Sunday, January 1, 2017

Mary Hong Loves Tommy Chen (Season 4, Episode 19)

Episode 97

Reed's got some information that he thinks his partner may be interested in.

"She thinks you're cute."
"It's not as good as dreamy or darling, but it's a lot better than interesting or sweet," continues Reed. Malloy must remember the girl who's made this evaluation. She's the blonde he was talking to at the party last week. She works in S.I.D and she's perfect for Malloy. She's got knock knees and she's a qualified expert with a handgun.
"Do me a favor, Reed. Stop worrying about my love life."
Reed will have to put his matchmaking aspirations aside, a call has just come over the radio. There's unknown trouble at Flintwood and Morris.

The cross streets on the call are in Chinatown. When 1-Adam-12 arrives a gang of kids run out of the alley leaving behind a bloodied victim. Malloy chases after the ruffians while Reed checks on the injured party. Malloy turns back and joins his partner when it's obvious that the kids had too much of a head start in their escape.

The beaten and bloodied young man lying in the street looks like he belongs with the group who ran away, but Reed knows differently. This is Tommy Chen, an undercover policeman. He was in the class ahead of Reed's at the Academy.

He looked a lot better back then, though. Now he's not looking good at all. Reed stays with Tommy while Malloy goes to call the ambulance he desperately needs. 

As Reed waits with Tommy a girl runs into the alley. She stops when she sees Tommy lying there. Reed asks if she knows him or who did this. He tells her not to be afraid, but she just stares and doesn't say a word. When she hears the approaching wail of the ambulance siren, she turns and runs out of the alley.

As soon as the ambulance attendant sees Tommy he announces, "This one's a red blanket". That means Tommy is critical and they need to take him immediately to the operating theater upon their arrival at the hospital. Reed and Malloy watch as the attendants load Tommy into the vehicle and take off for County hospital.

Later in the night Reed and Malloy meet with Sgt. Powers from the gang squad in Mac's office. Tommy Chen was working undercover for the squad in Chinatown and finally making some real progress. He had recently been able to join the Chung Ning gang and was able to feed information on their activities back to Powers. 

Through Tommy's work Powers and the gang squad learned that the Chung Ning, which means "Chinese youth", was preparing for a clash with the Hong Lee Association. The Hong Lee Association is an alliance between two powerful Chinatown families, the Hongs and the Lees. The older Hong Lees are fed up with the young Chung Nings and they're willing to fight to maintain their power. A clash between the Chung Nings and Hong Lees would be the biggest rumble Powers has seen during his two years with the gang squad. He hopes it doesn't go down.

The sergeant thinks Tommy must have uncovered some new information on the building trouble between the two factions tonight. He called the station, but when the call got through to Powers' office, there was no one on the other end. According to Reed and Malloy's report the call came through around the same time they saw Tommy being chased down the alley. Powers hopes they can find the girl Reed saw in the alley, she may be able to fill in some of the gaps in the story of what happened to Tommy. 

Before Powers leaves Reed asks him to keep them abreast of Tommy's condition. Powers agrees to do just that then tells them what he found out from the hospital earlier in the night. Tommy is stable, but still in a coma in the Intensive Care wing.

At the start of their shift the next day Reed gives Malloy an update on Tommy. He's still in a coma. That's all he says on the subject before they are called to see the department store manager at Seventh and Wilshire about a 484 that just occurred.

At the department store they meet Miss Juju Perrin, a roller derby queen who's just had here purse stolen out of "one of those pay johns". Reed's asking Miss Perrin the questions, but she's directing all of her answers and her attention to Malloy. Reed tries to engage her when he finds a commonality between them, but Juju doesn't pay him any mind.
"I'll tell you the truth, I don't always carry a purse.
 I like to keep my dough in my wallet,
right in my pocket.Ya know?" says Juju, looking at Pete the entire time.
"Yeah, me too," agrees Jim.
Juju brushes him off with a quick "yeah", then turns back to Pete.

When Juju saw the other dame reaching under the partition to heist her purse she would have liked to cave her head in. But, she was a little compromised by the situation.
Nobody asks any follow up questions to that statement.

As the interview goes on, it's obvious Miss Perrin is more worried about her love life than her purse. She ignores Reed, but makes time to tell Malloy that she's a jammer in the roller derby. When Reed finally does get her attention to ask where she lives, she thinks he's asking her out!
"Hey, you ain't my type."
"Yeah, I sort of gathered that."
While Jim is still recovering from Juju's stinging rebuff, Pete asks her if her house keys were in her purse when it was stolen. Juju recalls that they were, along with a hanky and a bunch of other stuff. She can barely contain her excitement when Pete asks if she will take a ride with them over to her house.
"A date with a real, live cop!"
"C'mon big boy, I'll show ya. (Hey, you work out don't ya)?"
[For the record, ma'am, that is my gun.]
When they get to Miss Perrin's house she makes sure to let Pete know that she keeps a key under the mat at the side door.

