Sunday, October 11, 2015

Log 44: Attempted Bribery (Episode 25, Season 2)

Episode 51

I always thought of this episode as "the one where they look cute in their jackets and ties and go to court". But, after watching it again, I've found that there is so much more to this story. 


A rich man acts anything but dignified trying to keep his son out of jail. A poor man goes to jail fighting for his wife's dignity.

The Story:

Pete and Jim arrive at the station parking lot and park 1-Adam-12. As they are walking towards the station door, a well-dressed gentleman stops them.
The man explains that he wants to speak with Reed. Reed's name is known to him because he arrested his son for drunk driving two weeks ago. He'll also be testifying against his son in court tomorrow.

The well-dressed man's name is Mr. Erickson, a wealthy business owner, and he wants to make Reed a business proposition that could change the course of his life.

Since legitimate business negotiations don't take place in parking lots, the trio decides to move their conversation inside to the coffee room. Once they are comfortably seated, Mr. Erickson sheds some more light on why he wants to recruit Reed. He is impressed with the first person on earth who has "lowered the boom" on his "first-class bum" of a son.
He goes on to tell Reed that he wants him to head up security in his new plant in the Northwest. Reed politely refuses his offer.
"I've already got a job. Thank you just the same, Mr. Erikson."
Erickson, however, doesn't want to accept Reed's initial answer. He reminds Jim that "win, lose, or draw" in court tomorrow, the job offer still stands. He'd like him to sleep on it, then make up his mind.
"The answer is 'no'."
[Good answer.]
After their chat with Erickson in the coffee room Pete and Jim immediately report the incident to their CO. Given the circumstances surrounding Erickson's offer, Lt. Moore will be telling the Captain about what transpired and the Captain will probably want to alert the D.A.

Moore thinks that Erickson will try to contact them again in the near future. As soon as he realizes, or his lawyers advise him, that Malloy can testify to the same things about his son's arrest that Reed can. 

The lieutenant agrees with Reed, Erickson is trying to bribe him to keep his son out of jail. Which is where he will most certainly end up if convicted, since he has two prior drunk driving arrests.
"It's pretty obvious what Erickson is trying to do," observes Reed.
Erickson's intent does seem pretty transparent. But, Moore conjectures that the D.A. will not issue a complaint of attempted bribery against Erickson. It would be too difficult to win a conviction based on Reed's statement.

"Looks like he covered his tracks pretty well, partner."
Before they leave the Watch Commander's office, Lt. Moore has a question for Reed. He wants to know if he will need an assistant at his new, high-paying job. Reed, regrettably, has to disappoint his superior officer.
"...Malloy's already applied for the job."
[He says I can drive the patrol car if I hire him.]
After some time on the street the boys decide that it is time for 7. Since they're still making their current LAPD salaries, not triple that amount as Erickson has offered, they go to the fanciest establishment they can afford:
Duke's Longhorn Cafe.
While they enjoy their coffee and pie Duke tells them about a man name Erickson who pulled up to the cafe in a black limousine and began asking questions about Reed. Duke wants to know who this man is. He asks if he is a big shot from the police department.
"He's a yacht salesman and we're thinking about getting one."
While Malloy has a chuckle at the facetious explanation he gave Duke, another of Duke's regular customers walks in and asks to speak with Pete and Jim. The old man begins by telling them that when he was a boy he wished he knew where he would die because then he would never go there. This catches Pete's attention.
Pete listens intently. Jim is intent on finishing his pie.
 He then sets two keys down on the lunch counter. He wants the officers to use the keys. One unlocks the front door of his rooming house, the other unlocks room 209. The room his wife, Irene, shouldn't have gone to because that is where she died about fifteen minutes ago. Mr. Thomas then reveals how his wife died, "I strangled her," he admits.

In room 209, they find Irene in bed. Malloy checks for a pulse and finds that Mr. Thomas was telling the truth about what happened in the room. 
As the ambulance attendants arrive, Reed tries to question Mr. Thomas. He starts by asking the old man why he killed his wife. Mr. Thomas instead evades his query and tells Reed how Irene could have married anyone in the county but chose him.
Having seen the multitude of prescription pill bottles on the nightstand, Reed then asks how long Mrs. Thomas had been sick. Rather than answer the question, Mr. Thomas tells him about his long life of hard work for little money.

