Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quincy-The Final Battle: The Premiere Episode

Okay. I've stalled long enough. It's time to face the true depth of my madness. Some might call it an affectation. Some might call it an obsession. Some might just call the police. However it might be judged, the thing is done.

For years now, I've appreciated the insanely detailed movie recaps of and It's time for me to contribute to the frame-by-frame lunacy. Since "Quincy, M.E." is my passion-o'-the-month, I think it's only right that I try to transcribe the wonder of the premiere episode. That's right. Every righteous moment will be shared, every protruding vein described in uncomfortable ways.

Let me just make it clear that my intent is not to mock. This is pure appreciation with a little good-natured ribbing. It's an exploration of what makes "Quincy, M.E." a badass show to this very day. There'll be some laughs, though. Mere words won't do this episode justice, so I'm gonna go easy on you and give your eyes some screencaps to rest on--a bit of Quincyness to stick in your ViewMaster.

Many of you might not realize (unless you're as pitiably old as I am) that "Quincy, M.E." started out in the final days of NBC's "Sunday Mystery Movie" rotation, alongside such giants as "Columbo," "McCloud" and "McMillan" (the wife-less final run of "McMillan & Wife"). So one week you'd have an hour-and-a-half of one show and then a different show next week. Quincy did four turns in the Sunday wheel before emerging as its own hour-long show, the only survivor of the Mystery Movie's demise.

This premiere "Quincy, M.E." movie doesn't hold back. Instead of coasting into badassness, it vaults right in, grabs you by the lapels of your leisure suit and yells, "You will love this show... or else!"

So strap in for a bonus 90 minutes of Quincy. The show runs 73 minutes without commercials, but I've inserted a few in the appropriate spots to deepen the depth of '70s madness. Unfortunately, the bare-bones DVD doesn't include the "Sunday Mystery Movie" opening (although you can see its style in the closing credits). However, when you're going to the trouble to set your time machine for October 3, 1976, you should get all of the details right. Okay. Well. Most of them. I could only dig up the "Columbo" version of the opening, but it covers the other shows and sets the mood.

Yeah, that's the stuff. Henry Mancini's whistling theme is already pushing us back to an avocado-colored Sunday night deep in 1976. Right before the show begins, they dive in with my favorite '70s crime drama trope: the 20-second reveal. The formula is a blur of plot scraps, hero worship, yelling and a car going over a cliff. And this case is no exception. I don't want to give anything away, though. It's designed to make you say, "Oh yeah. Forget 'The Six Million Dollar Man.' I've got to stick around for this." In this case, it's a mouth-watering montage of over-the-top Quincy mayhem.

The show proper opens with a sunset view from atop a cliff on the rocky California coast. The camera pans down to the beach. That's an odd perspective. We'll call it God-cam. The focus zooms in on a couple going all "From Here to Eternity," minus the rinse cycle Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster had to endure. Sinners!

We close in on a blonde in a bikini having her face inhaled by a guy in a sandy mop and beard. They're having a little celebratory (definitely not celebatory) lovin' for some caper they pulled. Unfortunately, Blondie doesn't know the first rule of post-crime lovin': your partner will most likely kill you when you're through. They chat through the afterglow. Sure enough, like some messed-up mantis, Muscles McBeardy mates and then he kills, strangling her in a made-for-TV way, complete with upset seagulls and a blur-out.

Fade back in on Cap'n Quincy at the wheel of his ship with lovely stewardess Lee Potter at his side. They fantasize about exotic ports, and then the camera pulls back to reveal that the ship is, in fact, sitting in braces on the wharf, unfit for the water.

Quincy and Lee have an interesting, no-strings-attached relationship. They don't qualify as swingers by mid-70s standards. They're "pals," as Quincy says. Pals who, say, share a bed every now and then. You knew "Quincy, M.E." was a progressive show, but who would've guessed it introduced the concept of the "fuck buddy."

Let me just stop for a moment to get myself in trouble and admit my abiding crush on actress Lynnette Mettey. Anyone familiar with "M*A*S*H" will recognize her right off. She appeared in six early-run episodes, credited as Lt. Nancy Griffin, Nurse Sheila Anderson, Nurse Baker and Nurse Able depending on the script. She's my favorite nurse from that show and always did the best with the limited scenes she was given.

She's done some other TV here and there, especially on the Quinn Martin/Glen Larson circuit in the '70s, but she's lent her distinctive, breathy voice to countless commercials over the years. I feel she never got enough credit for her screen time, though, so we salute you, Lynnette Mettey.

She hung around for seven episodes of "Quincy, M.E." She and the Klug had a great chemistry, but I've got to say that Lee was way too good for Quincy. In addition to having the whole blonde stewardess thing going, she demonstrated ridiculous levels of patience. In 1976, she was 33 to the Klug's 54, a fairly significant difference. But Quincy is a loose cannon coroner on the edge who doesn't play by the rules, and the chicks dig him, so it makes sense, I guess.

Anyway, Quincy abandons the wheel and charges over to his sweet, deck-mounted barbeque setup and grabs a hotdog. Just as he's about to inhale it, the phone rings below deck. You've got to wonder how he got Pacific Bell to run a phone line out to his boat. I guess it's all right until he finally gets it seaworthy and ends up tugging some poor schmuck out of a window at the christening. "I can't hear you, Ma. What? Nah, it's just some guy down there launching a bo... waaaagh!" At least he'll land near a coroner.

Down on the Lido Deck, Quincy grabs the 50-pound phone receiver (you needed serious muscles to answer the phone back then, kids) and growls into it. It's Sam. Quincy busts his chops about the interruptus. You can almost hear Sam grumbling, "If I don't get laid, you don't get laid, buddy." There's been a murder, and Quincy's the coroner on deck.

He rises from the depths and apologizes to Lee. She's entirely too understanding and gracious. This will haunt her later. She masks her disappointment and tells him to go do his job of saving the world. The Klug says he knows she's mad and dashes off.

Lee relaxes against the boom and stares off wistfully in that bittersweet way that superhero girlfriends do. We look out over the water at a distant sailboat. It almost looks like a painting, so serene and soothing...

Then WHAM! We're perched behind the red siren of a speeding, Ghostbusters-esque hearse-bulance. My heart attack succumbs to a fit of laughter, because I swear the "Police Squad!" title card should pop up over this image.

Unlike the swingin', horntastic theme we all know and love, a bombastic score bats us around for a few seconds, sounding a bit like Ravel's "Bolero" getting hurriedly beat up in an alley.

The hearse-bulance disgorges the credit we've been waiting for then dumps us at the side of the road and races off. I guess we'll have to hitchhike from here. Thanks a bunch, pal. Sunset-stained waves crash against the rocky shore as we transition to the crime scene and the "also starring" credits.

We get close-ups of the Klug checking the body, allegedly recording his observations on a nearby chrome Mini Micro tape recorder they keep cutting to. However, while we're privy to his dictation, we never see his mouth move, so I'm guessing this was done artfully, hastily added later or proves that telepathy is among his arsenal of superpowers. The credits continue. For some reason, John S. Ragin and Robert Ito are the only ones forced to double up. That's just wrong.

As the crime photographer snaps away with a 50-pound camera, the big man bags the victim's hands and then fastidiously scrapes some sand from her foot into a vial. Unfortunately, he stores the vial's cap in his mouth until he needs it. Uhm, won't that contaminate your evidence? "Quince, I'm picking up traces of mustard, relish and Old Smuggler in this sand sample."

He snaps off his latex gloves and stares forlornly at the body. The single greatest episode title ever crowds the screen. Badass.

As he packs up his black bag, the "guest stars" are listed... one at a time. Why did Ito and Ragin have to carpool? Why am I worrying about it?

God-cam looms over Lt. Monahan and his shadow, Detective Brill, as they meet among the red flashes of the police cars. They have the following voiceover exchange that isn't even in the same county as what they're miming.

"Good evening, Brill. Well, what do we have?"

"All the signs of a textbook rape."

"Who's the medical examiner?"


"Oh no."

The man himself searches the body's belongings for critical evidence. It's here that he descends upon his first victim. He busts the chops of a gangly rookie cop who is lackadaisical about examining crime scene evidence. Take that, Officer Whisperthin! He gobbles air and looks like he's about to wet himself. Granted, Quincy just had an evidence vial cap in his mouth but... well, he's the Man. Different rules apply.

A trained geek eye will notice that Officer Whisperthin is played by Don Mantooth, little brother of "Emergency!" heartthrob Randolph Mantooth.

Lt. Monahan butts in to rescue the rookie. Here's our first face-off, the edgy start of the Quincy-Monahan tradition we all know and love.

"Hey there, Quincy. Nice to see you," he says, although it's clear that it isn't. "Well, what does it look like to you?"

"Looks like you still haven't told your men what not to do at the scene of a homicide."

Imagine Joe Pesci with a bullfrog lodged in his throat, and you have a fair idea of Garry Walberg's voice. It bubbles and squeaks as he lays into Quincy. I love that voice.

"Look, Quincy. I work with other medical examiners, all day, all week. They don't get in my way. I don't get in theirs. And we solve a lot of cases. In other words, they stay out of the way of my detectives. I don't let my boys put their fingers in your cotton-pickin' swabs!"

The Klug gives him a yeah-right look and takes another jab. Monahan hits the "Look, Quincy" button again. He should just tape that thing down 'cuz it's going to get a lot of use in the next seven years.

