Saturday, July 12, 2008


11 Lobo
May 5, 1979
Music: William Broughton
Teleplay: Glen A. Larson
Story: Glen A. Larson & Michael Sloan
Director: Bruce Bilson

BJ AND THE BEAR ended its first season on NBC with this direct sequel to "Lobo's Revenge." What it really is is a backdoor pilot for THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO, which would premiere the following fall. BJ (Greg Evigan) spends most of his time cooling his heels and eating Chinese food from Danny's Disco Roller Rink in Lobo's jail, while the sheriff (Claude Akins), dumb deputy Perkins (Mills Watson) and new deputy Birdwell "Birdie" Hawkins (Brian Kerwin), an impossibly naïve Harvard grad with an inexplicable hero worship for Lobo, establish their characterizations and tone for their series-to-come.

BJ is stupid enough to take a job delivering cement to Orly, where he is subpoenaed to testify at Lobo's trial (he was arrested in "Lobo's Revenge"). Of course, the fix is in, Lobo gets out of his legal jam, and BJ ends up in jail on a trumped-up perjury charge. Meanwhile, Lobo contends with his new deputy, Birdie, the mayor's son, and how to continue his conniving ways without the new kid catching on.

In order to make Lobo a hero fit for a weekly TV audience, writers Glen A. Larson and Michael Sloan take some of the edge off the character (and rightly so), turning him into a greedy but harmless scalawag, rather than a dangerous felon. They set up the change in Lobo's personality well by having him react flatteringly to Hawkins, who really does believe his new boss is a good man. Birdie's affection is enough to convince Lobo to push back against corrupt town banker Cunningham (Dennis Burkley) and prevent him from using faulty cement (the same stuff BJ delivered) in the new dam, which could endanger the lives of everyone in Orly. Akins adjusts well to the new Lobo (and he probably appreciated the opportunity to play an increasingly comic and sympathetic character after years of heavies), and the returning Bruce Bilson handles the requisite slapstick and stunts with aplomb.

When BJ AND THE BEAR returned for its second season in the fall of 1979, BJ found himself with a series of semi-regular foils added to take Sheriff Lobo's place, including Murray Hamilton (JAWS), Ed Lauter (THE LONGEST YARD) and Richard Deacon (THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW's Mel Cooley) as lawmen with plenty of wrecked police cars in their wakes.

1 comment:

Hal said...

I've recently obtained the entire 37 episode Lobo run myself; looking forward to your reviews of the eps! I've seen about 6 so far, all but one from the first, and far superior, season.

I had compared it to F TROOP in my blog (among others) but I think the F TROOP comparison is really closer than I originally realized: Richard M. Bluel had a hand in the creation of both shows, and you can really see the similarity in Lobo to O'Rourke, Perkins to Agarn, and Birdie to Parmenter in terms of their basic character types.