Charlie X
Star Trek

The powers that be on the planet Thasus descend upon a shipwrecked infant Earthling and endow him with their powers for his survival. Fourteen years later, the boy is rescued and transferred to the Enterprise, where in confusion and ignorance he plies them wantonly and assumes command.

This is presented casually and straightforwardly as a study of adolescence, until the real solution is drawn forth out of the universe and manifested in a green glow on the bridge.

Robert Walker, Jr. has the role, with Abraham Sofaer in a cameo as one of the powers, on a theme from Rod Serling (“It’s a Good Life”, dir. James Sheldon for The Twilight Zone) worked out to this level by D.C. Fontana.


The Exhibit A Raid
The Rat Patrol

Col. Beckmann, “the Beast”, a notorious torturer of prisoners, whom Sgt. Troy himself saw ”boot to face”, hits upon a spur-of-the-moment plan to evade trial. He shoots his own aide, trades uniforms with him, and claims that Troy has murdered Beckmann in cold blood.

It goes to court-martial. The only proof of Beckmann’s identity is at German division headquarters or in Berlin. The patrol resolve to get it.

They liberate Beckmann’s staff car from the motor pool, drive to the conference still in session where he is awaited, and after a fruitless search through files, find a dossier with his photo on a desk. A firefight as they exit is briskly left behind.


The Night of the Amnesiac
The Wild Wild West

Backstage at the State Theater, Crotty’s Genocide Club plans an America devoid of all but “machines and me”.

They purloin a shipment of smallpox vaccine to ransom the boss from prison, then renege and keep it.

The booby-trapped scale is from Combat! (“The Enemy”, dir. John Peyser).



A Trout in the Milk
The Streets of San Francisco

“Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” This is Thoreau in his Journal, cited by Robert Malcolm Young. The extremely cautious formulation of this aperçu allows for a thorough sifting of red herrings, which is what this is from first to last, and that requires a certain skill in not spilling the beans, which is what Dobkin displays.

An artist is hit on the head and thrown out his second-story window. Either bodily insult may have killed him, says the report. His model (Brenda Sykes) is suspected when her earring is found in his studio. Her father, the poet Yale Courtland Dancy (Roscoe Lee Browne) takes the rap for her. She is under the impression that he committed the murder, as he strenuously opposed her association with the painter. A street artist attests to the victim’s bad moral character and many conquests. The killer is found to have been a judge’s wife who was taken with the painter and became jealous over the model.

These are the bare bones of the mystery as finally stated, except that there is one more trout in the milk, namely the artist, who is never seen (and neither is his work). What might be a beautiful puzzle whose key is Bye Bye Braverman (dir. Sidney Lumet) is seemingly spoiled by the killer’s defense that she was being blackmailed, but that is only hearsay related by Lt. Stone. And there it ends, cp. Kill Me Tomorrow (dir. Terence Fisher).

Dobkin opens on Dancy reciting his verse at a local nightspot. “I dreamed a beautiful city last night” is the incipit of this Beat ode full of witticisms and antinomies. Later, interviewed at the bar, he lights up a hand-rolled cigarette in front of the detectives, and Inspector Keller is surprised when Lt. Stone doesn’t arrest him for marijuana possession. “What, arrest him for smoking oregano for his image?”

A man of letters arrested thirty-odd times for drunk and disorderly, Dancy. “This is where I used to find your mother after I’d given her a hard time,” he says upon meeting his daughter at the Japanese Tea Garden, where she’s gone to reflect on these matters. In the interrogation room, Dancy’s tale of sudden passion won’t fly with Lt. Stone, and so he fishes about for a bigger lure. He and the artist were lovers, he says most solemnly and tragically, ashamed to have hidden the fact, and then he sets the hook by threatening to kill the detectives if his daughter ever hears of this.

Inspector Keller is landed (he is still a rookie), but Lt. Stone does a little bit of research and finds Dancy to be “a Lothario” and not “a queen”. Inspector Keller also has a great deal of trouble with the daughter. He interviews her at a modeling job in a large department store, and she charms him so effortlessly that he loses her in no time. Brenda Sykes is required to be entrancingly beautiful and intelligent, which is what she does.

The killer, a Cassandra who goes by the nickname on her personalized license plate, is apprehended on the verge of jumping into the Bay, destroyed by guilt. Lt. Stone and Inspector Keller chat in the epilog about keeping an open mind for cultural pursuits.

Roscoe Lee Browne takes to Dancy like the proverbial trout to milk (very strong). The burden of imagination is dissolved in his second poem as a calling card,

We all met at the summit
and agreed we’d arrived.
They asked who I was...

The Loch Ness monster...
a wetback...
a Chinese smorgasbord...

I said I’m a negative thinker—
of that I am positive!
A killer who couldn’t,
a killer who wouldn’t!
A man who deserves your attention.

...and becomes in the interrogation room an instrument at the service of a noble cause.


Angels Go Truckin
Charlie’s Angels

There is a subtle development of a theme for Perry Mason, “The Case of the Sausalito Sunrise” (dir. Jesse Hibbs). Big rigs are rifled of their goods, truckers find themselves delivering sandbags somehow. Joanne Linville portrays the head of the firm.

In fact, no cargo is taken at all, the entire trailer is switched at a truck stop with the aid of a diversion. Two old friends pummel each other in the parking lot, one stretch of highway is blocked by an accident, the other has a spilled load. The angels are robbed during lunch.

Kelly gets the whole story working behind the counter. The boss realizes her mistake, if she had a man investigating, he’d still be out chasing his own tail.