Wednesday, June 12, 2013

McMillan and Wife: "Death Is a Seven-Point Favorite"

One of the best things about Netflix is that you can try out shows that you've never seen before.  I have only seen one or two episodes of "McMillan and Wife," a hit show from the 1970's that starred Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.  According to Wikipedia, Rock Hudson plays Stewart "Mac" McMillan, who is the Police Commissioner of San Francisco.  (This was during the San Francisco craze in American culture -- there are a ton of movies and TV shows set in San Francisco from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970's).

Anyway, I've decided to give this show a chance.  In the spirit of Eric, I have picked "Death Is a Seven-Point Favorite," the fourth episode from the first season.  This episode aired on December 8, 1971, and has something to do with professional football.

Oh, they only made about 7-8 episodes of this show per year.  It rotated with Columbo and McCloud as part of a series called the NBC Mystery Movie.  I like the idea of rotating shows, and it seems to have been pretty successful.  I wonder why it hasn't been tried more.

In December 1971, Rock Hudson had just turned 46 years old.  Susan Saint James was 25.  I don't think they make shows any more in which 46-year-old men are married to 25-year-old women -- but they didn't make many back then, either.

OK, on with the show!  (Further thoughts in the comments. And here's a photo from RockHudsonProject.com)



174 comments:

  1. OK, so we start with one of those openings where the police operator is telling the cops to go somewhere -- like they used to do on Adam-12. I always liked those openings.

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    1. I'm already excited! Thanks, Go Heath, for picking the football episode.

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  2. Now we get some dramatic, early-1970's music, and we see a guy running around San Francisco, being chased by a much larger man.

    The larger man turns out to be Rock Hudson, who chases the hood into the water and beats him up. Then the cops come up. McMillan's assistant comes up to him and says, "Well, we got him." The soaking-wet Hudson, who has done all the work himself, looks wryly amused.

    I think Police Commissioners should catch more criminals on their own.

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  3. Now McMillan and his assistant are driving toward Kezar Stadium. The assistant explains that something suspicious is up, because a lot of bookies are coming into town for the big NFL game this weekend.

    McMillan wisely notes that "Bookies don't come into town to watch football -- they have scouts for that. They only come into town when they have a problem."

    Is that true? Before the Red Zone channel, did bookies have scouts watching all the games? That's pretty cool, if you think about it.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. I'm guessing John Brodie and/or Bernie Casey has a role in this episode.

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  4. Now we have a great, long, panning shot of the interior of Kezar Stadium -- the same stadium used in the climax of "Dirty Harry." In real life, the last game played at Kezar Stadium was the 1970 NFC Championship game, in which the Cowboys beat the 49ers.

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  5. Inside the stadium, a bunch of guys are working out in t-shirts and shorts. They don't have any logos, but they're all wearing red, so I'm assuming these are the 49ers.

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  6. On the sidelines, a radio guy is trying to do an interview with the trainer. As the interview begins, a beautiful woman in a miniskirt walks by. The trainer, distracted, tells us that one of the player's legs is in good shape, but -- looking at the woman -- "not as good as those." The radio guy is annoyed.

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  7. We follow the woman -- who turns out to be Mrs. McMillan. She's got kind of a Diane Keaton thing going on with an oversized bag and some giant sunglasses. For some reason, she tries to talk to the coach -- who claims she is a distraction.

    Oh, and it turns out that this team is the "Hawks." We know this because the Coach is wearing a "Hawks" jacket.

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  8. It turns out that Mrs. McMillan is here to pick up an autographed football for "Father Monoghan and the kids." The football is over next where the trainer is being interviewed, and he gets distracted again.

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  9. But then the trainer sees "Mr. Royce," a distinguished-looking man in a suit. The trainer starts to ask Mr. Royce something, but Mr. Royce cuts him off with a big "No." "I'm the owner and manager of a football team, not the head of a benevolent organization!"

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    1. Well, this is not going to turn out well for Mr. Royce.

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  10. Apparently the trainer, "Mr. Lobo," just wants a loan. The owner refuses him and the trainer walks away.

    Now we can see that Ms. McMillan's bag says "Save a Tree."

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    1. We have a bunch of re-usable bags that we schlep to the Kroger here in Madisonville. They give my wife the evil eye something fierce if she's the one who pulls those things out to be filled instead of the plastic bags. Oddly, they don't seem to mind my doing it. I'm not sure what's going on there, but something is definitely going on there.

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    2. SmartMom thinks that husbands generally get better treatment at grocery stores than wives.

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  11. Mrs. McMillan starts to walk away with the autographed football, but is tackled by one of the players -- who says that she shouldn't leave without his autograph. She recognizes him -- it's Billy Benton, the Hawks' big star. But she tells him that she's married, and he acts heartbroken.

    But he's happy to sign the football. He knows Father Monoghan -- in fact, he knows him as Father Joe, because Billy Benton was raised in this same orphanage. He even offers to go with her to the orphanage to deliver the ball. What a good guy.

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    Replies
    1. Is Billy Benton played by John Brodie or Bernie Casey?

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    2. I don't know who plays him, but Billy's character is clearly meant to be based on Joe Namath.

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  12. Meanwhile, McMillan is stuck in traffic. He's also trying to get to Father Monoghan's school. He asks his driver how much farther. "Twenty minutes by car, sir, but three if you walk."

