Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dumb Bunnies

October 8, 2003 (ABC)
Writer: John Mankiewicz
Director: Jeremy Paul Kagan

The Salchek brothers are on the run, and U.S. marshal Karen Sisco (Carla Gugino) is on their case. Even though they had just six months left to serve on their five-year sentences, dumb clucks Merle (Billy Burke) and Bob Salchek (a pre-Johnny Drama Kevin Dillon) bust out of prison on advice from wizened old blind inmate Homer (Scott Wilson of IN COLD BLOOD). Their mission is to burglarize the estate of reputed gangster Charlie Lucre (Danny DeVito) and swipe his prized Babe Ruth autographed baseball, so they can sell it and use the cash to buy their beleaguered ma (Rhea Perlman) a double-wide trailer.

If it seems as though it was awful nice of movie star/director DeVito (HOFFA) to help out, it wasn’t such a big deal really. His Jersey Films was KAREN SISCO’s production company, and DeVito is credited as an executive producer. Mankiewicz’s teleplay aims for laughs more than crime drama, and the lunkheaded Salcheks (“plateheads,” Karen’s father Marshall [Robert Forster] calls them) are perfect foils for DeVito’s patented slow burns. Lucre may be the nicest gangster you’ve ever seen; even after he summons hitmen from Detroit to whack the brothers, he tries to call them off after Karen sweetly asks him to (that the assassins keep getting accidentally killed by the Salcheks isn’t his fault).

And why does Homer convince the Salcheks to bust out with so little time left on their sentences? Ah, you’ll have to wait for the episode’s final shot for the punchline to that gag.

“Dumb Bunnies” is a fun episode blessed with nimble comic performances, an appropriately jaunty score by Danny Lux and Carla Gugino’s appreciated choice of tight tank tops as proper work attire. Surprisingly, considering “Dumb Bunnies” was only the second SISCO episode to air, Gugino has little to do except play straight man to the large supporting cast, which also includes Obba Babatunde as an unethical FBI agent, Mike Starr (ED WOOD) as DeVito’s henchman and series regular Bill Duke (PREDATOR) as Sisco’s boss.

TV veteran Mankiewicz moved on to produce and write scripts for HOUSE, M.D. and SAVED. Director Kagan began his television career in the 1970s, but was promoted to features, where he compiled studio credits such as THE STING II, THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN and HEROES with Harrison Ford. Not long afterwards, Kagan returned to the small screen, first helming numerous made-for-TV movies and then returning to his roots doing episodes of THE WEST WING and BOOMTOWN. “Dumb Bunnies” was the only KAREN SISCO for both Kagan and Mankiewicz.

1 comment:

Nostalgia Kinky said...

Excellent review Marty, I thought this was one of the weaker episodes of its run but you did well pointing out the strongest aspects of it. Can't wait to read your reviews of the remaining 8, keep up the great work.
Thanks for posting.