Sunday, October 18, 2015

Log 173: Shoplift (Episode 26, Season 2)

Episode 52

Well, well, well, here we are at the last episode of Season 2. A season that started with short shorts and bare flesh now ends with a narcissistic cult leader who worships a picture of himself and a mixed-up rich girl. Pretty much everything that happened in between those shorts and this nut was awesome. Goodbye, Season 2, you'll be missed!

This episode makes me wonder how influential Adam-12 was on later TV shows. For instance, were the writers of What's Happening! inspired by this episode? Did Merodach and M'liss and their peach robes influence those writers to scribe that episode where Rerun joins a head-of-lettuce-worshipping cult? I mean Reruns cult garb looks pretty close to what is worn at Merodach's place of worship. 
At least Rerun has the good sense to wear matching pants with his robe.
Maybe I try too to hard to find an Adam-12 connection in everything, but for some reason this episode makes me think of that What's Happening! episode. The episode also reminds me of last week's story about the Ericksons. Another rich kid with a distant parent gets into trouble with the law. Let's see what else it reminds me of.


A rich girl steals a diamond watch for a cult leader and we get to meet one of Pete's ex-girlfriends. What more could you ask for?

The Story:

Mac has called Pete and Jim into his office. He's just received a call from Summer's Department Store about a shoplifter that store security is holding in the manager's office. The CO hands Pete a note with the details and a strange look come over his freckled face. "Something wrong, Malloy?" asks a concerned Mac.
"No, nothing I can't handle," he distractedly replies.
Pete's behavior is odd for a cop who is usually as cool as a cucumber. His weird mood concerns his rookie partner as they leave for the department store. 

On the way to Summer's Department Store Reed wants to find out what is bothering his FTO. "You're in a different world, partner," he comments. His words bring Malloy out of his stupor. "Hmm...not really," he answers. But the younger officer can tell that his partner isn't himself, he observes that Malloy looked like he saw a ghost when Mac gave them the note about the shoplifter.
"I guess I did, in a way," admits Malloy.
A confused Reed studies the scrap of paper, looking for a ghost between the words scribbled on it. 
At Summer's Reed and Malloy meet with the General Manager of the store, Mr. Bernard. After they enter his office he quickly explains that he wouldn't have called, but he can't let this sort of thing go on forever. He then opens a door to an adjoining room in order to introduce them to the store security guard and the shoplifter.
Gentlemen, meet your contestants! Bachelorette number one is  M'Liss Courtnay from Los Angeles, California. M'Liss enjoys shoplifting and being a snotty brat! Bachelorette number two is Jane Hayes, also from Los Angeles. Jane enjoys wearing blue and fighting crime!
As soon as Miss Hayes steps into Mr. Bernard's office, a grin spreads across Pete's face. 

Hayes looks surprised to see the strawberry blonde officer. 
She greets him by saying, "Hello, Pete." 

He responds with, "Hi, it's been a long time."

The spark of recognition that passes between Hayes and Malloy does not go unnoticed by Reed. His eyes volley between his partner and the security guard as he tries to figure out their connection to each other.
[This must be the ghost.]
Now that the cops are here, Mr. Bernard has to get back to generally managing the store. He leaves Pete and Jim with Jane and M'Liss. After he leaves, Jane reports that M'Liss stole a $2,500 diamond watch from the jewelry counter. When Reed begins to put the cuffs on M'Liss, she protests. She asks how she can be under arrest if Hayes didn't find the watch when she searched her.
[Should I make the cuffs tighter, Pete?]
Hayes reminds the young woman that she witnessed her take the watch. Reed then leads the M'Liss away, leaving Pete and Jane alone together.
Geez, M'Liss should have shoplifted herself some pants because that dress barely covers her assets. How did women bend over or lift their arms during the miniskirt era? 
After Jim and M'Liss leave Pete and Jane first talk about the incident that has brought them back together. Jane recounts how M'Liss palmed the watch from the jewelry counter then slipped it in her bag. When she caught up with the mini-skirted thief the bag and the watch were gone. 

She then begins to tell Pete about M'Liss's history of stealing small items from the store. So far, M'Liss had been able to avoid criminal charges because the store would just charge her account for whatever she took. Jane's been watching her since she started working part time at the store six months ago. She adds that she's been moonlighting there ever since the department gave her permission. "I know," Pete interjects.
Jane pauses and smiles when she hears that Pete knows how long she has been working at Summer's.
The focus of their conversation quickly turns from M'Liss to their former romantic relationship. We learn that Pete and Jane last dated a year and a month ago, as Pete accurately remembers. He's heard that she is now "practically engaged to some guy". Jane is impressed that Pete has kept tabs on her since they broke up. 
Jane's "one that got away".
And what exactly did cause these two to break up? It seems Pete may have been the one that initiated the dissolution of their romance. She describes her current boyfriend as a man who is "willing to overlook the fact I'm a policewoman", pointing out to Pete the contrast between her current beau and himself.

