Shout! Factory // 1981 // 1140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // March 5th, 2009
Dwyer: "Vietnam is just another old show they watched years ago. Eat your TV
dinner and watch the kid next door face down in the mud. Pass the fish sticks
and sleep like a log."
AJ: "I didn't sleep too well during those years."
Rick: "My brother was one of those campus commandos that fought the war from behind a protest sign."
AJ: "We knew what was going on. We were concerned with larger issues than toga parties."
Rick: "You want a real large issue? Breakfast and being alive to eat it. You guys were worried about whether you could carry 21 hours a semester. We were worried about whether we were going to make it through the next 24."
AJ: "That is why I didn't sleep well at night."
-- What's in a Gnome
Rolling into its first full year, the second season of Simon & Simon is where the series finds its footing. There's a new theme, action packed credits, an office on the beach, and a step-up in the professionalism of the brothers. A staple from '80s TV juggernaut Universal Studios, Simon & Simon: Season Two is the real beginning of this show's well-deserved eight season run. Happily, Shout Factory got hold of the rights to produce this set, after Universal walked away from the project, presumably because of low sales on Season One. For that, Shout Factory, I thank you.
Rick and AJ Simon are brothers and partners in their own San Diego private investigation firm. Rick (Gerald McRaney, Jericho) is a former Marine, a Vietnam vet who enjoys his Tequila, a boat that doesn't float, and has no problem using his fists when needed. AJ (Jameson Parker, JAG) is a college-educated preppy who favors Dockers over jeans and French wine over beer. Together, they're working as hard as they can to earn a living, recovering stolen items, locating missing persons, and occasionally tracking down a murderer.
This season has a slight change in their supporting cast which came with the move from the bungalow (on the Universal lot) to the new office on Venice beach (a real location; I've been there) which is close to AJ's canal-side house (also easily spotted if you walk around town.) Myron (Eddie Barth), who we met in Season One, has retired from the PI business and pops up now and again to do legwork for the Simons. Myron's daughter, Janet (Jeannie Wilson), is now the Assistant DA which gives the boys access to police information they couldn't get otherwise.
The boy's mother, Cecilia (Mary Carver), is also with us for the run of the show and let's not forget Rick's dog Marlowe. Sadly, AJ's classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible has been relegated to the garage, as he takes up driving a spiffy new custom red Camaro. Rick sticks with his dirty Dodge Power Wagon. And yes, the cars might as well be characters in the show, too.
After a dismal first season, CBS moved the series to Thursdays at nine following Magnum P.I. and there it became a hit. The show was given a nice boost that fall, with a two-part episode that began on Magnum P.I. and ended on Simon & Simon. That episode is included on this DVD as the only bonus.
Supernatural, Numb3rs; I do love my brother shows. It takes the buddy show bond and shoves it that extra step to make it okay for two men to hug and roughhouse without anyone suggesting there's something untoward going on. (Just ignore the sniggering of the fangirls in the background.)
In this season, you'll see more of the differences which divide the brothers, including several episodes that deal with Rick's time in Vietnam. This is one element of Rick that AJ really wants to understand and one Rick knows his brother never will. It's a serious sore spot between them, and will pop up over and over throughout the run of the series.
There's lots of humor here, with most episodes leading to an action-packed conclusion and plenty of danger. The other thing you'll find plenty of is compassion. At the risk of sounding like a total girl, I get a real thrill out of seeing Rick's protective streak. When he rescues the damsel in distress, whispering calming words as she's shaking in his arms, that works for me. I suppose I should be offended by Rick's chauvinistic behavior but there's a southern charm to his rough edges that makes me a Rick girl first and always. AJ may be the pretty one, but Rick's the one I'd want to have protecting me if I was in trouble. (And yes, I've thought about this way too much. It's called fan fiction.)
In looking at each of Season Two's episodes, there are two important bits of information -- the plot and the brother quotient. If you're a guy, you probably won't get it, but if you're a fan girl, you'll be smiling all the way.
* "Bonus Magnum PI Episode"
The Case: The boys go to Hawaii to recover a rare statue before the art dealer who sold it dies from an ancient curse. Morgan Fairchild guests.
The Brother Quotient: Nothing to speak of but just wait for part two.
* "Emeralds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend"
The Case: The brothers set out to scam the scammer in the second part of the story, selling fake emerald mines in a dangerous Central American country.
