jean emerges holding her pillow-shaped pregnant belly and asks Jim if he used to ride a motorcycle.
"Oh no."
"Do me a favor? Ride!"
Jim takes off to find help. I hope Jean's pillow water doesn't break.
We next see Jean on a stretcher being examined by an ambulance attendant. He concludes that the baby could arrive at any time, an hour from now or a week from now. (Hmmmm, is that foreshadowing?)

Understandably, Jean hates Silver Lode and wants to leave. The attendants wheel her out the awaiting ambulance with Jim following. Before Sally and Pete leave she promises him that she will never again complain about the rule that says he has to carry his gun while off-duty.
"I'll remember that." (Until I break up with you.)
Sally then calls Pete a nut for his choice of a holiday. He corrects her, Mr. Archer is the nut. Turns out the pretty girl did come through when the chips were down.
The End

My Evaluation:

I don't hate this episode, but I don't love it either. I find the gang members to be slightly cartoonish. But, given the situation that depiction seems to fit.
Would a real biker gang behave like this? Would they so brazenly commit acts of vandalism while (essentially) shouting, "Hey, pigs, look at us!"? In real life they would probably be more surreptitious and consequently more frightening. Would actual criminals give up this easily? Probably not. But, this isn't real life, this is a TV show. One which drags in spots due to dramatic negotiations in hushed tones and confusing lectures in spoken in metaphors. 

While this episode does have some flaws, it does introduce us to some wonderful characters. Namely, the two female characters. Sally and Jean are two pretty "girls" that can be relied upon when the chips are down. 

We find out early in the story that Sally is not afraid to speak her mind as she freely gives her opinion of Jean's mental state. In the ghost town we see that she is not afraid to handle a pistol and guard a prisoner. But, she does have a softer side. She looks genuinely worried when Jean tells Jim to ride for help.

Jean is another strong female character. She may be 17 months pregnant, but she can hold her own. While she is hiding behind the bar, she is not cowering in fear. She is giggling at the timelessness of the situation. When she and Sally do emerge from their hiding spot Jean confidently warns Bach of dire consequences if his shenanigans cause the onset of her labor. And she proves that, despite her condition, she is no complacent housewife as she jokingly threatens Jim with divorce in the final scene.

I give this episode where, likable "square" characters face-off against absurd villains in unrealistic situations, a rating of: 
Do you agree? 
See you next time on Mother's Day! (Hmmm, I wonder what will happen in next week's episode?) KMA-367


  1. Yeah! I've been waiting for your synopsis of this one. This is one of those slightly ridiculous episodes where I wonder about the real story. Was it based on an incident where a motorcycle gang terrorized tourists at a ghost town? Did a 17 month pregnant woman decide to visit a ghost town and then go into labor? Please ask Kent next time you see him.

    I do like this episode, but mostly for shallow reasons, mainly Pete's sweater. At first I thought it was hilarious, but then it grew on me, and now I'm slightly obsessed with it. I'm a horrible person.

    I totally agree with your conclusion about the female characters. I like them both, and wish they had been carried through the series with the same actresses (in the case of Jean).

    1. I will add your question to the long list I have should our paths ever cross again. I also wonder how closely the script stuck to the real incidents.
      The yellow sweater occupies a lot of my thoughts, too. What does it feel like (it looks all nubby and rough), is it made of natural fibers or synthetic, who made it, was it hard for Marty to get it over his head, did he wear an undershirt under it? You are no more horrible than I am.

  2. "Evil will never defeat the yellow sweater of justice." Love this!

  3. Bach was played by Bruce Glover who also played Mr. Wint in Diamonds Are Forever. He's still alive and still working having carved out a nice little niche for himself playing twitchy, crazy guys. His son, Crispin Hellion Glover is following his father's footsteps also playing twitchy, crazy guys and they are working on a movie together. A movie I will make a point of seeing.
    I liked this episode and your recap. The next time you're hot tubbing with Kent and Marty be a dear and ask them about what police case this episode was based on.

    1. Wait, Bach is George McFly's father? That's crazy! Thanks for pointing that out. Looking at the caps of Bach again, I now see a resemblance between the two actors.
      If I ever find myself in a hot tub with Kent and Marty, your question will be the third one I ask. Right after I ask them, "Why did we wait so long to do this?" and "Didn't you see the sign that said swimsuits are optional?".

  4. Off-topic, but I was thinking about Ozzie and Harriet earlier, and was reminded about Kent being on that show. I looked it up and found a bunch of photos of Kent either on the show or that he took there (which I'm sure you've seen ;)). You can see then here if you're curious about Kent pre-Adam-12.

    1. Thank you, Thomas. I've seen the photos and would like to see them again. But, I use my work laptop at night (shhhh, don't tell) and they have put some heavy-duty virus protection on it because I can not visit Kent's site on it. I've heard that his site has viruses on it, so be careful!
      I've seen a few of the Ozzie and Harriet episodes with Kent, my favorites are The Ballerina and The Blue Moose. Someday, I may recap these on the blog.

  5. I really like this episode. It's a strong fondness for those times we get to Jim and Pete out of uniform.

    It also occurs to me that we can create a database of "Adam-12" criminals who were also James Bond movie henchmen.

    Off the top of my head, we've got Bruce "Bach" Glover, who was also the assassin "Mr. Wint" in "Diamonds Are Forever," and we've got the long-nailed Pizza-Deliverer-Hold-Up-Man who was also Mr. Big's cab-driver in New York and New Orleans in "Live and Let Die."

    1. Or at least one of those lists on IMdB. Please don't bring up those fingernails again. ick

  6. Just saw this on COZI again this a.m. and was reminded that they cut the scene between Sally & Bach, where she pokes fun at his deliberate mispronunciation of his last name and the incomplete phrase of classical music (forget which one now) he plays on his harmonica. I really like both female characters, and I love (as always) seeing our 2 heroes "out of uniform". I'd prefer to see 'em in REAL jeans, though. I agree with you about Pete's sweater, but I just like it because he looks so good in it. Great color for him! Every time I see this episode, I like it more. Maybe it's because of the old Wild West setting. I always did love cowboys!

  7. By the way, it did actually happen like this. This is from a real police report, but the names and addresses are changed to protect the innocent. The way they behaved however, is the same from the report.

  8. "Silver Lode"? No such town, past or present, in the U.S. -- none that I can find anyway. I'm speculating that it may have been the near-ghost town of Silver City, just across the border in Nevada, which actually has a few people still living in it. He said, "Leave at the crack of dawn, miss the traffic and be in the mountains by 10:00." Couldn't make it in that timing from Los Angeles, but the real officers probably weren't in Los Angeles; they were probably in San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento. And unknown, if you really do know of the incident, could you give us some more information? I'm very interested in knowing more about the true story behind this. "Names changed to protect the innocent"? It's been darn near 50 years now. For crying out loud, who's going to go bother their relatives now because of it? We're interested in history. Could we know a little more about it please? Thanks.