Monday, August 12, 2019

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Meets Miss Sweden" (1957)

LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Meets Miss Sweden" (Laurel-McCadden Productions/CBS-TV 1957) Original Air Date: April 25, 1957.  Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Rosemary deCamp as Margaret MacDonald, Ann B. Davis as Schultzy, Kathleen Freeman as Bertha Krause, Nancy Kulp as Pamela Livingstone, Ingrid Goude as Herself, Gordon Scott as Himself, Norman Alden as The Captain, Jimmy Murphy as Eddie.  Written by Paul Henning, Shirley Gordon, Phil Shuken and Dick Wesson.  Directed by Bob Cummings.

Series overview of LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW previously published here for the one hundredth anniversary of the star's birth in 2008 at this link

It's National Secretaries Week, complete with a convention in Reno that Schultzy, Bertha and Pamela all plan to attend.  That is, once they convince Colonel Collins to fly them.  A fat chance that turns into a foregone conclusion once the shutterbug sees the morning newspaper.

Schultzy has invited 1956's Miss Sweden along on the flight as well, and our amorous aviator invites the convention's special guest to join him in the cockpit.  Loverboy Bob is undeterred by her (apparent) inability to speak English and his failure to locate a translator at the air base.  But a larger, younger obstacle awaits in the biggest little city in the world: Gordon Scott, the movies' newest Tarzan.

"You know, you'd be perfect for my husband.  You're just the type that he likes."

With those words in a Los Angeles department store from Mary Cummings (wife of Bob), titular beauty Ingrid Goude was cast as herself for what would become a two year recurring role on LOVE THAT BOB.  The first result of that chance meeting was the aptly titled Bob Meets Miss Sweden.
At this early stage Goude's accent is hard to understand at times and she has only a handful of lines in English, but the clever script gets consistent laughs out of this language barrier.  It's just one of the blockades facing our playboy this installment, however.

Having a quartet of chaperones (co-conspirator Margaret joins the secretaries on the flight) looks daunting, but only to Bob.  Even Schultzy largely steps aside, knowing that the 1956 Miss Universe finalist (third) is already wise to her boss' ways.  She's much more interested in the hunky Scott, who gives a show's female fans more eye candy in his swimming trunks than the males will get from Ms. Goude's one piece bathing suit.  (Dammit!)

Another inspired idea was getting both Freeman and Kulp co-conspiring with usual suspects Davis and de Camp, a rare treat that would only be repeated once (Collins the Crooner).  All four are on board, en route for the entire first act, and Bob's kisses for "good luck" (Richard Dawson must have taken note) provide one of the biggest belly laughs.  We all know Bob's reason for this set-up, and can safely guess that it won't go according to his plan.

After an airborne first act, we settle in the famed divorce capital for the second, as a game but hopelessly outnumbered Collins struggles to get Miss Goude alone at the swimming pool, Lake Tahoe, or anywhere that he might have a chance to put his well-honed sales pitch over.  Alas, Bob is unable to shake the quartet of duennas here, and for half a dozen installments over the 1957-58 season Goude remains that one unattainable for "The King".

But the business-savvy Mrs. Cummings (who handled the star's, um, affairs until their acrimonious divorce in 1970) was proven correct: Goude was an inspired addition to LOVE THAT BOB.  The limited but poised beauty queen gets several laughs in her debut, and director Bob again proves his talent for working with novice actors.  Goude's English improved and she was given much more to do in subsequent installments (i.e. Bob Wins the Olympics) but as mentioned above, Collins never did make that to-do list.  He just had to settle for Shirley Swanson and Collette duBois, poor guy....

"All movie actors look tall and husky.  It's done with elevator shoes, pancake makeup and papier-mache muscle!"

Gordon Scott doesn't get the girl either, but he does get a special plug from announcer Bill Baldwin for his sophomore effort as Tarzan over the closing credits.  TARZAN AND THE LOST SAFARI was released the same month that Bob Meets Miss Sweden premiered, the first color film of that venerable series.  The 6'3", 218 lb. Scott would remain in the role for four additional films through 1960.

Getting extended time in the air and in Reno gives the festivities a solid shot in the arm, and if the conclusion was crystal clear in the opening minutes (Ingrid learned about "wolves" on her first day in America), Cummings helms a journey to it that flies as dependably as his Beechcraft.


It isn't often we say this, but it's Bob!  He's blocking Gordon Scott from his scheduled date, gaslighting not only him but the Colonel's fellow Airmen stationed in Reno as well.  Shame on you, Bob.  Your comeuppance is deserved this time, pal.


Nope, not unless he lowered his sights and went after Pamela or Bertha, which ain't likely.


Goude gets several laughs in her debut, and director Cummings is once again aces while working with inexperienced actors.  For my money, the best creative combination of LOVE THAT BOB's run consisted of the star directing scripts by the Henning/Gordon/Wesson trio (with Shuken pitching in occasionally) and this combination would be largely undisturbed for the next forty segments--IMO, the show's peak.  Kulp and Freeman are always welcome, and the inspired heights of the airway are sustained once we're grounded in Reno.  Sharp one-liners abound.  Great fun. (***1/2 out of four)

Want to see Bob Meets Miss Sweden for yourself?  Here's the link:

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Grandpa Moves West" (1958)

LOVE THAT BOB: "Grandpa Moves West" (LaurMac/NBC-TV 1958) Original Air Date: December 30, 1958.  Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins and Grandpa Joshua Collins, Rosemary deCamp as Margaret MacDonald, Ann B. Davis as Schultzy, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck MacDonald, Lyle Talbot as Paul Fonda, Joan Tabor as Gretchen (Miss Holland), Murray Alper as Milburn the Cabbie, Charles Cantor as the Hotel Manager, Isabel Withers as the Manager's Wife.  Written by Paul Henning and Dick Wesson.  Directed by Bob Cummings. 

Series overview of LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW previously published here for the one hundredth anniversary of the star's birth in 2008 at this link

He may have consistently struck out with Miss Sweden, but Bob has a pending turn at bat with Miss Holland, who he's been hired to photograph.  That is, if he doesn't have to fly back to Joplin to keep Grandpa out of the clutches of a much younger gold digger who has moved in.  Margaret is alarmed when he shuns her holiday invite.  The senior Collins' reason for staying in Missouri?  He doesn't want to leave Alice.

Bob is dismissive of his sister's concern until he gets the eldest Collins on the phone and finds him thoroughly smitten with his acrobatic house guest.  Alice has conned the old codger out of a complete new wardrobe, sounds like an alcoholic, and tries to literally to steal his watch as they're speaking.  After Grandpa takes Alice's side when Bob protests, all afternoon appointments are off: Bob has the Beech preflighted for an emergency trip.

While the shutterbug is away, the wannabe wolf Paul Fonda schemes to take his place in the studio (stealing the idea from nephew Chuck!) and on Mulholland Drive that night with the ravishing Dutch pageant winner.  Unfortunately, Grandpa's attachment is more reassuring than originally thought--that "drunken carnival contortionist" is actually a chimp, which Bob only realizes after he's landed in Missouri.

Grandpa Moves West gives us another instance of foreshadowing Paul Henning's later and biggest hit THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, which mined humor from Elly May's pet chimp "Cousin" Bessie throughout its nine year run.  Alice gets plenty of screen time interacting with our star in both of his roles: walking the high wire, drinking a cola, and (best of all) giving the tired airman an unexpected co-pilot.

"He couldn't get a picture of an Indian in Albuquerque!"