The Brother Quotient: The last moments are the best! AJ fears Rick has been killed by the guerillas and their reunion is filled with much hugging and the beloved grasp by the back of the neck.
* "Mike & Pat"
The Case: The brothers track down a trained dolphin that was kidnapped from Sea World. Cute but not a favorite.
The Brother Quotient: The usual brotherly banter, nothing more.
* "Guessing Game"
The Case: A psychic sees her own death at the hands of a serial killer. Good episode with some exciting moments
The Brother Quotient: Again it's in the ending. AJ gets into a shoot out with the killer, leaving Rick screaming AJ's name in the dark, fearing for his brother's life.
* "Art for Arthur's Sake"
The Case: The brothers recover a stolen painting only to find out it's a forgery. A slow-moving episode that is one of my least favorites mainly because of the two sisters who were obviously developed to mirror the personality differences of Rick and AJ.
The Brother Quotient: I was too bored to notice.
* "The Ten Thousand Dollar Deductible"
The Case: Two thieves go all DB Cooper, stealing a fortune in diamonds from courier AJ, leaving the Simons on the hook for the $10,000 deductible if they don't recover the goods.
The Brother Quotient: There's some panic here as Rick tries to get to AJ after the hijacking and then Rick finds his own way to follow when the FBI agents take AJ for a ride into the desert.
* "Rough Rider Rides Again"
The Case: Rick and AJ come face to face with a childhood cowboy hero who is now an alcoholic accused of murder. I love this one for it's commentary on how the rise and fall of Hollywood legends. Pat Buttram (Gene Autry's sidekick) appears along with several other famous TV cowboys. And don't miss the irony of the former cowboy wanting to beat up the Simons because private eye shows caused the demise of westerns on TV.
The Brother Quotient: There's some sweet imagery here as Rick and AJ reminisce about their childhood hero The Rough Rider.
* "Sometimes Dreams Come True"
The Case: Lisa Eilbacher plays twin sisters in a story that has one sister convinced the other is in danger because of a creepy man in a dream. Great episode with a neat twist. I like this one a lot.
The Brother Quotient:
* "The Last Time I Saw Michael"
The Case: The Simons circle the wagons when a man claiming to be the dead husband of a close family friend comes looking for a half a million dollars. This is an emotional one with some lovely sequences filmed on location at San Diego's Seaport Harbor.
The Brother Quotient: The boy's mother, Cecilia, figures prominently into the episode so there are a lot of family dynamics in this one, most notably Rick surprised to hear his mother say he's right for once, and some stories from their childhood.
* "Fowl Play"
The Case: A football mascot hires the brothers to investigate a pay-off between a pro player and some very bad men.
The Brother Quotient: One of my least favorite episodes. Skip it.
* "Thin Air"
The Case: An old (girl?) friend of Rick's is accused of murder when her husband turns up dead. Another favorite of mine, it has an interesting twist to the story and Rick's interaction with the woman's four-year-old daughter plucks at my heartstrings.
The Brother Quotient: AJ has to step in more than once to calm his raging brother when things get emotional, particularly when the police try to take the child away from them. Watch for the subtle supporting touches and smiles from AJ as Rick deals with this difficult case.
* "Murder Between the Lines"
The Case: A mystery author thinks he's next on the list when someone begins committing murders as outlined in his latest book. Ray Walston and Marie Windsor guest star in this tale that's good right up until the last 15 minutes where the whole story takes a turn that I consider cheating when it comes to scriptwriting.
The Brother Quotient: The boys aren't quite themselves in this one and for good reason. Not a favorite.
* "Psyched Out"
The Case: The Simons go back to school to investigate the death of a college student, who, it turns out was involved in psych experiments. Great episode with a plot that has intrigued me since the day I first saw it.
The Brother Quotient: Rick ends up as a victim of one of the experiments, which leaves AJ with a few breathless moments. It's all good.
* "Pirate's Key"
The Case: This two-hour episode centers on an old enemy who uses his clout to get the Simon's license pulled. Told through flashbacks, the boys appear at a hearing, explaining their current troubles stem from a case they were involved in years ago in Florida. The production company gets huge points here for using scenes from the show's unaired pilot as the flashbacks. You'll see a younger AJ living on a boat in Miami with then girlfriend Janet and a very free-spirited, heavily-drawling Rick banning together to look for the loot from a heist.
