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Tom Holmberg

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  1. “The Left Field Caper” (Season 5, Episode 29) 77SS has had a number of episodes recently where they barely appear in (“Nine to Five” and “Flight 307”), this appears to be another one. Jeff doesn’t even know there’s a “caper” until 40 minutes into the episode. J.R. is coaching little league and notices one of his players, Danny Saunders (pug-faced Ronnie Dapo, who strangely gets top billing for the episode), seems out-of-sorts and sad. At that point the regulars disappear as ex-con Dave Murcott (famous face Ed Nelson, “Peyton Place”) threatens stripper Flame (Grace Lee Whitney again) to find out the address of his wife. A couple of gangsters want to locate Murcott to kill him before he can exact revenge for their sending him up the river. Murcott’s wife, Helen Saunders (famous face Diane Ladd, Academy Award nominee for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and mother of Laura Dern), has changed her name and tried to make a normal life for little Danny. Thirty minutes into the episode Danny breaks into Bailey and Spencer’s highly-secure offices and steals Jeff’s memorial baseball cigarette lighter. Murcott meets with his ex-wife to try to get to visit Danny. He escapes an attempt on his life by the clumsy gangsters. Jeff using all his detective skills, and the skills of the LAPD crime lab, manages to track down nine-year-old Danny and get his lighter back. Murcott shows up at Danny home as does Jeff and the gangsters. The fact that Murcott threatened to slash Flame's face with a broken bottle is forgotten. Danny wins the big game. The end. Bo Belinsky, L.A. Angels pitcher, plays himself in a humorous cameo with umpire Roscoe (strangely Belinsky was accused of assault of a hatcheck girl the year before). Famous face Kathleen Freeman (“The Penquin” in the “Blues Brothers”, and many Jerry Lewis movies) plays the Saunders’ neighbor.
  2. Small Talk: Gumshoe Gab

    Some background on 77 Sunset Strip: Before producing the series, Warner Bros. created a pilot movie called “Girl on the Run,” which apparently received theatrical release only in the West Indies, but was shown on TV in the US. Cheapskate Jack Warner wanted the movie to be shown theatrically so he could later claim “77 Sunset Strip” was based on an "existing studio property" and not on a property created by Roy Huggins, who had written some novels featuring a hard-boiled dick named Stuart Bailey in the 40s and one of which was made into a movie, "I Love Trouble". Huggins claimed that Warner basically threatened to fire the head of WB's TV division if the company had to pay royalties to the actors or writers. Jack Warner also screwed Huggins out of royalties for “Maverick” using a similar trick. Huggins left WB towards the end of 1960 for 20th Century-Fox. Huggins, having learned his lesson at WB, innovated what has become known as the “Huggins Contract”, giving the creator rights and royalties whether he produced the show or not. It was in the pilot movie where Edd Byrnes played a psycho punk with a comb. Byrnes had such a reaction from viewers that he became the character of Kookie and was written into the series. WB used multiple leads in their weekly shows (“Maverick” and the "77SS" clones, as other examples) to speed up production by filming more than one episode at a time. Roy Huggins interview: https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/interviews/roy-huggins Info on "I Love Trouble" movie: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2014/07/overlooked-films-i-love-trouble-double.html And the Stu Bailey book: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2010/09/forgotten-books-double-take-by-roy.html
  3. He seemed to be tired of the show by then. Roger Smith seemed to get episodes that had the original 77SS "Hollywood detective" feel to them. As I mentioned above, Efrem Zimbalist did a good job with comedy on "Maverick", but the producers seemed to want him to turn him into the "serious" P.I.
