Thursday, August 10, 2017

Television Review: CRAZY LIKE A FOX: "Some Day My Prints Will Come" (1985)

CRAZY LIKE A FOX: "Some Day My Prints Will Come" (Sony/CBS-TV 1985)  Original Air Date: December 1, 1985.  Starring Jack Warden as Harry Fox, John Rubenstein as Harrison Fox, Penny Peyser as Gail Fox, Robby Kiger as Josh Fox.  Guest Stars: Norman Fell as Vern, Russ Marin as Jerry Clouser, Ja'net DuBois as Idee, Theodore Wilson as Eddie, Harry Moses as Donald Woodley, Al Ruscio as Tony, Barrie Ingham as Crime Boss, Herman Poppe as Henchman, Joe Renteria as Mendez, Joe E. Tata as Ralph Moss, Sandra Gould as the Landlord.  Written by Sid Dorfman, Philip Saltzman, Harvey Weitzman and David R. Toddman.  Directed by Paul Krasny.

Introduction to the 1984-86 CBS series CRAZY LIKE A FOX is at this link.

Working for his son on his latest case, Harry Fox hits the jackpot when he captures photographic proof of insurance scammer Moss not only out of his wheelchair, but running.  Unfortunately his pictures are mixed up with another customer's at Idee's Photo Shop.  Stuck with snapshots of the docked Wanderer at the pier, Harry asks questions to find the owner that he presumes is the holder of his needed evidence.

Unfortunately for the senior Fox, the shutterbug was Mendez, who is investigating drug traffickers tied to the vessel and the disappearance of its original possessors.  Harry's questioning leads the crime boss to surmise that the two investigators are working together, making both of them targets--along with their perceived co-conspirator: the con artist in Harry's prized photographs.

One simple mixup turns a refreshingly mundane (and realistic) case into one more worthy of Harry Fox's talents.  While the twists that follow in Some Day My Prints Will Come might not be all that surprising for veteran FOX watchers, the story goes into slightly grittier territory than usual once drug lords are involved.  Even comedically nimble Norman Fell keeps a tight jaw and a stone face, no matter how annoyed his cop is to learn that there's a Fox on his case.

Not that the humor suffers: on the contrary, Harry's street savvy serves him well in solving the overall puzzle (as even Detective Vern grudgingly admits),  but his smaller hunches hilariously fail him at some crucial moments (famous almost last words: "They'll never know where the shots are coming from!"). 

Harrison and Harry Fox are both on the same case, and both are in their respective day jobs for once--at the outset.  But of course, the junior Fox is forced into the real action, yet again ending up in the middle of gunfire and a wild car chase.  With his father behind the wheel, it's a tossup as to which experience is more harrowing.

It's always great watching the verbal sparring of old pros Warden and Fell, but there are other delights in a guest cast that's deeper than usual.   Joe E. Tata is at his weaselly best as the fraudster (though it is hard to believe he falls for such an venerable trick in the open), and in another surprise, Al Ruscio isn't part of the mob in an episode revolving around it.  Ja'net Dubois' prime time appearances were sporadic in the mid-1980's, so it's a shame she only has two scenes as the harried Idee.

The fate of Some Day My Prints Will Come was a microcosm of the show's sophomore season.  After being pre-empted on consecutive weeks, CRAZY LIKE A FOX returned to its 9 PM time slot on December 1st--the same night and time that NBC premiered the highly anticipated Perry Mason Returns, the week's top-rated program.  The ensuing 15.2 Nielsen rating was the series' lowest to date.  Too bad: those who opted for Raymond Burr and friends (27.2 and a 39 share) missed another fun ride with the Foxes.  (*** out of four)

CRAZY LIKE A FOX airs Monday through Thursday at 9 A.M. Central on getTV.

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