The Hitchhiker Ep. 11: The Man in the Window

Names:Edward Albert, Michael Madsen, Penelope Milford, Belinda Montgomery, Vlasta Vrana. Written by Michael Janover. Directed by Christopher Leitch.

Set up: A city street, daytime. A man walks a dog. No, that’s not a metaphor for ‘I’m watching an episode of The Hitchhiker.’ I would never refer to myself as a ‘man.’ Anyway, it’s a cool dog, so on that basis alone this might be the program’s most entertaining episode yet. Admittedly, that’s a rather classic example of damning with faint praise.

No, wait, the dog’s owner isn’t a man, it’s a woman. The camera focused on the dog—smart idea—before panning up to its owner’s back. Well, that’ll learn me. Never assume.

Even so, on the basis of that mistaken presumption alone it’s also the program’s most successfully unpredictable episode. In contrast, though, it’s entirely predictable that after the camera tracks the dog for a brief time, it turns out the dog and its owner has nothing to do with anything.

Instead, the camera next moves through the crowd of extras to focus on a guy kneeling by a lamppost. Who knows, maybe he actually has something to do with this week’s, er, plot. I’m willing to accept that, although frankly I’m already sort of wishing they’d bring the dog back.

The man is near a gleaming black motorcycle, which the camera pans over. From the obligatory ‘suspense’ music that accompanies this, I would guess…I don’t know what I’d guess. Seriously, where’d that dog go?

The man, Arthur Brown—and that’s some good writing right there—seems to be waiting for something to happen. (Tell me about it.) He wears a Fonzie jacket and there’s a motorcycle helmet sitting in the foreground of the shot. This is an example of the Language of Cinema, as it subtly informs us that he’s the owner of the motorcycle. Well, it’s more subtle than flashing arrows blinking on and off pointing from one to the other.

As he sits he shivers a bit. This may well have not been ‘acting,’ as it might have actually have been cold that morning and the actor (Edward Albert—no, not Eddie Albert, the guy from Green Acres) was stuck wearing his assigned costume and hence insufficiently warm. That’s Method, m’man. You can practically taste the marshaling of personal experience going on here. “You’re cold, Edward?” Albert quite possibly murmured to himself. “Then use it!”

The camera draws in and we see the fellow is wielding a hand-sized parabolic dish, presumably illicitly listening in on some conversation. Sure enough, we cut to an older man and a young woman yakking across the square. Then a woman who we already saw earlier walks through shot again, because, hey, they only had some many extras.

He then listens to a woman using a payphone. (Kids, ask your parents.) Although it’s clear that the woman has a shiner under her sunglasses, she takes them off anyway so that we get a better look at it. Again, you should never just assume your audience is going to ‘get’ stuff. Better safe than sorry, even if it makes no sense that a battered woman attempting to hide her injury would elect to remove her sunglasses in the full glare of the public view.

The woman hangs up the phone and leaves, and the man dons his opaque black helmet—the better to disguise the fact that Eddie Albert couldn’t ride a motorcycle?—and rides off. As he leaves the square, he goes past…The Hitchhiker!

Hitchhiker Intro:Arthur Bradley Brown steals the words of others and uses them like they were his own. But what he doesn’t hear are murmurs of danger, that can warn him of the violence that can pound within the human heart.”(Wow!)

I take back my jibe that ‘Arthur Brown’ was a lazily invented character name. That they went to the effort of giving him a middle name totally sells it. In fact, although his middle name is to all intents and purposes utterly extraneous, I’ll continue to refer to him as ‘Arthur Bradley Brown’ throughout this report. Frankly, the ‘Bradley’ just makes this character snap to life.

On the other hand, there is the issue of the level of ‘words’ we see Arthur Bradley Brown ‘steal’ from those he listened to here. These consist of stuff like “I’m too old to move” and “We’ve got to talk” and “See you in a few minutes.” As such, well, we’re not exactly talking Grand Theft Verbiage. On the other hand, they’re clearly good enough to get one a gig writing an episode of The Hitchhiker.