While Reed is getting nowhere with his interview of Mr. Thomas a medic talking to Malloy wonders why the old man killed his wife. Thomas overhears the comments and interjects, "Because she asked me to". 

Malloy asks him to elaborate on his statement. Thomas explains that his wife's pain was worse than ever this morning, so bad that she prayed to die. He offered to help her and she smiled for the first time in weeks. After asking if she really meant it, he leaned down and kissed her, then did it as quickly as he could.

Reed starts to leave to call Homicide, but he stops when Mr. Thomas starts to talk about his wife again. 
"She had dignity. She had it in life and she deserved it in death. I did all I could to help her find it."
Later that day the events at the rooming house are still looming large on Reed's mind. He silently stares out of the windshield, gnawing on his lip, lost in his thoughts as a call comes over the radio. "1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, see the man, a 484 report, 8260 Alben Street at the factory," instructs the RTO's voice. The young officer's mind is so preoccupied with the sad fate of Irene Thomas that he forgets to immediately roger the call. 

The man they are to see at the factory at 8260 Alben Street turns out to be none other than their old friend Mr. Erickson. Erickson has called the police to report the theft of a small, keg-type bar that contained many bottles of expensive liquor from his office. Reed inquires if the thief could be an employee of the plant. The security system Erickson has would be difficult for anyone to breach.  
Erickson hopes it was an inside job. He would be disappointed if his defense system was penetrated. The plant has an extremely tight security system due to the large amount of classified work done there. A fact he hopes both Reed and Malloy will learn for themselves very soon.
"Both of us?"
Erickson must have learned that Malloy can also testify against his son, because he now admits that it was wrong of him to offer Reed a job and not Malloy. Now that he's gotten to the point of why he wanted to see them, Erickson is done with the officers. He shows them out to his secretary who can fill them in on the details of the theft.

The next day Pete and Jim have coffee at Duke's before their appearance at the trial of Bill Erickson. Tom Stark from the City Attorney's office joins the smartly-suited cops in their booth. Stark will be handling the Erickson case today.

Duke brings four cups of coffee to the three men, the extra one is for him. After he passes out the joe and takes a seat Malloy asks him if he has had a chance to talk with Mr. Thomas yet. Duke reports that he has talked to Thomas and that the old guy is feeling "pretty rocky". Duke then asks Stark if a jury would acquit his old friend. The attorney doubts it, "Killing for mercy is something society is not quite ready to accept". This surprises Duke, Thomas is one of the most gentle people he knows. 
"Yeah, gentle enough to strangle his wife," points out Pete.
Malloy assures Duke that Thomas, who is almost 80, won't be in prison long. Even if he receives a life sentence.

Once the boys finish their coffee, it's time for court.
And a chance to see the boys' off-duty attire better. Malloy looks exceptionally dapper in his brown suit, light blue shirt, and coordinating tie. This is the first time we get to see Reed in a blazer, unfortunately the one he is wearing looks a little small on him. He has chosen to wear grey slacks and a black or navy sports coat with a yellow shirt and red striped tie, he looks OK. Overall, I prefer Malloy's more cohesive look. Oh yeah, and Stark is in the picture, too.
After the Ericksons and their legal counsel arrive in a black stretch limo, Stark goes to talk to their lawyer. The Erickson men stop to converse with Pete and Jim on their way into the courthouse. The senior Erickson tries to sell them on the benefits of moving to the Northwest, "...great country, fishing, hunting, plenty of time to relax," he tells them.
Pete and Jim don't seem very interested in his travel-brochure recitation.
With only ten minutes before their case begins the Ericksons head toward the building. Stark returns to tell Pete and Jim that Edwards, the Ericksons' lawyer has agreed to a stipulation. Since both Pete and Jim would testify to the same thing only one of them will take the stand.
Reed guesses, "Me" and Stark replies that he is right.