Less gimmicky comedy comes from Paul Fonda's rather transparent attempt to join Bob in the studio--just to help out, of course.  There's no evidence that any photographs were taken in Collins' absence, but we have Fonda's word that he got the Dutch damsel to Mulholland.  Lyle Talbot is at his smarmy best in his penultimate appearance as Fonda, whose name was yet another in-joke: the real Paul Fonda was a friend of Paul Henning's from the producer's days at CBS Radio.

1957 Deb Star and April 1959 ESCAPADE cover girl Joan Tabor was a popular guest star through the mid-Sixties, but this was her only BOB CUMMINGS SHOW.  The Sioux Falls native and future Mrs. Broderick Crawford (talk about a guy outkicking the coverage!) tragically died young, of an accidental overdose in 1968.  Murray Alper practically made his living playing cabbies, and in fact had played a truck driver in one of Cummings' most enduring films, SABOTEUR (1942).

Grandpa's coastal flights were a grave concern in Bob in Orbit, so it's a tad jarring just seven episodes later to see the octogenarian encouraged into the air by the entire Collins family.  I guess it's less of a threat than a gold digger displacing reliable, age-appropriate Dixie (unseen here, but we're told that Alice attacked her!).

With the loss of Shirl Gordon reducing the writing team to a duo for most of this final season and 150 episodes in the can, inspiration was frequently starting to run low.  Grandpa Moves West chugs along agreeably, but never comes close to the comedic heights of the previous week's Bob Plays Margaret's Game, a knockout that can stand with the best of any season.  The addition of Tammy Marihugh (LOVE THAT BOB's Cousin Oliver, basically) to the cast was only seven segments away.


I guess you could say Margaret was by insisting that Bob fly to Joplin, but it certainly wasn't intentional on her part (for once).  The same can't be said for Paul Fonda, who for once truly seems like the wolf Bob always claims him to be--deflection, no doubt.  In a twist, the comeuppance here is all Paul's.


Not during the running time of Grandpa Moves West, but he was on his way to try to get Miss Holland to Mulholland at the conclusion.


Some nice moments with Talbot put to especially good use, but belly laughs are notably absent.  Still, the smiles come at an acceptable pace and the contrivances involving Alice aren't groan-inducing.  Thoroughly average installment, which is considerably better than many that would follow in the fifth season's home stretch.  (**1/2 out of four)


Thursday, July 18, 2019

F TROOP Fridays: "The Girl From Philadelphia" (1965)

F TROOP Fridays: Number 21

F TROOP: "The Girl From Philadelphia" (Warner Brothers/ABC-TV 1965) Season 1, Episode 7: Original Air Date: October 26, 1965.  Starring Forrest Tucker as Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke, Larry Storch as Corporal Randolph Agarn, Ken Berry as Captain Wilton Parmenter, Melody Patterson as Wrangler Jane, Frank deKova as Chief Wild Eagle, Edward Everett Horton as Roaring Chicken, James Hampton as Bugler Dobbs, Bob Steele as Trooper Duffy, Ivan Bell as Duddleson.  Guest Stars: Laurie Sibbald as Flying Sparrow, Linda Marshall as Lucy Lanfield, Harvey Parry as Charlie the Drunk.  Written by Arthur Julian.  Directed by Charles R. Rondeau.

Another week, another threat to O'Rourke Enterprises--just when business is starting to pick up after a three moon mini-slump!  Lucy Lanfield arrives on the noon stage, ready to accept a proposal from Captain Parmenter that she rejected multiple times from Private Parmenter.  Of course, her well-to-do family will arrange for the Captain's transfer back to Philadelphia, which would force Sergeant O'Rourke to break in another commanding officer if she succeeds.  Fortunately, they already have some ready-made and eager competition for the Captain's heart in Wrangler Jane.

