Barney Miller (1975–1982)

The Desk (22 Nov. 1979)

TV Episode   |  TV-PG   |    |  Comedy, Drama

The Desk (1979) Poster

A former master criminal becomes incoherent following his lobotomy. A victim is unable to use the telephone to report being mugged because he's Amish.


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18 June 2014 | kevinolzak
| Jeff Corey and Don Calfa
"The Desk" features Hollywood veteran Jeff Corey (second of two) as Amish farmer Caleb Webber, mugged by 'scalawags' on a shopping spree to the big city: "sizing up the import of a hay clipper" (Harris: "oh, been meaning to price one of them myself!"). In his fifth of seven appearances, Don Calfa plays Gilbert Lesco, a master bank robber with a long criminal history, whose attempt to rob a liquor store fails due to his use of a toy ray gun in place of the real thing (Barney: "early 21st century, I'd say!"). He figures that Perry Mason would be perfect for his attorney (Lesco: "you heard of him, he was great!" Wojo: "I think he retired!" Lesco: "yeah, I guess after the accident!" referring to Raymond Burr's Ironside character). At first, Barney believes his condition might be the result of drugs (Lesco: "no thanks!"), but it soon becomes apparent that he has been subjected to a migdolotomy performed by Dr. Milton Prentice (Fred Sadoff, fourth of six), to curb his criminal tendencies (Dietrich: "a migdolotomy is a recent neurological's a more sophisticated version of a lobotomy...electric current is introduced through holes in the skull to cauterize and destroy nerve cells in the limbic region of the brain...this enables the surgeon to alter or control one or more aspects of behavior"). Making his fourth appearance as slimeball lawyer Arnold Ripner (fifth of seven overall) is Alex Henteloff, assuming that Lesco, his client of eight years, must be 'slumming' if he tried to knock over a simple liquor store (Ripner: "what is it with you people? The last time I came here my client was dead, this time he's a vegetable!" Barney: "I thought you said you called an attorney!"). Once he discovers the gruesome circumstances surrounding Lesco's current situation, he wastes no time trying to build up a case for prosecution, refuted by Dr. Prentice ("you know Captain, I'm not some evil madman bent on destroying people's souls" Barney: "no one is judging you" Prentice: "very funny!"). Barney notes that Ripner's change of heart could be described as 'noble' (Ripner: "watch it, that could be slander!"). Caleb Webber offers to walk Lesco back to his hotel, after a few words with Captain Miller (Webber: "guess our remedies ain't quite progressed like yours!" Barney: "afraid you caught our society on a bad day!" Webber: "no need to apologize, just stay the hell away from us!").

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