Wednesday, January 9, 2008
THE MOD SQUAD’S fifth episode YOU CAN’T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A PROGRAMMER is a bit of a mixed bag. Certainly the episode is notable for its guest stars, which includes Julie Adams and Mark Goddard, but the Earl Bellamy directed show is ultimately flat and is nowhere near the quality of the great hour that proceeded it.
The rather long winded title of episode four is actually more interesting than the rather pedestrian script from Bagni and Dubov that concerns a money hungry playboy blackmailing the mother of an old school chum of Pete’s, and a computer dating service the squad infiltrate in order to catch him.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that Bellamy had also been responsible for the previous weaker episode of Season one, BAD MAN ON CAMPUS, as there is something positively stifling in his bland and poorly staged direction. While this episode is stronger than that earlier one Bellamy is still just playing by numbers here, which is a shame as the cast is so incredibly strong.
Film fans of the sixties and seventies will rejoice at seeing Julie Adams. The striking looking CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON star was in her early forties when she shot this episode of THE MOD SQUAD and she delivers a great turn as a lonely wealthy woman who is, to use an old cliche, looking for love in all the wrong places.
The amazingly busy Adams has had quite a remarkable career and past eighty years of age she is still working in television and has recently appeared in such shows as COLD CASE and LOST. The lovely Adams got her start in the late fifties and has worked in hundreds of shows and films that include everything from the underrated Elvis Presley vehicle TICKLE ME (1965) to Dennis Hopper’s brilliantly crazed THE LAST MOVIE in 1971. YOU CAN’T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A PROGRAMMER would mark the first of a couple of MOD SQUAD appearances for Adams, whose official site can be found here.
Mark Goddard will of course always be known for his role as Major West on Irwin Allen’s much loved LOST IN SPACE and this appearance on THE MOD SQUAD offered Goddard one of his first roles after the cancellation of the sci-fi classic. He would spend much of the seventies and eighties doing televison, film and soap opera work and, like Adams, he still remains busy to this day. He is very good here as the rather slimy womanizer who is only interested in a buck.
The episode also includes appearances by television actresses Linda Marsh and popular character actor Bryon Fogler, who would tragically pass away just about a year after this episode ran. Also featured in a smaller role is Dodie Warren who would later work behind the scenes with Exploitation director Ted V. Mikels.
Lipton, Cole and Andrews all do typically fine work in the show and Cole delivers one of his best performances of the season so far in this, the first Pete themed episode. They are all let down though again and again by Bellamy's uninspired direction and the mostly uninvolved script.
YOU CAN'T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A PROGRAMMER does have some wonderful shots of late sixties California and Peggy Lipton is given a couple of nice comic moments late in the episode involving the dating service, but still this is one of the weaker episodes from season one.