Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ambush (Season 4, Episode 8)

Episode 86

Reed is awfully interested in the Satellite's dashboard and Malloy is awfully annoyed with his partner looking over his shoulder. Reed explains that he's checking the mileage. Malloy knows there's more to the story and he wishes his partner would just spit it out.
"The suspense is killing me."
Reed tells him he was talking to Freddy in the garage the other day and Freddy told him that the patrol units are retired after they reach seventy thousand miles. He's checking the mileage because he wants to figure out when their car would be retired. Malloy thinks it's a little early to be planning the car's retirement party, they just got it. 
"Yeah, but now that you're a senior lead officer with all that additional garbage on your sleeve, we ought to be one of the first teams to get a new car when they come out."
"We have to get seventy thousand miles on this one first," guesses Malloy. Reed is proud of him, Malloy's finally starting to understand. Malloy knew there was something wrong with him, but It's taken this conversation to make him realize that he's slow-witted. He asks Reed, probably the person he spends the most time with, if there's anything else he needs to work on.
"How are my table manners?"
"Hmm. I'd rather not say."
Malloy will have to find out about his table manners or lack thereof at a later time, he and Reed have reached their destination:
The LASD Malibu Station.
Sheriff's station? Are Reed and Malloy lost? Have they decided to turn in their midnight blue uniforms for the khaki of the Sheriff's department? No, no, nothing crazy like that. They're just here to pick up a prisoner named Shanks. 

Acting station commander, Lt. Bayer, greets them, which causes some confusion for Malloy. He asks why Capt. Olton isn't there. Bayer explains that the commanding officer is taking a much-needed vacation. Bayer himself is going to need one when the captain's is over. They caught a hot murder case last night and the lieutenant has been up to his gun belt in news people all night long. Some of which must have been from L.A. because the case hit the papers there this morning. Reed is familiar with the story and quotes the papers.
"Beautiful playgirl strangled in front of millionaire's mansion."
Bayer wishes he owned the rights to the salacious story, he would sell it to the movies.
"They already did it," says Pete.
Bayer doesn't have the rights and he doesn't have anything on the case. No clues, no witnesses, just an autopsy report saying the girl was strangled around ten last night. He's managed to keep that detail out of the papers, but knows it will probably make the late editions.

This has been fun, but Malloy and Reed can't stand around and talk about the dead playgirl all day, they need to get back to work. Malloy wants to know if the prisoner is ready. Bayer assures them he'll be out soon. While they wait for him Bayer fills Reed and Malloy in on Shanks. He was doing ninety in a fifty-five zone when he was picked up. Then they ran him, and found his old L.A. traffic warrants. When they told him he was going back to L.A., Shanks starting climbing the walls. Bayer thinks the guy is a real 918, which is Sheriff's speak for "mixed up". (Actually, it's their code for "insane person".)

Shanks finally makes his appearance and he's a real sweetheart. When Bayer wishes him a fond, "so long". Shanks tells him to "get lost". Before they do "get lost", Malloy asks Bayer to call their station and let them know he and Reed are on their way. 
"The radio transmission in the canyon's terrible," he explains.
Bayer's happy to call the station and let them that 1-Adam-12 is a 10-15 plus one. Malloy doesn't know what the heck that means. Bayer translates for his LAPD brother, 10-15 is LASD code for "prisoner in custody".

After their Sheriff's code lesson Malloy and Reed are on their way. So is that white car, which starts following them as soon as they leave the station. 

They haven't traveled far when Shanks decides that he wants to be a backseat driver. He asks if they can take the Pacific Coast Highway, it's cooler that way. The answer is "no" even after Shanks promises that he won't tell. A disappointed Shanks turns his head to glance out of the back window. 

Reed catches this and inquires if Shanks has friends back there. Shanks laughs it off and tells the officer that he watches too many movies.

Shanks is determined not to just sit back and enjoy the ride. He begins joking about what a dangerous criminal he is and how he is wanted by the FBI for making illegal left-hand turns. Pete's not impressed with Shanks' comedy act.

Next Shanks tries to get his handcuffs taken off. They make him feel "kinda dirty", after all, he's not a real criminal. He's just a guy who puts his traffic tickets in the dresser drawer and forgets about them. They don't want to hear it. Reed informs him that all three of them will get along much better if Shanks stays quiet.

