Route 66

Season 1 Episode 1

Black November

Aired Friday 8:30 PM Oct 07, 1960 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

Write A Review
out of 10
21 votes
  • Buz and Tod step into a world of too-much melodrama (and a thinly disguised imitation of "Bad Day at Black Rock"). As much as I like the series, the first episode seems cartoonish.

    An almost "lost" rural town in the deep South hides a mystery.

    The set-up for this episode begins strong (I like Tod and Buz botching up the map and the pronounciation of rivers) but rapidly turns to a very macabre story of a sinister reality, almost like a gothic melodrama. A lot of the sense of location is not needed as Southern attitudes aren't at the forefront here. There are so many caricatures that a sense of reality is lost. Can a town really be held in the grip of a crazy man who wants to protect his dark secret of murderous revenge? Why would the boys think that a town like this would be helpful in fixing the Corvette's steering linkage - so much so that they are willing to get in a fistfight to get there? How can this town even have an economy given that it shuns all contact with the outside world? It almost seems like the script is more suitable for a setting in a medieval castle. Or, of course, as a too easy rip-off of "Bad Day at Black Rock."

    Milner is good here and I like the stalwart young lady just coming into adulthood. The old saw of the decent people finally standing up to the man in power is executed fairly well, but all-in-all, the story is too "out there". To me, it would be far more realistic and memorable if it focused on some of the real social problems in the American South at the time.
  • In the pilot episode of this popular sixties series Todd and Buzz find themselves in the deep south of Louisiana, lost in the dark town of Garth, that holds an even darker secret.

    What a horrible cliche' plot line! Two intelligent young northerners minding their own business speeding down a remote dirt road when they hit an old wooden bridge and spin out. They proceed to whip a mean old southern mill worker (George Kennedy with a heinous southern accent), on their way into the town of Garth.

    In Garth they soon stumble across a town of racists and bigots, but not against blacks, rather against German war prisoners and a preacher, who were murdered years earlier by the town's founder and namesake, the terrible Mr. Garth.

    Buzz, the tough good guy from Hell's Kitchen New York beats up those southern boys for a dime a dozen, whipping four at one time even! What a guy.

    The whole time the two protagonists insulted their way through every southerner they came across, except the pretty blonde southern girl who found them charming and handsome.

    And people wonder why the war is still being fought in the south? Perhaps one day when hollywood quits portraying every southern town or village as hicksville and everyone with a southern accent as ignorant and racist, perhaps then things will change.

    Lord knows it has been going on forever. Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Vital character development, but not the series' best story or acting.

    I'm glad that I viewed other, stronger, and more characteristic episodes from this classic series before seeing this, the pilot, as I may not have continued watching. Not the worst episode, but not the best, either.

    Certainly, this episode provides vital character development to set up the relationship between our protagonists, Tod and Buz, to establish their individual backgrounds, and to introduce some of each man's idiosyncrasies. Also, this episode introduces the road trip framework of the show and the tendency of these two quasi-rebellious men to get entangled in alleviating the troubles of strangers. One more trend noticeable in this episode--one that can only be observed by fans who are looking back--is that this show provided a career stepping stone for some of the finest American actors. In this case, Oscar-winner George Kennedy has a guest role and has the distinction of being the first of many strangers that Buz beats up.

    Those factors notwithstanding, this is not the finest Route 66 has to offer. The acting of the guest actors is more melodramatic here than in some of the more primo episodes, and the plot line is more far-fetched, too.
  • Tod, fresh out of Yale, and Buz, from Hell's Kitchen, set out on the road in this first installment of a fine, human interest series.

    The Corvette breaks down in a Miississippi town on the way to Biloxi, but they have difficulty finding someone to fix it. That's because they're not welcome in this town. The residents harbor a dirty secret; a German POW was murdered in cold blood during World War II, revenge for the death of Garth's son. Garth runs everything and everyone in this strange town, and no one dares to cross him, no one except Tod and Buz, who are determined to get at the bottom of the mystery of the residents' odd behavior. A young woman seems willing to help them out, but her father is scared to death of Garth. When the Garth attacks the girl so as to frame Tod and Buz and stir up a lynch party, her father has had enough, and stops a lynching.

    The origins of the series, where Tod and Buz came from and how they got to traveling the country on the legendary road, the namesake of the series, is explained briefly in this episode.