Despite Miss Perrin's probable wishes to the contrary, Jim retrieves the key from under the mat and unlocks the side door. Once they are inside the house the racket from the bedroom makes it obvious that they are not alone.

Here's a nice shot of their clamshell holsters in action.
They enter the room and find what appears to be a large female rifling through Miss Perrin's dresser drawers. The woman jumps out of window and Jim follows after her.

[Hey, Pete, she looks kinda cute.]
 Pete runs out the front door to find that the suspect has already been subdued by the victim, Miss Perrin.

After they have the suspect on her rather large feet Miss Perrin says what LAPD professional courtesy won't let Pete or Jim say.
"Wow, that's some ugly chick."
Pete has a hunch as to the reason of her homeliness.

[Partner, it's my turn to take off the wig.
You got to do it a few weeks back.]
Juju is, of course, impressed with Pete's police work. She thinks he was pretty smart for figuring out that the purse thief would come to her house and use the keys that were in the purse to gain entry. Pete explains that it wasn't an impressive deduction on his part, they received a flyer on the suspect's MO. Juju tells him not to be so modest, she doesn't like modest guys. Pete decides to appease Miss Perrin and tell her what she wants to hear.

"Okay, he was caught by a brilliant piece
of work by the L.A. police department."
 Hmmm...I wonder if Martin Milner and Joanne Worley had any fun with that wig behind the scenes.
Looks like they did.
Thanks to the Martin Milner Private Collection for the photo. The actual 8 X 10 was sold to a lucky bidder during the MMPC Ebay sale.

When they're back in the car, Reed can't help but comment on Malloy's romantic dilemma.
"Who you gonna take to the division steak fry?
The blonde from S.I.D. who shoots expert with
 a handgun or good ol' Juju, the roller derby jammer queen?"
(Also, what's a "steak fry"?)
After Malloy tells him to "buzz off" the RTO interrupts with instructions to meet Mac on tac 2. Reed switches frequencies and the sergeant tells them a nurse from County General called, she thinks the girl they're looking for is in one of the waiting rooms. Sgt. Powers asked that they go out there and take a look. When Reed is done talking with Mac he asks the RTO to show them code 6 at County General.

When they arrive at the hospital Pete stops at the desk to ask about Tommy while Jim continues down the hall. He opens the door to the waiting room and finds the girl he first met in the alley. She's timid and shy when he first talks to her, but the girl eventually tells him in broken English with a heavy Chinese accent that her name is Mary Hong. 

Jim doesn't get much more out of Mary before Pete enters the room to report that Tommy may have a brain hemorrhage and that doctors want to operate. This grave report doesn't send the girl who loves Tommy into fits of sobbing. Instead, she displays a wide smile and states that Tommy will get well and they will have a house and children. 

Rather than dwelling on Tommy's condition, Jim changes the subject. He asks Mary if she knows what Tommy found out about the Chung Nings and Hong-Lees. He encourages her to tell them, pointing out that her help could stop a lot of people from getting hurt. Mary sheepishly begins to answer that the two groups fight with each other. But, she's prevented from saying anything else when an older man bursts into the room and says something to her in Chinese.

Mary starts walking towards the door to leave with the man, but Pete stops her. He explains to the man that they need to talk to her then asks him who he is. The man is Sing Hong, Mary's uncle and he doesn't want his niece talking to the police. Especially about Tommy Chen, who he believes is a member of a gang of thieves. He doesn't want his niece paying tribute to a hoodlum with her sorrow. Pete sets him straight.
"You're wrong. Tommy's a policeman, he was working undercover."
This doesn't make much difference to Hong, though. He feels the police offer no solutions to their problems in Chinatown. When Pete tells him that his niece may be able to help diffuse a dangerous situation by talking to them, Hong still won't budge. He feels the danger has been created by a lack of education for Chinese-speaking students, a dearth of opportunities, and overcrowding coupled with poor housing conditions in Chinatown.

"Don't tell me about the dangerous situation, officer. I live there."

Sing Hong is played by Keye Luke, an actor with an extensive resume that stretched from 1934 to 1990. His credits include Master Po on Kung Fu, Dragnet, M*A*S*H*, Gremlins, and several cartoon voice roles.
With that Mr. Hong leaves the waiting room.

