Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Senator Votes Absentee

08 The Senator Votes Absentee
December 4, 1979
Music: Stu Phillips
Writer: Robert Wolterstorff & Paul M. Belous
Director: William P. D'Angelo

Body, body, who's got the body? Senator Calvin Flowers (Bill Mims) returns to Orly to await that night's national election results. He dies in the hotel Jacuzzi, but his chief of staff Jack Wiley (James B. Sikking) and his widow Evelyn (Lara Parker) plot to keep it a secret until the next day. That way, the governor can appoint Evelyn to serve out the senator's term. When Sheriff Lobo (Claude Akins) discovers the ruse, Wiley tries to get the ornery lawman to play along. A pledge to contribute $3000 to Lobo's re-election campaign is tempting, but Wiley's general sliminess, coupled with the corpse's habit of disappearing, riles the sheriff's suspicions.

Director William P. D'Angelo was THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO's supervising producer. He had performed similar duties on shows like BATMAN and LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE, but little experience as a director. He fits in fine on a series with—let's face it—not a lot of visual panache. His pacing isn't exactly snappy enough for a plot populated with people nearly missing one another in hotel hallways, drawing room comedy-style. Writers Robert Wolterstorff and Paul M. Belous were working on THE JEFFERSONS and LOBO simultaneously; both became Emmy nominees as producers on QUANTUM LEAP. "The Senator Votes Absentee" is not LOBO at its best, nor its worst. Its biggest crime is wasting the lovely Parker, who has barely anything to do. Sikking, soon to co-star on HILL STREET BLUES, can say he saw the best and the worst of NBC.

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