Sunday, April 17, 2016

Log 76: The Militants (Season 3, Episode 20)

Episode 72

1-Adam-12 races to the drive-in restaurant at Avenue N and Manchester. Shots have been fired and an officer needs assistance at the scene. With sirens blaring and tires screeching, Pete steers the car around the corner and into the drive-in's parking lot. When the black and white comes to a stop he and Jim bail out and run towards the unmarked car riddled with bullet holes.

Inside the car they find two officers suffering from gunshot wounds. Officer Woods is slumped behind the wheel. He's unconscious, but Jim is able to find a pulse. Pete tends to Officer Barrett, he's conscious and able to speak. Barrett can't move his legs and his back feels like it's on fire, but he's most worried about his partner. The first thing he tells Pete is that Woods needs an ambulance. Pete assures him that one is on the way.

Despite his pain and injuries, Barrett was able to broadcast a partial description of the two suspects before Pete and Jim arrived. They were two male negroes, Barrett is sure he shot both of them as they ran down the alley. Pete heard the broadcast, but he's confused. Barrett and Woods were supposed to be staked out on a 211 and no mention was made of robbery. That's because there was no 211, Barrett and Woods were attacked from behind. They were ambushed.
Does Officer Barrett look familiar to you? No? Picture him with an afro, glasses, and a white smock. 

Yep, Barrett is portrayed by Ron Pinkard who also played Dr. Mike Morton on Emergency! Pinkard also played another "Barrett" in the season 5 Adam-12 episode entitled "Ambush".  (Do you see a theme here?)

When the ambulance arrives Pete gathers up the officers who have arrived on the scene and...

OK, I now interrupt this Adam-12 episode to ask all of you a question. Have any of you seen the movie Inherent Vice? Anybody? Anybody? Alright, since none of you have seen it, let me tell you about the movie. It's based on a Thomas Pynchon novel and stars Joaquin Phoenix as a private detective searching for his ex-girlfriend's married lover. Josh Brolin is also in it and he plays an LAPD detective who's also a part-time actor. The story is set in 1970 Los Angeles, so there are lots of cool Adam-12 era cars and police uniforms. Like this:
 and this:

Anyway, you're probably wondering why I am bringing this up. I'm bringing it up because about one hour and thirty-eight minutes into the movie, this happens:
Joaquin Phoenix's character, Doc, watches an Adam-12 episode! And the episode he watches is this one "Log 76: The Militants"! (Don't ask me how he is watching and episode from 1971 in 1970.) But, there is something different about this episode in the movie. Here's the original scene with some guy as "cop in front of ambulance doors".
Here's the scene from Inherent Vice:
That other guy has been digitally replaced with Josh Brolin's character, Lt. Det. "Bigfoot" Bjornsen, the cop with a SAG card! 
Pretty cool, huh? 
If you want to rush out and see this movie now, be warned that it has lots of sex, drugs, nudity, and violence, and makes very little sense. Besides, I just showed you the best part.

Back to our story.

When they're gathered in front of the ambulance, Malloy tells the other officers what he has learned about the suspects from Barrett. He also informs them that there are two units code 100 at Avenue N and Manchester. (Code 100 means they are ready to intercept.) After Reed joins the meeting and tells them that the perimeter is covered with other units, Malloy assigns separate tasks to everyone. Two officers will remain at the scene and preserve the area for investigators, two will cover Avenue N, and he and Reed will search the alley.

They start across the parking lot using their flashlights to light their way. Reed finds something on the ground that confirms what Barrett told them earlier.
A red spot!

[The suspect must have been carrying a can of red paint,
 partner, 'cause that doesn't look like blood.]
They follow the trail of red drops through the parking lot and enter the alley. There they find the source of the blood.

A young black man dressed in black, head to toe, with a rifle is hiding out in a doorway. When Malloy and Reed confront him, he tries to raise his gun but ends up collapsing on the ground. When he sees the black garb, Malloy knows who's to blame for the ambush.
"There's your answer, the brotherhood."

The horrific night drags on and Pete and Jim find themselves at Central Receiving with Mac and the wives of the two injured officers. Mrs. Woods is the first of the two women to hear about her husband's condition. Mac lets her know that her husband is doing fine and asking for her.

While Mac takes Mrs. Woods to the elevators, Pete and Jim are left alone with Nan Barrett. Right now everything about her husband is a mystery to her. She knows nothing of his condition nor does she understand his dedication to a job with so many dangers. She asks Pete why the men are hooked on police work. He searches for answer then guesses that "it's doing something useful".