Arthur Bradley Brown covertly follows the aforementioned woman, one Diane Hampton—or as I like to think of her, Diane Cassandra Hampton—as she makes her way down the street. This is not exactly an easy or particularly unobtrusive act, however. Since, you know, she’s on foot and he’s trailing after her on a motorcycle.

Luckily, and with the aid of some judicious editing, Diane arrives at her destination before Arthur Bradley Brown’s bike topples over from inertia. She enters an apartment building, and he parks his ‘cycle across the road. Again, this is cut together in a fashion that suggests that actor Albert—or I as like to think of him, Edward Finnigan Albert—couldn’t actually ride a motorcycle.

We cut to a window—presumably Diane’s—and then back to the bike, now standing eerily unattended. Well, unintended, anyway. Still, the ‘Eerie Music Cue’ suggests it’s eerie, and who am I to argue? For himself, Arthur Bradley Brown is seen climbing a convenient and very large fire escape so that he can position himself to scan for Diane’s conversation. By the way, kudos to the sound editor here who pointless foleyed in ‘police car siren’ and ‘screeching cat’ sound effects to give the scene gritty urbane verisimilitude.

We now see that the fire escape is in fact alongside Diane’s arrival point, which is a gigantic, sparely furnished loft apartment. (Of course it is, this was the ’80s.) He rather comically ninjas his way past the bank of windows to a position where he can hide, and positions a suction cup to one window. Now he can hear anything said within through his earphones.*

[*See, he’s “the man in the window.”Get it?]

“I can’t live like this,” Diane moans. Again, if you’re going to trail an anonymous person through a city to steal their words, well, what more could you ask for? Imagine what Shakespeare could have done with stuff like that. Diane runs through all the approved “Deluded Battered Woman” sound bites, including “He’s really been a lot better lately” and “He really loves me.”

She is speaking to one Carla Magnuson—or as I like to think of her, Carla Anastasia Magnuson. As played by Belinda Montgomery (Belinda Hortense Montgomery), Carla’s lines are delivered with the sort of Clinical Detachment that screams ‘I’m a Psychiatrist.’ “You’re always so understanding,” Diane marvels. Yeah, you wouldn’t expect so much of that for a hundred and fifty bucks an hour.

Actually, it turns out I was waaaay wrong. It is quickly implied that Carla’s is perhaps actually Diane’s lover, a revelation that must have made those members of the show’s original audience who solely watched the program for its trademark gratuitous nudity and sex—in other words, all of them—jump up shouting and pumping their fist in the air. One can imagine their crushing disappointment, however, when nothing happens to concretely confirm this hypothesis. Presumably softcore, simulated Sapphic sex was too bold a step for the show.

Still, to make sure we ‘get’ it, we do see that Carla’s apartment boasts a large-sized nude photo standee of (I think, maybe) Diane herself. So presumably Diane is modeling for Carla, but being An Innocent, hasn’t picked up on Carla’s vibe. Because that’s not the sort of thing anyone had heard of by the 1980s!

Still, we so-fist-toe-cates in the audience catch on immediately, although myriad teeth must have been gnashed at the idea that this was the subject upon which the show was suddenly going to get all bashful about. Tragically for this elite viewer contingent, all we get is some arguably less than sisterly hugs and face-touching.

Arthur Bradley Brown somehow avoids being seen as he peeks in the window during all this, and disengages his suction cup as Diana prepares to leave. Luckily for him, she now takes a taxi—much easier to follow on a motorcycle—to her suburban home. Because, you know, wife battering is the sort of thing the middle-class, climbing-the-empty-material-success-ladder hicks in the suburbs do. All you have to worry about in the Big City, I guess, is arty predatory lesbians with chicly-appointed gigantic loft apartments.

Having seen the opening credits, we’re less than shocked when Diane’s abusive husband John Hampton (John Three Bushman Click Sounds Hampton) turns out to by played by a weirdly young and thin, yet reassuringly slouchy and mumbly, Michael Madsen (Michael Beatingadeadhorse Madsen). Imagine Matt Dillon’s bigger and more methody brother. Anyway, he’s all asking her questions and stuff so we get that he’s a creepy control freak.

