Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 64: Temptation Eyes

Sam Leaps Into:
Dylan Powell, a reporter investigating a string of homicides in Chinatown.

Bring a serial killer to justice and save the life of a psychic who's helping work the case.


San Francisco, California

Memorable Quote:
Well, golly Sam, I was gonna ask you how it's going, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that you're very comfortable here.  ~Al

I liked the Tamlyn character and the actress who played her (also named Tamlyn).

I didn't understand Ross's motivations.  Granted he was a serial killer so logic need not apply, but it was strange to hear him talking about the pleasure of returning to the good old days when he and Dylan were a team and "on top again." On top of what?  He's a cameraman (and I say that with all due respect to cameramen).

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Every series needs to have a "psychic" episode.  For MacGyver it was GX-1.
  • In an earlier post I wondered how Al always was able to walk on the same level as everyone else given that he was a hologram, and it was fun here to see him arrive and not be on the floor level (and then he asked Ziggy to raise him up).
  • Sam has kissed a ton of women on this series (seems like at least one every other episode) but it's not often that he consummates the relationship.  I wondered if the plot would go in the direction of Live and Let Die where Solitaire loses her psychic powers after Bond beds her but that wasn't the case here.
  • The scene where Sam and Tamlyn were bonding and having fun around town while set to music was a bit The Negotiator-esque (except for the part where Tamlyn wasn't secretly trying to kill him).
  • Instead of pretending he's not there, why not just tell Tamlyn about Al once she knows that Sam is from the future?

Final Analysis:
Decent episode, not bad but not my favorite (a little too dark for me), but Tamlyn was great. Ranking it 44 out of 64.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 63: Running for Honor

Sam Leaps Into:
Commander Thomas York, a senior officer at a naval academy.

Save the life of a homosexual former cadet and unmask the hate group that is targeting him.


Lakeside, Michigan

Memorable Quote:
What about the Boston Tea Party, was that like some kind of a gay boat festival?  ~Sam

The interplay between Sam and Al is amusing when Sam gets annoyed after Al wonders if Sam's tendencies (e.g. crossing legs, hands on hips, drinking tea) are a sign of gayness. Also I like how Sam and Al are on opposite sides of the issue and how Al evolves by the end of the show.

It doesn't make sense why Sam doesn't leap right after saving Phillip.  Al tells him that he's also there to help his academy win the track meet, but then he leaps immediately after the race begins. But I understand that for narrative purposes it gives us time to learn from Al what happens in the future to all of the characters. 

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Ronnie is a great antagonist and has the right look of a 1960's Middle American tough guy.  Reminds me a little of Biff Tannen.
  • The actor playing Phillip appeared as the hyper-superstitious Cousin Willie in MacGyver's The 'Hood.  It's only too bad that Mama Lorraine couldn't make an appearance here also.

Final Analysis:
Excellent episode with strong characters, setting, plot, acting, and interplay between Sam and Al. Ranking it 7 out of 63.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MacGyver Reboot -- Episode 4: Wire Cutter

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
After a Cold War era Russian bomb is stolen, MacGyver and the team track down the technician that programmed it.  Then they head to Russia and Kosovo to disarm the bomb which is set to go off near a U.S. Army base.  

Memorable Quote:
The biggest problem with time is that you can never make more of it, which is fine when everything's going your way.  But let's be honest: when does that ever happen?  ~MacGyver

It's great to see Elya Baskin again -- he played Yuri Demetri/Biff in A Prisoner of Conscience and Soft Touch, and he does an admirable job here.  And my favorite part of the episode was his escape from the nursing home.

The scene in MacGyver's house in the beginning was painful to watch.  What was the point of having the whole team there just to talk to him about his computer search for Nikki, don't they have anything better to do?  And the introduction to the Penny Parker character left a lot to be desired -- she had two or three lines and served no purpose.  It feels a bit patronizing to just slap a name from the original show onto a pointless character and think that that will make the fans happy.

Best MacGyverism:
Reconstructs broken keyboard by using other metal objects to complete the electronic circuits.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • I'd said my piece on where I feel the series is lacking so far and so I'm going to try and focus on the episode without repeating myself too much or getting into big-picture points.
  • OK, just one more big-picture point.  Did you ever notice how in modern television, there is music in just about every single second of every single scene? Compare that to 80's television where they knew when to back off and let the scene speak for itself. It drives me bonkers, for example, to hear playful, impish music during a "funny" moment -- please just let the scene stand on its own and don't try to manufacture my feelings at every single turn!
  • All right, on to the episode...oh wait, I have another big-picture point.  There are way too many guns in this series.  When it started I didn't think I'd care so much that Jack used a gun, but the end of this episode pushed it over the top for me when Jack and Patricia engaged in a big shootout.  You can have that shootout on any other show, but the whole point of MacGyver is that the good guys don't use or rely or guns.
  • As is often the case with action shows, it is funny sometimes to consider the scale of the threat response: a bomb is about to go off and reignite the Cold War?  Let's send in four people to stop it!
  • The MacGyverism with the clock hands meeting and igniting was reminiscent of the MacGyverism from The Heist.
  • Strange moment when Riley, Jack, and MacGyver leave the tunnel and see that Elya has been captured, even though they were about two seconds behind him.