"Look, Quincy. Stop trying to make out of this more than a simple rape."

"I never knew there was such a thing."

Bang! There's you're first blast of the ol' Quincy righteousness. He delivers it in his patented Somber Tone™. You know the one. Where the world's injustices weigh upon his soul and make him sad. Monahan should count himself lucky that Quincy didn't deliver that in a roundhouse of righteous rage. Don't worry. He'll poke the hornet nest again later.

Detective Brill breaks it up before they come to blows by announcing that they've found a suspect. We cut to a sea of emergency vehicle lights a few miles away. A pair of red-shirt paramedics load a guy onto a gurney ("you plug 'em, we lug 'em"). Quincy notes that he's in shock and has two bullet wounds. Oh, and he tells them how to do their jobs. Dude, you're a pathologist not an EMT.

Apparently, the cops caught him in possession of the dead woman's purse and fired a couple of warning shots. In his ass. Monahan says they've got their killer rapist: case closed. But Quincy can't accept that. No case is solved without his say-so.

"How are you going to justify pumping that kid full of lead if it turns out he wasn't the one who killed that girl? And I don't think he is!"

Quincy says the suspect is too small to have subdued the victim. Monahan says that the guy could've gotten "all worked up" and done it or he might've had help. He blows Quincy off, telling him to put his concerns in writing and go through proper channels.

I've got to pause and say that the direction in this episode is quite good. Lots of dynamic angles and lighting and such. Very cinematic. There's your "Sunday Mystery Movie" budget at work, I guess.

Cut to the L.A. County Coroner's Office building. At night. Specifically, three a.m. Quincy strolls in where the long-suffering Sam has been prepping the victim for Quincy's experimental fingerprints-on-flesh examination technique.

"But we've got about as much chance as a..."

"As a Chinaman in hell?"

Sam sighs. "Quincy. That's a slur against the Chinese. I keep on telling you I'm Japanese," he says... in his Vancouver accent.

"What's the difference?" Oh, Quincy, you scamp. He doesn't really mean it, folks. Just playful banter.

Quincy suddenly remembers there's a hot chick waiting in his bed on the S. S. Cadaver and grabs a giant, black phone to try to dig himself out of the doghouse. He wakes her up, apologizes for ditching her and starts excitedly explaining his new fingerprint-oil-on-the-corpse detection technique. Instead of hanging up on his ass, she is calm and forgiving.

"I knew I shoulda called you soona," he says, his Philly-spiced-with-New-York accent really chewing those words.

"Well, you said up front, 'No commitments. No obligations.' Only, I would like to go back to sleep."

He starts to say that he's sorry, but she's already hung up on his ass. Sam asks if she's mad. Quince says, "She's furious but won't admit it. She smiles at everything I do. Never complains.... She's driving me nuts. C'mon, let's see if we can find this girl's killer."

Cut to the Coroner's Office in daylight. Inside, Quincy and Sam stare at a TV mounted in the wall behind their equipment. A TV. With dials! Welcome to the mid-70s, kids! On the wall behind them is a poster explaining the wonder of the Metric System. Ask any '70s school kid, and they'll go on and on about how they tried to brainwash us into embracing metrics back then. Go ahead. Ask. I'll wait.

Anyway, Sam and Quince smoke over close-ups of the victim's bruised neck on their luxurious color television while somber music swells. Unfortunately, they're too late. The killer's oils have already evaporated from the victim's wounds, so they can't patch together a damning fingerprint. They do, however, get a sense from the bruises as to the largesse of the killer's hands.

"You know what Monahan would say?" Quincy sneers. 'That only proves she didn't strangle herself.'" Zing!

Enter the Mustache. Deputy Coroner Astin unleashes some mustache-fu on his giant licorice phone, gritting his teeth and really working the long-suffering slow boil. He even sounds like future-Mustache William Daniels in this scene. It's Monahan on the line, making his second mistake: harassing Quincy through his boss. Astin starts to ask his secretary to page his favorite pain-in-the-ass but decides to surprise Quincy with a hand-delivered mustache whipping instead.

Sam and Quincy are still looking at the magic motel Zenith, which is now showing the local news instead of forensic photos. Reporters besiege Deputy Mayor Collins as he heads up the stairs. He stops and "commends" the police on their diligent work making "lawlessness unprofitable under this mayor's administration." He delivers that statement with so much puffed-up political insincerity that you know he's going to be one of this week's villains. Wow. He couldn't have tipped his hand faster if he was wearing a t-shirt that said "BAD GUY."

Quincy's pissed that the murder of a city hall employee (the aforementioned Blondie) is pretty much glossed over. The news cuts back to the studio, and you've just got to laugh. Forget the artistically molded news anchor desks, dramatic lighting and fancy computer graphics of today's news programs. Back in the day, all you needed was one guy, an old office desk, a wall-mounted TV and, erm, curtains. Seriously, they've dressed up their monitor like a puppet show stage.

Puppet News mentions that police later tracked down a suspect a few miles away and shot him for resisting arrest.

Sam comments, "Looks like they're sure they have their man."

"You ain't kiddin'," grouses Quincy. "He assaults a girl and then flees the scene at three miles an hour."

Uh-oh. Here comes the Mustache. Now we get a sense of the Quincy-Astin dynamic that will dominate the series. Astin approaches with his hands in his pockets, knowing that any threatening moves might lead Quincy to perform a tracheotomy with his bare hands. But then he makes the mistake of mentioning Monahan's name.

"My report's not ready, sir," Quincy blurts, refusing to hear any of it.

"But I understand we've been working all night. Surely we've arrived at the cause of death and the mode."

The Mustache likes to throw "we" around a lot. Makes him feel involved, I guess. He takes a mincing approach to convincing Quincy that he needs to hurry up and follow proper channels. The Mustache is all about the status quo. Who cares if it's right as long as it's on time. Quincy calmly shuts him down, punctuating his affable disdain with a surly "sir."

The Mustache finally gets miffed. "But I am charged with the responsibility...!"

"...of supplying complete and accurate information," Quincy calmly finishes for him. "Which we just don't have right now." Ooh. Hurts don't it, Mustache?

He actually starts stuttering as he tells the Klug that they'll never get anywhere if he keeps chasing his experimental technique, especially since it hasn't proven damning evidence in cases so far. Quincy shuts him down, saying it might this time. The Mustache gobbles air and looks entreatingly at Sam, who's a safe distance away with a "what a sorry jackass" look on his face.

Unfortunately, that sting doesn't last long as Quincy has to admit that they were too late to capture the fingerprint oils. Astin cranks up his "why I oughta" face and says he's going to tell Monahan that the girl was assaulted and strangled. "And that will be that."

"Don't forget the broken neck," Quincy interjects. "It was snapped like a dry twig by powerful hands."

Now we see smarmy administration in action as Astin turns his back on Quincy and throws his arm around Sam like a best buddy asking for a favor. No one pulls off the "I graduated top of my class for this?" look quite like Sam. Robert Ito truly mastered the art of body language. He never got enough lines, but the man could emote like a mutha.

The Mustache says, "The Lieutenant would like a blood type on the alleged assailant to be sure that it matches with the semen smears taken from the victim."

Yeesh. I didn't think you could say "semen smears" on TV in the '70s. I bet that woke up someone in the censor's office. Keep in mind, kids, that these were the days before DNA was your go-to forensic evidence. Quincy had a much more challenging time of things than today's "CSI" jackasses. Anyway, Astin leaves, forgetting to pat Sam on the head. Dejected, Sam walks back to Quincy and apologizes for succumbing to the Mustache. Quince says he'll take it off his hands, but Sam feels he's been tasked.

Quincy says, "Sam, what is this? Coolie labor? Can't expect a man to work all day and all night. Now go home and get some sleep." Wow. Quincy telling Sam to go home. I can't believe it. Unless, of course, by "home" he means the cardboard box he set up for Sam in the back of the lab.

Sam says, "Banzai." Yes! I'd make another gushing remark about his being in "Buckaroo Banzai," but this recap is loaded with enough fanboy freakdom already.

Quincy says, "You're welcome" and races off.

Sniper-cam zooms in on the towering majesty of L.A. County General Hospital (nothing specific, just surgery-n-stuff). Quincy steps out of a wood-paneled elevator and busts through the doors of the intensive care ward. Mere doors cannot stop the man. Klug smash!

Quincy struts up to the desk and puts the coroner schmooze on the head nurse. He says he wants to see the suspect, Peter Gordon. Ginger McNurse smirks, "You're early. He's still alive." Oh, those kidders in intensive care. "Sorry, ma'am. Your husband's dead. Ha! No, he's not."

Quincy shoots back, "Things are a little slow."

They duel for a bit. Quincy wants the info, but she tells him he really should go through the doctor. Lady, Quincy don't do proper channels. She's impressed with his enthusiasm, though.

"I didn't know the coroner's office was into live patients."

Quincy puts her away with, "Oh, we are into things, my dear, that would astound you."

The suspect rudely interrupts the necrophilia chat by flatlining on the station's heart monitor. Ginger runs off with the Klug in hot pursuit.

In Gordon's room, Ginger and a flustered blonde nurse flutter around checking this and that. Meanwhile, Quincy just strolls in and starts beating on the guy, unleashing some fierce resusci-fu that might bring the guy back with a shattered ribcage. Some "coolie labor" wheels in a defibrillator. Everyone keeps asking, "Who's he?" But they let him take charge anyway.

