A Time of Hyacinths, the tenth episode of the third season of the Mod Squad went out on 1 December 1970 in the US.
In this episode, Flower child turned undercover cop Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton) checks into an isolated beach house for some much-needed R&R. Turning on the TV for a weather report, the 1951 film noir, His Kind of Woman, featuring Vincent Price is being shown. Drifting off to sleep, she is awoken by thunder and lightning and the arrival of a man who looks very much like Vincent Price. But he claims to be John Welles, a local seafarer who has stopped in to borrow some wood…
The following day, Julie visits John’s beach house, only to discover someone else is living there. Later, when she remembers John telling her that whenever she needed him to ring her porch bell, she does so and he appears. The unlikely pair then embark on a friendship with romantic overtones. But is the kindly old fisherman real or a figment of Julie’s imagination?
With its hints of ghostly spectres and the presence of Vincent Price, this is one of the most peculiar episodes of the popular counter-culture crime drama series – but also very much in keeping with its ground-breaking tradition.
It’s also a great part for the ocean-loving Vincent Price, who also owned a beach house in Malibu, which he used throughout his life. Returning to his romantic roots at the age of 59, Price’s tender encounter with Peggy Lipton’s 24-year-old Julie is really sweet and totally endearing, and the episode has echoes of The Ghost and Mrs Muir. But, of course, nothing is what it seems. As the story unfolds, we soon learn that Price’s character is actually John Wentworth, a 1950s Hollywood star who supposedly died in a boating accident 20 years ago. Now, he’s returned to rescue his daughter Diana (Cynthia Hull) from the clutches of the same man who made Wentworth a star…
THE CAST & CREW
Vincent Price (John Wells)
Charles McGraw (Castor)
Warren Stevens (Howard Haines)
Cynthia Hull (Diana Wentworth)
Director: Robert Michael Lewis
Producer: Harve Bennett
Writer: Margaret Armen
Music: Carl Brandt
WHY THAT TITLE?
A key turning point in the episode is when Price’s Welles recites the following poem, attributed to Muslih-uddin Sadi (1184-1291), which is not only the name of the episode but is also spoken by Price in His Kind of Woman.
If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from their slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul
HEAR THE THEME TUNE
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