Friday, December 21, 2007

The Mod Squad Episode #2 (Bad Man On Campus)

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.


aaron said...

Did the recent release of Season One (well, first-half!) of "The Mod Squad" spur the review of this second episode? I'm playing catch-up with the series myself, but am growing fonder with every passing episode (I'm still on the first disc).

I went ahead and took a look at future guest stars and took notice of one featuring both Adam Roarke and Max Julien -- a veritable PSYCH-OUT/SAVAGE SEVEN reunion! I'm very excited about this.

As for the pilot, I think the case could be made that it's technically a loose companion piece to Corman's THE TRIP, as DP Arch Dalzell shot both of these wonderful 1967 time capsules. Very loose, of course, but I honest to God thought of Dalzell before it was revealed to me in the closing credits.

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey Aaron,
I'm really excited about the release of the show so I am going to be posting my thoughts on each episode as I watch them...I might have been a bit hard on this you I can't wait to view more. Just wait till you see Sammy Davis Jr. and Richard Pryor pop up in later boxes...classic stuff.

Great call on THE TRIP...I hadn't thought of that and it totally fits...

Rogue Spy 007 said...

It's been some time since I've seen any of these episodes so it's hard for me to have much in observation. I do think that the actors worked best when paired together. They had such great chemistry with one another. They worked well off each other. I think many times early episodes aren't as good, as the show is trying to find their groove and what works. It is surprising when a first episode is so good, but then the second one is a bit of a let down.

Hubert Gause Jr said...

I grew up watching mod squad and glad to see it back on me t.v.