Unknown source; December 16, 1970
This pedestrian entry featuring action shrinks (they zoom up and down the highway and around town a lot) piloted part four of the NBC-Universal “Four in One” Wednesday night series this season. It indicated that The Psychiatrist will have one strong element.
That would be Pete Duel who, as an ex-junkie and patient cum assistant of semi-young, semi-hip Dr. James Whitman (Roy Thinnes), turned in a most impressive and appealing performance against steep and tricky odds. Tricky, because under the gun of network TV’s rigid approach to the drug problem, his character was forced hither and yon like a mouse in a maze.
And under the gun of TV’s demographic demand (young anti-hero for the youth of America, professional type approaching middle-age for the housewives phasing out of the rock syndrome, and old doc, Luther Adler, for the biddies who are spaced out beyond the moon of pause), a viewer needed an abacus to keep count of the elements stuffed into this wandering two-hour narrative. And it would take an exposition here roughly the length of the Dead Sea Scrolls to unravel the story. Suffice to say the principals fail to save the youth of a California town turned out on everything from grass to acid and stretched out in picturesque locations from beach to diner to old mill, but the once-hyped soul of Duel is headed for salvation via group therapy as the credits roll.
Extreme and sometimes downright embarrassing melodrama prevailed, but there was one excellent scene between Duel and Joy Bang. The title, “God Bless the Children,” was fitting in that this was a case where video drama was on the side of the young, which once again proved that the medium’s blessings are in reality a curse. The kiddies’ moral superiority defeated the principals, but embarrassed the viewer.
Direction was often blurred as some teaser gambits were employed to the running, jumping, and standing storyline. All in all, it was enough to send any psychiatrists on the perception side of the tube to the couch — with a friend.