She's heard that before, she's heard her husband say he was "making a contribution". But he went beyond making a contribution, he gave extra time and effort to be the best. And where did it get him? "Shot down like an animal by one of his own people," Nan angrily laments. Pete corrects her, the men who shot her husband were nothing like him.
"They weren't his people, Nan. Not by a long shot."

Mac returns to tell Nan that she can see the doctor now. She'll soon now what the sergeant has already learned. Officer Barrett was hit four times. One of the bullets severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Mac goes to tell Pete and Jim that Nan won't be the only one receiving bad news tonight. He informs them that the suspect they brought in has just died. The suspect, William James, was carrying the name and address of his brother with him. Detectives are on their way now to 1090 Wilshire to make the notification.

Now that the officers' families know the status of their loved ones, it's time for Malloy, Mac, and Reed to talk to the press. They field the questions lobbed at them from the newsmen gathered in the hall until someone asks the dead suspect's name. Since his family hasn't been notified yet, the officers won't answer this question. But, there is someone who is willing to disclose William James' name. A deep voice booms from behind the reporters."His name was William Randolph James and he was executed by the pigs," the voice emphatically states. This announcement brings an abrupt end to the police press conference. All of the reporters turn and run to see who made this statement.
[Did somebody say "buffet"?]
At the other end of the hall they find seven black men, all identically dressed in the Brotherhood uniform.
Mac, Pete, and Jim watch as the Brotherhood spokesman gives his version of the night's events to the reporters. The media hang on his every word as he accuses the police of laying in wait for "little Willie James" then executing him by shooting him in the back. When the spokesman is asked for proof of these accusations, he scoffs at the idea. He doesn't believe that proof or witnesses would be heard in "your racist" courts. As his diatribe comes to a passionate climax, he swears that the "pigs" will be brought to justice in the streets.

Oh no! Freddy Rivers' gym must have failed causing him to become radicalized and turning against his old friends Malloy and Reed.

In the middle of the media circus, Reed notices a familiar face at the nurses' station. Kenny James, and old classmate and football teammate, has turned up at the hospital under mysterious circumstances. After they move away from the impromptu Brotherhood press conference and its resulting chaos, Kenny introduces Reed to his family and explains how they ended up at Central Receiving tonight. He received an anonymous call telling him that a friend of his was at the hospital. Before he could ask any questions, the caller hung up.

Pete, realizing that he's heard the surname James earlier in the night, asks Kenny for his address. Sure enough, Kenny and his family live at 1090 Wilshire. Since Kenny has obviously missed the detectives that were on their way to his home, Jim takes it upon himself to deliver the devastating news about his brother.

Kenny finds it hard to believe that his baby brother, only eighteen years old, could have been involved in a police ambush.

Jim also can't fathom that the kid he knew years ago would have done something like this. Pete tries to put in into perspective for him.
"Kids grow up, you never know into what."

At roll call the next day Mac tells everyone that the second suspect in the ambush has been identified as Cleotis James, William James' eldest brother. Cleotis, who's known to drive a blue Pontiac with the license plate NOI-743, should be considered extremely dangerous. On their way out of the assembly room Reed tells Malloy that he had forgotten about the oldest James brother, he had left home by the time he met Kenny. 

And Kenny is exactly who they meet up with in the parking lot. He confronts his "old friend Jim Reed" with the latest headline.
He and Jim get into a heated argument about the truth of what happened last night. Kenny believes what the newspaper and what the Brotherhood have told him. 

Jim tries to make him understand that everything he has told him can be backed up with evidence. But, that doesn't mean anything to Kenny. He thinks the evidence Jim cites is just more lies made up by the LAPD.  Kenny's also upset about what Jim "forgot to mention", that his brother was shot in the back. Jim explains this was because he was running away from the police. 

Pete jumps to his partner's defense by pointing out that Kenny forgot to mention his other brother, Cleotis. Kenny admits that he didn't say anything about his older brother before. He doesn't plan to tell them anything about him now, either. He doesn't want to help the police "butcher another black man".

Jim can't believe what he is hearing come out of his old friend's mouth. He thinks Kenny is upset and doesn't know what he's saying. That's not the way Kenny sees it, though. He knows exactly what he's saying, even if some of it has been fed to him by the Brotherhood. He thinks it may be time for him to pick up the gun, too.

 Whew, that was pretty intense, let's take a break from the action and discuss the actor playing Kenny James. His name is Timothy Brown and before he became an actor he was an NFL player, and not just any NFL player. He was the most adorable Philadelphia Eagle, ever! Just look at his 1964 card:
He also set some records and stuff and played on the 1960 National Championship team. Which was the last time the Eagles won any type of national championship. Ever since then they have only brought continued frustration to their fans, my husband included. 

