***I’m trying out a new format for these little pieces. I know it is a predictable one but hopefully it will be acceptable to the few folks who I know enjoy them…***
The Story: When a mysterious young gang of thieves kill a cop, Pete and Linc go under cover to infiltrate the group that might be responsible. In the meantime, Julie poses as a nurse in a hospital in order to get information from the one injured gang member who has been caught.
The Crew: Gene Nelson, working from a tele-play by Edward J. Lakso, returns as director of the Season One episode "Shell Game". The prolific Lakso had previously written episode 13 "The Sunday Drivers" and, of course, Nelson had already helmed several of Season One’s key shows.
The Guest-Stars: "Shell Game" is a pretty crowded episode and it contains well over a dozen familiar faces. The incredible prolific, and still-active, film and television veteran Peggy Stewart makes a brief but memorable appearance in the episode. Stewart, in an incredibly varied and wild career, has the distinction of being an actress who appeared in both The Twilight Zone and Seinfeld! Television actors John Bryant, Thom Carney, John Carter, Michael Margotta (who would appear in counter-culture classics like Wild in the Streets and The Strawberry Statement within a couple of years of this episode) and Troy Melton all give their typically solid supporting performances.
The Verdict: "Shell Game" is a really good Season-One episode that moves along at a quick pace and maintains a good suspenseful feel throughout its running time. Nelson was a terrific television director and he provides "Shell Game" with numerous interesting visual touches, while keeping things relatively straightforward without a lot of nonsense. Lakso’s script is solid and it gives everyone good material to work with, especially Lipton and Tige who both shine here. While "Shell Game" isn’t as trend setting as the best episodes of The Mod Squad it’s quite a splendid one, and it is a definite step-up "Hello Mother, My Name is Julie" and "Flight Five Doesn’t Answer".