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EPISODES
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SEASON: 2 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
EPISODE#: 2.20 < prev | next >

"The Mumbler"
AIRDATE: 01.29.83
WRITER: Allison Hock
DIRECTOR: Phil Bondelli

TJ-HOOKER.COM RATING:                     

WHAT SAID:  

Thieves blow up an armored car and take flight leaving only one clue: a homing pigeon's metal leg band.

SYNOPSIS:  

A trio of bandits, Linda, Larry and Karl, lie in wait along a deserted road for an armored car. When the vehicle approaches, they press a switch and an explosion rocks the car. Unfortunately the explosives are too near the door and they are unable to enter the car. Hooker and Romano, responding to the explosion, pursue, but the bandits manage to escape. Back at the scene, they discover a homing pigeon's leg band. They visit Hank, an avid breeder, who is able to track the band to Larry Coates and his sister Katie. The next morning Hooker and Romano visit the Coates' house. Larry manages to escape and Katie refuses to squeal on her brother. Hooker arranges for Katie to stay with Hank since they both like pigeons. Meanwhile, Larry contacts Katie and tells her they have to go away together. He tells her to meet him at the pigeon coop. When Larry meets up with Katie, Karl and Linda show up, forcing them to go along with their next robbery. Katie scribbles the location down and gives it to one of Hank's homing pigeons. Hank contacts Hooker and Romano and they arrive on the scene just in time to capture Linda and Karl. Hooker assures Katie that Larry will get special consideration at his trial and Katie will be able to live with Hank.

REVIEW:  

A gang of three crooks (Karl Hines, his girlfriend Linda Teller, and Larry Coates, a young man with a seventies haircut and a penchant for explosives) set up a fake roadblock in front of an armored car carrying bank money. Karl informs Larry that he'd "better have placed those charges in the right place this time", and when the truck reaches Linda (who is dressed as a maintenance worker), Larry sets off the charges. The truck pulls to a stop, Larry and Karl approach it with guns drawn.

4Adam30 are called to the scene.

Carl notices that one of the charges blew up too close to the gas tank, and that the car is on fire. They run away and escape into their getaway car, but not before Larry can clumsily drop an i.d. leg band for one of the pigeons his sister Katie cares for. 4Adam30 arrive and pursue the crooks, who manage to get a few shots off at the squad car, one of which blows off one of the roller lights from the top of the car. The crooks drive over a hill and manage to escape.

4Adam30 head back to the scene of the crime, where Captain Sheridan joins them. Hooker expertly eyes the pigeon leg band, and picks it up (ignoring proper police procedure), declaring that the street they are on "was swept this morning, it had to be dropped by one of the suspects or by a witness." Hooker mentions a friend of his can help track down the i.d. number on the bracelet. Captain Sheridan tells Hooker and Romano to go follow up on it, that he will handle the cleanup of the crime scene himself.

As the crooks drive away, Carl threatens Larry once again. He demands that Larry set some charges on a new armored car, or he'll make one phone call that will put Larry back in prison. Larry thinks long and hard about this while staring at the camera.

Hooker and Romano arrive at Hank Carmichael's service station. Hank is an auto mechanic and pigeon trainer who is confined to a wheelchair. He tells Hooker he was able to run a check on that pigeon leg band. The number belonged to Larry and Katie Coates, a brother and sister pigeon team that he knew from the local pigeon training club. He likes Katie a lot, but Larry, he says, seemed a little suspicious. 4Adam30 leave to investigate.

Larry arrives back home and finds his sister Katie tending to the pigeons. He has a bag filled with explosives that he must hide. Katie suspects he's back to his old criminal ways again, and she begs him to stop. Larry promises he'll do just one more job, then they'll move away somewhere.

When 4Adam30 arrive at the Coates residence, Hooker pauses to watch a flock of pigeons fluttering above him in the sky. He reveals how he too once trained and fed pigeons, and loved every minute of it. Romano, however, has nothing but bitter memories of pigeons -- "I spent one too many summers scrubbing statues in South Philly."

As they approach the pigeon shed, Larry sees them and runs off, hopping into a car and getting away. Hooker and Romano are unable to stop him, but find Katie and decide to question her. "I'll bet you're a mumbler," Hooker tells her. He then explains to Romano and the audience that a mumbler is a person who has more to say to pigeons than to people. When Katie asks how he knows so much about pigeoning, Hooker replies, "Sometimes, mumblers grow up and become cops." He then helps Katie feed her pigeons before running her in to the station for questioning.

At the station, Hooker shows Katie a photo of her dead parents that he removed from her house. In an attempt to get her to reveal their true names, he threatens to tear it up in front of her. Katie easily gives in, but lies about the way they died. She refuses to tell him any more about Larry. After the inquisition, Hooker notices that there's a photographer's stamp on the back of the photo that says it was taken in Salt Lake City. He vows to investigate it further.