    McMillan decides to walk. He's wearing a gray suit with a shirt that has pink pinstripes and a red patterned tie. He soon meets Mrs. McMillan (still wearing the outfit from before) and Benton (now wearing a long-sleeved button-up shirt with white and blue stripes and blue jeans.)

    Then we have a little married business in which McMillan starts to drink from a water fountain, but it's set too high and he gets splashed in the face. Mrs. McMillan thinks this is funny, but then he adjusts the fountain and she gets splashed as well. It's all great fun.

    When I was a kid, I basically thought this is what married life was like.

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  13. McMillan and Wife invite Billy Benton for dinner, but of course he has a bunch of hot dates. Then McMillan looks at the football and we get the creepy music. On the football someone has written that ----- (the word is smudged) "is trying to kill me."

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  14. And with that, we go to the credits, which consist mostly of 1971-type pictures of Rock Hudson and Susan St. James, with pretty good early-1970's style music.

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    1. My mom loved this whole rotation of shows. She still watches them on some network she gets in Evansville that we don't down here in Madisonville. "Me TV," I think?

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  15. They have a bunch of pictures of San Francisco stuff in the credits, including a picture of the 49ers. Maybe in this world, San Francisco has two NFL teams -- the Hawks and the 49ers.

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    1. I've been reading some previews of the 1968 NFL season in preparation for 1968 NFL coverage at the HP this fall, and there's a good bit of sentiment that John Brodie is through and George Mira Jr. has taken over as the 49ers' quarterback.

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    2. In Sports Illustrateds from the early 1960's, they were pretty high on George Mira, Jr. as well.

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  16. Now we've rushed back to Kezar Stadium, where the McMillans, Benton, and McMillan's assistant are trying to see who wrote that someone was trying to kill them.

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  17. There's this little funny bit where the three men are all walking along extremely fast while Mrs. McMillan struggles to keep up. Every once in a while, she has to run for two or three steps to stay on pace.

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  18. Now the radio guy is interviewing Vic Whelan, who is the backup quarterback to Billy Benton. The radio guy intimates that it must be frustrating to be a backup, but Whelan insists he likes Benton and just wants to do what's best for the team.

    The radio guy is named Andy King, and his show is "Hawks-Eye View."

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    1. Whelan sounds like a good guy, too. OK, I'm guessing John Brodie is playing Billy Benton and Bernie Casey is playing Vic Whelan.

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    2. Whelan is an older guy -- mid-to-late 30's, near the end of his career. But the sort of guy who was probably really good in his prime.

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  19. Just as McMillan is about to ask the radio guy about the football, the trainer comes running out: "Hey, come quick! Something's happened!"

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  20. There's a body near the concession stand. A young man has been stabbed. Mrs. McMillan, feeling woozy by this violence, tells her husband that she's going home.

    The trainer says that the victim was Willie White, known as "Whizzer," and that he was a "real nice kid."

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  21. McMillan asks the trainer why he found the body, which had been hidden in a refrigerator. Lobo gives a nonsensical explanation that McMillan quickly explodes, and then admits that he steals left-over concessions and drinks. McMillan sends him away.

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  22. I was wrong. Mrs. McMillan didn't go home; she just walked away from the crime. She's on the field, looking at the two actual hawks that apparently serve as mascots.

    It seems odd that they would bring the hawks to practice, but I like having the mascots play a major role in team development.

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  23. McMillan talks to Benton, who says that White was a big fan, and that he (Benton) wants to pay for the funeral. McMillan notices that Benton also has a bloody undershirt, which he will take as potential evidence.

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  24. Now we with McMillan, Wife, and Assistant in the parking lot. It turns out that White had a brand-new Honda motorcycle. How did he afford this bike on such a low salary? And why does it have so many miles on it?

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  25. McMillan finds what appears to be betting slips in a bag near the bike. He explains to Mrs. McMillan that White may have been a "bagman" for the bookies, and that he may have been killed because he knew how the game was going to come out -- four days before it's played.

    And we go to commercial.

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    1. I forgot to mention that the Assistant rode the motorcycle back to Police Headquarters -- without putting on a helmet. He just jumped on the bike and left.

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  26. I was wrong, by the way. McMillan is not wearing a white shirt with pink pinstripes. He's wearing a pink shirt with white pinstripes. Combined with his somewhat shaggy hair and mustache, it gives him a sort of "mod" look -- for a man in a gray suit.

    Now he and Mrs. McMillan are walking in a park, trying to get her car. She says that "Billy" Benton didn't have anything to do with it. McMillan says that's what she wants to think.

    For the record, I also think Benton is innocent.

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  27. Mrs. McMillan goes home, where (as she told us in the last scene), they are going to have stuffed peppers for dinner.

    She has lost her keys, and is looking for the spare key when Nancy Walker (the actress, I don't know her character's name yet) appears.

    According to Wikipedia, Nancy Walker's character is called "Mildred." Mildred starts to look for the keys and immediately tells us that she wants to bet on the Hawks, as the Hawks have quickly gone from being a 15-point favorite to being a 6-point favorite. Personally, I wouldn't see that as a reason to bet the Hawks.

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  28. Mildred figures out that Mrs. McMillan actually left the spare key in the house yesterday. Just as they are trying to figure out what to do, Mrs. McMillan leans on the door -- which opens.

