Sunday, January 29, 2017

Who Won? (Season 4, Episode 22)

Episode 100!!!!!

Woo hoo! I'm really excited to have reached the 100th episode of Adam-12! It seems like the LAPD was really excited when this episode was filmed, too. After shooting wrapped in December, 1971, Martin Milner and Kent McCord were presented with certificates of excellence from the LAPD.
Aren't they cute?
(Many thanks to Diana Downing for the picture.)
Milner was also presented with a trophy for wearing his "cover" during the filming of all one hundred episodes, quite an accomplishment since he did not like to wear a hat. The award was basically a spray-painted police officer's hat under a plexiglass cube.
These pictures are not mine. The award
was recently sold on Ebay and these pictures are
from the Ebay listing. It was originally sold
 as part of the Martin Milner Private Collection.

With the hoopla surrounding this episode, it should be pretty special. Right? Let's find out.

As soon as Pete and Jim pull out of the parking lot to start their shift they get a call to meet 1-L-20 on tac 2. After Jim switches the frequency Mac tells him that they've just received a call, "their boys" are at it again on Commerce Street. Mac's already got a plan to stop these no-good boys at whatever they are up to. Adam-12 will take the east end of the street with X-Ray-14 and he'll cover the west end. Before Jim signs off he let's Mac know their ETA is about two minutes.

Jim then hangs up the mic and asks his partner, "What's the matter with those knuckleheads? They promised."  Pete doesn't know, but he'll bet that somebody called Fat Charlie is right in the middle of all this. 

As they get closer to the location Pete leans forward to hit the switch under the dash for the red lights. "Here they come," he says as the distant roar of engines gets louder. 
Two muscle cars appear in the distant and begin speeding towards the black and whites. 1-Adam-12 and X-ray-14 quickly pull over out of the drag racers' path. The speeding vehicles prematurely end their contest next to the police cars, they know the race is over.

While Reed and a backup officer frisk and cuff the drag racers, the driver of X-ray-14, Ed Wells, finds time to give Malloy some grief.
"I'm amazed, Malloy. Imagine, a drag race
on a public street. And after all your good PR work, too."
In case you can't tell, he's being sarcastic. He's not surprised at all that the races have continued, even after the drivers promised Malloy and Reed they would stop. In Wells' opinion the only thing these kids understand is "good, strong enforcement". Reed really isn't interested in his opinion.
"Goodbye, Wells."
[Let's get out of here.]
Malloy and Reed meet up with Mac at the other end of the street.

The sergeant and his backup units have stopped three cars full of drag racers. They've also proven Malloy right. Fat Charlie is at the race, but he's claiming innocence. When they're done talking Mac, Malloy, and Reed find Fat Charlie and his associates. They have some news to deliver to the corpulent car enthusiast.

Reed starts off by reminding Fat Charlie of a meeting they had two weeks ago. A meeting where Fat Charlie promised he and his friends would stop racing on public streets. Charlie agreed to this on the condition that Reed and Malloy would help him and his fellow racers form a car club association and line up a drag strip where they could race legally. While Reed and Malloy were working on the association and finding a track, Charlie's friends got bored and took to the street.
That's Fat Charlie and Spider. I'm fascinated by Charlie's shirt.
 It is very difficult to match a pattern that precisely across the button placket.
Also, how old are these "kids"?
If Charlie's buddies had stayed off the blacktop, this might be a more pleasant meeting between him and the police. After all, Pete and Jim have good news. Their association charter came through, it's all back at the station neat and legal.
This is Charlie's friend Donny. He's kind of a lackey.
The pattern on his shirt is also nicely matched at center front.
Charlie's not overjoyed at this development however. Just because they have a charter, that doesn't mean Mr. Benson, the owner of the local drag strip, is going to let them use his track. Reed then springs another surprise on Charlie, they have a meeting with Benson tomorrow. Spider and Donny are willing to go along, their race teams would rather be on the strip than the street. Charlie, however, is not as enthusiastic as his cohorts. He cites the cost of a safety check to race on Benson's strip as the reason for his apprehension. But, since he is outvoted, Charlie agrees to go along to the meeting.
Donny makes that face a lot and shrugs his shoulders a lot.
 It's like they forgot to write dialogue for him in some scenes.
At the end of their shift, Pete and Jim change into their first off-duty ensembles of the episode and discuss Fat Charlie. Jim doesn't like him. 
I think "Half-Pint" from Little House on the Prairie wore a dress made out of this same fabric.
Pete tries to make him see Fat Charlie's bad attitude from a different perspective. Maybe Charlie doesn't like the idea of racing on a legitimate track because he's got more to lose. The big guy has been street racing for a long time and has built up a good-sized following. He may be afraid that his fans won't follow him to Benson's track.

