Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Police Escort

Police Escort
February 5, 1980
Story: Robert E. Feinberg & Howard Liebling and Michael Russnow
Teleplay: Robert E. Feinberg & Howard Liebling
Director: James Sheldon

In this MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO episode, shady banker Harry Cunningham (Dennis Burkley), a former business partner of Lobo (Claude Akins), is back in Orly after serving a jail sentence. He tricks Lobo into working for him as a chaperone for his new escort service, which is part of an overall scheme to blackmail the town’s officials. Meanwhile, a series of THREE’S COMPANY-esque misunderstandings causes various characters to believe both Perkins (Mills Watson) and Lobo’s mother (Rosemary DeCamp) are knocking on Heaven’s door.

Watson spends most of the episode laid up in a hospital bed; maybe the actor needed a rest after so many weeks of falling down on the job—literally. That means Akins carries a heavier load, which leads to some fun at the expense of Lobo’s dignity. Needing extra money to buy his mama a mobile home, Lobo suffers plenty of abuse from the big, bearded Cunningham, who sends the sheriff to fetch him drinks and chauffer his girls on their dates. Don’t worry—Harry gets his much-deserved comeuppance at the end.

Writer Feinberg appears to have been a neophyte TV scribe who teamed up with the veteran Liebling, whose greatest success in the entertainment business was as a songwriter of Lesley Gore hits (“Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows”). Director Sheldon had a 35-year career in television without ever directing a feature, which seems amazing, when you think about it. Obviously, he had a great skill for keeping the buses running on time, and nothing about his direction of “Police Escort” is anywhere near ambitious. Also, veteran Lloyd Turner, whose writing credits included GET SMART and ALL IN THE FAMILY, joined THE MISADVENTURES OF SHERIFF LOBO as a script consultant.

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