It might sound like the F TROOP version of MY FAIR LADY (which had premiered almost exactly a year prior, on October 21, 1964) but Jane's makeover isn't introduced until halfway through the second act.  Quite a bit of time is leisurely spent on the inner workings of O'Rourke Enterprises and the Captain's background in his hometown prior to his heroics at Appomattox.  Arthur Julian's script covers an impressive amount of the former in less than three minutes: the opening powwow at the Hekawi camp covers quite a bit of the former, filling us in on the year-to-date business, Wild Eagle's checking of the books ("we trust you!"), labor costs and innovations.

"Philadelphia is a wonderful city, it's just a shame nobody lives there!"

Once the snooty socialite arrives, we learn that she was Wilton's unattainable back home, always out with someone else when he came courting.  This despite the impressive accomplishments of the rest of the Parmenters--which of course, the Captain never lived down his failure to live up to prior to fate's intervention at the conclusion of the War.  It's no wonder Wilton throws some shade at his hometown, something that haughty Ms. Lanfield would never say about the birthplace of her family.

Which brings us to the major drawback in The Girl from Philadelphia: Lucy Lanfield ranks as one of the least credible threats that O'Rourke and Agarn face during the first season.  It's clear from their first scene together that her hold on the Captain has faded the young man went off to War: "wretched" Fort Courage gets a strong defense from its C.O., and Parmenter's ear-to-ear smile while learning to lasso is the only one he exhibits in Lanfield's presence.

Nevertheless, all partners in O'Rourke Enterprises are cognizant of the potential peril.  But the Sarge doesn't unleash his Professor Higgins right away, instead giving Jane a showcase for the things she does best: shooting, riding and roping.  All the socialite can do in response is upstage by fainting, which is effective enough to put the Pygmalion plan into play.

That is, once Wild Eagle inadvertently suggests it, and even purchases a dress from Carson City himself.  Refreshingly, we don't get a scene with ladylike teachings.  Hell, making Mrs. Right isn't even the only scheme in play; Roaring Chicken (still the Hekawi Agarn at this stage, in the fourth of his six appearances) decides a little insurance is needed in the form of Flying Sparrow:

It's too bad that ballerina Laurie Sibbald (NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS) had such a brief acting career, for we sure could have used more of Ms. Sibbald on our screens.  She was a Deb Star of 1965 alongside the likes of Raquel Welch and Barbara Parkins.  The good news: Sibbald will return with a bigger role in the riotous Here Comes the Tribe.   Linda Marshall's time in front of the camera was similarly fleeting; after TAMMY was canceled in 1966 she became a full-time ambassador for the Baha'i faith.

Arthur Julian had a weakness for the triple, which gives us three dropped teacups and three face-slaps for our seemingly caddish Captain.  But that foible becomes a strength at times, with a welcome and unprecedented three dollops of old Hekawi wisdom.  Town drunk Charlie returns to get thrown out of the saloon (before noon, naturally) and Julian manages a rare quadruple (of fainting spells; the capper is the funniest).

"Be brave, my dear.  I'm sure you'll find happiness with some civilian."

Janie is stealing the Philly deb's thunder even before she gets in that size 10 dress Wild Eagle orders; he's thrilled when learning to lasso himself and seeing her pistol prowess.  When Wrangler gets in that dress Wilton can't even remember making that supposed proposal to Lucy, and he barely seems bothered when gentility leaves entirely after Miss Lanfield's unladylike barbs.  So yeah, she's lacking as a threat.  Still, it's positively classic when Wilton drops the parting line above this paragraph on her.  Few actors could deliver an oblivious (or was it?) diss like Ken Berry.   Lest you think he's growing into his rank, he does manage to get his sword caught in the stagecoach door afterward.  Nice to have the old man back!

TV GUIDE's Cleveland Amory was specifically unimpressed with this installment when he penned his otherwise positive review of the series, but Melody Patterson singled it out as one of her favorites.  A punchline seems to be missing in a spot or two, but there's enough bulleyes to keep F TROOP on a winning path creatively.  Commercially, too.  For the two-week Nielsen ratings ending November 7, 1965, the show ranked 22nd with a 21.8 rating, ABC's fifth highest ranked show in the survey and a solid improvement over lead-in McHALE'S NAVY's 20.4.