Didn't Jim wear this same white t-shirt and blue sweater combo in "Elegy for a Pig"?
Pretty much.
Jim can understand Charlie's hesitation, but they're not trying to shut him down. They're just trying to organize the car clubs. Pete conjectures that that may be exactly what Charlie doesn't want. If the car clubs remained splintered without a track, Charlie can organize races and charge the drivers an entrance fee. As long as he's calling the shots and making the races happen, the kids will look up to him and pay whatever Charlie is asking. If Pete and Jim can keep Fat Charlie on their side, the association should be a success. But, Charlie's cooperation will depend a lot on what Benson says tomorrow.

Then Ed Wells enters the locker room and puts a damper on Pete and Jim's conversation. He immediately begins mocking them for trying to help the drag-racing kids. 
We've seen that jacket on Pete a few times.
For instance, he is wearing it in the  "Elegy for a Pig" screen cap above.
Ed wants to know when Pete and Jim are going to wake up to the fact that the kids don't dig them, they're the heat. Ed believes that punishment, in the form of tickets, is the only way to stop the street racing. He'll leave the bleeding-heart social work to someone else.
"Thank you. We accept."
(And I know we've seen this jacket before.)
The next day, somebody wearing desert boots walks into a garage.
This must be a casual affair, it's not like
you would wear those boots with a shirt and tie.
Correction: You shouldn't wear those boots with a shirt, jacket, and tie.
Did Milner think they would only be shooting him from the knees up?
Pete, in his second off-duty look of the episode, is in this garage somewhere to gather Jim for the meeting with Benson. Jim is busy working on a hot rod he's had for years. If Benson comes through, he's going to race his car at the drag strip. Pete can't believe it, the car hasn't run since he's known Jim.
Here's a closer look at Pete's second off-duty look. This picture also begs the question: Whose garage is this? It's not Jim's personal garage, it's too big and filled with lots of tires and other car stuff. Is he allowed to work on his car at the station garage? If he is, how did he get the car there since it doesn't run? Did the department tow it there for him? 
Here's Jim's second off-duty look. Pete's is better, despite the shoes.

But, Jim has a secret weapon up his sleeve...or rather under his chassis.
He's suckered Spider and his receding
hairline into helping him fix the car.
Pete reminds these two grease monkeys that it's time to get ready for the meeting with Benson. Spider wants to know if they really have a chance with Benson. He's shut them down so many times. "I mean, like, you know, why should he?" asks Spider, in his own uniquely eloquent style.

Pete points out that Benson should let them race on his drag strip because they now have the papers he asked for the last time. And they are going to convince him.

