Sunday, January 3, 2016

Log 105: Elegy for a Pig (Season 3, Episode 8)

Episode 60

Here we are at "Elegy for a Pig", a special Adam-12 episode, one that is unlike any other episode from beginning to end. The differences between this one and other Adam-12 installments are not just in the way the credits are presented or the lack of theme music, but in the way the story itself is told. Other Adam-12 episodes can be likened to a dramatization of a police procedural manual. But the story of Tom Porter is like poetry, a work of art created with the words of Malloy's narration and the pantomime acting. A fitting description of the episode since the definition of an elegy is "a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead". 

The subject matter of this episode is also unique for Adam-12. Instead of focusing on crime and law enforcement techniques, this installment tells the story of Officer Tom Porter. We follow Tom from the moment he applies to be a police officer at city hall, to his graduation at the academy, and through several on-duty incidents. We learn all that goes into making Tom a policeman and all that Tom has made of his personal life. 

While there are several notable differences between "Elegy for a Pig" and other Adam-12 episodes, there is one factor that they share. They are all told from the perspective of Officers Malloy and/ or Reed. (Except for the "The Clinic on 18th Street", but I'll save my opinions on that one for a future entry.) The story of Tom Porter is presented from Malloy's point of view, we do not see any part of Tom's life that Malloy did not witness. It is as if we are reading what Malloy wrote in his diary about his good friend and fellow officer, Tom Porter. 

Let's see what Pete had to say about Tom.



At the beginning of "Log 105: Elegy for a Pig" we don't hear the familiar call of a "211 in progress, handle code 3" for 1-Adam-12, we don't see the patrol car door slam, nor do we watch as Pete and Jim race to the unknown address, we also don't hear the well-known theme music. We only see a black screen with "Adam-12" in white letters and hear Jack Webb's voice saying, "This is Adam-12".  The entire opening sequence follows suit, black screens with the credits in white letters and Webb's narration.

"It stars Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy." 
"Kent McCord as Officer Jim Reed."
"For the next thirty minutes, 'Elegy for a Pig'."
A singular musical note is heard to signify the end of the credits and the beginning of the story.


On a rainy night, a lone man is chased down a darkened street by a policeman in a yellow slicker, sirens can be heard wailing in the distance. The pursuit ends in an alcove filled with boxes, crates, and barrels. The cornered and armed suspect fires three shots at the policeman.

As the officer falls to the ground a fourth shot is fired and the sirens from the backup car get louder. 

The backup units arrive and three more officers in yellow rain slickers run into the alcove. Two of them capture the gunman while the third stops to check on the officer who has been shot.


We now see that Pete Malloy is the officer attending to the fallen policeman.  The characters don't speak any dialogue, we are given insight to the action through narration by Pete.


"Officer Tom Porter, one of six thousand, an ordinary policeman. But, he was more to me,  he was a friend and now he was dead."
After it's been confirmed that Tom is dead, the next order of business is notification. As Pete and Jim drive in the night we learn through the narration that when an officer is killed the Chief of Police is immediately notified, along with the commander of the division of occurrence.  It is the commander's responsibility to decide who will notify the officer's family. In this case, the commander had an easy decision to make, Pete readily volunteered for the job.



"Telling a policeman's wife she's a widow is a job nobody wants. I never tried as hard for anything. He was a friend, it had to be me...it had to be me."


As Pete and Jim walk to the Porters' door we learn something else about Tom, he's a father. Jim finds a child's forgotten plaything in the front yard.
Jim, just leave that creepy thing where you found it. 
Marge Porter answers the door clutching a magazine, a tell-tale sign that she was waiting up for Tom. We don't know how Pete tells Marge the news, but we know when she's heard it.

The magazine she was holding falls to the floor.
Then a sobbing Marge drops to the couch, Pete's steadying hand grips her shoulder.
"What else could I tell her? What else could I say?"
"I was a part of it all. When they met, when they got married, when their first child was born, six years ago. I was part of  it all, a lifetime." 
Now that we've seen the end of that lifetime together, let's go back to where it all began.

This is the city...
Oops! Sorry, wrong show.
For reasons not given, Pete and Tom decide to be policemen. They go to city hall looking for applications, but Tom finds more than that.
Marge Anderson is the pretty raven-haired girl behind the desk.
Tom is smitten.
Pete is shocked that Marge finds his unkempt friend attractive.
 "If only I were wearing yellow today, then she wouldn't be able to resist me. That's it, I'm never wearing green again," he thinks.
As Pete and Tom leave city hall we learn the odds they face in the pursuit of their intended career.
"Sixty-six percent of recruits have been known to fail the written exam, fifteen percent have been known to fail the oral. Fifty percent of what's left can't hack the physical."

