Thursday, November 13, 2014

Owen Marshall, Counselor At Law, "Five Will Get You Six"

“Five Will Get You Six”
October 26, 1972
Starring Arthur Hill and Lee Majors
Also Starring Joan Darling
Guest-Starring William Shatner, Sam Jaffe, Sandra Smith, James Luisi, Christine Matchett, Russell Johnson, Nate Esformes, Richard X. Slattery, Eileen Baral, Bill Quinn, John Francis, Jim Drum
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Executive Producer: David Victor
Producer: Jon Epstein
Associate Producer: Joseph Monzio
Executive Story Consultant: Jerry McNeely
Creators: David Victor & Jerry McNeely
Writer: Shimon Wincelberg
Director: Harry Falk

OWEN MARSHALL, COUNSELOR AT LAW was a fairly successful one-hour drama set in Santa Barbara, California. Canadian actor Arthur Hill, a 1963 Tony winner for WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, was the star in his first regular series role. Hill’s mild-mannered looks and plain demeanor made him perfect for cuckolded husbands, officious CEOs, and authority figures, yet he was also able to occasionally play against his Everyman looks as white-collar villains and killers.

Hill was a middle-of-the-road leading man, which made him perfectly cast in the thoroughly middle-of-the-road OWEN MARSHALL. His client in “Five Will Get You Six” is none other than William Shatner, playing an equally mild-mannered architect named Gary Saugus. Gary is into a loan shark, the grandfatherly Henry Noel (Sam Jaffe), to the tune of $10,000 plus 20 percent compounded weekly.

He’s having trouble making his payments, and, under pressure from the district attorney (Russell Johnson) investigating Noel, commits perjury before a grand jury. Before Marshall and his assistant Jess Brandon (Lee Majors, in between THE MEN FROM SHILOH and THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN) can get the charge dropped, Gary ends up in the pokey on a more serious charge: the murder of Noel’s goon Tom Mundy (James Luisi).

This was Shimon Wincelberg’s only OWEN MARSHALL teleplay, and it’s pretty bland stuff. There’s little director Harry Falk could do to spice it up. Oh, the story is solid enough, I suppose, and it’s decently performed by a very good cast. But it doesn’t go as far as it could. “Five Will Get You Six” could have been a good opportunity to examine loan sharking. Why would someone agree to borrow money at such an absurd interest rate and risk injury or even death to keep up with the payments? Gary’s reason for borrowing from Noel is given a throwaway mention, and the episode bogs down into a courtroom scene in which Jess argues his client acted in self-defense.

She isn’t given much to do—at least not in the episode I saw, which was cut for syndication—but it’s interesting to see Sandra Smith as Shatner’s wife. Three years earlier, they played antagonists in STAR TREK’s final episode “Turnabout Intruder,” in which Smith’s character switched bodies with Captain Kirk’s, enabling her to “play” Kirk and Shatner to play a psychotic female Starfleet officer.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Sandra Smith is also very good as the victims wife in the COLUMBO episode THE GREENHOSE JUNGLE.

There's a pretty funny OWEN MARSHALL parody in Mad # 159 (I know that without looking It up since it's an issue I've always liked), that works topical 1972-73 jokes into it in a clever way. The client is a man of American Indian descent who's drawn to look like Burt Reynolds, and he's also accused of committing the crime in the nude. So it's an Indian rights joke and a "Burt Reynolds in Cosmo" joke rolled into one.