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  29. But now Mrs. McMillan has a problem. She wants to tell her husband that the point spread has changed dramatically, but she doesn't want him to know that Mildred is betting. When he comes home for dinner, she tries to butter him up, and he eventually agrees not to ask how she knows about the point spread.

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  30. Now, by the way, Mrs. McMillan is wearing a sweater with a pattern that is very similar to the pattern used on the Partridge Family bus.

    McMillan takes the information, calls Al -- the bookkeeper Mildred uses -- and checks on the point spread. Al spills all, so Mrs. McMillan and Mildred are busted.

    But the bigger news is that someone has bet $75,000 against the Hawks.

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  31. McMillan explains that it's likely someone is betting against the Hawks because they have inside information that the Hawks are going to lose. This raises the possibility that someone -- perhaps Billy Benton -- is going to throw the game.

    Mrs. McMillan is very unhappy about this.

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  32. Now it's the next day and McMillan is out with his assistant. The Assistant -- Wikipedia tells me his name is Sergeant Charles Enright -- is wearing a conservative navy suit, white shirt, and red tie. But McMillan has broken out gray pants, a brown plaid jacket, and a bright pink shirt. It actually looks better than it sounds, but it definitely has a very "mod" flavor.

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  33. We have a little back-and-forth about who will go into a barbershop to pick up information. McMillan explains that he can't get a haircut, or Mrs. McMillan will divorce him. As it turns out, Mrs. McMillan cuts his hair -- which no doubt explains its "mod" style.

    Enright trudges off to get a haircut.

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  34. On the inside, the barbershop turns out to be another mod place, with a red carpet, a chandelier, and big leather chairs. Even better, one of the barbers is played by the same actor who went on to play Jerry the Dentist on "The Bob Newhart Show." This is great!

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  35. Jerry the Dentist turns out to be George Harvard, and he tries to talk Sgt. Enright -- now calling himself "Bill Sergeant" -- to get a $40 hairstyle. That would be $224 in 2012 dollars, so Enright turns him down. He just wants a trim.

    Just then, the phone rings and Harvard picks it up.

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  36. In the course of the haircut, Harvard keeps getting phone calls and we learn that he cuts -- "dresses," he insists -- the hair of all the Hawks except for Billy Benton. Enright tries to get information about betting, but Harvard says nothing.

    Enright comes out with his hair in a sort of Luke Skywalker-type wave. McMillan gives him an ironic "very nice." But Enright really likes it.

    Anyway, Enright has been working. He believes that "Hair by Harvard" is a bookie joint, and he points out that Harlan Royce -- the Hawk owner -- is one of the folks listed in the notebook where Harvard keeps his messages.

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  37. So it's back to Kezar Stadium to see Harlan Royce. His office features a desk in front of an enormous black-and-white photograph of a football. Royce asks for a cigarette -- but then insists that he doesn't actually want one, as he is trying to quit. He kept doing this the last time we saw him as well.

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    1. I need a big picture of a football for my office. That's a great idea.

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    2. I'm sorry, this was a typo. It's a big picture of a football game -- probably five feet wide and four feet high. It's in black-and-white, and it's just a kind of random shot of what appears to be a running play. You can't see any logos or identify any of the teams in the picture. It would still look good in your office.

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  38. Harlan Royce says that of course he knows George Harvard -- "he's my barber." He goes on to insist that he just spent a million dollars on Billy Benton, and that it would make no sense to do so if he doesn't plan to play according to the rules.

    Royce claims that he was working with technicians on the scoreboard when White was murdered. And then this scene ends with a bunch of humor about how Royce wants cigarettes but can't get them because he told everyone not to give them to him.

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  39. But now the camera shows someone taking a gun out of a football locker -- and loading it with bullets. Who is this?

    We don't know. Next we see McMillan and Enright outside the stadium talking to the radio guy, who wants info. They're not telling him very much -- when suddenly, shots ring out! Everyone hits the deck.

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  40. No one is hurt, but McMillan thinks someone is trying to kill the radio guy. He and Enright go tearing through the stadium, looking for the shooter.

    They run all over, but can't find anyone. Enright says, "Well, whoever it is, he has to be out of breath." But the next room is the locker room, where we see that all the Hawks -- as well as the trainer -- are out of breath.

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  41. The players all just ran into the room after their wind sprints. The trainer -- who is actually called "Lowball," not "Lobo" -- has a pistol, which is used as a starters' gun. This turns out to be the pistol from before -- but when they look in Lowball's locker, the gun is gone. Lowball claims that he loaned it to Benton, but Benton denies this.

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  42. Now it's evening and the McMillans are going to bed. Mrs. McMillan is doing that thing where you brush your hair a whole bunch of times before falling asleep -- do women still do that? She doesn't understand why anyone would want to kill the radio guy -- who is apparently called "Sandy," not "Andy." But his show is called "Hawks-Eye View."

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  43. Anyway, McMillan doesn't want to talk about the case -- he wants a little quiet time. He's happy that they've been able to get to bed early -- it's only 9:20 P.M. But then Mrs. McMillan remembers that "Sally" -- I don't know who that is -- is hosting a party for the Hawks tonight, and that the McMillans were supposed to be there. She calls to explain that they are not coming -- but, of course, she ends up agreeing to come right over.

    Wives, huh? What can you say?

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    1. And it's even worse than that, because in the course of trying to get out of the party, she claimed that McMillan had suffered ligament damage, so now he'll have to limp around at the party. He gets up and starts practicing his limp.

