History of Murder
Hospital construction uncovers a body, Dr. Nordhoff invented a pacemaker stolen by Dr. Huxley. An embezzler in the accounting department invested in Huxley’s new firm and made a fortune. Nordhoff, dead and immured at that earlier time of construction, was thought to have absconded. He had been Dr. Sloan’s staff instructor in Cardiology.
The discovery provokes an investigation, Dr. Nordhoff’s nurse is murdered by Dr. Huxley’s daughter, now a surgeon, to prevent further enquiries.
All operating rooms or nearly are closed during construction, yet the daughter has blood on her scrubs, just as Dr. Huxley had on the day of Dr. Nordhoff’s disappearance when the operating rooms were again closed, an unforgettable day in 1963.
The little girl in “Little Girl Lost” is now a television reporter, Mannix is back on the case.
Lou Reynolds uncovered mob control of O’Farrell Industries, his publisher at the Los Angeles Chronicle was in debt to the mob for every line of type and bottle of ink in his press, Mrs. Reynolds left for New York to be an actress, she and the publisher were having an affair, Reynolds sued for divorce and was shot with a high-powered rifle.
Now the lovers have been married for twenty years, the daughter is unhappy, Mannix is shot outside the Hall of Records, and with the same rifle. Dr. Sloan finds a heart condition requiring immediate surgery.
Reynolds found a beat cop on the pad. Blackmail keeps the legman’s girlfriend in style, the cop rises to an eminence from which he delivers a press conference announcing an Internal Affairs investigation of the disbanded Organized Crime Task Force, under suspicion of leaks to the mob. The girlfriend is menaced and murdered.
The publisher served time but never testified. His wife killed Reynolds for custody of the daughter.
Mannix solves the case with Dr. Sloan’s assistance, a hunting rifle isn’t kept by a hit man.
There is an amazing, detailed sense of clarity in the construction, building up major points like individual crescendos or hills that are worked out to their bases, but the overall impression is the cool, dispassionate view taken of this not so very formidable terrain, and this is an exact metaphor countered by the vigorous realism of the presentation, a fire in the canyons of the West San Fernando Valley shown as staging areas, hotspots and television news coverage (a reporter in a live broadcast attempts to interview Dr. Sloan, who is carrying supplies, as Peter Graves evacuating, and later thinks Dr. Bentley in sunglasses is Whitney Houston).
It’s a question of misdeeds not quite finding a proper remedy. The fellow with a short ponytail is back from eight years in prison for a stock swindle worked on the locals, who don’t like him shopping in the general store. The father of a wayward daughter can’t relish her choice of mate, a vituperative man who deals in poetry (a sample of which is recited breathlessly by her, something with Mao Tse-tung in it), and when a fire breaks out the principals form up as a volunteer firefighting unit. The poet dies of suffocation in a burning house for no very obvious reason, but Dr. Sloan is able to determine that he was an asthma sufferer, had no medication in his system and no oxygen in his tank.
Plenty of lead in his pencil, however. His readings are discovered to have been assignations, a fact known to his mistress.
Nyby has it all over this conflagration by dint of the writing (Gerry Conway, Wayne Berwick) but also the sheer combination of experience directing television and watching such fires as they are shown on the local news (very likely in person, too). This also helps the drama. His combined experience allows him to suggest a great deal more of the fire than he is required to show, without any diminishment, and the cumulative effect is of a natural disaster standing in relation to the heightened passions of the situation the way these latter dwarf the characters.
Steve Sloan in a hospital bed points to the TV set in his room, which shows the outline of a burning hill, in answer to Dr. Bentley’s question about where Dr. Sloan is to be met with the greatest urgency, “there,” he says.