“Next Stop, Nowhere”: TV’s “Quincy M.E.” takes on punk rock, a “killer of spirit”

By on June 24, 2015

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For the eighth episode of the eighth and final season for “Quincy M.E.,” about a crime-solving coroner (that’s still weird, right?) starring the loveably gruff Jack Klugman, the producers decided that is was now up to people like Quincy to step in and make some kind of correction and confront the raging menace of punk rock music, which may have contributed to the stabbing death of a teenage boy named Zack at a punk club called The Ground Zero. The episode — now a certifiably cult classic, have a look for yourself — originally aired on December 1, 1982.

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“Next Stop, Nowhere” is actually the name of both the episode and the anthemic punk anthem screamed by featured led by Fly Fester (that’s his name), who fronts his band Mayhem, who are clearly patterned from the band Fear, who we’ve mentioned here on Night Flight in several posts, like this one, and this, and this one too (you’d think Fear was our favorite band, as much as we’ve mentioned them!).

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He’s played by actor Richard (sometimes Rick) Dano, the lead singer in the Dano/Jones Band with Sex Pistols Steve Jones. Dano also would later appear in films like Splash (1984), Speed (1994), Underground (1995). Dano, by the way, just happens to be the son of actor Royal Dano, a wonderful character actor who began his own career in the late 40s, but he is probably best known for his multiple appearances on TV westerns, like “Gunsmoke,” “Death Valley Days,” “The Big Valley,” “The Virginian,” and “Rawhide,” but he made just as many appearances on crime and cop shows too. He would later appear as Judge Clinton Sternwood in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” (and by 1982 he’d already played a coroner too, in the 1973 movie Electra Glide in Blue).

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The description at the ME-TV schedule says this about this episode: “Emily comes to see Quincy about a young 18-year-old boy he has just completed an autopsy on. He died while slamdancing at a punk rock club, killed while dancing to lyrics about death, lack of hope and violence. She had been counseling his girlfriend, Abby, and is worried about her. Quincy’s report declares that the punk music Zack listened to was a part of the cause of his death but the main reason was an ice pick in his back. Punk music and its lyrics come under the spotlight as Quincy tries to find evidence to prove who killed Zack.”

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“Next Stop, Nowhere,” featured amazing bon mots like this one, courtesy our favorite coroner, who says to Dr. Emily Hanover (Anita Gillette) whilst they’re dancing to Glenn Miller: “Why would anyone listen to music that makes you hate, when you can listen to music that makes you love?” Another great tune by Mayhem was their song, “Give Up,” featuring these lyrics: Get a job working for the man/ Blow his brains out if you can/ Tell the judge you didn’t like his face/ No garbage like the human race/ Give up!/ You know you’re gonna die!/ Give up! /I don’t know why you even try!/ Give up! / I wanna see you choke!/ CHOKE!/ CHOKE! This is the actual song that apparently led to the ol’ icepick-in-the-neck stabbing death of street punk Zack while he was slam-dancing:

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The best part of the episode, however, has gotta be the meet-up between punks & parents on a Jerry Springer-type talk show, featuring Abby — played by actress Melora Hardin, recognizable these days from TV’s “The Office” (the U.S. show) — and her mom (Barbara Cason, who you might remember as Garry Shandling’s mom on the “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show”), Fly, Quincy & Dr. Hanover.

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Quincy reveals his opinions about punk music as a kind of gateway drug that leads to crime, with wonderfully serious-toned proclamations like this:

“I believe that the music I heard is a killer. It’s a killer of hope. It’s a killer of spirit.”

The “Quincy M.E.” episode aired right around the same time, roughly, that Paul Moyer, local L.A. TV reporter for KABC TV, narrated the 1982 “public affairs presentation” on punk rockers versus their parents, which we told you about here.

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(h/t to this blog for the screenshots and general enthusiasm, and to ME-TV for airing the episode today!)

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.