Quincy refuses to let the guy ruin his case by dying, so he zaps Gordon until he has a nice, warm glow and comes back to life. Ginger McNurse looks like she needs a cigarette. The resident, Dr. Stone, who was "on break," finally wanders in to find out what the commotion is about. He notices our hero and says, "Who are you?"

"Quincy. Coroner's Office." Bang! All he needs is a white hat and some chrome revolvers to spin. Badass.

Ginger, who's now in love, vouches for the big man, but Doogie Howser, M.D. says, "I'll have to fill out 50 forms over this mess."

Quincy gets out his Sarcasm Hammer™. "Sorry to have caused you all that trouble, Doc." He moseys out.

Ginger shoots a longing look after him as we fade to commercial...

I hope you got yourself a fresh Tab soda because it's time to visit Parker Center--L.A.P.D. headquarters and Lt. Monahan's dojo. Quincy further proves the futility of putting doors in his way, smashing into the lieutenant's office. They greet each other formally.



Translation: "Dickweed." "Pain-in-the-ass."

Monahan plays nice, figuring the big man has finally got with the pencil-whipping/why-try program. He sees that the blood types match and warms up his "case closed" stamp. Quincy points out that three million people in L.A. have that blood type. Monahan counters with the fact that only one of those people was found holding the victim's purse.

Quincy plays the "big, strong hands" card, comparing a picture of the victim's bruises with a handprint taken from the suspect.

"Whoa. Whoa. Hold on, Quincy. Look, I may not be a super sci-boy sleuth, but I do know that a hard force against a pliable surface does not leave a representative imprint." Incidentally, I want a t-shirt that says, "super sci-boy sleuth."

Quince rolls his eyes. Monahan keeps plugging. "Did you ever walk on the beach? Look at your footprints in the sand. They're like a giant's."

Ah, that's because Quincy is a giant. A giant among men, Monahan. For a second, Quince looks like he's going to put that footprint theory to the test (on Monahan's ass), but he relents and throws down the laziness card.

"You're not even gonna try, are you, Lieutenant?"

They accuse one another of being unreasonable. Monahan whines about having a big stack of cases waiting. Quincy decides to give him a lesson in reviewing evidence. He forces him to actually, you know, read the coroner's report before he stamps it. Ah-HAH. There was a pack of cigarettes among the victim's stuff. The Klug thought to examine her lungs and discovered that she didn't smoke. So it wasn't just some random jumper but someone she knew well enough to hoard cigarettes for.

Monahan won't have it. He's already inked up his "case closed" stamp. He invites Quincy to leave so he can go back to his nap... erm, his stack of cases. The Klug looks like he's about to deliver a parting smackdown, but he bites it back and leaves. Monahan makes a funny face. Oh, you will fall, my friend.

We pan down from the resuscitated suspect's IV bag. Quincy's argument all along is that he's a "little guy," but he looks pretty average to me. Maybe Billy Barty canceled on them at the last minute.

Quincy is at his side, comparing the sizes of their hands. The Klug has some big hands. He's wearing the first of a series of sweater vests he'll sport throughout the episode, this one being angry-red houndstooth check. He uses the "good cop" approach to get some information, but Gordon is kind of a dink, especially considering the big man took time out of his busy schedule to beat him back among the living.

Gordon whines about going to prison and becoming somebody's plaything. He asks the Klug, "You ever been to a place where they do hard time?"

"I've been there," he shrugs. Wait--what? Quincy's an ex-con? That would explain his "stab 'em before they stab you" style. Maybe he's just visited to taunt murderers he's put away. Suspect Gordon whines some more and provokes our first official explosion of the patented Quincy Righteous Rage™:

"You're really feeling sorry for yourself, aren't you?"

"Wouldn't you?"

"No. Not after I just ripped off a dead person's belongings, no."

"I thought you were trying to help me..."

"That's right! I don't like to see anybody become a patsy for a crime they didn't commit but that doesn't mean I like you!"

"You're a punk kid who would rip off a buck wherever you would get it, and I hope they nail you for it! I'll try to see they don't nail you for what you didn't do! Not because of you! But because somebody took a beautiful, young life and they snuffed it out. And I don't want them to get away with it because our system was able to lay it off on you!"

Gordon somehow survives multiple air-stabs from the Finger o' Judgment™. Quincy sneers, "Don't forget to shine your halo!" and stalks out.

Ah, the majestic, if somewhat phallic, Los Angeles City Hall. Quincy slides in and asks to see the deputy mayor (as seen on TV!).

Unfortunately, he's out, so Quincy, now in a calmer argyle sweater vest, chats up the DM's secretary, Shirley, played by Dimitra Arliss. Extra points to my lovely wife for noting that Dimitra famously played the ill-fated would-be-killer Loretta in "The Sting." They hit it off until Quincy asks about our favorite dead city hall employee, Dianne Johnson. Shirley loathes the dead blonde and all of her fans. The Klug gets to the point and asks if Dianne smoked.

"The body beautiful?" Shirley sneers. "I'd like to say she never put anything in her body that wasn't organically grown, but I couldn't do it with a straight face." Rarrr!

Quince cracks on her for being snide about the dead, but Shirley knows no guilt. She paints Dianne as quite the climbing slut during her three months at city hall.

"How do you think she jumped so fast from that little squirrel to the mayor's office?"

Quincy asks who the squirrel is. Shirley names Mr. Marcus, the assistant city controller. And there he is, embodied by veteran nebbish George Wyner. You've seen him in everything. His intercom buzzes, and we see his secretary, Miss Tolan, in the outer office with Quincy towering over her. Suffering a sudden case of nerves, Marcus stutters and stalls and asks Quincy to make an appointment.

The big man acts gracious, but we all know he doesn't play by the rules of mortal men and certainly not those of pencil pushers. He puts the mack on Miss Tolan. I've got to confess that actress Nancy Fox kinda gives me the willies here. Something between the pale eyes, straw hair and squeaky voice just gets to me. She gushes about Mr. Marcus in such a blissed-out, moon-eyed way that you'd think she latched onto him after things didn't work out with Charles Manson. Creepy.

Quincy smiles and nods and then asks to use her phone to check on a patient. Miss Tolan proves she isn't completely out there and points out that he's a coroner.

"Doesn't that mean all your patients are dead?"

"Well, I have to make sure he didn't die of something serious."

He snags the phone. In his office, Marcus is pacing and telling someone on the phone that something's happened and he's scared. Then he stops and asks if someone else is on the line. Quincy "apologizes" for "accidentally" picking up the line and reminds the little man of their appointment tomorrow. Threat delivered, he strolls out. Miss Tolan gives him a "what a guy" smile, or she's seeing ponies and rainbows, I'm not sure. Marcus just about weeps in fear in his office. You'd think the Grim Reaper just knocked on his door. Well. he did.

We pan over sunset-limned buildings near the harbor and invite ourselves into the mustard-and-macreme wonder of Lee's apartment. Quincy prattles on about the case while she sets out a candlelit dinner.

The Klug sits down on her couch, takes off his shoes and strolls to the table. He finally stops and notices all the trouble she's gone to.

"The wine is perfect. The food is perfect. The table is perfect. The candles are perfect. The little flowers are perfect. And, of course, you're perfect."

She smiles and shrugs, but then he says, "You're not going to get away with it, Lee." She says, appropriately enough, "Huh-wuh?"

"This is not our deal, remember?" he rants. "No strings. No involvement. Just plain, simple friends."

"Oh, I don't believe this," she says, rightly so. "You're gonna stand here and make a fuss over my making a fuss? I like to make a fuss."

Quincy goes into a caged rage. "Lee! Don't you see? Don't you see how you're twisting the words around? 'Fuss' is the operative word here!"

No, I think "fear of commitment" is the word, Quince. Erm, three words.

"If you make a fuss, I become special," he froths, wagging the Finger o' Judgment™. Whoa, Quince! Put that thing away. It's liable to go off and strike Lee down. "I don't wanna be special. I just wanna be your pal!"

Translation: He just wants to get together for hotdogs and hot lovin'. Even a dinner date is too much commitment. Or he's trying to protect her from his dark past. Later, we'll see the dangers of being Quincy's "pal."

Upset when mommy and daddy fight, the phone wails in protest. The Klug looks its way as though it's the Bat-Signal and then looks beseechingly at Lee. Only a true crusader would choose the phone over her right now. Save the world tomorrow, Quince. Don't do it.

"So answer the phone, pal," she dares. "I'm sure it's for you."

As he backs toward the phone, he blusters that it couldn't be for him, that it's probably one of her boyfriends. It's Sam. Wahnt-wahnt-wahhhhhh. If Quincy hadn't opened the "commitment" can, he could've blamed his escape on Sam. The date-busting news is that there's a new corpse in town: Assistant City Controller Harold Marcus. He was found dead in his apartment.

"Murdered?" Quincy asks. No one makes a meal of that word quite like the Klug. Murrrderrred. I love the man.

"That's what you're supposed to find out," says Sam, busting the big man's chops. "You're the medical examiner."

"You're very funny, you know that?" He hangs up, whistles to himself.

Meanwhile, Lee stands over by the candles, doing a slow burn, arms crossed. He explains that there's been a big development in the case and he has to run. He grabs a giant spoon and samples some sauce.

"Wow! Boy, that's terrific, honey," he says. "Does it freeze well?"

She gives him the stink-eye. You can hear her thinking, "No, but your bed will. Pal."

"I'm sure glad we have, you know, the kind of relationship we have," he tries. "No explanations. No apologies. You know." He puckers up the Klug Mug and leans in for a kiss. Lee remains a statue with a plaque that reads, "Woman Scorned." De-nied. Quincy hotfoots it out of there. Lee frowns at the table and literally tosses the salad.

Wait, Quince! You forgot your shoes! Oh well. I'm sure he keeps an extra pair of ass-kickers in the station wagon.

Quincy meets Monahan in the controller's busy apartment, bristling with extras. In a contemporary crime show, we'd get lingering gore-porn of Marcus's corpse, but this show knows that's excessive... and a little sick. Instead, we learn by listening to the characters banter. Yes, writing. How about that? What a novel concept. Modern TV should give that a try sometime. The lieutenant asks, in so many words, if Quincy's going to rubber-stamp this suicide or be an ass. Shouldn't he know by now?

Quincy says that Weird Harold's neck was broken and then he was positioned to make it look like he hanged himself. Monahan looks about ready to pistol-whip our hero. Quince 'splains that, in a true hanging, the neck elongates as the vertebrae separate. However, Marcus's vertebrae haven't separated--they've been crushed... as though by powerful hands.

The Man is feeling generous, so he lets Monahan make the intuitive leap. He just barely makes the jump, but he's intrigued. He wants Quincy to type that up all nice, and then the cops will follow up if it looks promising.

Unfortunately, Detective Brill butts in to harsh their mellow. Poor Joseph Roman. First, he's limited to being the "butt-in" guy, and then an extra walks in front of the camera and completely blocks him. He reports that a suicide note, in Marcus's handwriting, was found in his locked office. That, of course, sobers Monahan up right quick and renders him deaf again. In fact, he seems embarrassed that he got on the Quincy train there for a second and decides to bust his nuts for it.

"Do me a favor. Stop playing detective. You're a doctor, okay? C'mon, Brill." He charges off. Brill gives Quincy a "what he said" look and leaves.

Okay. We're about 30 minutes in at this point. It's been pretty standard and a little badass so far, but it's going to get crazy from here.

We open on the black station wagon revered by many as the Quincymobile. It's parked right in front of the entrance to Danny's restaurant. You know that's got to be good for business. Actually, that will be a running gag, especially in the next few episodes, with Danny bitching and moaning.

Inside, the director gets cheeky, literally, to introduce the den of salaciousness and salmonella that is Danny's. This week's sponsor must've been Underalls. The ass-cam follows one of the waitresses over to the bar where Quincy rubs his pounding temples waiting for Lee to answer the phone.

Reading in bed, she glances at her French's mustard phone (that matches her lamp) and turns back to her copy of "Cuddling with a Coroner."

Quince gives up and asks Danny what he's got for a headache. "Oh, I still got some of those painkillers you prescribed for my back."

"Do you any good?"

"Yeah, I can now press 200 pounds."

Danny slickly brings up his wife's tonsillitis and fishes for a fix. Quincy grabs a cocktail napkin and starts writing a prescription. Danny waves him off, saying that the pharmacist gives him static when he brings him napkins. So he picked up some prescription pads from the stationery store. For convenience's sake.

As Quincy scribbles, Danny slips him some pills, and Floozy McTrollop pulls up a stool. She watches the big man chase his pills with some booze.

"Uppers or downers?" she purrs, further rooting this show in 1976.

"Load levelers," Quincy replies.

"How are tricks, Marilyn?" Danny schmoozes, perfectly at home with hookers perching on his bar. When I'd alluded to Danny's powers of "procurement" in my Rogues Gallery cast review, I'd forgotten that he actually stocked hookers at the bar alongside the peanuts.

"How can you sell it when everybody's giving it away?"

Quincy offers her a drink, but Danny waves her off. "This guy is only interested in bodies that are dead."

"I heard about guys like you," she says, shocked. "What is it they call it?"

Danny smiles, "Pathology."

"It's pathetic." Oh, that lovable prostitute.

Quincy picks up the weightlifting reference Danny conveniently laid down a minute ago and runs with it. He asks how hard it would be to lift a corpse over your head to, say, fake a hanging. Danny is comfortable with this line of thought, so you've got to bet he's lugged a few stiffs in his day. He asks what size body they're talking about. Quincy says Marilyn's size. Floozy looks appropriately horrified.

Danny's professional opinion is that they're better off hoisting her up on a rope instead of dead-lifting. The big man points out that that would leave damning marks on the beam and the rope. He figures the killer was smarter than that and big and strong enough to lift Marcus into the noose. He keeps painting the killer as a Lou Ferrigno type, but I've got to say that Muscles McBeardy (remember him?) ain't that massive. I wouldn't call him petite, but I wouldn't hire him to be The Hulk, either.

Danny bets that he can lift Floozy. Quincy leaps out of his seat, ready to give it a go right there. Danny thinks his place is too classy for such a display, so Quincy invites them to his boat. Marilyn, fearing some necrophiliac orgy, pipes up.

"Hey, whatever you fellas got in mind, forget it!"

She tries to bolt, but Quincy offers her another drink. She says they can get her as drunk as they like, but she still won't do it. However, she says she hates to drink alone, so Danny and Quincy quickly grab glasses and start filling them. Damn, I love this show.

Cut to drunken singing as the Quincymobile weaves down the wharf to his boat. The lyrics, for those of you singing along at home, go: "We're gonna go home in the morning. We're gonna go home in the morning. And start drinking all over again."

They spill out of the badass station wagon and laugh their way to the gangplank. Floozy mentions that she usually gets her money up front, but that's forgotten when she realizes Quincy's place is a boat. She loves boats almost as much as Jim Beam and penicillin combined. Ouch! Okay, that was a bit harsh.

Meanwhile, Lee is still reading in bed. She must've gotten to the chapter on "Forgiving His Forensic Ways," because she shuts the book and starts to dial his number. However, she smiles and decides to make up in person, throwing a trenchcoat over her diaphanous nightgown and heading out. Uh-oh. They're on a collision course with wackiness.

Back on the boat, Quincy is busy trying to hang a hooker.

"Go limp, Marilyn. Don't fight him. Go limp." I can't improve on that.

Danny jostles her around a bit. Marilyn says she's feeling seasick. Danny caves, saying he can't do it. Delighted, Quincy says that it proves that the killer must have "almost super-human strength."

A car pulls up, and out pops Lee. Quincy wonders if the killer wasn't alone and offers to help Danny to illustrate the point. They hoist Floozy up to the noose just as Lee appears at the top of the gangplank.

"Hi, Lee," Quincy says nonchalantly. "What're you doing here?"

"Oh, Quincy. You're a sick man."

Fade to commercial...

We're left to imagine how that scene broke up as we head into the next morning in Monahan's office. Quincy slumps in the background, suffering a double dose of doghouse and hangover. He's back in his angry-red sweater vest again, so there might be trouble coming. The lieutenant reads the report that suggests either multiple assailants or a freakin' giant. He says he'll pass the info along to the detectives. He's fairly subdued, as though nursing a hangover of his own.

Deja vu settles in as Quincy brings up the cigarettes again. The fingerprinting tests turned up those of Blondie, incompetent Officer Whisperthin and some inconclusive smudges. Monahan's convinced the smudges belong to little-man Gordon and that Marcus committed suicide. Case closed. Where's my stamp?

They tussle once more, and then Monahan says it's over and tells him to let it drop. Ooh. He's drop-kicked the hornet nest this time. Quincy channels his hangover into an extra-spicy burst of righteous rage and just about melts Monahan's desk.

"I am the presiding medical examiner! If I tell you you've got a homicide, buddy, you've got a homicide!"

Monahan lets it drop that there's another M.E. reviewing the case. Quince asks who, so he can kick some ass. The lieutenant tells him to go through proper channels to find out. Quincy lunges for the phone, but Monahan doesn't want him to find out it's not really plugged in and expertly snags the receiver out of the big man's hand. The Klug seethes as Monahan lays it out.

"Quincy, there are only two possibilities. Either you deliberately ignored departmental practices to involve yourself where you do not belong, or you're trying to connect two unrelated deaths in some misguided attempt to clear that boy. Now, whichever it is, don't get in my way again!"

Unfortunately, we don't get to see the Klug clock him. Instead, we find ourselves in the wood-paneled web of the Mustache's lair. Dr. Astin explains that there's always room for doubt.

"Come on," Quincy growls. "Whoever wrote this report is full of beans and you know it!"

"I did it." Zing!

Quincy suspects that someone in city administration is leaning on Astin to pencil-whip this case through.

"But it is rather hard to accept as coincidence," he says, "the fact that bodies are turning up all over city hall, assaulted, strangled, hanged, and we're treating it like a rash of head colds! Hey, I suppose if a bus came to rest on the mayor's chest, we might issue a bulletin against illegal parking."

Astin says ha-ha--you're off the case. Quincy wonders why he's wasting his time and storms out. The Mustache frowns and grabs the phone.

Quincy looks over some things in defunct Assistant City Controller Marcus's office with Miss Tolan, the spooky secretary. He tells her it wasn't suicide, but she doesn't want to talk about it. He's worried about her safety. After all, two people from this office are dead.

"Golly. I hadn't thought of that." Yes. Really.