When the case is underway and Reed is on the stand Edwards tries to discredit Reed's expertise by pointing out that he is a probationary police officer who has only administered one field sobriety test in his career. Of course, that one test was given to Bill Erikson. 

Reed, however, does an excellent job of painting a picture of the very drunk Bill Erickson they pulled over on that fateful day. He testifies to Erickson's blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and inability to walk a straight line. He also tells how Erickson nearly lost his balance and fell when he was asked to lean back and touch his nose.
Malloy stifles a grin when Reed describes how Erickson almost fell during the sobriety test.
At the end of his testimony Edwards asks Reed what conclusion he reached based on his observations of Erickson during the traffic stop.
"That Mr. Erickson was under the influence of alcohol. He was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle on a public street."
Papa Erickson looks pissed after Reed delivers his statement.
Since he said the job offer stood "win, lose, or draw", Big Daddy E should still be all smiles and handshakes with Pete and Jim, right? Heck, he should praise Jim for being such a good and honest cop. He's a rich businessman, who I'm sure is always as honest and above board as Jim, right? He would never try to manipulate the system by bribing two police officers to serve his own purpose. In fact, I'm sure that Erickson is almost happy that his son will now get some help for his out-of-control drinking since Jim's testimony will probably send him to jail for six months and force him to pay a $1,000 fine. Let's see what the man himself has to say when he meets up with Jim and Pete after the trial.
"Nice going, Officer Reed, that was quite a performance."
"By the way, Reed, that job I talked to you about is filled. Yours too, Malloy."
Well, I guess I had totally misjudged the character of that character.

Pete isn't fazed, he's just hungry. He suggests they get something to eat after Big Daddy E storms off.
[Darn, now I can't hire Malloy as my assistant. I guess I'll never get to drive.] 

The next day Pete and Jim are back in uniform and back in the Watch Commander's office. Lt. Moore has read Jim's report from yesterday and seen that Erickson has reneged on his job offer.
"Yeah, Malloy's too," Reed points out.

"We were crushed," adds Malloy.
Moore has also checked with the D.A., he still won't be able to make a case against Erickson. With nothing further to discuss, the two patrolmen head out the door. Just as they are leaving the Watch Commander's phone rings. Moore answers it then immediately tells Pete and Jim to "hold it". They watch as Moore talks briefly with the party on the other end, he then tells Jim to pick up the extension in the adjoining office and have the call traced. The call is from Bill Erickson, he's in a phone booth somewhere threatening to kill himself and he wants to talk to Malloy or Reed.

Moore keeps Bill on the line by telling him that he will have to locate the officers using the radio. The lieutenant covers the receiver to tell Malloy that Erickson sounds like he's been drinking and that he has a cyanide capsule he is threatening to swallow after he talks to one of them. Malloy asks Moore to keep him on the line, he's got an idea.
Malloy joins Reed, who is on the line with the phone company requesting a trace, and asks him for the name of the bar that Erickson had just left when they pulled him over. Reed recalls that is was called "Jack's" something or other. Malloy looks up the number and calls Jack's, Erickson just left five minutes ago.

Malloy tells his partner to stay at the station, he's going to find Erickson.

Malloy races towards the area where Jack's is located hoping to find Bill Erickson still breathing. Over the radio the RTO broadcasts that the phone company has reported the location of the phone booth. Malloy's hunch proved correct, it's on Enyo street just as he predicted.

Malloy reaches his destination and parks the black and white around the corner from the phone booth. He can see Erickson in the booth. At that moment a man wearing a sports jacket walks past Malloy, this gives him another idea. He asks the man to borrow his jacket. At first the man resists.
"What's the gag?" he asks.
Malloy explains that he wants to stop a man from killing himself, but if he sees his uniform he might not get the chance.
The man decides this is a good reason to give up his baby-blue blazer and let's Pete borrow it.
Pete hurries towards the phone booth in his impromptu disguise. When Erickson glances in his direction Pete hastely pretends to be just another man in a light blue jacket window shopping for office furniture.
Erickson turns his attention to the cyanide capsule in his hand and Pete quickly walks towards him. Once he reaches the booth, he kicks the door open.
He then forces the capsule from Erickson's delicate, unblemished hand with his manly, freckled fingers.
After he cuffs Erickson Malloy tells Lt. Moore, still on the other end of the phone line, that Erickson is OK and in custody.
[OK, I'll stop for a quart of milk on my way back. Do we need anything else?]
Back at the station Mr. Erickson is upset, he can't believe what has happened to his son. He told him to lay off the booze, but he didn't listen and now he is in a padded cell. 
Pete tries to make him understand that his son needs help. Erickson vows to help his son find a new address (in Timbuktu) once he gets out of the psychiatric ward. He turns and storms out of the office without another word. Pete and Jim leave soon after to start writing their report.

