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Case Number 17058

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Simon & Simon: Season Three

Shout! Factory // 1981 // 1200 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // August 18th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge "Midtown" Cynthia Boris is all over these brothers.

Editor's Note

Our review of Simon & Simon: Season Two, published March 5th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

Explosions, bar fights, stakeouts, bikini-clad blondes, car chases, and more explosions.

Opening Statement

New characters, new relationships, and plenty of fun and action. The third time is the charm: Simon & Simon: Season Three on DVD.

Facts of the Case

Rick and AJ Simon are private investigators in San Diego and at this point in their career they're still taking on the low-level cases that no one else wants. Rick (Gerald McRaney, Jericho), the older brother, is a former Marine, a Vietnam vet who enjoys his Tequila and has no problem using his fists when needed. AJ (Jameson Parker) is a college-educated preppy who favors Dockers over jeans and French wine over beer. They may bicker as brothers do, but they always have each other's back.

In this third season, the boys are still in the beachfront office, mom Ceclia (Mary Carver) is still a big part of the show, and Rick's dog Marlow wanders through now and then. AJ's former girlfriend, now Assistant District Attorney Janet Fowler (Jeannie Wilson) shows up in only two episodes, and her father Myron (Eddie Barth), AJ's former employer, is gone for good.

Several new characters pop up in this season including Detective "Downtown" Brown played by Tim Reid. Reid joins the show a few episodes in and becomes the boys' chief contact at the police for the next several seasons, eventually appearing in almost half the episodes in the show's run.

We also meet news reporter Temple Hill played by Reid's real-life wife, Daphne Maxwell. Marcelo Tubert makes the first of three guest-starring appearances as Dr. Suvi Raj, a very funny character who, despite being a doctor, always has things a little backwards. And for the first time, we begin to hear about AJ's elusive girlfriend Liz. Though I don't believe we ever actually see her, AJ talks about her often and she plays a very significant role in AJ's storyline.

The Evidence

It's Season Three and these guys are a well-oiled machine. McRaney and Parker are in their character comfort zones here, really solidifying their roles as brothers. The banter is more understated and real, the bond between them is a little tighter, and there's a nice blend of comic bits and angsty action.

Here's a rundown:

Disc One
• "Grand Illusion"—Donald O'Connor (Singing in the Rain) guest stars as an aging magician accused of murdering a young up-and-comer who stole his best trick. Lots of twists and turns in this one that will keep you guessing just like a great magic trick.

• "DJ DOA"—P.J. Soles (Rock 'n' Roll High School) guests as a crazy disc jockey who witnesses an attack on a fellow DJ. Trouble is, no one believes her except the Simon brothers. A slow moving episode that's not in my top ten.

• "I Heard It Was Murder"—They say every show has a race track and boxing episode. I say add to that a magic act and a blind girl. This blind girl comes to the Simons because she claims she can ID a murderer using only her ears. Pretty typical stuff except for the use of a reverberation chamber as a weapon.

• "Bail Out"—Belinda Montgomery (Doogie Howser: M.D.) is the client in this episode. A friend of the Simons, she hires them to look into the sky diving death of her husband. This one works thanks to two big twists in the story but it's not a favorite.

Disc Two

• "Fly the Alibi Skies"—The basic plot revolves around a murder suspect whose alibi is that he was on an airplane when his ex-wife was killed. But what makes this episode special is the tie-in with the series Whiz Kids. When AJ needs to get into the airline passenger manifests, he calls on Matthew Laborteaux and his pals from the teen adventure series. (Both Whiz Kids and Simon & Simon were created by Philip DeGuere.) It's also the first episode with reporter Temple Hill, who would go on to become a series semi-regular.

• "Shadow of Sam Penny"—A sterling guest cast is the highlight of this story about an aging gumshoe who disappears in connection with a thirty-year-old diamond heist. Anne Francis (Honey West), Robert Lansing (Kung Fu: the Legend Continues), and Elisha Cook Jr. (House on Haunted Hill) make this episode a real stand-out.

• "Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"—Again, it's the guest cast that makes this story about an undercover cop accused of murder, an interesting one. Most significantly, it's the introduction to Det. Marcel "Downtown" Brown played by Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati). Reid, who was married to Daphne (see "Fly the Alibi Skies"), would become a series regular, playing the boys' chief police contact for the next four years. This episode also features Jack Lucarelli in one of four appearances on the show. He was married in real life to Jeannie Wilson who played Janet on the show. He, she, McRaney, and Parker also all appeared together in a movie called Jackals.

• "The Bare Facts"—Just for laughs, this episode sends the boys to a nudist colony to investigate the disappearance of an engineer.

Disc Three
• "Too Much of a Good Thing"—A sexy woman hires the boys to find her chemist husband but before they find him, they find a couple more spouses. Not a bad episode but not at the top of the list.

• "Betty Grable Flies Again"—This one really grabs me, maybe because I'm a WWII buff. Pat Hingle guest stars as a former bomber pilot who is obsessed with finding the plane he flew in the war. Unfortunately for him, his former crew members have a good reason for wanting the plane to stay lost.

• "Bon Voyage, Alonso"—AJ stays behind when Rick and mom Ceclia play escort to a lovesick teenager who's been sent on a cruise by her father to keep her away from a boy he doesn't like. Easy gig, until terrorists hijack the ship and threaten to sink it if they aren't paid a small fortune by the cruise line. Great angst episode for AJ fans as he tries to find away to save his family even though he's thousands of miles away on dry land.

