Highway Patrol: Escaped Mental Patient, a second year episode of this crime drama, felt a bit weird early on, and the reason why was Broderick Crawford’s portrayal of Chief Dan Mathews.
When I first tuned in to see this series for the first time, I’d heard a lot about and had a lot of expectations, especially for the Mathews character, but it was a let down. The show has a lot of good moments, but I don’t get the appeal of Mathews or why Crawford has been so revered for the role.
It’s not just his sometimes domineering approach or even his rapid speech pattern, but early on here, it was like he was acting by himself, even though he was with out characters and exchanging dialog. The problem was there was no connection between Crawford and the others. He was just spewing out words without listening. That’s my take on it anyway.
In the episode, the highway patrol goes after an escaped mental patient who thinks he’s a violin virtuoso. William Lally pays this role pretty well. He was the best of the bunch in this half hour for sure.
What doesn’t work, though, is the ending which again has Mathews doing something that Crawford simply isn’t suited for — action. The climax isn’t convincing at all.