  4. "Walk Among Tigers" (Season 5, Episode 28) Beloved military electronics magnate Harold Payton Adams dies in a train wreck on his way back to L.A. Stu, on retainer with the insurance company, picks up the deceased's effects including a briefcase containing $112,000. Stu gets as far as the parking lot before he's distracted by an attractive brunette and karate chopped, losing the briefcase. Adams' partner Endicott Fellows (Allan Jones) has no explanation for the briefcase full of cash. Stu backtracks Adams back to Las Vegas, picking up a tail on the way (famous face Warren Stevens, “Forbidden Planet”). Questioning Adams' favorite cabbie, Maxie Tuttle (old vaudevillian and Hal Roach comedy actor, Benny Baker), Stu finds out that an attractive brunette, who he learns is Martha Emerson (Kaye Elhardt), rode with Adams to the train station in Maxie's cab. He discovers that she lives near Van Colin A.F.B. There's been a mysterious string of fires at the missile base near Las Vegas, Van Colin and other bases Adams had visited. Stu's tail tries to kill him and the Feds reveal -wait for it- the Red Menace is involved! At this point, who else could it be with Stu involved? He doesn't even have to travel to Europe any more. Stu and the Feds round up the dirty Commies and America is saved again. Might be a model for the next season: Stu working on his own, the rest of the cast absent, the serious tone, the noirish feel. Based on previous similar episodes the guilty party is rather obvious. If Adams is manufacturing electronics for the military, why go to all the trouble of starting a bunch of fires? And why waste Adams (who's been building his cover as a beloved patriot for decades) as the lowly "sabotage paymaster", when a cutout would make more sense?
  5. "Reunion at Balboa" (Season 5, Episode 27) Having just had a episode of his (somewhat) own, J.R. is paired with Kookie in an episode at the (back-projected) beach, though J.R. has little to do but provide a little comic relief. Leaving J.R.'s hotrod at home, J.R. and Kookie got to Balboa Island for Easter weekend to pick up girls in Kookie's Ford Falcon chick magnet. Nothing gets a girl hotter than seeing a guy driving his mother's sedan. Meanwhile Toby McGill (Anthony Call) and Len Naar (Hampton Fancher, "Blade Runner") have the same idea, though they need to steal a car first, unfortunately for Kookie its not his Falcon. Instead they pick the car of two girls, Marilyn Sterling (Pamela Austin, "Blue Hawaii") and Bea (Mikki Jamison), that Kookie and J.R. have picked up, running over Marilyn in their getaway. Involved now, Kookie volunteers to assist Balboa policeman, Lt. Rudy (famous face Arthur Franz), a friend of Stu's, to find the hit-and-run driver. While hiding out at a teenage twist party, misunderstood, rebellious teenager Toby gets picked up when the police raid the party and two-time loser punk Len gets away. Released into the custody of his wealthy businessman father Robert McGill (favorite famous face John Dehner), Toby wallows in teenage angst as his father wonders what's wrong with kids today (shades of "Rebel Without a Cause"). The police find Marilyn's abandoned car and Kookie uses his great detective skills to track down the owner of a used french fry bag, the only clue found in the car (don't ask how one discarded bag can be identified by a waitress at a burger stand selling presumably hundreds of burgers a night). Feeling guilty, no such thing as a bad boy (except for that punk Len) Toby confesses to his father about the accident. McGill provides an alibi for his son with the police and Marilyn is unable to positively identify Toby. Still on the case, Kookie and Lt. Rudy cruise the town full of 3,000 vacationing teenagers looking for Len. Overcome with guilt and finally able to talk to his suddenly understanding father, Toby and Dad go see Marilyn in the hospital, before attending sunrise Easter service at the beach and surrendering to the police. More of a soap opera than a detective story. Rachel Adams ("General Hospital") appears as Dehner's girlfriend. A lot of stock footage of Balboa. WARNING: There's a lot of really bad "white people" dancing in this episode. If this episode had taken place a year later we might have seen Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his Wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann set sail for their three hour tour.
  6. Small Talk: Gumshoe Gab

    The sixth season really made no sense. "77SS" was created in reaction to the "Dragnet"-type of crime shows. If the ratings were so poor why not just create a new series starring Efrem Zimbalist? To a real extent it seems like Zimbalist had pretty much given up during season five, so maybe he was part of the problem (they also seemed to be recycling old plots). He didn't seem to have the lighter touch that he occasionally showed in the early seasons any more. Zimbalist claimed that Webb turned him into a Sgt. Friday clone. A smarter move would probably to get off WB's backlot and shoot on location in LA, that might have freshened the look and feel. Although by 1964 Sunset Strip was becoming more of a teenaged hangout, you might have met "the hipster", but probably not "the starlet and the phony tipster" nor "most every kind of gal and guy including a private eye".
  7. Small Talk: Gumshoe Gab

    Only about two more weeks of "real" 77 Sunset Strip episodes left before they start running Season 6. Someone else is going to have to take over reviewing those, because I not going to try watching them again. Any fans of Season 6 out there?
