Favorite TV episodes: Route 66 "Shoudler the Sky, My Lad"


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
ROUTE 66 3/2/62 “Shoulder the Sky, My Lad”

Another episode you’d be unlikely to see on another show, at least not from this perspective. The boys are in Phoenix, Arizona, although the locale for once is pretty irrelevant to the story. Ed Asner makes his fourth appearance on the show as a foreman at a manufacturing plant where the boys are working who befriends them and invites them to his house where they meet his mother and son, (his wife is deceased). The family is Jewish and the son is about to have his bar mitzvah. Everyone is very happy until Ed goes out to get his newspaper and is mugged and stabbed by a couple of drug addicts. He crawls to the door of his house yelling for help and dies in his son’s arms.

In a cop show, (like this show’s sister show, Naked City), the story would be about the search for the criminals but here we never see them again: they are just the delivery boys from random fate. The story then becomes a search for meaning. The boy rejects his faith because it and the Rabbi they send to counsel him have no explanation for how this can happen. He can’t even stand to look at the place where they live and vows to hop a freight train to San Francisco and become a sailor, (he’s 13). The boys go looking for him, but with different attitudes. Todd, typically trying to be helpful, wants to become a surrogate father and spend time doing some of the things the kid’s father would have done. Buz typically, (see “Birdcage on My Foot” and “City on Wheels”), senses that they will be in over their heads and wants to back away. But he’s the one who finally finds the kid and sets him straight, (in a rather pat, oversimplified scene).

This one is directed by David Lowell Rich, who had previously done “the Thin White Line”. That one had a scene of a drugged Todd looking into a store window and seeing multiple reflections of himself laughing at him. In this one the boy, (MIchael McGreevey, in a good performance), looks into a store window and sees an image of his father. He turns around and it’s a different man, (also bald, with glasses). I like a director who knows how to use little touches like that.

IMDB: "Route 66" Shoulder the Sky, My Lad (TV Episode 1962) - IMDb
(You can get it on Amazon Prime for 99 cents)

You-Tube: (The opening sequence only)

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