After he hung up his cleats, Timothy made numerous acting appearances, including M*A*S*H, the movie and TV series, and the season 2 Adam-12 episode "Log 94: Vengeance". 
In that episode Brown played boxer Carl Owens alongside James McEachin, who plays the Brotherhood spokesman in this episode. If you remember,  "Log 94: Vengeance" is an episode where Reed and Malloy get ambushed (there's that word again). 

Back to our story.

In the car Reed is upset about Kenny, he can't understand why his former teammate doesn't believe him. Malloy, however, knows why Kenny is treating him differently. It's because Reed has traded his football uniform for a police uniform.
"It's not you, it's the uniform he doesn't believe.
Somehow, somewhere he's been convinced not to
believe in what it stands for."
Their discussion about Kenny is immediately cut short when a green car blows through a four-way stop and speeds past them. Pete quickly turns the black and white around and goes after the vehicle.

After they pull the car over to the curb, they discover that the driver isn't some joy-riding teenager.
He's a seventy-five-year-old birthday boy who ran the stop sign because he was daydreaming. Now that he's back in reality, he can't believe Pete is going to write him a ticket on his birthday. He accuses our favorite officer of being cold and not having any feelings for an old man on his birthday. Pete has the perfect answer for him.
"Yes, sir, I do. I just wanna help you get
 to your seventy-sixth birthday."
1-Adam-12's next stop is right in front of the Brotherhood headquarters. Mac received an anonymous call that Cleotis James was seen in the vicinity and asked them to check it out. Reed and Malloy headed to the address with some trepidation, the call could have been part of a set-up. Thankfully, the only person waiting for them when they arrive is Kenny.

He greets Reed and Malloy with his hands up in the air and asks if they'll shoot him now or wait until they are alone in a dark alley. If that's a joke, it's not funny and Reed tells him so. Malloy tells him the very serious nature of their visit and asks if he's seen his brother, Cleotis. Kenny suggests that they ask the heavily armed Brotherhood members assembled at the front of their headquarters.

When the officers don't take him up on his suggestion, Kenny asks why the fuzz isn't going into the house. Malloy gives him two sound reasons why they're staying put.
"Our informant was anonymous, probable cause
 is too weak for a search or a warrant."
"The guns are legal. The Brotherhood guards are on
 private property, they haven't violated any laws."
Kenny's not believing anything that a police officer tells him. He accuses Pete and Jim of being cowards when brought face to face with a black man. Once again, Pete tries to set him straight.
"The policeman is a statutory creature, Kenny.
The law gives us our tools and our restrictions."
Since there is nothing else they can do here, Pete and Jim get ready to leave. Kenny's glad to see them go and warns that he may be among the Brotherhood ranks the next time they see him. Jim doesn't like the sound of that and tries to talk his friend out of joining the group. 
"I'll admit there are things wrong with both sides, but they don't
offer anything constructive. They're out to destroy."
Where Reed sees only hate and violence, Kenny sees proud black men. Reed urges him to take another look and think about his family.
"Do you want that arsenal around
your wife and child?"
Later in the day Reed is feeling frustrated with their search for the eldest James brother. Detectives must have gotten fifty calls about Cleotis and they've been helping run down some of the leads. So far, they haven't had any luck. But, that may be about to change. Reed spots a blue Pontiac with the plate number NOI-743 and tells Malloy to pull over. 

Now they know where Cleotis' car is, but how can they tell which apartment he is in? Reed spots something else that will help them solve the mystery, Kenny's car driving down the street. After calling for backup, they follow Kenny right to his brother's front door.
Luckily they're able to hide the
 patrol unit behind the gold Mustang.

Once there, they hide in the bushes and listen as Kenny asks his brother what really happened the night Willie was shot. Cleo, as his brother calls him, sticks to the Brotherhood version of the story. 
You can't see us, we're hiding.
Kenny, fearing that his brother will be killed if captured by the police, tries to convince Cleo to turn himself in. He reasons that Cleo should have nothing to worry about if he and Willie did not ambush the police. Cleo doesn't agree and steps outside to tell his brother he's crazy.  When Cleo leaves the apartment, the officers can see the gun he has stashed in his waistband.

