The Simon brothers are back in business for a two-hour, witty detective adventure crisply penned by Rob Hedden. Full of the ol’ hijinks that Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker performed as Rick and A.J., the new telefilm seems, unless memory falters, to hit even higher jinks than the series.
A.J. is now a trial lawyer in Seattle, married to onetime secretary Janet (now a prosecuting attorney), and would seem to be leading the good life. Rick, after a fracas in Scotland that opens the vidpic, steams into port in Seattle aboard a private yacht and with a further surprise: their mother.
But truth is, the ship isn’t Rick’s. He’s sailing it to Vancouver for a man who claims to be the owner. And A.J.’s life isn’t all it seems. Their real stories eke out as writer Hedden develops the plot about the ship’s real owner. Mom is kidnapped, a skipper is murdered and the Seattle police close in on A.J. and Rick for various reasons.
Series ran on CBS for eight seasons. Helping the present cause are members of the original, 1981 cast: Mary Carver returns as their spirited mom Cecilia; Jeannie Wilson’s back as Janet, Tim Reid’s in town as Lt. Downtown Brown.
Producer Richard Brams and director John McPherson have polished the concept up enough to make it shine. Lesser roles are played to the hilt: a dedicated dentist (Richard Sanders), a villain who flosses (Marshall Teague), a fright-wigged widow who’s hardly mourning (Delta Burke) and an irate Scottish husband (Colby Chester) all provide guffaws.
Director McPherson gives the vidpic vigor and visual humor, and the tech credits, including Dick Quinlan’s straightforward camerawork and Anthony Cowley’s right-on production designs, are splendid. Joseph Conlan’s score adds to the merriment.
But it’s the assured playing of McRaney and Parker that dominates. Funny vidpix — really funny — are scarce indeed; and several reprisals of original-cast series have limped sadly, but this one’s bound to create interest in future plans.