Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Misguided Model: The writers were not misguided!

Oh my goodness! I don’t know if I’ll actually post this a day early, but I’m typing it up on Wednesday because I just couldn’t wait to rave.

(As it turned out, I saved it . . . but have been delayed getting it up while watching Wesley Lau and Richard Anderson in various guest-spots. . . .)

The Misguided Model from season 9 is . . . oh wow. So, so intense. It has just claimed its spot as one of the very few episodes without Hamilton that I will jump at the chance to watch. Last year I watched maybe a third of it, while I was half-asleep, and then stopped it to look for one with Hamilton, as I specifically wanted one with him right then. This time, despite knowing he wasn’t in it, I wanted to watch it because of Steve being in it.

I also discovered I know the deputy D.A. who is in it. Remember my musing on The Impetuous Imp? He’s baaaack. Say hello to Deputy D.A. Bill Vincent, eager beaver extraordinaire. (Nobody corrected me to let me know he was in other episodes, so I suppose nobody else remembered. Hmm.)

This is a very different Perry episode. It opens with a starlet-hopeful and her friend arriving at her apartment and discussing the fact that she is being threatened by a shady character she knows. When the door is opened, a fist comes flying at Duke, her friend, and he begins fighting with the man attached to it. The fight ends with the intruder, Art Grover, being killed and Duke going into hysterics over the thought of turning himself in for it. He has a phobia of being locked up, so even though it was a self-defense killing he begs for his friend Sharon to keep quiet about it. She’s more than willing; she wants the body out of there, as any scandal will hurt her chances at becoming the spokesperson for the conservative White Snow company. Duke carts it into an alley, where a thief tries to pick the pockets and ends up arrested for murder.

Meanwhile, Duke goes to Perry and tells him in confidence about the fight. Perry urges Duke to turn himself in, but Duke continues to refuse, both because of his fears and because he’s trying to protect Sharon. Perry compromises that he will try to find out what has happened and whether the body has been discovered, but tomorrow he wants Duke to go to the police. Perry also promises he will not break the confidence.

Perry and Paul visit Steve at the station and learn about the poor fellow who has been arrested. Perry immediately calls Duke and tells him he has to turn himself in now, but Duke still refuses.

This puts Perry in a horrible moral dilemma, reminiscent of The Capering Camera but infinitely worse. He doesn’t want to betray the promise to Duke. But he can’t let an innocent man be tried for murder.

I have to admit, I squealed and really loved Perry in this episode. I have nothing against him, of course, and I love his compassion and his dedication to his clients and the truth. But his legal tightrope-walking does frustrate me. I’ve made that very clear. I just don’t believe the end justifies the means.

In this episode, Perry is just wonderful. He tries and tries so hard to get Duke to come clean, but when Duke absolutely refuses and then disappears, Perry knows he has no choice. He goes to the hearing as a friend of the court and admits to what he knows in the judge’s chambers. Steve also speaks up and reminds them of the things about the case that he didn’t feel added up, such as Art being killed with a blunt object but the defendant not having any such thing on him when the police caught him in the process of pick-pocketing. The defendant is re-booked on a charge of robbery and the search for Duke begins.

Here I must pause and ponder on two things.

Why is William Talman credited when he is nowhere to be seen? William was denied the honor of always being included in the cast list when he was re-hired in season 4. The Misguided Model is the only episode since season 3 where he is credited while being absent. I have puzzled on that before and have never found an answer.

Could it be that he was supposed to be in it? Or even that he had scenes filmed, but for some reason they were changed? Why?

What is Bill Vincent doing here again? His main purpose seems to be to get reprimanded by the judge for his flimsy case against the hapless defendant. Certainly the same thing has happened to Hamilton, even as late as season 9.

Is there any possible chance that the writers or the director or someone else in the crew decided to have a little compassion on Hamilton and make Bill Vincent the scapegoat this time instead? His case is much flimsier and the judge’s reprimand much stronger than anything I remember where Hamilton is concerned.

This is something else that will likely never have an answer.

I cringe a bit to see that Bill is still the same eager beaver from The Impetuous Imp. (Or possibly even moreso!) Poor Hamilton; he really has his hands full with this fellow.

It kind of seems that the stuff with Bill was meant to be a sub-plot in season 9. Unfortunately, a sub-plot that never quite went anywhere. Since they knew season 9 was to be the last season, they should have worked harder to develop this angle once they introduced it. It could have been really interesting, seeing how Hamilton handled this young and impulsive deputy D.A. with Hamilton himself being older and wiser than he was when the series started.

As I’ve been discovering, season 9 was very good to the police. Steve has many scenes again. He shines gloriously!

We find more interesting tidbits into various aspects of his personality. In his first scene, he greets a lady in the records department by calling her “Honey”, to which she flatly informs him that she wants to be called by her name, which isn’t Honey. Ouch. Ha, poor Steve. Hence we have the first time any of the main police have tried to flirt (unless we count some of Tragg’s comments to Della as flirting).

He listens in the judge’s chambers as Perry tries to explain about Duke killing in self-defense. He feels that an innocent man would not run, and says that when they find him, he will try to remember Perry’s fine-line distinction between murderers and killers.

