Main cast: Steven Railsback (Mickey), Marie Laurin (Pearl), John Colicos (Joey Stregga), Paul Koslo (Rico), and Page Fletcher (The Hitchhiker)
Director: Christopher Leitch
Oh yes, an episode of The Hitchhiker that doesn’t make me feel like all my brain cells have been forcibly detonated ten minutes into the show! No, I like Petty Thieves but not just because Steve Railsback has a nice scene in which he struts around only in a pair of red briefs. Sure it helps, as Mr Railsback is always easy on the eyes, and I always like a bloke who has appeared in so many genre stuff, big and small, but this is also an episode that has the semblance of a somewhat coherent plot.
Mr Railsback plays Mickey, a twitchy but ambitious down-on-his-luck criminal who is always trying to score a big gig. His wife, Pearl, is a former prostitute who only wants them to live a straight and clean life. Our big hero knows that he’s at the verge of greatness, however – he just needs to be recruited by the drug dealer boss Joey Stregga to be his regular pusher. The thing is, Joey has his eyes on Pearl, so Mickey decides that Pearl is going to do his wifely responsibility and put out to his potential employer. As he puts it, it’s time she does something to support her husband. As you can guess, things don’t go as he planned.
One thing I notice right away is that Mr Railsback and Marie Laurin are actually going beyond the call of duty to act their hearts out here. Compared to the cast of certain previous episodes, whose acting is at the same tier as softcore movie actors who aren’t cast for their acting abilities, here Mickey and Pearl have discernible, real tics and nuances. Sure, there is some sleaze – this is, after all, an episode of The Hitchhiker – but the sleazy stuff doesn’t seem like filler scenes. They do add to the plot – imagine that.
The story is simple yet effective. One thing, though – the paranormal elements, I feel, aren’t well integrated into the rest of the story arc, so the woo-woo twist feels like it belongs to an entirely different episode altogether. The bulk of the episode is pure crime stuff, so the woo-woo stuff feels like contrivances added in just to provide the twist people have come to expect from this kind of shows. Personally, I’d have preferred this episode to be straight up crime and suspense.
Petty Thieves misses the four-oogie score just by a sliver because of this, but still, it’s easily one of the better episodes in this series for a while.