21 June 2003 | schappe1
Too Much Mr. Jones, not enough Law
Television in the 50's and 60's was full of actors who were the equivalents of movie stars of the time. There were many doppelgangers for the matinee idols, like Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and John Wayne. Everyone wanted to copy their success. But there were also the more interesting character actors, who had their descendants as well. They were not real imitators as character actors do not need a mold. They are allowed to be themselves, or perhaps lose themselves in a character and be him. Nehemiah Persoff was the Edward G. Robinson of TV. Carolyn Jones was the Bette Davis of TV. And James Whitmore was it's Spencer Tracy.
The Law and Mr. Jones was his labor of love. He had a piece of the show and fought to have it renewed after it's first season. That was as far as he could take, however. Whitmore went on to many other roles, usually utilizing his craggy integrity, the most recent being as "Mr. Sterling's" father. It might have been interesting to make Mr. Sterling Mr. Jones' son but nobody thought of that.
Unfortunately, off of the first two episodes, it's hard to see how this show could have been anyone's labor of love. There's too much "Mr. Jones" and not enough "Law". Much is made of the fact that Mr. Jones used to be a football player and he uses those skills much more often than any legal knowledge. There isn't a single courtroom scene in either of these two shows but there are five fight scenes. We first see Abraham Lincoln Jones forcibly removing some sleaze bags from his office because they want his client committed. His client is the proud former owner of a construction concern with a great reputation and his name on it. The new owner wants to use both while building homes of inferior material. The old guy is suing them for the use of his name. They want him committed as a nut. Jones physically throws them out of his office. Later when the new owner sends a thug to intimidate Jones, our hero renders the guy unconscious with one punch. He does it again when invading the new owner's place to tell him off.
In the second episode, he has a collar-grabbing confrontation with some toughs who are trying to force an immigrant restaurant owner to pay half his earnings to the man who paid to get them into the country, (played by Frank Silvera). At the end, Silvera has ordered his toughs to "teach Mr. Jones a lesson". To drown out the noise, they turn on a jukebox which plays college football fight songs, (they thought it was appropriate). To their surprise, Mr. Jones "teaches them a lesson".
Both episodes end rather abruptly, this being a half-hour drama, with the bad guy being voted out by the board of directors in the first one and witnesses coming forward to tell the police about Silvera after Mr. Jones had beaten up his henchmen in the second.
I like my lawyers to use their noggins rather than clobbering other people's noggins. I also think a half hour, while it might be appropriate to a western or even a cop show, is not enough time to tell a story in a lawyer show.