Shortly after that Jim calls Mac to let him know about their new acquaintances, Mary and Sing Hong. Mac's never heard of Mr. Hong, but he's going to tell Sgt. Powers all that Jim has related to him.

The next day Reed clears 1-Adam-12 for their P.M. watch shift. His dispatch is answered with "clear and a call" from the female RTO. She instructs them to meet the detective unit at 23570 Euclid.

Reed and Malloy find Sgt. Speer and his partner waiting on the sidewalk next to their unmarked car. An unhappy suspect waits in the car. After the officers introduce each other Sgt. Speer tells Malloy and Reed about the unusual situation he and his partner have on their hands.

The man waiting in the car got out of jail this morning on a felony burglary charge. The reason he's not a free man right now is due to the fact that he paid his attorney with counterfeit currency. The attorney complained to the police, so the detectives went to pick him up. When they got to his house the man claimed that he didn't know the money was counterfeit. 

The story gets even more strange when Malloy asks where he got the fake money. When Speer asked the man the same question, he admitted that he stole the money. He'd rather go back to jail on a 459 rap instead of being charged with the federal crime of counterfeiting. They're all here on Euclid now because the house he stole the money from is around the corner. Speer will take the front of the house and needs Malloy and Reed to cover the back. 

On their way to the house Malloy and Reed walk past the detectives' car. Malloy glances inside the backseat then tells his partner to take a look. Although he's dressed differently today, Reed recognizes the man. He's the thief they caught inside Miss Perrin's house.
"You're on a real cold streak, aren't you, buddy?" asks Malloy.
[I never got my wig back.]
Speer only shakes his head when he finds out that Reed and Malloy busted the guy yesterday.

At the suspected counterfeiter's house Reed and Malloy listen from the back as Speer tells the occupants to open the front door. Nobody comes to the front to answer Speer's call. 

Instead, a window at the back of the house opens. A man with a gun in his belt climbs out. He then helps a woman through the window.

Malloy aims his gun on the couple and shouts, "Freeze, mister."

I hope that girl's lunch is in that bag. 
Look at her thighs, she needs a sandwich!

The man turns around, pulls the pistol out of his waistband and grabs the woman. He points the gun at her and tells Malloy not to try anything, he'll "waste this chick".  He begins backing up towards the fence that surrounds the yard. 

Since his back is to the fence the man doesn't see Reed come through the gate. Reed's able to take him by surprise and grab the gun right out of his hand. Once he's disarmed Reed spins the man and orders him to put his hands up against the fence. Malloy pulls the woman aside and Speer rushes in to retrieve the bag the suspect dropped.

The detective opens the black satchel and finds two rectangular objects wrapped in brown paper. He guesses that these most be the photo plates used to print the funny money. His guess must be correct because the suspect immediately asks who tipped them off to the printing operation. Speer tells the man that his house was burglarized last week. The suspect remembers it, but wonders how the police found out. Neither he nor his lady friend reported it. Speer knows they didn't report it. But, he tells the confused suspect, "the burglar did".
"It's a long story, mister. You'll get to hear it in court."
After arresting an armed counterfeiting suspect Malloy and Reed have worked up a quite an appetite and decide to take 7 back at the station. While they're eating their boxed lunches in the break room, Mac comes over to their table. The sergeant spoke to Powers and found out Sing Hong is well known to the detective, he's the head of the Hong Lee association. Powers also told Mac that he's going to try to find Mary Hong, he thinks she may know what Tommy was trying to tell them. 

Hearing Tommy's name prompts Reed to ask about his condition. Mac reports that there's still no change, he's being operated on tonight.

After their break is over Pete and Jim hit the streets again. When they are driving through a residential area they pull over a man in a gold Ford for driving erratically. While Pete talks to the driver Jim checks out the car. Pete asks the man if he's been drinking and he claims he never touches the stuff, it's bad for the liver.
It's Foster Brooks, he has to be drunk.
Also what's up with the Mark VII wardrobe department trying to bring back the cravat?
Jim comes over and points out that the car smells like marijuana. The man explains that he picked up a hitchhiker earlier, he must have been smoking it. Pete doesn't seem to buy this story.
"Mmm hmm."
The driver begins to argue that the officers have no grounds to search him. He asks if they can just give him a ticket and let him be on his way. As he says this smoke begins to pour out of his jacket breast pocket. He then begins to punch himself in the chest. Finally he bends over and violently digs something out of the pocket. Pete asks to see what just came out of his pocket.
"May I?"
That's an authentic Milner hand holding that roach.
"If I told you I'd never seen that before what would you say?"
"'Nice try'."
At the end of their shift Pete and Jim are at the report desk finishing up their paperwork for the day when Mac tells Jim he has a phone call.
Mac and Pete listen as Jim shouts into the mouthpiece. It's obvious that Mary is on the other end of the call. to slow down. After a few more questions, Jim hits the receiver and quickly hangs up. He turns around and fills Mac and Pete in on what they weren't able to hear.
"She screamed and we were cut off. It sounded like somebody hit her."
During their short conversation Jim gathered that the Chung Nings are setting up an ambush for the Hong-Lees in the parking lot of the Hong Lee Association meeting hall. Mac springs into action and leaves to get the gang squad. It looks like Jim and Pete won't be going home any time soon.

