Air Date: March 2, 1982
Season: One (of Eight)
Episode: Eleven (of Thirteen)
Included on: Simon & Simon – Season One
Plot – 2/10
Acting – 6/10
Nostalgia Value – 9/10
Plot: On the box for Simon & Simon – Season One, it states that the episode is about AJ Simon’s suspicions that his ex-surfer buddies are involved in a kidnapping. This is true, but the episode centers on a more-conventional “crooked business” tale.
For a boy in the 1980s, Thursday nights were the best. The weekend was imminent and there were two great TV programs to watch on CBS – Magnum, PI, followed by Simon & Simon. Of the two, Magnum definitely shined brighter, but even as a “poor man’s Magnum,” Simon & Simon was a lot of fun.
As with Magnum, Simon & Simon was a “private eye” show; it focused on two brothers from San Diego – Rick (Gerald McRaney) & AJ (Jameson Parker) Simon. Rick was the rebel and AJ was the buttoned-down, conventional brother. At its best, Simon & Simon is a terrific “buddy” show that offers “stuff guys like” – beautiful women, violence, fast cars, etc.
Season One – A Different Show
Simon & Simon didn’t “take off” right away and the show was almost cancelled after one season. Unsurprisingly, then, the producers made many changes to reposition the show. One thing that immediately hit me was that the Season One theme song was different from the more-familiar theme used later. Also, in Double Entry, AJ drives a blue-and-white Chevrolet Bel Air, while later he drove a red Camaro. Even though I had not watched Simon & Simon in many years, I noticed these changes right away.
For all of the differences, the producers had already established many of the things that made the show work. The brothers have great chemistry. Also, Rick is an appealing combination of rebel and “everyman”; he drives an old Dodge Power Wagon and pals around with his dog, Marlowe (after Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe).
The episode starts with a “cold opening,” (i.e. it starts without opening credits, a la Saturday Night Live). I had forgotten that Simon & Simon used this sort of opening and it was jarring. In the opening, AJ & Rick are “repo-ing” a car and get in a jam. The repo theme is unrelated to the rest of the episode.
The plot here is pretty tired. A woman suspects her husband of cheating and hires the Simons to investigate. The search leads them briefly across the path of some of AJ’s old surfing buddies and into a business scam.
With a better script, Double Entry could have been a mild success. As is, there are many problems. One is that when AJ and Rick investigate the “surfer” angle, they are able to determine what has happened without any real evidence. The same problem occurs when the brothers unravel the business scam. (As an aside, the blow-dried actors playing the surfers are among the least-convincing hippies ever seen). Another issue that the “action” scenes are bad – boring and unrealistic.
Bubble Gum for the Brain
Because of Double Entry’s weak, over-familiar plot, the episode is close to being a dud. But there are a few fun aspects. Viewers have to watch it as “Bubble gum for the brain” – a diversion from reality. Rick and AJ do some fun, silly things with disguises; Rick poses as an exterminator; AJ poses as a book salesman. While investigating, they also use some gadgets to take pictures, make movies, and record audio.
My wife and I both got a kick out of the old cars, clothes, and hair. The women’s fashions and makeup have not aged well at all. I guess I’m to the age where the things that I liked as a kid now evoke feelings of nostalgia.
You can’t go home again. I loved Simon & Simon in the 1980s and I hadn’t seen an episode in years. This one didn’t do much for me, but I’ll give some of the others a chance.