Wednesday, December 10, 2008
After Linc’s buddy is killed in a freak car accident, the Squad go undercover in a Daredevil stunt driving ring. Soon they find out the hot-rod ring is actually operating as a cover for a top dollar marijuana delivery service.
Directed adequately by veteran Gene Nelson, episode 13 of The Mod Squad entitled "The Sunday Drivers" is a decent if not overwhelmingly memorable mid season episode from the first season. Clarence Williams III turns in some of his best work of the season though as Linc, and the show’s usual top notch set of guest stars make it at the very least compulsively watchable throughout its fifty plus minute running time.
"The Sunday Drivers" marks the first Mod Squad episode scripted by prolific writer, producer, composer and sometimes director Edward J. Lakso. Lakso, a man responsible for episodes for everything from I Spy to Star Trek in the sixties all the way up to eighties hour long dramas like The Fall Guy and Airwolf had a fairly fascinating career. Not too many folks can claim to being the narrator and composer for Russ Meyer’s legendary first film The Immoral Mr. Teas and the director of the interesting and undervalued 1973 Blaxploitation film Brother on the Run (post coming soon on this intriguing work) but Lakso can. His script though for "The Sunday Drivers" isn’t all that notable but it works perfectly fine for what it is.
Co-starring with our familiar Squad are several recognizable faces including Paul Carr (who would go onto appear in a handful of Mod Squad episodes over the next few years), veteran character actor Chick Chandler, instantly identifiable Lewis Charles, pretty Quentin Dean (who had just shot the Elvis Presley vehicle Stay Away Joe) and prolific Woodrow Parfrey (who would also appear in several more episodes in the series down the road). Long time television actor Carlos Romero also makes an appearance as does Italian born actress Renata Vanni.
Quentin Dean is an interesting figure and turns in a good performance as daredevil driver Sally Semple. Dean is probably most famous for her role in Norman Jewison’s Oscar winning In The Heat of the Night(that featured her in a much discussed topless scene) but her career was strangely uneventful after that. As mentioned, she did feature in Stay Away Joe opposite Elvis as well as 1968’s The Young Runaways and 1969’s Will Penny but otherwise her relatively brief career was spent in television. Her whereabouts remain a mystery and there is an interesting discussion over at the IMDB concerning her for those interested. Cinema Retro, who posted this photo, has also questioned what happened to her as well.
"The Sunday Drivers" is far from one of the better first season episodes but it is pleasant enough. Utilizing some pretty well blended in stock footage from various outdoor stunt driving shows, the episode should at least be of great interest to fans of the industry and Nelson moves the show along at a lightning pace like an old pro delivering the goods with ease.