The Hekawis are not the only Native business partners in O'Rourke Enterprises; the arrowheads are made by a tribe in Oklahoma and shipped via stage.  To be fair, this frees up time for creativity; inventive Running Deer devises a toy tomahawk, a feat that nonetheless doesn't even net him any dialogue, much less a copyright.

The appearance of Charlie in Dirge for the Scourge apparently followed his purchase from Dodge City, which luckily had an extra drunk for the remote outpost.

Relations: Wild Eagle, son of Crazy Horse.  Roaring Chicken, son of Sitting Duck.

The cookies at the tea party are loaded with rum.  Is Wilton trying to get Janie drunk?  Shame on you Captain!


Defending the West from the snooty outsider, Wilton declares: "if it's good enough for General Custer, it's good enough for me!"  Old Ironpants is next.....


O'Rourke gives Wild Eagle the full report at the powwow; things picked up nicely in the fourth moon after a three moon recession, with the current moon expected to be the biggest so far, despite the extra expenses involved with the Oklahoma delegation of arrowheads.


As mentioned, three, which gives us more than any other episode!

"Bark of tree never bitter to hungry squirrel."  The Chief admits that it loses something in translation.

"Sparrow fly high, but cannot build dam with tail of beaver." Can't argue with that one!

Finally, from Roaring Chicken, who is certainly old enough to be wise:

"You always have empty tepee when frost is on buffalo's nose."  Wild Eagle can only admiringly wish aloud that he'd said it.


Lucy Lanfield certainly isn't with her comments to Silver Dove, though to be fair she finds everyone beneath her (even the Captain, until now).  Notably, Wrangler Jane turns to Wild Eagle for advice on how to woo a Captain.


Themes here would be much better explored in succeeding segments: The Courtship of Wrangler Jane is a much funnier attempt at matchmaking, and A Fort's Best Friend is Not a Mother gives us a far more imposing threat to take The Scourge of the West back east.  The F TROOP formula is still being calculated in episode 7 and it shows, but notwithstanding I still find this one funnier and more interesting on its own terms than Amory found it IMO.  If it fails to match the hilarity of the first three F TROOP installments, The Girl from Philadelphia is a notch above Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops and The Return of Bald Eagle.  (*** out of four)

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Television Review: GET CHRISTIE LOVE!: "Bullet From the Grave" (1974)

GET CHRISTIE LOVE!: "Bullet from the Grave" (Universal/ABC-TV: Original Air Date 11/20/74)  Starring Teresa Graves as Christie Love, Charles Cioffi as Captain Reardon, Andy Romano as Joe Caruso, Dennis Rucker as Steve Belmont.  Guest Stars: Eric Braeden as Fred White, Kevin Hagen as Harrison, Anne Lockhart as Bobbi, Amy Robinson as Sally, William McKinney as Butch Coleman, Thayer David as Dr. Bryan. Marc Alaimo as Detective Bob Lucas, Leon Russom as Keppler, Ted Chapman as Barton, James Jeter as Cab Driver.  Written by Booker T. Bradshaw and David P. Lewis.  Directed by Mel Stuart.

Series overview for Get Christie Love! HERE 

A jeweler's convention brings Detective Love her latest undercover gig: hotel maid, in order to catch a notorious jewel thief with $4 million worth of ice in town for the assembly.  During the gig, Christie notices a vaguely familiar face in the crowd wearing a convention badge.  Shortly afterward, Detective Lucas is found murdered in the basement.

Following up on her lead, Love learns that the pass was indeed stolen, and the suspected jewel thief subsequently captured is not the conventioneer she saw the night before. Research leads her to believe the unplaceable face belonged to "The Shark"--notorious hit man Fred White.  One problem with Christie's theory: White was killed in a car crash a year earlier.  Since doubting Love has left Captain Reardon eating crow before, he allows her to follow up on her hunch, which leads to further evidence that the assassin is still living--and his next target is on the L.A.P.D.