As Malloy drives through the wet and rainy streets to Chinatown, Reed gets an update from Powers over the radio. The detective instructs 1-Adam-12 to take the north end of the parking lot. There's also four other cars headed for the same destination. Powers hopes they all get there before any violence can erupt.

Just before Malloy and Reed reach the parking lot the Hong Lees leave through the front doors of their meeting hall. At the same time, the doors on a parked car open. A group of teenaged boys get out. Two of them crouch next to a forklift in the lot and aim guns at the Hong-Lee men. The young men open fire on the older men.

Malloy and Reed are now close enough to hear the gunshots. Malloy hits the reds and the siren. Reed grabs the shotgun from under the seat. The Chung Ning members hear the sirens and race back to their car. They begin tearing out of the parking lot, but stop long enough to throw someone out of the car and onto the pavement.

1-Adam-12 arrives at the parking lot and Malloy stops just long enough to let his partner out of the car. Malloy takes off after the Chung Nings. Reed runs to the figure lying on the ground. It's Mary and she's badly beaten.

The Chung Nings don't get far before they are surrounded by black and whites with red lights. A gaggle of officers in yellow rain slickers then get out of the patrol cars and begin arresting the youths.

Then red and white ambulances arrive to pick up the injured. While they wait for another ambulance to pickup Mary, Sing Hong tells Malloy what has led up to the incidents of the night. Yesterday the Hong-Lees told the Chung Nings they would not pay the young hoodlums the extortion money they demanded every month. He thought the association could handle the problem, they always have in the past. Malloy asks Hong to cooperate with the police, if they work together maybe they can stop the Chung Nings. Hong thinks that could be a possibility. But, he knows stopping the Chung Nings won't end the problems in Chinatown.
"Maybe we can stop the Chung Nings.
But how can we solve the problem that caused them?
How can the police help us with that?"
"I don't know, Mr. Hong. I wish I could tell you."

(This and "Elegy for a Pig" are the only times we see them in their rain gear. Earlier in this episode they were wearing their Eisenhower jackets, so I think this episode sets some sort of outerwear costume change record.) 
The ambulance for Mary pulls into the parking lot and Reed shows the attendants to where Mary is resting in the back of Adam-12. As they load her onto the stretcher Sgt. Powers finishes interviewing the Chung Ning members. While the attendants strap her in, Mary points out the boy who beat both her and Tommy. He laughed at her and told her that she would never live to tell. 

Now that she has talked as Tommy and the other officers wanted her to, she hopes that she and Tommy can be happy. Before they load her into the ambulance, she tells Reed about her hopes of moving to another city with Tommy and being happy.
"It will happen. You will see."

The End

I really like this one, it delivers a hilarious funny case and a thought-provoking serious case. Let's talk about the funny one first. Joanne Worley's performance as Juju Perrin, the roller derby jammer queen who comes on strong with Pete, may be one of my favorite comedic guest-star parts of the entire series. I just love Ms. Worley's larger-than-life personality and hair. Her role here is both funny and inspirational. What girl hasn't dreamed of throwing caution to the wind and flirting with Pete (or a real-life crush) in such a manner? It may not have worked for Juju, but she sure looks like she had fun doing it. 

The other great thing about the Juju Perrin case is that it ends up being connected to the counterfeiting case. It's a nice little twist. One that reminds us that even a big city like Los Angeles is a small world after all. 

Now, let's move on to the long term investigation, the Romeo and Juliet-esque love story of the title. We don't get to learn that much about Mary and Tommy's romance, but their affair does serve as a backdrop for Sing Hong to comment on the bleak conditions in Chinatown. I find it very brave of this half-hour show to bring up the larger reasons behind crime. 

Adam-12, the show, doesn't have the answers to solving all of the world's problems and neither do the two men who ride in Adam-12, the car. I find Pete's answer to Mr. Hong at the end of the episode refreshingly honest. Pete is not Joe Friday, who would have probably made a speech about how Hong could work to affect change by voting for officials who share his concerns. Pete's just a cop and he doesn't have all of the answer, but he can try to make the streets a little safer by putting some bad guys away.

