Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Birdie's Hot Wheels

Birdie’s Hot Wheels
March 11, 1980
Music: John Andrew Tartaglia
Writer: Mark Fink
Director: James Sheldon

When Sheriff Lobo (Claude Akins) takes a gander at Birdie’s (Brian Kerwin) souped-up new drag-racing car, his silver tongue convinces his deputy to hire him as his personal manager. For 25% of his winnings, of course. Birdie may not make it to the starting line, however, after Perkins (Mills Watson) leaves the keys in “Bye Bye Birdie” after a joyride, and the car is stolen by bank robbers who use it during a heist. With Birdie in jail awaiting trial, it’s up to Lobo to clear his deputy’s name.

“Birdie’s Hot Wheels” was the last of five MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO episodes directed by James Sheldon, whose television career began helming MISTER PEEPERS back in 1952. Sheldon continued working for another six years, climaxing with a SLEDGE HAMMER!, a series that parodied cop shows, in 1986. Veteran actor Morgan Woodward guest-stars as Lockwood, the sheriff of neighboring Marion County and a jealous rival of Lobo’s. Woodward was a good foil for Akins, and he returned to cause more trouble for Lobo in the series’ first-season finale. A much more attractive screen presence is Pat Klous, Birdie’s romantic interest in the episode, a shapely racer named C.R. Jameson. Klous had recently starred in FLYING HIGH, a drama about three adventurous stewardesses, and later joined the cast of THE LOVE BOAT as Lauren Tewes’ replacement.

For all the talking about racing, precious little is on the screen, outside of some stock footage that plays early in the episode. I don’t think Sheldon and the cast got anywhere near an actual speedway. The only original racing takes place in the Universal parking lot, where Birdie’s car is inexplicably parked. In other sloppiness, the boom microphone pops into the picture in a couple of shots.

No comments: