Unfortunately the final four episodes include only one gem, plus two so-so outings and one that gets a failing grade. I have been told by a commenter here that George Peppard quit doing the series because of a divorce he was going through, but if the show was running out of steam anyway, maybe it was just as well it ended when it did.
“Horse of a Slightly Different Color” by Harold Livingston (who also wrote a lot of Mission: Impossible episodes) and Jimmy Sangster
What seems to happen: Oxford Don, a thoroughbred insured for $5 million, begins his morning run while being filmed. When the run is over, the jockey is now sitting on a different and far less valuable horse.
Like “The Vanishing Chalice” from earlier in the season, this one has an audacious opening and a vanishing (or substitution) method that I don’t believe could work.
“Rocket to Oblivion” by Robert Van Scoyk
What seems to happen: In a teaser that would have delighted the heart of Charlie Chan, an experimental rocket engine weighing 600 pounds is on display in a transparent case at a trade show when the lights cut out for a few seconds. When they come back on, guess what’s no longer in the case?
If you don’t figure this one out once you’ve sifted the clues, consider your amateur detective’s badge revoked!
“Fly Me – If You Can Find Me” by Harold Livingston
What seems to happen: A jetliner, carrying a flight crew but no passengers, develops engine trouble and has to put down at a rural airport. The crew all go to a local hotel for the night, leaving one of the pilots on guard. When they come back in the morning, the plane is gone, even though it could not have been repaired, towed away or taken apart during the night. Oh, and the pilot’s been killed.
A very clever solution, and it’s a shame this one wasn’t the last Banaeck instead of…
“Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” by Stanley Roberts
What seems to happen: There’s a warrant out for the arrest of magician Bradley Merrick, who goes onstage one last time to perform his famous escape from a locked trunk. As it turns out, he’s not only escaped from the trunk, he’s escaped from the theatre, even though all the exits were guarded.
The only one of the 17 Banaceks that has a solution that does not play fair with the viewer, which left a very bad taste in my mouth when I first watched it. Seriously, if you’re going to buy the DVDs and watch the series, get this one out of the way and save one of the good ones for last. There are plenty of those – and this is not a show where the order in which you watch the episodes matters.