So this morning’s episode of Barbary Coast featured Bernard Fox playing an Irishman, and Henry Gibson playing an Englishman. I wonder whether Gibson asked Fox for a pointer or two to get his mockney mobster accent right.
Happily, at last, our son really enjoyed an episode of this show, volunteering “that was great!” at the end of it. The plot was still just a shade more complex than he could tackle by himself, but we caught him up pretty easily. The Barbary Coast is having one problem with a protection ring and another problem with a pair of con artists soaking suckers for shares in a diamond mine, and our heroes decide to sic these two opposing forces on each other. It’s actually a very, very clever plot and really amusing, and it also has enough dopey kid-friendly slapstick to keep our kid happy. At one point, shown above, one of Gibson’s henchmen gets stuck in a barrel and can’t get out, and of course the climax sees all the bad guys dunked in the harbor.
I had wondered the other day whether we were going to see a fourth red-haired dealer at the Golden Gate, and the answer, amazingly, is yes. Brooke Mills has blink-and-miss-her appearances in episodes 7 and 9 as a character called Rusty. She has a few more lines in this, her third and last episode. This is so odd. I wonder why they couldn’t find a single actress to commit to a regular part, and why they kept giving what’s effectively the same character different names.
I have to say… as wonderful as it is to have this fun show on DVD, I’m less than thrilled by the quality of the prints they used. I remember the series being much more vibrant and colorful when it was shown, and the prints, at least the ones of episodes three and four, have been cut by about thirty seconds. They lack the “Elvis / Bigfoot / man’s best friend” spoken section of the title sequence*. Perhaps these were copies prepared for syndication? Hopefully if some company ever decides to reissue this on Blu-ray, they can find the original masters and work from those.
Anyway, our son cheered when we told him we were watching another episode tonight. He really enjoys the young protagonists, but he simply sums it up by saying “It’s just so weird!” Joe Dante was back to direct episode four, and he brought along a pair of fabulous character actors: Henry Gibson and Dick Miller. Astonishingly, we’ve been doing this blog almost daily for close to four years and I don’t think that we’ve run into Miller before.
Gibson and Miller play employees of a top-secret government project called the Bureau of the Lost. They’re out to keep the economy stimulated by making sure people keep having to buy replacements for the things they misplace. But the hapless citizens of Eerie aren’t actually misplacing anything; Miller’s just creeping around swiping socks, lug nuts, pen caps, random pages from the phone book, and so on. The Tellers get selected for a run of bad luck, and Marshall’s dad’s briefcase vanishes. Dad’s in a state because it contains the formula for a petroleum-based banana flavoring, and Mom’s furious because he’s forgotten that it was an anniversary present.
Marshall and Simon’s scheme to deliberately lose something and see what happens leads them to Eerie’s bike gang, a laundromat stocked with the old Warren Eerie comic, and to the goofy bureau itself, where the word “found” causes Gibson’s character to get antsy. It reminded me of one of the lands from The Phantom Tollbooth! Our young heroes don’t quite save the day, the economy keeps ticking, and now we’ve got a very good explanation for the next time our son loses an important brick from a Lego set. Everyone wins!
*I might have got ahead of myself… the title sequence wasn’t quite formalized this early in the show, and later episodes on the set have the full version.