He tells her not to worry, that bad things don't always happen in threes. She says she isn't worried, besides there have already been three deaths. Quincy's mighty brow furrows. Miss Tolan says another secretary died in an accident six months ago. Her mysterious boyfriend took her to Mexico, where she died when their car went over a cliff.

Quincy wants details. He asks her to think hard. I think he's asking too much. However, she remembers hearing that, when the woman was pulled from the wreck, her neck was found to be broken.

Quincy teleports back to Astin's office.

"Bob, my work is my life. Either I'll do it right or I'll hang it up for good!"

The Mustache relents, grabs the phone and sets up a meeting between the Q and Deputy Mayor Collins (as seen on Puppet News!) at four o'clock sharp. Quincy is impressed that the Mustache finally grew a pair.

"We're all on the same side, Quincy. It's just that some of us have learned to appreciate and work within the system..."

Repulsed by that kind of talk, the Klug makes to exit stage left. Astin snags him and lays it on him that he needs to come right back and do his job and stay out of other people's business. Quincy grins and dashes out, leaving the Mustache to make an exasperated face that I can only describe as Tourette's Sneeze.

Quincy reclines in the deputy mayor's plush office. Collins, played by Harry Rhodes, strolls around saying that Quincy's "theories" are interesting. The Klug corrects him and runs down the "facts." A murder made to look like a random rape. A murder made to look like a suicide. A murder in Mexico made to look like an accident.

"How you guys scientifically figure these things out is beyond me," Collins says, with a little too much faux sincerity. He points out that they're talking about three separate cases.

"With one common denominator," Quincy says, "city hall." He shares his suspicion that someone is pressuring the police and coroner's office to back off. He's not so much concerned with "who" as he is with "why."

"Conspiracy's a nasty business," Collins says, and he oughta know--oops, I mean... oh c'mon, his performance gives too much away. He'd be more subtle if he stole an old woman's walker or kicked a puppy. Anyway, he thanks Quincy and says he'll take it from here. In fact, he says he has an important conference at 6:30 with the top brass, and he'll make this the first thing on the agenda.

Hey, look! Beautiful Dodger Stadium. For the "hotdog" half of their pal-dom, Quincy has taken Lee out to the ball game. The whole "hanging a hooker" thing has blown over, I guess. Lee, you are way too accepting. Did I mention that's going to get you into trouble? Hey, there's Danny, too.

Uh-oh. And there's Deputy Mayor Collins grabbing a seat conveniently just a few rows away. What happened to that important meeting, sir? He feels Quincy's laser beam eyes and turns to look over his shoulder. Busted, buddy.

Quincy gets up and heads out, no doubt to get his double-bladed ass-kickin' boots out of the car. Lee and Danny pay him no nevermind. Actually, he heads to the condiment counter, because conspiracies make him hungry. Collins soon joins him and quickly makes with the sorry-ass excuses. Across the wall, an enormous "This Way Out" sign lets Quincy know where to chuck the deputy mayor's ass.

"My appointment was canceled at the last minute, so I decided to go to the game." He says it like he could give a damn if Quincy believes him. You're just not even trying, pal.

The big man ain't buying it and tries to burn his ass by saying that "the game has been a sellout for weeks" and only season ticket holders could show up on a whim. I'd like to side with the Klug, but the stadium was half-full at best. A contemporary show would just CG the place full of Waldos, but back in the day you couldn't pay people to show up at a Dodgers game.

"You know anything about sellouts, Mr. Collins?" Man, that burns. The deputy mayor goes all "X-Files" on his ass, warning Quincy that he's involved in something that needs to be handled carefully. The Klug gives him the stink-eye and dares Collins to fire him.

"That would be overkill. And I don't personally get involved with, uh, peanuts," Collins says, handing Quincy a bag of nuts and swaggering off. Just before the scene fades out, Klug scoops up a handful of nuts and crushes them. Yes!

Quincy tells the Mustache about the conspiracy, and they tangle.

"Three homicides and nobody's doing anything!"

"Two homicides, one suicide..."

"And a partridge in a pear tree," Quincy finishes. He asks Astin if he's part of the conspiracy. The Mustache doesn't care for his tone.

Quincy threatens to go to the papers and starts to leave, but Astin says, "Doctor." The big man turns. "Ah, you still recognize the term." His mustache really cranks into overdrive. "You're not a detective. You're not a crime reporter. And you're not a one-man posse out to string up everybody in city hall." That's pretty good. I'll give you that one, Mustache, even though you're wrong.

He reviews the whole rape and suicide thing and mentions that what happened in Mexico is out of their jurisdiction. That, of course, puts the bug in Quincy to go bust some chops south of the border.

But first, he pays a visit to little-man Gordon at the hospital. "Peace?" he says as he walks in, even making the peace sign. They shake hands. Wait? They're buddies now? Hmm. Quincy's back in his calm, dark argyle sweater vest instead of the angry-red one. Maybe they control his moods.

He even quips, "Keep eating the food here, they'll never let you out."

He paces. Gordon says he trusts him, since they're both from the mean streets. The Klug says he wishes he was back there.

"At least then we knew who we were fighting," he grouses. Maybe cutting guys open with a switchblade inspired him to become a coroner. He tells Gordon he dropped by to let him know he's still on the case.

"I don't like being pushed around," Quincy grumbles, before he leaves. "I don't like it."

Hey, we're back at Lee's. Okay, folks. Here's where the show kicks into gonzo overdrive. She heads to the door in her nightgown. It's the big man. With flowers. And the hangdog look of all time. I dunno, Quince. Flowers are a big commitment. Maybe he just wants his shoes back.

"Where'd you get them? At a funeral." Zing! She walks away. Quincy charges after her.

"You know what's the matter with us?" he says.

"Yes. You." Double zing.

Hmm. She didn't seem all that bothered at the baseball game. She's either decided to be mad about the hooker hanging again for a lark, or this scene was originally supposed to come before the baseball bit. Hey, roll with it.

He says they need to get away. Somewhere exotic. Like Mexico. She's pleased but suspects something's up, rightly so.

"Don't the airlines still give free tickets to employees?" Aw man. Folks here's the story 'bout Quincy the Moocher. He was a lowdown hoochie coocher. Thought he was rough-n-tough as a nail. Gonna end up in a Mexi-can jail. Hidey-hidey-hi.

Lee points out that that's only for family, but the Quince says, "We're brothers and sisters under the skin." That's a bit odd, but it makes Lee laugh.

Boom, we're at an airport in Mexico. Then we're watching Lee and Quincy pull up at a fancy hotel in a beige 1976, erm, car. I can't identify the model, but there's a lot of it. Lee coos over the hotel, and then Quincy hits the gas. They're going to come here for dinner, but they're actually staying at a more, uhm, rustic place. No locks on the doors. Silverfish included. A petting zoo of local livestock out front.

Quincy leans his head into their room and then quickly pulls it out, gasping for fresh air. He wants her to go in and relax while he goes down the road to make some "inquiries." You can imagine she's less than thrilled about this. I love Quincy, but that's kind of a dick thing to do.

He leaves Lee to her future in white slavery while he... busts a wedding? Wuhhh?

Enter '70s TV icon Henry Darrow as Dr. Rivera. There's nothing he wasn't in, so don't bother asking. For some reason, his hair is slicked forward and greasy as though he hurriedly tamped down a stubborn cowlick with a handful of lard. Rivera was the doctor who dealt with the poor city hall secretary who went over the cliff in a car. Quince wants to exhume her to ask her some questions, but Rivera says it will offend the locals.

Quincy asks about the boyfriend who escaped with minor injuries. Rivera can't think of anything of note, so Quincy busts his chops. He explains that he has different training so he knows what to look for. Rivera asks what kind.

"Paranoid training. Pathology." Right on both counts, Quincy. "I was taught never to trust anything and to disbelieve everything else." Erm.

Dr. Rivera is justly confused. Desperate to get through to el doctor, Quincy decides to spill his philosophy, and if that doesn't work he'll put on a puppet show.

"There's one thing about life I could never get used to. That's the mystery of it. Something goes tilt in me when I see life dead before its time, and I wanna do something about it. I wanna find out who made that terrible thing happen. And most often, the victim can point a finger in the right direction just as if it were still alive. But only if we know how to find it."

Rivera looks impressed, thoughtful or terrified. Regardless, Quincy gets his way, and the exhumation proceeds. A suspicious, mustachioed character watches significantly from behind a pickup truck. A well-traveled taxi pulls up, and out pops Lee, a little perturbed that she was ditched at Roach Motel so he could go off and violate the dead on their alleged romantic getaway.

"Oh, I don't believe it," she says, exasperated. "If you can't find a dead body handy, you dig one up."

The doctor gives Quincy a "what kind of freak are you?" look.

We pan around a local bar where we see El Mustache on the phone and then Lee consoling herself with a nice, lukewarm cerveza. Quincy strolls in and sits down next to her at the table. He asks her how she's doing.

"You know what kind of a person I am, don't you? I can take anything," she says. "But I've gotta hand it to you. You've broken me. I wanna go home."

However, she continues to draw from her bottomless well of understanding. Instead of smashing her beer bottle over his head, she asks what he discovered from the body. Oh, Lee. That was your last chance to escape. It's only going to get worse for you.

Quincy spills that the victim's neck was broken before the car went cliff diving. So her "boyfriend" is the serial neck-breaker they've been after. The guy gave the police a fake name and address, stuck around for the hasty funeral and disappeared.