At the desk Jim compares their two recent cases before he starts writing his report.
"Funny, in that rooming house where Thomas killed his wife, I felt bad but not dirty. Around Erickson I feel crummy. You know what I mean?"
Reed continues, "You look at 'em, one of 'em's kind, even gentle, like Duke said. The other one's a conniving egomaniac and which one's in jail?".

"The murderer," answers Malloy.
"C'mon, let's get to work."
The End

My Evaluation:

Now that I've watched this episode more closely, I can't stop thinking about Mr. Thomas and his wife. Sure, Mr. Thomas seems like a nice old man, Duke even said he was gentle. But, strangulation is such a violent way to kill someone that I have to wonder if we know the full story of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and what happened in room 209. 

Since we only see what the officers see in Adam-12, we most certainly don't know the full story. But, we all know that Mr. Thomas killed his wife. We also know that a crime was committed and the law says that Mr. Thomas must be arrested for it. The reasons why it happened are not for Reed and Malloy to worry about, a point Pete tries to communicate to his partner through a minimum amount of words in the final scene. As Pete said before, "The only thing black and white about this job is the car." The gray parts in this case, however, are left to the courts to sort out.

I'm fascinated by the Thomas story and Reed's reaction to it. I'm haunted by the scene where they are in the car and he is just chewing on his lip, lost in his thoughts. I wonder what is going through the young, married officer's head in that part of the story. Is he too thinking about the violent nature of this "mercy" killing? Is he wondering about his future twilight years with his wife and the hardships they may face? Pete, in contrast to his partner, doesn't struggle with his thoughts about the Thomases, at least not externally in any way.

I'm not as intrigued by the parts with the Ericksons, but through that story we did learn more about field sobriety tests. And we did get to see the boys in off-duty clothes, which is always a plus.

Since "Log 44: Attempted Bribery" left such a big impression on me, I give it a rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know what you thought of this one in the comments. See you next time! KMA-367


  1. Awesome!!!! More episodes please!!!!

    1. Don't worry, there are 123 more to go!

  2. I agree, liked this episode alot, great blog as always!

  3. That strangulation never sat right with me. If it was a nod to euthanasia, they might have gone with an overdose of sleeping pills or something. You are right, Reed does seem very effected by the situation.

    You got screen caps from my favorite parts of the episode. Malloy's look when Reed turns down the Father's initial offer and then his look when, in court, Reed describes the son's drunken behavior. In those moments, Malloy seems to be truly appreciating Reed's integrity.

    1. In court, he does look like the proud papa when Reed doesn't spare any details about Bill Erickson's drunken state. But, when Reed gets to the part about Bill almost falling, it really looks like Malloy is trying his best not to burst out laughing.

  4. Excellent job, as always!

  5. Del Moore! Del Moore! Evil Dad was played by Del Moore! Any episode of a Jack Webb show with either Del Moore or Peggy Webber (or Virginia Gregg!) is an immediate A+ in my book.
    Del Moore also played a somewhat less evil dad in the movie Catalina Caper which was featured on MST3K. Del Moore!

    1. Bryan,
      Thank you for pointing out that Evil Daddy Erickson was played by Del Moore. I was remiss when I failed to point out that he was also El Presidente in episode 8. Mr. Moore was also in a slew of Jerry Lewis movies, including The Disorderly Orderly which featured a young Kent McWhirter as an extra in the opening sequence. Sadly, Mr. Moore died on August 30, 1970, only 4 months and 12 days after Attempted Bribery originally aired.