Map App Detective: A Game for the Internet Age

I don't know about anyone else, but I find mapping software like Google Map, Bing Maps, etc., absolutely fascinating. Seeing locations from the air you've only seen from the ground allows for some interesting discoveries, and can make the world seem smaller. Probably because of that, I came up with a game to challenge my map app skills.

To play, you have to start with a television show or movie with an exterior scene shot on location. To make this fair, this location has to be in a locale other than the one where you live. Then, using clues in the show and the assistance of a map app, you find exactly where a particular shot was taken. For extra challenge, use a classic show instead of a current one.

Here's an example from Adam-12. This is from Season 4, Episode 13, "Pick-Up." Officers Malloy and Reed are behind a red Porsche when the driver pulls over and dumps a girl on the shoulder, then takes off. Reed stays with the girl while Malloy takes off after the car, which eventually parks:


So where exactly was this shot taken? On the curb, we see the number 8601, and when Malloy calls in, he says the car pulled into 8601 Royal Oaks Drive. But the street name, at least, is fake. To find the real address, we need to back up. Just before the girl is thrown out of the car, Reed calls in their location as westbound on Mulholland Drive. This is a well-known road in LA, and in this case they aren't kidding with the address.

When Malloy takes off, he loses the Porsche "near the intersection of Royal Oaks and Mulholland." Again, there's no Royal Oaks that intersects Mulholland, but we see Malloy leaving a hilly, barren stretch of Mulholland to where houses pop up again. Look at an aerial view, we see several places this could be. But here's the first intersection:


As an aside, because of MASH, all television shots of low California hills covered in scraggly brush makes me think, "Korea." Anyway, Malloy is emerging from the hills with a big left turn and there's a short guardrail. That puts him here, just west of Laurel Canyon Park:


Malloy turns off on a side street. Then we see this shot:


That gives us another house number, 8374, and 8374 Mulholland is right after where I showed Adam-12 on the previous image. So we're on the right track. Malloy turns down a side street, then we cut back to Reed with the girl. When we come back to Malloy he's here:


He pulls up to the stop sign, looks across the street, and that's when we get the shot of the Porsche in the carport seen at the start of this article. I had to assume this was all filmed in the same neighborhood, because otherwise I had nothing. I looked at streets in the area; I knew Malloy was looking across the street from the upstroke of a T intersection, so I looked at T intersections and tried to find that white house in the previous shot. The other clue from the shot of the Porsche is that there doesn't seem to be another house to the immediate left of the house with the carport, and we can see hills behind. Found it!


The green dot is Adam-12's location, pointed north, and the red dot is the Porsche. I would have found this faster but the problem is that the show cheated. In this shot, Malloy is actually driving back from a dead-end; but this means he would have already spotted the Porsche before he turned up the street.

Anyway, as you can see, there's some kind of drainage pond to the west of the house with the Porsche, which is why the house has no left-side neighbor. And the 8601 on the curb is not fake; it's 8601 Edwin Drive. From Google Maps street view, I can see that the carport is now an enclosed garage, so we have no way of knowing whether the Porsche is still there. (Yes, I am joking.)

So if you like map apps, are dedicated and a little bit odd, you too can play Map App Detective. If you want a fairly easy one to get started, try figuring out in which hotel the Brady Bunch stayed during their ill-fated trip to Hawaii...

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