A waiter walks past their table. Once again, Quincy pushes things too far and asks her if she's eaten yet. Disgusted, she leaves in a huff. As Quincy runs after her, the Sinister Mustache finishes his call and heads out.

We peer at a beach from atop a cliff, just like in the opening shot. The camera pans up, letting us take in the scrubby, dusty, stunted landscape that makes southern California look so beautiful. As a Midwestern kid polluted by '70s TV, I was convinced that there was no such thing as true green in California. Okay, it's "Mexico" in this scene.

At the top, we see Quincy and Lee holding hands. Oh, Lee. Once again, you're way too forgiving. Are you that desperate for medical examiner lovin'? Sam's your man, in that case. If you can get him out of the lab.

They climb into the nearby beigemobile and sit for a moment discussing the killer and his super strength. Uh-oh. El Mustache's white pickup zooms into the overlook lot as they talk and crashes into the back of their car. He pushes them through the timber fence and onto the gentle decline before the big drop-off.

Quick-thinkin' Quincy shoves Lee out her door. Fortunately, her stuntwoman is wearing well-padded Huggies for her risqué roll to safety, as the director combines the naughtiness of upskirt perversion with potential injury. Don't feel left out, ladies. Moment's later, Quincy spills out the other side, and we get a gander of entirely too much tumbling man-ass for my tastes.

We get a lesson in erosion, as El Mustache tries to back up on the loose, dusty soil and finds himself sliding forward instead. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the sense to bail. He must really love that truck. The beigemobile plummets into an outcropping below.

Close behind, the pickup smashes into the car, and together they cartwheel down the cliff face, kicking up a plume of dust and debris. Regrettably, there's no explosion. That over-the-top trope wouldn't be de rigueur until the '80s. Smashing was enough in the '70s. Quincy scrabbles over to Lee, who says she's hurt.

We peek in on Dr. Rivera's hospital as they wrap up Lee's x-rays. The doctor calls in Pedro (the Mexican Sam) to help transfer Lee from the table to a gurney. Quincy "helps," and they sling her over fairly roughly for someone who's just been shoved out of a car onto rocky terrain. Her head even bounces. You might want to take some fresh x-rays, Doc.

Quincy volunteers to go over the x-rays, but Rivera has had enough of his patronizing attitude and his meddling. The big man actually stands down. Off Lee goes with a little wave. I'm beginning to worry about her mental health. Any sane person would've been cursing themselves purple in this situation. Rivera, not knowing that our hero is indestructible, asks Quincy to take off his shirt for an examination. We cut away to the next scene before we get to see more than his blazer come off. Sorry, ladies.

Quincy saunters into the local police station. On the wall behind him are a pair of posters bearing the smiling face of President Luis Echeverria Alvarez. The set designer really went all out to convince us this is Mexico. Nice details. I can almost feel a hot wind on my shoulder. Quincy asks the officer in charge for El Mustache's personal effects. Among the handful of pesos is an address book with an American telephone number. "Mine," Quincy groans. Duhnt-duhnt-dunnnnn.

Ok. Well, it's not his per se. It's the number for city hall, home of all city workers, plus an extension. Lee, sitting up in bed, asks whose it is. Quincy doesn't know and doesn't want to check until he's within ass-kicking range. Knowing where this is going, Lee asks how soon he's going to abandon her in a Mexican hospital.

He gobbles air like one of his righteous rage victims and makes some priceless faces. Impressed, Lee asks him how the flight was on his first guilt trip. He finally admits that he shouldn't have involved her in all this. Lee starts to acquit him, saying that she wanted to come. Don't do it, Lee! Quincy promptly takes the absolution and runs, explaining that he could zip up to L.A., give Monahan all the new evidence and come right back for her. She smiles. It must be the painkillers.

Completely off the hook, he races for the door, but Lee calls him back, reminding him that his plane ticket is in her bedside drawer. He kisses her, tells her she's terrific and jogs out. She smiles through the haze of endorphins or, more likely, morphine.

After a bit of airplane transition-fu, we're back in the L.A. County Coroner's Office. We get an arty shot that tracks out from one of those circular mirrors you don't see outside of hospital hallway corners and very old convenience stores. We see Sam approaching in the mirror and then we swing right past his head as he chugs around the corner. He encounters Quincy and asks him where he's been.

"Working!" he growls. Unfortunately, that outburst wakes the Mustache, who leaps out of a nearby door. He's armed with a clipboard, so you know it's going to get serious. Once more, Astin chants the mantra of proper channels and routines, preparing for battle. Deaf to such things, Quince asks if the budget will cover his Mexico expenses.

The Mustache continues to rant, pointing at his unholy clipboard and explaining that police recruits are waiting patiently for their lecture on the importance of forensics in homicide investigations. Quincy's on The Schedule, so by-damned he'd better do it. Astin promises to bust his chops about everything else afterwards. He charges Sam and his giant lab friend to observe so that they can snitch if Quincy tries to duck out.

Astin stalks off to sharpen his mustache. Quincy tells Sam to have somebody bring the Quincymobile out front pronto and charges off with Sam and Huge in tow. In a nice bit of bookending, the camera closes in on the opposite corner mirror as everyone files out. All that in one tracking shot. Okay, it's not the Copa scene from "Goodfellas," but this show had a budget of, what, ten bucks? That's pretty badass. E. W. Swackhamer is the man. Take that, Scorsese.

Speaking of badass, it's time for the famous scene later used in the show's opening. Yes, the "gentleman, you're about to enter" speech. It's edited in the opening, but here we get the full deal. Savor it, my friends.

Six rookies stare at a sheeted body on an examination table as Sam scootches a tray of instruments into place.

A grandmaster geek eye will notice that the cop furthest from the camera is played by James Rosin. He appeared in several episodes and penned some as well. That's not why I'm singling him out, though. No, it's because he went on to be surly Lectroid guard John Yaya in "Buckaroo Banzai." That puts him on the badass list. And makes me look like even more of a freak. And he's even in the same room as Robert Ito. Coincidence? Probably. Am I a sad bastard? Why, yes. But that doesn't make it any less badass.

Quincy appears dramatically behind them like a mad scientist entering his lair. He somberly marches around to face them over the body.

"Gentlemen, you are about to enter the most important and fascinating sphere of police work: the world of forensic medicine--where untold victims of many homicides will reach back from the grave and point their finger accusingly at their assailant."

This fall on NBC: "Quincy, Necromancer." He throws back the sheet, and the rookie officers look like they're choking back their Grand Slam breakfasts.

Once again, I have to applaud the tastefulness of '70s television. Wow. Did I just say that? Okay, it's tastefulness in one respect at least: you never see the nasty forensic stuff. Instead, you rely upon the dialogue and reactions of the actors. The rest is filled in by your imagination. That's so much more effective than in-your-face gore-porn. I'm looking at you, "CSI" clones. Dumbasses.

"You see before you a man who was found floating off Point Loma. Unfortunately, he was in the water a long time before we found him."

One of the rookies faints, and another grabs his mouth and hotfoots it out.

"Now," Quincy casually continues, "in order to determine the exact cause of death, we must examine the vital organs."

He holds up his scalpel and inspects the blade. Off to the side, Sam and Huge watch the carnage. Sam comments, "This is going to be brutal. Quincy's in a hurry." Huge figures he has no lines so he doesn't have to act. He just stands there. It's like a strange production of "Of Mice and Men."

Quincy continues his torture. "Now, see, there are many types of incisions, but today I think I'll try the Lazy S."

With a flourish, he descends upon the corpse. Another rookie runs out while another collapses. And then there were two. They move to help the fallen.

"Leave 'em be!" Quincy commands. "There'll be nobody to baby-sit them out in the streets. You're policemen now. That's the way it is."

Sam winces. "This'd be hard to take for a third-year medical student." Huge stands there blankly for a moment and then Acts. His eyes water and goggle, and he grimaces, trying not to be sick. He charges out. "Horton!" Sam calls after him. Exit Huge Horton.

"And now," Quincy announces, "for the final phase." He holds up a big-ass electric corpse-carver that starts whirring enthusiastically.

The two remaining recruits look like they'll be scarred for life. They collapse off-camera. Quincy peers over the corpse at the fallen.

Pleased, he snaps off his gloves and exits stage-left, telling Sam to "see that they're comfortable." Sam looks down, and you can almost hear him thinking, "I don't get paid enough for this job."

Free of his duties, Quincy tracks El Mustache's stateside phone number to the District Office of the Harbor Commissioner, where one Arnold Bower holds court. Unfortunately, he's not in, so Quincy interrogates his spooky secretary: a blonde with flyaway jellyfish hair, lime-green leisure wear and a suspicious attitude.

Quincy snatches her incoming call list and discovers that a name has been written and hastily erased. He wants to know who that was. She sneers at him and asks why she should tell him that.

"Oh, because you didn't want to go to jail?" he says, calmly laying a smackdown.

Her tough veneer melts at the thought of giving up her lime outfit for a set of stripes. Quincy needles her, wanting to know where Commissioner Bower is hiding.

Well, there he is out on his boat. Wow, Bower cuts quite a figure. If you look up "greasy, weaselly bureaucrat" in the dictionary, you'll see this guy. Here we have veteran character actor Woodrow Parfrey really ramping it up. Either that or he studied intensely with a bottle of Jim Beam before this scene. Bower absolutely oozes drunken despair. If Squiggy from "Laverne & Shirley" had an alcoholic uncle, he would be this guy.

