Jim (James Garner) finds himself in all manner of trouble this week…
First up is Guilt, that was written by Juanita Bartlett and originally aired 19 January, 1979. The phone message this time around features a message from Angel (Stuart Margolin) who gets a hot tip about a horse, but needs to bum some money off to Jim to make the bet. It’s also funny, because there’s a callback to the phone message during the episode, when Jim plays his machine, and Angel has left yet another message about it.
When an old flame, Val (Pat Crowley) shows up in Jim’s life, he finds his guilt over the relationship being manipulated as he helps her out as it seems someone is trying to kill her. Even Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr,) makes Jim feel bad about the relationship, which is both funny for the viewer and uncomfortable for Jim.
As Jim digs into the case, with the help of Becker (Joe Santos) he uncovers a web of manipulation, affairs, and a number of people with motive to want Val out of the way.
As always I really like Bartlett’s scripts, she has such a great handle on the characters, and interjects a lot of their personal lives into the story. in this case we get more back history on Jim, and learn that he was really close to being married, at least once.
In the end I think both he and Rocky are happy to see the backside of Val at the end of the episode.
The next episode this week is The Deuce, which was written by Gordon T. Dawson and went on 25 January, 1979. The phone gag for this episode features a call from a HiFi store calling about Jim’s repaired stereo and its expired warranty.
Jim is serving on a jury that is trying George Bassett (Mills Watson) on a drunk driving and man slaughter. When he causes the jury to be dead-locked and a new date is set, Jim digs into the investigation to learn the truth.
Chatting with the dead woman’s sister, Bonnie (Margaret Blye), he figures out it was murder and how it was done to make Bassett look guilty, but he doesn’t cotton to the fact that Bonnie is involved right away.
But she isn’t willing to wait for him to learn the truth and is more than happy to have a couple of thugs take him out first, while Bassett is eliminated as a problem, once and for all.
I do like the fact that they dealt fairly realistically with the issue of drinking and alcoholism, though attitudes during the late 70s still incredibly different. In this case no one had a problem with Bassett leaving the bar and driving home drunk. They just tell him to drive safely, and he jokes about the short drive it is.
But all ends well, and Jim will be back next week as we close in on the end of Season Five!