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    2. In this episode, at least, Susan St. James looks a lot like Karen Carpenter.

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    3. One of our readers has noted that Mrs. McMillan's first name is Sally. That is correct, but I'm pretty sure that Sally was also the name of Mrs. McMillan's friend who was hosting the party. I may have gotten the name wrong. But Mrs. McMillan is definitely not hosting the party.

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  44. Now McMillan is up. He then gets a call from Enright, who tells him that they found the gun -- with Billy Benton's fingerprints on it -- in Vic Whelan's locker. McMillan will have to go with Enright, and Mrs. McMillan will have to go to the party by herself. But she's a trouper about the whole thing, which makes McMillan very happy.

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    1. I continue to stand by my "uh-oh."

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    2. There's a little bit here where McMillan is still limping -- but then Mrs. McMillan reminds him that he doesn't have to limp any more, because he's not going to the party.

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  45. McMillan and Enright go to Benton's apartment -- only to find Vic Whelan there. He explains that he's staying over because he had a fight with his wife, and that Benton isn't there.

    Benton's apartment features a painting of a very pretty girl playing the guitar, and at least one black-and-white football photograph.

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    Replies
    1. By the way, why didn't Whelan or Benton go to Sally's party?

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  46. Whelan insists that he doesn't know anything about the gun, or how it got into his locker. He says he doesn't know where Benton is. Enright calls the operator and gets the last number called from Benton's phone, and then he and McMillan leave.

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  47. Enright and McMillan pull up to "Hair by Harvard." The door is open, so they just walk in. They see what appears to be George Harvard's body in a chair. As they start to examine the body, someone makes a break for the door, but Enright tackles him. It turns out to be Billy Benton.

    And . . . commercial.

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  48. Well, we're just over halfway through this story, and I can't stay up any longer. I'll finish it later -- but so far, I can see why this show was so popular.

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  49. This is fantastic. I so hope you continue this commentary.

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  50. This show is a tribute to star power. For the most part, it comes across as a pretty straightforward show from its time period -- but Rock Hudson and Susan St. James are big-time talents, and that makes a huge difference.

    Imagine a show in which Brad Pitt is married to Zooey Deschanel, and they go around solving crimes. That would be a monster hit. Well, that's basically what McMillan and Wife was.

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  51. Wait a minute! Jerry the Dentist -- I mean, George Harvard the shady hairdresser who may be a bookie -- is not dead after all. He is, however, livid to find out that Enright is a cop.

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  52. But McMillan's not a mood for any chit-chat. He wants to know why Benton was there. Benton insists that Harvard has been spreading rumors that Benton was betting against his own team.

    After some back and forth, Harvard (who was hit in the face by Benton before the copss arrived) jumps up and accuses Benton of being the guy who bet $75,000 against the Hawks. Benton insists this is not true.

    By the way, McMillan is now wearing a great outfit -- a blue windbreaker, dress shirt with red and blue stripes, and khaki pants. I've been trying to make this look work for years, but of course I'm not Rock Hudson.

    Enright is still wearing his dark suit, white shirt, and narrow tie. Benton has a gray pullover shirt with collar and gray pants. George, surprisingly (to me, at least), is wearing a dark suit, light blue shirt, and conservative blue patterned tie.

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  53. Now McMillan wants to know if Harvard took the $75,000 bet. "I don't take bets!" insists Harvard.

    If that's the case, says McMillan, how did he know about the bet?

    Harvard clams up.

    "Book him," says McMillan to Enright. And McMillan walks off, taking Benton with him.

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  54. Now Benton is at chez McMillan, holding a cold compress to his head (during the scuffle before, Harvard hit him with a hair dryer).

    McMillan is complaining that he has no idea where his wife keeps the Band-Aids. He's looked everywhere.

    Wives, hey? How wacky are they?

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    1. I think that's excellent writing, by the way--to have that McMillan has no idea where his wife stores Band-Aids.

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  55. At this point, Mrs. McMillan walks in, now wearing a floor-length red dress with a red jacket (the same color as the dress) in a sort of bolero style. She complains that by the time she got to the party, everyone was gone.

    McMillan points out Benton, and she expresses concern about his head. McMillan asks about the band-aids, and she takes them -- out of a mini-refrigerator built into the wall near the bar. (That's a great idea for a refrigerator, by the way).

    "Do you always keep your Band-Aids in the ice box?" says Benton, amused.

    "They feel better when they're cold," explains Mrs. McMillan.

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    Replies
    1. I might try this.

      By the way, I know exactly where we store the Band-Aids in our house.

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  56. Mrs. McMillan puts a bandage on Benton and asks what's up. The two men play coy, with Benton merely saying that there's a guy who thinks he's a crook.

    "I'd punch him in the nose," says Mrs. M.

    "He did," says Mr. M.

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  57. And now Benton picks up a black-and-white photo of the McMillans and asks where it was taken. McMillan, with a sly grin, says "On our honeymoon."

    "Where'd you go?" says Benton.

    "To bed," says Mrs. McMillan real fast. And then they all get up to check the coffee.

    She asks McMillan if Benton is in real trouble. McMillan says "Mm-hmm."

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    Replies
    1. The writer of that line for Mrs. McMillan was a husband.

