Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Good, The Bad And The Beautiful

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful
February 16, 1980
Music: Stu Phillips
Writer: Robert L. McCullough
Director: Christian I. Nyby II

In this BJ AND THE BEAR episode, writer McCullough and director Nyby bring back straight-arrow Captain Cain (Ed Lauter), one of BJ McKay's many authority-figure foes, last seen dressed as Father Christmas in "Silent Night, Unholy Night." What's interesting is that a couple dozen episodes of the show have finally caught up with BJ (Greg Evigan). It makes sense, after all the robbers and crooks and white slavers he's battled as a vigilante, that news of his exploits would get back to the public at large. When BJ shows up in Cain's hometown to drop off a load, a cute young thing, Missy (Susanna Dalton), recognizes his name as somebody who can help her out of a jam.

More meanspirited than usual (BJ is badly beaten, and Missy is the victim of a rape attempt), "The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful" finds BJ caught in a war between two biker gangs: Heaven's Devils (real original) and the Road Runners. Cain and his men are surprisingly hapless against the Devils, the bad gang, whose leader Danny Delano (Michael Mancini) is hanging around town to retrieve his impounded cycle, which contains a stash of cocaine. The finale, featuring motorcycles jumping and crashing into each other, is effective.

Lauter gets a lot of humor out of Cain's rigidity, and his talent as an actor makes Cain more likable than he would be in a lesser performer's hands. Cain isn't a bungler, like Sheriff Lobo, and usually gets his man. With BJ's help, of course. It's funny when Cain warns BJ not to take the law into his own hands, since there wouldn't be a show if he didn't do it every week. A big showdown between the bikers and the cops is filmed in Bronson Canyon. McCullough and Nyby both worked with Lauter in "Cain's Cruiser," which is referenced directly by Cain and BJ.

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