But, it's harder to convince Benson than Malloy had anticipated. Their association charter and insurance coverage papers have a good beat, but Benson just can't dance to them. He  doesn't want to jeopardize his business so a bunch of wildcat hot rodders can race on his strip once a week. This sets Spider off, he and Benson are about to come to blows when Reed jumps in between them. He apologizes for Spider's temper and lets Benson know that they'll agree to whatever he wants.
Reed in his third off-duty outfit.
Are we ever going to see them in uniform again?
Benson knows that using his track means a lot to the kids, but he doesn't want to risk his business. He already gets complaints from people who live near the track. The neighbors are fed up with the drivers parading their hot rods through the streets before and after the races. Besides the actions of the drivers, he's also concerned about the cars themselves. He doesn't want them on his track if they aren't safe. 
After Reed, Spider, and Malloy assure Benson that there will be no rowdy street gatherings and that the cars will conform to his safety standards, Benson agrees to let them use the track. He'll let them work on their vehicles in the pit today and they can have their first races on Thursday.
Sorry, Reed, that tie is ugly and the jacket looks like it doesn't fit you properly.
Finally, Reed and Malloy get back in their uniforms and into the only car that matters.
Reed gives his partner an update on the hot rod. It's almost ready for the drag strip, he just wants to mess with the timing some more and get some racing tires. All of Reed's talk about fixing his car has Malloy scratching his head. 
"Let me ask you something. If you're such
an expert on cars, how come every time this one
 breaks down, you're stuck for a way to get the hood up?"
Reed has an easy answer for that question, he's a specialist.
"I only work on sophisticated, highly-tuned race cars."
In order to avoid any other questions about his reluctance to help with the black and white when it breaks down, Reed quickly suggests they take 7 and stop by Benson's track. Malloy unwittingly agrees to this ploy. 

At the track they meet up with a highly skeptical Fat Charlie, he just doesn't understand why Benson is letting them race on the track. Reed explains that it's because they're doing something they've never done before, they're playing it straight with Benson. But, if there's even one street drag, the whole deal is off. Fat Charlie agrees to go along with the rules, only because everyone else wants to race at Benson's track.

After their visit to the track and a quick stop at the station, Malloy and Reed are back on patrol. While they were at the station, Reed and Wells had a long conversation. Now Malloy is burning with curiosity to find out what they were talking about. Reed lets him in on the discussion. Now that they've secured the track, Wells has offered to race Reed using his kid brother's car. Reed's excited about the challenge, it will be the clean shot at Wells without fear of reprisal that he's been waiting for. 

Before they have to report for roll call the next day, Reed and Malloy are at the drag strip getting some help on Reed's car from the kids. They are also in another set of civilian clothes, Malloy's third and Reed's fourth. Malloy is in his trusty tan windbreaker and a yellow polo shirt while Reed is showing off an abundant amount of chest hair above his psychedelically patterned shirt and suede jacket. As they are getting ready to leave, another out-of-uniform officer joins the party.

It's Ed Wells sporting hideously patterned dark pants and an olive green satin bomber jacket. Yikes! Anyway, he's here to have his car safety checked for the race. He and Reed engage in some trash talk and then Malloy introduces Wells to Spider. But, they are already acquainted. No, they didn't go to school together, although they look like they could have. Wells has written Spider several tickets. After Wells and Malloy exchange barbs, the short and sassy Wells goes on his merry way. 

Two of the world's oldest teenagers.
That's okay, because Wells is soon replaced by another diminutive man, Benson. (Dick Clark was five foot, eight inches. Gary Crosby was five foot, ten inches.) Benson has bad news, the drag race for tomorrow night has fallen off the charts. It's nothing personal against the racers, he has no supplies to run a drag race. Somebody broke into the timing tower last night and stole all of the equipment. 
This development is bad, but it's not final. Benson's ordered new equipment and when he has it, the races will be back on. Spider, Donny, Reed, and Malloy are disappointed, but understanding of the situation. Charlie, however, is not. He believes Benson is just putting them off indefinitely and the race will never happen. Charlie decides he doesn't want to waste his time with the "fancy safety clinic" and gets ready to storm out. He stops to ask Donny if he's coming with him.
And Donny just silently shrugs.
Since Donny is unable to stand up to Charlie, Malloy calls him out instead. 
"You give up pretty easy, don't you, Charlie?"
Charlie claims that he's not giving up. He'll be there if Benson comes through, but he very much doubts that. He then walks out of the drag strip with Donny in tow.

A day later Malloy and Reed are enjoying some coffee in the station break room when Mac pops in to tell Malloy that Spider Watson is on the phone for him. 

Malloy takes the call then tells Reed that Spider's heard about Fat Charlie setting up a drag over on East Avenue. They leave their paper cups of joe behind to go check it out.

