Thursday, December 1, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 75: Leaping of the Shrew


Sam Leaps Into:
Nikos Stathatos, a crew member on a ship which has sunk.

Objective:
Get marooned at sea to allow for feelings to develop between himself and a wealthy, difficult woman.

Date:
9-27-56

Location:
An island in the Aegean Sea

Memorable Quote:
Don't you dare.  Grandmama's sterling silver!  ~Vanessa
Sunken treasure!  ~Sam

Highlight:
I'm a big fan of "the deserted island" as a setting for a story.  One of my favorite movies as a kid was Shipwrecked, a pirate adventure that took place on an island.

Lowlight:
This leads me to my lowlight, which is that if you have a story about a deserted island, you HAVE to have pirates involved.  This story was all right but a little slow and would have been much more exciting with pirates.  And don't tell me that there aren't any pirates in the 1950's or off the coast of Greece -- pirates exist in all places and times.

Look at the movie Castaway: all kinds of acclaim from "the critics," but all I see is Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball for an hour and not a pirate in sight.  Six Days, Seven Nights on the other hand? A much more interesting and exciting movie.  Why?  It had pirates!

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:

  • They saved their money on casting in this episode as it's just Sam, Al, Brooke Shields, and the guy in the mirror.  I don't think I've ever seen Shields in anything other than while flipping channels once and landing on a few minutes of The Blue Lagoon, another tale of shipwrecked island love.  I do recall frequently seeing her sit courtside while Andre Agassi played tennis (and I seem to remember her crying a lot -- I guess it would have been after he won matches).
  • You gotta give it to Bakula, I venture to say he's kissed more women on this show than probably any other lead actor on any other show.  I should go back and confirm but I'd venture to say his kiss count is probably up to at least 30 different women by this point.
  • In the opening narration when Deborah Pratt says, "His only guide on this journey is Al," we what looks like this episode, but it must have been a deleted scene because it doesn't appear in the episode.
  • The scene around the campfire is odd when it's sunny behind them but then they look up and see the night sky.
  • Whoa, they're going to have 6 kids on the island?  I guess Nikos will get pretty good at delivering babies.
                                                    
    Final Analysis:
    This one is pleasant and relaxing to watch but also slow and predictable.  Could've used some pirates.  Ranking it 45 out of 75.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    Quantum Leap -- Episode 74: Lee Harvey Oswald


    Sam Leaps Into:
    Lee Harvey Oswald

    Objective:
    Save Jackie Kennedy.

    Date:
    several (spanning 1957 to 1963)

    Location:
    several (including Texas, Louisiana, California, Japan, and the Soviet Union)

    Memorable Quote:
    I'm ready for my lesson, Sarge. ~Sam

    Highlight:
    I liked the early scene where Sam is talking to Al on the firing range and they're coming to grips with the magnitude of this leap.  It's a good example of a scene that doesn't have or need any background music -- if this were the MacGyver reboot they'd play something schmaltzy and generic that would end up lessening the impact.

    Lowlight:
    I don't like the whole "Sam is turning into and acting like Lee Harvey Oswald" plot line, which essentially is the entire two-parter.  I suppose that if you want to have an episode where he leaps into Oswald, it's the only way to do it because if Sam was just acting like himself, he would run far away from the Book Depository and there wouldn't be an episode.  But the downside is that after the early highlight mentioned above, just about every other scene until the end is slow, redundant, and unnecessary, from the scenes in the Japanese bar to everything that took place in Russia.  They only serve to give more examples of how Sam is turning into Oswald -- they could have cut most of them and easily made it into one episode.

    It would have been much more interesting and compelling if Sam would have leaped into a police officer or concerned citizen trying to stop the assassination from the outside.  That way he could have just been himself, and it could have been a thrilling episode as he raced against the clock to try and solve the puzzle.  They went that route in the last minute when he leapt into a Secret Service member, but Al's revelation that he saved Jackie fell flat since we couldn't tell in the moment that he had done so and since so little time was devoted to that final leap.

    Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:

    • Whoa, it's a new theme song!  I actually remembered this was coming and I was glad to hear it.  I still like the original one a tad better, but the remix is pretty solid and fun, and I like how they had a fresh and uptempo take on the same underlying theme. Kind of like what they did for the MacGyver reboot, only the exact opposite.
    • Let's talk about the JFK Assassination (aka our country's most infamous unsolved mystery and the defining moment of my parents' and grandparents' generations).  I have a few thoughts!
      • People can spend years studying the JFK Assassination (and some have) -- the sheer amount of angles and rabbit holes is absolutely insane, and it's impossible to know what is valid information and what is misinformation. So while it's hard to feel confident about any opinion, we all have one, and on the question of whether others were involved in the assassination I say yes for two primary reasons:
        • The fatal and disturbing head shot from the Zapruder film.  The movie JFK made famous the phrase "back and to the left" regarding Kennedy's head movement and how it was not consistent with a shooter from the book depository. The physics of the head movement is debatable, but clearly the location of the shot is on the front and right of his head.  And after evaluating the angle of the book depository window vs. the position of Kennedy's car at the time of the shot, it appears much more likely that it came from the grassy knoll.
        • Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald on live television.  He said he did it to spare Mrs. Kennedy any hardship, but he was a lowlife with connections to the underworld and so my best guess is that he killed Oswald in order to silence him.
        • At the very least, the initial investigation was either extremely incompetent, intentionally obstructionist, or a combination of the two.  And knowing a little about J. Edgar Hoover, I don't put much trust in him to lead an honest investigation.
      • That brings us to Oswald.  Much has been written about his supposed ties to the CIA or other intelligence organization, the possibility of him being undercover and framed, or even the existence of two Oswalds. For me he's one of the most enigmatic persons in world history -- the more I learn about him, the more he confuses the hell out of me and I don't know what to make of him.  Was he legitimately pro-Soviet and pro-Cuban, or was that an act?  What kind of husband was he?  But the thing that puzzles me the most are his actions after the assassination because they don't make sense no matter what his role is.
        • Why does he leave the rifle on the 6th floor and not do more to try and hide it?
        • If he was actually undercover and/or innocent, what was he doing while the shooting was going on?  If he was trying to stop the attack, he didn't do a very good job.
        • Then things get very weird -- he takes a bus back to his house where he changes clothes and grabs a pistol (or so the story goes), then goes on foot and allegedly shoots Police Officer Tippit in a neighborhood.  And then he makes his way to the Texas Theatre and sits down to watch a movie.  Huh?!?!  What the f was he doing? It seems like he was trying to get away but without any sense of urgency that I would expect from someone who didn't want to get caught.  The only thing that makes sense is that he was meeting a contact, but then what happened to the contact?
        • Then in the interviews before his death he denies everything and says that he's a "patsy."
        • If you listen to even a little bit of two radio interviews he did in the summer of '63, you can tell he's a smart guy who is very knowledgeable about geopolitics and current events.  He sounds pretty genuine in his support of Castro and Cuba -- if he was a double agent, he did a hell of a job in those interviews arguing the other side.
        • So the big question: did he pull the trigger in the book depository?  I go back and forth on this, and at the moment I feel like he......I really don't know -- I need to read up on it some more.  
      • There are more documents scheduled to be declassified in October of 2017, but unless there's a bombshell in there I suspect that we'll never know what really happened since it's unlikely anyone who was directly involved is coming forward at this point with new evidence if they haven't already.  Glad we got that settled!
    • Back to the episode.  At the 15:27 mark of Part One, we can hear Sam's voice ("I could stop the assassination"), but his mouth is not moving.
    • The actor who plays Oswald we've seen before as Seymour in Play it Again Seymour and on the new Hawaii Five-0.  I like him in those roles, but here he struggles -- not only does he not look or sound like the real Oswald, but his overacting is painful to watch.
    • Elya Baskin is our first triple MacGyver / Quantum Leap guest star, appearing in Quantum Leap, the original MacGyver, and the MacGyver reboot! 
                                                    
    Final Analysis:
    I wasn't a fan of this one.  Too bad, because as you can tell I'm clearly fascinated by Oswald and the JFK assassination (to the point where watching this episode has got me going again and led me to do quite a bit of reading and youtubing on the topic during the last few days).  They tried their best to make this episode as epic and dramatic as possible, but unfortunately it was a boring and substandard script and a missed opportunity.  Too bad, because this had the potential to be one of the all-time greats. Ranking it 65 out of 74.

