"Route 66" was my favorite TV drama series of the 1960s. It was very appealing for a young male of any race. There were these two cool guys, Todd Stiles (Martin Milner), Buzz Murdock (George Maharis) and Lincoln Case (Glenn Corbett) (replaced Maharis during the final season) driving from town to town in a brand new Corvette. Their lives were filled with adventure and lots of girls. Like "The Twilight Zone", it was a series from which many actors got their start. Each week, viewers could see actors like Robert Redford, Lee Marvin, William Shatner, Martin Balsam, Robert Duvall, Ed Asner, Rod Steiger, David Janssen, DeForest Kelley, Burt Reynolds, etc. Plus, the theme song, written by Nelson Riddle, was perhaps the greatest TV theme song of all times. "Route 66" wasn't a "rebel" type of show. This was probably why the series ran from 1960-1964. Although Stiles and Murdock were opposites: Stiles, cultured and educated, while Murdock, street like and not so educated, they were both decent young men. They complimented each other and rarely did they clash with one another. Furthermore, many episodes had "spiritual" overtones. For examples: Two of the best episodes were: "The Strengthening Angels" (1960) and "One Tiger to a Hill" (1962) In "Strengthening Angel", a young and beautiful Suzanne Pleshette plays Lotti Montana, a migrant worker who's going to help pick the peach crop a town called Sparrow Falls. In the opening scene, it's night and raining. Lotti is at the local church about to give her testimony when she instead runs hysterically from the building. She runs out in the street and nearly gets hit by Todd and Buzz in the Corvette. Lotti gets a lift with them. Tired and hungry, they stop at the nearest diner although she insists that they eat outside of the city limits. While at the local diner, Tod and Buzz become acquainted with the town Sheriff (John Larch). Meanwhile, Lotti is waiting in the Corvette and gets harassed by a drunken man who recognizes her. While returning to the car, Todd and Buzz see the drunk harassing Lotti. Buzz pushes him away but the drunk brings so much attention to them that the Sheriff comes after them as they drive away from the scene. The Sheriff stops them further up the road and arrests them for harboring a fugitive, Lotti Montana. Apparently, Lotti is wanted for the murder of the brother of the Sheriff. At the station, the Sheriff releases Todd and Buzz but he detains Lotti. As a result of this, Buzz gets into a fists fight with Sheriff but the Deputy catches Buzz from behind with "cheap" shot. The Sheriff has no intention of keeping buzz locked up in prison but he does just long enough to patch up his busted head and to give him the low down regarding Lotti's past. After Buzz is released he and Todd seek an attorney to take Lotti's case. At first, it appears as though the attorney isn't willing to take the case. However, he does because it turns out that he knows the reason why Lotti killed the Sheriff's brother. The Sheriff's brother had a romantic interest in Lotti and often pursued her to his brother's disliking. One night after getting drunk with his friend, the future attorney, they went by Lotti's place. The Sheriff's brother tried to rape her, so she stabbed him with a pair of scissors. This story is corroborated by Lotti's young daughter who has been sheltered by her mom from ever giving her side of the story. The most magnificent scene takes place when Lotti's Pastor (Harry Townes) visits her in prison and prays with her to receive Christ's forgiveness. Townes gave a stellar performance as Pastor Daniel Wylie. Stirling Silliphant wrote this episode and most of the episodes. The episode concludes with Lotti (Pleshette) being released from prison and giving Buzz a kiss on the lips for helping her. Buzz and Todd drive off while the Sheriff watches from his window.
"One Tiger to a Hill" featured David Janssen as Karno, an ex-Vietnam soldier who hates Todd over a girl (Laura Devon as Toika) and because he escaped the draft as a student in college. Working as salmon fishermen in Astoria, Oregon. Tod and Buzz encounter Karno, who wants to kill or be killed. Todd and Karno have several brawls but the finale comes when they brawl on board a ship where Karno is knocked overboard. Meanwhile, Todd, Buzz, and Toika wait at the dock to receive word from the coast guard regarding Karno. "Lo and behold"! Karno approaches the dock on board a coast guard cutter. The stage is set for the most magnificent scene of the episode. Karno (Janssen) explains his experience underwater. His experience is similar to that of Jonah and the Whale. While underwater, he looks up and sees the sky above. For the first time in his life he fills small, which is good. Then he is miraculously saved from the tempest of the sea. As he said, "All of a sudden I became gigantic. I was born again." Karno and "teary"eyed Toika walk off into the sunset. Around 1985, the series "Route 66" was aired in its entirety on "Nick-at-Nite". I have all 116 episodes on DVD. A. Zachary Sanders