Final Analysis:
The story here was more focused and streamlined than episode 2, and it was less silly than episode 3. Also we actually got a close up look at the villain and heard him say a few words for the first time since the pilot.  Ranking this episode as second best behind the opener. 

Quantum Leap -- Episode 62: The Play's the Thing

Sam Leaps Into:
Joe Thurlow, an aspiring 25 year-old actor living with his 50 year-old girlfriend.

Win a part for himself and encourage his girlfriend to try and make it as a singer.


New York, New York

Memorable Quote:
What are you complaining about?  You should be proud.  That audience was riveted!  It was like they were watching...a car wreck, like it was horrible but you were too fascinated to look away.  ~Al

Hilarious moment when the audience sees the nude actors for the first time.  I must say I wasn't expecting that plot development.

At one Al mentions the play "Oh Calcutta," and I remember a story where my grandparents were in New York and went to see it because someone recommended it to them as a "new musical," but they were very surprised when it turned out to be a "nude musical."

The Ted character seemed underdeveloped and/or unnecessary.  He just shows up out of nowhere to compete for Jane's affection and we don't have a good sense of what his history with Jane is or why he cares about her.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • The leap in moment is a lot of fun when Sam is grateful to God for allowing him to settle into a comfy bed, but he doesn't yet see the older woman lying next to him.
  • The actor who plays Ted is Robert Pine who appeared in MacGyver's Jerico Games as Ralph Jerico.  He's also the father of actor Chris Pine.
  • 13:14 mark: a shot across the bow at Cleveland!  It hasn't always been good times for the "Mistake by the Lake," but its fortunes at least sports wise are turning with Lebron and the Cavaliers winning the NBA title and with the baseball team two wins away from the AL Pennant.
  • Previously Sam called his Carmen Miranda performance in Miss Deep South the most humiliating experience of his life, but that was before he had to play Hamlet in the nude.

Final Analysis:
No major or obvious lowlights, but overall it's a pretty slow and mundane episode for my tastes. Ranking it 48 out of 62.

Friday, October 14, 2016

MacGyver Background Bible: Part One

I was unable to watch tonight's new episode of MacGyver due to it being preempted for the Wisconsin Senate debate between Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson (fun fact: I once was about 10 feet away from Feingold at one of his informal constituent meetings). Not sure why they thought that politics and our nation's future was more important than a new episode of MacGyver but it's not the first time that events outside of my control thwarted me (see: Business, Strictly). While that night left me with scars deeper than the ones on Murdoc's face, there's no such stress over tonight's episode considering I care much less about the reboot (sorry, reboot).  And also I'll just have to wait a day or two (rather than months) when the episode is available online or OnDemand -- thanks, modern technology.

So in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to go through the MacGyver Bible that I recently got a hold of.  The Bible was used as a way to get new people up to speed on the show's background and characters.  For example, David Rich told me that he received the Bible when he started writing for the show.

The date on the Bible is 4/16/86 which was toward the end of the first season and the same night that The Escape aired.  There's no author listed, but my money is on Stephen Kandel given his proclivity for using big words that I've never heard before (e.g. woodslore, protean, roustabout, annealed).   I'll reach out to him and see if he remembers anything about the Bible.  In the meantime, here are the first parts where MacGyver and Pete are introduced.  And now, a reading from the gospel of Angus:

Born and raised in rural Minnesota.  Learned survival, woodslore; expert fisherman and lure maker. Amateur botanist, zoologist.  

Father: James MacGyver.  Mother: Ellen Jackson MacGyver.  Maternal grandparents: Harry and Celia Jackson.

When MacGyver was ten years old, his father and grandmother died in a tragic accident.  After a year, his grandfather who had been very close to the boy left abruptly.  It was a shattering blow to MacGyver who was suddenly the male of the house.  His mother returned to schoolteaching; they continued with life while Grandfather Harry worked in Alaska, sent money regularly; sent letters almost never.

When MacGyver was nineteen, his mother died after a brief illness.  Left alone, isolated, his only living relative a remote and alienated grandfather, MacGyver sold what was sellable, discarded the rest -- and took off.  He was a junior in college, majoring in Physics at the time -- and already possessed of a nomad's itch to travel, to see, to sample, to taste the world.

