Monday, June 2, 2008

The Mod Squad Episode #9 (A Quiet Weekend in the Country)

Episode #9 from The Mod Squad’s first season, entitled “A Quiet Weekend in the Country”, is a solid entry in the series’ early run highlighted by an extraordinary number of familiar faces in the guest star department.

Shot by veteran film and TV director Jack Arnold, making his debut with the series, from another script by frequent contributor Tony Barrett and the new to the Squad Jackson Gillis, “A Quiet Weekend in the Country” finds our gang traveling to up-state California to infiltrate a drug dealing outfit operating out of a trailer park run by a disagreeable fellow named Gus (played by the always wonderful James Gregory).

Arnold was a firmly established director when he helmed this episode of The Mod Squad, and he was probably best known when he came on board for his early fifties fantasy films ranging from It Came From Outer Space (1953) to The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954). Mostly working in television in the sixties, Arnold returned to feature filmmaking sporadically after The Mod Squad with some films with Fred Williamson (including the stylish and very underrated Black Eye from 1974). Arnold’s sure handed direction guides the episode well and its one of the best directed of the season, with special note going to a expertly handled and perfectly timed action sequence that climaxes the show.

Great character actor Gregory (surely one of the most memorable faces of the period) is joined by a whole slew of ‘Hey I know that face” performers including future Enter The Dragon co-star Ahna Capri (billed here as Anna Capri), Dub Taylor, Bruce Glover, Clyde Ventura, Hal Baylor and even Joe Higgins in a small but pivotal role…all fine actors who will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has watched a fair amount of shows and films from the sixties and seventies. Everyone does serviceable to great work in the episode with special mention going to Gregory and Capri, playing a couple on the brink of being torn apart by jealously.

Budapest born Capri became a prolific American television actress after a small role in the Danny Thomas series Make Room For Daddy in the mid fifties. The shapely and very attractive blonde Capri appeared in dozens of popular shows throughout the fifties and sixties and began to make appearances on the big screen as well in this period. “A Quiet Weekend in the Country” would mark her first of two appearances on The Mod Squad, with the second coinciding with the role she is probably most known for, as Tania opposite Bruce Lee in the legendary Enter The Dragon. She gives a very good, if slightly over the top, performance under Arnold’s direction and shares several rather touching scenes with Clarence Williams III’s Linc.

Arnold does a good job in juggling the characters and gives Michael Cole’s Pete and Peggy Lipton’s Julie, undercover as honeymooners, some of their best moments of the season including a surprising on the mouth kiss they both seem to get a kick out of. The episode also includes some genuinely humorous moments involving Pete and Julie’s undercover status giving “A Quiet Weekend in the Country” a nice unforced rhythm that plays well against the rather serious plotting (involving both murder and drug trafficking) of the Barrett and Gillis script.

The episodes’ climatic chase and fight sequence does indeed rank with the best of the season and is served well by not only Arnold’s capable direction but also a particularly effective score courtesy of Billy May.

A Quiet Weekend in the Country doesn’t have the emotional pull of the best episodes of The Mod Squad's Season One, like “When Smitty Comes Marching Home” and “A Time To Love-A Time To Cry”, but it is an effective one featuring some of the most talented guests (in front of and behind the camera) of the first season’s run.

For more on this episode, including some promotional pictures and song samples, please visit this link.

1 comment:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I'll always remember Gregory as Mac in the Matt Helm spy flicks.