Shanks tries again to get the officers' attention. He asks if they're open to a proposition. Pete quickly responds, "No". 
The negative response doesn't deter Shanks. He continues by telling Pete and Jim that he has a "real good personal reason" for not wanting to go back to L.A. He starts talking about how much money he has. Reed doesn't like the sound of this. 
"You trying to buy us, Shanks?"
Shanks claims they have it all wrong. He was only thinking that he could arrange for them to pick up the money, pay his fines in Los Angeles, then drop him someplace so he can split. He'll let Pete and Jim keep any money that is left over after they pay the fines. Reed's going to pretend he didn't hear any of that.
"If I hear it again, I'll book you for attempted bribery. You got it?"
Malloy reiterates the sentiment that Shanks should button his lip.
"You heard him, now shut up."
Shanks can't believe that he drew a couple of straight arrows for his ride back to L.A.

The white car finally passes them and Malloy observes that it's been following them ever since they left the station. He checks the hot sheet to see if the plate OCI-275 is listed, it's not. 
After they drive through a tunnel Malloy tries to call for wants and warrants on the white car. His request his answered with static instead of the familiar voice of the RTO. This upsets Shanks. He worries about would happen if they needed help, nobody would hear them. This seems like a curious thing for a prisoner to fret about and Reed figures there must be a reason behind his anxiety. He tells Shanks to spill it and level with them about who is in the white car.

Shanks thinks the men in the car work for Louis Jacks, the racketeer, and he's sure they have orders to kill him. That's why he was speeding out of Malibu last night. Jacks is also the reason he doesn't want to go back to L.A. Shanks knows he would only last about twenty minutes in a Los Angeles jail before one of his goons got to him. 

He's told a good story, but Shanks hasn't given Reed and Malloy the entire story. Malloy asks why Jordan and his men are after him. Shanks comes clean and tells the officers why he's being chased. He saw Jacks murder the girl in Malibu last night. He's the only thing standing between him and the death penalty. 

Malloy doesn't understand why Shanks didn't ask for protective custody from the Malibu Sheriff. Shanks has a good reason for not going to the Sheriff voluntarily. He would have had to tell them that he was "ripping off a pad" when he saw the murder. That admission would have bought him a ten year stretch in the joint. 

All of a sudden, a gunshot comes out of nowhere!

It hits one of their tires!

Malloy struggles to control the car!

1-A-12 ends up off the road. 

Everyone ducks for cover as another shot takes out one of the lights on the roof. Malloy sees a low stone wall not far from the car. He knows their best chance is to get out of the car and run to the wall for cover. In preparation for their escape Reed takes off Shanks' handcuffs and advises him to stick with the officers. Right before they leave Malloy tries to use the radio to call for help. His dispatch is answered with static and more gunshots.

Reed gets off a few shots at the gunman on the hill. He returns the fire then moves to get a better angle at the three men crouching behind the wall. They know they should keep moving, but where? The sniper is using a scoped rifle and has a wide range. Most anywhere they go will be in his sights. 

Reed thinks there may be a cabin at the end of a nearby trail. If he could get there, he could put in a call to the Sheriff's station. 

Malloy figures it's worth a try and tells him to go check it out. He warns his partner to be careful, there's a second guy out there somewhere. Reed hands the shotgun to Malloy and takes off into the wilderness.

Malloy distracts the sniper by firing a few shots in his direction. 

He and Shanks watch as Reed disappears into the distance. Malloy knows he and Shanks can't hide behind the wall like a couple of sitting ducks. He decides it's time to move when he peers over the wall and finds that the gunman is missing from the hill.

Reed keeps going down the trail. Unbeknownst to him, a man is hiding behind a tree watching him. 

Meanwhile, Malloy and Shanks know all too well that they are being watched. They take cover behind a tree as more shots rain down on them.

Reed is also attacked, but at a much closer range. His stalker runs up behind him and hits him over the head with his rifle.
[Ow! That's my hair!]
As the mysterious man disarms and cuffs an unconscious Reed, he mutters to himself that he had to do it. His partner would have blown his stack if he let the officer get away.

[Oh man, my sister is gonna flip when she sees her birthday present.]

While Reed lies unconscious, Shanks is growing impatient. He wants to know why help hasn't shown up yet. 
[Where's Reed? I bet he's lying down on the job.]

Reed's captor rouses him and orders him to walk. The dazed officer slowly complies.

[Keep walking 'til you see a giant birthday cake, then get in it.]
Malloy and Shanks discover Reed's fate when they hear a voice call, "Hey, cop!" from high up on the hill.
The sniper/ spokesman for the white car gang wants to make a deal. He'll trade Reed for Shanks.

Malloy silently considers the offer. He thinks about it a little to long for Shanks' taste. The convict reminds Malloy that he can't take the deal, it's his job to protect him. Malloy responds to his whining with a terse, "Shut up!". 

Luke Nathan, the leader of the two-man gang gives Pete one minute to make his decision. All Pete has to do is "sing out" when he's ready to deal.

