Rerun Junkie- The Ghosts of Shows Past

This post features spoilers for the season 4 episode of NCIS: New Orleans, “Viral”, which aired October 24, 2017. Read at your own risk.

One of the interesting tics of being a rerun junkie is seeing the ghosts of episodes of shows long past in current shows. I have no idea if these influences are intentional or not, if the writers of these current shows have these old episodes in mind when they’re writing or if they’re unconsciously haunted by the phantoms of them or if they even know about them at all. The idea that I’m projecting isn’t something I’ve dismissed.

But my brain still makes connections whether they’re there or not, intentional or not.

For example, the other night I was watching NCIS: New Orleans, which is one of the few currently-in-production shows I watch with any regularity. In this episode called “Viral”, my beloved Sebastian, forensic field agent extraordinaire, shot someone during the course of a chase. If that wasn’t bad enough, it looked like he shot an innocent, unarmed man, not the armed and dangerous suspect he’d been chasing.

A cop shooting a suspect or an innocent person is a common story, both in the news and on police shows. However, this episode reminded me of two bygone episodes of cop shows from over forty years ago.

After the shooting, Sebastian is interrogated by an FBI agent about what happened. The way he’s questioned reminds me of an episode of Adam-12, “Log 33: It All Happened So Fast” (air date February 1, 1969). In that episode, Officer Jim Reed shoots a young man who’s shooting at him and his partner (also my TV boyfriend) Pete Malloy. A majority of the episode shows the repeated questioning that Reed is subjected to, some of which infuriates him because of the insinuations that he’s not telling the truth. He’s also upset over the fact that he had to shoot someone (as was Sebastian). Sebastian is subjected to similar questioning, though not for as long, obviously. There’s a mystery to be solved and a dangerous assassin to catch.

The real hitch in clearing Sebastian is, though he swears the suspect shot at him and that he saw him with a gun, there’s no gun to be found. This reminds me of an episode of Hawaii Five-O, “…And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin” (air date November 7, 1968). In that episode, my TV boyfriend Danno chases a young man with a gun into his apartment. When Danno shoots the lock, he believes he unintentionally shoots the man. However, there is no gun found on the suspect. Why? His girlfriend has taken it and fled the scene (running to the notorious Big Chicken), something that also happens to Sebastian when the wife of the dead “innocent” man (it turns out this couple isn’t so innocent) takes the dropped gun to protect herself and her husband and then shows up a few minutes later as the wildly grieving wife.

The twist in this case is less cop show, more masked hero adventure. The “innocent” couple was supposed to deliver the gun to the assassin so he could do a job. The shooting interrupts things and the assassin ends up killing the wife in order to get the gun. The gun is an air gun that shoots glass bullets. That made me think of The Green Hornet episode “The Silent Gun” (air date September 9, 1966). As the title suggests, the gun in question is a rare 17 caliber gun that’s absolutely silent when fired. This leads to a lot of people wanting this gun. (You can listen to me and Dan talk about this episode and all of the many names of people therein on Episode 33 of Eventually Supertrain.) The gun in “Viral” is just as coveted, at least by the assassin, and equally unique, though a little more believable. An air gun gets through security and glass bullets “disappear” on impact.

Like these old episodes, this new one ends happily. Sebastian is cleared (like Reed and Danno) and the bad guy is caught (the Green Hornet gets the gun AND Lloyd Bochner).

Because the good guy winning is an ending worth repeating .

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Rerun Junkie: Adam-12

When Jack Webb decided to shine a spotlight on the beat cops of LA, he created Adam-12.

"Adam-12 continue patrol and handle this call..."

“Adam-12 continue patrol and handle this call…”

The show featured veteran officer Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and his novice (and later fellow veteran) partner Jim Reed (Kent McCord) handling the every day street work of two uniformed officers under the direction of their supervisor Sgt. MacDonald (William Boyett) and sometimes with the help of fellow officers Wells (Gary Crosby) and Woods (Fred Stromsoe). They received calls from real-life LA dispatcher Shaaron Claridge (I love it when she denies them a dinner break; her word is law!).

Our brave boys in blue on patrol.

Our brave boys in blue on patrol.

Unlike Dragnet, viewers weren’t treated to one case seen all the way to completion. Instead they got what beat cops got: sent out on several calls during the episode with no follow-up later on. And though there were some high-action, dangerous episodes, there were a lot of episodes that featured the every day, mundane calls that every cop in uniform has handled: traffic stops, domestic disputes over the stupidest things, theft calls in which there was no theft, lonely old ladies needing someone to talk to, nosy ladies constantly ratting on their neighbors.

My favorite was the two ladies fighting over a bruised melon. One wanted the other one arrested for taking it out of the store without paying for it and the other one wanted the owner to get into trouble for selling crap fruit. Malloy had a look of pure “You have GOT to be kidding me” during the whole thing.

You also had the pleasure of watching Malloy and Reed’s relationship develop from student-mentor to true partners. The chemistry between the two was fantastic and the good-natured ribbing is real.  Married Reed could be quite dedicated to convincing bachelor Malloy to join the club sometimes.

They clean up nice, too.

They clean up nice, too.

Like Dragnet before it and Emergency! after it, the show did wonders to boost the public’s understanding of how those jobs paid for by the taxpayers, this one being uniformed officers, worked. It was as much instructional as it was entertaining and I believe episodes are still shown to police officers as examples of how to handle certain situations.

As this was a Jack Webb show, several of his regulars showed up, including: Virginia Gregg (of course!), Burt Mustin, and James McEachin. Marco Lopez, Tim Donnelly, Bobby Troup, Ron Pinkard, and Randolph Mantooth all appeared in episodes as non-Emergency! characters (Kevin Tighe, Julie London, and Robert Fuller made their appearances during the cross-over episode “Lost and Found”). For Emergency! fans, the episode “Log 88-Reason to Run” is a highlight because Randolph Mantooth, Marco Lopez, and Tim Donnelly are all in it, though none of them share a scene. Fun!

Other familiar faces that popped up during the seven season run include: Larry Linville; Maidie Norman; my favorite guest-star J. Pat O’Malley; Frank Sinatra Jr; June Lockhart; Rose Marie; Jean Allison; Butch Patrick; Ellen Corby (before she was Grandma Walton); Keye Luke; future teen idols Willie Aames, David Cassidy, and Barry Williams; baby versions of Ed Begley Jr, Tim Matheson, and A Martinez; Karen Black; Cloris Leachman as a real crap mother; Tony Dow; Angela Cartwright; Barbara Hale; Robert Conrad sans Ross Martin (unless he was in disguise somewhere); George Murdock;

*takes a deep breath*

Micky Dolenz not Monkee-ing around; Harry Dean Stanton (who never looked young); Lindsay Wagner before she was Bionic; Sharon Gless; Scatman Crothers; Vitto Scotti because he was in everything; Dabbs Greer; Dick Clark; Brucke Kirby; Jo Anne Worley playing another roller derby girl; Mark Harmon; Mark Harmon’s sister Kristin Nelson; and Kent McCord’s daughter Kristen.

It was a good guest-breeding ground.

This is one of those shows that I only had the opportunity to start watching recently. And I’m grateful for that. I’ve developed quite the soft spot for Jack Webb and company shows anyway, but as a cop’s kid, this is one I can really relate to.

It also gave me the greatest intoxication measure ever.

Matador-in-an-intersection-drunk.

‘Cause that’s drunk.

These guys, though, they're drunk on justice.

These guys, though, they’re drunk on justice.