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  58. Benton asks why he's in real trouble. McMillan explains that his finger prints were found on Lowball's gun. Benton says that he's never even seen the gun, and he had no reason to shoot Sandy (the radio guy). McMillan also explains that he's not booking Benton because "that's just what somebody wants. If you're booked, you can't play Sunday."

    "How can I thank you?" says Billy.

    "Make sure I'm right," says Mac.

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    1. OK, it's not going to be Billy Benton.

      Delete
  59. But Mrs. McMillan, not to be distracted, says she doesn't understand how Billy's fingerprints came to be on the gun. That seems like a good question to me, but no one answers.

    At this point, Billy excuses himself to use the restroom. After he leaves, McMillan tells his wife that everything is too pat -- he thinks Billy is being framed.

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  60. Then we have a little married by-play about Billy's charm. McMillan says that Billy appeals to his paternal instincts. Mrs. McMillan says he appeals to her maternal instincts. McMillan says he thought Billy is a sex symbol. Mrs. McMillan stumbles around on this for awhile, and finally says: "Well, he is rugged and good-looking, but you know that's not my type."

    Which leads to a kiss.

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    Replies
    1. The makers of Hart To Hart almost had to be connected to this show.

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    2. It has a very strong Hart to Hart vibe.

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  61. At this point, Billy returns and says he needs to get back. The McMillans offer to drive him back. "No trouble," explains Mac. "It saves us tailing you home."

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  62. And now it turns out that McMillan's own car is a yellow roadster that looks like it was made in the 1920's. Actually, according to the Internet, it is a 1953 MG TD Roadster. They are all riding along in the one seat -- Mac is driving, Mrs. Mac is in the middle, and Billy is next to the passenger door. Fun without seat belts!

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  63. Wait, it turns out this is not Mac's car -- the battery on his car is dead. So apparently this is Mrs. McMillan's car. Well, good for her! It's a very cool-looking car.

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  64. Billy says he didn't mind being crammed into the little car. "It's like being in the huddle, except with much prettier people."

    Now Mac and Sally are riding along in the car with both the top and the windshield down. They both look pensive.

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  65. "You wanna talk?" says Mrs. M.

    "Mm-hmm," says Mr. M.

    "I talk," says Mrs. M.

    He asks about the party, and she tells us again that everyone important was gone by the time she arrived. By "important," she means bachelors, and she starts listing the bachelors on the team.

    It turns out that one of the bachelors is Vic Whelan. But Whelan told Mac he had had a fight with his wife, so Mac starts insisting that Whelan is married. But of course he's wrong -- Mrs. M reads the programs, so she knows everyone's marital status.

    And then the light starts to dawn (figuratively). Mac tells her, "We're going back to Billy's."

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  66. They arrive just in time to see Billy fighting a whole bunch of hoods. He's in trouble, because the hoods have him outnumbered four to one, but then Mac wades in.

    While they're all fighting, Mrs. M goes off and pulls a fire alarm. Soon everyone in the fight is getting sprayed with water. That ends the fight, but the hoods seem to have gotten away.

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  67. Benton and the MacMillans go to the hospital to check on Whelan. Benton says that when he got home, Whelan was in the bedroom, so he slept on the couch. Then the hoods attacked Whelan in the bedroom, throwing him out the window. Then Benton started fighting them.

    At this point, Enright comes up to tell us that Harvard made bail and that Whelan had tried to call Mac an hour ago. Enright thinks that the guys attacked Whelan, thinking he was Billy, in an effort to protect their $75,000 bet.

    $75,000 in 1971, by the way, would be $419,000 today -- so we have big money at stake here.

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    1. That sort of detail--the conversion of a dollar amount into today's dollars--is the sort of non-ironic, on-topic note that I think TVLand should employ the Pop-Up Video people to do for their telecasts.

      Delete
  68. And then a doctor tells us that Whelan's condition is critical and no one can see him for at least 24 hours.

    There goes my theory that Whelan was only pretending to be hurt.

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  69. Mac is now very worried that if Benton is in danger. The next scene appears to be taking place the day of the game. Mac is wearing the red and blue-striped shirt, but now he has an off-white tie with black and orange stripes. That is the wrong tie -- he should have gone with something dark blue.

    Anyway, he wants two men on each bench, one man acting as "lineman," one man in the locker room, and at least 50 men in the stands.

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  70. Mrs. McMillan hates to see Mac so worried. She fills up a flask with brandy and something else (I don't know enough about drinking to know what) to help deal with the cold.

    Now we get an overhead shot of the stadium, and it turns out that the Hawks are playing in L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Come on, Mr. Art Director! We already know that they play at Kezar Stadium. And it can't be a road game, because then someone from L.A. would be in charge of security. Still, it's great to get a shot of the Coliseum from this time period.

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    Replies
    1. Honey and water, probably. Maybe orange juice.

      Delete
  71. You can clearly see that the Coliseum is far too big for a football game. The field is crowded into one end of the Coliseum, there is a little set of bleachers behind the end zone at the other end, and about a sixth of the stadium is left empty, as no one down there could see the field at all.

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  72. But now we have an interior shot, and we appear to be back in Kezar Stadium. The other team takes the field wearing white helmets, blue shirts, and gold pants. I have no idea who they're supposed to be.

    The Hawks basically look just like the Niners -- red shirts, gold pants, and gold helmets (but with no logo).

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    Replies
    1. This would've been probably my favorite part of the show.