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    MacGyver Script Analysis: Blood Brothers

    My Script Analysis series where I compare an original script with the final episode continues with Blood Brothers, which I recognize as a landmark episode despite it not being one of my favorites. This will be fairly short because what you see in the episode is pretty much word for word what is in the script.
    • The drug dealing crew is introduced as:
      • Spider, a cruel looking hood with the disposition of a cobra.
      • Watts, a lanky farm boy gone sour.
      • Meat, the product of a truck mating with a moose.
      • JD, a burned out long-hair.
    • Young MacGyver reaches into the bottom drawer of his mother's dresser, and pushes aside old photo albums and war medals to find the gun, wrapped in a towel.  He picks it up, holding it with reverence, enjoying the weight of it and the coldness of the steel.  This moment takes place at the 18:44 mark of the episode. Interesting that it was his mother's dresser -- Ellen MacGyver was packing heat!
    • It's funny how when Danny pushes the shelving unit onto MacGyver and then Chuck and Neil run in, MacGyver stands up and says, "It's Danny.  He just ran out the back. He took a gun."  What he should say is, "Run after Danny!  He just left the store 5 seconds ago!"
    • He [Danny] tumbles down the stairs, and hits the floor, unfolding in the identical position Jesse did.  The gun lies in the same position as well.  This doesn't come across in the episode.
    • In the script, before doing CPR MacGyver uses his watch crystal to see if Danny is still breathing.
    • Also in the script, Chuck says that he will stop selling guns.
      • I'll tell you one thing; people are gonna have to buy their guns from somebody else.  ~Chuck
      • That's just the problem -- they always can.  ~MacGyver
    • In the final photo, they have their arms around each other's shoulders and all but Jesse have their guns drawn.  That holds true in the episode also and I never noticed it before.

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Quantum Leap -- Episode 73: A Leap For Lisa


    Sam Leaps Into:
    Al

    Objective:
    Clear his name after being accused of raping and murdering the commanding officer's wife.

    Date:
    6-25-57

    Location:
    San Diego, California

    Memorable Quote:
    Bingo, to quote you, you're in deep caca. ~Sam

    Highlight:
    Awesome moment when Sam looks in the mirror and learns that he is Al.  I don't know if I ever saw this episode (since I don't remember a single thing about it), and I didn't see this coming at all (at least not until Al told Sam to look in the mirror).

    Lowlight:
    When Sam is outside talking to Al and then his British replacement, he's not even trying to hide the fact that he's talking to himself, and it's a little ridiculous that the people watching (including the "shadow" from a few feet away) aren't more alarmed.

    Despite my critique, it's a fantastic scene where Al disappears and is replaced by a stuffy British guy as part of an alternate timeline.  Very Back To The Future-ish -- I love it.

    Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:

    • Do we see some nudity in the opening shot?!  Call the FCC!
    • Interesting comment from Sam to Al after Lisa dies: "Success has nothing to do with leaping, now you know that."  Up to this point we were led to believe that Sam only leaped if he successfully completed the job.  For example, in Catch a Falling Star he considers not saving the drunken lead so that he can stay and be with his piano teacher.  I think it's better when he doesn't leap unless he's successful because it raises the stakes even higher for his missions.
    • The commanding officer who is accusing Sam/Al is played by the same actor who was the lead in A Little Miracle.
    • When Sam is brushing his teeth, at one point you can see what looks like an arm move into the shot behind his right shoulder (the lower left corner of the screen).
                                                    
    • The ending feels a bit fudged in that they are able to leap young Al back into young Al before the officer's wife dies.  If they are able to leap people anywhere at any time, that would seem to solve a lot of their problems.  And somehow Sam is not affected by young Al leaping back into himself.  Nevertheless, it makes for a moving and happy ending so I'm not too bothered by it.

    Final Analysis:
    Fantastic episode.  Creative plot, excellent pacing and drama, great writing, and more character development and another significant chapter in Sam and Al's relationship.  Ranking it 6 out of 73.

    And with that we've come to the end of Season 4.  Only one more season to go!