Throughout the '60s and '70s, Parfrey played eccentric villains and memorable greasy guys in film and TV. My favorite, however, was his brief bit in the depressing-but-badass Walter Matthau flick "Charley Varrick." In it, he plays a weaselly small-town bank manager who's actually laundering money for the mob. The film also features a truly menacing Joe Don Baker. You must see it.

Anyway, Bower watches a sailboat come alongside as he double-hands a brandy snifter. He's not at all alarmed when Kris Kristofferson climbs aboard. Wait, no. It's Muscles McBeardy aka Ben "Steve" Chase, played by Denny Miller. He towers over Parfrey, and you definitely get the impression he could break the little man's neck... uhm, not that that's likely to happen in the next few minutes or anything.

Denny Miller, by the way, was your go-to blond giant. Name any show from the '60s to the '80s, and I guarantee you he appeared in at least one episode. He played Tarzan in '59, did every bit of TV under the sun and recently retired from his 14-year run in commercials as the Gorton's Fisherman. He also penned an autobiography titled "Didn't You Used To Be... What's His Name?" That, my friends, is badass.

You couldn't really tell it from the way the opening scene was framed (you know, the bit with the bikini blonde who was strangled?), but he's a freakin' muscle machine. Not Lou Ferrigno huge. No, he's a lean huge. Pure sinew. I think that scares me more than The Hulk.

Anyway, Bower welcomes him aboard and offers him some complimentary booze. Chase, looking like a young Poseidon, says he never touches the stuff and kicks back in a deck chair. He looks happy and relaxed, not at all bothered by the choppy rocking of the boat. It's making me nauseous.

"It's easy for you to be so cool," Bower slurs. "Nobody knows who you are. Nobody knows there's any connection between you and the stolen checks." At last! An hour in, and we finally get our McGuffin.

"I'm on the firing line," he croaks. "If anything goes wrong, it's my head."

Perfectly relaxed, Chase shrugs and says the police have no leads. Bower looks for strength in his snifter and then drops that his secretary just called to warn him about a certain coroner who's suddenly gunning for his ass.

"Every lead to you and me is gone," Chase says, unimpressed.

Bower wonders when the checks will be cashed. Chase smugly says that they'll be in Switzerland in the morn. Boozy Bower says they should hold tight until the checks from his office clear. Then he laments how he ever got involved in all this.

Muscles says, "Original sin. Women. It's the best way to go."

"Not if they belong to you," Bower says, sneering at McBeardy's murderous ways. "Belonged."

"You know, Arnold," Muscles says, climbing purposefully out of his seat. "I was really beginning to like you."

Having a fabulous time, he casually puts the little man in a headlock and says it's time to take care of the last loose end. Then he smothers him with a cheery, purple throw pillow with happy, red hearts. The scene blurs out so's not to upset the kids too much. Uh-oh. It looks like Muscles might just get away with it.

Cut to the harbor crawling with Coast Guard, police and reporters. Lt. Monahan pulls up and marches to the dock. Greasy TV reporters ask him if this is tied to the recent rumors of corruption in city hall. He shoots back, "I was told it was a diving accident!" He chugs toward Bower's boat, convinced Quincy has stirred up the press.

Inside the boat, Quincy packs up his stuff and leaves the body for the coolie labor to lug. "I'll want him back, though," he says as he heads up on deck. He bumps into Monahan, who asks what the verdict is. Quincy says this was no boat accident and corroborates his city hall conspiracy theory, but the lieutenant busts his chops because Bower's neck wasn't broken. He asks for concrete proof, but the big man says it'll have to wait until the lab work is done.

Fed up, Monahan makes with the pointing finger and hits the "Look, Quincy" button.

"I'm warning you. Now when you go over there with them reporters, you tell them nothin'. You don't raise their suspicions, don't let them in on any of your guesses or any other damn thing, you get me?" Capiche?

In response, Quince grabs the lieutenant's wrist and says, "I can give you something for that blood pressure." Zing! As he's about to step off the boat, Monahan calls him back. The Klug makes this great "beseeching the heavens" face and then turns to face the man.

"There are things going on..." Monahan says with great significance.

"I know," Quincy cuts him of. "They keep ending up in my lap."

"We gotta keep the lid on this. I can't tell you why now. I'm under orders."

"Whoever is giving the order is an idiot," Quincy barks, "or maybe even a murderer."

"That kind of talk is dangerous." I swear Monahan's every line here was later swiped and stuffed into any given "X-Files" episode. The big man blows him off and lurches away toward the Quincymoble.

Back on his own boat, he decides to check in on the not-girlfriend he left behind in Mexico. He asks, "How's it going?" in French, but Lee has shaken the painkiller haze enough to point out that she's in Mexico not France. She says Dr. Rivera will release her in a few days. (He's probably finally found a buyer for her organs.) She's been following the city hall exploits in the newspaper and says he must be feeling pretty proud of himself.

Quincy says, "Huh-wuh?" because he doesn't read the papers. It must be part of that "paranoid training" he kept trying to get Rivera to buy into. The only Truth in this town wears mood-enhancing sweater vests.

Lee fills him in on the scandal around the missing city hall checks. "City hall's been ripped off for three million dollars." Duhnt-duhnt-dunnnnnn. Time for one last commercial...

And we're back.

We zoom in on Monahan's dojo, where reporters are beating him with questions like he's a piñata full of sugary answers.

"Are the deaths of the two city hall women connected to the missing checks? Has murder definitely been ruled out on Commissioner Bower?"

"We're investigating any and all possibilities, boys," Monahan croaks. "Now that's it."

He has one of his men shove the reporters out while he and Quincy slip into his office. Quincy plays with a pencil, while the lieutenant paces dejectedly. "We blew it."

"Yes," Quincy growls. "You did." Zing! He prods Monahan, asking when he knew about the stolen checks.

"We found out about it just after the controller did himself in." He corrects himself before the Klug smites him. "Oh, excuse me, was murdered."

He explains that double-secret, erm, secrecy was clamped down from a "political level." However, without any good leads, they couldn't recover the checks before they were cashed, this very morning. "The guy had it figured down to a gnat's whisker."

The Klug looks depressed and/or very sleepy as Monahan plays with his own ear. The lieutenant is impressed how Muscles convinced the dead girls to do his bidding and wishes they could catch the guy--but they just don't have a clue. Quincy chimes in that they do.

"He's big."

Yeah, thanks, Quincy. Monahan says as much and then invites the big man out to wallow in some booze. 

"No, thanks. I've got an obligation in Mexico." He doesn't elaborate on that, so you've got to wonder what the lieutenant is thinking. He says what-gives, but Quincy says it has nothing to do with saving Monahan's sorry ass. The Klug leaves, and the lieutenant looks pretty well defeated.

Down in Mexico, Lee is on her feet in clothes that actually have a back. As she packs her bag, she cheerfully rakes Quincy over the coals about their "romantic" getaway, what with the grave robbing and cliff diving and all.

"And we have such great pictures to commemorate it all," she says. "My ribs. My spine. My skull."

Quincy suddenly gets that "making a mental leap" look and races out. Abandoned enough for one year, Lee charges after him. Quincy holds Dr. Rivera at bay with the Finger o' Judgment™ as he swipes and bags some x-rays. "This is just the hard evidence I need."

Lee wonders what he's going on about so he 'splains it. "You see. You can change the color of your hair. You can fix your nose. You can alter your face. But not this."

He thanks Rivera, pumps his hand and sprints halfway out the door before Lee shouts at him. He recoils, holds the door for her and shoots Rivera a hilarious "damn, I almost did it again" look.

They drive along a twisty, turny road at night. It's not clear if they're headed to the airport or driving back to California. That's not important. What matters is that it gives them some time to talk... and to package up this episode's resolution.

I have to say I love these '70s TV driving-and-talking scenes. There's something charming about two actors sitting in a car on a soundstage while they review the plot points. And the way the driver arbitrarily jiggles the wheel back and forth just gets me. The car should be fishtailing down the road, but the rear-projection shows a nice, even ride. 

Lee commends the killer's thorough loose-end cutting but wonders why he forgot to swipe his post-"accident" x-rays from Rivera. Quincy says it would've been too suspicious and that the killer didn't think anyone would bother accosting a Mexican doctor... until Quincy started poking around. Besides, Muscles had to get the checks to Switzerland before the bean counters noticed they were missing.

However, Lee wonders what he'd do when he got back. Perhaps drive down to Mexico to destroy some incriminating x-rays and, say, break the neck of a meddling medical examiner? Nah. He wouldn't do that. I mean, the timing would be ridiculous. He'd have to alter his busy neck-snapping schedule and... uh-oh.

Quincy's piercing stare leaps to the rear view mirror as a pair of headlights appear on the road behind them. He tries not to alarm Lee, but she finally knows by now that her accepting ways get her into serious trouble.

"How many times does a girl have to go off a cliff before she learns her lesson?"  Uhm, four?

What's funny is that she looks more resigned than frightened. Fortunately, the headlights disappear, and Lee and the Klug make their way safely to the Tijuana Howard Johnson's without anyone trying to kill them.

Quincy registers them as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and they head up to their room. Meanwhile, the camera tracks down the long, narrow lobby. Through the open doors, we see a suspicious car pull up.

More importantly, the single most awesome extra in television history wanders toward us. He's wearing an avocado shirt with a huge, horizontal mustard stripe and a pair of rusty plaid pants with ji-gundus flares. That, kids, is the '70s, right there. Unfortunately, our new fun friend won't be joining us for the denouement. Too bad.

