Sunday, April 19, 2009
Among the weakest episodes from the first season of The Mod Squad, “Hello Mother, My Name is Julie” suffers at nearly every turn and stands as one of the most ineffective hours of the series run.
Centering on an ill-fated reunion between Julie and her estranged mother, episode 14 of The Mod Squad takes the effectively moody melancholic tone so often found in the series and replaces it with a ponderous depressive mood that can finally be described at best as a total drag.
The second episode directed by veteran director Jack Arnold, after the solid “A Quiet Weekend in the Country”, “Hello Mother, My Name is Julie” finds the director failing to ever really connect with the material. Perhaps the main problem is in the script from Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov, that tries unsuccessfully to bounce back and forth between the story of Julie attempting to reconcile with her mom and a rather uninteresting and underdeveloped undercover case involving Pete and Linc. Whether the blame lies on the script or Arnold’s wearied direction is up for question, but what isn’t in question is the flatness that dogs the episode from the get-go.
The episode isn’t a total disaster though, mostly thanks to Peggy Lipton’s convincing turn, in what is easily one of the most depressing episodes she ever had to play. Lipton is particularly good with main co-star Nan Martin, who does a nice job as her selfish mother Connie. The incredibly prolific Martin will be familiar to television fans, as she has managed to work steadily for the last fifty years.
Other co-stars include William Windom, Michael Harris, Joseph Mell, Phil Posner and Leonard Stone. All do the best they can with the limp material, but none are given much to work with. Even Billy May’s usually invigorating score is underused and much of the episode plays in silence, a factor that adds to it’s overly morose and nearly suffocating feel.
Thankfully the misfire that “Hello Mother, My Name is Julie” is would be remedied by a string of solid episodes, and it remains just a slight slip-up in an otherwise consistently great series.