      Delete
  73. Replies
    1. Brodie wore No. 12 with the 49ers. Steve Spurrier, San Francisco's Heisman Trophy-winning punter, wore No. 11.

      The 1970 49ers went 10-3-1. They beat the Vikings, 17-14, in the divisional playoffs, and then they lost to the Cowboys, 17-10, in the NFC championship. (Dallas lost the Colts in the Jim O'Brien Super Bowl.)

      One of San Francisco's starting safeties in 1970 was Rosey Taylor, who is a player I've always wanted to learn more about. Also, I'd never heard of Doug Cunningham, the 49ers' starting halfback that season, and I'd never seen any of his football cards. This is exciting.

      Delete
  74. Meanwhile, Mac and Wife are riding along in the back of his official car, listening to the pre-game show, in which Lowball is bragging about his military career. "I was the best shot in my unit with a rifle," he says, and is apparently going to go on indefinitely before Sandy mercifully cuts him off.

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  75. But at this point, the car gets a phone call. "Car one," says the driver.

    It turns out that Vic Whelan is conscious, and wants to talk to Mac. Unfortunately, this means they will miss the beginning of the game. Mac asks his wife if she minds. "Yes," she says. But since she has no choice, she's happy to go along.

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  76. Meanwhile, it turns out that Sandy is also the Hawks' play-by-play guy. He tells us that the Hawks take the opening kickoff and run it back to their own 29.

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  77. We get a close shot of Benton calling the signals. He has one of those one-bar helmets like Billy Kilmer used to use. He drops back to pass, and throws an interception! The other team takes the ball at the 40, and runs it all the way back for a touchdown!

    On the sidelines, the Hawks coach -- who is a Blanton Collier type, with glasses and a little hat -- looks disgusted.

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  78. And now we cut to McMillan and wife entering the hospital with Mrs. McMillan holding a radio to her ear. She's now wearing a long white coat trimmed in fur, an off-white turtleneck sweater, and long white pants. She has her hair up in a little bun.

    Mac is wearing that bad shirt-and-tie combination (I think the tie may be white with navy blue and red stripes, but it still doesn't work), and a very nice gray suit.

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  79. Whelan says that it was Lowball who put the gun in his locker. He didn't say anything before, because he didn't care of Lowball was trying to kill Sandy. Whelan hates Sandy, who would do anything for a story. But when Billy got involved, Whelan felt bad, so now he's telling the truth.

    Whelan says that he lied about being married because the real reason he was staying with Billy was that he was worried about the rumors that Billy was betting against his own team.

    Mac wonders if the guys attacked Whelan by mistake, but he says no -- they used his name.

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  80. Whelan wants to know what's happening with the game, and presumably he can't see the game because of the blackout rule, so Mrs. McMillan gives him her radio.

    As they leave the hospital, Mac tells his wife: "We've been operating on the wrong premise. They wanted to get rid of the back-up quarterback before the game, and get rid of Billy during the game."

    And . . . commercial.

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  81. Now we're back to the game. It looks as though we have a lot of game footage from what appears to be a 49ers game, but I can't figure out who the other team was.

    Meanwhile, Billy makes another bad throw, and we get a quick shot of the stands, where a fan is holding a program. It turns out that the Hawks are playing the Drillers at Redwood Field. I'm really glad someone went to the trouble to think all of that up.

    The fans are furious with Billy, and they start to boo.

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  82. In Mac's car, the driver says that Billy is playing the worst game of his career. "He's made two fumbles and we're getting clobbered."

    Mac doesn't seem too surprised by this. He explains to Mrs. Mac that Lowball probably put Billy's fingerprints on the gun while Billy was asleep after getting a message in the training room.

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  83. Then Billy is innocent, says Mrs. Mac.

    "Maybe," says Mac. But he's playing so badly that it looks like he wants to lose.

    At this point he gets Enright on the car phone and tells him to arrest Lowball for the attempted murder of Sandy King.

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  84. We go back to the game, where Billy is sacked. Sandy King tells us the score is 10-0, which doesn't count as a "clobbering" to anyone who has spent the last 20 years watching the Redskins.

    On the other hand, Mrs. Mac tells us that Billy is 2-17, with one completion for no gain. That is bad, even for the Redskins.

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    Replies
    1. I just want to make the point that Blanton Collier's hands are kind of tied here. In this era, Billy Benton was probably calling his own plays, so it's not like Coach Collier could simply have his poorly playing quarterback hand off more frequently to Doug Cunningham and Ken Willard. He would've more had to convince Billy Benton to do so, and, to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, you have to be of the kind of mindset that doubles down on bets even when you start to lose. And with Vic Whelan sidelined, who would Coach Collier send in if he simply benched Benton? Steve Spurrier? Ha!

      Anyway, the point is that None of This Is Blanton Collier’s Fault™.

      Delete
  85. Next we get a shot of Billy saying, "You know what it is Commissioner -- nerves."

    I thought he was talking to the Commissioner of the NFL, but instead it's Police Commissioner MacMillan. Billy insists that the team can come back. But now Enright tells us that Lowball is missing -- and the coach wants to talk to the team before halftime ends.

    Things are not going well for Mac.

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  86. Mac tells Enright that he thinks Billy is doing his best, and that the villains will go ahead with their efforts to prevent him from playing.

    Now the Drillers try a running play on 3d and 10 and almost get a first down. While the yardage is being measured, Mac appears (with walkie-talkie) in the radio booth.