These statistics also make one realize how exceptional those who become police officers truly are.
Tom, filled with the "optimism of youthful ignorance" is already figuring how easy the sergeants' exam will be. But, before he can take the sergeants' exam he has to get through the Los Angeles Police Academy.

"They have a saying, 'The more sweat here, the less you'll bleed on the street'."

Pete and Tom go through it all side by side. Tom finds the physical conditioning part of their training easy, while Pete is looking for the guy selling oxygen after five minutes on the drill field. The two friends both struggle with the bookwork, though.
"In twenty weeks the recruit gets eight hundred hours of training. Six hundred and forty of them are spent inside a book, one hundred sixty in the field. He's tested on all of them. He passes or he's washed out."

In the locker room, after he is the last recruit to finish his test, the defeated Tom tears open his shirt and loses a button in the process. His good buddy Pete returns it in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Button returned, complete with an extended pinky.
As you probably already guessed, Tom and Pete make it through the academy. 

Pete remembers, "Somehow you and the calendar swap twenty weeks and there you are. You and a lot of other guys."


This is one of the reasons why I love Adam-12, the attention paid to the uniform details in this flashback. Here we have Tom and Pete graduating from the academy six years prior. Instead of using the 1970 LAPD uniform being worn on the show at the time, the Mark VII wardrobe department actually used the correct 1964 uniforms with the pointed hats, silver belt buckles, brass buttons, and name-badge-less shirts. 

Now that Tom Porter has permanent employment, he decides it's time to make a permanent commitment to Marge.



His friend Pete is there to cheer him on.
Tom was able to choose his life partner, but neither he nor Pete were able to choose their professional partners. The two pals had planned on being partners when they graduated from the academy, but the LAPD had other things in mind for them. We don't find out who Tom's first partner was, but we do see Pete with his first partner, Officer Howard D. Brown.


"They called him 'Brownie', the name didn't fit. But, he was some kind of policeman."
This is the man who taught Pete everything he knows.
After twelve months of probation and four years on the job, it's time for Pete to do the teaching.
"He called himself 'Jim Reed', but it was me, five years ago."

This is the first of two glaring continuity errors in this episode. As we all know, Pete was on the job seven years when he met Jim in the pilot episode. I don't know why these mistakes were not corrected. But, as annoying as they are,  these errors do not detract from the overall story.
Now the duo of Pete and Tom is a trio with addition of Reed. Sometimes they all get to work together.
Sometimes it's a pleasant assignment like crowd control detail at a parade.

[This is not pleasant, I'm sweating my holster off in this heat.]

Wait a second...that white lady in the burgundy dress with the lace collar and the black lady in light blue were just behind Pete, now they're behind Tom. 
Other times when Malloy, Porter, and Reed work together, it is not so pleasant.
Like a hostage situation at the bank.
Pete and Jim cover the suspect as he takes the hostage out of the bank.

Tom sneaks behind the gunman and tries to get his weapon. He fails and the suspect knocks him to the ground. Before the bad guy can fire, Tom shoots and hits him. 



Pete and Jim join Tom, they all stand over the unmoving man as he lies on the ground. Tom is about to learn something new on the job.



"Tom didn't say it, he didn't have to. I knew, it had already happened to me. He was sick, he wanted to vomit. There's no antidote for it, he'd killed a man."
As Tom's knowledge in the field grows, so does his brood at home. Two years after he and Marge have a son, they bring home a little girl.
Malloy helps bring her home and he doesn't want to giver her up.
"Reed's attention span was improving by the minute, he remembered the cigars."
Geez, Pete sounds kind of annoyed with Jim. If only he had someone intelligent to talk to at the station.
Oh, well look at that, Tom has transferred to their division. Jim will be a nice guy and let him sit next to Pete.
Uh, oh...now Jim doesn't have anywhere to sit and Pete just laughs at him, poor Jim.
This scene, which takes place during roll call, has an element of fun to it, but it is also informative. We learn quite a bit about what happens during this assembly that happens at the beginning of each shift.
"Here the police officer gets the word on 'things to do today', each team receives the daily updated hot sheet, tenderloin areas of patrol are indicated, officers assigned to the basic car plan patrol are briefed on special problems, new investigative and procedural techniques are introduced and discussed; here the police officer refines his knowledge, his skills, his know-how."
Now that Tom works in their division, he'll be able to backup Malloy and Reed on all sorts of capers. 

Like this one where Tom and his partner help Malloy and Reed capture a young women speeding in a stolen car on an unfinished freeway.


She's also a model and Reed likes what he sees in her portfolio.
After they bring the model back to the station, there's a lot of paperwork that will require a lot of overtime. Tom sends the two bachelors, Reed and Malloy, home. 
The married Porter reasons that, "Two single men could put the time to better use".


