Friday, June 13, 2008

Lobo’s Revenge

07 Lobo's Revenge
April 7, 1979
Music: William Broughton
Teleplay: Michael Sloan
Story: Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
Director: Bruce Bilson

Bruce Bilson, who directed BJ AND THE BEAR's pilot episode about truck driver BJ McKay (Greg Evigan) going up against a white slavery ring run by Orly County's sheriff Elroy Lobo (Claude Akins), returns for this sequel (Lobo also menaced BJ in "Odyssey of the Shady Truth," the first regular BJ AND THE BEAR episode). By now, Lobo and his bumbling deputy Perkins (Mills Watson) are firmly established as cartoon characters whose attempts at harassing BJ rival Wile E. Coyote's against the Roadrunner.

Lobo, whose department is in serious debt after crashing 19 police cars and rebuilding the jail after his last tangle with BJ, wants revenge and sends Perkins to kidnap Bear in order to lure BJ back to Orly. Perkins' initial attempts, which find him getting beaten up by a mountainous newlywed and busted for dressing in drag (he was attempting to fool BJ into rescuing a damsel in distress with car trouble), fail, but he eventually snags Bear, and BJ naturally follows. Knowing there's no way he can force Lobo to return Bear—and knowing that if he even spits on the sidewalk, Lobo will have him arrested—BJ pulls a series of pranks on Lobo that he hopes will drive the beefy lawman crazy.

Nothing more than good, clean, lighthearted fun, "Lobo's Revenge" finds Akins and Watson in fine form, as the two knuckleheads play off one another quite well. It's sort of like a Gilligan/Skipper relationship, if the Skipper was an avaricious crook. Evigan also has a good time, primarily in later scenes where BJ appears to be enjoying Lobo's clumsy attempt to frame him for a bank robbery that the sheriff himself committed.

Katherine Moffat, billed as Kitty Ruth, reprises Jo Ann Harris' role of Barbara Sue from "Odyssey of the Shady Truth," while Dennis Burkley plays slightly against type for once as Orly's banker (he pretty much plays Burkley in a three-piece suit, but it's still a welcome change). Brion James is seen briefly as Perkins' arresting officer. Michael Sloan, who wrote the bulk of BJ's first season, collaborated on the story with Richard Lindheim, who was the show's co-producer.

Bruce Bilson, who returned a few weeks later to direct Akins, Evigan and company again in "Lobo," was the epitome of a television craftsman. He began as an assistant director in the 1950s, and made his directing debut with THE PATTY DUKE SHOW's third-season premiere in 1965. He directed hundreds of TV shows and movies, but made only one feature film in his fifty-year career, the underperforming CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO in 1984. His writer/producer son Danny Bilson (THE FLASH) and his actress granddaughter Rachel (THE O.C.) also have found success in television.

1 comment:

Hal said...

Wow, I had no idea that the PATTY DUKE episode (I still have it on tape) that opened the 3rd and final season was Bilson's first.

My pick for when that show jumped the shark, because they changed the theme song, moved the set (but not setting) to California and had Special Guest Star Frankie Avalon!