Airing originally on June 1, 1959, the Desperate Men episode of Highway Patrol was the 35th showing for the fourth season. Highway Patrol was a respected crime drama that aired in a thirty-minute time slot. Many consider it to be a pioneer for police shows. It may be, but in retrospect, the failings of the show really stand out to me whenever I watch it. This particular show definitely has some questionable moments.
One thing that always has to be remembered, however, is that this was one of the first shows of its type on television. It is not just the production standards and writing that has changed but the very nature of police work as well. Times were definitely different,a and viewing any of these episodes makes that extremely obvious.
In Highway Patrol: Desperate Men, our villains are a couple of fugitives who manage to wrangle their way into the boiler room of a hospital. From there, they threaten to tie down the safety valve, thereby blowing everything up and destroying the building, if their demands are not met. The demands are simple: they want their freedom, which is easy enough to believe.
So the bulk of the show is trying to get the bad guys before they follow through on their threats.
The series stars Broderick Crawford as Police Chief Dan Mathews. I really do not get the excitement from watching him. He talks too fast, is too big and awkward for many of the moves they put the character through, and, well, I do not think he is much of an actor. I much prefer watching his sidekick for much of the series, which was William Boyett, first as Officer Stan Johnson and then as Sergeant Ken Williams.
Of annoyance in this episode is the random firing of a weapon along with a cop being in the wide open and ultimately getting shot. This is not the police work one expects. It is pretty ridiculous, in fact. The only good elements were the outdoor, location shooting which I have always enjoyed in this series.
Guest starring in this so-so episode were Bill Halop, Ted Jacques, Alan Reynolds, Vance Skarstedt, and Patrick Waltz.