Night falls. Arthur Bradley Brown has parked his bike and stationed himself outside one of the Hamptons’ windows. He again applies his suction cup microphone and ducks back into the shadows. Since this is The Hitchhiker, I feel safe in predicting that he won’t end up listening in as they spend the evening watching Tivo’d episodes of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Sure enough, Diane comes over with a bottle of wine and kneels on the floor beside her husband, who’s sitting on the sofa. “I love you very much,” he says. However, he then briefly turns away, as if he has trouble communicating his emotions. That’s my guess, anyway, although it’s hard to be sure, since he’s being played Michael Madsen. Madsen’s acting style is akin to a mime interpreting the way Christopher Walken talks. Then the smooching starts, although at first I thought Madsen was meant to be eating her face.

“Can’t we get you out of these work clothes?” Diane vamps. For those interested, the answer proves to be, ‘yes.’ Needless to say, though, they stay in the living room so that Arthur Bradley Brown can peek as well as eavesdrop. You know, if you really knew the Hitchhiker, you’d have to think he was a weirdo. “Dude,” one imagines asking him, “how come every single story you tell involves somebody having largely unmotivated sex, or at least showers?”

The answer, of course, is that this was on HBO, which back in the day relied less on the quality of their original series and more on simply yelling, “We’re on cable, bitch! Look! Naked boobies! Swears! Suck on that, Big Three Networks!”

When John’s suit jacket is doffed we see that he is wearing a shoulder holster.You don’t exactly have to be Nostradamus to figure out that the combination of Michael Madsen and a revolver is going to be bad news for somebody. Actually, the amazing thing is that they actually forewent a shock music sting the gun is introduced. However, perhaps they just thought that would be too subtle, since they instead have John declare, “If you [mumble mumble], I don’t know what I’d do.”

Anyhoo, off comes his shirt, and more importantly, her bra, and the Hitchhiker Gratuitous Nudity Clause is satisfied for another week.Diane does keep on her boots, though, which maybe was supposed to be especially kinky or something. Wow.DeSade, you are avenged!

However, apparently aware that nobody at any point in time ever has wanted to see even a young and fit Michael Madsen having a sex scene, they wrap things up when a neighbor’s scary dog finally bothers to notice Arthur Bradley Brown lurking nearby and starts barking at him.

One abrupt transition later, we cut to Arthur Bradley Brown meeting with his agent or something, Mark Greenburg. The scene plays like Greenburg is a publisher, but he has movie star pictures on his wall, so presumably Arthur Bradley Brown writes screenplays. I guess. I don’t know, you figure it out.

In any case, I’ve been waiting for a scene like this since we were told Our Protagonist “steals the words of others and then uses them like they were his own. “It’s from said appropriations that Arthur Bradley Brown derives his seemingly preternatural literary chops. Because surely sheer human imagination can only fall far short of inventing, as Greenburg raves, “[a man who] hasn’t the faintest idea that his wife’s a dyke!” Wow, yeah. Paging Mr. Pulitzer!

Here we learn that the writing career of Arthur Bradley Brown, a.k.a. “Mr. Reality” (!!), has been on the decline following a problem with cocaine. Greenburg proclaims him back, though. “Your dialogue’s better than ever!” he marvels. “It’s so real!What’s your secret?” Ooh, ooh, I can answer that! He follows around characters spouting extraordinarily trite lines written by someone who churns out scripts for a made-in-Canadian cable nudie ‘suspense’ show. Not the most intuitive technique for literary greatness, I’ll grant you. But there, you see, lies the method in his madness.

For maximum dramatic—and/or financial—impact, however, Greenburg demands that the ‘story’ involves the husband learning about his wife’s infelicities. And there we go: As usually happens pretty early on in these things, the ‘plot’ snaps sharply, if dully, into focus. Bereft of any remaining writing talent, Arthur Bradley Brown will have to contrive to expose Diane’s ‘secret’ to John in order to then document what follows. The results will shocking, tragic and utterly predictable. Er, I meant un-predictable. Sorry. Weird slip.