The Brother Quotient: This is a fascinating look at how the brothers became Simon & Simon Investigations. AJ is so enamored with Rick he nearly loses Janet over it. There are a couple of wonderful scenes with Janet trying to pry AJ away from his beloved brother. I love this look at their early days.
* "The Club Murder Vacation"
The Case: Instead of a quiet vacation with his mom and a good book, AJ witnesses a murder only no one seems to believe him including his own family.
The Brother Quotient: Not much here, except for the opening where Rick goes out of his way to get AJ to abandon his book and hang out. Funny that it should come right after Pirate's Key where AJ can't seem to get enough of Rick and here we have the exact opposite.
* "It's Only a Game"
The Case: It's off to Las Vegas when they're asked to deliver a video game that is much more valuable than it appears. This one has its moments -- I'd said it's a middle of the pack episode.
The Brother Quotient: Rick gets caught by the bad guys and held hostage which prompts AJ into much, 'they have MY BROTHER!' posturing.
* "A Design for Killing"
The Case: The brothers are hired to protect a new line of clothing.
The Brother Quotient: Nothing to see here, move along.
* "The List"
The Case: AJ falls for the client, a mysterious woman who may have committed murder to stay off the list of the sexiest women in San Diego.
The Brother Quotient: Rick is not very happy about the way AJ is falling but he's there to support his baby brother, figuratively and literally when it all comes apart at the end.
* "What's in a Gnome?"
The Case: The boys are out to stop a man who is sabotaging a new theme park. Sounds pedestrian, but this is the best episode of the season. It begins with a great deal of humor but quickly slides into a poignantly serious episode about the plight of the Vietnam vet.
The Brother Quotient: Emotions are high for both Rick and AJ when they realize a Vietnam vet is behind the sabotage. Rick loves his brother, but Vietnam is one experience they'll never share and that forces a wedge between them as the episode progresses. But watch AJ's face and you'll see that his distain for the war has more to do with his fear for his brother's life than his stance as an objector. Top notch.
* "The Secret of the Chrome Eagle"
The Case: Everyone wants a piece of the classic car that Rick and AJ have been charged with delivering, including Shelley Smith and Albert Salmi.
The Brother Quotient: Considering they're riding about with a killer, this episode is oddly lacking in angst.
* "Room 3502"
The Case: A woman disappears from a haunted hotel room and it looks like she's possessed by the spirit of the victim!
The Brother Quotient: There's much comedy arguing between the brothers in this episode and sorry, but it doesn't really work for me.
* "Red Dog Blues"
The Case: The boys look for a gambler who can alibi their client but the man's story changes once he gets on the stand. What's interesting about this one is that the boys are working for the defense which means working against AJ's former fiancée Janet.
The Brother Quotient: Rick has designs on Darleen Carr who plays the defense attorney and that makes for some interesting chats between the brothers. What's better though, is the protective mode they both slide into when Janet is kidnapped by the killer. Good stuff.
* "The Skeleton Who Came Out of the Closet"
The Case: The Simons are charged with driving a mental patient to his new home. The patient? 7'2" Richard Kiel!
The Brother Quotient: A fun episode but there's not much here in the brother department. A shame, too since it's the season ender.
Shout Factory did a great job with the packaging. Three color-coded snap cases fit into the sleeve. Each disc begins with an action pack clip from an episode, rolling into a fun clip loop that plays under the main menu. They're small details, but I appreciate the effort.
There's not much to complain about here. The video quality isn't the best. The episodes look hazy and grainy in spots, but I don't ever remember seeing these shows being sharper than that. There are no bonus materials, but I'm so glad Shout Factory took over the release of this show, the lack of features doesn't bother me at all.
If it weren't for the brother element, Simon & Simon would be just another light-hearted PI show like Magnum P.I. or The Rockford Files. If McRaney and Parker had anything but love and respect for each other off camera, you'd be hard-pressed to notice it. Like real brothers, they argue, pick on each other, and label one another for having an easier life. They also love each other and you can see it in the hidden smiles and compliments they pay when the other isn't listening. As the original theme song said, "Rick and AJ, they're not just brothers, they're best of friends."
This court finds Simon & Simon: Season Two not guilty and, as a result, has canceled all outstanding warrants on the Simon brothers for theft, breaking and entering, assault, and battery. A PI's gotta do, what a PI's gotta do.
Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1140 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Magnum PI crossover
* Domoni & Daughter Watch the Show