That's Donny playing the Cha Cha DeGregorio part.
 (Please tell me you've seen Grease and understand that reference.)
When 1-Adam-12 arrives at East Avenue two cars, one of them driven by Fat Charlie, have just taken off from the starting line. The two racing vehicles are quickly replaced by Adam-12, the sight of which causes Donny to throw down the starting flag and take flight. Reed, of course, jumps out of the black and white and chases after him. But then, someone else unexpectedly joins the pursuit.
That's Mr. Benson trying to stop Donnie,
not showing off the latest dance craze.
The hot rodders just happened to pick the very block that Mr. Benson lives on to have their drag race. Benson is angry and ready to ban the boys from the drag strip permanently. But Spider, who has just arrived on the scene, has an explanation for what has just happened.

Fat Charlie set up the drag race on Benson's block as a special show just for Benson. Charlie doesn't want to race on a legitimate track and he wants to make sure none of his opponents have the chance, either. Benson doesn't believe what Spider has just told him, namely because Fat Charlie is nowhere to be seen. He asks where Fat Charlie is now and Malloy drives up to supply the answer.

Malloy also has something else interesting in the back of the black and white.
Some bolt cutters he found in the back of Charlie's car. When Malloy informed Charlie that SID could tie his bolt cutters to Benson's padlock, he started talking. 
Charlie pulled the job by himself as a way to stop the races at Benson's strip. When he heard that Benson had more equipment on the way, he staged the race on Benson's street. Malloy also lets Benson know that he can go ahead and cancel his order for the new equipment, the police will get a warrant for Charlie's garage and Benson will get his property back in the morning.

After hearing it from Malloy, Benson believes what Spider was trying to tell him. The races are back on!

Here we are, finally, at the drag strip!

Here's Malloy in his fourth civilian costume. I think it's the same jacket he wore when getting his awards from the LAPD.
And here's Reed wearing the same outfit from the safety check.
Before Reed and Wells go head to head, "Smilin'" Donny Simmons is going to compete.
Donny looks like he's been in a few too many races without a helmet.
Donny wins his race!

Benson is happy the way things have turned out. The kids are a well-organized group of racers.

Next up, the grudge race between Wells and Reed. Before they take off, the announcer gives a recap of all the events that have led up to the race today. The crowd cheers when the names Benson, Malloy, and Reed are mentioned. 

Just as Wells is revving his engine, Benson notices something isn't quite right. 

He runs up to tell Spider that Wells isn't wearing a helmet!

Just to show there's no hard feelings, Spider lets Wells use his helmet. Finally, it's time to start the race. Reed's white car takes off like a shot.

While Wells' car stalls at the starting line. Poor Ed has to be pushed off the track to make room at the starting line for the next set of cars. A group of kids, that he has probably given tickets to, race to his aid.

The End

This episode asks the question, "Who Won?" and my answer is, "Not the viewers".  In case you couldn't tell, I can't stand this episode. There are two main reasons why I think this one is either worse or as bad as "The Princess and The Pig".

For starters, I find "Who Won?" boring. In a story about a drag racing, there's hardly any racing. There's a lot of talk about charters, and insurance papers, and drag strips, but very little action on the actual drag strip or on the street for that matter. The foot chase with Reed, Donny, and Benson may be the most exciting thing about this whole episode. There are all these souped-up cars hanging around this episode and three men running down a sidewalk is the most action-packed sequence in the entire thing. I think that may be the definition of irony.

My biggest beef with this episode, however, is the minuscule amount of time Malloy and Reed spend in their uniforms. Now, contrary to what you might think, my complaint has nothing to do with their choices of off-duty wardrobe, rather it has to do with how little time they actually spend fighting crime in this one. For a show about police officers on the job, four civilian costume changes in twenty-four minutes seems excessive. In "Who Won?" their occupation as police officers seems like an afterthought, not the main focus of the plot. In this one Reed and Malloy seem to be two guys who help young people and just happen to be police officers, instead of the other way around. If I want to watch a show where the main characters' occupation is not the focus of the show, I'll watch Laverne and Shirley.

I hate to do this to a milestone episode, but the one hundredth episode of Adam-12 is pretty bad and deserves the rating of:

Do you agree? Let me know somewhere, out there in cyberspace. See you next time with "Eyewitness".