Detective Belmont literally gets his moment in the spotlight with Bullet from the Grave.  Unlike Caruso in his showcase installment (For the Family Honor), Detective Steve is thriving with a much deserved citation for thwarting a bank robbery and an enviable romantic situation.  Girlfriend Bobbi is a model in high demand, and her boyfriend's valor attracts some decidedly unwanted attention.  With the show's always-lacking budget, we don't get to see Belmont's heist heroics, but the viewer is privy to his assistance in the apprehension of the jewel thief, as well as his bravado in the face of a threat on his life.

Lest you fear this is turning into GET STEVE BELMONT!, our titular heroine is the one who cracks the case.  Detective Love figures out White is still among the living, puts the fear of God into shady Dr. Bryan with a smile, repels an attempt at motor homicide and ultimately foils a precise plan by one of the best snipers in the business.  Little wonder that by this tenth episode Reardon barely questions the seemingly far-fetched hunch of his ace investigator.  To be fair, he asks her to "fly coach" when she checks it out.

As was the case in For The Family Honor, the illuminated second banana runs afoul of the mafia, but Bullet from the Grave handles organized crime in more credible fashion than that misfire.  The Shark is a pro's pro, but Harrison's decidedly un-pragmatic demand for the assignment is driven by emotion, which proves to be a fatal flaw.  Needing Love's demise to "look like an accident" gives her escape from Keppler plausibility that the earlier installment's lacked, and also undermines White's efficiency. 

The writing team of Bradshaw (best known as the corrupt politician Brunswick in COFFY) and Lewis scripted single installments of COLUMBO and TENAFLY in addition to this lone contribution to GET CHRISTIE LOVE!.  They adapt to the show's restrictions on content well, making the legwork compelling and White's need to eliminate potential identifiers credible.  The writers also provide two welcome rarities for the series.  Christie eschews her (by now noticeably limited) martial arts skills while actually using her pistol at the denouement.  No, not shooting to kill: that adherence to the star's wishes remains.  For good reason, since dead men won't talk--as White clearly knows.

Longtime soap star Eric Braeden makes The Shark a worthy adversary, coolly efficient yet not infallible.  His year in hiding has obviously resulted in loneliness that almost trips him up despite his undeniable organization.  And while GET CHRISTIE LOVE! shied away from the tawdry, Bobbi's photographer certainly lived up to the era's cliche, looking like he had a Hustler assignment or two in his future.  Or past:

I doubt if his thoughts are "TV PG".... has the director credit wrong: it isn't ALL IN THE FAMILY actor Mel Stewart, but rather Mel Stuart, a frequent collaborator of producer David L. Wolper's who also helmed Deadly Betrayal.  Speaking of credits, James Jeter (HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS) somehow doesn't get one as the cab driver to takes Love to the country doctor's estate.


Two sugars, one to her soon to be dead partner in the opening, and one to the hit man, who is under arrest, sugar!

Seven segments in to the GET CHRISTIE LOVE! episode guide now.  I've only seen two real clunkers, two average installments, and three pretty good ones.  This is one of the good ones.  Solid villain, good pacing, welcome insight into Belmont's life away from the station, and one of the show's better climaxes.  (*** out of four)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Television Review: CRAZY LIKE A FOX: "Is There a Fox in The House?" (1985)

CRAZY LIKE A FOX: "Is There a Fox in the House?" (CBS-TV/Sony 1985) Original Air Date: December 22, 1985.  Starring Jack Warden as Harry Fox, John Rubenstein as Harrison Fox, Penny Peyser as Gail Fox, Robby Kiger as Josh Fox.  Guest Stars: Della Reese as Nurse Flood, Michael Lembeck as Dr. Andy Farr, Peter Mark Richman as Dr. Rafelman, Paul Comi as Mr. Tyler, Daryl Anderson as Mickey, Angus Duncan as Dr. Morgan, Simone Griffeth as Mrs. Morgan.  Written by Elroy Schwartz.  Directed by Paul Krasny.

