Thursday, January 17, 2008
Photographer Robbie Larson is having a rough morning. He’s a recovering addict who’s suffered a relapse and he wakes up to find a dead model in his apartment. Fearing the worst about what he might of done he flees the scene for a hippie rehab art camp for refuge, while his parole officer who knows he’s innocent begins an obsessive search for him.
A TIME TO LOVE-A TIME TO CRY is one of the darker episodes from season number one of THE MOD SQUAD and it is also one of the most effective. Key to its success is the cool and laid back direction of Michael Caffey, a script by Mel Goldberg that keeps the viewer guessing and a surprisingly sweet flirtation between Julie and Robbie’s parole officer Dave, played wonderfully well by Robert Lansing.
This episode marks the debut on the series for director Caffey and he brings a real swinging style to it that is refreshing change from the stilted direction by Earl Bellamy that had dogged the previous episode. Caffey, the father of future Go-Go Charlotte Caffey, got his start as a second unit director in the fifties on shows like THE REBEL. He graduated to the director’s chair in the mid sixties with multiple episodes of COMBAT and THE WILD WILD WEST and had a remarkably prolific career up until the mid nineties. I like Caffey’s cinematic fluid style a lot and he would later direct one of my favorite Nancy Drew episodes, THE SECRET OF THE WHISPERING WALLS, as well as a solid KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER episode.
A TIME TO LOVE-A TIME TO CRY also marked the first script for the series by talented writer Mel Goldberg, who had been around for the earliest days of television working on some of the great live dramas of the fifties. His script here is really sharp and surprisingly dark for a network program in the sixties. Special note should go to the show’s neat conclusion that works as a clever twist and a thematically sound one. Goldberg was not just limited to television as he co-scripted the Clint Eastwood western HANG ‘EM HIGH in the same year as his first work on THE MOD SQUAD.
The terrific actor Robert Lansing delivers one of the great supporting turns of the first season as the concerned parole officer that Julie develops feelings for. Lansing, an accomplished film and television actor, brings a real depth and feeling to the role and his scenes with Peggy Lipton are surprisingly moving. It is a great turn by the fine actor we tragically lost to cancer over a decade ago.
Also giving solid supporting performances are television actor Jerry Ayres as the wrongly accused photographer, and film actor Rex Holman as the sleazy drug dealer Hal Kincaid. Genre fans will get a kick out seeing an un-credited Brooke Mills as I believe (please correct me if I am wrong on this) the model who turns up dead in Robbie’s apartment. The IMDB doesn’t list her but this excellent MOD SQUAD site does indeed credit her in the role.
The Missouri born Mills got her start modeling in the sixties (she can be seen as one of the models in the excellent late period Elvis Presley vehicle LIVE A LITTLE LOVE A LITTLE) and she would go onto several notable fan favorites in the seventies like Jack Hill’s THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971), Jonathan Kaplan’s THE STUDENT TEACHERS (1973) and even a role in Gary Nelson’s Disney production FREAKY FRIDAY (1976). The pretty Mills is quite memorable in this, her first of a couple of MOD SQUAD appearances, even though she just appears in still photographs.
A TIME TO LOVE-A TIME TO CRY falters a bit in the middle during the dated scenes in the hippie commune camp, but otherwise it is an extremely strong and well rendered episode. The tense climax where the Squad and the Captain view a series of slides is one of the best moments of the season, as are the closing shots of Julie crying over the peer that would play such a big part in the show.
For more on this episode please visit the link above.