Friday, December 21, 2007
The second episode of THE MOD SQUAD is a rather disappointing affair and a let down from the great pilot that proceeded it. The main problem with BAD MAN ON CAMPUS is the splitting up of the squad into different sections of the episode. The main thing that made the show consistently great was the chemistry between the stars, something the producers apparently hadn't realized yet.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS begins with the body of a local high school teacher discovered washed up from the ocean. When it is determined the teacher had indeed been murdered the squad are sent undercover into the chool to investigate. From there they find an odd crime ring that has infiltrated the school that specializes in blackmail and grand theft auto.
Featuring rather pedestrian direction from the prolific television director Earl Bellamy and a weak script by Robert Heverly that finally collapses into a series of chases, BAD MAN ON CAMPUS is pretty uninspired stuff, save for a couple of nice moments between Clarence Williams and guest star Judy Pace.
Heverly was a fairly inexperience screenwriter at this point, with only a few episodes of GUNSMOKE and THE WESTERNER under his belt. His inexperience shows here as BAD MAN ON CAMPUS feels mostly forced. The biggest mistake the show makes is separating Julie from Linc and Pete almost immediately, and leaving Captain Greer almost out of the picture completely.
The episode isn't a complete loss though. The score by Earle Hagen and Billy May is excellent, with special note going to a long jazz-rock piece that accompanies an amusement park chase towards the end of the hour. Also young Judy Pace is really splendid as the confused young student Leila.
Pace would provide great support a year after this episode in Ossie Davis' terrific COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1970) and she would later add immeasurably to films ranging like BRIAN'S SONG (1972) and in one of the most memorable episodes of GOOD TIMES as one of J.J.'s girlfriends. Her scenes here with Williams are very strong and one wishes Bellamy would have featured her even more.
BAD MAN ON CAMPUS, while not terrible, is one of the weaker MOD SQUAD episodes I have seen. Luckily the losing streak would be short lived as the next episode, MY, WHAT A PRETTY BUS would be most memorable.
For more on BAD MAN ON CAMPUS, please visit here.