    Dashboard's MacGyver Reboot Update #17

    While the reboot is taking a break and airing reruns, cast and crew are working on the mid-season finale. Also, Amy Acker and Tracy Spiridakos are back on set!


    via Gabriel Beristain

    (Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, I won't post any pictures that are too revealing, but you will definitely get spoilered by reading this post or by clicking on the links provided!)


    Working towards Christmas Break
    As I mentioned before, we don't see much exclusive stuff anymore from the main cast. They're busy bees to wrap up the initially ordered episodes before Christmas Break. As Tristin Mays revealed on Twitter, they're often still filming while the new episodes air and don't get to see the premiere.

    Lucas Till posted more pictures of MacGyver doing bad, bad things like aiming a gun and being friendly with terrorists. Of course, this led to David Dastmalchian pulling out a big gun of his own (ahem, this doesn't look as R-rated as it sounds). Tristin shared that Episode 9 (Chisel) has been her favorite episode to film so far besides Episode 4 (Wire Cutter). 

    Justin Hires' Stand-In Kevin Marshall Pinkney posted a picture of him sitting in a 60's Volkswagon while working on Episode 12. Guess we just got to see Bozer's car? Interesting choice!


    via Peter Lenkov

    On November 14, Just Jared shared paparazzi pictures of Lucas on set. As several crew members (e.g. Cornell Willis or Kait C.) revealed, they were filming in a church on November 21. Thanks to Camera Operator Tiko Pavoni, we got a glimpse at MacGyver's "back yard".

    Brian Durkin revealed how the writer's crew tested MacGyver's escape in Episode 8 (Corkscrew). The script writers also provided the original diagram of the Chinese Lantern Surveillance Drone in Episode 9 (Chisel) and the math equations that Tech Advisor Rhett Allain did to estimate how much paper MacGyver would need to stop a bullet.

    On November 11, Lucas' Mom had visited the set. She shared some pictures on social media. While filming outside on November 14, the set got visited by an elementary class. Learning about TV production directly from cast and crew on set is sure more interesting and memorable than regular class!


    via MacGyverWriters

    Premieres of Episodes 8 and 9
    As expected, Episode 8 (Corkscrew, 7.65 million) got better ratings than the previous episode - although they weren't as high as I expected (it was the return of beloved Murdoc, after all). Overall, New Murdoc's first appearance was well received on Twitter and even got praise by Original Murdoc Michael Des Barres.

    The most recent Episode 9 (Chisel, 8.12 million) made the third-highest ratings of this season.

    Upcoming Episodes
    SpoilerTV provided us with a press release for Episode 10 (Pliers - although thanks to the Phoenix Foundation Podcast, that episode will always be "Pilers" to me). Episode 10 will air on December 9 because the show is taking a break and CBS airs reruns on Fridays instead. Tonight, they will show Episode 3 (Awl). 

    Looking at the surprisingly high ratings from last week, I'm not sure if it's a wise decision having a break of 3 weeks, now with so many people stating on social media that the episodes are getting better and that they finally started to like the show.

    Interviews, Articles and other Promo
    On November 16, CBS uploaded some more BtS-pictures; mainly from Episode 7 (Can Opener). They also provided a Survival Guide for Thanksgiving. CBS Watch! Magazine provided another picture of their photoshoot with Lucas and George for ManCrushMonday.


    via CBS Watch! Magazine

    ET Online visited Lucas Till in his Hometown. We got to meet his mom, his younger brother and a high school friend. In an interview with TVLine, Lucas talked about Nikki, Murdoc and his favorite MacGyverism.


    The soundbites aren't new, but in an interview with TV Insider posted on November 25, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov affirmed that he's still planning on a crossover with Hawaii Five-O.

    In case you wondered what had happened to the huge Wall Painting on Hotel Figueroa in LA that was made back in the first promo wave: It got painted over with an ad for Apple's iPhone.

    Cast, Crew and Character News
    Central Casting Georgia has made several casting calls; e.g. for men who are trained with guns, for business men and women who own expensive luggage, for wedding guests, groomsmen and bridesmaids and for hispanic looking males with upscale wedding guest style attire.