Malloy has no intention of singing out to Nathan, he has a plan and it does not involve making any deals. He and Shanks will make a break for the white sedan. If they can get to the car, they can get out of he canyon and get help. Shanks doesn't agree, but Malloy doesn't care.

Nathan doesn't understand why Malloy hasn't jumped at his offer of a trade. Reed knows why, Malloy couldn't make the deal even if he wanted to. While Reed tells Nathan what's up Malloy and Shanks make a run for the car. 

This doesn't go unnoticed by Nathan. He raises his gun and aims at the two fleeing figures. Reed's not about to stand by and let his partner get shot at.

He rushes at Nathan and tries to knock him down.
But Reed is the one who ends up getting knocked down.

Things don't look good for Reed.

'Cause of this guy.

Luckily, Larry Lee here brings Luke Nathan to his senses.
He reminds him that Reed could be their ticket out of there.
(Also, does this guy remind anyone else of Vic Tayback?)
The Larry Lee character particularly reminds me of Tayback's role
as the dim-witted kidnapper, George,
on The Monkees episode "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers".
Nathan decides not to shot Reed. He decides to go after Malloy and Shanks instead. He orders Lee to stay with Reed while he tries to head them off before they get to the car.

Malloy and Shanks got a good head start and reach the car without any interference from Nathan. They get to the vehicle and discover that these criminals were smart enough to take the keys with them. That's OK, though, Shanks knows what to do. He immediately goes to work under the dash and gets the thing start despite the lack of keys.
"Old specialty of mine."
"I'll bet."
Malloy climbs in behind the wheel and they drive off as an unhappy Nathan watches and fires a few rounds at them. 

Reed, left alone with Lee, observes that the big guy is nervous. He decides to make Lee even more nervous by pointing out his nervousness.
"What are you sweating about?"
[Isn't obvious? We're in Southern
California and I'm wearing polyester.]

By now Malloy and Shanks have reached a call box and summoned help.
[Send help, I need Reed back. This guy is actually more annoying.]
Back in the woods, Nathan reports to Lee and Reed that Malloy and Shanks have gotten away. He knows they have to get moving and tries to think of a way out of the canyon. Reed tells him not to bother. He knows the Sheriff will seal off both ends of the canyon in order to thwart any escape attempts. He knows they'll also bring in a chopper to keep track of them from the air. Nathan doesn't want to hear it and tells Reed he's got a fat mouth.
"Maybe, but that's the way it will go down."
Lee knows Reed is right and tells Nathan this, but he doesn't want to hear it. He's sick of everyone telling him what can't be done. He'll get out of the canyon, on Reed's back if he has to. He commands Reed to start walking. Despite the guns, Reed stubbornly refuses.

"I'm not going."
Nate tries to appeal to Reed's role as a public protector, he threatens to waste Lee if he doesn't start walking.
"That's OK with me."
Nathan aims his rifle at Lee, but Reed can't let that happen. He tells Nathan to stop.
[Stop! I'll have enough reports to write as it is!]

Over at the callbox, a plethora of deputies and officers have shown up in response to Malloy's call. 

The canyon has already been sealed off by the Sheriff and Bayer is waiting for Malloy at 1-A-12. They'll meet up there and start tracking Reed. Captain Edwards will give Malloy a ride to the patrol unit. Before he leaves, Shanks stops Malloy to apologize for what happened to his partner. He didn't mean for that to happen.

Then Malloy and Edwards drive away in what is clearly a Plymouth Fury.
This cap of Marco Lopez playing a deputy seems like a good time to point out that this episode was featured in the Emergency! episode "Hang-up". In it the firefighters of Station 51 are watching "Ambush" and have to leave on a call before it is over. Johnny Gage then spends the rest of the story trying to figure out the ending of the episode. Now this is weird for a couple of reasons:
1. Reed and Malloy were already established in the Emergency! universe as "real" people, not characters on a TV show. They were featured in the two-part Emergency! pilot episode.
2. Marco Lopez is in "Hang-up" as a firefighter, so he would have been watching himself play a deputy when Station 51 was watching "Ambush".

If anybody can explain how any of that is possible, I'd love to hear their theory.

That's Capt. Edward's Plymouth, in case you couldn't tell since
 the make of the car is now covered with silver tape.

Malloy and Edwards meet up with Bayer and a deputy. He hasn't heard anything about Reed, but he knows they'll find him with the canyon being sealed off. The chopper shows up and the officers begin following on foot towards the hill.

The chopper hasn't escaped Nathan's attention. They stop their trek and Nathan moves away from Lee and Reed to take a shot at the air patrol. While Nathan's sights are turned to the helicopter, Reed sees his chance. He breaks away from Lee and dives at Nathan.
This time he's able to topple Nathan.