Trying to make up for the port-o-let motel he so callously shoved Lee into, Quincy has booked a luxurious suite. He teases Lee (off-screen in the bathroom) about taking so long while he does that hopeful, "rubbing the champagne bottle in the ice bucket," "woohoo, I'm gonna get laid" ritual that every guy in movies and TV does just before someone or something delivers a harsh case of romance interruptus. You'd think guys would learn not to do that.

Sure enough, summoned by the sound of champagne on ice, Muscles McBeardy Chuck-Norrises his ass through the honeymoon suite doors. He's forsaken his mighty mitts for a gun. Startled, Quincy spills champagne everywhere. Lee pokes her head out to see what the ruckus is all about, and Muscles turns the gun on her.

Quick-thinking Quincy whips the champagne bottle. Unfortunately, it just grazes the killer's blond mane but gives Quincy enough time to close in for a tackle. Sadly, a potted plant buys it in the melee.

Quincy is first to his feet. Knowing he's no match for Muscles in hand-to-hand, he yells for Lee to call the police while he scrambles to more advantageous ground, dodging a few bullets along the way. Muscles holsters his gun in his crotch and gives chase. I cringe every time I see that move in films and TV. Just carry the damn thing. Don't risk blasting the family jewels!

Quincy speeds down some stairs with a lovely, wrought-iron rail. He passes a couple without warning them there's a gun-toting, neck-snapping lunatic hot on his trail. Hey, he's a coroner, not a cop. Good luck with that, innocent bystanders. Lucky for them, Muscles steams right on past. There's a certain sweater vest he wants to hang in his trophy room tonight.

Checking on his pursuer, Quince looks over his shoulder and blunders right into a poor wine steward who looks a bit like Manuel from "Fawlty Towers." He takes the tackle with a heavy "here we go again" patience. As the two men sprawl, we see that we've arrived near the hotel's outdoor pool. Even a toddler knows the Rule of Pools in movies and TV: If you're shown a pool, some person/car/fruitcart has to fall into it.

Muscles takes advantage of the pratfall to catch up to our favorite coroner. The Klug yells, "Help! Help me!" in a wonderfully non-heroic way. I like that touch. It's what a real person would do if a serial neck-snapper were on their ass. Sure, Quincy is a rage-slinging badass, but he's smart enough to know when he's outgunned.

Unfortunately, the nice Mexican folks enjoying their poolside drinks just shrug and enjoy the show. As he puts Quincy in a headlock and covers the coroner's mouth with his free hand, Muscles jokes that his "friend" has had too much to drink. Despite the Klug's obvious discomfort, everyone stands around going "que?" Don't worry folks. As soon as Quincy's dead, you're next. I guess that's his plan, anyway.

Absolutely loving his work, Muscles growls the immortal line, "I'm gonna snap your neck like a breadstick!"

Quincy's sharp, though. He knows he can't break this deathgrip by sheer strength. He uses his medical smarts and his love of "Star Trek" to reach back and press his thumb against the giant's carotid.

McBeardy's joy soon fades to surprise as the steady pressure makes him woozy. Quincy takes advantage of the killer's moment of doubt and shoves him into the pool.

Okay. Maybe Quincy really is super strong. Despite being choked, he hauls a defeated Muscles out of the pool all by himself. Maybe it's an adrenaline rush. Maybe he's just badass. Lee, in her nightgown, calls from on high and then flies down the stairs. Quincy checks the laid-out lummox. He's still alive, so at least the Klug won't be saddled with another autopsy.

The local constabulary finally finish their cocktails and saunter over to help out. They take over as Lee leads an exhausted Quincy away.

Some time later, Quincy and Lee snuggle in front of the big man's shipboard TV. On the screen, we see dubious Deputy Mayor Collins reassure reporters that the ill-gotten booty was recovered and that the city has not lost a penny.

Quincy quips, "Well, there are five citizens who are kind of dead."

Collins contiues, "Chase was, well, a Svengali." He's an evil hypnotist? "Women found him irresistible. He placed them in key positions." Yeah, I bet. I'm sure a trapeze was involved. "They became intimate with certain officials, then Chase blackmailed normally decent men into going along with his plan."

"I always thought it was kind of hard to blackmail decent people," Quincy riffs back. "Right, honey?" Lee nods and takes a swig from his tankard. Quincy tips it back a moment later. I wonder if they're playing a drinking game. Every time a politician lies on TV, take a drink. I hope the press conference ends before they pass out. 

"The checks came from the assistant controller, Mr. Marcus," Collins elucidates. "They were deposited through our late commissioner's various city port accounts. And finally, the money was transferred to an account in Switzerland. That's it." Yep, that's our epilogue, folks.

"I hope they don't ask him who co-signed the checks," Quincy zings.

"And who signed the checks?" a reporter asks. D'oh! Lee and the Klug have a good laugh.

"I, of course, co-signed the checks," Collins admits. "But that's always been a routine, almost ceremonial procedure." He seems to be staring right out at them from TV land as though saying, "There, Quincy. Happy? They're busting my nuts over this."

Quincy shuts off the TV with an enormous, iron-age remote. Lee snuggles up and asks, "Anyone ever get around to thanking you?"

"No, not in so many words. But I did sense a kind of gratitude."


"I wasn't fired."  The Klug sticks it to The Man.

They share a chuckle as God-cam pulls back from the land-locked ship.

"Why do you do it?" Lee asks.

"I don't know. Why do salmon swim upstream?"

"To lay eggs."

"That's not bad."

They dispense with the spawning talk and move on to their fantasy ports. Uhm, their geographical fantasy destinations, I mean.

"Well, where shall we go tonight?"

"How about Singapore?"

"Ooh, that's good, yeah."

Uh-oh. Quick, God-cam. Paddle faster!

"Cast off, matey. Cast off."  Yer clothes! Arrr, permission to come aboard! No. No. No. They're just "pals."

And that's a wrap. Stay tuned for your local news.

Well, there you have it. A strong start. I appreciate that they didn't dawdle on backstory like so many pilots do. Instead, they jumped right in and started busting heads. Is it any wonder the nation fell in love with the show?

Thanks for sticking around for my recap. I hope TV's most badass coroner has brightened your day or at least reddened your face with righteous rage. For all of my smartass remarks, I've got to say that even from the premiere episode "Quincy, M.E." was a well-written and superbly acted show. In all seriousness, I'd gladly watch any given episode of this show in lieu of a lot of the junk that's on TV today. That's not just out of nostalgia's sake, but because it's a solid, quality show. Sure, there were histrionics galore, but that's part of its charm. You can't deny that it was a helluva vehicle for the Klug. We salute you, Jack Klugman. You, my friend, are badass.

I highly recommend laying hands on the DVDs. You won't regret it. And to get another fix, you've got to head over to the Horn Section for Hal's brilliant Quincy recaps, including the legendary latter-day "punk rock kills" episode.

As for me, I'll keep savoring the DVD set, but I think it's time this blog moved on to other madness. Another recap could happen, though. It wouldn't surprise me a bit. But it's time to explore.

Remember, kids... never trust anything and disbelieve everything else.

*Sunday Mystery Movie opening courtesy of NBC. Screens captured from Universal's DVD set of seasons one and two using ScreenCaptureGUI2.


  1. Great, great job! The first four seasons are chock full of high quality episodes, all kidding aside. "No Deadly Secret" from Season 3 is also a well-written, twisting mystery that stands out to me.

    While I favor the unintentional hilarity of those later seasons, I still revisit the early ones too. NETFLIX now has all but about 20 episodes available for instant viewing from all seasons, but sadly, not "Next Stop, Nowhere".

    And thanks for the plug! I have more Big Q to follow, with him taking on toxic waste dumping and L.A.'s air pollution problem among others.

  2. Thanks, Hal!

    I'm working my way through the first two seasons right now. The first three Quincy "movies" were quite solid, but the fourth is surprisingly goofy: Quincy Meets "Catalina Caper."

    And then the official two-hour pilot for the series was just painful: Buddy Hackett and the timely threat of Legionnaires' Disease. My wife and I thought it was supposed to be just an hour long, so we felt like we were unstuck in time. 'Uhm, shouldn't this be wrapping up soon?" But it lands on its feet after that.

    I saw the "truckin' and toxic waste" episode recently on RTV. Man oh man, the show was starting to eat lead paint chips at that point. You're right, those latter-day episodes are hilariously cartoonish. I respect that, though, especially given how solid (for the most part) the early stuff was. It's like watching a friend go mad, you know, in a funny way.

    Take care, my brother. I'm not sure where this blog is going, but I have a feeling all roads eventually lead back to the Klug.

  3. hi. love your quincy, i especially love the commercials you have included on your web page. its been years since i've seen a K-Tel records commercial and i had Bic Banana Ink Crayons when i was in jr. high. they are probably still in my mom's attic. its great to know people still love great tv like quincy.

  4. Thanks, tvspence27!

    I was hoping the commercials would add an extra touch of "class." I love how not-into-it the dancing girl is in the K-Tel commercial. Classic. I wish companies had the guts to do cheap commercials like that again. Thanks again for dropping in. Take care.

  5. Frost: Just a quick note, you are now a Superior Scribbler! See my blog post tonight at The Horn Section for details. Congrats!

  6. Thanks, Hal! I'm honored. The power of Klug compels you!