Oh, and entail the display of more naked boobies. I mean, like they’re going to go fifteen more minutes without some naked boobies.

We cut to Arthur Bradley Brown’s apartment, and see that his giant (presumably Soviet) word processing set-up—complete with a monstrously large dot matrix printer—is surrounded by an even huger bank of electronic sound equipment. Of course, no real writer would have anything of the sort. Actually, the fact that he types his purloined material on a word processor at all, rather than an antiquated 1940s Underwood typewriter with at least one key that strikes askew, pretty much tags him as a big phony. Even the half-drained bottle of whiskey on display doesn’t mitigate that.

Having girded himself, he dials directory service and requests John Hampton’s phone number. He then phones Hampton’s house, after turning on his reel-to-reel recorder to capture the call. When Hampton picks up the phone, Our Protagonist affects a nervous voice and asks for Diane. He identifies himself as her boyfriend to the enraged Hampton and hangs up. Then he later has flowers sent to Diane at home. Well, they certainly aren’t sparing any effort to make Arthur Bradley Brown look like a complete prick.

Anyway, let’s see what pearls of ASTOUNDINGLY AUTHENTIC SOUNDING DIALOGUE Arthur Bradley Brown gleans from this conversation:

Arthur Bradley Brown:”Hi. Is Diane there?”
Hampton, suspiciously:”Who is this?”
Arthur Bradley Brown, affecting a confused tone:”Hello, I got the right number? Is Diane Hampton there?”
Hampton, growing increasingly angry:”You got the right number, now who the hell are you?!”
Arthur Bradley Brown:”I’m her boyfriend. Who the hell are you?”
Hampton:”Her husband, you son of a bitch!”
Arthur Bradley Brown hangs up.

Again, the idea is that Arthur Bradley Brown has endangered a woman’s life in order to get these lines for his purportedly brilliant screenplay/novel/whatever: “Who is this?” / “You got the right number, now who the hell is this?” / “Her husband, you son of a bitch!” Remember, before he became enslaved to Demon Cocaine, Arthur Bradley Brown once apparently had the ability to write dialogue like that purely from his own imagination! Wow!

Lest these provocations prove insufficient to set off a violently jealous wife batterer, Arthur Bradley Brown next has flowers sent to Diane at the house. She, naturally, assumes they are from John. Her pleasure turns to horror, however, when she sees a card signed, “To my best girlfriendX X X X X”. She nervously sends the delivery guy away with them.

An enraged Diane next appears at Carla’s, having assumed that she was the one who sent the flowers and arranged for the phone call. And why wouldn’t she? The only other character we’ve met is Mark Greenburg, and he doesn’t even know Diane. (What? Diane might have acquaintances outside of the small group of characters we’ve been introduced to? You don’t know much about bad TV writing, my friend.)

I’m not sure how he’s going to use this conversation, given this his role isn’t one that would appear in his story, but whatever. In any case, Carla meets Diane’s tirade with frosty calm, and this quiets Diane down as well. Apparently she doesn’t really think Carla is responsible, but “I have to talk to somebody.”

Carla holds out her hand and Diane joins her on the couch. We see this from Arthur Bradley Brown’s perspective through the window, and just in case we don’t ‘get’ it, the full-sized standee of a naked woman—again, possibly Diane herself—looms largely in the foreground.

Carla begins to massage Diane’s neck, and I have to admit, I’m interested—academically, I assure you—in how far they’re going to take this. Although The Hitchhiker was mostly known for (first) gratuitous nudity and (second) gratuitous softcore sex, I don’t recall antics of the Sapphic variety appearing often on the show. In fact, I don’t recall anything like that occurring ever. I can only assume somebody at HBO thought such stuff would be entirely too ‘edgy.’ Otherwise, now that I think upon it, the absence of such material, which surely would have been popular with the show’s core audience, is a tad puzzling.

Events bear this train of thought out. After a few seconds of fully clothed neck massage, Arthur Bradley Brown is seen aiming his camera lens at the nude standee (!!) and clicking pictures of that. And then we cut to the next scene. Never has the slogan, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” been more provocatively fulfilled.

