That grin can only mean one thing – it’s storytime with JB. Again. (HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS FOR SO LONG!!!)
This week, Our Heroine would like to tell you about her favourite student, Mary Margaret McAuley, a talented writer who couldn’t get anything published until she started writing hardboiled detective fiction. Her newest job is as creator of the TV show Beat Cop, starring Bert Rogers as the aforementioned cop, assisted by the token blonde Dana Darren.
Margaret is hard at work on the next script when she gets a phone call from her assistant Vi – there’s trouble on set. Apparently Beat Cop doesn’t like the idea that he has to wait for forensics before proving who the killer is. After some fancy negotiating, Mary Mac gets Dana’s character to make the call, allowing Bert’s character the satisfaction of catching the killer using nothing but a hunch.
On her way back to the office Mary Mac gets a visit from her agent, Leo Kaplan. She’s excited to see him and to find out what his other client thought about her script (about relationships and whatnot) but is less than enthused when she learns that he didn’t actually read the script, but he liked the summary his reader gave his secretary. Leo’s actual business on the set is to talk about the future of Beat Cop. The new big boss of the network, Keith Carmody isn’t a fan despite having told the head of the production company, Brian Thursdan, that he never watched the show. His second in command, Julie Pritzer, tries to calm Brian down after he storms out of the meeting but to little effect. Meanwhile, Mary Mac goes to see the inspiration for the show (and potential crush) Lieutenant Vincent Palermo to tell him the news that Beat Cop might be off the air, but he doesn’t seem all that upset about it.
Later that night, Elizabeth has another crack at dissuading Carmody from cancelling Beat Cop but Keith tells her her job is to look pretty and take pointless meetings.
As Julie leaves, Keith gets a phone call from Brian to discuss Beat Cop but he’s not interested – until Brian puts network owner Harriet De Vol on the phone. Clearly it works out because Mac gets a phone call from Brian saying the show is possibly saved – Keith has agreed to watch some episodes of the show and Mary Mac is charge of which ones, booking the screening room and watching the episodes with Keith. Brian would love to help but he has a development meeting.
The next morning, while Vi puts all the coffee in the coffee pot (VI 4 PM), and Mary Mac tries to sort out how to save the show, Bert Rogers storms in in a huff – he got a phone call from his agent at 6am that morning saying that the show was cancelled. Mary Mac tells him to calm down, and in any case, wasn’t he planning to quit anyway? Bert tells her she shouldn’t believe things just because he says them and tells her that if she doesn’t sort out Keith Carmody he will.
Speaking of. Keith, ensconced in a screening room, is on the phone to someone trying to work out how to remove Harriet De Vol from the equation when someone helpfully sticks a gun through the curtain and shoots him twice. Lieutenant Palermo is called in and learns from the projectionist that he didn’t hear the shots go off, on account of Beat Cop being on the screen. One of Palermo’s minions finds the gun and a hidden door.
While Palermo goes about his 5-0 business, Mary Mac takes care of Brian who has appeared at the studio in a panic – with Keith dead Julie will take over the network, he needs to get in touch with her double quick. Mary Mac tells him that Julie was the one who found Keith’s body and is in the commissary coming to terms.
Awesome, Brian probably says. Which way to the commissary?
While Brian goes off to hurl sympathy at Julie, Mary Mac accompanies Palermo to the set of Beat Cop. Cast and crew are all surprised to learn that Keith was murdered, and didn’t die of boredom (I don’t think Beat Cop had bookend episiodes, so I can’t imagine why that would happen). Palermo checks alibis and the only person with a shonky one is Bert.
One of Palermo’s lackeys comes to tell him he’s learned something interesting from the prop guy, who in turn informs them that the prop box has been broken into and one of the guns is missing – Bert’s gun to be precise.
Palermo throws Bert in jail for the time being, leaving Mary Mac to tell the director to shoot around the fact that their leading man is now conspicuously unavailable, while at the same time fending off Leo Kaplan who has a convenient list of people (clients) who could replace Bert on the show. She gets a panicked phone call from Brian begging her to come meet with Julie at the network.
Julie, who has hit the ground running despite the terrible shock of finding Keith’s body, tells them that she’s not sure that Beat Cop can survive without Bert Rodgers, and in any case she has a plan for giving Dana Darren her own show as a brain surgeon at a top metropolitan hospital. Ugh. These were clearly the days when the go-to TV shows were cop or doc, before the days of reality TV when you get 37 variations of Australian Model Factor Idol Talent Home Renovation Chef Rescue Kitchen Block.
(I reject all forms of reality, but especially reality television).
After the meeting, Brian begs Mary Mac to help Palermo solve the case/get Bert out of jail, and promises to get the pilot of her romantic story Love in Naples off the ground. Mary Mac asks if Brian is yanking her chain, and Brian says trust me.
Mary Mac visits Bert in prison and gets him to stop crying long enough to swear he didn’t kill Keith. Palermo is unmoved by this fact, nor by Mary Mac’s theory that the only reason that Bert’s prints are on the gun is because the killer wore gloves. Palermo tells Mary to go back to her typewriter.
On set, Mary Mac finds Dana to ask her about the medical show, and to find out why she lied about her alibi. Dana tells her that while she was on the phone to a Broadway producer, a more accurate view would be she was on the phone to his answering machine. Then she was with Leo for 30 minutes after that, which isn’t what Leo says at all. The medical show, it turns out, is being put together by Leo’s agency – in other words Mary Mac’s agent was getting the star of her show a show of her own to replace Mary Mac’s show.
Good old Hollywood forever.
Mary gets the lowdown on the hidden door from the security guard, Burnsy, who also tells her a story from back in the day, when Andy Butler (who plays Beat Cop’s boss) was on a different show that ended up being cancelled by Keith Carmody. That night, she and Brian update Harriet De Vol on the latest developments and she tells them that the show is cancelled without Bert Rodgers.
Back in her office, Mary Mac sends Vi home and stays to watch what the editor had cobbled together from the day’s shooting. Alas there is a continuity error, and a pencil appears and reappears in the pocket of Andy Butler. She calls the director, Al, to work out what time the footage was filmed. goes back to the studio and….oh come on now.
It would seem that Andy couldn’t deal with the idea of Keith cancelling another one of his shows. And apparently he would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t dropped a pencil, and if Mary Mac hadn’t noticed the pencil and decided that it was clearly the PENCIL OF A KILLER.
Worst. Episode. Ever. Now, if y’all will excuse me, to compensate for this, I am going to go binge-watch Jessica Jones until my eyes fall out of my head.