7 April 2007 | Cheyenne-Bodie
An original, interesting idea for a series-from Aaron Spelling
Lloyd Bridges became a big star as skin diver Mike Nelson on "Sea Hunt" (1958-61). Bridges returned to television a year later in this ambitious 30-minute series, designed to showcase his range and depth as an actor. Bridges was 49 years old.
Aaron Spelling was the creator and executive producer. The production company was Four Star ("The Dick Powell Show", "Burke's Law"). Bridges played journalist Adam Shepherd. When Shepherd was researching a story, he would imagine himself as the protagonist. Thus each week Bridges was playing a new character in a new situation.
The line producer was Everett Chambers who had produced "Johnny Staccato" with John Cassavetes (and would later produce "Peyton Place" and some episodes of "Columbo"). Chambers also had an acting role in the Cassavetes film "Too Late Blues". Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said Everett Chambers gave that film's best performance. Chambers got his pal Cassavetes to direct two episodes of the Bridges series and to guest star in another.
Gena Rowlands also appeared in an episode, and later worked for Everett Chambers on "Peyton Place". Seymour Cassell ("Minnie and Moscowitz" -1971) had a small role in the Rowands episode. Robert Towne ("Chinatown") wrote the episode and Don Taylor directed.
I wonder if Chambers offered Cassavetes the role of convicted killer Elliot Carson on "Peyton Place". Then Cassavetes could have played Mia Farrow's father in "Peyton Place" in addition to her husband in "Rosemary's Baby".
The first "Lloyd Bridges Show" episode directed by Cassavetes was "A Pair of Boots". While doing a story on the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, Adam Shepherd imagines he is a Union soldier in a stand- off skirmish with Confederates. Beau Bridges, John Marley, Seymour Cassell, Lawrence Tierney and Royal Dano were featured in the futility of war drama. Marley and Cassel would appear in Cassavetes' "Faces" (1968).
The second episode directed by Cassavetes was "My Daddy Can Lick Your Daddy". Bridges played an aging middle-weight boxing champion in the 1920's. He is put in a fight with his son (Gary Lockwood), who he has pretty much ignored his whole life. The self-hating son plans to kill his father in the ring. Lelia Goldroni ("Shadows") played Bridges' girl friend. Robert Towne wrote the episode.
In "Mr. Pennington's Machine", Bridges played a somewhat crude, noisy business man, apparently an "Ugly American". But he is touched by the starvation he sees while on vacation in the orient. He tries to help a destitute Chinese village with the aid of his cautious wife (Betty Garrett) and a cynical American adventurer (Lee Philips).
Jeff Bridges appeared in three episodes, and Beau was in two. Lloyd's daughter Cindy was also in an episode.
When the series got unimpressive ratings, the Adam Shepherd character was dropped and the series became a straight anthology series hosted by and starring Bridges.
I remember seeing Bridges on the daytime game show "Your First Impression" at the time of this series. When host Bill Leyden asked Bridges the title of his new show, Bridges was embarrassed to tell him. He said the show really should have been called "The Aaron Spelling Show". Bridges said Spelling was a genius.