It also appears that Jane is not over Pete. She's very happy when she finds out that Pete is up to date on her current her situation. But, her mood sours when Pete congratulates her on finding a man willing to overlook her occupation. I think she expected Pete to express his regret at ending their relationship. She may have thought he would beg her for forgiveness and ask her to get back together. When he doesn't, she expresses her surprise by asking him, "Just like that?".
"No...good luck," he adds.

With that, he once agains leaves Jane behind. He really should get back to Reed and their prisoner, anyway.
A short time later Pete and Jim arrive at the station with M'Liss. When she sees man on his way to being booked into the jail, she suddenly realizes the gravity of the situation and stops dead in the hallway. Frightened, she asks Pete if she will be also be put into the cell. Pete lets her know that she will not be held at the station, she will be taken to Sybil Brand Institute instead. Jim takes the handcuffs off of M'Liss while Pete talks to her.
[M'Liss: Oh, OK, maybe while I am there I can see my friend Susan again.]
Just as they are ready to take M'Liss to the jail, the large male prisoner that was about to be booked freaks out and punches his arresting officer. Pete and Jim push M'Liss aside in their haste to tackle the prisoner.
It's hard to see from this screen cap, but Milner and McCord's stunt doubles are clearly visible during this scene.
The unrestrained and unsupervised M'Liss sees her chance to escape while Reed and Malloy are busy with the other man. She runs out of the open door that leads to the parking lot. After the short scuffle is over, Reed and Malloy return to the hallway and find that M'Liss has disappeared. They run outside to look for her, but it is too late.

After Malloy explains to Mac how the Courtnay girl escaped from their custody, he and Reed are back on patrol. While they ride, the description of M'Liss is broadcast over the radio. Listening to the dispatch Malloy looks uncomfortable, as if the radio is announcing to the whole world that he screwed up.

When the RTO is finished reading the details of M'Liss's appearance, Malloy and Reed begin discussing where she may be hiding out. Reed thinks that she may have left the country since she has "credit that won't quit". Malloy reasons that she is probably holed up closer to the station.
"She's an amateur, scared, and her parents are rich."
Pete decides to checkout his hunch. He heads over to the Courtnay address on Skyline Road.

The door to the Courtnay mansion is answered by a uniformed maid. She tells them that Miss Courtnay isn't home then goes to find Mrs. Courtnay who is in the garden entertaining guests.
While they wait for the lady of the house Reed wonders how much the Courtnays pay in property taxes.
When she comes to the door Mrs. Courtnay is surprised that the officers are there about her stepdaughter, she had no idea that M'Liss had been arrested. She then lets them know that she urgently needs to get back to her guests. However, once the officers add that M'Liss escaped from custody she invites them inside.
Won't you fine young officers, with your tight pants and ashy elbows, come in?
Once they are inside Mrs. Courtnay shows them to her stepdaughter's room. She gives them permission to search it, but is sure they won't find anything. "M'Liss has never stolen anything in her life," she states with confidence. She thinks the shoplifting charge is absurd, M'Liss wouldn't need to steal anything. When she turns twenty-one her uncle's estate will make M'Liss very wealthy.
I think I've got this figured out. In the Mark VII universe if you are poor, you live in a building with brown walls (see episodes 23 and 26); if you are middle class, you live in a house with golden yellow walls (see episodes 25 and 43); and if you are very rich like the Courtnays you live in a mansion with light gray walls and blue carpet.
After Reed searches the room and fails to find a diamond watch, Mrs. Courtnay begs to return to her garden party. But before Pete lets her go, he has some questions about the "horrible picture" M'Liss has displayed in her room. He asks who the man is, but Mrs. Courtnay has no idea. Looking for clues, Pete picks up the photo and studies the back of it.
When they're back in the car Malloy repeats the word he read on the back of the photo, "Merodach". He guesses it's the man's name. Reed guesses that the picture, the incense, and the candle are "some sort of oddball devotional set-up".  Before they can expound further on their theories about the picture and the man in it, the radio dispatcher interrupts to tell them that the 484 suspect is the parking lot of Summer's Department Store.
1-Adam-12 will handle the call.
At Summer's Malloy and Reed learn from Hayes that M'Liss was spotted in the parking lot by a salesman who was taking his break. Despite the efforts of the store security team to seal off the lot, Courtnay got away. 
Hayes then asks how Courtnay got away from them at the station. Malloy sheepishly explains what happened.
Since Hayes spent some time with Courtnay earlier in the day, Malloy queries if she mentioned Merodach. "That's a name?" asks Hayes with a quizzical look.
"I think he's one of those occult figures that finds our Mediterranean climate so productive."

