Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Nicely directed by Lee Katzin from a fairly solid script by Henry Rosenbaum that’s based on a story by Tige Andrews himself, “Love” is a sharp if not all together exciting episode from The Mod Squad’s first season.
“Love”, centering on an attention starved young cousin of Pete’s named Karen who finds herself on the wrong side of the law, marks Katzin’s first episode since the terrific “Teeth Of The Barracuda” and again he delivers a really stylish touch that most of the other first season directors couldn’t begin to match.
Rosenbaum, on the other hand, was making his debut with the Squad on this episode and within a year of it he would have a co-writing credit on the popular A.I.P production The Dunwich Horror. Later credits from Rosenbaum include such diverse fair as the Gene Wilder-Gilda Radner picture Hanky Panky from 1982 and the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Lock-Up from 1989. His script from “Love” is intriguing if finally not completely involving, with it being most noteworthy perhaps in showing us Pete’s privileged background, something that had just been hinted at before.
The episode features several familiar faces including future The Jeffersons co-star Isabelle Sanford in a small but pivotal role as a maid named Lillian. It would have been nicer to see the talented Sanford in a larger role here but her scenes are among the highlights of the episode and she delivers a nicely defined performance under Katzin’s direction. Playing Pete’s troubled cousin Karen is Diana Ewing, an actress who would appear on many shows throughout the seventies, who is making her debut here. The most noteworthy two co-stars though are two older Hollywood players, Arthur Franz and Oscar nominee Nina Foch.
Franz, a popular character actor whose career spanned nearly four decades, is probably best remembered today for playing Dr. Stuart Kelston in 1953’s Invaders From Mars but his career included roles in films ranging from the John Wayne war drama Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) to a moving final role in Jason Miller’s That Championship Season (1982). As Karen’s selfish and work obsessed father in "Love", Franz turns in a very nicely detailed performance and makes the most of his rather limited screen time.
Even better is Foch, a talented actress who had received her sole Oscar nomination fifteen years before “Love’s” production on 1954’s Executive Suite. Netherlands born Foch got her start with a memorable role in the Bela Lugosi shocker The Return of the Vampire in 1944 and she has never stopped working in a remarkable career that has included over 150 credits (including a recent one in the popular Kyra Sedgwick show The Closer). Foch gives one of the best guest starring performances of The Mod Squad’s first season and is totally believable as Karen’s caring but misguided mom Virginia.
Highlights of the episode include placing The Squad in the heart of Beverly Hills, which positions Julie and Linc more than a little at odds with the embarrassed but right at home Pete, as well as a funny scene involving some cliched hippies set in Laurel Canyon
“Love” lags a bit in the second half though as believability is stretched beyond the point of mere head scratching but it is still a solid mid-season episode for The Mod Squad that showed the series had a real willingness to work seriously with all of the character’s backgrounds. It also features one of the best scores of the first season, some of which can be heard here at this Mod Squad fan site.