We cut to Arthur Bradley Brown approaching the Hampton house with a box addressed in big red letters to John Hampton. When there’s no answer at the door—as Arthur Bradley Brown clearly timed to occur—he picks the lock (!) and enters the abode. He skulks through the living room, accompanied by music I suppose is meant to evoke tension. He then produces a bug, which he stashes in the Hampton’s phone receiver. For the record, the bug is a general one, and doesn’t merely tap their phone.

Then, as a final grace note, he leaves a few of the pictures he took sitting out in the Hampton’s living room. I can only assume that in the original screenplay, the photos in fact documented Carla and Diane actually doing something. Here, though, they merely record the neck massage and nude standee. I guess Arthur Bradley Brown is relying on the power of suggestion, which is the first and only time such has ever been employed on this program.

Since the screenplay never allows for the wrong person to be home—John indeed answered Arthur Bradley Brown’s phone call, Diane was the one to get the flowers, etc.—the couple conveniently returns together, and John is the one to first enter the living room. Things aren’t helped by the fact that the two enter arguing, as they have returned from a cultural event that Diane dragged John to. He didn’t find it edifying, and she’s unhappy at his mulishness.

It’s at this point that John spots the photos. Meanwhile, we see Arthur Bradley Brown stationed outside and listening in via the bug. John confronts an instantly fearful Diane with the pictures. Arthur Bradley Brown hears John kick in a door as the irate husband pursues her, and then the sounds of her being struck.

Arthur Bradley Brown’s reacts by looking surprised and agitated. Good grief, what did he think would happen? At the very best, he could have hoped John would only beat the holy hell out of Diane instead of killing her. But apparently we’re supposed to think he’s a complete moron who never really thought through what would happen here.

After a bit of a beating (which is over a lot faster than it probably would have been in real life), Arthur Bradley Brown hears John declare he’s going to find whoever took said photos—he presumably believes this to be Diane’s fictional boyfriend—and kill him. John examines the photos with a magnifying glass, and JUST COINCIDENTALLY, the standee bears Carla’s last name of Magnuson. I mean, I guess the idea is that the standee is an example of her commercial art, but yeesh, talk about contrived.

John calls the police station and requests info from a workmate. After this colleague checks in the “NCIC” database, John learns that there’s a photographer named Carla Magnuson. For the record, NCIC is the real-life National Crime Information Center, so I’m not sure why Magnuson’s name would appear in it. I think they wanted to show how John ominously has access to special cop advantages. But, you know, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to just find Carla’s name in the friggin’ Yellow Pages?

Due to the fact that the dialogue is written in a highly contrived manner, John isn’t told that “Magnuson” is in fact a woman. So as he makes he leave, he calls out to Diane that “I’m going to find your boyfriend now.” Amazing he didn’t notice to start with that the person giving Diane a massage was a woman. However, there are so many problems here that it is perhaps churlish to focus on but one.

For instance, there’s the idea that he would be provided with an address for “Magnuson,” but not a first name. Also that he would go to the address prepared to kill the person he finds there. I mean, what if somebody else merely owned a piece of Magnuson’s art? More to the point, how does he know he has the right Magnuson to start with? I don’t know, I think even an insanely jealous husband would need a bit more confirmation than that.

In any case, at this juncture most of the cast sets out for Carla’s apartment so as to come together for a climatic rendezvous. John goes to kill Diane’s lover, Diane goes to warn Carla (naturally Carla doesn’t answer the phone), and Arthur Bradley Brown rides over either to witness what happens or to save Carla from the *cough* inadvertent results of his meddling. I think we can only assume that John will stumble across Arthur Bradley Brown on the premises and, assuming him to be Diane’s fictional male lover, ‘ironically’ murder him. I mean, jeepers, I hope they have something better than that up their sleeve, but I doubt it.*

[*Different, yes. Better…not so much.]

