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Quincy, M.E.: The Hot Dog Murder

Quincy delivers a lecture on forensics at the university. Following it, a student approaches him. The student, George Talbot, has performed an autopsy on prison inmate George Kendall, who died of asphyxiation after he was moved to a high security zone of the prison for his own safety. Talbot’s findings suggest that Kendall died not from terminal emphysema, as the death certificate reads, but from foul play. Kendall's connection to suspected real estate fraudster Arthur Brandeis pushes Quincy to crusade for a real investigation. But Arthur Brandeis is a powerful man with a lot of friends...


Episode Info


Episode number: 2x9
Production Number: 46907
Airdate: Friday April 22nd, 1977

Director: Alex March
Writer: B.W. Sandefur


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Guest Stars
William Windom
As Arthur Brandeis
Hal Williams
As Gordo

Co-Guest Stars
Joshua Shelley
As Whitley
Recurring
Don Eitner
As Paul Morton
Recurring
Wynn Irwin
As Levine
Lee Weaver
As Chambers
Jonathan Sagall
As William Swan (as Jonathan Segal)
William Swan
As Dr. Sharp
Julie Rogers
As Nurse
Chuck Hicks
As Hutchinson
Main Cast
Jack Klugman
As Dr. R. Quincy
Episode Quotes
Quincy: What is the bottom line, here?
George Talbot: Cause of death? Asphyxiation!
Quincy: So?
George Talbot: Well, the death certificate from the State Prison Facility at Delano listed the cause of death as terminal emphysema.
Quincy: Well, that matches.
George Talbot: Well, it did... until I found this. (George removes a plastic bag from the freezer. Inside, packed in ice, is a hot dog.)
Quincy: A hot dog?!?
George Talbot: I found the frankfurter wedged in the throat.

Arthur Brandeis: You know what they had the nerve to say? They said the day Kendall died was the luckiest day of my life.
Quincy: Wasn’t it?
Arthur Brandeis: He dirtied my name! If we’d gone to the grand jury he would have been exposed as the liar and embezzler he was, and my name would have been cleared.

Quincy: Even the newspapers know that Brandeis raped his policyholders! Thousands of poor people have had their premiums wind up in his Swiss accounts! Nobody’s even laid a glove on him.

Asten: I think I’m losing control...

Quincy: You ought to open up a restaurant.
Levine: I already had one. I forgot to pay the IRS a couple a bucks... I play the ponies...

Quincy: The prisoners in maximum security – they don’t eat in the dining room. Who brings the food to them?
Levine: That’d be Claude Whitley and Hutchinson. (He points.) There they are. Gold dust twins – they hustle for the country club set. When you got the money there are certain advantages.

Claude Whitley: Kendall – he couldn’t do the hard time – he had a wife... kids... he was gonna go back to the grand jury. I swear to you doc, that’s all I know!

Gordo: Whitley’s good for a week – maybe a month – whatever looks good after what he told you. But, Doc? You ain’t good for the afternoon.

Monahan: You know what I see in this? You’re proposing police harassment, based on illegally obtained medical reports. Maybe even extortion of evidence in Whitley’s case.
Quincy: Whitley was my patient, remember? Besides, it’s all state property.
Monahan: So will you be if the DA tries to take this to court. You know what you need is a smoking gun... this is just smoke... blue smoke.

Brandeis: I think I’d better be alone for a moment.
Quincy: I don’t think that’s a very good idea – you look terrible.

Quincy: It’s out of my hands! The same situation you hand with Kendall.
Brandeis: I didn’t want to do that.
Quincy: Didn’t want to do what?
Brandeis: Kendall... he wouldn’t listen... money... nothing... I had to have him taken out.



Episode Goofs
The EKG tracing when Quincy shocks Whitley and when he asks loaded questions looks more like an arrhythmia called fibrillation – a life-threatening medical emergency. Fibrillating patients become unconscious quickly. If Whitley's EKG tracing looked like the one shown, he would be unconscious in cardiac crisis, and unable to answer any questions.

The delicate sensors and amplifiers of an EKG machine cannot generally withstand currents large enough to cause a human pain – Quincy’s rewiring would have burned out the device’s input stages.



Cultural References
Quincy mentions that Brandeis diverted premiums into Swiss bank accounts when he collapsed a company and defrauded investors. Fiction is replete with tales of the Swiss Banking System, where secrecy between banker and client is important. This secrecy, extant since the Middle Ages, has led to the use of Swiss Accounts as fictional devices for the sequestering and transfer of money in ways designed to evade official scrutiny. In fact, government officials can access identifying information from such accounts with judicial permission, and Swiss banking regulations do not permit anonymous accounts.

Levine calls inmates Whitley and Hutchinson the "Gold Dust Twins" when he points them out to Quincy. This expression goes all the way back to 1886, which saw the introduction of Gold Dust Washing Powder, a product that gained enormous popularity. Since then, the expression has broadened in use, encompassing a pair of 1920s era radio hosts and a pair of 1940s era presidential advisers.



Analysis
There is no chance that Brandeis goes to prison at the end of this episode. First, Quincy rewires an electrocardiogram machine to administer electric shocks, essentially torturing a prisoner for information. A coerced confession of any sort is illegal, and information developed from what is learned illegally is equally inadmissible as fruit of the poisonous tree. As if that weren’t enough, Quincy later administers a high dose of citric acid to Arthur Brandeis, to induce pain in his hiatal hernia and convince Brandeis that death was imminent. This is some combination of torture and the extraction of a confession under false pretense. In addition, Quincy may be an agent of the court, which would require that he advise anyone he questioned about their Miranda rights.

Quincy also takes a bribe paid him by Brandeis and at the end of the episode offers it to the murder victim’s widow. While a touching gesture, it suggests Quincy failed to report the bribe (or his superiors and the police would have entered the cash into evidence), and therefore could raise ethical questions. Brandeis’ lawyer might even use such a chain of events at trial to impeach Quincy’s credibility.



Warning: Quincy, M.E. season 2 episode 9 guide may contain spoilers
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