Thursday, August 20, 2009

BJ And The Witch

BJ and the Witch
February 9, 1980
Music: William Broughton
Writer: Sidney Ellis
Director: Charles Rondeau

Anne-Marie Martin, years before marrying author Michael Crichton and writing the TWISTER screenplay with him, is very charming as the Girl of the Week in this BJ AND THE BEAR episode. The busy Canadian actress was still using her birth name of Eddie Benton at this point in her career, which had included a regular role on the CBS series RAFFERTY and a part in the sci-fi clunker THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.

Benton/Martin plays Deidre, a witch, who befriends BJ (Greg Evigan) after his truck breaks down on a back road surrounded by woods (director Rondeau filmed on location at Los Angeles’ Franklin Canyon reservoir). BJ finds her charming at first, then a little creepy when she starts talking about love potions and implies she can affect the climate. He isn’t, however, creeped out enough to ignore his hormones and split when he has the chance to spend the night with her.

Good thing BJ’s able to stick around to help out, because Deidre is the target of religious zealot Denby’s (Peter Mark Richman) literal witch hunt to drive her out of town. Denby accuses her of selling angel dust to his daughter Teri (Linda Grovenor), which leads BJ to find the real drug dealer before a bloodthirsty mob tears Deidre apart. Arlen Dean Snyder plays one of BJ AND THE BEAR’s rare sympathetic lawmen as the local sheriff with no bone to pick with the unorthodox young woman.

Ellis crafts an unusually mysterious and downbeat ending for the episode, which leaves the viewer wondering whether Deidre is alive or dead. Since she never returned to the series (though actress Martin went on to guest on LOBO), I guess we’ll never know.


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