There it is, glaring error number two, Reed is not a single man. Thinking about this one makes my brain hurt. Not only does the narration go against an established fact of the show, but so does the image onscreen. Reed is not wearing his wedding ring in this scene. 
So how do the two single men put their time to better use while Tom sits at the station finishing reports?
They hop in Pete's gold Mustang and deliver fried chicken to the Porter family.
Somewhere between the station and the Porter's house Reed must have gotten married, because he is now wearing his wedding ring again.


This disappearing and reappearing wedding ring is making my brain hurt.
Also, Pete doesn't want to let go of his little Porter princess again.
It takes a lot of fried chicken to feed a family of four and their two friends, and it takes a lot of cement and cinder blocks to feed the construction of an expanding city. Union Block and Cement Company provides some of the materials for the growing city and it also provides a hiding place for three escaped mental patients. Pete, Tom, and their partners are charged with the finding these three "stooges".
Sorry, kids, this isn't Minecraft.
Porter captures "Curly".
Reed gets "Larry" after they wrestle in the mud.
He then helps Pete and Tom's partner capture this guy, he looks like the leader of the group.
After they have "Moe" cuffed he tries to run away. Tom stops him by throwing a bale of chain link fencing at his feet. Moe trips over it and lands in the mud. They now have the complete set of escapees captured.



For his heroic efforts that day at the Union Block and Cement Company, Tom is awarded the LAPD's highest honor, the Medal of Valor.



Pete and Jim are there with Tom's family to cheer him on.

The Medal of Valor ceremony sure went through an upgrade between 1970 and 1975.
It's a much swankier affair when Jim receives the award.
With this last memory of Tom being honored by the department, the story comes full circle and we are back in that alcove on that rainy night.


"And just that quick, it was all over. He was gone."
Now that Malloy has covered his past with Tom, its time to move to present day and the last act of our story: Tom's funeral. There isn't time in a half-hour program to cover an entire policeman's funeral, so we are only shown excerpts of the graveside service. It begins with the motorcade to the cemetery.

"A policeman's funeral is just like anyone else's, he's a long time dead."
The pallbearers, including Pete and Jim, carry the flag-draped casket to the grave.

In case you were wondering, like I was, the flag draped coffin does not necessarily mean that Tom was a veteran. Officers who were veterans or killed in the line of duty are entitled to have the American flag draped over the casket.
As the chaplain reads from the Bible, the grief of losing Tom is evident on the faces of those who were closest to him.




After the chaplain closes the good book the honor guard fires three volleys from their rifles. 
Here's what I found about the three-volley salute on Veterans United Network:
"This tradition comes from traditional battle ceasefires where each side would clear the dead. The firing of the three volleys indicated the dead were cleared and properly cared for."
A lone bugler plays taps "to honor the extinguishing of a life." (Veterans United Network)


Pete and Jim then fold the flag in the traditional thirteen-step fold, symbolizing the sacrifice Officer Porter has made. 



Malloy delivers the flag to the widow Porter, then escorts her and the children to their limousine.

"From now on she'll have to open her own doors, carry her own troubles, and her children's, alone. From now on it's just the three of them instead of the four."
After he watches the limo drive away Pete walks back to the casket and delivers his final thoughts on the loss of his friend, Officer Tom Porter.
"And if there must be a final postscript to all of this, then let it here be noted; the coffin will soon be buried, he will be forgotten, except by a very few. Out of sight, out of mind."
"And strangely enough, in view of current custom, no one will raise a placard to denounce his senseless murder. No one will raise indignant cries of protest at the shedding of his blood. No one will march in anger because of his death."
The episode ends as it began, with Jack Webb's voice reading the title and the same, singular tone. The ending credits are presented in the same manner as the opening credits, black background with white letters. The usual badges on a blue background are not seen.
"Elegy for a Pig"

The End

I won't keep you in suspense and reveal my rating of this episode at the end of my evaluation, I'll tell you right up front that this is one of the best episodes of the entire series.  It's different from every other episode, and better than many of them. Before I make the next statement, let me just tell you that my musical tastes are similar to my television tastes, they definitely fit a pattern. I like procedural-based cop shows and I like bands with four members and short, powerful songs. OK, now that I've given you some background into the way I think, here goes: "Elegy for a Pig" is to Adam-12, as "Beth" is to KISS. Both this story and the power ballad were complete departures from the norm and both worked beautifully. "Beth" was one of KISS' highest-charting singles and "Elegy" is a classic Adam-12 episode.