We waste several minutes—wow, that’s good television—watching Arthur Bradley Brown race around on his motorcycle and John speed over in his car, cop siren wailing and strobe light flashing. Diane is herself heading over with a bit behind the others, so presumably she’ll arrive on the scene just a bit TOO LATE.

John is driving so madly that he smashes into a civilian car as he races through an intersection. He then gets out to yell at the other driver. This doesn’t really make sense, except from a plot standpoint. You see, his stopping allows Arthur Bradley Brown to arrive at the apartment before he does. Indeed, perhaps this delay allows Diane to get there before him as well, so that when John arrives he finds them together. Whatever. It’s clear where this is going, so let’s just get there, shall we?

Comically, Diane drives through the exact same (yet otherwise remote-seeming and completely deserted) intersection, inadvertently drawing John’s attention back to the matter at hand. Meanwhile, Arthur Bradley Brown arrives at Carla’s and finds her there, and tries to get her to leave. Carla is needless to say a bit nonplussed to have this stranger raving at her, and his knowledge of her personal life only heightens this response.

Diane arrives next. There she finds that instead of fleeing, Carla is phoning the police. For his part, Arthur Bradley Brown stands nearby. Seconds later John arrives. I assume Mark Greenburg will show up next, perhaps followed by the woman with the dog. After all, we might as well have everybody here.

Instead, as John enters the apartment the cast is fully assembled for their Date with Desultory. Er, Destiny. John pulls his gun, and sure enough, naturally assumes that Arthur Bradley Brown is Diane’s imaginary lover. To heighten the tension (and run out the clock), everybody stands around for a bit yelling at everybody else.

To save his own skin, Arthur Bradley Brown tells John that Carla is Diane’s lover—which again I assume was intended at some point, but nixed somewhere along the line. In any case, the idea that his wife is sleeping with a woman so offends John that he slams Arthur Bradley Brown in the head with his gun. Carla responds by breaking a heavy whiskey bottle over John’s head.

John keels over, and the bleeding, apparently concussed writer grabs the gun and threatens to shoot his prostrate foe. However, Diane protects her husband’s body with her own. Carla implores Arthur Bradley Brown to leave. He replies, “You’re all crazy” (!!!!) and teeters shakily out of the apartment. Presumably he’ll stumble outside with the gun in his hand just as the other cops arrive and…ah, there we go. Blam blam and Arthur Bradley Brown pays the ultimate price for Grand Theft Mediocre Dialogue.

Boy, that was all kinds of lame. Still, I have to admit, I kind of like the fact that although John took a bottle to the head, nobody but Arthur Bradley Brown got whacked. Even John only committed violence—that we saw, anyway—after being goaded into it. In any case, this remains a rare episode of the show in which only one character gets snuffed out.

Anyhoo, outside a crowd gathers in the aftermath, including…The Hitchhiker!

The Hitchhiker Wraps Things Up: “Arthur Brown [excuse me, I think you mean Arthur Bradley Brown] thought he could play people like instruments.* He rearranged their lives like so many notes and used their emotions as chords. But then somebody came along who didn’t appreciate Arthur’s music,** and put an end to Arthur’s song.”(Wow!)

[*That’s bad Hitchhiker writing. Someone should be said to thinking he could “play people like instruments” only if they were a musician. It should have been, “Arthur Bradley Brown thought he could control real people like they were characters in one of his stories.“] [**OK, given how the bad ‘musician’ metaphor continues to be beaten so strenuously into the ground, it’s pretty clear that Arthur Bradley Brown was in fact a musician in an earlier draft of the script. It’s a hallmark of how little anybody cared about this show that no one bothered to rescript the host’s entire three sentence epilogue to reflect the change.]

The Stats

Gratuitous Naked Boobies?  Yeppers, but only about five seconds of them.Strange, really. Again, I assume Carla and Diane were meant to get it on at some point, but that this was squelched. Presumably the show got rushed into production shortly thereafter and there wasn’t time to wedge in another gratuitous nude scene. (The standard solution for the program would have been a shower sequence.) Perhaps Belinda Montgomery, who played Carla, refused to do a nude scene and there was no time to replace her? Who knows?