With Nathan on the ground, Reed takes his rifle. He turns it on Lee when he comes after Reed.

Lee doesn't put any resistance, he gives up and tosses the handcuff keys to his new master.

Nathan isn't shocked at all that his partner isn't a cop killer.

By the time the search party catches up with Reed and his captors, the tables have been turned. Reed stands guard with the rifle as Nathan and Lee are cuffed to a tree.

"Sure you can't use some help?" Malloy asks Reed.
"No, I think I've got everything pretty well wrapped up," answers Reed breezily.

Later, back in Los Angeles at the station garage, 1-A-12 is getting ready to go back on the road. 

Jim walks over to Pete to tell him about a special surprise assignment Mac has asked them to complete. Jim is sure Pete will like it, especially after he's spent half his day on paperwork. Pete wants to know more about this assignment. Jim would tell him more, but that's not necessary; it's coming through the door right now.
Oh my God! It's Officer Barrett back from the dead!
(For real, though. Ron Pinkard's character in "Ambush" is Barrett, that's the same name of the ill-fated officer he played in "Log 76: The Militants".)
"What is this?"

Jim explains they have to take Shanks back to Malibu since he is the only witness to the infamous playgirl murder.

"Jim, do you ever feel we're getting in a rut?"
"All the time."

The End

I started watching "Ambush" with the mindset that this was going to be a Reed-centric version of "The Search". I came to realize that this episodes has some similarities to "The Search", but there are also a lot of distinctions between the two stories. Those differences give each episode a completely different feel. "The Search" is dark, moody, and dramatic due, in part, to it's nighttime setting, Malloy's severe injuries, and Reed's intense confrontation with Mac.  "Ambush", on the other hand, is a bit more light-hearted. It takes place during the day, Reed is in danger but not as critically as Malloy (thanks to his bumbling captors), and Malloy doesn't have to go against Mac to search for Reed since everyone knows where he is. 

So, "Ambush" isn't "The Search". But, that doesn't make it a bad episode. In fact, it's quite good and shows us a different side of Reed and Malloy. We don't usually get to see the boys spend an extended period of time with a prisoner or suspect. It's interesting to see the stern and abrupt personas they affect when they're with Shanks. Their time in the car with him is far different from the typical Pete and Jim car banter sequences. Despite Shanks' annoying persona at the beginning of the adventure he does, like Lt. Bayer warned, grow on you. He becomes an asset to Malloy when he hot-wires the car and you know he's sincere when he apologizes for what happened to Reed. By the end of the episode, the viewer is almost glad that these three old friends are reunited. 

The best thing, by far, about this episode is Reed the hostage. My, what a cheeky hostage he is! I just love the way the he plays it cool as a cucumber from almost the moment he's captured. The petulant way he refuses to listen to orders and the impish grin he gives when Nathan threatens Lee are the best. He's probably scared underneath that confident exterior, and we do get to see some glimpses of that. But, his nonchalant demeanor adds to the "fun" of the episode and let's you know that Reed is going to be alright.

"Ambush" didn't turn out to be the episode I thought it was going to be. But that's OK, because it's still good and earns a rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know what you think! See you next time with "Anniversary", which is the halfway point for the entire series!



  1. Another episode I don't mind watching over and over. I agree with you on REED being a smarty pants!! I loved the part where he told Reed to get in the cake!!! Only thing is you didn't mention that TUSH SHOT when he was knocked out on the ground!!!!!! Oh I forgot ur married and didn't want to upset Paul!! Ok never mind. Didn't the one bad guy play a pretend deaf person on an episode???? Maybe it was Dragnet. Great job once again!!!!!!!

  2. I LOVE this episode, mainly for the bit where Reed refuses to follow Nathan's orders, at which point Nathan threatens to shoot Lee, and Reed replies. "'s OK with me!". It cracks me up every time I see it. I'm also fascinated that Ron Pinkard, who plays a Sheriff's deputy, has the much larger role of Dr. Morton in "Emergency", another slightly bizarre link between the 2 shows. I like everything about this episode and find no fault at all with it. It totally entertains me every time.

  3. I have a theory about the Emergency! and Adam-12 continuity, perhaps they are real people, and maybe to them its a live action show. Kinda like Gold Rush or Deadliest Catch.

  4. I forgot to mention that Lee, the total doofus bad guy, always reminds me of the dad on "the Wonder Years". Can't remember that actor's name, but I always see some similarities in their faces. I've just watched this ep about 5 times again on DVD. I just love it so much!

  5. I just HAD to read this again since it was a shared memory from a year ago. Still my favorite episode of all time, and I still miss your weekly blog installments, Keely, even though I understand your need to move on.