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

After Dr. Farr's confrontation with Dr. Morgan, who has seized full credit for a surgical procedure that Farr developed, Morgan falls victim to a car bomb and Farr finds himself arrested.  Fortunately, Farr is a longtime friend of Harrison's, who in fact introduced him to Gail back in college.  That reconnection with the Foxes comes in handy when Morgan succumbs to his injuries, upgrading the charge against Dr. Farr to first degree murder.

Getting involved while he mulls over a new car (or a motorcycle), Harry picks the brain of explosives expert Mickey and gets filled in on the politics of the hospital by his old friend Nurse Flood.  Morgan's (noticeably unmourned) death and Farr's arrest combine to cause an unfortunate situation for Tyler, whose wife awaits the procedure that can only be performed by those two physicians--at least, in San Francisco.  Then Mickey is found dead in his ransacked apartment after assisting Harry's investigation.

Instead of getting roped into one of his detective Dad's cases, Harrison needs and seeks his father's aid in helping his old school chum. That aside, Is There a Fox in The House? is quintessential FOX.  Multiple car chases through the streets of San Francisco with a rattled junior Fox in the passenger seat for starters.  Harrison's attempt to mitigate this roller coaster by doing the driving goes awry when circumstances force improvisation: the Foxes end up chasing Harrison's stolen vehicle in an exterminator's truck--with a giant swaying bug on the roof and Harry driving.  Tough luck, kid!

After nursing the Senior Fox back to health during his hospital stay in Fox Hunt, Della Reese's Nurse Flood makes a welcome return to the series in Is There a Fox in The House?   After admonishing the gumshoe for attempting to Bogart a physician's parking space, Flood is much more forgiving of the Fox follies that follow, even assisting the investigation and practically becoming one of the family by the closing credits.  Like Norman Fell's Vern, Reese was headed for recurring status, and returned in Fox at the Races, the season (and series) finale.

Longtime GILLIGAN'S ISLAND scribe Elroy Schwartz (yup, brother of Sherwood) gets the formula down nicely in his FOX debut, serving up leads and laughs in equal measure.  There's no shortage of suspects once Harry notices how unlamented the late Dr. Morgan's death is--the first of many helpful tidbits from Flood.  Adultery, arrogance, and a penchant for theft of intellectual property--the further the investigation goes, the less liked Morgan gets.  By Act III it seems a wonder that Morgan lived as long as he did.

The penchant of lead-in MURDER, SHE WROTE for inverting viewer expectation pops up in Is There a Fox in the House? with the appearance of venerable villain Peter Mark Richman.  Surely there's a skeleton or two in his closet, right?  Well, maybe.  Maybe not.   Having just started his regular gig on CBS' FOLEY SQUARE a week earlier, Lembeck (ONE DAY AT A TIME) gets top billing in the impressive guest cast.

With several opportunities for the comedy team of Warden and Rubenstein to generate laughs, a mystery that is agreeable if uncomplicated, and the always welcome Reese, this is an archetypal crowd-pleasing hour for the series.  Unfortunately, the show's pre-emption driven sophomore slide in the Nielsens continued.  Bumped to 10 P.M. E.T. for a week by A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Is There a Fox in the House? posted a 16.3 rating, good for 30th out of 65 shows for the week ending December 22, 1985.  But that still-respectable showing came in second for the time slot, bested by ABC's showing of THE TOY (18.7, 16th).  Ugh--THE TOY over the FOX?  What the Hell were viewers thinking?   (*** out of four)

CRAZY LIKE A FOX occasionally airs on getTV.  Check the schedule here!