And while this episode is a departure in it's subject matter and storytelling, it still educates the audience about police work like every other Adam-12 episode. It is the informational parts of this installment that really drive home what is lost when a police officer is killed. When we lose police officers we lose family members and friends who are also highly-trained and educated individuals. Before "Elegy" I never knew the high number of applicants that don't make it to the academy, nor did I know how many hours a police recruit spent in classroom and field training. Police work is not a job that just anyone can do. When one of the unique people we call "officer" is lost, it is a great blow to both their family and their community. 

"Elegy for a Pig" was first broadcast over forty-five years ago, but it is still relevant today. Despite the widespread use of bulletproof vests and body armor, police officers are still killed in the line of duty. Thankfully, however, in fewer numbers than they were in 1970. According to "Officer Down Memorial Page" (odmp.org), there were two hundred twenty-nine police officers killed in the line of duty in 1970. In the this past year, one hundred fewer officers were killed on the job. And Pete's final words still ring true in the twenty-first century, "No one will raise indignant cries of protest at the shedding of his blood. No one will march in anger because of his death." 

Like I said, I give "Log 105: Elegy for a Pig" my highest rating.


Let me know your thoughts on this one in the comments. See you next time!
KMA-367


12 comments:

  1. Great blog as always. I love this episode too. I always had a problem with the dates too. Makes my head hurt.
    And am I the only one who thought about when Martin said the line about the best words in a child's vocabulary are "Daddys home" and the way he picked up that little girl, that he was thinking of his own kids? And how happy they were when he came home?
    And you're right about the last lines being so relevant today all these years later.
    Glad you're back!

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    1. I've often wondered if Martin was thinking of his own girls when he's holding the Porter girl. It's always a treat to see Pete with kids, whether they are babies or older.

      It's great to be back! I think I went 3 whole days without watching Adam-12 while I was on vacation! The horror!

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    2. Look at my profile pix. Daughter of awash DC police officer in mid 60's. Could have been my father just as easily! Amazing. Heartbreaking. Did a good job of education. It was a needed show at the time (andnow too!)..police officers are humans-and have familes to go home to

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  2. One of my favorites. Such a powerful episode, and Martin is absolutely stellar in it. Stylistically, it's so different and I'd love to know more about how it came to be.

    Great recap, Keely. I loved your comment about Pete's green shirt :)

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    1. I would, too. I wonder how much Jack Webb had to do with the style of the episode. I've always read that this is "Jack Webb's tribute" to fallen police officers, but I'm not sure how "hands-on" he was with the production of the show. I'll add this to my list of questions for the next time I see Kent. ;)

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  3. She killed her husband in a later episode.
    And you are a screencapping, goddess!

    It is an extremely well done episode and I appreciate that, but I do not love it. Milner was pushed far in the episode and was perfect. Thank goodness they picked an actress who could make us feel sympathetic. ;)

    Do you think it was Kennedy-esque, purposefully? Doesn't the son even solute his dad's casket?


    I always learn from you, the tri thing is interesting.

    BTW, The way you catch continuity problems, I have to read your, "Pig is a three letter word," review. I just watched it and kept thinking about what you would say. Such an eye you have.

    You so rock, Keely!!!

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    1. The widow Porter and her children always reminded me of the Kennedy's as well. Not sure if the Kennedy references were intentional or not. Maybe viewers think immediately of the Kennedy's when we see Marge Porter at the funeral because we are so familiar with images of the Kennedy funeral. All I know for sure is that widows back then knew how to make a dramatic statement with those veiled hats.

      Did you like what I said about "Pig is a Three-Letter Word"?

      You rock, too, Addie!

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    2. You know what it means?PIG?....PRIDE
      INTEGRITY
      GUTS. !

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  4. No, you rock! Take a bad screen shot or a make stupid comparison, will ya'?? I am getting sick of how good you are at everything! Are you as good a mom as you seem to be, or does your little boy sneak a cigarette now and then?

    I did not go look at the, the three letter word, review yet. You will know when I have because it is likely, enthusiastic praise, will again been raining down upon you. Phooey.

    You are right about the widows. People, until recently, had a sense of the occasion, bad or good and dressed appropriately. Ethel Mertz would not go on the train wearing jeans, for heaven's sake. Now people are half naked and in curlers. sheesh!


    Inconsistencies are annoying, but we have to excuse them here because the alternative, as you know, would have been, no Jim Reed and that would have left a big gap. It just would have been that much less of an episode.




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  5. This one is very sad! I have a hard time watching it all the way through. You did a great job as always KEELY! I was thinking they should have given Jim a different name then it wouldn't have been confusing. Same actor diff character. Never noticed the disappearing reappearing ring before. Good eye. Martin looked so extremely sad!! Wonder what he was thinking at that time. I kept waiting for you're little jokes to pop in . Then I thought it's not one of those kinds of episodes!! GREAT JOB AS ALWAYS💔💔

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  6. Since this episode is 'based' on a true story does anyone know what that would be?

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