    The Drillers are a few inches short. They decide to go for it. They don't make it.

    By this point, Mac is sitting right next to Sandy, and is talking into the walkie-talkie, thus interfering with Sandy's broadcast. Sandy presses on, but looks annoyed.

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    Replies
    1. By the way, you should absolutely feel free to lay blame for the Drillers' play-calling with Tom Landry. He was the rare coach who called his team's plays.

      Delete
  87. Meanwhile, Mrs. McMillan is on the sidelines talking to Benton. She tells him to be careful, and he heads back onto the field.

    After he leaves, Mrs. Mac talks to the two hawks that serve as mascots. They look thirsty, so she gives them some water from Billy's water bottle.

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  88. On the field, Billy hits a crossing pattern over the middle to pick up about 12 yards. And then he throws a long pass for a TOUCHDOWN! Mrs. McMillan goes nuts.

    Up in the booth, Sandy tells us that Billy is playing better. Mac continues to sit next to Sandy.

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  89. And now we get a great shot of the old Kezar Stadium scoreboard, which has been turned into the "Redwood Stadium" scoreboard.

    The score is "HAWK 7, DRLS 16."

    There are 7 minutes left in the third quarter.

    The Hawks have 12 first downs; the Drillers have 18.

    It's the Hawks' ball on the 40 yard line.

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  90. But the scoreboard is wrong, because the Hawks actually have the ball on their own 30.

    Anyway, Billy completes an 8-yard pass, which brings more wild cheers from Mrs. Mac. But then he tries a keeper and is hit for a five-yard loss. "Where's your blocking?" asks Mrs. Mac.

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    Replies
    1. I imagine this is why coaches sometimes try to isolate teams from wives and moms, for fear of comments like that one leading to intrasquad nastiness.

      Delete
  91. Billy gets up, but looks woozy. And then creepy music starts to play, and the camera shows us that THE HAWK MASCOTS ARE DEAD -- apparently poisoned by the water from Billy's water bottle.

    No one notices this -- except for Mrs. Mac, who starts looking for her husband. (He must normally sit with her, because there's an empty seat next to her.)

    Not seeing him, she yells at Billy. He doesn't hear her, so SHE RUNS ONTO THE FIELD.

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    Replies
    1. OH, MY! I DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING AT ALL! This is great.

      Delete
  92. In the booth, Sandy says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is crazy. A young lady has just run onto the field."

    Mac says, "That's no lady, that's my wife." And he dashes from the radio booth.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent. I wonder if the scriptwriter had the payoff line before he had the plot point.

      Delete
  93. Billy is staggering back to pass when Mrs. Mac runs onto the field. The referee sees her and blows his whistle.

    The Hawks' coach, disgusted, throws his little hat to the ground.

    Mrs. McMillan insists that Billy has to see a doctor at once.

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    Replies
    1. Blanton Collier is going to feel better later this evening once he gets back to the quiet of his little film room that he has created from the den in his house out in San Jose and Mrs. Collier brings him a hot toddy.

      Delete
    2. I thought it was an interesting choice to make the coach a sort of Blanton Collier type, instead of a real tough guy.

      Delete
  94. And just then . . . BILLY COLLAPSES!

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  95. Sandy tells his listeners: "We don't know what happened, but a young woman ran onto the field, and Billy Benton was, uh, stricken while playing."

    Next, we see the police loading Billy into an ambulance. Mrs. McMillan explains about the water and the hawk mascots. Mac sends Enright to look for the bottle, and instructs the cops to see if anyone else drank from the same bottle.

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  96. Apparently, they continued the game, because we next see Sandy making a report on Channel 16 -- KXRZ. He tells us that the game ended with the Hawks losing 24-17.

    Who played quarterback after Billy left? He must be pretty good to have put 10 points on the board.

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    Replies
    1. My guess is that Landry dropped his defense into some deep zones once he saw Spurrier come into the game. Spurrier probably threw for 115 yards or so down the stretch, with one touchdown late after the Drillers were ahead 24-10, and that'll stir up a bit of quarterback controversy on the radio call-in shows.

      Just another headache that Blanton Collier will have to deal with.

      Delete
  97. Meanwhile, Billy is in surgery.

    Mr. and Mrs. McMillan are back in the car. She's complaining that there were 65,000 people were at the game, and that none of them cares if the players get hurt. That strikes me as incredibly unfair, and Mac points out that the fans don't know what happened. "If they did, I'm sure a lot of them would care."

    Speaking for myself, I'm pretty confident that if RGIII collapses on the field, and is taken to the hospital, immediately after a young woman interrupted the game to run up to him, I would be very concerned.

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  98. Mrs. McMillan agrees that Mac is right about the fans. She's just worried about Billy, who is "so terrific."

    Then the car phone rings, and it turns out that George Harvard has been found dead. He should have cooperated with the police.

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  99. We go to the barber shop, where all that's left of George Harvard is a chalk outline on his bright red carpet. There are cops all over the place. Mac walks in, and Enright explains that Harvard was shot from the front at very close range.

    Enright gives Mac a piece of paper. It's the marker for the $75,000 bet. Apparently someone collected the bet and killed Harvard. The paper has no fingerprints, but it's folded in an odd way -- exactly like another piece of paper that we saw in Sandy King's hands while he was doing his post-game show.

    But Mac didn't see Sandy's post-game show, so he doesn't seem to notice the odd folding.

