Original air date Mar 8, 1984
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Teleplay by William Whitehead
Jameson Parker as AJ Simon
Gerald McRaney as Rick Simon
Tim Reid as Downtown Brown
Mary Carver as Cecelia Simon
Cindy Pickett as Addie Becker
Peter Brown as Frank Kenniman
Harold J. Stone as Ty Becker
Marie Denn as Jewel Lee
John McCann as Arthur Gerron
Bruce Gordon as Dillinger 1
Richard Karlan as Dillinger 2
Paul Eiding as Bogan
When Philip de Guerre came up with the idea for a show about two dissimilar detectives, (one a button-down, clean-cut, tidy, law school educated, ambitious young man with sophisticated tastes; the other a sloppy, lazy, Marine Corps veteran of Viet Nam with shady friends), he was asked what kind of bond would keep two such men working together.
It was then that AJ Dancer became AJ Simon, the younger brother of the disheveled cowboy hat wearing, battered pick-up-driving Rick Simon. A client once expressed disbelief that they had the same father. Rick responded, "Same father, different mood."
Simon and Simon was a fun show with two very attractive stars. (And for the four years Tim Reid played Downtown Brown, their police department inside source and back-up, three very attractive stars.) It also had one of the catchiest instrumental themes in 1980s television.
In this episode, Addie Becker's father has been murdered and a gun once owned by John Dillinger stolen. Addie is sure her father, a retired FBI agent, was working on something official. As is common for this series, the show opens with the crime. In this case, the kindly grandfather retires to bed after regaling his young grandchildren with tales of murder and gangsters only to be murdered in his bed by someone wielding John Dillinger's gun. Switch moods to the Simon brothers having one of their frequent disagreements. This time Rick has neglected to pay his phone bill, having been distracted by a lovely maiden who reached for the same package of frozen tamales Rick coveted. The bill ended up stuck to the enchiladas in A.J.'s freezer and the phone company disconnected A.J.'s phone by mistake. As frequently occurs, their new client interrupts this brotherly bickering with a request for help.
At the San Diego FBI office, while waiting to speak to someone about the murdered man, that AJ runs into his old racquetball opponent, Frank Kenniman (Peter). Frank is an FBI agent who had transferred to Washington but is now back in San Diego. He assures them that the old man wasn't working on anything, he was just going soft in his old age. When Addie goes to the bank to check their safe deposit box, a gunman wearing gangster era spectator shoes causes a distraction with a smoke bomb, steals the papers in the box and leaves behind the gun stolen from Addie's father. A fingerprint is lifted from the gun and to Town's disgust it is matched to John Dillinger.
When the Dillinger connection is made public both the Simon agency and the San Diego Police Department are swamped with Dillinger want-to-bes. Frank Kenniman is sent by the FBI to assist in the interviews. He appears rather disgusted with the whole thing. The Simons placate Frank then head over to see Jewel, Becker's old secretary with the FBI. However, she's having a senior moment and believes she's back in the 1930s.
Rick accompanies AJ to the sports center to watch the erotic exercise. To AJ's insistence he means "aerobic," Rick responds, "Bet me." Frank and AJ play long enough to get appealingly sweaty when AJ spots a man with a machine gun and has just enough tme to shout a warning to Frank.
No one is hit, but AJ's in shock when Rick and Town come to get him. Back home he relives his fear. Rick does his best to let AJ know his reaction isn't abnormal for the situation. AJ vows to make the person responsible feel the same fear he did. The next day the Simons find Town is unavailable to help them as he's appearing on Oprah to talk about Dillinger. So they call a mysterious number Addie's father had called and got a flustered but scary voice which suggests they have no business calling. The boys are getting jumpy and pull a gun on Addie when she comes to the office.
Addie has the idea that if they dress up in thirties costumes they can talk to Jewel in her own imaginary world. However, when they get there, she's lucid and tells them Addie's father was indeed working for something for someone high up in the bureau. Frank tells AJ he was trying to protect him by not telling him about Becker's assignment. He tells him everything is stranger than he'd believe. He promises to tell all if they meet him at an old movie theater. Rick remembers how to get in the theater the back way, just like he did as a teen.
Once inside, a newsreel about John Dillinger starts playing. The machine gun fire on the screen is augmented by gunfire within the theater. AJ freezes but Rick snaps him out of it. Rick takes out the first floor henchman while AJ sneaks up on Frank. A little machine gun fire in his direction turns Frank into a babbling coward who confesses all. They resurrected Dillinger's print with the use of a computer copy and a latex imprint.
As it turns out Frank was selling information about protected witnesses to the mob. That was the case Addie's father was working on. The boys are thanked for their help and Rick is disappointed that the case didn't involve John Dillinger. In a little epilog, a dentist from Chula Vista tells his father all is well with the myth of Dillinger's death so he can rest easy.
NiteOwl Review: This episode was standard Simon and Simon which reminded some of us of standard Laredo, not very graphic killing and violence in a light melodramatic, humorous package with sexy heroes and villains brought to justice. And when the guest star is as good-looking as the regular stars, its more than likely that he's going to be the villain. In this case, that nasty little black mustache should have tipped us off. They didn't just cast Peter because he could hold his own on the racquetball court with Jameson Parker (including looking good in shorts). He's pretty good at playing charming but bad to the bone.
Our Favorite Scene: Simon and Simon, like Laredo, rarely got serious. As with Laredo, the humorous comradery between characters, who we knew would go to the wall for each other, sometimes degenerated into pure silliness and rarely gave us the real bonding moments we would liked to have seen. But this episode was an exception. Prior to commercial, our last sight of AJ shows him curled in a fetal position on the racquetball court terrified at the machine gun fire aimed in his direction. Post commercial we return to a compelling scene in which Rick tries to comfort him.
AJ is clearly trying not to cry as in a trembling voice he admits how terrified and helpless he felt. Rick rubs AJ's hands, apparently cold from shock, and tells him about the Viet Nam genuflect, the reaction they had as soldiers when helpless and terrified in Viet Nam. AJ needs Rick's physical support as Rick helps him up and takes him home. The scene at home is almost as compelling as AJ drinks brandy and admits that he's never been so afraid, truly afraid. He vows to make the man responsible just as afraid. Rick does his best to use some straight talk mixed with humor to get AJ not to feel shame at his reaction.
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