While it's overly clear that Our Friend Ben was a brilliant man and all-around First Class Citizen, stretching this two-parter into what by now already seems like a semester long course on American History may very well be more enjoyable if you simply turn it into a game of "Where's Melody?" or "Spot the Extras!" Better yet, just read the Cliff Notes:


1. Ben Franklin goes on trial for "stealing" a fire engine.
2. Melody is on the jury.
3. Ben gives a long-winded speech about wisdom that nobody understands except Ben.
4. Sam wears green.
5. The case is dismissed.

Good performances rise above the dry-as-bone material, especially Mike Road (perfectly cast as District Attorney Hawkins) and Sandra Gould, who delivers one of her funniest moments ever with her overly- dramatic recitation: "And then she raised her arms like this..."

GUEST STARS: Paul Sand, a future Tony Award winner (1971) and 70's sitcom star, makes his acting debut here as the TV reporter with that "something" in his eye. The Real Don Steele, may have you asking "The Real What-Who?" but actually was one of the most popular radio disc jockeys from the mid '60s. Went on to other acting "roles" playing such diverse characters as "Himself" in "Death Race 2000", "Himself" in "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park", "Disc Jockey" in "The Day the Earth Moved" and "DeeJay" in "Runaway Daughters".

MELODY WATCH: It's a veritable MelodyPalooza! First seen as Darrin's secretary, opening door for D.A. Hawkins. Then dashing off on her break to hang out on Samantha's lawn with the TV crew. And finally topping off her day by doing her civic duty and sitting on the jury. Whatta gal!

LOOK FOR: With today's advanced television sets and remastered videos, the colors really do jump out at you, much more than they did pre-1990's. Who knew Darrin was wearing a PURPLE tie and hanky with that blue suit?!

Liz starting to lose it a bit as Marion Lorne sputters out "...the power of watt and OOMPF and AMPFFF!"

SO GOOD THEY FILMED IT TWICE!: Ripped off...er, I mean, "remade" later in the infamous season of eight, with much of the same dialogue and quotes attributed here -- in a story about GEORGE WASHINGTON! Has to be seen to be believed.

© Review Copyright 2001 by SCOTT VIETS

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