Since I like this one so much, it earns the rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know what you think somewhere, out there in cyberspace. See you next week with "Substation". 



  1. I was with you up to the end. Pete's final response just falls flat...and ironically, I could hear a far better Joe Friday speech in the context of the episode.

    "How do we solve the problems, Mr Hong? I don't know...but I've got a couple of ideas.

    "I walked the beat in Chinatown, not too long after I came on the job. By the time I'd been there a year, I'd hear a tourist from Texas arguing with a Chinese storekeeper - and it was the Texan who sounded like a foreigner to me.

    "It was a good beat - usually pretty quiet unless someone decided to lift some groceries 'cause they hadn't worked in three weeks and had four kids to feed, or a couple of drunken sailors figured any girl in a cheongsam was advertising for business.

    "But I finally realized that one of the reasons it was so quiet was that a lot of things got taken care of where I didn't see. By the families. By their 'associations', like yours and the Lee's.

    "And the City - and, yeah, cops like me - let it go on like that for a long time. Too long, maybe. Because now here we are tonight, with a good policeman in Central holding his life in his hands, a young girl beaten half to death...and a bunch of middle-aged men who're damned lucky they're alive right now because LAPD got the word in time. From her, not from you.

    " You could have asked us for help with this extortion racket, and you'd have got it. Maybe we haven't earned that trust yet...but I hope we do, damned soon.

    "Because we're one city, and one law - and the longer we ignore that, the more kids like Tommy and Mary are gonna get hurt or killed.

    "And we can't afford to waste a future like that."

    1. Don, I'm really glad we didn't agree on this one. I would have never seen your Joe Friday Chinatown speech. That was awesome! Thank you.

    2. Thank YOU, Keely.

      I think there was a deliberate decision by story editor Cannell to get away from the Friday-esque monologues (there were WAY too many in the previous season, and most of them were Webb at his absolute clunkiest), and I don't think that was a bad thing at all...but this was too much of a 180 for me.

  2. Awesome blog as always. Loved that JoAnn Whirley she was a funny lady. I miss the Strawberry Fox

    1. Thanks, Lynn! JoAnne still is a funny lady, she's one of the lucky ones that made it through 2016.

    2. I confess I was waiting for her to look at Reed, poke a finger in her cheek and sing-song "BOR-ing!"

    3. Don Hilliard, you cracked me up! I had forgotten the "Bor-ring!" thing. Jo Ann Worley was just the best. I loved both Malloy's and Reed's reactions to her, and LOVED the backstage pic of Martin wearing the "ugly chick" wig. Such sharp contrasts in this episode, with the poignancy of Tommy Chong's and Mai Li (sp.?) Hong's endangered romance and the plight of the Chinatown children. Your "speech" about solutions was wonderful, Don. I love all the intricacies in this episode, as well as the respondents' reactions, both here and on your FB page, Keely. Thanks for another great analysis!

    4. Thanks, Anon. I still wonder why Friday never turned up on ADAM-12 (though the reverse happened once - or twice if you stretch it.)

    5. You're welcome, Don. Seems to me that Friday's deadpan, sometimes pompous, pronouncements wouldn't've fit in too well with A-12's more down-to-earth, real-life characters. Wells sometimes came close with his egotistical babbling, and Woods actually came close to the ignorance of Wells's closed-minded blather when it came to sexist beliefs. (Hate to say that about Woods, since he was generally another favorite of mine.) I find ALL the A-12 characters much more believable, and mostly more likable, than the characters on Dragnet.

    6. I think it would have worked pretty well - IF it had been done within the first season or two of Adam-12, when Robert Cinader was still producing it. The first couple of seasons of the 60s Dragnet were done under his guidance, and there's a noticeable difference in the quality of the episodes in general and in the characterizations in particular - including Friday.

      Cinader was really the spark that helped revive Mark VII and keep it successful for another decade, and it shows. Webb was a helluva craftsman at his best (on either side of the camera), but it took him too long to bow out on Dragnet and almost too long on the other Mark VII shows.

      I wrote the monologue with the better version of Friday. (Scriptwise, he could have replaced Powers in this episode. In a special episode earlier, it could have been Malloy and Reed working with a couple of veterans from downtown Homicide named Friday and Gannon.)

    7. (And as an aside - I know Keely's linked to someone else's writeup once before, but I'd love to see a proper LXI piece on the one real A12/Dragnet crossover episode.)

    8. Suzy Dragnet had done a write up on the A12/ Dragnet crossover, Don. But, I may just do that myself someday.
      I hope you like my blog entry for "Substation", you part of the inspiration for it.