TENSPEED AND BROWN SHOE “The Robin Tucker’s Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murder.” ABC, 03 February 1980 (Season 1, Episode 3). Ben Vereen (E. L. “Tenspeed” Turner), Jeff Goldblum (Lionel Whitney). Guest Cast: Elayne Heilveil, John Pleshette, Leo Gordon. Created & written by Stephen J. Cannell. Director: Arnold Laven. Currently streaming  at the Shout Factory website

   As I recall, whenever I’ve found the series available, whether streaming online or on DVD, the first two episodes, comprising a two-part pilot, has not been included. And so, as a direct consequence, I’ve never been properly introduced to the two main characters in this quite enjoyable comedy slash mystery show – the main question being how these two quite opposite fellows got paired up in the first place. The second question I still have is how they got their nicknames, which are barely mentioned in this one, if at all.

   I could use a helping hand, in other words. And on this blog, that’s what the comments are for.

   Based only on this third episode then, Ben Vereen (Tenspeed) is a fast talking con man who ia apparently out on parole, while Jeff Goldblum (Brown Shoe) is a former accountant who has always dreamed of becoming a PI, and now here he is as one. He’s quite the opposite in personality to his new partner, being uptight and unwilling to be in any way shady in how he operates.

   This one begins with the latter receiving a thousand dollar bill by private courier, along with the halves of two others. He is promised the other two halves if the job he is offered is accomplished correctly: to find a young girl with only a photo and address to go on. As it so happens, she is a very naive dime-a-dance girl at a 1940s era dance hall, apparently with no adjustment for inflation, and the story goes on from there. Quite naturally as in stories such as this, bodies pile up more quickly than we the viewer even know who they are or were. It is equally obvious that more than one party wants to find the girl.

   It’s all done in solid tongue-in-cheek fashion, with full awareness of all the well-established tropes of the PI novel, with dialogue to match. One phrase that I remember was along the lines of “the fat man had more chins than the Hong Kong phone directory.” And the two stars appear to be having a good time with all the fun and games they are asked to play. I don’t know what reaction yours might be, but I had as much fun with this one as the two players seem to have had.