Steve is hardcore on the job. He demands answers from Sharon and doesn’t believe her when she insists she doesn’t know where Duke has gone. He also is very unimpressed by her insistence on not wanting her chances for being the White Snow Princess to be ruined. He is so frustrated and unimpressed that he can’t even care to get the name right. Twice he calls it “Miss Snow Plow”. I laughed out loud. Priceless.

Rudy, the fellow who seems to be Sharon’s agent, is contacted on the phone by Duke and directs him to a cabin. Upon hearing that Steve doesn’t believe Sharon is unaware of Duke’s whereabouts, and that he won’t keep silent about her part in things, Rudy rushes out to tell him about the cabin in spite of Sharon’s protests. Once the deed is done, however, she doesn’t seem too bothered. She just goes to her mirror and tries out the crown from her costume, looking enchanted.

Paul, meanwhile, goes up to Seattle and finds one of Art’s old cronies. He comes back with some shakedown information that makes Perry start to doubt that Duke killed Art after all, as impossible as it sounds. Hearing about the standoff at the cabin between Duke and the police, Perry knows they must act immediately.

They rush to the studio where Sharon is rehearsing after being chosen as the White Snow Princess. She’s good at the part, no doubt about that, but she is anything but the pure person the company wants for the role. To get the rehearsal stopped and have her come with them to the cabin, Perry and company arrange to put a picture of Sharon with a much older man on the screen. (A tactic that made me raise an eyebrow, I’ll admit.) I’m assuming the picture was among the stuff that Paul brought back, as it’s what Art was holding over Sharon and threatening to reveal. Sharon sees it and any sweetness is gone. She demolishes all of the sample products behind her, throwing them to the floor as she screams and yells. Perry, Della, Paul, and Sergeant Brice come in and escort her out with them.

I was wondering why good old Brice wasn’t with Steve at the canyon. I still don’t know why, but I am terribly amused at his bit part here. He drives everyone up there and rushes the car past an officer without slowing down or stopping to explain. Sergeant Brice the speed demon! Who would have thought?

At the cabin, Duke is hysterical. He has a rifle, from which he fires warning shots at the police cars. He yells that he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Steve, ducking behind his car with an officer, finally allows his stern cover to fade for a brief moment. “We don’t want to hurt anyone, either,” he says softly.

Oh Steve, I love you.

They try twice to get some tear gas into the cabin window, but fail. Perry and company then arrive and Perry pleads with Steve to be allowed to try to get Duke to give himself up. Steve doesn’t want Perry to do it, certain that Duke will try to kill him, but Perry proceeds anyway.

Duke does threaten to kill Perry, and gives him ten seconds to leave. Perry stands his ground and tells Duke how he’s figured out the case. Duke really fought with Rudy in the dark apartment. Art was already dead behind the couch. Rudy was an accomplice to the real murderer, who did not want Art to reveal scandalous truths. She had him killed and deliberately set Duke up as the fall guy.

Sharon immediately speeds off in the squad car, being the last one inside after everyone else gets out. Steve sends out an alert and she’s captured at the roadblock.

I didn’t like Sharon from her very first scene. I thought she was too consumed by wanting to be the White Snow Princess and that she didn’t really care about Duke. I softened when she insisted on how she felt indebted to Duke, but was immediately suspicious again when she didn’t seem bothered by Rudy telling Steve about the cabin. I was kind of glad my dislike turned out to not be unfounded. But gah, poor Duke. What an awful “friend.”

At least Duke has real friends like Perry and Della. The epilogue has them all planning to go out for dinner.

This is definitely one of the best episodes of season 9. And I daresay it’s among my overall favorites. There is just so much good stuff in here, from Perry’s moral dilemma to Steve’s scenes to the standoff at the cabin and Perry trying to talk Duke down.

The only thing I question is the reappearance of Art’s crony. She comes down to L.A. after saying she did not want to be further involved. I don’t quite understand her purpose other than to have more screentime. Unless she’s the one Paul gets that picture from (and I don’t recall that she was), she doesn’t really do anything.

But that’s such a minor quibble. This episode is wonderful!

2 comments:

  1. We see Rita Lynn at the very beginning of the episode at Mobley's apartment door. Was she coming out? Never went in? Why was she there at all ? No explanation.

    If Mobley wanted the Duke character to take the rap for the murder, it made sense for her to call the cops during the fight, but it made no sense for her then to get Duke to hide the body. On the other hand if she didn't want a body found in her apartment to mess up her chances at the White Snow Princess commercials, why did she call the cops at all ? Duke could have dumped the body for her with nothing tying her to the dead man. So - I assume Mobley either killed the man herself, had her agent do it, or contrived with Rita Lynn's character to have Rita kill him and that was why Rita was at Mobley's apartment door when the first scene opened.

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    1. Ah yeah, I remember that! Her part in things still confuses me a bit, especially how she goes back to L.A. to see how things turn out, after having wanted to stay out of it (she said).

      The titular Model character is a very strange person. You make some good points here. The episode left with the impression that she killed the guy, as Perry decided, but I suppose if she didn't actually confess, there is the chance that someone else could have done it, as you suggest. She seemed to have the strongest motive for it, however, what with how intent she was on getting that job.

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