Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pogo Lil

14 Pogo Lil
October 20, 1979
Music: Stu Phillips
Writer: Richard Kelbaugh
Director: Bernard McEveety

Charles Napier returns from the BJ AND THE BEAR
season premiere as rival trucker Hammer, but is unfortunately not given anything to do by writer Richard Kelbaugh. The plot instead revolves around the title trucker, Lillian Pogovich, played with spunk by Anne Lockhart, the actress daughter of former LASSIE and LOST IN SPACE leading lady June Lockhart. Anne, previously seen on BJ executive producer Glen A. Larson's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, is a motor-mouthed little fireball who saves BJ's bacon after her impromptu highway drag race against Hammer almost sends BJ (Greg Evigan) careening over a cliff. He returns the favor by helping her—twice—escape loan sharks played by EAST OF EDEN's Dick Davalos and Anthony James, who does a nice comic turn on the psychos he almost always played on television.

The rest of the rambling plot revolves around the Dixie Crisscross, a semitruck race in which BJ, Lil and Hammer are all competing for first prize. The episode went by very quickly, and even though little was accomplished, the amiable performances and Bernard McEveety's punchy direction made it feel like a good time. Kelbaugh also wrote the return of Pogo Lil, "Fire in the Hole," which came later in the second season.

Part of the semi race involves a spot in the track where the lanes cross over each other, forcing one of the two semis heading for that spot to swerve to avoid a crash. I don't know whether Davalos' casting is an in-joke or a coincidence, but more than a decade earlier, he starred in Jack Hill's stock car drama PIT STOP, which took place in the world of dangerous figure-8 racing.

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