• "All Your Favorite Games"—This typical witness protection episode has the boys guarding a girl with a gambling obsession. Slow moving with a few bright spots.

Disc Four
• "John Doe"—The brothers are hired by a man looking to find himself. No, it's not existential. He's an amnesiac who woke up with a gun, $20,000 in cash, and a murder rap hanging over his head.

• "Dear Lovesick"—Cathryn Damon (Soap) stars as an advice columnist who fears one of her readers may be contemplating murder in order to break up a love triangle. Fluffy stuff to start with that turns dark when a bomb goes off at AJ's house.

• "Bloodlines"—A trip to the stables to see the horse Rick won in a poker game, turns into a case when a woman hires them to find her stolen thoroughbred. Kay Lenz guest stars in this episode that has some lovely beach photography as a backdrop.

• "Heels and Toes"—This sadly dated episode revolves around a ballerina who pole dances to make ends meet. Now someone is trying to kill her—perhaps to keep her from dancing the lead in a show that is just a few weeks away. Not one of the best.

Disc Five
• "The Wrong Stuff"—A schoolteacher hires the boys to erase the past when a soft core porno she starred in pops up at a local theater. The brothers set out to find the producer and end up involved in a dangerous mission involving a popular astronaut played by Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey).

• "Double Play"—This is one of my favorite episodes of the season due to its unusual hook. The episode opens with Rick involved in a cat and mouse game in a creepy, old building; he rounds a corner, shoots and kills AJ. Of course, it's just a dream but it haunts Rick to the point where he can't sleep, and that's no good for anyone. The brother bond is the star of this episode that has one of the most dramatic endings in the show's run.

On the lighter side, the episode features a whole host of celebrity doubles including the flamboyant Kenny Sacha as Bette Midler whom you may know from famous footage of Cher's Take Me Home Tour. Good stuff.

• "Under the Knife"—From great to not so much, the boys try to prove that a man is faking paralysis in order to win a case of medical malpractice.

• "Harm's Way"—This funky episode has Ninja's and secret code words and more spies than in an issue of Mad Magazine. It's also too complex to be enjoyable.

Disc Six
• "The Dillinger Print"—This is another favorite that starts out a little wacky and takes a turn toward deadly serious. The boys are hired to look into the murder of a former FBI agent and the theft of John Dillinger's gun from the man's collection. The gun turns up with a fresh print—guess whose? Dillinger's, of course. The only person with the answer may be the man's secretary, an elderly woman who is lost in the 1930's, so Rick and AJ don the double-breasted suits and fedoras in hopes of getting her to talk. It's a very sweet scene that is off set by a dramatic attempt on AJ's life that leaves him too shaken to function when they're later pinned down by the bad guys in an old movie theater.

This episode features a rare heart-to-heart between the brothers with Rick talking about the fear he experienced in Vietnam in hopes of easing AJ's trauma.

• "Corpus Delecti"—Once again the brothers are hired to play the patsy, this time in an attempt to defraud an insurance company out of a hefty payout. Some interesting plot twists, but I'm tired of seeing the boys played as chumps. One interesting note, this episode was directed by the late Kim Manners known for his work on Supernatural and The X-Files

• "The Disappearance of Harry the Hat"—Simon & Simon didn't do big cliffhanger season enders, so this one is just another, somewhat amusing, case. Mild mannered Harry hires the boys to help him disappear because he fears his ex-wife will try to kill him. They make it happen and then they have to find him again when they realize that all isn't as it seems to be. The highlight of this episode is a final confrontation with the bad guys at the Spruce Goose exhibit, which used to reside in the dome next to The Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Shout! Factory has done a really nice job picking up where Universal left off with this series. As with all of their DVD sets, there's an attention to detail that I really appreciate. The discs are housed in three plastic cases, each in a different color with easy to read episode guides on the back. Unfortunately, the plastic tines that hold the DVDs in place are way to brittle and I broke two of them the first time I removed the discs.

There are no special features, but each disc begins with a section of film from an episode that explodes into the main navigation screen. From there you can choose Play All or individual episodes. There are no chapter breaks on the episodes themselves.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

In general, the audio and video on this set is excellent with a couple of exceptions. Several episodes have cracks and artifacts marring the print. But they go as fast as they come and they didn't affect my enjoyment of the episodes.

On the other hand—and I could be way off the mark here—I feel like some of these episodes have been edited. I know this show fairly well, but not well enough to recite them by heart, so I could be wrong. Still, several of them, such as "Harm's Way," have abrupt cuts between certain scenes. Nothing drastic but not the usual smooth transition you usually get from here to there. I'm not saying I know they were edited, they just don't feel right in spots. If anyone out there has more information on this, I'd be glad to hear it, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.

Closing Statement

Simon & Simon is one of those TV shows that I enjoy every time I put in a DVD. It's been more than 20 years since these episodes first aired, and with only a few exceptions, the series is as fresh as it was back then. If you've never seen the show before, this is a good season to start with, great guest stars, a good mix of comedy and drama, quirky storylines, and plenty of brotherly interaction. What more could you ask for?

The Verdict

This court declares Simon & Simon: Season Three to be guilty of even more counts of breaking and entering, petty theft, assault and battery and even the military wants a piece of them for impersonating an officer. In other words, it's business as usual.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 89
Extras: 0
Acting: 91
Story: 90
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 1200 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Crime
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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