The two brothers begin arguing and Malloy sees his chance to capture the armed suspect. He draws his own weapon, then yells at Cleo to freeze. But Cleo doesn't listen. Instead, he grabs his brother and points the gun at Kenny's head.
Kenny attempts to talk his brother out of doing something foolish. He encourages him to tell Reed and Malloy the truth, that he and Willie were ambushed by the police and they only fired on the officers in self-defense. Malloy also wants to hear how Cleo and Willie were ambushed.
"Yeah, tell him how you and Willie
 were ambushed, Cleo."

With a crazy look in his eye and a grin on his face, Cleo laughingly agrees that he was ambushed. His brother's demeanor makes Kenny realize that he has been trusting the wrong people all along, he now knows that Cleo and Willie were the ones who committed the ambush. 

Cleo tries to justify their actions by telling Kenny that they did it "for the cause". Kenny's not happy that his little brother was a martyr for the cause. "Willie's dead and you led him to it," he angrily tells his older brother. Cleo doesn't apologize or admit his wrongdoing. Instead he accuses his brother of being weak. He intends to make him strong now by showing him "how a pig dies". 

Cleo points his gun towards Malloy.

Kenny tries to knock it out of his hands, but fails. Cleo fires and hits his brother.

Malloy and Reed rush in and grab Cleo and his gun.

While Malloy cuffs the elder James brother, Reed tends to the middle sibling. He thinks Kenny will be fine as soon as they get him patched up.
[It looks like it only hit your jacket
 and I know a good tailor.]

Reed asks Kenny what changed his mind, why did he try to convince Cleo to turn himself in and help the police. 

"My wife, my son. I still don't know the way, Jim.
Cleo's way didn't give them any future."

[By the way, the bullet actually went through my shoulder. I'm in a lot of pain.
Think you could find your way to the radio to call an ambulance?]

The End

I once heard Kent McCord say, with my own two ears, that the stories from Adam-12 were still relevant, only the technology has changed. This episode is a shining example of the statement, everything depicted in this story still happens today with one technological difference. Young black men are still killed by the police, the reasons for those killings are still debated, and the media still reports the stories in the manner that will grab the audience's attention. The only difference between 1971 and 2016 is the addition of social media, now everyone can voice their opinion on the matter publicly and instantly. 

Already this story is fascinating from a "the more things change, the more they stay the same" perspective. But, how does the story itself fare when evaluated solely in the way it was presented, as a half-hour television show? Not so hot in my opinion. This episode covers an important subject, but it's not one that I'm excited to watch over and over again. There's a lot going on here: the ambush, the media, the Brotherhood, Kenny's conflict, and not a lot of time to cover any one element in depth. I didn't feel a deep connection with Kenny, nor was I that concerned over the choice he would make.

The producers of the show do deserve credit for covering this element of police work, and they didn't do in a terrible way. It's just not one of my favorites. So for those reasons, I give "Log 16: The Militants" a rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know in the comments or Facebook or wherever. See you next time with "Log 164: The Poachers".



  1. Good job Keely. It's not particularly one of my favs but I'll watch anything if the BOYS are in it. I like how you throw in extra tidbits! It's nice hearing the back ground stuff. One thing, I thought WOODS was married!!!! But he was 'after' that female blond bombshell that went under cover to catch that scuzzball rapist!!!! Naughty WOODS!!! Any way thanks for all the hard work you put into these !!! Can't wait til next Sunday !!!!!

    1. I think the Officer Woods in this episode is a different Officer Woods that we all know and love from later seasons. Mark VII productions were known to play fast and loose with names. Sometimes they give the same actor two different characters to play in different seasons, but with the same name. For instance, this is not the only time Ron Pinkard will play an Officer Barrett, even though they are clearly not the same character since this Barrett was killed.They will sometimes re-use names, like the name Woods, for different characters. Or they will establish an actor as a character with one name for several episodes than change the name of the actor's character later. For instance Claude Johnson played Brinkman in many early episodes, then he appears at least twice in season 4 as Officer Green. It's enough to make you a little crazy.

    2. Not to mention that Woods (and I think Brinkmann or Green, once) not only change actors but go from being white to African-American over the course of the show. (In fairness, "Woods" and "Green" aren't uncommon names.)

  2. That's like Emergency's Craig Brice in his last appearance.

  3. I like this episode for the first few scenes. It goes down hill a bit once the action leaves the hospital. The initial scenes are good with Mac, Nan, Jim, Pete and Kenny. Did you notice something in the hospital scene? Milner and McCord appear to be smiling while they're walking with Kenny away from the news conference to tell him the news about Willie. Take a look. P.S. as soon as I can figure out how to identify myself, I'll comment with a name other than 'anonymous.'

    1. Use the "Name/URL" option in the pulldown - you don't have to enter a URL for it to work.