(Don't ask me why, but that is one of my favorite quotes from the entire series.)
Hayes makes a logical suggestion, maybe Malloy should try the phonebook to find this Merodach. She goes to get him one from the manager's office.

The phonebook must have been helpful because Pete and Jim's next stop is Merodach's place of business or worship or whatever. 
"M" is for Merodach.
Malloy knocks on the front door while Reed, as usual, covers the back.
The man from the picture, now in living color, answers the door. Malloy introduces himself and informs Merodach that he would like to ask him a few questions.
Merodach tells an annoyed Malloy that he can enter but he must do it silently, because it is the moment of silence.

Pete enters the building, silently. While Merodach is distracted with his worship, Malloy, also silently, lets Reed in through the back door.
If this is the moment of silence why does Merodach start chanting so loudly? 
Is he worshipping his own picture? This guy is too much.
Reed looks around to see who Merodach is talking to.
After a few seconds Pete has had enough of Merodach practicing his freedom of religion.
"Alright, mister, that's enough."
Through a rather frustrating conversation with Merodach they find out that M'Liss, who Merodach calls Ninsegall (because M'Liss wasn't goofy enough), was at the temple in the last hour. She tried to give Merodach an offering, of a diamond watch, but he refused such a symbol of "trenchant materialism". She is now somewhere awaiting the "summons of Nebs" (whatever that means).

Back at the station Malloy fills Mac in on their new friend, Merodach, whose real name is Elrod (I can see why he changed it). He has three out-of-state priors, all for the same charge: suspicion of fraud. 
Two years ago he was also investigated by LAPD detectives for distribution of narcotics, back then he was calling himself "Brother William".
With this new twist Mac would like to turn the case over to detectives, but allows Malloy and Reed to stay on it as long as the radio isn't busy. They start to leave his office when the phone rings. Of course the phone call is important to the Courtnay case and Mac tells them to wait. After he hangs up, Mac reports that Mr. Courtnay is now at Summer's Department Store.

At Summer's Pete is ushered into Mr. Bernard's office where he finds Mr. Courtnay sitting behind the desk. Mr. Courtnay, who claims that he hasn't seen or talked to his daughter, thinks he can make the whole problem go away by writing a check to the store. Pete explains that it's not that easy, his daughter was arrested for felonly shoplifting and she escaped from custody. He adds that Courtnay himself could be arrested as an accessory to her crimes and for harboring a fugitive if he knows where his daughter is and doesn't report it. 

Pete points out that Courtnay must have talked to his daughter since neither he nor Reed mentioned the name of the store to his wife earlier. He also knows that neither Hayes nor Bernard called Courtnay. If he didn't talk to M'Liss how did Courtnay know to come to Summer's? A defeated Courtnay finally admits that his daughter is at home, he knows because he locked her in her room.

1-Adam-12 rushes to Skyline Drive, where Pete and Jim hope to catch their fugitive. Instead they find an empty bedroom and with an open window. As the curtains flap in the breeze, Malloy phones the station and request that a broadcast be put out about M'Liss. 

Since she's not at her parents' house, Pete and Jim try the other place where they think M'Liss may be hiding. They return to Merodach's. Once they reach the address Pete radios that they are Code 6 (out for investigation) at Melrose and Highland he also adds that they are Code 5 (stakeout-stay away) at that location. The dispatcher answers him with instructions to call the station. Luckily, there is a call box just a few feet away from where they have parked.
I love this view from the backseat where you can see Reed's knee. I've included this cap for others who may feel the same way.
Malloy returns to the car and reports that Mac wanted to tell him that a girl matching Courtnay's description was picked up in a cab and brought to Merodach's location. After canceling the Code 5 they proceed to Merodach's, Malloy to the front door and Reed to the back.
When Malloy knocks on the M-emblazoned door this time, M'Liss answers.
Pete enters during what must be the moment of silence, for everyone except Merodach and M'Liss that is. While Merodach and Ninsegall chant a bunch of gibberish to Merodach's picture Reed comes in through the back door.