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  100. Now Mac is back home. Mrs. Mac is in the kitchen -- they have one of those dark brown refrigerators that were so popular back in the 1970's. She asks Mac what he wants, and he asks for an egg sandwich on brown bread.

    An egg sandwich on brown bread? Is this their version of health food?

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  101. Mac is completely stumped. He and Mrs. Mac are talking through the case when the phone rings. Thinking it's news about Billy, she puts the egg yolk in the sink and starts stirring the egg shells.

    Mac answers the phone and tells Mrs. Mac that Billy is OK -- and she saved him.

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  102. Mrs. Mac had said that thinks aren't always the way they look, and this triggers something for Mac. He pulls the radio interview in which Lowball was bragging about his prowess as a marksman. But if Lowball was a crack shot, why did he miss when he shot at Sandy?

    More importantly, why is there a piece of paper in the press box FOLDED IN EXACTLY THE SAME PATTERN AS THE $75,000 MARKER?

    Mac calls Enright and tells him to pick up Sandy King on suspicion of murder.

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    Replies
    1. I am totally lost by this story. Can we get back to the football action? Reading about this show as a 44-year-old man in 2013 is exactly how I would've felt about it watching the rerun with my mom as a 10-year-old boy in 1978.

      Delete
    2. Well, the plot ended up having some real problems. For example, there is no coherent way of explaining Lowball's actions throughout the show, nor was it ever explained why Sandy wouldn't have just killed Lowball to make sure he never talked (as he did with Whizzer and George Harvard).

      Delete
  103. Next, we see a security officer unlocking a gate. But someone knocks out the security officer, and re-locks the gate.

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  104. McMillan and wife come out of the stadium looking happier. She says, "Let's go home and I'll make you some dinner."

    "What've you got?"

    "Anything but eggs."

    They laugh, but they're not laughing when they realize that the gate that opens into the parking lot is still locked. And then someone starts shooting at them.

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  105. They run back into the stadium. Mac tells Sandy to take cover in a tunnel while he runs up the stands in an effort to draw the shooter's fire.

    Mrs. Mac tries to make a call from a pay phone, but the wire is cut.

    We now see Sandy running about with a pistol. He is on a catwalk, shooting at Mac. He misses.

    But he hears Mrs. Mac on the catwalk right below him. He shoots at her and misses -- but then he starts into the elevator, which will take him straight to her.

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  106. Mrs. McMillan tries to escape in the elevator, but Sandy catches her.

    "I think I must have the wrong floor," she says.

    He points the gun at her.

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  107. Suddenly, the elevator starts to go up -- Mac has pushed the button on the floor above. The elevator doors open and Sandy, mystified wanders out. But Mac has now climbed up above the elevator AND HE JUMPS ON SANDY, KNOCKING THE GUN FROM HIS HAND.

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  108. Sandy fights desperately, but Mac is enormous -- Rock Hudson was 6' 4" tall -- and he quickly handles Sandy.

    Enright and a bunch of cops come running in and haul Sandy away. Enright explains that Lowball has been found, very drunk near the railroad yard, and that Lowball claims he missed on purpose when he shot at Sandy.

    Mac says, "Oh, yeah."

    Enright: "Oh, you mean you had that figured out."

    Mac: "No, Sally did."

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  109. Mac explains that Sandy was desperate because he had bet $75,000 against the syndicate. He had to kill or be killed. Whizzer found out Sandy's problem, so that's why Whizzer was killed.

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    Replies
    1. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this explanation makes no sense. I think what happened must have been something like this:

      1. Sandy owes the mob $75,000 for gambling debts.

      2. He can't pay, so they're going to kill him.

      3. He decides to make $75,000 betting against the Hawks.

      4. Since this is a one-time deal, and he doesn't want anyone to know about it, he decides to kill anyone who knows about what he's up to.

      Now this still doesn't explain why Lowball got involved, or why Sandy didn't kill Lowball as well. But the show didn't even come close to explaining those facts.

      Delete
  110. Final scene: Billy Benton in bed, saying "I feel terrific."

    Then Mrs. Mac, also in bed, saying she feels terrific.

    Then Mac, also in bed, saying he doesn't feel so bad himself.

    The camera pulls back, and we see that the Macs are at home together in bed, watching Billy Benton do an interview from his hospital bed.

    Mrs. McMillan, by the way, is wearing a Hawks jersey (number 18). Mac is wearing tasteful light-blue pajamas.

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    Replies
    1. The scriptwriter is absolutely a husband.

      Delete
  111. Billy says that win or lose, the Hawks are a dynamite team. He owes his life to two "very beautiful" people.

    And the Macs turn off the TV and get under the covers.

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  112. All in all, a very enjoyable episode.

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  113. Excellent! Excellent! Hooray for football, and hooray for TV!

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  114. Well, neither John Brodie nor Bernie Casey appears to have been in this episode. Billy Benton was portrayed by Don Stroud, who has had a pretty eventful life.

    So did the writer of this episode, Robert Lewin. He was certainly a pro, and he appears to have been a pretty fun guy, too.

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  115. I just ran across your blog and love the running commentary on this episode. I'm a recent fan of McMillan & Wife myself - so much so I've actually created a blog w/ dialogue memes, gifs and well, of course I had to include some of the 70s fashion. (http://rerunsrfun.tumblr.com/) Hope you are continuing to enjoy the show!

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