Loads of ‘Adult’ Language? Eh, not so much. ‘Son of a bitch’ probably wouldn’t have made it onto a network show of the time.

Whatever Happened To…:

Needless to say, the biggest name here from our perspective is Michael Madsen (John Hampton). Madsen had some episodic TV and minor film work before his appearance here. However, it would be six years before he really drew much attention, playing a major supporting role in 1991’s Thelma and Louise.

He really made his mark the following year, however, playing the psychotic Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The scene where he sliced off a guy’s ear with a razor got him all by typecast in dangerous nutjob roles, although he occasionally played straighter parts like the dad in Free Willy (1993). Even so, he has never sinced lacked for work, even if the vast majority of it was in reliably dubious low-budget fare. Sadly, perhaps his best shot at mainstream fame fell short when his gleefully dark (for network TV, anyway) 1998 series Vengeance Unlimited failed to find an audience. Man, they should try that idea again.

Edward Albert (Arthur Bradley Brown) is, in fact, the son of Green Acres star Eddie Albert.Edward followed in his father’s shoes and took up acting, and quickly became a busy episodic TV star seen on many programs during the 1970s and after. He also did a little film work, and one of his rare starring roles was in 1981’s sleazy Alien rip-off Galaxy of Terror. Albert was a reliable but generally wooden presence, and never achieved the success his father did. Arguably his greatest success was in appearing as Mr. Collins in 30 episodes of Power Rangers Time Force. In any case, he eventually started taking his credits under the name Edward Laurence Albert and continues to occasionally work to this day.  Mr. Albert sadly passed away in 2006.

Penelope Milford (Diana Hampton) was another in a parade of largely unsuccessful actresses who presumably was cast on the show because she’d take her shirt off.She’s not bad here, but she’s not good, either. (That’s true of everybody, though, even Madsen.) She had a small part in the infamous Brooke Shields turkey Endless Love (1981). Probably her closest scrape with success was her starring role opposite Michael Moriarty and Cameron Mitchell in 1982’s ESP / psychokiller flick Blood Link, which used to get a fair amount of cable play back in the day. Ms. Milford’s thespian appearances became increasingly sporadic, with her last listed credit being as “Woman in Woods” in 1998’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Part 2.

Belinda Montgomery (Carla Magnusson) was a fairly successful TV actress, perhaps most famous for her later role as Neil Patrick Harris’ mom on Doogie Howser M.D. Like many Hitchhiker actors, she mostly worked in episodic TV, with credits going back to the mid-’60s. One of her first gigs was in the 1970 TV movie Ritual of Evil, one of two pilots starring Louis Jourdan that sadly failed to launch a series in which he would have played an occult investigator. Still, the ’70s kicked off a busy decade of work for Ms. Montgomery, and she never really slowed down much. Genre credits saw her starring in the 1973 TV movie The Devil’s Daughter, and she had a recurring role on the fantasy series Man From Atlantis. Mostly, though, she just did a ton of episodic TV work and the occasional film job. She continued to work after her regular gig on Doogie Howser, but eased into semi-retirement. She last appeared on a 2005 episode of Ghost Whisperer.

  • Petoht

    The answer, of course, is that this was on HBO, which back in the day relied less on the quality of their original series and more on simply yelling, “We’re on cable, bitch! Look! Naked boobies! Swears! Suck on that, Big Three Networks!”

    You mean this isn’t still the case?

  • Blackadder

    Boy, that episode sounds like a whole lot of nothing much. I think maybe that’s the dumbest, most laughably pointless plot yet. You’re a better man than I am to sit through that – I wouldn’t watch it even if it did have soft core lesbianism (well, maybe I would, but it doesn’t). Kudos to you for suffering so we may be entertained, Kenneth Richard Begg.

  • Petoht–Well, I think it’s safe to say that Deadwood was a better show then The Hitchhiker.

    BA–Thanks. And yeah, this might be the most content free episode ever. Really, really lame. The Hitchhiker epilogue indicates obvious (half-done and half-assed) script doctoring, so maybe they were short a show and simply had to throw one together.