I love the little smirk on Reed's face while Merodach and M'Liss do their cult thing.
At the end of their ritual Malloy brings the two peach-robed worshippers back to reality by telling them, "OK, folks". Meanwhile, Reed reaches out and takes a suede bag from the altar.
[Look, I found some "trenchant materialism".]
Merodach seems almost pleased to see the officers. He tells them that their arrival is fortuitous, they were just about to call them.
"Yeah, I'm sure you were."
M'Liss confirms that Merodach only speaks the truth then states that she is ready to be taken into custody. She holds out her hands, anticipating to be cuffed.
Hey, M'Liss, your hands need to go behind you and they need to be closer together. Nice try, though.
While Reed slaps the cuffs on M'Liss, Malloy tells Merodach that he is also under arrest for accessory to grand theft and harboring a fugitive. Merodach thinks the arrest will be a waste of time and energy, he's sure it will turn out to be a bad one.
"Ninsegall will testify that I refused the watch, that I had ever intention of telephoning."
Merodach's assurance does not convince Pete to forgo the arrest. Before they walk their two identically-clad prisoners out the door, M'Liss begins telling them about her relationship with her father.
"All my life I tried to talk to him, to say 'I love you', but he never listened. Now he'll never know."
Pete flatly replies, "That's too bad." Merodach is upset that her father will never know her "propitious spirit". 
Like a good altar boy, Pete uses the snuffer to extinguish the candles before they leave the premises.
At the end of their long day (and it must be the same day because Hayes is wearing the same dress), Pete and Jim return to the department store to wrap things up. They let Jane know that M'Liss is doing fine. She's already planning the golden altar she will build in Merodach's honor when she receives her inheritance.
"He'll have to wait a few years to enjoy it,"comments Reed.
She's also happy about cutting ties with her father. She refused to speak with him or his lawyer and feels it was the first adult decision she's made in her life. Pete, however, feels sorry for Mr. Courtnay. Jane also laments the breakdown of the father-daughter relationship. "A million bucks and it won't buy him visiting privileges," she says while shaking her head.

Now that they've brought Jane up to speed on what happened with M'Liss, it's time for Pete and Jim to say goodbye. Pete has some strange parting words for Jane.
"So long, apparition."
Malloy explains, "Reed here claims that you're a ghost from my sinister past."

"And you told him that I'm a lady cop?" asks Hayes.

"Best one I know. See ya 'round, officer."
 The End

My Evaluation:

I like this one quite a bit, it's got a lot of things going for it. First, it probably has the weirdest names of any Adam-12 episode: Merodach, Ninsegall, M'Liss. Of all these names, I find M'Liss the most perplexing. Is M'Liss supposed to be a shortened version of Melissa? Was M'Liss a real name on its own? Why would you use this name out of all the other names that are available in the world? Was it the name of the writer's daughter? 

It also has a cult, I just find those endlessly fascinating. The one in this episode certainly is. Its members and leader worship a picture of the leader. What's that about? Are there multiple members in this cult or is M'Liss the only member? What is the summons of Nebs? Did someone get really high when they wrote this?

The most intriguing thing about this episode is, of course, the small peek we get into the mysterious personal life of Peter J. Malloy. We learn that Jane is one of  his ex-girlfriends. One that he broke up with and we learn that the break up had something to do with the fact that she is a "lady cop". But we don't know the full reason why Pete broke it off with her. He obviously still cares for her or else he wouldn't keep tabs on her. He also respects her or he wouldn't refer to her as the best policewoman he knows. Did Pete end their relationship because he didn't want to seriously date a career woman? Did Jane's occupation cause too much worry for Pete? Who knows? But, we can tell that Pete is a stand-up gentleman by the way he treats Jane and speaks so highly of her post breakup. No wonder Jane fell and fell hard for him. I feel bad for the guy she is "practically engaged" to, he's got the memory of Pete Malloy to compete with.

Well, Season 2 you certainly ended with a goofy, intriguing bang-up episode! I give your last episode the rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments. I'll see you next time with the start of Season 3! KMA-367


  1. Maybe she's related to M'Ress, the catwoman lieutenant from Star Trek: The Animated Series.

  2. I hated her name. Probably supposed to be a snooty rich name. Loved learning more about Petes past.
    And I always thought that the actress who played M'Liss looked way too old to be not 21 yet.

  3. Congratulations on completing two seasons! I can't wait to see your take on Season 3.

    I like this episode too. It's great fun to see Pete's ex girlfriend, and the actor who plays Merodach is just fantastic at playing pompous.

    I thought maybe M'Liss was short for Melissa as well. It's very annoying.

  4. another great write-up.
    best part is learning about Pete's past.

  5. Thanks for these episode reviews. They're great!! The Adam-12 episodes are a capsule in time for society and what LA looked like at the time of the show. Fashion, furniture, tech (Ma Bell phones and phone books!) and all American cars.
    Lastly - your review ratings are spot on. :-)