There was an additional incentive.  MacGyver had had a serious love-affair with a fellow student, Amy Austen.  It broke up over his desire to take a year off from school and work/travel.  The pain of loss seemed to symbolize the end of a period of his life -- he left.

And drifted.  Armed with protean mechanical and scientific skills; cursed or blessed with a mind that could never pass a puzzle by, he worked, traveled, paused here and there -- accumulated experience, and began to know himself.

He learned petroleum engineering, geology -- worked as a roughneck in Sumatra, Aden, off Malmo. He fought oil-well fires in the middle east; did gold mining in Africa, was Third Mate on a coastal freighter in the Adriactic, worked roustabout in a small traveling circus through Spain and France. And through it all, he kept studying -- and learning.  Not always the same thing.  He's a passable jack-physicist, a good kitchen chemist, knows a scattered lot about a number of scientific disciplines. More important -- he has a genius for using whatever's to hand -- and creating whatever he needs. Turning a roadmap into a sled; using an aspirin tablet as an explosives timer; making a prison cage out of two bushes; combining a magnesium bicycle strut and a rust can into a thermite torch. MacGyver, in other words, changes the ordinary into the mildly miraculous.

In North Africa he met Peter Thornton, then a field operative for a somewhat obscure US Intelligence Agency, the DXS: Department of External Service.  The meeting was accidental -- MacGyver was flat broke, scratching along cheerfully by driving a battered taxicab -- he'd gotten the job by repairing the cab.  Thornton hailed him -- got in -- and MacGyver instantly found himself the co-object of a pursuit.  He got them away, but was marked, as Thornton's man -- and had to hang in with Pete Thornton until the mission was over.

He did more than hang in.  He joined in, and when it was over MacGyver and Thornton made a very personal deal.  MacGyver would stay in touch -- maybe do an occasional job for Thornton. But not too officially, and always at his own discretion.

The agreement was born out of and annealed a strong friendship -- a permanent thing for both men. It's still there -- modified, now that Thornton is out of the Government...of which, more later.

Early fifties.  Widowed.  One child, a daughter, Laura -- now a hospital administrator in San Francisco.  Colonel, US Army, Special Forces.  Seconded to the State Department, in charge of a group of special couriers, three years.  Retired and became Operations Director of DXS, western group, operating out of Los Angeles.

Excellent chess player, good poker player, terrible tennis player.  Hates cold weather -- baffled by MacGyver's love of winter sports.  Expert shot, pistol or rifle.

Often lonely; an isolated man.  MacGyver may be his best friend; certainly the friend who knows him best -- something like a younger brother.

Left the DXS last year to become Director of Operations for the Tine Corporation, Santa Monica, California.

It's very interesting that this Bible was dated at the end of Season 1 and yet there are some threads of Season 2 episodes like Phoenix Under Siege (his father and grandmother dying in a car crash) and Partners (how MacGyver met Pete).  I've talked before on the blog how the MacGyver/Pete meeting for the first time is inconsistent -- in Deathlock they say that they met in the desert with MacGyver pulling Pete out of quicksand, but in Partners they meet in the cab chasing Murdoc, and it's funny that the Bible combines the two stories.

Two other obvious differences between the Bible and the show are Pete's daughter (in the show he has a son) and the Tine Corporation being called the Phoenix Foundation.  Also it's interesting that MacGyver's nonviolence doesn't come up. The Bible does go into more detail about Tine and about MacGyver's home life, and there are some sketches for possible future episodes (some that were made and some that weren't).  A topic for another day!

Dashboard's MacGyver Reboot Update #14

Episodes 2 and 3 generated a lot of buzz on social media although ratings have dropped since the premiere of the pilot episode. The first guest star from the original show will make an appearance on Episode 4 and New Murdoc has been cast!

Episode 1x04: Wire Cutter (via SpoilerTV)

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

Working on Episodes 5, 6 and 7
Cast and crew are busy bees and don't have much time to post on social media anymore.

On October 4, Executive Producer Peter Lenkov provided a sneak peek of the editing process on Episode 5 and a first look at Episode 6. He also revealed that one episode they're currently working on has MacGyver and Wilt on a camping trip.

Stand-In Briana Lamb shared pictures of her while rehearsing with George Eads. George's Stand-In Mikey Leo informed us that they had a snake wrangler on set on October 6. 

Extras Paul Trujillo and Terence Goffer shared pictures of working on a prison set while writer John Turman showed us Jack Dalton's car. A very nice vintage car. I hope they don't take it apart again... but I guess when MacGyver and Bad Guys are involved, you never know.

Of course, there's also work to be done behind the set. Lucas Till shared the fun of doing voice-over on Episode 3 (Awl). Just before the episode premiered on October 7, he posted several BtS-pictures on his Twitter-Account; e.g. of MacGyver and Wilt working on Wilt's movie.

via Nancy Kiu

Nancy Kiu revealed how the writers visualize escape sequences (presumably for Episode 2).

