Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friendly Double-Cross

Friendly Double-Cross
March 29, 1980
Music: William Broughton
Story: Frank Lupo
Teleplay: Robert L. McCullough
Director: Keith Atkinson

BJ AND THE BEAR ended its second season on NBC with a special appearance by soul group Sister Sledge, who sang their smash hit “We Are Family.” Its director was Keith Atkinson, an odd choice whose only other television credit was an episode of BJ executive producer Glen A. Larson’s THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERIES. Atkinson had earlier helmed two little-seen independent features, one of which was the documentary ARE YOU LISTENING?

BJ McKay (Greg Evigan) and Bear go to Miami to visit BJ’s Army buddy from Vietnam, Charlie Broler (77 SUNSET STRIP’s Edd Byrnes), who runs a helicopter charter service. After introducing BJ to Sister Sledge and his girlfriend Noreen (Andrea Howard, in THE NUDE BOMB that summer) at the local disco, Charlie splits to handle a last-minute charter. A few hours later, his chopper is found wrecked in the ocean, and BJ teams up with local cop Georgie Thayer (Maggie Cooper) to investigate.

McCullough’s teleplay is one of the most laidback of a very laidback series. The plot takes a backseat to frothy scenes that have nothing to do with the murder investigation. At one point, BJ and Georgie leave a stakeout to round up a loose alligator—a fun scene that lets Evigan and Cooper adlib with a frisky gator. It was the end of the season, and likely the cast and crew were too bushed to pay much attention to plot points. Atkinson handles the action beats well enough, including a dive over the railing of a steamship and a tight two-on-one fight scene in Charlie’s apartment.

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