    The masks of the Asian General and George Washington were made by Larry Torro. He provided a picture of the president's mask from Episode 8 on Instagram. I think the masks look very good and I really hope we'll see more of them, now that Bozer has joined the team.


    via Larry Torro

    Amy Acker recently revealed at a convention in Asia that she will be back on the show. On November 18, Peter Lenkov posted footage of a scene of Amy's character Sarah with Jack; confirming that she's already been filming her scenes. On the same day, Tracy Spiridakos posted a picture on Instagram that confirmed she was also back on set. 

    Interestingly, Preston James Hillier (who's played Amy's boyfriend / fiancĂ© Jeff on Episode 2) also tweeted on that day; saying that he enjoyed to work with Lucas and George again. What's even more interesting is a comment on that tweet that was later removed (after I pointed out to this person that this tweet might be a spoiler - you've been warned!).

    The deleted tweet complimented Preston and made a statement about being a proud mother of the groom. We already know that there will be a wedding scene in this season and that they've been filming in a church; so I'll predict that Jack will get his heart broken in the mid-season finale (for now, Preston is listed for Episode 12 on IMDb).

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Quantum Leap -- Episode 72: Stand Up


    Sam Leaps Into:
    Davey Parker, one part of a stand-up comic trio. 

    Objective:
    Stop one of his partners from getting killed by a mobster.  Get both of his partners to admit their love for one another.

    Date:
    4-30-59

    Location:
    The Poconos, Pennsylvania
    Gallup, New Mexico
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Memorable Quote:
    So tell me you-you-you Supers, what's an average day like for you guys? ~Sam
    Well we usually like to start the day with a big, heaping bowl of kryptonite cereal.  ~Frankie
    No, not kryptonite, that would kill 'em.   ~Mack

    Highlight:
    I like Bob Saget in the role of Mick and he does a great job of playing a cocky smart-aleck who is simultaneously well-intentioned and vulnerable.

    Lowlight:
    That said, it's hard to imagine anyone being as impulsive and stupid as Mick when he punches his new boss (who also happens to be a big-time mobster) and gets upset at Frankie even though she clearly had no intention of reciprocating the mobster's advances.

    Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
    • Why would the mob guys hire the trio after they bombed their routine in the Poconos and then nearly came to blows?
    • The bathroom where Sam gives Mack a heart to heart is the same bathroom where he has a dance-off with a young Michael Jackson in Camikazi Kid (it looked familiar and I went back and rewatched that scene to confirm).
    • I remember watching America's Funniest Home Videos (impeccably hosted by Saget) each Sunday -- it was must see t.v. for a kid who loved bloopers especially in the pre-youtube days.

    Final Analysis:
    I enjoyed this episode from beginning to end -- great pacing, fun setting, good villains, and memorable performances from Saget and Amy Yasbeck (Frankie).  Ranking it 17 out of 72.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Quantum Leap -- Episode 71: The Curse of Ptah-Hotep


    Sam Leaps Into:
    Dale Conway, an archaeologist.

    Objective:
    Find the remains of an ancient king without getting killed or going missing.

    Date:
    3-2-57

    Location:
    Egypt

    Memorable Quote:
    This is bigger than King Tut!  We can't walk away from this now.  I did a thesis on this guy.  This is a chance of a lifetime!  ~Sam

    Highlight:
    I like how Sam had a personal knowledge and interest in Ptah-Hotep, and it was interesting to see a different side of him, a bit more vain and overeager in his quest for "fortune and glory" as Indiana Jones would say.

    Lowlight:
    The ending didn't work for me where Ptah-Hotep rose from the grave and attacked Razul to death.  Also Sam's leap out was much more abrupt than usual (i.e. there was no denouement or time to wrap up the scene).

    Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
    • Turns out Ptah-Hotep was a real person, at least according to wikipedia, though instead of a king he was a "vizier" or an adviser to the king.  Ancient Egyptian was never my strong suit, although I can namedrop Anubis since he appears in a few MacGyver episodes.

    Final Analysis:
    Not bad, and a creative storyline for this series, but overall it didn't do much for me and wasn't one that I would be all that excited to rewatch.  And after saying in a recent episode comment how I never found Al annoying, I actually found him kind of annoying here and thought his constant "heebie-jeebies" and fear of the tomb was unnecessarily overplayed.  Ranking it 51 out of 71.