  8. "Target Island" (Season 5, Episode 26) J.R. gets an episode this time. He has a date with his new, happy-go-lucky, always happy girlfriend, Taffy Gaylor (Jenny Marshall, “Blue Hawaii”) who shows up at 77 Sunset Strip (apparently J.R. can't pick the girl up for a date) late and crying her eyes out. Her sailor brother Barney (Gordon Wescourt) is missing and AWOL from his U.S. Navy missile base and she wants Bailey and Spenser to find him. J.R. takes on the case, questioning Barney's former best friend in the Navy, Dwight Sturgess (Evan McCord, later Joseph Gallison, “Days of Our Lives”), who sends him to the Windward Bar, a dive bar near the base. There he picks up a lead to Barney's girlfriend Marie (Pamela Duncan, known mostly for her work with Roger Corman), who lives in a nearby rooming house, and a tail, a Mr. Smith (famous face Howard Caine, Gestapo Maj. Hochstetter, “Hogan’s Heroes”). J.R questions Queenie Magee (Mercedes Shirley), the landlady (who I don't believe we ever see without a beer can in her hand), and gets initiated into the P.I. game by being clobbered by Smith. Over his sore head, J.R. enlists the aid of Jeff, who goes to the missile base, questioning Capt. Hastings, who says Barney was "moody" and WAVE Polly Winston (Pat Woodell, the original Bobbie Jo Bradley, “Petticoat Junction”) Jeff returns to the Windward and questions the helpful drunk who sends Jeff to see Marie and the beer can toting Queenie, who tells him that Barney was involved in a racket selling stolen Navy supplies. Back at the base, Jeff talks to the last person who saw Barney, who commanded the work detail Barney was on to Santa Ines Island, the target island of the title, which is used as a missile target by the base. Jeff rents a boat to visit the island, not knowing a missile test is scheduled. Meanwhile Marie and Mr. Smith show up at Taffy's motel room. Smith holds J.R., Taffy and Marie prisoner, while the Navy fires about 100 missiles at Jeff on the island. I’m not sure Robert Logan was suitable to play a P.I., he’s just too easy-going as an actor. He just comes across as if the whole enterprise is just a game to him. Perhaps that’s why Jeff has to take over the second half. This is a Gloria Elmore teleplay, whose episodes I’ve liked, but this one doesn’t really take off. None of the characters stand out except for Queenie, who is minor and drunk most of the time.
  9. "The Man Who Wasn't There" (Season 5, Episode 24) Jeff helps a Korean War vet, Pete Rix (character actor Don Dubbins, he had a recurring role on “Perry Mason” as a D.A.), who sees a fellow POW, Harry Tiburon (Forrest Compton, “The Edge of Night” and “Gomer Pyle., U.S.M.C.”), who had been executed by a North Korean firing squad, at the racetrack where Pete works behind the $2 window. Nona Rix (Grace Raynor), Pete's wife, has Pete committed to a VA hospital under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Woodrow (Byron Kane, he of the scary caterpillar eyebrows) for treatment of Pete's relapse of what would today be termed PTSD. Pete, who has heard of Jeff from degenerate gambler Roscoe, gets Jeff to visit him at the hospital by pretending to be Jeff's old army buddy. Later Pete escapes from the hospital and shows up at 77 Sunset Strip, enlisting Jeff assistance in finding the "late" Harry Tiburon. After following some fruitless leads, Jeff returns Pete to the hospital, where Dr. Woodrow explains (with a whole long speech full of psychological mumbo jumbo) to Pete's relapse is due to Pete's anger at Nona's having taken a lover. Still on the case Jeff questions Lawrence Tiburon (Harry Albright), Harry's wealthy uncle, who assures Jeff that Harry is still dead, referring him to Major Storm (Richard Shannon), who investigated the case for the army. Storm takes Jeff to meet Pete's fellow POW, Echaverria (John Alonzo, better known as a cinematographer and director of photography in films like “Chinatown” and “Harold and Maude” than an actor), who tells why the POWs blamed Tiburon for ratting on the POWs escape plan to the North Koreans and that Pete blamed himself for Tiburon's execution. Jeff visits Nona again, who confesses that she was once engaged to Tiburon before the war. While at Nona's Jeff finds out that Pete escaped again from the hospital. Pete goes to Uncle Lawrence's house, where he's framed for Lawrence's murder. Jeff has Roscoe plant an electronic tracker (the size of a hardcover book, with a two foot antenna and the base station the size of a boom box. A year later James Bond had a tracker smaller than a deck of cards!) on Nona's car, so he can track her to Altamont (bad omen), where Jeff wraps up the case. Revenge plots featuring ex-POWs is standard film noir fare, but there's enough twists and turns to keep your interest. The rest of the 77SS cast gets minimal screen time.