  • Ericb

    Since they had such a slight script you’d think they would have padded the episode with more breasts. A lean episide in every way.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    Another fun Hitchhiker review. Damn, this episode sounds awful. Still, I have a perverse desire to see it, just because of Michael Madsen. Granted, you say he isn’t good in it, so I should probably ignore that particular voice in my head. For once.

  • Zandor Vorkov

    Wow! A new Hitchhiker!

    *grabs Southern Comfort and bag of chips*

  • Hasimir Fenring

    Petoht–Well, I think it’s safe to say that Deadwood was a better show then The Hitchhiker.

    Rome season one was also mostly good. As I recall, only the first episode has gratuitous nudity, and the writers’ explanation for it on the DVD set is comedy gold! (Something about immediately clueing in the audience that ancient Rome didn’t follow Judeo-Christian morality.)

  • Ericb

    I was thinking when I first read this that the “twist” would be that Carla and Diane knew what this Arthur Brown guy was doing all along and were manipulating him so they could knock off Diane’s husband without getting their hands dirty. The “twist” we eventually got was beyond merely lame. Stupid cable tv show.

  • Adam Bomb 1701

    Edward Albert isn’t working at all these days. He died September 22, 2006.
    Micheal Madsen played “Falco” in the James Bond pic “Die Another Day.” One of his straighter roles, I gather.
    I best remember Belinda J. Montgomery as Sonny Crockett’s ex-wife on multiple episodes of “Miami Vice.”

  • bt

    ” In any case, he eventually started taking his credits under the name Edward Laurence Albert, and continues to occasionally work to this day.”

    Someone better call the Hitchhiker, as the fact that Mr. Albert continues to work after suffering a severe case of dying in 2006 would actually be a pretty good episode.

    I always had a soft spot for Albert, as he was in one of my favorite movies as a kid, “Midway”, playing Chuck Heston’s kid. I was sad to see he passed away so young.

  • Zandor Vorkov

    [i]Someone better call the Hitchhiker, as the fact that Mr. Albert continues to work after suffering a severe case of dying in 2006 would actually be a pretty good episode.[/i]

    Perhaps more pragmatically, someone ought to tell the IMDB. It gives his date of death as 2006 but credits him with roles in 2007 and 2008.

  • DamonD

    That’s not an error really…it happens sometimes to deceased actors.

    Films made before they died can end up with delayed released dates or whatever, and so come out after they’ve passed away.

  • Sardu

    That Arthur Brown sure had a crazy world, didn’t he?? If he had died in a fire it would have been awesome. Though he did- gunfire, get it!! (Kids, Google it *g*)

    Great to have The Hitchhiker back. Although I must complain that even as the episode itself was short of gratuitous boobies, your review was pretty light on screencaps of actresses whose boobies we would have seen if we were seeing the show.

  • Frank Miller

    THANK GOD! The reviews of ‘The Hitchhiker’ return to Jabootu!

    Nice job as always. A fun read. Thanks!

  • Ericb

    Hah, Sardu I was thinking of bringing up the other Arthur Brown but figured no one would know what I was talking about. I listened to the Crazy World just the other night.

  • Sadly, perhaps his best shot at mainstream fame fell short when his gleefully dark (for network TV, anyway) 1998 series Vengeance Unlimited failed to find an audience. Man, they should try that idea again.

    Bless you Ken *weeps with joy*. I LOVED VU and it remains my favorite show of all time (it was so kick ass and 10 kinds of awesome) and made me a Madsen fan. It was wrong how the show was put up against Friends at the height of its popularity. Who knows how well it could have been done with the right time slot.

    To any who cares, if you go to, you can find some shows that haven’t been put on dvd yet. I managed to snag a complete VU set. Yeah you can tell they were recorded and transferred to dvd, but it’s better than nothing. Here’s the guy I bought from (recommended)

    No I’m not a spam bot, but I figured if enough people purchase bootleg copies… then maybe some suit will take notice.

  • sandra

    “After 2006, Edward Albert mostly played people in comas”.