Keith Power shared sound-bite-videos on Instagram; e.g. of playing and recording drums or a variation of the Phoenix Foundation Theme. I think this theme sounds great and I'm a bit miffed that I don't remember it at all in any of the episodes that have aired so far - probably because I'm not happy with the reboot's music or the sound overall since the score and huge portions of dialogue constantly drown within the too-loud-soundtrack-songs.

Premiere of Episodes 2 and 3
While almost 11 million people had been watching the pilot episode on September 23, the ratings have been dropping for Episode 2 (Metal Saw, 9.1 million) and Episode 3 (Awl, 8.1 million). The ratings are still strong overall, though and the Hashtag #MacGyver trended on Twitter both times the episodes premiered.

via Brandon Willer

The writers kept live-tweeting and providing some more pictures; e.g. a closer look of the photo on Jack's Driver's License or the Pizza Box from Zlotoff's Pizzeria. 

Let the Promo continue: Stills and Press Releases
SpoilerTV provided us with official stills and/or press releases for Episode 4 (Wire Cutter) and 5 (Toothpick). They also revealed the title for Episode 8: Corkscrew.

Additionally, we got another still of the Russian Bomb for Episode 4. On October 5, CBS posted more BtS-Photos on their website.

According to IMDb, Episode 10 will be directed by Lee Rose (Grimm, Code Black). She will be the first female director so far - not just for the reboot, but for any MacGyver episode (if I remember correctly).

Episode 1x05: Toothpick (via SpoilerTV)

Let the Promo continue: Sneak Peeks and Previews
Peter Lenkov provided us with several short videos; e.g. of MacGyver and Jack trying to stop a runaway train (Episode 5), Thornton getting Riley field-ready or Jack singing Salt-N-Pepa's "Push it" (Episode 4). The whole sequence of Jack showing off his karaoke skills can be found on TVLine.

CBS uploaded how-to-videos on YouTube; e.g. "How To Make An Electromagnet" or "How To See In The Dark". The official MacGyver YouTube-Account is still a mystery to me, though: CBS keeps uploading Preview- and Sneak-Peeks-Videos - only to delete them a few hours later and maybe re-upload them (or not). I'm no marketing or promo expert, but I don't think that's how you do it. I guess they don't really care about hits and people sharing the official video-links...

Let the Promo continue: Interviews
ET Online takes a look into the "Bromance" between MacGyver and Jack. Yahoo spoke to guest star Amy Acker while Collider did another interview with Lucas; talking about the challenges of filming an action show. Parade did an interview with George; the Military Times had a talk with Lucas and his father John.

Episode 1x04: Wire Cutter (via Omelete)

Cast, Crew and Character News
Central Casting Georgia has made a casting call for art patrons who "look like a million bucks" and for caucasian females in their 20s or 30s.

The first guest star from the original show will make an appearance on Episode 4 (Wire Cutter): Elya Baskin, who played political Russian prisoner "Demetri" (A Prisoner of Consience, Season 1) and defector Yuri Demetri aka "Biff" (Soft Touch, Season 2). 

On October 11, Entertainment Weekly shared the news that David Dastmalchian (12 Monkeys, The Dark Knight) has been cast as Murdoc for at least one appearance. It will be interesting to see how David tackles this iconic role. 

It seems the cast is not tired yet of seeing each other off-set. Lucas and George watched some Georgia Tech Football on October 1, while Tristin Mays revealed on October 6 that she had joined George, Lucas and Tracy Spiridakos at a Baseball Game.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 61: Unchained

Sam Leaps Into:
Chance Cole, a prisoner in a chain gang. 

Help a wrongly convicted prisoner escape from the chain gang.



Memorable Quote:
Y'all got any final last words?  ~Cooley
Is that what you said to Jake before you shot him?  ~Sam

Great villains in this one that set an ominous tone for the entire episode.

At the end they made Louisiana seem like a promised land where Boone would be completely safe once he crossed the border.  I don't see how that would have been the case, though I'm not sure how else they could have ended the episode.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Clever of Boone to get the skunk to spray them so that the search dogs lose the trail, and later I also like how Al is able to distract the dogs.
  • No women appear in this episode (unless you count the teaser for the next episode).
  • This episode has a definite Jack in the Box feel with the nasty Southern authorities mistreating the prisoners.  Unfortunately there's no town with as cool of a name as "Smiley."  

Final Analysis:
Great episode!!  It's got everything including a compelling setting, strong villains, tough odds, and excellent acting. And any story involving an escape and being on the run is more often than not at least pretty good. The plot is also well crafted with good attention to detail, for instance Boone's claustrophobia and his fondness for mountains and trees are two examples of small details that are mentioned early on and then have significance later.  Ranking it 7 out of 61.