  10. "Stranger from the Sea" (Season 5, Episode 23) It's Kookie's turn again. Inperial Japanese naval cadet Ito Nakayama (Mako, "The Sand Pebbles" and any other role calling for an Asian) arrives in L.A. in a Japanese naval training ship for a “Kookson tour” of the city from Kookie. But first they stop at the city produce market to see Ito's uncle, Harry Nakayama, and his aunt, only to discover Harry's not too popular with the residents. After a knockdown drag out fight, Kookie learns that Harry absconded with $50,000 and a borrowed revolver. Kookie's on the case. It seems Nakayama's partner, Neville Jennings (Joe Mell), Vern Reece (famous face Robert Wilke, usually playing villains, “High Noon”) and his brother Anson (Steve Brodie, another bad guy character actor) are involved in some sort of conspiracy involving Harry's disappearance. Kookie goes to the Imperial Valley, near where Harry's car was found, to talk to Harry's old friend Kato Sakamoto, while Ito makes time with produce wholesaler office manager Sandy Takahashi (Caroline Kido). Kookie gets a windmill dropped on his head (too bad it didn't hit his Ford Falcon) after discovering that Sakamoto had been murdered. Jeff and Roscoe gets involved (Roscoe finally wants to know why he always has to investigate Skid Row, while Jeff and Stu get the night clubs and even J.R. gets to investigate the beaches). Reece and his brother kill Jennings and put Ito and Sandy on ice before Kookie can come to the rescue. Local law enforcement was played by Victor French of “Little House on the Prairie” fame.
  11. Small Talk: Gumshoe Gab

    Interesting that J Edgar Hoover thought Efrem Zimbalist, Jr might have been a Communist conspiring against him! "The most intriguing of all is one that alludes to a theory that Zimbalist had been a communist all along, and was amassing resources through a for-profit grassroots organization called “Friends of the F.B.I.” in order to eventually supplant Hoover." According to Zimbalist's FBI file, here: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/nov/23/efrem-zimbalist-fbi-file/ It's just weird and disturbing that he even had an FBI file, but that was Hoover.
  12. Me too. Someone else will have to recap that season. I actually like Efrem Zimbalist as an actor, esp. in the earlier seasons and as Dandy Jim Buckley on "Maverick." I wasn't really a fan of "The F.B.I." (it always bother me as a kid that no matter what heinous crime the villain committed they ended up being convicted for "interstate flight to avoid prosecution", which seems like what a crook's basic job is). Apparently Zimbalist thought the scripts in the later seasons weren't good (they do seem to be repeating themselves) and he tired of the show (I have to wonder which came first, him getting tired or adding Kookie as a regular lead). Thanks for the compliment, I'm glad people like the recaps, I try to make them interesting.
  13. "Dial "S" for Spencer" (Season 5, Episode 21) Jeff gets a telegram to go to the Ting-a-Ling Club (one of those telephone bars so popular in 50s and 60s TV shows and movies where patrons can call one another's tables and arrange assignations or whatever) where he meets Chicagoan Sandra Keene (Ellen McRae, her maiden name, actually it's Ellen Burstyn), who is looking for her alcoholic brother, Mike Keene (Tom Drake, the boy next door in "Meet Me in St. Louis") who's on a bender in L.A. He is heir to his late father's fortune, but he has to be sober for a year to collect. Jeff gets Roscoe and Kookie on the case, while Roscoe checks the cheap bars and third-run movie theaters, Kookie checks out the second hand clothes stores and Jeff checks the missions (including one run by Brother Peter (played by famous face Ian Wolfe, usually cast as preachers, doctors or butlers, including Mama Carlson's butler on "WKRP in Cincinnati)). Kookie finds Keene's bespoke tuxedo jacket with a label from Reno, NV tailor. Meanwhile Sandra and Jeff are being followed by Packy White (Brad Weston), driving a car with NV plates. Jeff sends Kookie to Reno to check out Mike Keene, while he continues to case the Skid Row dive bars. In one, he gets a lead from Archie (nice comic turn by Tim Graham), a hard-up drunk, who ends up mistaken for Keene and is beaten to death by Reno torpedo Packy just before Keene shoots and kills Packy. Sandra identifies Packy as her brother. Kookie reports from Reno that Keene ran off with $50,000 he lost in a bet. Now Jeff knows there's more going on than he thought. When Jeff catches up with Keene, he tells Jeff that Sandra is really his wife and that she used Bailey & Spencer to finger him for her. (It seems as if half of Bailey & Spencer clients are using them to finger potential victims.) A standard issue 77SS but enjoyable nonetheless. Also in the cast is famous face (and voice) Dub Taylor as Sandra's henpecked landlord.