The next morning, Hooker visits Katie at her coop. He's already heard back from Salt Lake City--he now knows Larry was in prison, her family's last name was really Foster, her parents were killed ina car accident there, and that Katie ran away froma foster home there. Katie begins to trust him.

It is revealed that Larry works for a guard dog protection service, which is how he gets access to the armored cars in which he plants explosives.

Hooker asks Hank if he would take Katie in so that she doesn't have to go to Special Services. He is reluctant, but agrees to let her stay for the afternoon, since he knows her from the Pigeon Exchange. She happens to walk in at that moment with Romano, after she found one of Hank's birds injured. She offers to put it up at her coop for him. He in turn offers to let her stay at his house. Hooker smiles knowingly, he and Romano exit.

Larry, Karl & Linda break into an explosives service (Larry is able to easily distract their guard dogs), shoot a guard, and steal some explosives. They hide the guard's body and leave. Hooker, Romano and Detective Jacobs investigate the scene. Hooker can tell the guard was dragged by looking at the scuff marks on his shoes. The detective doesn't believe him, but Hooker sternly suggests he is right, and Jacobs backs down. Amazingly, Hooker connects this vicious act with the armored car detour from earlier in the show. Jacobs agrees to check it out.

Back at the Academy Precinct, 4Adam30 confer with Stacy about possible leads to explosives dealers. Sarah Campbell of Child Services arrives (we know this because of an awkwardly long cut-in shot of a name tag on her chest), and speaks to Hooker in private about how he shouldn't have set Katie up with Hank, and that when her report is read Katie will be taken away immediately. Hooker charms her into "losing" her report for a few days.

Hank and Katie bond by visiting Katie's coop. He stays in his truck while Katie enters a shack to feed the pigeons, and finds Larry in hiding. He asks her to run away from hank, and she refuses. He insists, telling her he'll pick her up later.

The explosives shop owner fingers Larry when shown a picture of him by Hooker. He tells them Larry works for the Guard Dog Service. They visit it, and Larry sicks the guard dogs on them, fleeing. Romano chases his getawa car on foot, leaping toward the trunk of the car--and just missing, unlike Hooker would have done. Hooker picks up Romano and they chase Larry's car into a riverbed, but Larry escapes.

Sarah and 4Adam30 arrive at Hank's to take Katie away. Hank vows to fight it in the courts. Hooker agrees to help. Katie still won't talk about Larry.

Back at the Academy, Romano gives Hooker a report: Karl Hines has an explosives background but can't be connected to the armored car robberies, his girlfriend Linda Teller has been arrested for armed robbery.

Katie runs away from Hank's place to meet Larry. Karl and Linda bust in on Larry (Katie hides around the corner) and demand Larry gives them the explosives. Katie overhears their plan, and writes a note for Hank and attaches it to his pigeon's leg:

"Armored Car
Robbery On
Wilson Road
Near Amusement
Park"

Katie reveals herself to Larry & the crooks. When they threaten Larry, Katie tells them where the explosives are. They all leave to complete their job at the amusement park.

4W90 (Stacy) rings Hooker to tell him that Katie ran away from Hank's. He and Romano rush to Hank's, where Hooker finds the bird with the note. Hooker proceeds to the amusement park, where he and Romano confront the crooks. Romano dispatches Linda by throwing her into a wading pool. Hooker has an extended footchase and baton fight with Karl underneath a roller coaster, which Hooker wins. Larry is injured in the scuffle, and must go to the hospital.

At the court house, Hank gets temporary custody of Katie due to Hooker's moving testimony. Larry is to be tried after he gets out of the hospital, but Hooker claims they'll go easy on him with his help. All is well.


--Reviewed by 4adam30

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GUEST STARS:

Michael Cavanaugh
"Karl Hines"

Pamela Galloway
"Linda Teller"

Jo McDonnell
"Sarah Campbell"

Sam Melville
"Hank Carmichael"

Sydney Penny
"Katie Coates"

Paul Regina
"Larry Coates"

BEST MOMENTS:

- Katie's haiku-like note sent on a pigeon's leg

- Hooker's brilliant detective work: finding the pigeon leg band, noticing the scuff marks on the dead security guard's shoes, finding the pigeon with Katie's note on it

- Hooker awkwardly caressing various pigeons in Katie's coop

- The disturbingly long cut-in shot of Sarah Campbell's chest

BEST LINES:

"Ciao, mumblers! "

- Hooker to Katie and Hank after Hank agrees to let Katie stay with him

"I almost violated the Squad Room commandment: Thou shalt not reject a Hooker suggestion."
- Detective Jacobs to Hooker

"I've been a real turkey, Katie."
- Larry to Katie after Karl and Linda kidnap them


EPISODES : the formula | episode guide

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