  14. "Six Feet Under" (Season 5, Episode 19) Jeff and Gil (why Gil, a homicide detective, is working the robbery detail is not explained) break up a robbery of a wholesale fur warehouse, resulting in a big shootout with both police and gangsters killed. The gang decides, apparently, it needs a new chief, the new boss Maury Perly (H.M. Wynant) knocking off the old mob boss, Marco Deederman (Malachi Throne, Noah Bain of "It Takes a Thief"-why isn't this show on one of the retro channels), in a gangland shooting and torching the car he was driving. At the funeral for the two police officers killed in the raid, Jeff meets a mysterious woman in black mourning at Deederman's tomb, which happens to be conveniently located next to the cops'. He discovers that the woman is Deederman's long-lost daughter, Nancy Deederman (Nancy Sharpe, the wife of Stanley Kramer), who had been in school in Switzerland. Since she's good-looking, Jeff makes a date with her at Dino's, only to have to leave early when he's informed that there was a robbery at a wholesale jewelry warehouse with Deederman's M.O. all over it. Roscoe checks out Skid Row, looking for clues to the sale of the stolen goods, and spots an suspicious bum, while Jeff continues to make time with Miss Deederman, getting hot and heavy on a drive in her Rolls Royce limousine. It turns out Nancy isn't what she says she is and Jeff is shot and left for dead in a lake. But Jeff is feeling much better after his "killing" and, with the help of Roscoe's Skid Row bum friend, electronics wizard Dr. Felstrand (famous face John Abbott, who usually played the villain), uses a transistorized parabolic microphone and an electrocuting "bug" to spy on the gang and save the day. “Escape to Freedom” (Season 5, Episode 20) Stu goes to Europe to once again fight the Red Menace. Ho Hum. Been there, done that. Too bad we can’t escape from Stu goes to Europe and fights the Red Menace episodes. Of the cast, the only three actors of interest were Werner Klemperer, who played Schtiekel, and was, of course, Col. Klink on “Hogan’s Heroes”; Ursula Theiss, who played Dr. Harben, and was married to Robert Taylor and had once been billed by her studio as "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"; and Nora Marlowe, who played Radella, the underground leader and food cart lady, and was usually cast as maids, nurses and mean next-door neighbors.
  15. "The Night Was Six Years Long." (Season 5, Episode 18) We learn a little bit about the early history of Bailey and Spencer when Janie Maynor (Myrna Fahey, best known as Madeline from "The House of Usher". But she also received death threats from an insane Marilyn Monroe fan when she dated Joe DiMaggio.) shows up for work as switchboard operator at the agency. The only problem is that she shows up after taking a vacation six years previously and never coming back. But Janie, suffering from the TV and movie plague of amnesia, thinks she's only been gone a day. When questioned, Janie tells Jeff that she had murdered someone named Cleet Malone the night before. Stu goes to the apartment where Janie thinks the murder took place and meets clumsy, simple-minded apartment manager (and sports memorabilia collector) Armstrong (George Kennedy, "Airport", "Cool Hand Luke" and a host of other movies). Armstrong tells Stu that Malone hadn't lived there for 6 years and the apartment was rented by Mr. David (who Armstrong seems to be blackmailing). Chris Benton (a rather stone-faced Philip Carey, "One Life to Live"), Janie's husband shows up, as does a rock that barely misses Janie's head. Is Janie a murderess? Who's trying to kill Janie? Is Roscoe a "maniac depressive"? You'll have to watch this episode to find out.